Saturday, July 30, 2016

Roman Holiday

Citizen of the world, breath and gait, I walk through countries among all nationalities and think of how we differ, how we are the same. Traditions dissimilar, languages too, human condition the same. Pause. Breathe.
It was once the land of bountiful harvest and honored kitchens, of slow movements and deep thoughts.
It saddens me to see this country has undergone such upheaval and I feel it is in part globalization and in part economic depression and that which follows organically from both.
In search of vegetables I stumble upon a "frutti vendolo" I must have gone for blocks seeing one supermarket after another before finding an open vegetable and fruit stand, the heat has turned most of their produce limp and bruised. I reach for the only seasonally green leafy vegetable they are harvesting at the moment, a singular green varietal of chard. I think about Whole Foods for a moment, one green leafy bunch after another, dandelion, rainbow chard, mustard greens, kale, bok choy and so on. How did this happen? In part I am happy, living in America, that this is so, but the other part of me mourns the loss of this in Italy. As I walk through the all to common supermarket here I am shocked to see what is going into the shopping carts, prepared foods, plastic wrapped prepackaged lunch meats high in nitrates, cookies, frozen fish and ultra heat treated over pastuerized milk products. This was the America I knew 15 years ago, the one the Italians balked at.
So now in the country where not too long ago  it was meshed into everyday life to spend hours in the kitchen and prepare multi course feasts for each day, it appears more like the America I grew up in. The America where mothers worked long hours and crockpots were invented to make dinner times almost a non effort. The America where microwaves served as ovens but cooked in a matter of minutes instead of hours. It's a natural progression, albeit a stretch to call this progress, from the stay at home mother to the working mother the working daughter and higher level education more prominent among many not only the privileged few.
Somewhere along the way America realized the downward spiral of poor eating, obesity, mental and physical well being and a new surge of buzzwords began to circulate, artisanal, local, free range, organic and so on. Wellness in the form of more whole body consciousness, yoga, namely became a super trend.  A large portion of our society has truly embraced this return to basics, and for this I secretly smile.
So I have gone in search of this here. Early Thursday morning brings me to a sought out yoga class, in the city center a beautifully appointed studio, great windows overlooking one of the main thorough fares between Piazza Navona and Campo Dei Fiori. Unusually large proportioned  white marble busts of robust men holding the capitols like bookends flank the windows to the space, each downward facing dog puts me up close to one of their giant alabaster fingers. The class was a satisfying, grounding class for me, the dynamics of family travel for such a prolonged trip, I needed this. After class hunger pains drove me to find the new phenomena of Bio or organic restauarant/ smoothie cafes.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Wellness through movement

Buddhist temple and monastic zen garden, Tokyo, Japan
Happiness depends on many things at times and at others few. Being kind to your self, practicing Ahimsa or the yogic philosophy of non violence to the self. It's a profound act when looked at carefully, it does not simply mean to park your ego at the door of a yoga class and allow yourself to be happy with what your body can do this day on the mat. It refers also to an awareness of the verbal and emotional damage we do to ourselves each day in the form of guilt, shame, anxiety and self criticism.
Giving yourself the permission to be good to yourself, put love in all that you do and be at peace with all of who you are and embrace loving thoughts about yourself this is really the depth and breath of what Ahimsa means. Practice this, acknowledge negative thoughts you have about yourself and then push them away and tell yourself you are radiant, strong, loving and enough. And then move, make room internally to clear out, breathe and flow.

Dance like no one is watching, 
Love like you've never been hurt,
Sing like no one is listening.

We know it well but do we do it, really indulge the senses? Do it! Just get up and do it! You have no idea how brilliant it makes one glow from the inside out.

This week on the menu in our alkaline kitchen to give you all the energy needed to maintain your practice, your intention..

Arctic Char, bagna cauda radicchio quinoa salad
serves 4

4 pieces or one long loin wild caught Arctic Char 
Lemon zest, pepper, salt, turmeric, parsley, garlic,
1 Avocado
15-20 Snow pea pods
1 head radicchio
2 anchovies
3 cloves garlic
Olive oil
1 cup quinoa
wasabi paste
mayonaise or veganaise

Dry rub the Arctic Char with the herbs salt and pepper that have been minced, set aside for an hour.
Cook the quinoa accordingly using vegetable broth and set aside.
Bagna cauda preparation:
Slice the three garlic cloves and open the anchovies. Some recipes say to wash the anchovies in red wine, so if you choose simply lay the 2 anchovies in a small dish cover with red wine and let sit for 10 min or so.
After saute' garlic and drained anchovies in olive oil until the garlic softens and anchovies disintegrate creating a homogenous mix of the two. Some will actually puree' this mix, it's not a bad idea if you're concerned about texture.

