Monday, July 31, 2017

Vegetarian Comfort Food and Cats Cookbook

Long ago but not far away, I put together a cookbook for my graduating high school senior, ready to launch her into the world clutching our particular version of comfort food. As vegetarians, we still crave cheese and sweets, but we also like savory things like potato latkes, corn, bean stew in a pumpkin, pasta casseroles, dishes with chard or spinach, and squash, lots of squash. So I included plenty of those, plus quite a bit of chocolate and ginger. 

Times have changed, I've cooked and revised and fine-tuned the recipes for the past nine years, and I'm finally ready to release the updated cookbook with a new look and even more recipes. We're up to at least one hundred! Gluten-free and vegan options are noted, too. 

Oh, and it has cats. Did I mention that? Some recipes do have pictures of the food, but mostly we're celebrating the neighbor cats who have been important parts of our lives from our first friend, a fluffy orange cat named Carmen, to the tabby cat we've known since she was a kitten, Peaches, who still visits occasionally. That's Frances, one of her sisters, as a kitten on the cover.

It's print-on-demand, has a glossy paper cover, 8.5" square, all written and designed by yours truly. Vegetarian Comfort Food and Cats is available from CreateSpace here and at Amazon as well. $22.95.


Good Morning!
Fruit Smoothie
Nancy’s Waffles
Lemon or Orange Soufflé Omelet
Silver Dollar Pancakes

Breads & Muffins 
Apricot or Currant Scones
Banana Raisin Bran Bread
Blueberry Muffins
Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon Star Bread
Cooked Cereal Muffins
Pumpkin Muffins

Cucumber Salad
House Salad
Potato Salad
Val’s Quinoa and Beet Salad

Soups & Stews
Black-Eyed Peas and Greens Soup
Corn, Bean, Tomato Stew in a Pumpkin
Corn Chowder
Dal (spicy lentil soup)
Minestrone Soup
Mushroom Barley Soup
Tortilla Soup
Veggie Stew Soup
White Bean and Kale Soup in a Pumpkin

Casseroles, Sides & Main
Bean Pie
Black Bean Burgers
Guacamole & Tortilla Chips
Tortilla Casserole
Spicy Tofu & Baby Bok Choy
Stir-Fried Mixed Veggies
Blintzes Soufflé
Corn Bread
Corn Bread Stuffing
Carrot Square
Green Bean, Almond Carrot Curry
Tomato Sauce
Easy Pasta Casserole
Macaroni & Cheese
Broccoli Pasta
Noodle Kugel
Pot Pie
Pot Pie with Peas & Tofu Strips
Rice and Potato Curry Casserole
Potato Peas Curry (and banana raita)
Scalloped Potatoes
Gold Rush Hash
Pie Crust
Spinach & Mushroom Quiche
Spinach & Roasted Red Pepper Risotto
Spinach Empanadas
Squash, Chard, Mushroom Rice Casserole
Savory Sweet Potato Pie
Stuffed Delicata Squash
Sweet Corn Casserole 
Squash Pancakes
Potato Latkes
Fish Cakes or Tofu Cakes
Rice Cakes

Cookies and Bars
Apple Strudel
Beer Cookies
Best Chewy Brownies
Candied Ginger Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies
Chocolate Crinkles
Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Ginger and Lime
Cocoa & Vanilla Cow Cookies
Delicious Butterscotch Bars
German Chocolate Cookies
Hello Mollie Cookies
Lemon Bars
Lemon Snaps
Mexican Wedding or Russian Tea Cakes
Molasses Crinkles
Oatmeal Cookies
Olive Oil and Red Wine Cookies
Plain Cookie Dough

Cakes, Desserts & Pies 
Apple Cake
Eight-Minute Baked Apple
Apple Fruit Crumble
Fruit Tarts
Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Fudge Frosting
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Pecan Pie
Persian Lime Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Indian Pudding

