Friday, December 21, 2012

A Holiday Hodgepodge

A pre-Christmas art miscellany today, in honor of this being the last Cabinet post in 2012. Above, my utterly stunning early xmas gift to myself--a painting of a whale singing, by the awesome Lisa Congdon (originally commissioned for the fabulous book--which, full discloture, I edited--The Where, The Why, and the How ). Brought it home and hung it up last night and it has been making me happy about every three and a half seconds ever since.

Have I talked before about how much I like the work of mid-century artist Helen Frankenthaler? Mostly I'm a fan of her abstract paintings, but she was also important in the revival of screen-printing. "Savage Breeze" (1974), above, is so very gloriously red-and-green that I've been saving it for this time of year. 

And, while we're on the subject of red and green art, isn't this painting by Michael Borremans fantastic? As far as I can figure out, he doesn't have a website of his own, but I would highly recommend taking a moment to do a google image search of his work. So rad. 

And finally, because I cannot resist, here is the Watson Payne family holiday card, wishing you and yours an exceptionally merry everything in the the coming bustley weeks and joyous year.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Here is the Next Installment in the Ongoing Poem Series About the Winter of 2006

January 11, 2006
The night before last we made leeks in their own broth for dinner

served in bowls with lots of olive oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper
and a sliced up hard-boiled egg on top

but surprising and strange too
since the leeks did not taste at all like I expected them too

I love leeks in potato leek soup or a vegetable stir fry
and have eaten them in each of those dishes many times
I’ve enjoyed braised leeks
and I think maybe a gratin of leeks one time
possibly at some point I have also had them grilled in a restaurant
But they never tasted like this

Since they were only boiled in their own broth for a while
I can only imagine that this is their true flavor
It is more complex
more bitter and biting and vegetal
with an undercurrent of almost
than I have ever encountered
when eating them all mélanged up
with butter and cream and potatoes or other vegetables or whatnot

Their onion nature
I suppose
coming out

image source is here

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cookies

On Monday I took a vacation day from work to stay home and bake Christmas cookies with my mother and my daughter. In our family we make many extra thin cut-out shape sugar cookies (using Mabel's great-grandmother's recipe) and decorate them with a dense solid layer of various bright colored sugars--turquoise and pink always strike me as just as Christmasy as red and green. This was the first year that Mabel could help. She stood on a step stool and watched the preparations avidly, asking many questions, and even doing some measuring and cutting out and decorating of her own! It was exciting for all concerned. And of course she was our official taster. A very good day. When I got back to the office yesterday morning I had one-hundred-and-fifty new emails, two acquisition topsheets, a proposal-to-purchase document, two flap copy memos, and a copyedit manuscript all desperately needing my attention. But it was well worth it. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where The Tree Tops Glisten

I'm not really dreaming of a white Christmas--I love my gray rainy chilly deserted-city Christmas too much for that--but this photo by Hilda Grahnat sure does put me in a dreamy Bing-Crosby-singing-about-the-ones-he-used-to know kind of mood. See the whole series here.

Meeting Baby Eloise

This polaroid marks the occasion of Mabel meeting a new baby friend for the first time. Though if we're being honest she was more entranced by riding the larger-than-life-sized ceramic goat that in socializing with the bundle of warm sleepy sweetness that is the divine Miss Eloise. Ah well, just wait till the new girl is two and our girl is four and they can ride the goat together. What excitement will ensue!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Art at Two-and-a-Quarter

Mabel has recently embarked on a whole new drawing style, notable for its use of many different colors on the page and much more deliberate lines and shapes and forms that we've seen hitherto-fore. I really just love how these look. I'm pretty sure I'd even love them if they were made by a random adult wearing chunky glasses in Brooklyn, instead of by my own dear girl. I just find them aesthetically pleasing. But perhaps my favorite part are the titles she decisively assigns to each one when she'd done making it, and which her daddy and I loyally transcribe.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Long-Running Poem Saga About the Winter of 2006 Carries On

January 10, 2006
The other morning Bill read me a story in the paper

about a building at Sutter and New Montgomery
that was restoring these finials all around the top of the roof
There was a photo showing the new great tall skinny golden spires at all the corners
which are apparently replicas of some things that was there when the building was built
but were removed at some point for whatever reason

It was easy enough to figure out what building it is
the one on the corner I walk by every day
with the jewelry store
and the little market with the manic woman working there
and the new gym
all in the bottom

So I wanted to see these finials
and when I walked to work that morning
I actually remembered to look
and could get just a tiny glimpse of them
when I was crossing the street the block before
but then all the other buildings intervened
and the building in question is really too tall
to see the top of from the sidewalk in front of it
And I had to report back to Bill sadly
that I hadn’t really been able to see them