Julienne your radicchio and saute' in olive oil until just wilted.
At this point you can toss your quinoa and radicchio together in a a separate bowl and add the bagna cauda, remember it is both salty and garlicky so you be the judge of how much or how little to add for your taste.

Broil the Arctic Char, line a baking tray with parchment, add a touch of water, or white wine so as not to dry out this delicate fish. Broil on the second rack until just a bit of white starts to form at the edges, this is the fish letting you know it's just about done, let sit on the tray out of the oven to rest while composing your plate. It is a thinner fish than Salmon cooking times will vary but roughly 10-15 minutes.

Blanch your snow pea pods, quickly in and out of about 2 inches of salted boiling water.

Mix 1 tsp wasabi with 1 tblsp mayonaise.

Now compose... one layer of snow pea pods, perch atop these your radicchio, quinoa warm salad, then your fish and two slices of avocado and dress with just a bit of your wasabi/mayonaise.

buon appetito!

Music to move to in my kitchen....

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Santosha and balance

Openness starts from within
Photo credit: Denise Guerin

Santosha means practicing contentment in all things. It is the active practice of accepting the way things are. Santosha encourages us to be satisfied with whatever each day brings, welcoming what we get.

"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you."
-Lao tzu

This season's cold damp dark days have served as they do each year to bring growth, although each year I seem to forget that this cathartic annual process is hard, intimidating and exposing.  I turn inward, dig deep am uncomfortable, I question, doubt, try to create balance and feel like a yoyo. The human condition, the perpetual seeking for balance. It is comical to me how although each year the cycle is the same I manage to forget and stay so mired in the present that it seems that what comes next may never come, and yet it always does. This year taking on other's pain as my libran nature does became much harder to stay detached and added to the complexity of my winter months. It is critical to be aware of our own feelings and not those of other's negative energy that may surround.  Slowly with mindfulness I choose awareness.  So as the buds push forth from their protective sheaths each spring so to do I un-sheath, unfurl, reinvigorated and new. At once, I spin, un-ravel and nourish mind, body and soul.

This spring's commitment:
 30 days of wellness to start. 

Yoga everyday.

The effort that is put in is the result that comes is not the perfection of the posture as much as it is the effort and the consistency that lead to the eventual mastery of what yoga as a holistic practice has to offer each of us. This practice that has become such a mainstream exercise is often practiced for it's physical benefits and circus like flexibility it can offer, but it is much more holistic addressing spiritual, physical and emotional balance and mindfulness. It is important to know that each yoga class is not treated equally, it is critical to research your teacher and studio. There are many forms of yoga, hatha, vinyasa, Bikram, Batiste, Ashtanga, Yin and so forth, as well as limbs or complimentary practices such as Qi Gong, meditation, tai chi and reiki. Before embarking on a yogic journey do your research for studios and teachers and practices that align with who you are and what you're looking for.

Pure food.

"bright eyes"

I don't mean a detox cleanse I mean back on my apple cart that this winter had pushed me off. We tend to eat for comfort, stews, starches and meats when we are cold, this is not the ideal diet for the body's digestion and absorption. There is a balance for all, hearty warming dishes do more for the soul than the body but sometimes this is just as necessary to pay attention to so listen to your body. I laugh every time I hear how kale has made such an impact on "health minded" individuals that people are suffering from the ramifications of too much of a good thing. Kale is high in thallium, not by any means the only veggie that is but the rule of thumb is everything in moderation, two bunches of kale a week are perfectly fine, two a day is overkill. Vary your veggies, just be conscious of your choices being well rounded.
My aunt once said to me to be healthy one must eat the rainbow, hah! So with this in mind, my shopping cart is colorful, each ingredient serving a purpose to purify, stimulate blood flow and production and always reduce inflammation as I strive to maintain an Alkaline body. Breakfast starts with high powered antioxidant organic fruits and veggies, juicer and Vitamix are necessary.
One of my favorites (pictured above):

Bright Eyes

juice of three carrots, two lemons, two oranges (eye brightener and antioxidant super C)
in the blender pour your juices and add
celery two stalks (anti-inflammatory)
one fist of cilantro  (anti-inflammatory)
a slice of fresh ginger( antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory) 
maca and lucuma powders 1tsp each. (energy and sweetener)
1 tbsp chia seed (fiber)
1tbsp turmeric (accented importantly by a dash of white pepper to activate it) (anti-inflammatory)

Feast for the senses.

