Thursday, March 31, 2016

Five fun (and insightful) things

Hope you're having a great week so far. Here are five things from around the web you might find interesting, insightful and inspiring.

love, -j.


The ocean is deeper than the Eiffel Tower is tall, extends farther down than the Grand Canyon, and is the last mysterious frontier on our planet.  

Five women of color get real about the fashion industry. (Man Repeller)

How to get your kid to do what you say -- without spanking, without time-outs. (The Atlantic)

13 questions to ask before you get married. (NYT)

Women photographers from Iran and the Arab world share their stunning images. (Flavorwire)

Illustration via National Geographic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Egyptian phantoms (#ArtReview)

Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt at the Cleveland Museum of Art
By Christopher Alexander Gellert for love, -j.

As a boy, I wandered galleries lined with elaborate unearthed coffins -- dollhouse versions of chattel (human and material) to haul with you to the afterlife, the rows of stiff humorless shirtless martinets mid-stride, bedecked in serpentine headdress. I did not radiate the fascination of some of my schoolfellows. 

Picking my way through the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new exhibition, Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt, I felt like one of the cats on display: stony, indifferent, curious. Yet as I slinked through the galleries I surprised myself in wonder.

The show, organized with the British Museum and currently on display through June 12, contains admirable works of great beauty and remarkable craftsmanship. Seeing them through my adult eyes gave me a new understanding of my childhood disenchantment. One cannot escape that in this exhibition every great piece of sculpture, every fantastic monument, was built in the god-cult of a tyrant. The pharaoh's court, his pretended divinity, was the lodestone to Egyptian belief. We might remember that Egypt’s great monuments were immense mausoleums -- the entire culture revolved around a seemingly morbid fascination with life after death, and little concern for this one. It’s at these kinds of thoughts that one sympathizes with Mohammed crashing every idol in Mecca to pieces. But this impulse precludes us from enjoyment and appreciation of works of great power – we need not embrace them. And all of these same objections might be leveled with equal justice at Christian art.

And yet, we cannot approach art -- even ancient art -- as neutral apolitical relics. If art is an expression of culture, it will reflect the political and social realities of that culture. It’s not for nothing that the curators chose the title, Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt -- art in Egypt was pharaonic Art. Each of the 10 galleries is organized around a different aspect of court life and political theater. It reminds us that this art was used to enforce the political order, and instill faith and obedience.

The enforcement of eternal order has its parallel in the rigid orthodoxy of style. If so much of Egyptian art looks the same, we shouldn’t be surprised -- the Kingdom of Heaven is after all immutable, and if the face of the gods were to change that might implicitly provoke questions that were better not asked. (Though, with the advent of the Middle Kingdom the veneer had begun to crack under political instability, and fissures are observed in the art -- by the New Kingdom you encounter a degree of fluidity that would have been unthinkable in the old.) And from the doggerel tone individual pieces break out and astonish, and by very dint of their nature -- cracked, chipped and looted fragments -- they are incapable of fulfilling their initial purpose as propaganda, disarmed in carefully labeled glass vitrines. History has denuded them of their political import, and frees us to enjoy them as aesthetic objects, even if the shadow of their past hangs over them.

The massive Hathor capital that greets the visitor at the beginning of the exhibition speaks to us in the vulnerability etched across its face, its broken nose and bovine ears, full eyes -- its missing body, and yet even maimed it conjures awe at the civilization that erected it.

It is a loss I do not mourn, and yet I still cherish these shards.

Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt haunts us through June 12. An accompanying photography show (through May 24th) in the contemporary galleries peeks at the leporine reproduction of images of Ancient Egypt, its suffusion into our culture.

Photos courtesy of Christopher Alexander Gellert and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Monday, March 28, 2016

This week's obsession: joggers

Admittedly I'm not the biggest fan of the athleisure movement, but I'll brake for glammed-up joggers like the ones above. I paired these super soft tapered joggers with a basic tee and black pointy-toed pumps at an event over the weekend.

Comfort? Check. Style? Check.

