Museums/Galleries: the artist behind the artwork

How often do you go to a museum to marvel at the works of art showcased and wonder about the artist behind the art work? As I travel the world, I find it revealing to check out the museum listings. It gives me a sense to the cultural awareness and interest of a place. The museum may or may not reveal the actual culture of a given area, but more that the city has a healthy curiosity to the multiple ways people look at life in the world around them.

A museum is defined as a place where important things are preserved. This place may be created for the specific display to share with the public like The Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Louvre. Or it might be a gallery in a private home. The medium can be anything from painting to sculpture to photos to artifacts. These pieces are the brainchild of an individual and their desire to create a tangible form of passion.

Passion is the catalyst of every artist I have had the pleasure of meeting, and others I have read about. Very seldom does an artist set out to create with the sole purpose to make money. Hence the starving artist mantra we so often hear. Even those who set out to make money from their artwork, create from a passion or deep interest in a process. An artist is born with an innate desire to craft something that speaks to them. It often isn’t until a friend or colleague see’s a piece of artwork, is wowed and convinces the artist they need to share their work with others.

Artists are often a school teacher or doctor by day and an artist by night. Or it’s their weekend anecdote to their hectic weekday life. Of course there are those artists who set out to be artists very young in life and are able to achieve a level of success early enough they can rely on the income from their artwork to live comfortably.

I believe there is an artist in all of us, and that is a major reason I am so drawn to museums or seeing artists in the throes of their passion. It is inspiring to see such commitment and desire and release of emotions into an object. And no piece of artwork has the same reaction to every person. I love watching people sit and ogle over a piece of artwork. If you ask them what they see it is often something that had not dawned on you as you looked at the same piece.

Evolution seems to be a constant for artists. One element of design leads to trying something new. Creating a new texture or color or light. Or even creating new tools to achieve a certain look or quality. I love looking at artists work tables to see everyday utensils turned into tools of the trade. Or going as far as designing and building equipment to allow the artist to take their craft to another level. I think it is all these elements why true artists are artists for life. It is generally not a passing fancy, even if you just “…dabble in it…” you usually dabble throughout your whole life.

Following are some artists I have had the pleasure of meeting and watch them create:

Seguin Poirier: born 1949; learned metal enamel artistry at age 17; designed the world’s largest kiln to bake his enamel on copper pieces. With exhibits in Rockfellar Center, NYC to collections at The Bank of Montreal, Montreal and a Royal Palace, Saudi Arabia, Monsieur Poirier has earned an international mark with his work.

http://www.seguinpoirier.com/?lang=en

https://nomadicnarrator.com/global-gallery/canada/seguin-poirier-gallery/

Seguin Poirier working on an original for our group

Seguin Poirier working on an original with ideas he got from the audience.

 

Seguin Poirier enamel original made especially for our group with our input

The Seguin Poirier finished enamel original from above.

Specially designed kiln, created by Seguin Poirier to fire oversized pieces. Only kiln like it in the world.

Kiln designed by Seguin Poirier so that he could expand his work to large format pieces.

Randy Strong: started off in photography, having worked with the likes of Ansel Adams, Strong moved on to glass blowing in the 1970’s where he has worked with Dale Chihuly. His work has been on display in The Corning Museum, in New York City and The Louvre, Paris. Strong still creates, designs and teaches this waning form of artwork.

http://www.rstrong.com/about-the-artist/

Randy Strong, world renowned glass blower, San Francisco

Randy Strong, world-renowned glass blower, San Francisco

Some of Randy Strong's masterpieces for sale at the demonstration.

Some of Randy Strong’s masterpieces including his famous flower where different colored petals are interchangeable.

Vicki O’Connornew to the world of public art display, O’Connor has been a passionate artist her whole life. But it was a bout with the often debilitating disease, Valley Fever, that Vicki gave a focus to her love of creating art on a level that finds her showcasing and selling her art with 500 other artisans (booth D-11) November 14th-16th at the Fountain Festival of Arts and Crafts (http://www.fountainhillschamber.com/festival-of-arts.asp), Fountain Hills, AZ. Her works have found their way into public locations, Starbucks, Fountain Hills, and private homes.

http://vickioart.com

See more of Vicki’s growing gallery of artwork: https://nomadicnarrator.com/category/favorite-authorsartists/vicki-oconnor/

Budding new artist Vicki O'Connor may not have exhibits and collections all over the world - yet, but her passion for the art creates is no less passionate than those have achieved widespread acclaim.

