Thursday, November 24, 2016

Honey Ricotta Pancakes

A Special Breakfast of Honey Ricotta Pancakes with Pomegranate Seeds and Smokey Tasso Ham, with the very best Maple Syrup you can find.

Make this batter 1/2 to an hour before using if possible, which means, you’ll need to get into the kitchen before anyone else wakes up.

2 Tblspns Melted Butter
3/4 Cup Milk or Half n Half
1 Egg
1 Tblspn Honey
1 Tblspn Sugar
1/3 Cup Ricotta
1/3 Tspn Vanilla

Whisk together and add and mix in

1 Cup Flour
1/4 Tspn Cinnamon
1 Tspn Baking Powder

In a heated pan add a small amount of butter to melt 
with a big spoonful of batter and another side by side

Cook until lightly browned and flip, 
again cook until lightly browned

This recipe should make you 6 medium size light and fluffy pancakes

In Taos I purchased the Smokey Tasso Ham at Manzanita Market, (Cid’s Grocery Store also carries this product), Pomegranates are seasonal, the Maple Syrup was purchased in LeClaire, Iowa from a small producer who turns up at the local farmer’s market there from time to time. This combination of the sweet, smokey and acidic trio here were a perfect compliment and a lovely way to begin any day, especially this Thanks-Living (Thanksgiving) Holiday.

PS: As some of you may know my niece is a Food Writer, her writing is under the pseudonym Top With Cinnamon, follow her online at her Website, Facebook and Instagram feeds, she is currently working on her second cookbook. We recently visited London where she took us to a restaurant called Duck Soup, there I had pancakes of Polenta with Honey and Ricotta on top. This recipe is inspired by that breakfast. Thanks Izy and family.

Monday, November 21, 2016

“O’Keeffe from Taos to London, a Commentary for Tempo, Taos News” Robert Cafazzo October 15, 2016

“O’Keeffe from Taos to London, a Commentary for Tempo, Taos News” Robert Cafazzo October 15, 2016

It’s not often that the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe turn up on exhibit to the public in the UK. Currently there are over 100 paintings in the exhibition “Georgia O’Keeffe” at Tate Modern, London, July 6-October 30, 2016. There had been no O’Keeffe paintings owned by or on public display in any of the museums in Great Britain, until now.

Georgia O’Keeffe has become iconic (including her persona), synonymous as the most recognizable woman artist in the world, mostly due to the ‘flower’ paintings and their perceived eroticism. Lately more women artists are being brought to the attention of the public. Yet, most people are unable to name more than five well-known women artists. Taos should be proud of the fact that it has been a particularly nurturing, accepting place for many women artists throughout the years.

Here in London there’s no question that “Jimson Weed” (1932) is the star of the entire exhibition: graphic, recognizable and everything anyone wants and knows about an ‘O’Keeffe’. Not to be overshadowed by the flower paintings, O’Keeffe’s iconic imagery stands out here including the bone/skull paintings, the landscapes/Pedernal, clouds/rivers, and adobe walls/Churches.

This exhibition fills thirteen rooms, laid out by themes such as ‘Taos & Alcalde’, ‘Lake George’ and ‘Ghost Ranch’. Galleries are absolutely full, every room containing at least three outstanding masterworks by O’Keeffe. The curators also included many of the photographs taken of O’Keeffe through her 98 years and what she was exposed to. Display cases full of books featuring monographs and biographies expand on all things O’Keeffe. Included in this library it was nice to see the Mabel Dodge Luhan books Edge of Taos Desert and Winter in Taos. Half way through the New Mexico section you’re greeted by the Ansel Adams photograph “Man of Taos, Tony Lujan” (1929). This room, the largest space, features the best of the Taos paintings, “Ranchos Church, New Mexico” (1930),  “Taos Pueblo” (1930) and “Black Cross with Stars and Blue” (1929).

Those of us living within a 100 mile radius of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe have seen variations of themed exhibitions featuring O’Keeffe’s work for almost 20 years. The survey in London is quite like visiting a sampling of each of those past exhibitions in Santa Fe. Some of my personal favorites through the years have been “Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities” (2008) which included the paintings and photographs of the San Francisco de Asis Church, and “New Mexico: a Sense of Place” (2004), the timeless landscape paintings paired with contemporary photographs of the places she made paintings of, and “New Mexico Architecture, Katsinam and the Land” (2012) an exhibit featuring the Katsinam doll paintings. The absolute best pieces from those exhibitions are all here.