Win, win.

The color gray. (Girls of a Certain Age)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Children of the same God

Beyond moved by Pope Francis' act of love, humility and unity as he washed the feet of migrants from Mali, Eritrea, Pakistan and Syria.

"All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical brothers and sisters -- children of the same God -- we want to live in peace, integrated," he said during his homily on Holy Thursday.

"Today, at this time, when I do the same act of Jesus washing the feet of twelve of you, let us all make a gesture of brotherhood, and let us all say: 'We are different, we are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace.'"  


What would Jesus do?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Quote for Tuesday

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday reads

Nine things from around the Web to brighten and enlighten your Monday.

love, -j.


Cuba on the edge of change. (NYT)

It's officially spring, but it's still cold. What to do? 
(Man Repeller)

If toddlers had Facebook.

Instagram husbands.

Tater tots, make way for broccoli tots.

Making a case for the neighborhood video store. (Flavorwire)

5 things you didn't know about SJP. (Vogue)

Is it OK to cry at work? (The Atlantic)

Why are we afraid to talk about abortion? (Elle)

Photo via The New York Times.
If toddlers had Facebook link via Cup of Jo.

Friday, March 18, 2016

I love books

I could spend all day inside an independent bookstore.

At Loganberry Books in Cleveland's historic Larchmere neighborhood, there are over 100,000 volumes, countless genres, first editions, rare finds, collector's items, thousands upon thousands of titles, new books, used ones. I don't want to leave any stone unturned. 

Like I said, I could spend all day getting lost in the most wonderful way.

15 best books for your career. (Cup of Jo)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

First signs of spring

I went for a walk today and look what beauties came out to say hello. These lovely little crocuses are Mother Nature's delight. Crisp white, delicate, symbol of the end of Winter, shepherd of the Spring. 

My soul is blooming again. 

                    Down in the solitude under the snow,
                    Where nothing cheering can reach me;
                    Here, without light to see how to grow,
                    I'll trust to nature to teach me

                    I will not despair -- nor be idle, nor frown,
                    Locked in so gloomy a dwelling;
                    My leaves shall run up, and my roots shall run down,
                    While the bud in my bosom is swelling.

                    Soon as the frost will get out of my bed,
                    From this cold dungeon to free me,
                    I will peer up with my little bright head,
                    And all will be joyful to see me.

                    Then from my heart will young petals diverge,
                    As rays of the sun from their focus;
                    I from the darkness of the earth shall emerge,
                    A happy and beautiful Crocus!

                    Many, perhaps, from so simple a flower,
                    This little lesson may borrow,
                    Patient today, through its gloomiest hour,
                    We come out the brighter tomorrow.

                    -"The Crocus' Soliloquy" by Hannah Flagg Gould

Spring makeover.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Simply Delicious Pies, 11:09am

Happy Pi Day!

Perhaps there is no better way to celebrate the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (3.14159) than with a scrumptious slice of pie. 

For sisters Brittany Reeves and Beth Kaboth of Simply Delicious Pies, Pi Day is their second biggest baking day of the year -- second only to Thanksgiving. 

One step into their Shaker Heights shop and you'll be greeted with the delicious smells of butter, sugar, apple, cherry, peach and blueberries. And don't be surprised if you leave with more pies than you intended: a hand-crafted chicken pot pie, a savory-sweet bacon apple cheddar quiche or a sweet potato pie made with hand-peeled sweet potatoes roasted on site. Every recipe is developed by Brittany in the kitchen. Every pie is made from scratch. Real fruit. Nothing from a can.

"Cooking and baking growing up is how I got started," says Brittany, who opened Simply Delicious Pies with sister Beth in 2012. "When my older sisters had sleepovers, I would make omelets for everyone in the morning. I also remember mixing up a batch of Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies with my middle sister Kate. We would pretend to be on a cooking show together, talking to the 'camera' while we measured out our ingredients. I'll admit, I may still do this on occasion when I'm making things in the bakery."

