Making official photos of art objects takes more TLC than you may realize — especially a 7-foot-tall art object sporting a massive tulle dress.
Kansas University's Spencer Museum of Art shared this time-lapse video of staffers setting up and shooting Sophie-Ntombikayise, a larger-than-life sculpture by 29-year-old Johannesburg, South Africa, artist Mary Sibande. The piece posed unique challenges because of it's size and shape.
See the custom set-building, lighting, shooting, tear-down and resulting shots — in this fast-forward style video, it takes less than 4 minutes.
Sophie is the first sculpture of Sibande's to enter the permanent collection of any museum in the United States, according to the Spencer. Read more about the object — now on display in the museum's central court — in my last blog post.
Hat-tip to photographers Matthew Gonzales and Ryan Waggoner for sharing their work!
Now that the Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University has finally reopened after its water-main induced closure, visitors will be greeted by someone new.
She goes by “Sophie.”
Sophie-Ntombikayise is a larger-than-life sculpture by 29-year-old Johannesburg, South Africa, artist Mary Sibande. Sophie was scheduled to go on display last weekend in the museum’s center court, but the Aug. 1 water main break kept the museum closed until Tuesday of this week. (Note: Although the museum’s art objects and galleries escaped unharmed, unfortunately 15,000 to 20,000 books from the Murphy Art and Architecture Library in the basement were damaged.)
I got a peek at Sophie earlier this summer, when she was waiting in the wings for her debut. Even in a dimly lit temporary gallery, where she was stored with other art objects on their way into or out of display, she was impressive.
Sophie culiminates Sibande’s series of sculptural installations featuring four generations of women in her family, all of whom worked as domestic servants, according to the Spencer. It’s the first work in a U.S. museum collection.
The figure’s skin (formed in cast resin) is onyx-black, with down-turned face and slightly contorted, outstretched arms. Her size and skirt, however, stuck with me most. Sophie is pushing 7 feet tall, and her vivid purple and blue dress has piles and piles of billowing tulle that roll onto the floor in a circumference wider than her height.
The “wonderfully overblown” gown is meant to be an artificial hybrid costume of a maid’s uniform and regal Victorian dress, the Spencer’s exhibit announcement explains. Through Sophie, the announcement says, the artist addresses the traditional role of black women in South Africa and other countries where there’s a history of black servitude.
Did I mention Sophie is larger-than-life? Here’s a link to photos, but this piece is among those that are, without question, better — to scale — in person.
If you follow my colleague Chad Lawhorn's Town Talk blog, you know something has been going on with the restaurants at the southeast corner of 10th and Mass. After a month of being closed for remodeling, The Orient, Oh Boy! Chicken and (sort of) Angler's Seafood House reopened last week — as the same restaurant.
I stopped in Friday to check it out, and Nancy Nguyen, who owns all three restaurants, said the style of the new place is more "like a bistro." Nguyen she was looking to reduce her overhead and pare down the time she spent running between all three establishments.
"One person, you can't do it," she said.
The 3-in-1 conglomeration at 1006 Mass. has signs outside for The Orient and Oh Boy! Chicken. Inside, the decor is mostly Asian with some chickens and a fish here and there. There are two separate menus, one for The Orient (with its "pho-nomenal" pho and other Vietnamese dishes) and one for Oh Boy! Chicken (which offers gluten-free fried chicken, catfish and down-home sides).
Nguyen said the cost of flying in fresh fish three times a week has gotten too high to support. Rather than have it on a daily menu, she said, she expects to serve some of Angler's specialties, such as lobster tail, as weekend specials.
If any of you have been to that little Mexican-Chinese restaurant in downtown Eudora, Jasmine, it's kind of like that. If your party can't decide what its in the mood for, everyone can sit at the same table but dine in different worlds. (Incidentally, that place has both Mexican blankets and Asian things on its walls. It's really something.)
P.S. Alleged Vermont Street BBQ-to-be, next door at 1004 Mass., still has paper over the windows and "Coming soon!" signs on the door.
I’ll be heading over to the fairgrounds tomorrow in search of the biggest vegetable in Douglas County.