But then yesterday I’m leaving work and walking up Second
and I do that thing city dwellers do every once in a great while
I look up
And there they were plain as could be
silhouetted against the soft gray glowing sky
and looking pleasing as hell

Because you see
you can see the back of the same building from the opposite direction
even though it’s a couple of blocks away
there’s really only one building in between
the bank with the roof garden
and it’s is much shorter
and with the funny angles of all the streets coming into Market right there
you happen to get a clear shot
from practically right in front of my office
Which was unexpected

What’s more
it turns out to be a building I’ve admired many times from the back
from Market Street
for its already ornate roofline
without ever knowing it was the same building I walk by every day
on the other side
with the jewelry store and the market and the gym
So there you go

image source is here

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Theater of Dreams

The other day a coworker and I cut out of the office early to go on a little field trip to artist Wendy Addison's astonishing only-open-five-weekends-a-year shop, Theater of Dreams, in the tiny hidden old town of Port Costa. Less than an hour outside of San Francisco, this one-street-town is amazingly charmingly dilapidated--it feels like you've stepped into another era, in another part of the country. And then stepping into Wendy's shop is another such twilight-zone journey--this one into a perfectly beautifully curated world of vintage ephemera and glitter. (Full disclosure: Ms. Addison is the author of many delightful stationery products published by the fine publisher for which I work).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Gift Guide of Sorts

Welcome to the Pippa's Cabinet Holiday Gift Guide Part Two--Shameless Self-Promotional Edition! Here, without further ado, I present just a few of the books* I've edited recently which I think you ought to rush out and buy for all your relatives and pals:

Gem and Stone // 712 More Things to Draw // A Kiss Before You Go // The Where, The Why, and The How // The Littlest Birds Sing the Prettiest Songs // Madeleine Vionnet // Frida Kahlo Paper Dolls // My Beautiful Life // You Are So Loved // Pictorial Webster's Pocket Dictionary

*covers not shone to scale

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bucket Hat

Here is my child playing with toys while wearing a green metal bucket on her head. What more can I say, really?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ezra Jack Keats

One of the favorite books of all memebers of the Watson Payne household is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. So it was with much delight that Bill, Mabel and I went to the Contemporary Jewish Museum the other day to see the first ever major show of Keat's work. The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats runs through the end of February and would absolutely recommend it to any San Franciscans with small children. The experience of seeing scenes from a favorite book (plus stunning images from many other books we weren't familiar with--needless to say we patronized the museum bookstore rather heavily on the way out) as they were originally rendered by the hand of the artist and hanging on a museum wall as real live official legitimized art turns out to be a magical one for both children and adults. So, heck, even if you don't have little kids, if you're in town I'd say it's well worth checking out just for sheer sixties mod illustrative awesomeness (not to mention some interesting and subtle discussion of race in there too).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Continuing Poem Saga About the Winter of 2006 Arrives At the Occasion of My 30th Birthday

January 9, 2006
Birthday weekend

Friday took my floating holiday
finished making the paper lanterns
walked to the Japanese baths
and while there thought about turning thirty
On the way home bought pink and black candy
fancy groceries
peonies and wine
tidied up the house in the afternoon
and made the poppy seed covered cheddar cheese ball
that looked like nothing so much as a pile of dirt
But it was black and black food has turned out to be hard to find

That evening I went over to Berkley to meet Bill for birthday dinner at
and this is pretty amazing
Chez Panisse
where neither of us had ever been before
olive branches and red ranunculus
champagne at the table sent ahead by my parents
lillet blanc, lobster, beets, risotto, green garlic, squab, brussels sprouts, turnips
excellent bread, poached pears and chocolate sauce

On Saturday my actual birthday
we went to the farmers market
for cherry blossoms, macarons, and oysters
Came home on the cable car
and spent the afternoon getting the house and food ready
cleaned and hung the lanterns and
taped squares of pale pink and dark pink and black
tissue paper into all the panes of all the French doors
Turned the table into the window and set out the pink and black food
pruciotto wrapped around watermelon
mini hot dogs on pink frilled tooth picks
petit fours, licorice whips, black gum drops, junior mints
pink m&m’s and pink animal cookies
chocolate and pink grapefruit macarons
cheeses with black wax
and the pile-of-dirt cheese ball surrounded by black seaweed crackers
black olives

Then everyone came over
And it was real live swell swanky party
a small crowd
a festive atmosphere
The Pink and Black Ball

did I mention the pink light bulbs?

image source is here

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Slinging Books

Every year around this time, the fine publisher for which I work takes the show on the road. We set up one-day sales at various companies around the Bay Area  where we bring in a whole bunch of books and products and give the employees the chance to do all their Christmas shopping right in the comfort of their own offices. Folks from all parts of my company volunteer to man these sales, which is how I found myself yesterday playing bookseller at Ideo in Palo Alto.