Vegetarian Comfort Food and Cats is available from CreateSpace here. While you're there, maybe pick up a copy of Star 82 Review (the latest is issue 5.2) to read while the ginger cookies are baking.  ; )

Friday, July 28, 2017

Meeting Places: a book art exhibition at SF Public Library

I arranged to meet a friend to view the exhibition Meeting Places/Luoghi d'incontro at the San Francisco Public Library recently. After a couple of missed connections, we finally found each other and went to see another meeting of friends, that of Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva. While my friend and I met in person, Lyall and Patricia meet in art, and their physical presence is felt in their stunning collaborative bookworks. Since 2014, they have co-created twelve book art projects by sending work back and forth from Italy to the US, having met when both were living in Italy. Lyall returned with her family. Patricia still lives there with hers and teaches. Both have husbands from Florence. Both have daughters. Both have MFA degrees in book arts, with strong points in writing and art and art history as well. Lyall was the first MFA book arts graduating student at Mills College in Oakland, CA. Patricia studied at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA with Hedi Kyle.

The exhibition is situated in four particular places around the fourth floor. If I had come up the elevator, I probably would have found everything more easily. At the top of the stairs, I spied a wall case at the very back of the room. Inside were photographs of composed photographs, each a still life. Even without knowing what they were, the photos created a beautiful and intriguing impression.

Some were larger, alone, others were smaller, in folders with text. Actually, each is both. The folders include the history of the objects as a list of names and descriptions, with poetry or prose fragments interspersed. In this particular project, titled "Passato Prossimo," Patricia and Lyall asked people to donate an "object of nostalgia" to them, which they arranged and photographed and assembled into the folios. This one is called "Hands," and some of the text says: Rebecca: mother's grid paper for drawing / Alberta: buttons / centimeters measured and cut / a card of buttons / for his cotton shirt. Suddenly, through the words, the objects come alive--not just to the previous owner, but to the viewer. The simple presentation, without adjectives or sentiment, is touching. The viewer imagines herself using the objects or interacting with the people represented.

The three-dimensional bookworks are displayed in a lovely round room to the left of the wall cases. Perhaps it was because of the light, but all the books seemed luminous, like good watercolor paintings. The works are thoughtful, meticulously crafted, and made with heart. A collaboration can (but doesn't always) take the audience into account: each artist's first viewer is the other, like a gift. Perhaps because both Lyall and Patricia have overlapping interests and concerns that are larger than themselves (i.e. immigration, motherhood, loss), they can communicate with the larger audience, in this case the viewers. At some point they chose to cover a range of topics, to make each book convey message and meaning about a different concern. That is part of their combined gift to us.

Goodbye Girl

Daily Specials

Attention to detail is everywhere. The books are solidly made. The materials all chosen with care and appropriate to the messages.

The Dreamer, The Doer

A Still Point

In the tri-fold catalogue for the exhibition (which is available for free at the library), they talk about their process:
Each project begins with one of us determining starting materials…such as a photograph or a literary quote or reference. The originating artist passes these onto the other who then brought the work (in an edition of 2) to a "halfway" point; the two bookworks were then given back to the originating artist who finished them.
Without Fault: Sans Défauts

Sometimes, the books take the form of a game. The game below  is about finding a matching organ donor. Surprise!

Check the Box

There is also a video on hand that shows how this game of life and the "Mysteries of the Universe" is played.

They employ letterpress printing, hand cutting, found materials, photography, and a variety of book structures.

Inlet & Island

Flanking the elevator lobby, also on the fourth floor, are two wall cases displaying parts of the amazing project, Paper Boats. On one side, the paper boats themselves. Lyall told me how she had received the box of starting materials from Patricia, which included a hundred(s?) of small papers, her first thought was, "What am I going to do with this?" Patricia was then surprised to receive a big box filled with paper boats.