Was it worth the trip to see more O’Keeffe paintings? After all there is nothing new here, these are the same paintings you’ll see again and again in Santa Fe. My expectation was to walk into the exhibit and have my breath taken away as it had been almost 20 years ago when first stepping into the newly opened O’Keeffe Museum. Here, in London, that was indeed the result. Breathe deeply, don’t get overly excited, take it in a bit at a time. As per my usual mode when visiting “blockbuster” exhibitions, go back and see it all over again. The paintings here glow with new awareness, in a different light far removed from the regions they were once created in.

Some thoughts on what stood out here and what I feel I’ve learned. 

Lyricism and a type of movement show up in much of the work. The sharp edged abstracts and the flowing abstracts (which to me are much more erotic than the flower paintings could ever be), the rolling undulating hills of the southwest, tree branches reaching out like the rhythm of an orchestra being conducted by the maestro. There’s the swirling nebulous “A Celebration” (1924) all in blue and soft light early on in the exhibition. Compare this to “Sky Above the Clouds III” (1963), the final painting in the exhibition. These are two very different ‘cloud’ paintings stylistically, each reflecting variations of a musical sensibility.  

Another noticeable aspect here is her choice of format using a tall slender vertical canvas. The most obvious of which are the NYC skyscraper paintings enclosed into narrow tall spaces. Perhaps a challenge to herself, “The Eggplant” (1924) puts a roundish object in a long tall space rather than a more enclosed rectangle. “Deer Horns” (1938) tall and narrow, claustrophobically enclosing antler prongs in a confined space forcing them to create movement. Whereas the rectangular version “From the Faraway Nearby” (1937) gives those same antlers room to relax and spread out in an expansive landscape. Over and over again, the curators have placed a variety of these tall format works among the horizontal shaped paintings adding a different element to the exhibition.

“Georgia O’Keeffe” at Tate Modern seems to be giving European tourists another reason to visit Taos and the region. Here in London, a long way from home, I am grateful and proud to feel the presence of Taos.

Tate Modern Georgia O'Keeffe banner

A bit more about this and why I wrote it.
I'd planned to write about the O’Keeffe connection to Taos, about the paintings created from her time here in Taos, and how these particular paintings are indeed iconic. Too often her time here in Taos is dismissed as a passing phase, yet over and over again she returned to Taos to work here.

Would the O’Keeffe London exhibition expose more visitors to her work, yes, very much so. Will they get a sense of the Southwest where she worked, Taos as a part of that, I truly hope so.

O’Keeffe tends to be one of the few Female artists that most people can name, she and her work are iconic. Finally more and more women artists are being recognized across the world as the very fine artists they are. In Taos we have been fortunate that this place has been receptive to many.

The Tate Modern people were terrific to me. They had visited Taos in the Spring, and requested to come up to the D.H. Lawrence Ranch, of which I am president (D.H. Lawrence Ranch Alliance) and a docent for visitors to the Ranch. I'd been asked to give them tours of the ranch including writers and the BBC filmmakers. In reciprocation they provided passes for myself and family to view the exhibit, (I went twice). The curators were also kind enough to gift me with a copy of the exhibition catalogue.

Self Portrait at Tate Modern lobby with Jimson Weed 'poster'

The Taos News does not keep articles available online after 2 years, in which case I have provided the entire article in this post.

Included here are a few photographs of O'Keeffe paintings I've been fortunate to see in museums across the USA this past year.

Gallery view at O'Keeffe Tate Modern, Ansel Adams portfolio in foreground

Pink and RedAbstract at Harvard Art Museums & Tree Trunk at Philadelphia Art Museum

pair of clamshell paintings at MFA Boston

Postcards for sale at Tate Modern

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What’s So Great About Terry Winters ‘The Structure of Things’ MFA, Boston September 3, 2016-June 18, 2017

A drawing of an animal in a calligraphic style jarred something loose in my thinking, forcing me to come back to the drawings and prints of Terry Winters. An early archaic drawing held the key to unlocking, and forcing me to begin re-examining the artworks of Winters. This 19th century drawing style utilizes multi-layers of curving lines to create a dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. A pile of Winters exhibition catalogues reveals little, other than the magnificent imagery, much theorizing, yet rarely a quote. After watching a few videos of Winters it gave me a better idea of where he was coming from, still veiled but a little glimpse into his own insight. I have attempted to transcribe a few of the more pertinent words he expressed, they are included here in quotations.

