Wayne Cambern at the Boston Street Gallery

Two weeks ago, I hopped the Market-Frankford El to the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia in search of the Boston Street Gallery.  The Boston Street Gallery is about a mile from the York-Dauphin El stop.  I had occasion to visit this neighborhood on a regular basis in another life, but I had not back for many years.  It certainly has changed.

 

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I went to the Boston Street Gallery to attend the opening of a show called Lyrical Perceptions which includes work by Wayne Cambern.   I met Wayne at the open pottery studio at Fleisher Art Memorial.   Like me, he was getting back into pottery after a multi-year hiatus.  But his primary interests are drawing and painting.   So I jumped at the chance to see his other work when he told me about the show.

 

The urge to make art has been with me for as long as I can remember.   I love color, design and craftsmanship in its many manifestations.  I hope this quest to make something that qualifies as art speaks to the viewer. –Wayne Cambern

My big regret in writing this post is that my pictures simply cannot convey the mastery of Wayne’s drawings and portraits.   In order to get the full effect, you will have to visit the show which runs until December 1, 2018.  In the meantime, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The Atlas of Tomorrow

The Atlas of Tomorrow is an interactive art installation located on South Street between Broad and Thirteenth Streets in Philadelphia.   I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

This is how it works:

Instructions
The Instructions
Wheel
The Dial
StreetView
Numbered Stories Posted on the Wall

 

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The Story the Pointer Selected for Me After I Spun It.

Mural

Credits

 

 

Consider Contemplate

 

To learn more about The Atlas of Tomorrow, press here.  To learn more about Candy Chang, press here.  To learn more about the Philadelphia Mural Art Program, press here.

October is Mural Arts Month

 

Say it with Flowers

I had intended to write this week’s post about Beading Yoda’s lovely beaded flowers.   But that will have to wait.

What a week this has been.   Boris is almost recovered from the Benjimonster and is much less stressed.  I cannot say the same for myself.  It all started so innocently.  My health insurance company decided to give its customers a discount on their premiums if they enrolled in a program called Active Health to learn about healthy habits,  adiet, exercise, and so on.  You get points for each module you complete. Collect 100 points and you get your discount.   Easy, right?  Wrongo Bongo!

I logged onto the program’s website and managed to enroll after numerous calls to customer service to learn how to navigate a website obviously designed by Dr. Mengels.

In the weeks that followed, I duly entered my blood pressure, my cholesterol,  completed questionnaires, and studied health topics.  As I completed each module, I was awarded a certain number of points.  I was on my way to my discount.

Nor so fast.

Yesterday, I foolishly downloaded the Active Health iPad app for the program and completed more tasks.  As I tracked my progress, I noted the app was not saving anything.  And there was no option for me to save. I tried to contact customer service online.  There was a place to write a message but no way to send the message.  So, I called customer service.

I was referred to another number.  Then a third number.  Then I spent almost an hour  with a service rep who tried to guide me through the website.  But, as I repeatedly reminded her, I was using the app, not the website.   Alas,  she could neither help me nor refer me to someone who could.  “And yet,” as the saying goes, “she  persisted.”  As I hung up I wondered where she got her stamina.

Later that evening, I decided to try again on the website instead of the app.  I ran into the same problem.   I called customer service again.  As the conversation with a different rep wore on, I realized that he knew that the website did not work,and that tech support was non existant. But the rep was  creative-I’ll give him that-he suggested that I abandon the online health education module altogether and opt for phone counseling in order to get my points  So I agreed. We scheduled an appointment with a health counselor.  Then the rep started to rattle on about the Philadelphia Eagles.  Time to say goodbye.

The health counselor called the next day at the appointed time.   “What health issues would you like to work on? ” she asked.

“Stress,” I replied, “I really need to work on my stress.”

“What gives you stress? ” she queried.

“I was doing pretty good before I enrolled in the Active Health program,” I admitted, “but broken website coupled with service reps who don’t have the resources they need to do their job  has caused me a great deal of stress.”

“Oh.”

The counselor suggested that I meditate and gave me a number I to call if the stress became overwhelming.  “There are counselors there to help you,” she informed me.

“Is this covered by my insurance?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she responded.  “Let’s schedule another session.”

“How’d it go?” my husband asked me later that day.  “Not as bad as I thought it would be,” I admitted.  “In fact, I’ve decided to start smoking again so at our next session she can give me advice on how to quit.”

Only two more counseling sessions to go.

And now, to keep myself honest, here are pictures of flowers taken on my walks around Philadelphia.