Budding new artist Vicki O’Connor may not have exhibits and collections all over the world – yet, but her passion for the art creates is no less passionate than those who  have achieved widespread acclaim.

The key to Vicki's works of art are her one-liner or one word messages. She says what we all think, or what we should all think more about.

The key to Vicki’s colorful works of art are her one-liner or one word messages. She says what we all think, or what we should all think more about.

Following are the listing of museums I have visited and artists I have learned about because of these visits:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: New York City; classic architecture; one of the expansive and diversified exhibits in the world; historical to modern. Check out the Cloisters in Harlem.

The Guggenheim Museum: New York City; modern architecture; exhibits displayed from the ceiling and/or along walls of this multi-tiered spiral walkway overlooking an open center; modern and contemporary art.

The Frick Museum: New York City; Frick residence turned into a museum; Renaissance to the late 19th century artwork.

The Neue Galerie: New York City; once a Vanderbilt residence; now a museum to early 20th century German and Austrian art and design.

Museum of Modern Art: New York City; modern architecture; the name says it all – generally showcases some the most thought proving exhibits in the city.

American Museum of Natural History: New York City; classic architecture; natural exhibits and scientific collections; great place to take the kids.

New Museum: New York City; modern architecture; new work by living artists; five plus floors of open floor plan that encircles the freight size lime green and mirrored elevator.

The Morgan Library and Museum: New York City; classic architecture and once private library of Pierpont Morgan, father to J. P. Morgan, Jr.; collection of rare printed manuscripts and works of art, Egyptian to Renaissance to Chinese art and artifacts.

Whitney Museum of American Art: New York City; modern architecture; 20th and 21st century American art – many living artists. Whitney is presently closed while they prepare to move into a new building in 2015.

Brooklyn Museum: Brooklyn, NYC; classic architecture; diverse collection and exhibits ranging from ancient Egypt to cutting edge modern.

Walker Art Center: Minneapolis; modern architecture; modern concept art pushing for creative expression of art, some with audience participation. Check out the outdoor Sculpture Garden.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Minneapolis; classic and modern architecture; one of the finest wide-ranging art collections in the country – from Matisse to Monet, from Africa to Asia, 40,000 year old artifacts to world-renowned pieces.

SmithsonianWashington D.C.; classic and modern architecture; inclusive of 19 museum and galleries – what doesn’t it include? Obviously a great place to take kids – of all ages.

Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsMontreal; classic and modern architecture; diverse forms of art from antiquity to today.

The Louvre: Paris; classic with a small touch of modern architecture; one of the world’s most renowned museums because of it’s history and collection of Masterpieces such as: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and King Louis XIV.

Musee de l’Orangerie: Paris; classic architecture with simple oval interior galleries. Claude Monet designed this museum to showcase the huge panels of his Water Lilies collection.

Belvedere Museum: Vienna; classic architecture for this one-time palace that is a piece of artwork in itself; Austrian art dating from Middle Ages to present day, most notably Gustav Klimt.

Some of my favorite artists are: Claude Monet, Gustav Klimt, Edouard Manet, Vincent Van Gogh, Renoir, Dale Chihuly. I’ve always been drawn to the traditional painter whether from the Renaissance era or Impressionist era, but I am learning to appreciate some of the modern forms of art that really make you think and imagine. So turn off the TV and head to your local art museum or gallery and expand your horizons! And take time to get into the passionate mind of the artist!

Fall is for Feasting, part 2 – October: MN & NY

October found my daughter and I having a much quieter travel month than we did in September. But that doesn’t mean we went hungry. Allison found two more destination eateries in NYC, and then we trekked to the shores of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota to check out the local fare.

Fruits de mer – Two nights, two opposite ends of the city (NYC), by Allison Malecha

I never thought I would get my dad all the way to Crown Heights—the Caribbean-bred, newly bohemian-infested Brooklyn neighborhood that is thirty minutes by express subway from Manhattan. Besides being the home of Silver Rice, which I wrote about in last month’s post [https://nomadicnarrator.com/2014/09/26/fall-is-for-feasting-part-1-september/], Crown Heights borders the monumental Brooklyn Museum, and its main drag, Franklin Avenue, is bursting with culinary life.

