Monthly Archives: November 2009

Dasha Shishkin

A few months back I visited a few galleries in Chelsea, Zach Feuer being one of them. A show by Dasha Shishkin was on view and I was intrigued and haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since. Finally I said enough is enough, let’s sit down and write about it. The artist has been in my radar for a couple years, having seen her work at the Greater NY show at P.S. 1 and taking up an entire booth for the gallery at the last Armory fair. Seeing the show was all that was needed to convert me to a devout follower.

There’s a variety of elements in this exhibition that combined together made it so convincingly complete and mesmerizing. First let’s talk about the works themselves.

If less is more, nothing is everything, 2001, acrylic and ink on canvas, 51 x 68.25in, image via Feuer site

Upon entering the gallery you’re greeted by a cascade of paintings that are assertive, bold, and large. Starring into each one I was mesmerized by the riveting flow of shape and colors, the figures and non-figures flowing, floating, mending and blending into and atop each other. There is a golden hue behind each painting, creating a glow and brightness that accentuates without being loud or attention-bearing. The patterns found in the background, whether floor, or wall or objects are intermingled and webbed together with the patterns of clothing worn by figures outlined in blue, black, green and red. It’s a hodge podge collage of disturbed action, with no clear narrative or motivation, all suggesting some odd surrealistic dream that is subtly sexy and violent, elusive and suggestive, simultaneously jarring and soothing.

Afraid of certainty, 2009, acrylic, ink and graphite on canvas, 58.25 x 71.25in, image via feuer site

The press release mentions the artist being presented as “benevolent creator, witness, and detached teller, but not a judge.” As if she were an ambivalent participant in what she creates with the brush. It’s a bit hard to believe considering there seem to be elements too specific to have been created without some personal attachment. I’d hypothesize that the imagery stems form a journalistic collection of imagery, thoughts, dreams, and stories. All lacking narratives because narratives make sense and these are non-sensical, dysfunctional and un-decodable moments within an other history. They function outside rationale, coherence, and sound understanding. It stirs the neurotic, subconscious, and disturbed fantasies that toy around my own head everyday, serving as an escape, willing or not, from what can be a monotonous reality.

Questions tempt you to tell lies, 2009, acrylic, ink and conte on canvas, 62.5 x 102in, image via Feuer site

Then there are the titles. The press release mentions “Shishkin does not narrate the stories from which the images come, but presents them to the viewer to decode.” The titles serve as aphorisms that seem outside and beyond the works they depict, but maybe not, that’s where we the viewers come in and attempt to take these multiple parts and make sense out of it. But I don’t want to make sense out of them. I love that Questions tempt you to tell lies is a large unstretched canvas with swaths of gold receding into a grid with two foreign abstract morphic forms engaging in some sexual ritualistic act and all we can do is imagine they are live forms confessing and lying and instigating. This can be too prescribing and detrimental to the work in itself, but I’m enjoying this activity, an engagement with the elements within and outside of the canvas.

Race cars, play tennis, fondle women, but have weekends off and be your own boss, 2009, acrylic, ink and pastel on fabric with painted plastic molding, 121 x 56.75 in, image via feuer site

In the back room there were a few wallpaper works, cut up chintz manipulated and overworked with a slew of pattern concocted with repetition and abstraction. What was once a neutral, decorative and lifeless form of consumption comes alive with accentuated organic and bulbous forms, creating static and jarring movements.

installation view, image via feuer site

Then, there’s the most riveting part of the exhibition. The installation. I have never seen anything like it, maybe I haven’t been out enough. But this was just an out-of-body experience for me. Most of the works on canvas were unstretched, hanging raw in various heights, and then SCRUNCHED together, in one corner. A compacted claustrophobic center of intense activity, nightmarish and hyperemotional, it recalled a disturbed psychosis that’s as obsessive as it is compulsive, an all or nothing need for visual consumption. It was fantastic, and dare I say, orgasmic.

installation view, image via feuer site

There were also these black lines circulating the gallery, serving as some sort of titillating modicum of sterilization and balance. It emphasized a failed attempt to create an interior space that isn’t jarring or disruptive. The wallpaper works are cut in uneven sizes and again, installed in bunches, one attached along a corner as if having mistaken the measurement for proper hanging. The black lines seem to comment that yes these are artworks that can sold and hung in your home, and this is how I suggest you install them, but of course be aware it isn’t going to be pretty.  Not pretty at all.