Patricia then stood on the street corner and asked people if they wouldn't mind having their hands photographed holding a paper boat. She also asked them, in as neutral way as possible, how they felt about immigration. A few quotes are included in the final book.  (These are my photos through glass with reflections, which is a bit different than the way they are meant to be seen.)

Beauty and meaning intertwine in an elegant form. My friend, an art historian, said that Lyall and Patricia had "aestheticized" the immigrant experience, showing it in a way that the public can feel it. This is not easy to do. People understand documentaries, but this is poetry. It speaks to us on multiple levels. Here are these particular people, right here. And here, too, are we.

In addition to creating wonderful work, both Lyall and Patricia are thoughtful, caring, and good people, and I've only just met them.

You can find more and better photos and descriptions at Lyall's website. The exhibition is at the main San Francisco Public Library at Civic Center, floor 4 through September 14, 2017. There will be an Artists' Panel Discussion Saturday, September 9, 2pm in the Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lucky 7 Book Art Bundles: Take Three and That's All!

Thanks everyone, for your interest in my work! The previous bundles sold out within 24 hours of announcement. Of the models, I think I'm down to what I can bear to part with now, and am posting these last ten bundles on nevermindtheart. Each is unique. Several have indicators on them that I made them, several are blank so you can use them. I hope you will use them, that's what they are for! More details at each individual listing

This is the last batch for the summer, anyway, but there are still Painted Paper Collage Packs, Creative Arts Process Cards, Star 82 Review subscriptions, a set of vintage letterpress party invitations, and other things available. (Addendum: 7/11/17 8:20AM, five still available.)

These are Deluxe Bundles and come with a bonus pack of 6 pieces of ephemera: letterpress or painted cards, notepad, book model and/or valentines (not shown, but included!).

21. Good Day Sunshine: gold and blue Japanese book cloth covered clamshell box that holds all the little books; pivoting panels with girl; flower fold with painted paper, gold embossing and gold ribbons; painted paper French link stitch with pockets; hardcover ledger style with beads and first page written as “Word Book encyclope/idea”; hardcover two-as-one with paste paper endpapers and white paper book block; painted paper fan book with post and screw binding; bonus: miniature hardcover stab binding with tabbed pages; (2) two-as-one with translucent cover SOLD

22. Drawing Room Burgundy: burgundy Japanese book cloth covered clamshell box; buttonhole with painted paper; hardcover fishbone fold with painted paper; handmade paper covers on pocket accordion with ribbon tie; hardcover multiple signature with shaped recess on cover and the word “fingerprints” handwritten inside with small square of painted paper; “admit one” flag book with tickets and reused bookcover; softcover painted paper covers with ledger style binding and white paper book block, small “key” charm SOLD

23. Expressive Notes: painted paper album style accordion; painted paper cover with exposed stitch binding and white book block; Coptic with distressed cover, yellow waxed linen thread, and “Said” debossed on front “This End Up” on back; hardcover wrapped with SF Bay Area map with small signatures sewn to accordion with white paper book block; painted paper wrapped box with attached scroll; hardcover blizzard book with music notes paper covering and white pockets, magnetic closure; painted paper two-as-one; bonus: Coptic with single corrugated cardboard boards

24. Gems: brush book with painted papers; buttonhole stitch with painted papers; hourglass binding with white paper book block; two-as-one with painted paper; purple and gold brocade covered shadow box or slipcase; handmade paper covers on accordion with pockets; painted paper circle accordion (lots of shiny pearlescence here!)