Those hulking, twisted monster pumpkins we’ve seen pictures of filling up entire pickup beds come to mind. More realistically, extension agent Jennifer Smith tells me, the Douglas County fair will have a few big zucchinis and a couple other veggies in the contest (The categories are largest pumpkin, fall squash, watermelon, muskmelon, summer squash and zucchini).
Smith did not seem hopeful that any of our Douglas County veggies would be smashing world records. But I looked them up out of curiosity anyway. Indeed, this year’s fair would have to produce some seriously ginormous veggies to top any of these.
According to guinnessworldrecords.com:
- The world’s heaviest squash weighed 1,236 pounds and was grown by John Vincent and Brian McGill (both Canada) and presented at the Cornerstone Landscaping Giant Vegetable weigh off in Stroud, Ontario, Canada, on Oct. 24, 2009.
- The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 pounds 8 ounces and was presented by Chris Stevens (USA) at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minn., on Oct. 9, 2010. The pumpkin measured 15-feet-6-inches in circumference.
- The heaviest watermelon weighed 268.8 pounds and was grown by Lloyd Bright (USA) of Arkadelphia, Ark, in 2005. Lloyd grew and weighed in for the Annual Hope, Arkansas Big Watermelon Contest on September 3, 2005.
- The longest zucchini courgette measured 7-feet-10.3-inches on Oct. 17, 2005, and was grown by Gurdial Singh Kanwal (India) in his garden in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
- The heaviest zucchini courgette was grown by Bernard Lavery of Llanharry, Rhondda Cynon Taff, UK in 1990 and weighed in at 29.25 kg (64 lb 8 oz).
Incidentally, if you’ve ever considered taking up giant-pumpkin growing as a hobby, you’ll find everything you need to know at pumpkinnook.com — “The Internet Shrine and Library for Pumpkins.” There’s even an entry about naming your pumpkin. Personally, I'd have a hard time picking between Fertile Myrtle, Sasquatch or Jabba the Glut.
After interviewing pie-baking champion Aliene Bieber for this week’s food cover story, (and, along with the rest of the newsroom, quite enjoying the pie in this picture), I typed up the recipe she shared with me to keep for myself (and inevitably not execute as well as she does someday when I try it). But, I figured, why keep it only for myself when sharing on the blog is so easy?
We also have recipes for Harold Agnew’s Basil Chive Bagels and Katherine Berkowitz’s Whole Wheat Bread. You can find those here, along with winning recipes from last year’s 4-H food contests.
Here is Aliene’s cherry pie recipe, with two approaches to choose from for the pastry.
3 cups tart red cherries
1/2 cup cherry juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter
Mix sugar, flour and salt thoroughly in a sauce pan. Add cherry juice, extract, cinnamon and coloring. Stir until well blended. Cook until thickened then add cherries. Let stand while making pastry.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup shortening
About 1/3 cup of cold milk
Sift flour, salt and sugar into large bowl. Add shortening. Cut into the flour with pastry blender or hands until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle with milk. Toss mixture lightly until mixture forms a soft ball. Roll out half of dough. Fit into pie plate. Trim off edge. Roll out the other half of dough for top of pie. Put cherry filling into pastry lined pan and dot with butter. Place top pastry on pie. Trim and tuck edges.
Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes longer.
Aliene’s Pie Crust (for two-crust pie)
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup butter-flavored shortening
4 Tablespoons cold nonfat milk
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
Mix flour, salt, sugar and shortening until you have a crumbly mixture. Using fingers, mix lightly. Add milk and syrup. Mix just until dough forms a soft ball. Roll out half at a time. If baking for a one-crust pie, bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned. If making a two-crust pie, bake according to recipe.
If you’ve ever attempted to develop your own film, you know there’s a million and one disasters lurking in the pitch-blackness that is the darkroom.
You can’t get the film canister open. You cut your hand with the can opener while trying. You scissor through the middle your best shot because it’s too close to the end of the roll. Your film falls on the floor and you can’t find it. You can’t get the film to catch on the reel. When you finally do, you mess up and it sticks to itself. Some lout opens the door to the darkroom and everything is ruined. Ruined!