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year was filled with enough ambivalence and indifference to almost not happen for me. I wanted to avoid joining the family in Queens but also be saved from guilt trips. My mother is never one to join any family gatherings as members are all from the father’s side. She’s never eaten with us for Thanksgiving or Christmas, not that these dinners were fun or entertaining or not awkward. Last year my cooking obsession was still fresh and exploratory and I wanted to show off my culinary pseudo-expertise by cooking an all American dinner for an all Korean family. This was pure recipe for disaster, I was disappointed they were disappointed that  there was no rice or kimchi involved, only stuffing, potatoes, pecan pies, and standing beef roast that cost me half my rent. I vowed never to cook for them ever again, let alone join them at all for holiday feasts. Till the day before I had no solid plans and toyed with the idea of cooking for my mother. I have never cooked for my mother, my mother and I don’t get along, my mother is highly unaccepting of my lifestyle and roundabouts. But (enter therapy chair and box of tissues here) my urge to cook for her didn’t come from impressing her with my skills (maybe a little), rather a wanting of acceptance and acknowledgment that I never received from her. It’s almost a hopeless endeavor as the disconnect and miscommunication will always prevail but a non-language based gesture such as cooking was a last desparate attempt at making amends with her.

And, it worked.

There were awkward silences, which are no less awkward than having grown up with it my entire life, and there was plenty investigating-of-the-apartment going on. We live an hour away from each other but rarely go out of our way to visit each other because we are that dismissive and uncaring. And I’m OK with that to a superficial degree but I think in the end I still just want her acceptance and respect. And this can only be the first step to a bettering a non-existing mother-daughter relationship. I totally kicked ass in the kitchen.

First things first. I roasted chicken rather than turkey because it was just the three of us and I like chicken better. Apparently Bourdain poopoos on anyone who can’t roast a chicken and I’m flattered not to be in that category. It’s pretty damn easy and you don’t even need a oven thermometer. This is a no-fail recipe inspired by this video.

Roast Chicken with Compound Butter and Herbs

4lb Whole Chicken

1/2 stick butter at room temp

Couple sprigs of thyme, finely chopped

Couple sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped

1 lemon

4 garlic cloves

S&P

Oil

Preheat oven at 400F. Combine butter, chopped thyme and rosemary, zest of lemon, and some s&p and mush together. Split in half and insert in the outer layer skin of the chicken and massage it ever so sexily. Fill cavity with lemon and its juices squeezed, garlic, and a few sprigs of the herbs. Lather the outer skin with oil, s&p. Make sure to get it on all sides. Roast for an hour. Done.

Now comes the best friggin’ mashed potatoes to have ever existed in the world. Why is that? Because there is bacon in it, naturally. This recipe is salty, creamy, smooth with a bit of spice and an amazing texture combo between the crispy bacon and the melt-in-your-mouth mashed up goodness.

Mashed Potatoes with Bacon

6 small potatoes

1 sweet potato

4 bacon slices cooked till crispy then chopped

4 tbsp butter

1/2 cup ronnybrook milk

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Peel and cut taters in cubes, boil till tender and mash. Add bacon bits, butter, milk, s&p. Sample and orgasm.

(The rice is really white, it’s nighttime and terrible lighting that makes it so yellow).

Please welcome squash and red pepper pilaf. I had to add some sort of rice dish so my mother wouldn’t have to adjust too much to a non-korean feast. Although, the basmati rice would’ve weirded her out becuase it wasn’t sticky and aroma-less. The squash bugged her out as well but it’s a very sweet and texturally gratifying dish with a bit of mush and crunch to keep your palate cleansed and interested. Recipe is based on this.

Squash and Pepper Pilaf

3/4 to 1lb acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 red bell pepper, cut to 1/2 in pieces

1 cup chopped onion

2 bay leaves

1/4 olive oil

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups water

Cook squash, bell pepper, onion and leaves in oil with slat and pepper in heavy skillet, stirring for about 10 minutes. Add rice and stir till coated, add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until veggies and rice are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let covered for 10 minutes. Indulge.

And now the greens. Meet winter greens and shiitake mushrooms. They were minimally spiced and mildly braised to keep their raw integrity to a maximum. The crunch of greens and chewy mushrooms were accompanied by earthy and slightly peppery flavor. They were a great accompaniment to the chicken. Recipe based on this.

Saute Winter Greens and Shiitake Mushrooms

1lb shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps thinly sliced

Kosher salt

3/4 cup low salt chicken broth

1 bunch braising greens

1 bunch kale

2 cups chopped onions

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Heat oil in large skillet over high. Add mushrooms, sprinkle salt and pepper, saute until brown, about 10 min. Transfer to bowl.