Who: Brittany Reeves and Beth Kaboth
What: Sisters, best friends, partners, co-owners, pie artists   
Where: Simply Delicious Pies 
Best thing about working together: "One of my favorite parts of working with Beth is seeing how our relationship helps us work as a team," says Brittany. "Knowing each other's personalities -- strengths and weaknesses -- gives us a unique dynamic that you only get from being sisters."

"The unspoken communication," says Beth. "Because we grew up together and know one another so well, we inherently understand each other's needs and expectations. I think we often take for granted how much goes unsaid between the two of us. Yet [the work] still gets done."

What is each sister's role in the bakery?: "Britt is the baker and the head of the kitchen and back of the house; she pretty much leads the show as she has the baking experience and professional kitchen experience," says Beth. "My role is more retail/front of the house, marketing and community/social outreach. I have a background in these aspects and worked as a server and bartender for over a decade, so our restaurant experiences complement each other."  

Favorite pie to eat?: "Strawberry Rhubarb, hands down! After so many years of making pies I don't get the urge to eat any very often," says Brittany. "But rhubarb is a summer seasonal pie so it isn't around all the time. I always look forward to the first batch of rhubarb. The sweet strawberries mixed with the tart rhubarb is perfect."

Favorite pie to bake?: "I love putting together cream pies," Brittany says. "It's a little more artistic since we get to pipe whipped cream rosettes and embellish with different toppings. I can even customize the cream pies by writing on the top with chocolate ganache. Kind of like a birthday cake, but with pie!" 

"I actually have very limited cooking abilities. In fact, before we opened the store, I couldn't so much as boil water or make toast," Beth confesses. "It is a testament to Britt's skills that she has taught me how to make everything on our menu since we opened Simply Delicious Pies."

Shaker Heights residents: the Shaker PTO is teaming up with Simply Delicious Pies to celebrate Pi Day. For every pie purchased this week, $1 will be donated to the Shaker PTO Council. Click here for details. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Still movement (#ArtReview)

UNFIXED: The fugitive image at the Transformer Station
By Christopher Alexander Gellert for love, -j.

          “The contingency of photography confirms that everything 
          is perishable; the arbitrariness of photographic evidence 
          indicates that reality is fundamentally unclassifiable."
          -Susan Sontag

          Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
          Nothing beside remains...
          -Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandius”

I’m almost hesitant to label UNFIXED: The fugitive image as a photography exhibition. The show, currently on exhibition until April 3 at the Transformer Station (the Cleveland Museum of Art’s West Side annex), resists traditional assumptions about photos as pictures. Instead, it asks us to approach photography, and video, as a process that does not immortalize, but like all things inevitably dies. That death is written into the works encourages us to treat them as living objects, to find beauty in their movement, meaning in their brief passage, as in our own.

Fred Bidwell, one of the gallery’s co-founders, with his wife Laura, opened a recent gallery talk by suggesting that photography has outgrown the need to try to prove itself as an art form. Photography can finally let loose.

But if photographers no longer concern themselves with respect and acceptance from the establishment they now take for granted, they are threatened by their own success, the sheer volume of photographic images— a world in which everyone wishes to be a photographer, and our immediate thought on seeing a thing is to ask ourselves if it would make a good photo. 

Susan Sontag eloquently addressed these difficulties in her prescient work On Photography. UNFIXED: The fugitive image shrugs its shoulders at the hoary debates between photography and art and the ubiquity of image in our lives. It disregards the question by effacing it.

The first piece in the exhibition, Phil Chang’s series of unfixed silver gelatin photograms, reveals the memory and the trace of the rectangular forms imprinted on the negative that began to disappear within hours on opening night when the image took flight after the plastic seal had been broken and the photographs were exposed.

“He’ll supply us with two extra copies,” Mr. Bidwell ribbed during his gallery talk. “We can experience this change two more times.”

We all appreciatively chuckled, but the conceit itself serves as a kind of haunting joke about the transience of all things and the folly at our longing for permanence. We collect the world through photos. Sontag defined the photographer as a Baudelaire’s flâneur, the wanderlust plagued promeneur in search of the picturesque.