 

A Day at the Franklin Institute

 

Outside

Most people who grew up in the Philadelphia area went to the Franklin Institute as kids. Guess what?  It’s still as much fun now as it was them.  Maybe even more so because there aren’t any field trip monitors or other well-intentioned adults to boss you around.  The Step Potato and his little brother the Step Banana were in town with their parents last weekend so a trip to the Franklin Institute was in order.  Much of the museum was as I remember it.

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The Heart

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Ben

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Foucault’s Pendulum

But much had changed.  For one, it was Minecraft Day. And the special exhibit was Game Masters which took me on a video game trip down memory lane as I revisited old favorites and tried some new games.   The exhibit I enjoyed the most, however, was Your Brain. Not only was it interesting, it was visually absorbing.

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The kids had a marvelous time crawling around the neurons of a huge model brain.  It was the cerebral version of a hopping discotheque which I suppose is an apt description of what your brain is up to 24/7.

Brain

By the time we got out of the brain, I was ready for the Fels Planetarium where I learned about the danger of asteroids hurling themselves at the earth.  Not on my watch, I hope.

Winding down

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Outside mirrors moving in the wind,

while the brain boogies on.

 

 

 

Looking for Inspiration? Try a Flea Market

Spring is when the outdoor flea markets spring up in Philadelphia.  My favorite Saturday activity is to take long walks through the neighborhoods and hit house sales, sidewalk sales, and flea markets on my way.  I usually look for household items I might need at sidewalk sales.  Estate sales are especially interesting because they are usually held in affluent neighborhoods and you get to see some pretty impressive homes from the inside as well as antiques and art.  You also learn that money does not always equal taste, but we knew that already, didn’t we?

Flea markets are fun because the sellers are generally pretty friendly in my experience and some are eager to talk about their wares even if you don’t buy.  They’re a place to learn, meet people, and relax.

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John S. Whitney, Jr. has a clever way of attracting buyers to his table filled with antique art and jewelry.  He also sells from his store, the Nue Gallery, in Lansdown, PA.

While I don’t collect antiques or vintage items, and rarely buy jewelry,  I find plenty of inspiration at flea markets.  You will find plenty of shapes and color at flea markets, in the form of old pottery vintage clothing, brightly colored cloth, old appliances, or just plain rusty stuff.  I have found some great old tools at flea markets, but I also look for things I can incorporate into my art, like old jewelry, metal objects I can cut up and repurpose, ephemera,  or anything that I can fit into a bezel.

Here are some pictures from my last flea market foray

 

And here’s what I bought: two cheap copper cuff bracelets and two cheap brass ones.  Total, $5.00.  I plan to reuse the metal to make something new.  I also found a vendor selling cabochons and treated myself to some lovely striped jasper for another $10.00.

My Haul

In Honor of the Eagles’ Super Bowl Victory: A Dessert to Knock Your Booties Off

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I live in Philadelphia and I suppose I would be remiss if I did not take passing note of the Philadelphia Eagle’s recent Super Bowl Victory.  Before the game started, however, victory was far from certain.  Knowing that the only other kind of “bowl” that could bring such joy to my husband was a bowl filled with something chocolate, I decided to make a chocolate creation worthy of the Super Bowl and so delicious that if the Eagles lost, we would still have the dessert as consolation.

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I searched the Internet for a flourless chocolate cake recipe and found one on the Finecooking.Com    The recipe is easy to make and held up to my minor alterations.  One thing I did was to use my husband’s favorite Icelandic Chocolate from Whole Foods.  He is trying to cut all milk products out of his4.IcelandicChocolate diet (for some reason, this does not include butter.  Don’t ask me to explain how butter is not a milk product.  But Icelandic Chocolate contains not one speck of milk product so it’s OK.)    The second alteration was to use a springform pan which makes unmolding the cake much easier.  I changed the icing too, adding cocoa and powdered sugar  And I serve the cake frozen. You would not believe how much better this makes the chocolate experience. That and an Eagles’ Super Bowl  victory. Here is the recipe:

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Super Bowl Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 12 oz. Icelandic Chocolate (about 1 3/4 bars)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 large eggs at room temperature (cruelty-free, please!)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup or so powdered sugar
  • 4 tbs cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.  Cut a circle of baking parchment to fit into the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan.  Spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with cooking spray and dust with cocoa.  I like to sprinkle some granulated sugar into the pan too.  Combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until the mixture becomes thick and fluffy.  This is a simple step but I tried to find a site on the Internet to illustrate it for people who have not done it.   I saw so many different instructions that I gave up.   Here’s what I did: I threw everything in the bowl, including the cocoa, 3/4 cup butter melted and cooled, and beat the mixture for about 5 minutes with a Hamilton Beach 6-speed hand mixer using the mixing paddles and not the whisk.  I used the number two speed.    The batter fluffed up beautifully.  (Remember, my cruelty-free eggs were at room temperature. )  I scraped the batter into the prepared pan and baked the cake on the middle rack for about 40 minutes.  The knife I inserted in the middle had a smidgen of batter on it, but I did not want to over bake the cake, so I took it out.   I let the cake cool for about 20 minutes, ran a knife around the edges of the pan, and put the cake, still on the spring-form bottom, on a plate, and into the freezer.

