Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beatriz Milhazes in my dreams

In a recent home design magazine (I can't remember which one, I was under the throes of my hair dresser), I saw a home with several paintings by this artist, Beatriz Milhazes. I said to my hair dresser "Look over there it's a bright shiny object!" and when she glanced away I ripped out all the pages with Milhazes' work. And I think I've been dreaming about them ever since. The colors and energy...well, if you've ever read my blog before you know that super-energized work paintings of vibrant bursts of acidic colors are right up my alley!

Wouldn't you know it, she's not a starving student selling her work on the cheap. A quick Googleing showed me that she's clearly an established an accomplished artist and is represented at James Cohan Gallery in NYC. Beatriz, if you ever happen to read this and really want to make a fan's dream come true - call me!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

48 hours in Denver

Two days is definitely not long enough to explore a major city, but we did our best. We hunkered down in Downtown Denver and explored by foot, trying to get the flavor of the mile-high city.

We stayed at the Curtis Hotel, a cool modern place where the motto is "Stay Happy!" We kind of missed the intimacy (and the breakfast!) of the Boulder B&B, and it was kind of party central (in a loud, drunk voices in the hallway sort of way), but it was cool and walking distance to all points downtown. They also have a lovely martini happy hour every day.

On a very cold morning, we set off to find breakfast, heading in the general direction of the Denver Art Museum. It was a Sunday and downtown was really dead. And it was really cold. We circled the Museum and just as we were about to give up and walk back toward the hotel, we saw a breakfast beacon called Dozens. It smelled of crispy bacon and dark roasted coffee. It also had a long line. They told us we could wait for a table across the street (more on that below). When we finally did have breakfast it was so worth the wait - I believe I had some sort of eggs benedict dish and a small pot of French press coffee. Bliss!

The place where waited for our table is Pint's Pub, an awesome smelly old English pub that claims to have the largest collection of single-malt scotches outside of Scotland. Easy to believe from seeing the selection. It was a great place to wait on a cold Sunday morning, with terrific bloody marys and steaming coffee. The restaurant called when our table was ready - and we actually put them off to hang out at the bar longer. We even returned later in the day for some microbrew and potato chips. Good stuff.

Nice microbrews and a lovely old dartboard can be found at Breckenridge Brewery.

Out on the town
There has been much to-do about the new Libeskind-designed Denver Art Museum. I can't say I think its unusual architecture provides the best way to view art - with odd angles going to and fro - but from the exterior it's certainly a beacon. And the Museum's exhibitions and collection were small but impressive; of course we went straight to the modern and contemporary galleries, where a stunning Anish Kapoor piece greeted us. The Museum also offers unique and clever ways to engage visitors; just walking down a hall from one gallery to the next is fun, with opportunities to sketch or write poems about your experience. They also have a pretty terrific web site, with lots of interactivity.

You can find all more than you thought you'd ever know about the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" at the Molly Brown House Museum, the grand old home where Molly raised her kids before becoming a jet-setting feminist (or, rather, ship-setting?). And then there is the lovely Colorado state capitol, with a top painted in 24k gold (it's true - this is mining country, and the gold rush is legendary!).

Monday, April 14, 2008

48 hours in Boulder

A couple weeks ago, we spent four fun days in Colorado - two in Boulder, two in Denver. This was our "Random City Rendez Vous" with Kim and Eric, who live in NYC. We convinced them that Colorado was halfway between them and us - okay, so it's much closer to California, but we still had a blast exploring two cities none of us had ever visited.

Since (per my usual sloth-ness) I've let so much time go by, I'm just posting some highlights here. Caveat: there was no time for skiing, as my Texas-raised-now-beach-living self has never done it, so these are very eating/drinking/art-hopping type things.


Lodging: I highly recommend The Bradley Boulder Inn. It's a fabulous B&B, and while it's a little larger than your average B&B, it's just as cozy and homey as you'd hope for when staying at the base of the Rockies. The rooms are large and quiet, the breakfast is really spectacular (the homemade granola and apple brie quiche were to die for!), and the entire staff of young ladies were all so remarkably lovely and sweet, we started to wonder if they were a new kind of specially-designed robotic hotel personnel (I mean that in a totally complimentary way). It's also just a block from the Pearl Street Mall and all kinds of hikes, so thumbs up on location.

Out on the town:
DO NOT go to Boulder without embarking on Banjo Billy's Bus Tour. I'm sorry to say I don't remember the name of the guy otherwise known as Banjo Billy, but he was a hoot, and his 90-minute tour of Boulder in the school bus/log cabin hybrid was a blast. And, it was BYOB! You'll get some some mediocre but lovingly told ghost stories along the way.

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (It looks like their site is having problems). A funky and cool little museum with no collection, it seems to host some interesting and challenging exhibitions. We saw work by Yumi Janairo Roth, Wang Jing, Susan Lee-Chun, and, our favorite, really engrossing photographs from North Korea by Hiroshi Watanabe. The photos from his series "Ideology of Paradise" are so gorgeous, like the one above, Li Min Gyong, Pyongyang Schoolchildren's Palace, North Korea. The colors and flavor of these North Korean residents were so rich and vibrant - but it was all tainted by the knowledge that they live in such a repressive society. I'm so happy to discover his work!

Dushanbe Teahouse
A real Tajik teahouse, built by artisans direct from Tajikistan (Boulder's sister city); this place is so gorgeous and, apparently, really popular - it was packed! It's right next door to the MoCA. It's worth a peek inside even if you're not sticking around for tea.

We hit so many restaurants and I did a crummy job of keeping track of what we ate where, but I can attest these places:
Mountain Sun Pub: this was our first eatery, and one of the best. I still remember the flavor of the blue cheese burger and micro brew ale - sooo good. Their motto says it all: Beer, Food, Music, Love: What Else Do You Need? Indeed!

The Kitchen Cafe
We only had drinks and appetizers here, but the food was fabulous, and they pride themselves on seasonal, organic produce. It's a very "green" restaurant; they use wind-power generated electricity, and all of their paper products and straws are biodegradable. They give the remaining uncooked food and open bottles of wine to our staff at the end of each shift and all of our food scraps are made into compost. I love that!

Lastly but certainly not leastly, the Mork and Mindy House! Proof that we're children of the '70s, we sought out the house where the TV show took place (at least the exterior). Here's Kim and Eric doing the special shake. Makes me think of those goofy suspenders I used to wear...I think I even said "Nanoo Nanoo" instead of hello for a good long while. Thanks to Watts for making this happen.

Still to come...48 hours in Denver.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

House Artist Deduction Bill

Whenever I work on an art auction, I'm always amazed that artists can only deduct the cost of the materials in the artwork that they donate - not the actual fair market value of the artwork. It's a real rip off for artists, and makes it that much more difficult for arts organizations to secure quality donations for their fundraisers.

It also affects museum collections - most museums, libraries, educational institutions and archives lack funds to acquire works of art, relying instead on donations. Without incentive to give their works to nonprofit institutions, creators often keep their works or sell them to private collectors, and the public loses.

Now, in the U.S. House there is a pending bill to allow artists to deduct the full market value amount of their artwork when donating to museums and non-profits. This bipartisan legislation would simply allow artists to take a fair-market value deduction for works given to and retained by nonprofit institutions. From what I can tell it has been stuck in sub-committee for some time, so please contact your Congressman/woman and support this bill by clicking here: