Friday, November 30, 2007

Coastal Dreams B&B in Galveston, TX

Once in Galveston, we arrived at the Coastal Dreams B&B - and had a hard time ever leaving! I found the B&B through looked like a lovely place and was around the corner from the house my cousins were renting, but we were so pleased at how terrific the B&B actually was. And we were the ONLY guests that weekend!

The B&B is a historic Victorian house built in 1887, a "storm survivor" as they're called in this town that barely survived the "1900 Storm," a hurricane that obliterated the city and killed more than 6,000 people.

Apparently the house fell into disrepair in recent years, but was resurrected by its current owner and B&B pro, Lana (seen above here with my mother, bed-headed nephew Sam, Eric, and the ever-cute Miss Pokey, Lana's furry companion). She restored the place a few years back, retaining much of its original wood and windows (and its four-foot-wide front door!).

Lana was a dreamy hostess, friendly and welcoming as though we were family - and she's a great cook, to boot! Her morning breakfasts were wonderful, and she keeps the house constantly stocked with snacks, coffee, teas, etc. When gray skies and a serious rainstorm hit on Saturday, the B&B was the perfect place to hunker down under a big comfy comforter with a cup of hot tea. Thank you for a great weekend Lana and Miss Pokey!

Mom with Miss Pokey

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Woody's Smokehouse in Centerville, TX

Thanksgiving found us back in Texas, where we embarked on a little roadtrip with my mother to Galveston. Our plan was to pick up my nephew in Houston, then rendez vous with my dad, grandma and some cousins in Galveston, and we were all going to visit another cousin and her family at their home out in Hitchcock, Texas. On the road again!

So on Friday Eric, mom and I piled into mom's car and we headed south. The drive that day was great, the roads were pretty empty and I-45 was lined with those towering pine trees that blanket East Texas. We had the munchies and had hoped to find a little kolache stop, but I guess those are more prominent on the drive to Austin. So we stumbled on Woody's Smokehouse in Centerville, Texas, (home of Fort Boggy State Park) about half way between Dallas and Houston. What a find it was! We thought we'd just get a sandwich, but all three of us ended up leaving with an armload of food, including a package of turkey jerky, a jar of homemade salsa, some homemade jelly, Woody's spicy cheese puffs, some black-eyed pea dip and, yes, three sandwiches (mine had homemade pastrami and spicy mustard - yum!).

But we barely scratched the surface of Woody's offerings - aisles and rows of Woody's jarred food (dill pickles, hot asparagus bullets, dilled garlic, black eyed pea dip, even cherry cobbler!), Woody's packaged foods (dried nuts, fruits, etc), coolers of cheeses (smoked cheddar, Wisconsin hoop, jalapeno), and, of course, a MASSIVE amount of Woody's meats. In fact, they claim to jerky capital of the world, (a TALL order in this corner of the country), but they also have any number of pork, sausages, and beef products poultry. The place was huge, packed with shoppers, and obviously a hugely popular pit stop in East Texas. The pastrami was yummy, and the salsa we bought is garlicky and spicy and truly some of the best I've had in a long time. And guess what - you can order on their web site! I wish I'd taken some pictures of mom, Eric and me leaving, our arms full and mouths watering.

I can't attest that all of the products are produced locally, but I think it's easy to assume that - it is cattle country after all, and the place was just dripping with Texas pride!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hollis Cooper, in our collection!

Last Saturday we attended a terrific little art auction at the brand spanking new Claremont Museum of Art, which has only existed for about six months but managed to amass a nice selection of works to bid on. There were some big names - including Karl Benjamin and Harrison Macintosh - and there were some emerging artists, including students from several of the nearby universities.

The piece that caught our fancy is by Hollis Cooper - not a huge name (yet!), but definitely not a new-to-the-art-world student. She actually teaches in the art department at Cal State San Bernadino (which has a great art department, by the way).

So after much hang-wringing and cocktail sipping, we broke our promise to not further deplete our art funds, and started bidding. Low and behold, a bidding war ensued! Her piece was such a hit. All the bidding just made us more determined to own the piece, so we were resolute and hovered and growled and stalked until we wore down our competitors. And now this wonderful piece, Alpheta is ours! I love the energy and color, with thick, globby paint and a really cool 3D texture to it that's hard to discern here. It's mixed media on panel, 15"x24". How lucky are we?! In her work, she frequently combines digital imagery, architecture, and painting. Her large scale installations are so cool. Hollis definitely has new fans in Eric and me!

After the auction we stayed at a lovely little boutique hotel that just opened right across the street from the museum. Casa 425 is lovely and serene in all its bright white modern-ness.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Friday Kahlo at the Walker Art Center

It's time to tele-transport again, this time to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, which is showing a retrospective of work by none other than Frida Kahlo. Despite the efforts of the Kahlo cult to beat us over the head with her visage on any number of trinkets and knick knacks, I'm still a huge Kahlo fan, and this is a rare chance to see a cohesive set of her fantastic paintings.

And fantastic really is the word for them - her self portraits is pure fantasy, situating her intense gaze in any number of surreal situations. There's a terrific review of the show by Peter Schjeldahl in a recent New Yorker (he's a professed Kahlo-lover!). His description of the above oil on canvas, Me and My Parrots, from 1941, is so evocative:

"The tactility of certain self-portraits is, among other things, staggeringly sexy. In Me and My Parrots, it combines with sharp tonal contrasts of warm color to convey invisible moistness, as of a summertime, full-body, delicate sweat." Yowza!

Click here to view the New Yorker's great little slide show of some of Kahlo's work, plus a couple of photos and works by husband Diego Rivera.

I once visited Kahlo's gorgeous Mexico City home - where she was born, lived, and died - and seeing her wheelchair, resting silently beside her paints and easel, gave me such a tingly sense of unease and awe.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Paiement Preview in LA Times

Forgot to mention two things about Paul Paiement - he just opened a show at Raid Projects in the Brewery Art Complex in LA, and the LA Times gave him a terrific pre-show preview!