Owned by New York City native Lev Gewirtzman, Mayfield is the neighborhood’s most prominent fine dining staple—the first place my friends who live in the area take their parents for dinner. In a city of two-tops, this restaurant also has a whole array of hefty picnic-style wood tables that seat six. After attending the opening of the Brooklyn Museum exhibit “Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond,” my dad and I walked the 15 minutes down Franklin Avenue and got right in without a reservation. Suffice to say, he was much more into the food than the art (his take: “I could make this in my garage”—I disagreed).

We missed the $1 fresh oyster happy hour but were happy to settle for the $13 fried cornmeal ones, served on a slick bed of smoked salmon and celery coleslaw and topped with big dollops of horseradish cream. We then had an unnecessary but 100% delicious Italian interlude of homemade ricotta gnocchi ($12) before moving on to the main courses: buttermilk fried quail ($20) for my dad and sautéed scallops for me. The quail, though striking the requisite balance between moist meat and crispy exterior, was shown up by its side of spoon bread: a ramekin full of hot, butter-sweet, perfectly browned goodness. My dish, a quartet of large sea scallops and a smattering of mini ones, was decidedly lighter fare, fortified by a sizable mound of corn-speckled risotto. The wine list here is also reasonable. We washed our dinner down with a $32 bottle of côtes du rhône. And after all that liquid, it’s worth a trip to the bathroom—the stall on the right is plastered with one of my favorite wallpapers, inspired by architectural blueprints.

Enjoying starters of fried oysters on a bed of coleslaw and smoked salmon, and   at Mayfield, in Brooklyn.

Enjoying starters of fried oysters on a bed of coleslaw and smoked salmon, and ricotta gnocchi at Mayfield, in Brooklyn.

Buttermilk fried squid with sides of spoon bread and sautéed spinach at Mayfield in Brooklyn.

Buttermilk fried squid with sides of spoon bread and sautéed spinach at Mayfield in Brooklyn.

Sauteed sea scallops perfectly browned and put to rest on a bed of corn infused risotto.

Sauteed sea scallops perfectly browned and put to rest on a bed of corn infused risotto.

The next night, my dad was kind enough to pony up for an even fancier affair—a full-on fish fête at Barchetta. Though the New York Times’ Pete Wells gave it only 1 star in September [LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/dining/restaurant-review-barchetta-in-chelsea.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A8%22%7D], I was intrigued enough to book a table at the six-month-old brainchild of chef and restaurateur Dave Pasternack (known for Esca, in Hells Kitchen). The light-wood tables, soft lighting, and cream walls lined with a row of understated abstract paintings were a welcoming sight at the end of a grey day.

Cocktails to start: a traditional Manhattan for dad (fitting, for the location), while I tried on a “fiaschetta” for size (carpano antica, Campari, elderflower, and Woodford reserve). It fit quite well. Our first bites were many and varied—a six-part crudo tasting ($28), consisting of fresh wedges of fish, from tuna to Spanish mackerel, sitting in pockets of beautifully flavored oil. We were either lucky enough to hit the restaurant on a non “off night,” or my hunger for high-quality fish was too large for me to care. The server recommended that my dad fillet his porgy ($17) himself, but we both settled for having the hard work done for us. My de-boned black sea bass ($17) arrived glistening and flaky. The slightly dry side of acorn squash and lemon tart dessert were an ideal offset to the many bites of rich, meaty fish.

A crudo of varied fresh fish soaking in flavored oils at Barchetta in Chelsea.

A crudo of varied fresh fish soaking in flavored oils at Barchetta in Chelsea.

Freshly de-boned blackened sea bass with a side of acorn squash at Barchetta in Chelsea.

Freshly de-boned black sea bass with a side of acorn squash at Barchetta in Chelsea.

These were just two nights in a whole week of feasting while my dad was in town. I probably should have fasted for a week afterwards – but I didn’t.

