09 May 2013

a day in the life

The note in my calendar said that the Agnes Martin show at the Albright-Knox was closing on Sunday so I checked the mailing I'd gotten not too long ago and saw that there were a couple other shows as well that were closing soon. So off I went to Buffalo today. As I drove in the intermittent rain, I wondered why I'd go on a two-hour drive on such a day.

I got to the Albright-Knox at about 11 am and headed toward the tunnel galleries between the main building and the office building. There in the corridor gallery was a collection of contemporary photographs from the museum's collection. There were some very moving photos by Sophie Ristelhueber from her "Fait" series of images taken in Kuwait soon after the first Gulf War. Next to them were two portraits of veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars by Jennifer Karady. I've been thinking a lot about war, terrorism, and Muslims recently, in light particularly of the Boston Marathon bombing and the reaction to the Tsarnaev brothers. My brother posted a link on Facebook to the New York times article on the dark side of the younger brother Dzhokhar. I posted a response wondering why an angry teenager turns to violence and a firestorm ensued.

As I was standing next to the Ristelhueber photographs, a docent was talking to some high school students about the photographs and said there was no political comment. Not overt maybe?!??! but it sure spoke loud to me. Rusted tanks and other military equipment littering the desert. No politics here?

The Agnes Martin works were as aesthetically moving as the photos had been emotionally disruptive. The show originated at the Harwood Museum of Art of UNM in Taos. There the show was called "Before the grid" but the Buffalo version was called "Agnes Martin: the New York-Taos-connection (1947-1957). What a wonderful gathering of works and mostly new to me. This image is "Mid-winter" from the Harwood Museum exhibition page. The painting is in the Taos Municipal Schools Historic Art Collection. This and others reminded me of Arthur Dove, a favorite artist.

The other shows were "Kelly Richardson: Legion" and "Dennis Maher: House of collective repair" with more thoughts of man and nature, man as a social creature.

Full on art, I went off to Talking Leaves Bookstore which has a branch a few blocks South on Elmwood Avenue from the Albright-Knox, stopping on the way at Saigon Cafe for some gingered vegetables. I bought a couple books at Talking Leaves and had a latte at Aroma which is adjacent and linked inside to the bookstore. I'm reading On Persephone's island, the second book on Sicily since I got back five weeks ago.

Not quite sated on books, I headed out to the main Talking Leaves on Main Street out by the UB campus. Ooops, six more, several were on the list. A couple were discoveries including Whistling Vivaldi: how stereotypes affect us and what we can do by Claude Steele. More thinking about how we characterize others and how it affects relations between the people of the world.

Getting sated now but since I was up in northeastern Buffalo, I figured I'd continue out Route 5 to Transit Road and stop at the Barnes and Noble. I have some gift cards, bought from my sister's partner's son's longtime girlfriend who never goes shopping though she likes to read. They even let you use the gift card in the coffee shop!

Off toward home. The town of Holland intrigues me for a variety of reasons: my good friend Geurt is Dutch, one of my favorite artists (Hieronymus Bosch) is Dutch, the Zider Zee restaurant has a mini windmill, there's this wonderful almost-semicircular car repair shop with stepped gables:
As I was driving through Holland, I noticed there was a little carnival happening. Drove by but then turned around. I was just a bit hungry and thought there might be some carnival treat. Nothing quite like getting some fried dough and taking a ride on a small ferris wheel.

06 May 2013

To the Sicilians: Trattoria Bar Da Nino Titos, Ragusa

We walked down the Scala di Ragusa and then back up into Ragusa Ibla (the older part of town, the newer part being built after the great earthquake of 1693) and out toward the Giardino Ibleo. It was about time to eat lunch and we'd scribbled down the name of some restaurants out that direction. We passed the lovely Vecchio Portale di San Giorgio, all that's left of the Arabo-Catalan Romanesque/Gothic church. Whatever style, the great mix of Sicily.


The highly recommended Quattro Gatti, just beyond the old portal, was closed so I walked on ahead of Christie to see if Trattoria Bar Da Nino Titos was open. The door was open but there wasn't much evidence of business yet. I asked the fellow that came to greet me and he said that they were indeed open. I let him know that I had to go back to get "mi amica" and then we'd come for the big meal of the day. When we got back to the restaurant, they'd set up a table for us. Tablecloth, silverware, in a little alcove, etc. Most of the tables were uncovered.


As we were getting settled in, a group of young women came in, all bubbling. They had discovered the Harlem Shake meme and were getting ready to do one of their own. I hadn't heard of it but Christie recognized it. There was some international chitter-chatter understanding. All was well: international understanding beyond a shared verbal language, gracious hosting, good cheese antipasto and meal.

03 May 2013

aging hippie, aging hipster, not hipster, whatever

So I've long referred to myself as an aging hippie. When I met Sharon for lunch in L.A., I started to show her my tattoo and she said she was mighty tired of hipster tattoos. Well, that put me in my place, or maybe not. You probably cannot be an aging hipster if you were never a young hipster. On the other hand, getting the tattoo was certainly inspired by looking at lots of hipster tattoos. What's a person to do to stay fashionable. Sharon did say she liked my tattoo OK but only looked with one sidelong glance.