25. Tide Pool: paste paper exposed stitch with origami pockets; painted paper two-as-one; sparkly fishbone fold; hardcover stab binding with translucent pages; painted paper album accordion with window on cover and rounded corners, date stamped throughout “Jan 03 2006” (pink spot on back); portfolio with birdlike painted paper and cloth covers, red ribbon tie; paste paper covering paper over hardcover, stab binding with string hybrid with painted paper accordion inside

26. Sea Mystery: painted paper maze accordion book; painted paper woven accordion in softcover slipcase; handmade paper slot and tab; thick painted paper circle accordion; painted paper two-as-one; hardcover single signature; Coptic with painted paper and debossed, “Made In” inset painted paper and “AG 2005” on back  SOLD

27. Scenic Route: painted paper pages with French link stitch over tabs and “I Want To Speak to You in Your Own Language” in white on the cover, “2006 Golden” on the back; painted paper two-as-one; hardcover accordion with pocket pages made of glassine; small crossed structure with painted paper cover and dark painted paper book block; hardcover stab binding with map covers and “camping” written on cover, cream paper book block; hourglass binding with multicolored threads; Coptic with painted paper “X O X” debossed on the front cover, “AG 2005” on back; bonus; one small origami pocket SOLD

28. Sandy Shore: thick painted paper circle accordion; “admit one” flag book with tickets and reused bookcover; multiple signatures sewn through the hardcover, paste paper with mixed papers book block, attached found “sale price” tag; painted paper two-as-one; sparkly blue fishbone fold; hardcover split board binding with paste paper endpapers and white book block; paste paper accordion with hardcovers, backed with black paper, red ribbon tie SOLD

29. Circle’s Edge: two-as-one with translucent cover; flag book with painted paper flags and attached absurd words, title is “Wall spoon, wrapped hard covers; hardcover with painted accordion pages, gold foil stamping “At Circle’s Edge” and small hooked rug attached to the cover! also debossed “Alisa Golden”; exposed stitch with handmade paper, white paper book block with fold outs and circles cut in some of the pages; painted paper Coptic with “Gathers” debossed on cover, “AG 2005” on back, inset pieces of painted paper on cover; slipcase masquerading as a book with decorative paper covers, painted papers; hardcover portfolio with ribbon tie

30. Summer Beach Walk: painted paper circle accordion with “I want to tell you” handwritten on first page; hardcover with accordion and glass beads attached to the cover in a spiral, spirals stenciled on first page; painted paper two-as-one; painted paper two-as-one with “words and a” in small collage on cover; Coptic with red and white pages, reused book cover; hardcover multiple signature with paste paper covering boards and painted paper end sheets, cream book block; painted paper winged book with “The Big Chase” debossed on the cover, “AG 05” on back cover

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Lucky 7 Book Art Bundles: Take Two

No sooner than I announced them, the original Lucky 7 Book Art Bundles were sold out, almost. Thank you! I've been going through the studio to see what other models, seconds, boxes, and partially made projects and treasures I have squirreled away, and there seems to be a bounty. I've posted ten more bundles at nevermindtheart, in a flash, six have already sold (Addendum: 7/7/17 sold out, but there will be one more round coming next week, and I think that is all I've got! And you might want to take advantage of the new Painted Paper Collage Packs: once those are gone, they are gone). Each is listed as a separate item this time to guarantee that when you order you will get the one you desire. More details and photos at each listing. And some other new things as well!

11. Ocean: mini Coptic with two colors of thread (paired needle) and cream paper; medium painted origami pocket envelope; softcover ledger style with soft pages; hardcover with thick white and painted paper and ribbon tie; painted paper covering boards with white paper; painted softcover with bubbles/circles; painted softcover with exposed stitching

12. Street Color: frottage paste paper hardcover journal with rounded cloth spine and ribbon bookmark (boards slightly wide, could hold a writing tool here); buttonhole stitch with found papers; four mini models: Australian flat spine piano hinge, crossed structure, crown binding, album style; painted paper and half cloth with painted pages; bonus three: exposed stitch model with irregular map pages; two pamphlets: one single signature, one two-as-one SOLD

13. Spring Bright: frottage paste paper hardcover journal with white pages, painted endpapers; half cloth painted paper hardcover with painted pages; pamphlet with sewn collage and white paper; flag book with painted envelope flags and flower collage on cover with ribbon tie; circle accordion with white paper and printed with cats on the front and birds on the back with ampersand at the spine; Coptic with painted pages and wrapped hard covers; multiple signature with flexible spine and signatures sewn to accordion

