Just when you think it can’t get any worse, some days the Internet goes and totally redeems itself. Here are a few things I’ve come across in the last week that make it all worth it.
[ 1 ] What started as an online magazine featuring insightful interviews with creatives, has turned into a beautiful Kickstarted print journal. First up: Tavi Gevinson (among others). I’m excited to read more about this fashion wunderkind — who I’ve also just started following on Twitter. Not sold? I’m crocheting this recent quote of hers on a pillow:
the high road never got me anything except a bunch of showers where I say out loud to no one the thing I should have said before
[ 2 ] In New York, art is taking to the streets to avoid the confines of traditional galleries. This article in the Times covers the story of the newly-mobile Rodi Gallery, which seeks to bring the art of emerging artists to new audiences and inspire people to think of art in new ways. Now that food trucks in Minneapolis-St. Paul are becoming ubiquitous, I hope we start to see folks embracing this new trend on Marquette Avenue.
[ 3 ] This random Soundcloud account appears to be the only place to listen to Sam Smith’s new track, called “Life Support.” It’s been on repeat for me all week. I highly recommend you check it out before it’s taken down.
[ 4 ] Here’s a little bit of advice for people who feel like they keep seeing the same thing over and over again on Instagram: “Unfollow your friends and follow your interests instead.” It’s a suggestion from designer Jeffrey Kalmikoff, who articulates what I’m sure a lot of us are thinking as we scroll through our never-ending feeds, in a Medium article titled "You’re Using Instagram Wrong." One account that’s always worth following: Elise Joseph of Pennyweight.
What are some of the best things you saw this week?
I’m always skeptical when another website pops up, claiming to have an article that gives readers special insight into a particular city based on the experience of one individual who claims to know it best. They usually end up scratching the surface of one place or another, while always managing to pinpoint the most Instagram-worthy coffee shops and boutiques. Not that I haven’t been guilty of the exact same thing — a recent trip itinerary to Nashville was built almost entirely on what might be fun to Instagram — but it’s always nice to see people pushing the envelope in order to try something new.
MKDIR strikes me as fitting that bill for two reasons. First, despite having only a small handful ofinterviews and films to choose from, I love the balance of photography and storytelling that goes along with each entry. Second, even though the photos are beautiful, I don’t feel like I’m viewing something that has the heavy hand of an art director present throughout. Perhaps it’s the site, or maybe it’s because I’ve been homebound with a newborn for the past three months, but I am absolutely inspired to revisit L.A. or venture north (NORTH!) to Toronto after poking around this new site.
We did a little tour of Art-a-Whirl this past weekend in Northeast Minneapolis, and as we went in and out of several artists’ studios, I found myself thinking, as I always do, “Oh, man. I could do that.”
And a little voice kept reminding me: “Yeah, but you didn’t.”
I’m thinking of getting that little exchange tattooed on my forehead, for whenever I start to overthink writing or blogging.
Photo | Cargo Studios
I recently had the opportunity to consult on social media strategy with a company that specializes in the digital management of client-retailer relationships for a network of small businesses—I would call the majority of those small business owners “makers.”
They manufacture. They build. They construct.
It was inspiring to hear about these entrepreneurs starting with an idea and eventually producing something they could hold in their hands. For writers, the de facto mode of creation is always slightly more … abstract … especially in an age of computers and fleeting Twitter messages.
As I began to interact more with these modern artisans on behalf of my client and learned about the ideation process behind each of their inventions, I began to wonder: could a writer ever be considered a maker? I believe purists would say no, but I’m holding out hope.
The maker culture has been defined as:
"A contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing … as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts.”
Not helpful to my cause.
But I began to ask myself two questions. (1) "What if the modern writer put down his or her laptop, and picked up a pencil and a notebook? Could writing something down make it a tangible-enough concept as to transform its creator into a maker?" Perhaps, I thought, you could make an argument for the physical existence of someone’s work as contributing to their maker status.
There is no question in my mind whether a leather worker or ceramicist is a maker. That’s a lot of work. But if you asked that same person to craft a handful of paragraphs about the story behind their product, they’d probably cringe, and make a face similar to the one I’d take on if asked to hammer metal into a belt buckle. (2) Does that, in some way, make us closer to being equals? Or does it bend the definition of maker to mean someone who does something you couldn’t do, or perhaps more accurately,something you didn’t want to do?
I have no answer for this. But when I think about it out loud, it helps to significantly reduce the amount of anxiety I have as a result of my inferiority complex toward makers (and designers) in general.
