This is the last of the “Sorbet for the Soul Series,” at least for now. I hope to get back to the MOMA, the MET or any other place where creativity, inspiration and peace of mind resides. Shout out to Lyn Sirota who shared a September 13, 2019 program on TED Radio Hour NPR called “How Art Changes Us.”
Marc Chagall, The Lovers, Oil on canvas.
Gustav Klimt, Hope II, Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas.
Pablo Picasso, Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece, Oil, sand, and paper on canvas.
While the nation’s been on edge during this tense presidential election, Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary by visiting the actual Edge. Suspended in mid-air 100 stories up, Edge is an “outdoor sky deck” offering 360-degree views around Manhattan. Looking straight down from the indoor windows is dizzying, but amazing. Taking in the panoramic view once outside is breathtaking!
Edge is located in Hudson Yards, a new neighborhood built on top of what used to be open air over train tracks. We didn’t ascend the Vessel, interactive artwork in the form of a spiral staircase, but we walked through Hudson Yards, past The Shed towards the High Line and down to the Meatpacking District for dinner. By the time we returned to mid-town, The Empire State Building was lit up in my favorite color. Exploring a new site and walking in the city was a great distraction and a fun date!
[LSOH], staged in a 270-seat theater, restores the show to its original scale and sensibility, reminding us of the special potency of grisly things that come in small, impeccably wrapped packages.
Working with an ace design team, Mayer heightens the show’s classic pulp elements, its aura of low-rent noir splashed with flecks of blood-red.
The Corman film of “Shop” was, like many horror and sci-fi flicks of the Eisenhower years, a fable of the atomic age, playing to a nation’s fears of science run amok. This triumphantly revitalized musical has its own sly message for an era in which celebrity is regarded as a constitutional right:
Embrace fame at your peril. It’s a killer.
My youngest daughter was an Urchinette in her middle school’s production of the show. In keeping with the plant-out-for-blood theme, another mom and I baked and decorated 100 Audrey II cupcakes for the cast party. Fun!
Step 2. Prepare fondant decorations. After the Fondarific was warmed and softened, rubber gloves were donned, and food coloring was mixed in by hand. Small balls of fondant were pressed onto spoons. Then romaine leaves rubbed onto fondant created leaf impressions. After carefully lifting fondant leaves off of spoons, they were layered with wax paper and left to set. (I put them in a container covered with foil, not refrigerated, overnight.) The leaves needed to be stiff enough to stand up, but pliable enough to form LSOH’s man-eating plant.
Step 3. Bake cupcakes according to package directions.Food coloring was also mixed with vanilla canned icing then spread on cooled cupcakes. Icing the cupcakes kept them fresh while the fondant leaves set overnight and formed a base to work on.
Step 4. Assemble Audrey II’s (or whatever decoration goes with your theme). Lynn said that, though the canned icing was good for a base, the stiffer Wilton icing made better leaves surrounding the “plants” and fangs on the Audrey II’s. She used Wilton Tip #103 to form surrounding leaves and Tip #4 for the fangs. Mini Swedish Fish candies became tongues. Eww and yum!
Last week, I spent time with picture-book-and-pajama-sets care of Books-to-Bed, a line of pajamas printed to match PB illustrations, owned by the Canadian-based company Hatley. I worked at Children’s Club, a trade show at the Javits Center in Manhattan, floating as a sales rep between B2B and a line for tween girls called Nev and Lizzie. (Shout out to Linda, prior owner of The Red Balloon, for recommending me to Louise of The Showroom!)
In addition to sets I repped in August at Playtime New York, I promoted new PB and PJ combinations debuting in July 2020. I talked fun picture books, adorable coordinating prints, quality fit and fabric, and heard what’s selling. Bonus? Connecting with Kidlit people. (Who doesn’t love a Tweet of their book on display at a trade show?)
I said it before and I’ll say it again: How much would I love to have one of my books available with matching pajamas?!
Walking along the High Line in Manhattan recently, my daughter, niece and I came across one of High Line Art’s En Plain Air exhibits. Brightly colored doors set on railroad ties featured women we wanted to stop and meet.
Lubaina Himid, a [British] artist from Zanzibar, Tanzania, create life-size portraits cut into silhouettes that stand freely as flat sculptures. These works have a theatrical quatlity, referencing stage sets and the simplified histories that dominate our world. With Five Conversations, Himid introduces five reclaimed wooden doors from traditional Georgian townhouses paint with portraits of everyday stylish women who love talking to each other. In her signature way, Himid brings the two-dimensional medium of painting into our three-dimensional world.
En Plain Air is a group exhibition that examines and expands the tradition of outdoor painting.
I didn’t know this artist so, of course, I needed to find out more.
A pioneer of the British Black Arts Movement of the 1980s and ’90s, Lubaina Himid has long championed marginalized histories. Her drawings, paintings, sculptures, and textile works critique the consequences of colonialism and question the invisibility of people of color in art and the media. While larger historical narratives are often the driving force behind her images and installations, Himid’s works beckon viewers by attending to the unmonumental details of daily life. Bright, graphic, and rich in color and symbolic referents, her images recall history paintings and eighteenth-century British satirical cartoons. In many works, the presence of language and poetry—sometimes drawn from the work of writers such as Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill, or James Baldwin—punctuates the silence of her images with commands, instructions, or utterances that are at once stark and tender. Artspace.com
Himid was born in Zanzibar in 1954 but moved to the UK with her mother, a textile designer, when she was only four months old. Himid said, “I was living with a woman who was constantly looking at the colour of things, at other people’s clothes. And we were constantly in shops, and we weren’t at shops buying things. We were in shops looking.”