Even if all of those steps do go perfectly, there’s no guarantee you even exposed any of your photos correctly to start with (no “preview” button in film photography).
It’s not hard to see why most have abandoned all the fumbling, uncertainty and messy chemicals of darkroom photography for digital. That makes it a novelty to see honest-to-goodness, handmade black and white prints.
While reporting Sunday’s Pulse cover story, I was surprised to learn that at least at the Lawrence Arts Center, the biggest fans of the darkroom seem to be teens. I got to hang out with them for a while under the redlight and loved seeing what they came up with on their photo shoots around downtown Lawrence.
There was only space in the paper for one student shot, but instructor Ann Dean kindly emailed me extra photos so I could share them here. Instagram has nothing on these kids.
Three new exhibits opened at the Spencer Museum of Art this week. In one of them, you — your thoughts, your voice, your tweets and maybe even your ringtone — become the art in real-time.
Audio artist Jason Charney’s “Sounding Circle” is in a small, darkened studio on the first floor. After pushing aside the black curtain, you’ll see a projector screen with a question and a microphone — and that’s pretty much it. You’re supposed to answer the question, recording yourself by pressing on a foot pedal. As soon as your answer leaves your lips, you’ll begin to hear it resonating, repeating and fading in and out around you — interjected with white noise, other sounds and blips from previous visitors.
If you go, you may hear a distorted-sounding me saying “The North Pole” (Where is one place you will never go?) and something like, “Finally getting out of the house and on my way” (What’s the best part of your morning routine and why?). As the exhibit played back my answers Friday, a strange guy’s voice popped in to add comments like, “Ancient things” and “I’m an Aquarius.” It’s pretty cool, and I’m guessing after the exhibit’s been up more than a day, there will be even more voices.
You can even submit questions via Twitter — just add the hashtag #soundingcircle when you tweet. (Pssst: If, “Is this really art?” from @KCSSara shows up on the screen, then we’ll know it works — and that the Spencer staffers moderating questions approved mine.)
“Sounding Circle” is meant to foster dialogue and reflection,” the Spencer explains. “By hearing their own words repeated and changed, participants consider their responses closely as their voices become less a vehicle for content and more a generator of music. As they stand and listen in the Circle, they connect with others who have also wandered into its space.”
Charney, an acoustic and electronic media composer, graduated from KU this year with a bachelor’s of music degree in music composition and theory. This fall he’s headed to the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University to pursue a master’s in composition and computer music.
“Sounding Circle” will be up until Sept. 30.
Also new this week:
“Politics as Symbol/Symbol as Politics,” curated by KU political science professor Burdett Loomis, in the 20/21 Gallery (one of the open-air spaces inside the modern art gallery on the second floor). Works include one of Jasper Johns’ flag series, video of political advertising and a vote-for-Bob Dole poodle skirt from his 1962 campaign. Timed to coincide with this year’s presidential campaign, it’s up until Jan. 27.
“The Ray of Hope: Aaron Douglas-inspired Quilts and Murals,” in the first-floor Lobby Gallery. Lawrence quilt artist Marla Jackson led a project in which children created colorful quilt blocks inspired by Aaron Douglas and the Harlem Renaissance. The exhibit is scheduled to be displayed until Sept. 16.
Instead of the usual "It's the sidewalk sale, it's hot, it's crowded and people got up early" story, the paper decided to actually get out and shop this year. A handful of staffers got $20 on the house to spend in a designated category, tweeting and blogging along the way. Not my worst assignment ever!
I did my due diligence in the home decor category (and scored a couple cool things — check them out on our live blog, the 1 p.m. entry). But, let’s be honest, it is impossible to not be distracted by all the other random items out there. I'm sharing a few.
Things I wanted to buy but didn’t:
Things I didn’t buy, and didn’t want to:
Things I bought but don’t really know why:
While reporting today’s Food page feature on local peaches, I enjoyed the quintessential summertime experience of pulling a juicy ripe peach off a tree and eating it right there in the field, no napkin or anything. It was awesome.