Pour 1/4 cup broth into same skillet, add 1/3 of greens, sprinkle salt and pepper. Toss until wilted but still bright green, about 2minutes. Transfer to bowl with mushrooms and repeat 2 more times with remaining broth and greens. Heat oil in skillet and saute onions until beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, stir 1 minute. Add greens and mushrooms and toss to heat through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Eat.

And then there was pie. Cranberry apple crumble pie. I will admit a few discontents with this pie. It was a bit overdose on the crumbly, which made it dry on the outside with not enough moist juicy-ness inside. The cranberries were far too tart, it makes my cheeks flip inside out. But it was still pretty good. Gala apples are the way to go. After following this recipe, and I’m convinced Dorie Greenspan is the best baker in the world, her recipes never, EVER, fails to be nothing but the best.

Lastly, allow me to introduce to you, walnut date bread. This recipe was super quick and simple, no kneading or elongated waiting periods or any of that sort. I’ve been obsessed with dates lately, something I’ve never eaten before and wish I could boast as attending rather than consuming the describing word. Dates are a great alternative to gratifying the sugar craving and as I’m orally fixated the chewy stickiness is important, aside from its sweetness and indulgent thickness. The toasted crust of this bread is what boggles your mind because it stays soft enough to not break your teeth and contains a bunch of flavor in a small bite. I was very happy with this bread.

I think that’s enough food exposure for the day. Thanksgiving this year did not follow tradition. Chicken was eaten, there was no stuffing, or gravy, or cranberry sauce. And, my mother came which is very far from tradition, and I’m glad it was and is done.

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This Weekend

It is yet another hectic weekend.

TONIGHT

25 CPW is a new artist run alternative art space and their grand opening reception is tonight. The show “10 from 25: Emerging Artists Using Photography” will showcase the works of 10 founding members including my dear Hyla.

Guillame Desanges for Performa at X-Initiative tonight involves using the lecture format to give a history of performance in 20 minutes, propose a personal statement about the relationship between voice and the visual arts, and a mystical investigation into major figures of modern, minimal, and conceptual art, illustrated thru shadowplay. Sounds dense and entertaining.

– I don’t know why I didn’t enter the Miss G Train Pageant, it’s totally my kind of thing. But alas, I shy’d away from this one.

– Terence Koh apparently is giving a “lecture” on the history of art. ahem.

 

FRIDAY

– One of my favorite Wburg galleries, SouthFirst (on North 6th) is having an opening titled Inglenook with artists Ariel Dill & Christian Sampson.

– The next Greenpoint Girls Group is tonight at Church of Messiah. It’s a potluck feast and we’re also raising funds for Just Food. I am going all out and planning to make mac n cheese, baked apples, smokey greens, roasted potatoes & sage, and walnut date bread. If you’re a kickass greenpoint lady and you want to join, email me. It will be pure estrogen fun.

– My old stomping grounds Hunter College is hosting MFA Open Studios tonight and Saturday. Make sure to check out Daniel Nelson at Studio #511.

 

SATURDAY

– NOTHING could POSSIBLY be more important than GREENPOINT FOOD MARKET today starting at Noon. Come by and eat some grub, there are also workshops on how to make pate, tempeh and kombucha. There will also be a hot chocolate cookoff with proceeds to benefit Greenpoint Food Kitchen. I worked REALLY REALLY HARD for this one so please folks, pamper me and show me that pretty face of yours.

– OK maybe there are other events that’s just as fun and important such as Score!, put together by the lovely ladies at MeanRed. I’d come to the market first, then swap some of your goods for somebody else’s goods.

– There’s also FEAST and their awesome havoc wreaking fundraiser at Glasslands tonight. There will be free beer, dancing, raffles, and prizes. So go there after you eat some food and score some goods.

Hands Haacke is also opening tonight at X-Initiative to celebrate the third and final phase of the organization’s existence at the old Dia space in Chelsea. The artists’ solo show “Weather, or Not” will combine large-scale kinetic installations, photographs, and text-based works in a dramatically experiential environment. The show will address political issues of the present and natural processes that the artist has been exploring for over 40 years.

 

SUNDAY

– Mouths are abuzz for Matt Timm’s infamous Chili Takedown at Bell House today. Make sure to go with an empty stomach.

– I’m going to write this in as short of words as possible. New Amsterdam Market today. I love it but am jealous of it. so there.

– The first annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit at Spacecraft is today. Who benefits? My belly, and Bags for the People.

– The glorious ladies at Sunday Night Dinner is having, a dinner.

 

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This Weekend

It’s a pretty hectic weekend.