14. Water’s Edge: Coptic with painted paper; Coptic with distressed cover “Doors in the Harbor”; hardcover with paper bag pages; hardcover portfolio with ribbon tie and printed with a marbled paper look; large crossed structure with bundled threads and thick Strathmore drawing paper; circle accordion with painted pages and small stencil of white fish; winged book with painted paper SOLD

15. Hearth: hardcover portfolio with ribbon tie and cloth spine; mini hardcover portfolio with frottage paste papers and cloth spine; mix and match accordion with painted paper and stencils; crown book with masks  or catlike painted pages;  painted paper sewn onto tabs; two-as-one hardcover with painted pages; bonus: hardcover pants book SOLD

16. Iridescence: postcard portfolio with ribbon tie (I use one when I travel); painted paper back-to-back accordion with stenciled cards; small Coptic; hardcover with painted paper and origami pockets; softcover exposed stitch with book cloth cover; crown binding with painted paper; hardcover accordion with signatures and pockets  SOLD

17. Living Room: flag book with hard covers and painted pages, “stirring”; winged book with hard covers, “Would You”; hardcover stab binding with striped paper and circle; hardcover multiple signature with painted cloth cover and painted paper end sheets; painted paper hardcover with origami pockets; softcover with painted paper, gesso “label” for your title, ribbon bookmark and painted pages; hardcover portfolio with cloth spine, ribbon tie; bonus: “admit one” combination flag and pants book with tickets SOLD

18. Bright Life: hardcover portfolio with ribbon tie; small stab binding; painted woven accordion with matching slipcase; hardcover with painted pages; accordion with painted cover and cats and birds; hardcover with painted paper cover and origami pockets; hardcover accordion with signatures and pockets; bonus: hardcover pants book with blue paper

19. Red and Gold: postcard portfolio (I use one when I travel); ledger with soft pages and raffia; secret Belgian binding with painted pocket pages; sketchbook with debased illustration (see detail photo at nevermindtheart); pamphlet with exposed stitch; circle accordion with painted pages; painted paper notebook with rounded corners and black cover

20. Some Birds; painted paper crossed structure; flag book with handcarved bird stamp; album accordion with painted pages; exposed stitch with colorful cord; painted paper hardcover with white paper; painted paper portfolio with cloth spine; hardcover accordion with cloth-covering boards and bead closure SOLD

Separately, I've also added two different kinds of miniatures, each under three inches:

a miniature painted cross-structure with faux gold leaf in a clear acrylic case (4 available)

and a pair of stormy mini journals or gifts in brightly colored slipcase (3 available. Slipcase colors: sun yellow, spring green, or bright sky blue)

Also new: Painted Paper Collage Packs. A unique collection of hand painted paper. Each colorful pack is bursting with scraps of painted papers I've created over the years. Plenty for a collage party! nevermindtheart

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Collage Art of Irwin Kremen

When you're a kid, there's at least one inevitable moment where you pick something up off the ground and say "Look what I found!" and the grown-up person whose care you are in says, "Put that down, it's trash." And you are disappointed and perhaps puzzled. It looked good to you! Artists have been working with found "trash" for decades, and at least a hundred years. 

The publication Kurt Schwitters mentions that in the 1920s, when Schwitters was in his thirties, he "wandered about Hanover in search of refuse which attracted his eye" and "was obsessed by the human associations of his junk." He sought to "give it a new identity" (14). This desire to provide a new identity, this transformation, is one key to why it is an intentional artwork. He introduced things that had never met, arranged them carefully in a new setting. Another very important part is the worn and handled quality of each piece of paper; each was used and discarded, had another life, was altered by rain or dirt, air or time, and each came in contact, at some point, with a human being.

