We’re at the Greenbrier for a weekend getaway. It’s a pretty ornate place, with lots of random statues and busts here and there. The lighting of these pieces is pretty dramatic, too. This guy looks like somebody you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.
We were down in New Orleans this past weekend for a bachelor party. To celebrate the occasion, Russell designed and hand made hardwood fleur de lis cribbage boards, suitably inscribed on the back, and we ordered some customized playing cards, using some photos I took of New Orleans on our trip a few years back.
We didn’t get to play as much cribbage as we would have liked — eating, drinking, and listening to fantastic live music every waking moment somehow got in the way — but the participants on our Big Easy Bachelor Party weekend will always remember their trip thanks to these beautiful cribbage boards. Great job, Russell!
Some questions seem to be eternal ones. Typically, they involve choices between competing views that are so obviously debatable, with good points to be made either way and strong, often passionate proponents ready to vigorously argue either side, that they’re just never going to be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
You get the idea? So, is cone versus basket filter one of them?
This is a question I’m ill-suited to resolve, because the niceties of coffee brewer technology are lost on me. Obviously, there is a difference between the basket and cone approaches. One directs the water flow through coffee grounds that are configured to end in a fine point, and the other doesn’t. The difference in approach and design apparently is so significant that, when you go to buy coffee from one of those high-end coffee snob shops, the barista will ask you whether you have a basket or cone filter coffee brewer. In short, the cone versus basket debate even affects how they grind the coffee for you. Why? Beats me! But I sure as heck want to get the coffee ground in a way that is most suitable for the battered, aging coffee machine we’ve got at home — one of the basket-filtered variety.
I raise the potentially volatile basket versus cone question because we’re thinking of replacing our coffee pot with a new one. In the past we’ve had both cone and basket design machines, and to be honest I really haven’t noticed a marked difference in the quality of the coffee they produce, because my coffee taste buds just aren’t that nuanced. But now we’re being asked to definitively choose, again — like being exiled to a desert island and being told that you can only listen to the Beatles or the Stones while you’re there — and I want us to make a good, reasonably educated choice. And presumably one design isn’t definitively better than the other, because manufacturers keep churning out machines with both designs, leaving people like me in a quandary on this question that evidently involves significant judgment and taste.
Can somebody out there who is knowledgeable about the topic and pays attention to their coffee let me know the competing views on the seminal cone versus basket filter issue? Simply put: why should I care?
Neil Rector is an old friend who followed a different path from most of us. Years ago, he made the decision to focus on collecting art. It’s fair to say that he is an avid collector, and an extremely capable one as well. Since he first dipped his toe into the world of collecting, he’s assembled six discrete collections of different types of art from different periods and places — and his collections have curators clamoring for pieces as they assemble new shows.
Two of Neil’s collections are of Soviet-era photography and Russian unofficial art, and parts of those collections — but only parts — have been assembled in a stupendous show at the Columbus Museum of Art called Red Horizon. It’s clearly one of the best exhibitions at the CMA in years, and today Kish and I were part of a group that got to walk through the exhibition with Neil to hear his personal reflections on the pieces, which was very interesting. The show itself is fascinating, giving the visitor a peek behind the Iron Curtain at art, and thoughts and perspectives, that were forbidden during the Soviet regime but nevertheless were realized — because the artistic impulse simply can’t be totally quashed, no matter how repressive a government might be.
I can’t begin to capture what Neil described this morning, so I can only urge you to visit this powerhouse exhibition and enjoy it. And you can also reflect on what being a savvy collector might mean. In Neil’s case it means having that terrific hammer-and-sickle riff on a Soviet style Venus de Milo, below, hanging in your dining room, and also having yourself memorialized in that collection of portraits of Soviet and ancient Roman tyrants, above. That’s Neil in the lower right, in his best Soviet-style guise. He was added to the piece, he explained, because artists view collectors and patrons as tyrants, too.
Go see Red Horizon. It’s at the CMA through September 24.
On this dank Friday morning in lower Manhattan, I endured the raindrops for a few blocks for a brief morning walk. When I’m on the road I like to check out the environs and see if there is anything interesting. This morning, my goal was Fearless Girl — the sculpture positioned directly opposite the iconic charging bull down by Wall Street.
“Fearless” is a good description of the young girl, but “defiant” or “resolute” might be even better. She stands fists on hips and legs firmly anchored, chin raised and ponytail fluttering in the breeze, but her face is very placid, without a trace of emotion except, perhaps, a slight smile. Fearless Girl is ready for anything.
Fearless Girl apparently has become something of a tourist attraction — although nobody else was around on this rainy Friday morning — but some people question what message is intended by her placement across from a bull ready to charge. The naysayers wonder is the juxtaposition is supposed to convey that women oppose rising stock values, or that Wall Street is anti-woman, or some other quasi-political/economic message. I don’t know about the intended message, but I did like the portrayal of a girl calmly facing down a dangerous bull that seems to be made wary of by her very presence and determination. It makes for a very cool picture.
I’ve written about the enormous boom in new building construction in downtown Columbus, but there’s another trend underway that also is helping to make the downtown core cooler: taking old buildings and sprucing them up. Interesting signage on the walls, flags draped down the front, neon signs, bunting — they all can take an older structure and give it a fresh new look.
The latest example of this phenomenon is the Yerke Mortgage Company building, now called 145 Rich. I love the construction company sign that’s just been painted on the side of the building, which has a nifty retro element to it. Touches like these help to make the downtown area a more visually appealing place.
Yesterday Russell presented us with a combination birthday/Mother’s Day present: this very cool granite piece for our backyard flower beds. He made it using a machine that project a stream of high pressure water and a sand-like substance and can cut through just about anything. The shaped pieces of granite then fit together to form this beautiful three-dimensional sculpture that shines brilliantly in the morning sunshine and changes in feel and appearance as the sun moves across the sky and shadows play upon its surface. We love it and think it fits perfectly in our yard.