TONIGHT

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Slideluck Potshow is tonight! I’ve been working as co-potluck director with two wonderful ladies to make the food section of the event as enticing as possible and have brought in local farms and purveyors, activists and educators to join us and share a dish and information about their organization. I just made california rolls for the evening, they’re imperfect but delicious and simple. Make sure to come by, eat, chat and be visually and mentally entertained by an array of amazing photos in the slideshow.

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Artists Jenny Morgan and David Mramor will present individually and collaboratively created paintings at Like the Spice gallery tonight, above is an exquisite example of what happens when you take a painter who’s practice involves photorealistic renderings and collide it with another’s intuitive, scratchy and loose brushstrokes. The paintings equally coalesce in its realism and dreamy otherworldiness.

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Singer/Songwriter and ukulele extraordinaire Kelli Rae Powell plays tonight at Bar 4. I first discovered her powerful and erratic yet mesmerizing voice at a theater performance and have been a fan since.

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Starr Space is hosing a bizarre fundraiser with “strippers” for Roberta’s upcoming installation of a one-acre farm in bushwick. DJs Finger on the Pulse will be there and I’m sorry I’ll miss for I love these bro djs to heart. They make it dance.

SATURDAY
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Artist Mai Ueda will be performing “Family Dinner in a Parallel Universe” for Performa 09 at Emily Harvey Foundation. “Ueda invites a selection of her friends–musicians, fashion designers, and artists–to perform, dine and play music at the same time. A not-to-missed neo-fluxus event that will recall the Fluxus Dumpling dinner staged by Maciunas in 1971 in SoHo.”

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Artist Jsun Laliberte is having a open studio/party in Dumbo. His paintings are thick and textured, organic and free flowing in form, a short look of nature gone awry.

I’ve mentioned The Prompt performance for Performa already, I’m really looking forward to this one.

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I’m REALLY looking forward to experiencing Wangechi Mutu’s performance, she is one of my all time admired artists. In this performance, a multi-layered performance and installation created in collaboration with riveting composer and vocalist Imani Uzuri, takes as its starting point the disturbing stories of women who have been found guilty of adultery or promiscuity being executed through stoning.

SUNDAY

In the afternoon I’ll be making grilled cheese and aww-ing at the children eating and listening at the book reading at WORD which I’ve also mentioned before.

Nick Suarez and Theo Peck are at it again with The Food Experiments, this time chocolate is the key ingredient in this competition and the event is in collaboration with Food 52, to be held at The Bell House. Tickets are pricey but I’m sure you’ll walk out with a gluttonous overdose in chocolate.

Scott Neightly performs at X-initiative in collaboration with Tom O’Neill. Desire Caught by the Tail us a darkly comic play written by Pablo Picasso during the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1941, about a motley group of characters who fight wartime deprivation with sensual acts of indulgence in food, sex, and poetry. I’m intrigued.

I’ve forgotten all about “fuck the pain away”, the song by the infamous Peaches. She’s playing at Terminal 5 and I’ll be there pounding my groin upon a stranger. Just kidding.

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The BEST Chicken I’ve made thus far.

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The attempted detox diet isn’t going too smoothly at the moment, I indulged in burgers and fries, brownies and wine, tarts and chocolate throughout the weekend, I couldn’t help myself. I mean, who COULD help themselves when given the opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie instigated by a gathering of good food? It was only natural and I’m not one to resist my instinctive (albeit compulsive and fiendish) eating habits.

But it’s the start of the work week and I’m pseudo-back on track. I thought of making salad with plenty varied greens topped by grilled skinless chicken breasts. I had no intention of setting up the grill so decided to broil the free range organic chicken I bought for $7 at The Garden in Greenpoint. I’ve never broiled chicken before and I will make a grand pronouncement: this is THE BEST way to cook chicken breasts.

The turn offish and unappetizing fret one gets when toying with the idea of eating what is possibly dry and tasteless, this method is guaranteed juicy, flaky, soft, delicate and delicious beyond words. I was flabbergasted, absolutely astounded that it turned out this way. Pieces literally just peeled off and the broiling combined with spices and garlic created a crispy outside layer, packed with flavorful taste and juice. I am SOLD.

I tore chunks to put into my salad and haven’t eaten it yet, let’s see if it’s a good combo.

Set oven to broil

Spread them boneless wings on foil (I believe this is what kept the juices from disintegrating) atop a baking tray

Lather and sexily massage the top with olive oil, generously sprinkle salt and pepper, paprika (I’m inexplicably obsessed with paprika these days) and dried basil.

Stick in oven for 12 minutes, flip, and broil for 5 more minutes

Voila.

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The Best Fish and Soup I’ve Cooked Thus Far.