Having that craving taken care of (thanks, Vertacnik Orchard!), I bought a half-peck of peaches on my way out to take home and cook with.
I used most of the fruit in a peach pie, then peeled and froze the leftovers to try peach daiquiris (this idea, new to me, was inspired by one of the sources in my story). If anyone else out there has good peach recipes (peach daiquiris, perhaps?!?), I’d love to check them out, just share them in the comments section.
I’m sharing my pie recipe. It may not be cutting-edge, but in my book, good old-fashioned fresh-fruit pies — richly colored, juicy/oozy, sweet and slightly tart — are one of the best things about summer, not unlike picking and eating fruit right from the tree.
Homemade Peach Pie
This recipe is adapted from Grandma Shepherd, the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book and Christopher Kimball’s “Classic Cookbook.”
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Crisco, chilled (may substitute a few tablespoons butter, if desired)
Small bowl of ice water
In a medium bowl, whisk flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-sized (if you use your fingers instead, work quickly to avoid warming the shortening).
Sprinkle ice water over the mixture, a spoonful or two at a time, tossing with your hands after each addition. Repeat until flour mixture is moistened and you can press the dough into a ball. Divide in half.
On a floured surface, roll one ball of dough into a 12-inch round. Wrap around rolling pin and gently unroll into pie dish. Add filling (see below) and repeat with second ball of dough, laying crust on top. Trim edges of crust, fold edge of top crust under edge of bottom crust, crimp together.
Brush top of crust with milk, sprinkle with sugar. Cut slits in top to vent.
8 cups fresh peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
1 tablespoon crystalized ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss all ingredients together, set aside to macerate while you make the crust (see above).
Place prepared pie in center of oven, reducing temperature to 350 F. Lay a piece of aluminum foil on top of pie. Bake 50 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 10 more minutes, or until crust is just browned and juices are bubbly.
Cool pie to room temperature (at least 1 hour) before serving, ideally with vanilla ice-cream.
She had photocopies ready for two of her favorite family recipes, one for banana pudding and one for teacakes. But I didn’t see any copies on Stella Bolin’s kitchen table that seemed to be about that deep-south dirty rice dish, the one that first piqued my interest when I called her for my “Edible heirlooms” story in today’s Journal-World.
Turns out, like so many old-fashioned specialties, Stella’s dirty rice recipe was in the same place her mother and grandmother kept it — her head.
Of course, that wasn’t going to work for my story, where the goal was sharing recipes so other readers might make them. So, we set about getting it on paper.
She cupped her hand to show how much beef she used, and we referenced a cookbook with a similar recipe to compare notes on some ingredient measurements. To demonstrate her method for ensuring every grain of rice got coated with slow-simmered goodness, Stella pulled out a roasting pan and churned an imaginary spoon in tiny circles, scraping imaginary flecks of sautéed meat into imaginary rice bit by bit, starting at one end of the pan and finishing at the other. She promised that when it comes to dirty rice, improvisation is OK. Add or take away anything to make it just the way you want.
Another challenge with old-fashioned recipes? Some require old-fashioned ingredients — we’re talking so old-fashioned they don’t exist anymore, at least in mainstream stores. Phil Minkin’s grandmother’s flodin, written on a scrap of paper and translated for today’s story, called for “cake yeast” and “dry cheese.”
Phil’s memory and Google came to the rescue. Cake, or fresh, yeast and its short shelf-life started losing popularity around World War II, when dry yeast was developed, according to the Fleischmann’s Yeast website, breadworld.com. “Dry cheese,” Phil said, means dry curd cottage cheese. Cooks on online forums seemed unable to find it, save at a few Jewish specialty stores.
Untrusting, I tried that recipe at home before publishing it, substituting dry yeast and, at Phil’s suggestion, rinsed and drained cottage cheese.
I’m not sure mine turned out like Grandma Kain’s. But my dough rose (huzzah!), the bread browned, and the result was a warm, gooey, sour-cheesy delight, just like Phil promised. My co-workers ate a whole loaf, plain. At home, I ate some fresh out of the oven and, the next day, topped with raspberry preserves. On both accounts, yum.