If you have ever been interested in Schwitters' work, you may also like the collages of Irwin Kremen, now on view at the Berkeley Art Museum. He began making collages in the 1960s, many years after he had attended Black Mountain College with John Cage (who dedicated 4'33" to him), and he cited Italo Valenti as his inspiration. Kremen was a student of Josef Albers, most noted for his theory of color interactions, and he encouraged his students to "make art out of almost anything," something that Robert Rauschenberg, another Albers student, also took to heart with his assemblages.

Kremen's collages are intimately sized. You must go close to see the details. I read only afterward that the pieces are attached to the support and to each other with "extremely thin Japanese-paper hinges." Lawrence Rinder, in the text on the exhibition brochure, writes that this makes the collages seem more sculptural, although I am not sure that the tissue itself would have such an effect on the work. More likely, where the paper was not attached would provide a very slight shadow effect. I will have to go back and look again. The reproductions in the brochure look fairly flat. The technique is a nice one though; it eliminates the warping that can happen with wet paste or glue.

The collages are small and tightly composed, balancing cut and torn edges, placement of spot color, layering, and textures and text in a very pleasing manner. Countdown 3, on the brochure, has several threads at the top edge that even with all the colorful fragmented letters, draws your eye back up to look at them. Balanced, I think. (A source of tension, though, for viewers who like clean edges and may wish to clip them.)

I continue to wonder about what makes some of us like art composed of discarded things. When we are little, we have imagination to make a Popsicle stick into a doll. When we are young we may be scrounging for discarded materials, our paychecks not providing us with the luxury of new sketch paper. Or it may be a moral issue; we may wish to help the planet by recycling or reusing. On the formal side, interesting textures and subtle color variations are built into found materials that may be "unduplicable" as Kremen prefers. When we get older we may recognize the dents, may identify with them as our bodies have been shaped by our environment and human touch as well.

As I have been writing this, I have been conscious that I've only mentioned male artists. I wondered what women made minimalist collages like Schwitters or Kremen. Through a search, I found this article in The New Yorker about Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, an exhibition from spring 2017 at MOMA (up through August!), which took me to Anne Ryan (1889-1954), who had a show at The Met in 2010. Ryan created intimate collages as well, particularly one shown: Number 7. Her collages were made of both paper and fabric.

The New Yorker article said something particularly interesting, that abstract art "masked personal identity" and therefore opened up the field to women. I'm having trouble with that concept. Women have always created art, we just haven't seen all of it. It also seems curious to me that in 2017 we still have categorized shows with titles that include "Women Artists," making the default that artists without further description are men. But if I had been on my toes earlier, I would have discovered that Kremen's "friend and former writing instructor at Black Mountain College, M.C. Richards, who encouraged him to try making a cloth collage" was a woman. She was a poet and a potter, and founded Black Mountain Press, wrote a book Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, and is the subject of a documentary. The inspiring trailer for The Fire Within is here. I can see why her students were so fond of her. And I think it interesting that she is mentioned as the one who may be the initial catalyst for Kremen's collages, although in the brochure she is only given that one line.

I am also not so sure that abstract art can mask your personal identity. Your choices show. Your decisions, your preferred colors, shapes, patterns, and materials say something about you even if there is not any subject content that points to a particular race, gender, sex, age, ethnicity and so forth. 

Titles are wonderful ways to add to the magic of artwork. I always feel the artist has given up when s/he creates one "Untitled" after another. Kremen titles his collages as identifying marks or perhaps personal jokes, not as literal descriptors. What is "Quimper Pink?" We can only imagine. A search, however, says "quimper" is a commune in northwestern France. Or is it now a word transformed?

The exhibition is showing at the Berkeley Art Museum until August 27, 2017. A catalogue of Irwin Kremen's work from an earlier exhibition, Beyond Black Mountain: Irwin Kremen (1966 to 2006) is still available. You can also see several works from the Berkeley exhibition that range from 1973 to 2007 online at the BAMPFA website.