 I'm an open conduit after the winter, awake and inspired. Find yours, my inspiration is dance, cooking and new music. Often one can see me dancing across my floor to ceiling windows that face our lake and taking breaks to taste a dish, attend to balancing the flavors or kiss a kid.
I love asking new people what they are listening to, love to see what musical tastes look like. Recently I had the pleasure of actually adding one of these new finds to my own music library, I'm all about sharing so have a listen:

From this tangled web we call life,  we choose to create our reality be it harmony, beauty, love. It is the knitting together of all that we do that makes us individuals. We are all part of a whole but each unique, each with a distinctly different voice informed by our past and our present informed too by our connections to each other. Be mindful of where you are in the universe, and that we are the sum of many not just the one.

Love and light...

Next blog....luscious lunch and beauty regime to erase winter cold and dry!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Charcoal and Celestial Bodies the muse for capsule apparel collection by the Artemisian

 Under the heavy weight of the pad of my forefinger the twig charcoal crushes into dust and is pushed across the page. Powdery black holes and linear elements opposing each other. It was always this texture that drew me back to drawing, between inking copper etching plates and raising ground to create resists. From the acid baths waiting I would turn back again to the charcoal drawings, my hands sooty and above my eyebrows from the occasional sweeping of hair away from my face I sit for hours hunched over a rudimentary workhorse supported old door as a table, coffee at my side in a pair of worn and ripped jeans that call to mind a blackened Cajun barbecue for how often my hands found there way to rubbing off the excess black down the side of my thigh.
 Art has always been about process to me, the journey. I heavily criticize my final product always but by the time its done my engagement with the piece is over, my love and hate and passion is poured completely into the process of the making, in this way I can float between mediums with equal attention.
 Color has never interested me as much as the depths of black it does therefore seem fitting that our musings with a limited edition clothing collection should be in tones of black. Inky midnight blue black to deep charcoal and an almost chalkboard smoky black, the palette, one matte one sumptiously soft, the other with a razor sharp sheen due to the fine woven of the wool. Texture is what differentiates blacks, This capsule collection is a limited series as have always been my accessories, prints and drawings. These pieces are not for mass consumption but are to be savored, cherished and handed down. As such the fabric and production are numbered and tagged this way 1of 50, 2 of 50 and so forth and so on.
  I met an Indian woman guided to me by a dear friend who had a culturally specific skill of silk knotting embroidery. She brought into my studio one day a gilted fabric woven threads of gold and embroidered silk knots. Her skill was filed away, until just now as I sit hunched over once again dreaming and drawing of inky suits, frayed threads, asymmetrical lines and french blue embroidered silk knots.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Eastern contrast

It was a rainy day, not much unlike what they had left in the States not more than 21 hours ago, temperate and misting.
The cityscape truly was a sight beholden to the most futuristic of movies, as seen in Bladerunner, Lost in Translation and the like, feats of architecture so dynamic and with such attention to detail spawned across the entire city, in each ward down every narrow and wide street alike. Tadao Ando, just one name that stuck, memory isn't what it used to be, seemed his name kept coming up, I don't claim to know my architects one from the other, but I was truly intrigued by the technical bravura of most of the buildings we came across and so it was this, just one of the visual memories that stays with me of Tokyo.

We spent days between business meetings, exercising our new cultural behaviours, ceremony and ritual playing such integral parts of daily life in the Japanese culture. Honor and respect, pride and work ethic, humility, consensus, collective consciousness, exemplify the discoveries we repeatedly came into contact with that shook our contrasting individualistic existence in the west. These things were truly beautiful to experience. We have somehow made everything so complicated in the west, no single set of rules to follow that take the guess work out of so many small things, each thing minuscule or otherwise in the west gives chance to express individually. It is not to say that this is a negative quality but instead simply fascinating to observe other. It was rewarding to know, to have been given important tips on customs and enact what was learned, much appreciation was shown toward our attempts.

As we thread through this surreal cityscape encountering new things, making comparisons, being surprised by the unexpected we had an air of humor, we did not scoff at what we did not understand  it simply opened our eyes to the different ways things are done, whilst laughing at ourselves unable to find the rhythm of the city. This is truly the city that never sleeps, never slows down, never sits, until the subway, where it is my personal opinion that because one is so inundated with techno sensory stimulation and color and print and masses of moving people, it is here and only here that one can truly relax and recharge. If I had a dime for the number of people with their eyes closed, on each subway I'd have come home for sure with a Yohji Yamamoto piece on my back! 