The ‘New-Imagist’ painters of the 80’s working in New York City were the up and coming artists of the day. They exhibited large and in charge canvases at legendary galleries such as Leo Castelli, Sonnabend, Mary Boone, Tony Shafrazi, Annina Nosei and others in the neighborhood of Soho. Paintings were textural, colorful and enormous, wow factor was the phrase of the day. Ileana Sonnabend Gallery on West Broadway, NYC is where I first saw the paintings of Terry Winters.

Terry Winters is just one of the many artists from this time period through today who you should be aware of. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is currently showcasing a selection of his prints and drawings ‘The Structure of Things’ September 3, 2016-June 18, 2017.

“I think that painting is a very viable and exciting way to open up possibilities of all this new information we find ourselves with.” TW

Imagery here and throughout Winters’ career can be and has been described as depicting organic matter, architectural renderings, engineering diagrams, biological or cellular structures. The paintings, prints and drawings have a 3-dimensionality to them creating space, and movement. An energy mass drawn by a mad scientist using a Spirograph or Etch-A-Sketch to the Nth degree.

“The work has always been involved with trying to describe nature at some sense or a wider or more open idea about what nature is. *Cezanne said that ‘the job of painting was to develop a new object of nature’, and I think that’s still the job description. Within painted pictures one is searching for a kind of meaning or correspondence.” TW
*Please note: the actual quote from Cezanne is: “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one's sensations.” 

The format of a print is not usually associated with texture and scale as seen here in this exhibition. The MFA showcases here a selection of rich multi-dimensional floating in time and space works on paper, an overall exciting survey. Sometimes colorful (using only primary colors blue, red, yellow) sometimes black & white vibrating from the surface of the paper.  Today prints are being made digitally with very little hand of the artist involvement, when Winters works digitally he is very much involved with the process. There are times when Winters printmaking technique takes it much further than traditional usage. He gauges into, thickens the inks, overlays more material and reworks it all into a controlled flurry. The prints become richer and more built up, layer upon layer. Better still, he knows when to stop and that can be the most difficult part of the process for any artist, when not to get too carried away. Winters makes it look like painting, drawing and even printmaking is more fun than the work and the struggle that making art ultimately is.

“The information can be anything from an architectural diagram, or a medical picture, or a mathematical image. So I’m interested in how to build hybrids out of these pre-existing bits of information.” TW

The MFA showcases what I consider to be a Master-Class in printmaking of Winters body of work with all the potential, variances and inspiration of what printmaking can and should be. See for yourself what this exhibit has to offer, in the Clementine Brown Galleries (room 170).

“Art, science and philosophy are 3 ways we find out about the world, and I think that given the mediated nature of the way things are these days, I’m just interested in using science as a factual beginning for making a painting, the same way as a landscape painter might use a landscape as a factual beginning.” TW

All photographs of the exhibition used here are my own. With gratitude to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The Flotsam and Jetsam of Agnes Martin in Taos aka When Historic Taos Artists Materials Rise to the Surface and Disperse to the Four Corners of the World, or Just Remain Here in Taos, NM.

Agnes Martin at Harvard Art Museums

Agnes Martin has been receiving a great resurgence of interest with exhibitions at museums such as Tate Modern, LACMA, the Guggenheim, along with volume after volume of books about her and her paintings. As I’ve stated before it’s quite wonderful that finally more women artists are gaining recognition. Perhaps the 2012 exhibit “Agnes Martin: Before the Grid” curated by Jina Brenneman & Tiffany Bell at the Taos Harwood Museum of Art kicked off all this attention to Martin’s work.
Agnes Martin Painting Detail at Harwood Museum, Taos

