Saturday, July 28, 2012

Coming Full Circle

Ten Cavaliers Forming a Circle, Stefano della Vella

Today, this blog turns one year old! Check out the post where it all started.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Postmodern Hymn: Country Roads

via Vintage Plum

I remember visiting my brother at his summer camp in Colorado, sitting around the camp fire with him and his friends and listening to them sing from their repertoire of songs. I remember Joni Mitchell's "Circle Games" and John Denver's "Country Roads" in particular. And I remember thinking how great it was that they had classic songs to share together. I'm off to the mountains this week, and I think I'll be singing John Denver songs in my head as I hike. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Magic Clouds, Jeweled Clouds

Nimbus II, by Berndaut Smilde

As if staring up into puff ball clouds wasn't enough of a treat, I've been enjoying clouds as works of art. I guess I'm still thinking of art as ephemeral and bound to the natural world, as in the flower mandalas of my last post.

Above is the magic smoke machine-created cloud, maintained by painstaking control over the temperature and humidity of the installations space.

Below are over-the-top Swarovski crystal-decorated clouds on view at Dumbarton Oaks.

Cloud Terrace, by Andy Cao and Zavier Perrot

If you like the subject as much as I do, try visiting the Cloud Appreciation Society, devoted to spotting clouds and cloud art. On their website, I discovered that a cloud I saw earlier in the year was a special Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud: a beautiful, wave-like cloud that is very prized by cloud collectors. I remember thinking it was a beautiful formation at the time, but there's something about putting a name to it that makes it feel like an accomplishment to have noticed it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Food for the Soul: Soup from the Sea

Mermaids by Carlo Chiostri
via Melusina Mermaid

The year I lived in Korea, I ate seaweed soup (미역국; miyeokguk) many a morning. Returning to the states, breakfast cereals seemed so insubstantial by comparison, so from time to time I've made myself seaweed soup for dinner/breakfast. I recommend making it for dinner and then recycling it for breakfast one morning. You can always eat it with an egg if soup feels too much like dinner on its own.

Once you find the seaweed (usually packaged dry), the soup relatively easy to make. Grab a handful or two or seaweed and soak it covered with water in a mixing bowl  until it grows back into its luscious silky state (20 to 30 minutes), and then rinse. (This is important! I sometimes rush this step and end up with gritty soup; this is not a play of textures that you want.)

Boil water or beef broth or fish broth in a pot, and season with garlic and soy sauce or fish sauce. Add in the seaweed to cook, and maybe add some rib eye sliced into tiny chucks or add mussels or leave it plain. You don't have too cook it long, just 30 minutes or so.

Add sesame oil at the end, to further heighten the silky texture of the seaweed. Serve with rice.

Give thanks to the ocean heart for its nourishment.

"[The sea is] the blue heart of the planet—we should take care of our heart. It's what makes life possible for us."
    —Sylvia Earle

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sacred Space: Impermanent Gifts

Danmala, by Kathy Klein
via Colossal

What is it about us humans that makes us want to rearrange natural objects into patterns? When I find myself in a beautiful setting, sometimes the most natural thing to do seems to be to make some sort of "offering" to the beauty I find myself surrounded by. An arrangement of shells, in some attempt to align my own perspective with the greater landscape. An arrangement of rocks, as a greeting to others, a sign of recognition that my own perspective can blend with others'. 

Kathy Klein's danmalas are a good example of this kind of art. Visit her gallery to see a quilt of technicolor patterns, all created from flower petals. She describes "centering" herself and creating the art in a state of devotional silence. The designs she creates seem to pulsate from the blending of her state of mind with the natural matter she works with.

Some of my favorite art is the kind that is meant to be impermanent. There's something so poignant about making something, knowing that when you leave it behind, it will eventually be returned to the earth. There's something beautiful, too, in leaving the art to be discovered for others who happen to be passing by. I sometimes want to hoard everything that's beautiful, and making something that can be left behind is a good exercise in sharing and letting go, even if a photograph allows us to hold onto the art in some sense!

Shell Offering by me


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