On a brisk and sunny Saturday afternoon I rode over to the Farmer’s Market at McCarren Park (their new location far better aligned, on the street on the south end of the park on Driggs Ave) and went down my list of vegetables to buy. I’ve been loosely following a detox diet reading a book recommended by a friend called The Fast Track One-Day Detox Diet, written by nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman. It’s nowhere near as intense and traumatizing as the Master Cleanse that I’ve tinkered with before and what convinced me was it maintained and improved one’s relationship to food rather than restricting or nullifying the connection all together. The diet involves eating groups of various vegetables in nutritional and organ friendly vegetables, fruits and lean meat for 7 days, leaving out all wheat, sugar, and caffeine and a one day fast drinking nothing but “the miracle juice” which contains cranberry juice and then back on the diet for 3 more days to get the body back to norm. One thing I realized I never pay attention to are the specific nutritional benefits a certain vegetable can offer and even now I’m too lazy to look up what vitamins and vital minerals broccoli contains. I just know it’s better than brownies, which I am dying for as we speak. So I am currently on day 4, I’ve been void of carbs and sweets except for the piece of chocolate that sneaked into my mouth last night and I’m feeling just fine, and am especially proud of all the efforts I’ve been putting in the kitchen.

I’ve made pan fried chicken with onions atop brown rice with steamed beets, I make an omelet every morning with carrots and chard and snack with plenty fruits and dates. At the market I bought two small pieces of sea bass for $4, a small bunch of dill for $1.50, acorn squash, cabbage, and greens for $3 (a friend works at the stand and winked the balance away) and onwards I went to the kitchen, whipping out the ingredients and referring to Heaven’s Banquet (a pretty amazing collection of ayurvedic recipes) to make cabbage soup and roasted acorn and pan fried sea bass.

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I will proudly declare right now, this is the most deliciously prepared fish plate I’ve EVER made. I’ve concluded bass is my all time favorite, whether its sea or striped or polka dotted, a perfect balance between flake and chewy textures, not too bland, just salty enough to require minimum upkeep in the oven or pan. Here I simply poured some oil on the pan and laid the fish skin side down and let it sizzle for 10 minutes till the bottom is gloriously crispy. I sprinkled kosher salt, pepper and paprika to season and crisp the top, and flipped it over, squishing down the fish with a spatula sending hot sparks all over the place. Then onto the plate with nothing at all saved for anyone, eaten straight out of the sea, out of the market, out of the stove, into my belly. It was so good.

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The soup was patiently simmering while I devoured the fish and I was definitely skeptical it would taste half decent. The recipe was super simple, stir cabbage in ghee for a few minutes, add broth, simmer, and season with s&p and dill. I added carrots and sweet potatoes and rice because I was never attracted to cabbage and figured they’d be nice additions. They were perfect additions, and I probably overdid it a bit on the dill which only made it more flavorful. I did however add a questionable amount of salt to undullify the broth and toyed with the idea of running out to add kielbasa chunks into it. But I’m on a detox diet so no sausages allowed. The soup ended coming out way better than I would’ve ever imagined. The broth was thickened by the rice which still had a slight pop upon crunch, cabbage was the slightest bit underdone which cave it a crisp and the sweet potato and carrots melted in my mouth without needing to chew. I’m usually averse to soup because I have a compulsive need to vigorously chew my food (grew up with dried squid sticks which are like beef jerky except even harder) and as soup by nature doesn’t require much jaw work I steer away from it. But it’s been intolerably cold and the diet doesn’t allow me to eat carbs of any type so I figured a brown rice soupy soup would do the trick. It was nourishing, homey, and filling.

Cabbage Soup with Carrots, Sweet Potato, and Brown Rice

Heat 3 Tbsp of ghee in soup pot

Add 3 cups of chopped vegetables and about a Tbsp of minced ginger

Stir fry for about 5-7 minutes

Add 4 cups veggie broth, 1 cup water

Add 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes

Add about 1/2 cup of fresh chopped dill, about 3 tsp of salt and 1 tsp pepper

Sit, consume, enjoy.

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Green Edge 3rd year Anniversary and Call for Artists!

GreenEdgeBdayBash

I received an email from Nicole of Green Edge Collaborative, a superb networking tool for living, practicing and functioning an eco-friendly lifestyle in NY and the organization is having a party Dec 3rd at Littlefield to celebrate three years of productive existence. The website is a pretty great resource for finding events and projects that support and are at the forefront of practicing sustainability and green lifestyle.

They are also putting out a call for artists whose work references sustainability, environment, society and economy and donate a piece for their annual fundraiser. If this opportunity is calling your name, check here for details!

I’m tempted to build a house of leaves and donate it as an art piece, because you know, I too CAN be an artist.

 

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