Next:

Mid-October my daughter and I took a road trip to the North Shore, with my Dad and his wife. This large peninsula of Minnesota lines the shores of Lake Superior and many of the states 10,000 lakes dot the inland landscape.

We made a pit stop along the scenic North Shore drive at the appropriately named Scenic Cafe’. Talk about using fresh local ingredients; each dish at Scenic screams flavor by infusing unique food combinations like the special starter of the day – figs and walnuts bathed in a maple syrup molasses surrounding a tower of blue cheese served with crudités.

The specialty starter dish of the day used local Minnesota ingredients to create this abundantly flavorful dish.

The specialty starter dish of the day used local Minnesota ingredients to create this abundantly flavorful dish.

Further up the avenue we settled in the area of Tofte and Lutsen for a weekend of reading, walking, spa-ing and of course -eating!

The first night we headed to Lutsen for locally caught walleye and harvested wild rice, which make up the key ingredients to one of Lutsen Lodge‘s traditional menus choices at the Dining Room. The starter of Minnesota Wild Rice soup and finale’ of Swedish Cream round out this flavorful dinner selection.

Potato crusted walleye served with wild rice pilaf – a tradition along with a starter of Minnesota Wild Rice soup, served at Lutsen Lodge Dining Room.

If breakfast fare is more to your liking than head back down the road to Waves of Superior Cafe at Surfside on Lake Superior, spa and townhomes. Acclaimed Chef Judy Barsness, (my Dad’s wife’s sister-in-law) showcases her signature culinary style ‘Minnisine’ using locally caught, grown and handcrafted ingredients to make delectable Minnesota contemporary cuisine. The Sunday brunch is an absolute must after indulging in a relaxing spa treatment.

Chef Judy Barsness presents a Sunday brunch buffet to satisfy even the most discerning palate.

Chef Judy Barsness presents a Sunday brunch buffet to satisfy even the most discerning palate.

Next month I’ll showcase cuisine from our neighbor to the north – Canada. Butter tarts, perogies, poutine….. And of course Thanksgiving – American style!

Brooklyn Bound

Brooklyn (71 sm) may live in the shadow of it’s smaller but better known sibling Manhattan (23 sm) in terms of being a destination location, but Brooklyn can certainly hold its own in being well worth the effort to cross the bridges over or take the subway under the East River. It’s about a 15 minute ride either way. If you are feeling energetic, the best way to cross back and forth between the boroughs is to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan across the bridge offers up some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline. With the new 1776′ One World Trade Center looming off to the left views along the bridge on the southeastern tip of Manhattan. To be able to view those two iconic landmarks in one sighting is an amazing site to behold. With this week being the 13th anniversary of the 911 attacks, One World Trade Center is a beautiful reminder to the strength and character of the NYC people and the throngs of well-wishers that come to the site on a daily basis to pay their respects and honor the fallen.

One World Trade Center looms off to the left of the Brooklyn Bridge, in the southern tip of Manhattn

One World Trade Center looms off to the left of the Brooklyn Bridge, in the southern tip of Manhattan

The Brooklyn Bridge is a historical reminder of the foresight and engineering abilities of a generation long ago. Construction began in 1870 and was completed in 1883. To think that the designers, Jason and his son Washington Roebling, built a bridge for an era of horse and buggies, but built the bridge six times stronger than code required and so has stood the test of time as vehicles became heavier and a lot more of them. In the days that followed Hurricane Sandy, the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian and bicycle walkway became a main artery to get back and forth between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Old glory waves in the in the window of the west tower of the Brooklyn Bridge - days after two German's exchange the flags for bleached out American Flags - apparently to honor the 130th anniversary of the German designer of the bridge - Joseph Roebling

Old glory waves in the in the window of the west tower of the Brooklyn Bridge – days after two German’s exchange the flags for bleached out American Flags – apparently to honor the 130th anniversary of the German designer of the bridge – Joseph Roebling

The Brooklyn Bridge gives you fairly direct and easy access to great Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and many more. Walking through these neighborhoods gives you a good feel of the diversity of inhabitants of Brooklyn – from the more family oriented Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to the heavily sought after quaint neighborhoods of Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights that still boast larger units for less money when compared to equal sized units in Manhattan.

