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3 Dec
This is Edmund.

This is Edmund.

We have a penguin. His name is Edmund. Edmund guards the dog house that came with our new house, which is an old house – 1892 or 1900 depending on where you look. Our new-old house is in the Central District, a neighborhood much like Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, and the old creaky house itself feels just like an old creaky house in Brooklyn, which is part of why, as soon as we stepped inside of it, it felt right.

In the crawl space, we found a volleyball and in the kitchen drawer a 1962 high school yearbook from Macon, Georgia. Edmund, our ceramic penguin, is the crown jewel of our object-finds. He looks serene and proud in front of the dog house, which sits before a towering cherry tree and a slip of a maple.

The architecture of the house itself is a jewel. Built as a “working man’s Victorian,” it’s a Victorian in miniature, with gables and nooks, all fairly tiny. Our favorite spot is the nook beneath the stairs in the dining room, which we’ve declared the reading nook, complete with an ottoman, dreamy cushion, and wooden milk crate of currently-reading or to-be-read-soon books. Despite being nearly blocked off by towers of boxes, I’ve already spent several delightful hours reading poetry there in the bluish morning light.

Moving, and a host of other things (a new job, mainly), have kept me away from this blog. November was dedicated to nest-building, poultry-roasting, bread-pudding-making, big pots of soup-making. All pleasant things. I’ll be sure to poke my head back on here again this month; I’ve got lots of exciting projects in store for the new year.

Arctic Night

16 Dec

Olympic Sculpture Park; photo by George Szilagyi

One of my favorite things, which I don’t do nearly enough, is to get lost in a city and stumble upon something wonderful. Yesterday, I took my father around Seattle, from Capitol Hill (where we chatted electric insulators at Arabica) to South Lake Union to Queen Anne to the Olympic Sculpture Park and finally to Pioneer Square, after which we plotzed on the 43 bus back up the hill. It was a lovely eye-feast of high end furniture, antiques (like this Japanese gourd, though there was a doubly-bulbous one as well as an enormous Turkish yogurt vat very much to my liking), and contemporary sculpture (plus some smoked salmon and cheese samples at the market!). My favorite stumbling place was the Sisko Gallery,where we were warmly greeted by Daisy, the gallery’s terrier, and John Sisko, the sculptor-founder. The current show, “Aether”,  features Phil McCracken’s dark fruit wood sculptures made luminous by epoxy resin; one of my favorite pieces is “Arctic Night”, pulsating midnight blue from a smoldering red center, around which orbit white and red splotches. Tony Curtis’s poem “The Mole and Cosmos” opens “Aether”, setting a warm tone for the whole show and also fitting in quite nicely with the welcoming atmosphere of gallery. More about McCracken’s “cosmic turn” is here. The gallery features new work every four to six weeks. I’m looking forward to a return!

Next up, the Arboretum’s Winter Garden…


30 May

Last Monday my father took me to some design parties in Williamsburg as a part of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and follow up to his trip to i Salone del Mobile di Milano. We parked on N.6th and Kent Avenue; traipsed over potholes and broken glass, passed empty riverside lots to look at the yellow-dotted scrapers against the red-purple sky, and listened to corrugated metal fences whine in the wind.

I complained of the cold so back we went and started at Fresh Kills where we drank Perroni and wiggled past clumps of hipsters to look at the ice-sculpture arm chair (cleverly drained by tubing snaked into a nearby grate in the floor) and a linen-covered Taschen tome on anatomy and surgery (I’m guessing its about $500 and I’m hoping someone will save up and buy it for my quarter-century birthday—only 9 months away!). My father touched every surface of every interesting piece of furniture: marble coffee tables with geometric inlays, dangling lamps of translucent glass. Fresh Kills was small, crowded, and not on his agenda. He was eager to move on, so we chugged the cold beer, eyeing the crowd (shaven heads and circus skirts with potato-sack pockets, dreads of all varieties, people really into design, people really into being into design). And out we went.

At HauteGREEN, my father marveled at the space. This was a workshop, he kept saying. I was here two days ago. Where are the saws? Where are the forklifts? It had become a hip party space, white-walled and minimally filled with items of green design: corrugated cardboard recliners, cork arm chairs, used tea bag wall hangings, book cases made of books. He wiggled the cork and the cardboard furniture, assessing comfort level. He ran his hand along bamboo plywood—“this is nice”. A tactile playground for an artist/craftsman.

From there to a boutique of Dutch and Finnish products. He was disappointed at the lack of Dutch beer.

“More Perroni?” he offered. “Shame on me, feeding my daughter a liquid dinner.”

We could hear the strange ululations of Finnish schmoozing. He gave the glass top of a coffee table on upturned skateboards a twirl. I pointed to an arachnid chandalier, made of black desktop lamps and he shrugged.

“That’s easy and cheap,” he said.

Next to the “big party” for Core77, at a large tapas/mezze restaurant next to empty warehouses, where men in amorphous gray felt costumes gave us 3D glasses. The crowd inside was an immovable blob so we looked a bit at the vibrant photos on the walls nearby (pink pigs with strangely textured skin, almost shingled), looked a bit at the pretty people, and left.

I was ready to call it a night, but dad wanted to hit one more spot. We went to the Altoids Living Space, ducked under film crews recording hipsters in linen cowboy shirts murmuring about gentrification, were disappointed by the cash bar, and stuffed our pockets with free tins of altoids.

“Licorice?” my dad offered. I crinkled my nose. “It’s good for you,” he admonished, before putting the black tin in his brimming pocket. We shuffled back to the car, mints clinking with our steps.

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