Then I made the icing

I melted the remaining 1/4 cup of butter in the microwave, put the remaining 2 oz. of the Icelandic chocolate into the melted butter, and stirred the mixture until the chocolate was melted. Then I added 3 tbs of cocoa powder, about a cup of powdered sugar, and a tsp. of vanilla.  I beat the mixture with the mixer, adding just enough water to make it pourable.  I took the cake out of the freezer,  poured the icing over the cake and let it drip over the sides and returned the cake to the freezer,  When the icing set up, I covered the cake with plastic wrap.

Some recommendations

This cake is best served frozen.  You can eat it as soon as it cools, but it is so much better  when it’s frozen.   If you have trouble cutting it, try dipping the knife in hot water before slicing.   The cake is so chocolatey that a small piece will quell your inner chocolate monster.  In fact, this cake is too good, it will knock your booties off.  Go Eagles!

Christmas at Laurel Hill

Laurel Hill Mansion in Fairmont Park is all decked out for the holidays.  This year’s theme is “Celebrating 250 Years of Designing Women.”  The Christmas Tree in the main room is decorated with ornaments showing women’s fashion plated from Godey’s Lady’s Book.  If you never heard of Godey’s Lady’s Book, you are in for a surprise.  Godey’s was the premier woman’s fashion magazine in the United States from  1837 to 1898.   But it  was more than a magazine.  Women relied on it for information and articles on everything from cooking to housekeeping to health to etiquette.  It contained sheet music, short stories, book reviews, etchings and essays by the leading intellectuals of the day.    Its female editor, Sarah J.  Hale, wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and convinced President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.   Hale was also a trend setter who knew what her readers wanted. In 1850, she started a fad when she introduced the American public to the Christmas tree when she published a picture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert  and their family gathered around their holiday tree.  

Here are some pictures of Laurel Hill.

If you want to take a look at Godey’s Lady’s Book,  press here.  You can download articles and other materials here. And enjoy your holiday.

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Summer Walks, Summer Flowers

  One of the things I love most about Philadelphia is the unexpected little streets and alley ways that stretch from Queen Village to Point Breeze and all the neighborhoods in between.   Here are some flower pictures I took on some walks around the city.1.SummerFlars0728_1417522.SummerFlars0728_1418043.SummerFlars0728_1418204.SummerFlars0728_1418235.SummerFlars4526.SummerFlars5077.SummerFlars5368.SummerFlars556

In The Sanctuary

I did something a little different this week.   I attended the Wednesday night In The Sanctuary series at the Fleisher Art Memorial where my figure drawing teacher   Bernard Collins joined  DJ Razor Ramon and artist/activist Priscilla Anacakuyani for a collaborative spoken word/live painting/music  performance.

 

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Bernard and DJ Razor Ramon.  Bernard read-rapped-sang his poetry while Ramon kept the beat.

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Bernard and Pricilla painting.

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5-4Bernard invited a member of the audience to come up and sing.  Her strong dynamic voice to everyone by surprise.

 

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The rear of the sanctuary.

 

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To read more about Bernard Collins and his work press here.

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It’s Time for the Mummers!

2016 is screaming to a close.  Who knows what the New Year will bring?  One good thing it will bring is the Mummer’s Parade.  I’ve written about the Philadelphia Mummers and their fascinating history and traditions in past years but I’m always learning something new.  I saw the badges and ribbons pictured here at an exhibit at Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park.  

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At first, I thought the badges and ribbons were awards of some kind.  In fact, they were Mummer identification worn on parade day.   “New Years Association” is just another term for Mummers club.  

Mumming  is an ancient European  tradition.  The first modern Mummers Parade took place in Philadelphia on New Years 1876.   The first “official parade” was in 1901.   

To see pictures from the 1906 Mummers parade, press here.

Cross-dressing was a Winter Solstice and Carnival tradition that transitioned into the Mummers Parade without any political hysteria.  It was considered good fun.  And still is, as the picture below will attest.  That is my husband gamely posing with some happy Mummers.

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To read about cross-dressing and the Mummers Parade, press here .

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For the 2016 Parade lineup and route map, press here.