“Everything that the big city threw away, everything it despised, everything it crushed underfoot he categorizes and collects,” Sontag writes in On Photography, quoting from “The Painter of Modern Life” to articulate the character of the flâneur/photographer. She opposes this vision of the photographer to the painter, and the conflation of the two by the mob. “Some democratic writer ought to have seen here a cheap method for disseminating a loathing for history and for painting among the people,” she argues. And yet, some of the images in the exhibition resemble paintings more than they do photographs.

A pair of twin triptychs by John Opera in the larger gallery space illustrates this slippage. The works are not photographs exactly but anthotypes (images developed using the photosensitive materials of plants). Each work pairs a portrait in silhouette, a light shadow against a darkened background in the same color, with two progressively larger images of paired twin radials sprouting from a central axis, recalling mirrored fans. Mr. Bidwell introduced the artist by saying, “John is a photographer who thinks like a painter, and I think maybe he’ll actually stop using photography altogether and become a painter.”

Opera’s work brings to mind color field painters like Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, who played with warm tones in the space of the canvas. It is neither a photograph, as we conceive one, nor a work of art to be tended and preserved. The plant dyes Mr. Opera used (beet and blueberry) are perishable. His work will escape conservators and posterity.

Art is no longer an eternal monument, but something that breathes.

In the next room Tom Persinger plays in “The Past,” “The Present,” and “The Future.” “The past” is a blue field cyanotype fixed and immutable, “The Present” develops throughout the life of the show as the agent continues to be exposed to light and the image evolves. “The Future” is blank, virgin paper with a pencil outline. Persinger will round out the show's closing on April 03 with a gallery talk and performance.

UNFIXED: The fugitive image is on display now through April 3. I strongly suggest you witness the tremendous power of the works in the exhibition for yourself.

(If you go, consult the online catalog at as you wander to offer some needed perspective.)

Images courtesy of the Transformer Station.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I'm with her

Illustration by Julia Rothman via Instagram.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Meanwhile... around the world

Admittedly, I've been swept up in election mania this week. It was enough to make me slip into despair. Thankfully a lot of amazing, inspiring things also happened around the world.

An American astronaut came home after a year in space.

Science has found cancer's Achilles heel.

We learned horses can read human expressions.

We can map thousands of whales simply by the sound of their singing.

This fun examination of NYC coffee cups.

This cool photographic book came out.

The Hubble telescope found the most remote galaxy ever.

Pretending you're creative will make you more creative.

and lastly...

The Flight of the Conchords are back!

Cancer, horse, whale and galaxy links via the Atlantic.
Coffee cup and photo book links via Kottke.
Pretending and Conchords links via Girls of a Certain Age.

Gettin' political

Honestly now, how did we get here

Last night's GOP debate was more of the same. Mudslinging, name calling and an exposition of vanities, vulgarities and absurdities. Statesmanship has given way to showmanship and the race for our nation's highest office has devolved into this.  

Wake up, America!!

It's not a stretch.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

This week's obsession: nostalgia

What decade did you grow up in?

As a child of the 80s I fondly remember watching He-Man and She-Ra cartoons, scrunchies and banana clips, pegged jeans, Garbage Pail Kids, my Scratch 'n Sniff sticker collection, Debbie Gibson's Out of the Blue, the Goonies, and snacking on Peanut Butter Boppers and New York Seltzers.

I guess it's why I feel drawn to this cassette tape iPhone cover. It reminds me of all the fun I used to have making mix tapes of Madonna, Duran Duran, Wham! and The Go-Go's.

Ah, it was the greatest decade to be a kid.  

Growing up in the 80s. (BuzzFeed)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Donald Drumpf

John Oliver pretty much nailed it:

"Donald Trump is America's back mole," Oliver said on his show Sunday night. "It may have seemed harmless a year ago, but now that it's gotten frighteningly bigger it is no longer wise to ignore it."

Make Donald Drumpf again.