The promenade or walkway leading from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill to the Brooklyn Bridge and on into Manhattan

The promenade or walkway leading from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill to the Brooklyn Bridge and on into Manhattan

Williamsburg Bridge, which takes you in and out of one of the more well-known neighborhoods in Brooklyn – Williamsburg – was completed in 1903 and with a bike path that is the most heavily biked bridge span in all of North America. Williamsburg itself continues to attract an eclectic crowd of tenants. Either those who tend to be more artistically minded and feel the slower pace of Brooklyn allows for a good atmosphere to let the creative juices flow; or for those who work in Manhattan to come home for a respite from that fast pace that usually accompanies daily life in the streets of Manhattan.

Enjoying an $8 glass of wine in the relaxing setting of Wine Bar in Brooklyn, where the owner talks to you like an old friend

Enjoying an $8 glass of wine in the relaxing setting of Wine Bar in Brooklyn, where the owner talks to you like an old friend

There are great one-off restaurants that are independently charming and keep it that way by not trying to venture into the realm of franchising their success lest they lose that personal touch they offer their patrons. You may have to wait upwards of an hour to get into one of these quaint eateries, but the wait is usually worth it. When I’m in Brooklyn, my whole demeanor takes on a laid back attitude and I’ve learned to sit back and enjoy the people watching, the conversation of people around me, and the looks of a city and a neighborhood in the throws of becoming a destination spot.

Brooklyn certainly has its fill of high-profile restaurants that are also worth the effort. Peter Luger Steak House has been a mainstay in Brooklyn for decades (opened in 1887), with picture walls showcasing the well-known clientele that have dined at this historical establishment. Serving only aged short loin bone-in steaks, a minimally available premium cut of steak. Or check out The River Cafe’ that sits at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and offers up a fine dining experience to match the views of the Manhattan skyline – day or night.

Enjoying the tender short loin bone-in steaks at Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn

Enjoying the tender short loin bone-in steaks at Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a strong appeal to readers and writers. Or those who just need a quieter place to work, but want a little more social interaction than their apartments might afford them. With the advent of wi-fi accessibility at most places, there are several great little bistros and cafes that have set up their seating to accommodate several small, but open working quarters. Enjoying a locally brewed coffee or an organically and freshly made sandwich at Toby’s Estate allows you to settle in for hours at a time. Something that is often frowned upon in similarly appointed cafes in Manhattan – as there is usually a waiting line to get a place to sit.

The espresso lab, where employees of Toby's Estate create specialty brews for their patrons.

The espresso lab, where employees of Toby’s Estate create specialty brews for their patrons.

If museums are your thing, you’ve come to the right spot. Manhattan may boast world re-known museums, but Brooklyn can certainly hold its own when offering up cultural activities. The Brooklyn Museum is a beautifully housed museum that sits adjacent to the equally visited Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. It has amazing exhibits, entertaining openings, and often teams up with other Brooklynites to offer things such as spinning class in the museum. If you like something a little more on the thought-provoking side – check out the Morbid Anatomy Museum and Library. It takes a look at how the generations have viewed and dealt with death.

One of many bookcases at the Morbid Anatomy Museum and Library, offering insight into the subject of death

One of many bookcases at the Morbid Anatomy Museum and Library, offering insight into the subject of death

Rooftop bars may be the in thing in Manhattan, but rooftop patios abound in abundance on the tops of many of the apartment complexes in Brooklyn. Grab an $8 bottle of wine from Nini’s Wine Cellar on Havemeyer, stock up on several great cheeses, sausage, olives and chocolates at the Bedford Cheese Shop off Bedford Ave. (be sure to read the creative descriptions) and head to the rooftops to watch the sun set over Manhattan.

Two gals enjoying a glass of wine rooftop in Brooklyn

Two gals enjoying a glass of wine rooftop in Brooklyn

Everytime I visit Brooklyn, I realize more and more what this borough has to offer that can successfully grab my attention as equally as any amount of time spent in Manhattan. And I know there is still so much more to discover: Coney Island, Brighten Beach, Rockaway Point, Dumbo, Red Hook. Besides how many people have you heard with the name Manhattan compared to those named Brooklyn (both female and male) – i.e. Brooklyn Decker, Brooklyn Beckham.

For more pics on the sites of Brooklyn check out the Global Gallery.