On the topic of what made us laugh, really if you have never tried the truly intuitive Toto brand of toilets and sinks, you haven't lived. 
A toilet that creates white noise, is heated for your sitting comfort, washes and dries all your necessary parts and flushes automatically. If you're not laughing by the time you've left the bathroom stall, need only wash your hands in one of their sinks, pictured above is the effect the hand dryer has when placed within the sink bowl! 

Finally it wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention food, although I have no doubt that the cuisine of Japan is amazing we had an easier time, and here the surprise, finding fine French and Italian establishments! Having heard this, a new friend and frequent traveller to Tokyo promptly brought us to a traditional Okinawa style restaurant and there redeemed my  hope of finding exquisitely prepared and delicate Japanese cuisine, not to mention the Hubushu!!

We've come back, informed, happy and with a bigger sense of the whole having more importance than the one. 
takoyaki making, street food octpus filled dough balls

Daibatsu- giant Buddha in Kamakura

Denise doing her thing, at the Fred Segal opening

Bamboo forest Buddhist temple

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring and Talismans

It begins each year at this time.. the thaw of the forest floor, the concrete in the city, our shoulders melt down from up around our ears and the warmth of the sun inviting as it is, reveals a new spring.
We have been working in our studio, The Artemisian has moved and our space is luminous and cozy, a combination of old and new true to who we are. The collection has grown now to include not only original antique pieces but  altered antiques and small scale sculptures all made in our studio nestled behind our restaurant.
It has been an enlightening year for us as the locations we can be found in expand the entirety of the globe, each day we wake with gratitude.
Our mission to utilize existing pieces remains strong and the addition of small scale sculptures has brought our designer's fine art background into the forefront. This year has seen us showing in New York, Paris and Tokyo as well as our designer's dive back into showing installation and performance pieces together with Inliquid an artist collaborative out of Philadelphia.
This spring collection was inspired by the use of talismans across various cultures. The talisman is an inanimate object given energy, our energy to manifest a desired outcome or object into being. The idea of this, an object being given our energy is such a beautiful thought, that one's focus and intention can be given physical form. Our designer's long time yogic path has also influenced the shoot for this collection integrating the use of yoga and talisman together.
Each piece of the collection has been contemplated and engraved with a singular word to hold as a positive intention, words such as: 

Soar- Sterling silver antique airforce wings, sterling bezel set green amethyst, antique gold filled locket engraved "soar" Sterling silver new locket also available.

Wonder Woman- hand forged brass cuffs one size squeeze to fit

Capsule- a hand forged match case with strike anywhere matches inside and a strike plate, engraved breath, ecstasy or stillness inside, sterling silver outside, rose gold interior. Special Order only.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The viking like muse for Fall,  Melanie Blakenship photographed by Denise Guerin
Gustav Klimt - Water Serpents

With The Great Gatsby seen and Gustav Klimt, Mark Rothko and Egon Shiele  as a few of my revered artists the Fall 2014 collection was born. Immersed in the music of Nina Simone, Billy Holiday, Les Nubians and Les Negresses Vertes the studio teemed with a flurry of activity, electroplating only half way up the various antiques giving them a dip dyed look, to researching native American ladder beading techniques and perfecting them before incorporating into the line. It was a collection of indulgence, non restraint...the antiques flowed, polishing and soldering adding to and taking away to create new pieces to incorporate with the old. The entire collection speaks of opulence and decadence. Rich hues, garnet and champagne hued citrine sit nestled in gold and silver chains and sparkling pyrite.

Gustav Klimt- Judith

Fall 2014 Shoot culmination

Nina Crooned her way into the work, "Birds flyin high, you now how I feel..."  And the likes of the new Gatsby soundtrack echoed the work that was being done to the artifacts that lay before me. It's such an enthralling part of the process to immerse each sense into what I am creating.
Charmed collection- Gold Opaline glass early 1900's sold. Rouge, Taipei City, Taiwan

Elks Club- Dipped Collection: original elks club member cigarette paper case with password carved inside, sterling silver dipped in 18k gold. Ruby eye, enameled symbol 1900's America. Sold, Ear Papilonner, Japan.
Fob bracelets and fairydust bands

Gotye, Jay Z, Beyonce and Florence sing the new version of Gatsby, and I chuckle hearing how this has been reinterpreted for our generation's popular consumption. Film is such a fantastic art form. 
The shoot reminds me of iconic religious saints, Klimt and Shakira's album cover all in one...the more you know, the more you see, the more you see the more you can interpret. Context and concept.