The very best Agnes Martin painting I have ever seen was a discarded remnant of canvas. The piece was rescued from the trash bin of Agnes' own studio, mounted onto a 12"x12" stretcher and framed. Although this particular painting began as a 60"x60" canvas, Ms. Martin destroyed it as an unsatisfactory work. The myth about her is that she destroyed as many of her early works as she could acquire. Throughout her career she became more and more critical of the work she produced, destroying paintings by slashing them from corner to corner. Into the bin they went. Once word got out about this, a few Taosenos became regular Agnes Dumpster Divers. Today from time to time someone hears that one of these fragments may be valuable and they seek a quick sale (before anyone becomes the wiser). 
Agnes Martin classic 1980's painting

Picture in your mind a multi-colored painting of lines which ever so slightly drip. This particular painting fragment uses the soft pastel color palette of the 80's paintings. More descriptively, when a tear drop begins to fall from a loved one’s eye. A water faucet ever so slightly unendingly dripping, slowly, continuously. Or, better still a pastel colored rainbow clothesline dripping with morning dew. We'll never know what Agnes Martin intended. I don't even know if she continued on this theme. At times I wonder about this painting, it has stayed with me. An Agnes Martin authority tells me that Martin had indeed produced work of this style; although from an image search I find nothing online similar. For me this painting creates an emotion of sorrow. Today this mid-November 2016 it seems appropriate to think about this. 


In the tiny hamlet of Taos, an art colony here in Northern New Mexico, historic artist treasures rise to the surface. It’s inevitable. Are items such as D.H. Lawrence’s hat, the studio cabinet owned by Dorothy Brett, a table from the home of Angelo Rivagli & Frieda Lawrence, the wardrobe of Mabel Dodge Luhan, the Kachina Doll gifted to R.C. Gorman from Georgia O’Keeffe or even O’Keeffe’s palette knife ‘valuable’? In my case I personally may be able to acquire such artifacts. Where I can not afford a first edition signed D.H. Lawrence book, or a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, I can often afford an every day object that they once held. Last night for instance, we hosted a small dinner party at which we served wine in cut crystal goblets once owned by R.C. Gorman. Does it matter to anyone that I own a chair that once belonged to John Updike, to me indeed it does, a chair I very much treasure.
Agnes Martin Black Studio Cabinet

There have been times when I’ve walked into someone’s home here and borne witness to a Warhol, an O’Keeffe, a Renoir, a Scholder, a Picasso, a Basquiat. A sense of wonder and delight sweeps over me every time, how could it not? 
Agnes Martin's Black Studio Cabinet views

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Value is what someone will spend on something. How do you put a price on items that were once owned by, but not produced by, someone of note? Is a discarded, disowned fragment of a painting, by someone whose artwork ‘values’  indeed are quite high, at all valuable? A local high-end Taos dealer of historic Navajo weavings once told me that just because an object belonged to a famous artist, it did not add value in the marketplace to that object. I humbly disagree. If I were to be offered a set of tea cups once owned by Mabel Dodge Luhan or a prettier set of tea cups at a similar price, the choice would be simple, purchase the ones once owned by Mabel.
Agnes Martin Black Studio Cabinet as opened w drawers for drawing papers

A while back I was offered the art cabinet of Agnes Martin from her studio. The cabinet had been in storage since her death, everything from her studio upon her demise was quickly documented and all non-paintings were soon removed to storage. It seemed no one was interested in any of her possessions. Except me. The black cabinet made by Abernathy Furniture Co. has a bit of paint splattered at the top of it dripping over the edge, reminding me of that wonderful painting of slight drips. At the top, two side by side drawers slide open for paints with two doors below which open up to three sliding drawers for storage of sheets of drawing paper. On the inside of one of the top drawers a young family member had written his name in a sprawling childlike scribble Jerry Wonder Boy. There were a pair of these cabinets, I felt fortunate to be able to purchase one. The cabinet is well documented, a photograph of it (on page 95, paint splatters and all) is included in the book “New Mexico Artists at Work” by Dana Newmann & Jack Parsons. 
"Jerry X M X X Wonder X Boy X" written in pencil on inside of drawer

Photograph of Agnes Martin's Cabinet in the book "New Mexico Artists at Work"

Abernathy Furniture Co. stamp on inside of drawer of Martin's cabinet

This cabinet along with so many other objects I’ve acquired over time bring to me a sense of wonder, and that is indeed their value.