Driving on the NJ Turnpike recently, I saw two kinds of cars: those filled with so much stuff, you couldn’t see inside (college-bound) and those weighted down by roof cargo carriers and bikes (beach-bound). This is the time of year when camp is over, kids are home, and what to do with the days is (hopefully) open-ended. Need a fun activity for fashionable tweens and teens? If you haven’t seen it, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit: “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” which runs through September 8, is filled with interesting, bizarre, humorous, and gender-bending outfits and accessories. While you’re at The Met, another great exhibit is “Play it Loud, Instruments of Rock & Roll.”
Here are some of my favorites from the costume exhibit:
Andy Warhol, “The Souper” dress, 1966
Mary Katrantzou, 2011
House of Moschino, 1989
House of Moschino, Jeremy Scott,
Left: Cristobal Balenciaga, 1961, Right: House of Moschino, Jeremy Scott, 2018
It may be Back-to-School season, but kids store buyers are shopping for Holiday and Spring. I spent the last three days at the Manhattan trade show, Playtime New York, combining my love of picture books with my experience selling kids clothes. (Shout out to Linda, prior owner of The Red Balloon, for connecting me to Louise of The Showroom!)
I got to talk picture books while selling the now-Hatley-owned Books to Bed, a line of pj’s printed to match picture books. Not only did boutique owners stop by the booth, but Chris, one of Hatley’s owners, along with reps Adam and Daisy flew in from Canada. I met Random House licensers and Carol, the woman who thought up and started Books to Bed.
Repping the line was a chance to do three things: hear what store owners and their customers are looking for; think about kids businesses; and read books I hadn’t read before. Oh, and I sent tweets out to Kidlit peeps saying, “Hey, check this out!” How much would I love to have one of my books available with matching pajamas?!
Hon, I have so much to report from the rocket launch but, in the meantime, I wanted to share news that made me laugh. First up: squirrels.
In an article in The New York Times, “Counting Squirrels Was Just the Start,” Vivian Ewing reported on the Central Park Squirrel Census, a tally of how many Eastern Gray squirrels live in New York City’s Central Park. The answer: 2,373. Who knew?
The Census includes a Squirrel Supplemental, “a 37-page booklet of squirrel insights–their behavior in the morning and evening, the number of teeth in their mouth (22) and more.” Says Jamie Allen head of the squirrel team, “We’ve brought attention to perhaps the most overlooked creature in the United States…I’ve discovered the Eastern Gray Squirrel to be one of the coolest, most intelligent animals with a sweet sense of humor. It’s a sentient being. And it’s there, right in front of us.”
More squirrel fun:
Excerpts from a June 24 article by Linda Poon published on City Lab,
“The Squirrel Census Answers a Question You Weren’t Asking:”
If you ask Allen why he did this, he’ll say, why not. A humorist and writer, Allen started wondering why no one kept count of squirrels while he was working on a short story eight years ago about his dog’s friendship with neighborhood squirrels in Atlanta.“We kind of know other animal populations, like rats, in cities,” he says. (The conservative estimate is one for every New Yorker.) “It immediately became comical to me. Squirrels are an animal that we interact with on a daily basis, they’re disease-carrying, and they’re so common that we don’t even pay attention to them.” (It’s worth noting that most of the diseases squirrels carry don’t transmit to humans. Still, don’t go petting them.)
With that, Allen assembled a team of scientists, wildlife experts, and graphic designers and began counting the squirrels in Inman Park in Atlanta. After two counts, the team set their eyes on a more ambitious location: Central Park, which measures more than five times the size of his neighborhood park.
“It was the ultimate challenge,” he says. “And it’s the most famous park in the world.”
His team didn’t just count the squirrels. Just as the U.S. Census records demographics, housing data, and more, the Squirrel Census is filled with details about where each squirrel was spotted, what color its fur was, and whether there were clusters of them throughout the park.
Volunteers also recorded the squirrels’ behaviors—whether they were running, climbing, eating, or foraging, for example. Some descriptions were colorful, others were clearly just for giggles.
One record logs a squirrel hanging in a tree “like an acrobat, hanging onto branch by its legs upside down.” Another “got bored.”
The project started out as something humorous, but there’s some real science involved. Early in the process, Allen enlisted the help of Donal Bisanzio…who helped him figure out how to tally squirrels—a crucial but complicated task for conducting a census. Squirrels are, well, squirrelly, meaning there’s a good chance that some would be counted more than once, and others might not be counted at all.
The Squirrel Sighters, as they were called, spent 20 minutes per count searching for furry subjects, looking up in the trees and down in the bushes, and listening to the clawing and clucking sounds they make.
Allen says being part of the project is about more than counting squirrels. In a way, he says, it allows you to experience the park differently than, say, if you were jogging through…Listen closely enough, and you can hear them rustling in the bushes, making the “kukking” noise, or crunching on a nut.“Squirrels give themselves away by eating,”Allen says. “They’ll just be crunching on a nut and you’re like, ‘What in the world is that?’ And then you look up and there’s a squirrel.”Asked how the census will further the academic literature on squirrels, Allen makes a clear distinction: This is not a study, and he’s not looking to prove or disprove any hypothesis. What researchers do with the observations is up to them. He says they will eventually release all the data into New York City’s open data portal.For him, though, the census is simply his way of telling a story—about Central Park and its beady-eyed “citizens.”