It's actually quite fun to get out there and chat with people who are in the midst of shopping for our books, to hear what they think of our offerings, to see what they like and what they don't. But probably my favorite moment of the day came when the man above flipped through Pantone: 35 Inspirational color Palettes, and discovered the shades of his own shirt and sweater combo in one of the palettes.

I also got to ride the Caltrain home, and read a manuscript on the train with a red pen and everything. Pretty nifty.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Geraldine Ferraro

The seminal political moment of my own personal childhood was absolutely the 1984 presidential race. I was eight years old when Walter Mondale ran against incumbent Ronald Regan and chose for his running-mate Geraldine Ferraro.

I was a Berkeley child of 70s feminists, she was a real live woman politician with a Princess Di haircut, running on the ticket my parents and all their friends would be voting for. She was completely awesome. I was inspired. It was a match made in child-of-the-eighties heaven. 

It's hard to put into words how utterly enamored of this woman I was at the time, though of course like most gradeschool kids, I knew basically nothing at all about politics.

So I was all the more shocked and horrified when Mondale and Ferraro lost by a landslide. A major major landslide. It was the first time I was allowed to stay up late enough to watch the returns, and as one by one all those states turned red--every single one except old Walter's own home state of Minnisota--I could not understand what had happened. But. But. But. Every single adult I knew had voted for them! How could this be? So that also turned out to be the night I learned about statistical significance and sample size.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

We take a momentary pause in the now-in-full-force rush towards Christmas amid rainstorms to flash back not much more than a month and discover an entirely Halloween-focused girl in the hot hot sun. The time slides away like nobody's business, let me tell you.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Saturday Night Fever

There are certain movies (the Kurosawa film Ran for instance, or pretty much anything by Sofia Coppola) where as I'm watching them I can't help but see them, not only as moving pictures, but also in my mind as stills. That is to say many, if not most, of the frames will strike me as potentially beautiful still photographs--compositions that could well stand some scrutiny beyond the fraction of a second we give them. So we watched Saturday Night Fever the other night, which surprisingly I'd never seen--and while I don't necessarily have that feeling about the whole movie, I for sure do have it about the legendary opening credits. (Though I do think you could also make a compelling argument for them as a pretty kick ass music video--indeed, no doubt someone already has). As always it's shockingly difficult to find decent film stills on the interwebs, but here's what I could gather. Notably absent are any of the fantastic close-ups of the paint can, which is a pity.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Ongoing Poem Series About the Winter of 2006 Carries On in the Following Manner

January 5, 2006
Sometimes it just takes someone else pointing it out

Last night we settled down in the living room
with the intention of a couple of hours quiet work before supper

Bill was on the couch writing lesson plans on the laptop
and I was at the dining table crafting paper lanterns for my party

gluing alternating lozenges of pink and black tissue paper
onto white paper lanterns from Chinatown
to make things that look sort of like beach balls
which was satisfying

But almost right away Bill started having computer issues
and after a bit of futzing around we deduced that the power cord
had just shorted out completely and was no longer functioning at all
and the battery was not charged

All of which caused a certain amount of angst
as he’d not only planned to do work
but we’d also been excited to watch a movie later on

But then we had the idea of just marching down
right then and there to the computer store to buy a new cord
Ah ha

We decided that Bill would go and I would stay and defrost some soup

And as he was heading out the door I offered him my ipod
which he was interested to take as he has never used an ipod before

So out he went
and I sat cutting and gluing and defrosting
and eventually after a certain amount of travail
he came home with the necessary cord

as well as an obvious but fascinating observation
about the little white earphones
namely that they make the music play

right inside your head

And he’s entirely right
If I’d thought about it at all
which I hadn’t
I’d have assumed you heard it inside your ears
where you hear most things
But I paid especial attention this morning
and it really is like Bob Dylan is singing away
somewhere up behind your left eyeball
just a bit above the spot inside your skull
where I hear my own voice in my head
when I’m thinking in words
Me and Bob hanging out inside my brainpan

image source is here

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Holiday Gift Guide Of Sorts

Here are the top three art books on my xmas wish list this year (that is to say, books I did not edit, and that the fine publisher I work for did not publish, that I personally think would be neat to receive as gifts). If you have art book lovers on your own gifting list, I'd be willing to hazard a guess that any one of these fine volumes would make a great present for that person.

Above Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective by Jennifer Blessing and Sandra Phillips.

Barry McGee by Alex Baker and Barry McGee.

Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan by André Padoux and Franck André Jamme.

You can look forward to a more shamelessly self-promotional gift guide sometime in December.