Very cool news, guys.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) is teaming up with Northern Grade this holiday season for a series of events that include an American made pop-up shop, Black Friday market and speakers panel featuring designer Clare Vivier and special guests Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bedat of Zady. The best part? I have been asked to moderate the panel discussion featuring those amazing women. Needless to say, I am beyond excited to be a part of this celebration of American design and craftsmanship here in the Twin Cities, and encourage you to check out this event series for yourself. You will be inspired.
"Movement constitutes a leap.
Trust, love …”
I am currently enthralled with Walking Stories, a series of short films for Salvatore Ferragamo featuring Kaya Scodelario as an eccentric woman (she’s barefoot in the first episode) who recounts a charming love story that spans Florence, Shanghai and Los Angeles. I think you’d like it.
If you’re on the fence, you should know this little series is (1) really short, with each episode clocking in around three minutes; and (2) directed by Luca Guadagnino, the man behind the 2010 Italian art film I Am Love—which you also need to see, if you haven’t already.
Photos | Salvatore Ferragamo
A few weeks ago I read an article about the importance of having house plants—they have air purifying properties that are especially good for you psyche, your immune system and your respiratory system come the dead of winter. So I went out and dutifully bought a few little guys to get the ball rolling, not realizing until after I’d gotten them home and looked at their tags, that you need approximately 10-15 plants in your home before you start experiencing their health benefits. Uff da. Well. At least they’re pretty.
If I can convince my husband that our home needs a few of these Brooklyn-made planters from Light + Ladder, I’m pretty confident in saying my mood and spirits will be lifted after that first snowfall. Bonus: Of a Kind is currently doing a special release of the Ivory Spora Hanging Planter on their site, with anaccompanying piece on Light + Ladder Designer Farrah Sit—and you know how I love encouraging you guys to read.
Photos | Light + Ladder
The musical transition between summer and winter is always a difficult one, because you have the typically upbeat warm weather hits on one side, and on the other, you have, well, the Vince Guaraldi Trio. When is it appropriate to begin listening to the latter? It’s always a debate. And if you’re a real holiday-themed playlist nut, you may also have something for Halloween wedged in there. I know I do. And when can you technically begin listening to that? Full disclosure, I’ve already listened to both.
To get you through these rough times, I’ve made this. Mostly chill. Great for turning up when you’re laying outside in the grass (like I did yesterday), which you should probably do now, before we have another eight months of winter.
IN + ON | TWO
+ Yamaha / Delta Spirit
+ Shell Suite / Chad Valley
+ The Mother We Share / CHVRCHES
+ Wants What It Wants / Andrew Belle
+ Other People / Beach House
+ Mr. Quiche / Wildcat! Wildcat!
+ Five Seconds / Twin Shadow
+ The Mess / The Naked and Famous
+ Midnight City / M83
+ Runaway / The National
+ Last Dance / Rhye
+ Hanging Gardens / Classixx
The slow movement was first introduced to me by Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind in a post she published last December called "The Rebirth of Slow Blogging." At the time, as an overworked twenty-something writer and quasi-blogger, feeling pressure to always be on the lookout for the next interesting thing, I embraced it. Pretty much to the point where I stopped blogging entirely. Hers was a message that resonated, partially, I think, because the concept was something I had been circling for a long time. But seeing it front and center from someone I admired caused me to take pause, to think about what I was sharing, and why.
Was the content really that new and inspiring?
Had I seen it in a thousand other places before?
Did I even really like it?
The idea took hold in my professional life, as I signed on to fewer projects and consolidated jobs. On a more personal level, it inspired me to reconsider commitments I had made at home. Did I need to subscribe to so many magazines and periodicals? I wasn’t reading half of them, but the fact that they were piling up in my office stressed me out. Did I always need to have something on the calendar, and did I always have to be the one to initiate dates and happy hours with friends and colleagues? Did I need to purchase every piece of ephemera my favorite bloggers curated and promoted? Perhaps, I thought, I needed to allow myself to take a break. So I did.
Today, with New York Fashion Week in full swing and a trip to its epicenter looming (completely on the sidelines, I assure you) I find myself overwhelmed, once again, by the speed at which new trends, ideas and information are coming at me. This dizzying, never-ending slideshow is referred to as the (1) "New Speed of Fashion," by T Magazine, and as I watched my Twitter feed become engulfed with photos and videos tagged #NYFW over the past week, I reached a point where I had to turn to a handful of slow movement designers and curators for meditation. If you’re feeling the same way, I suggest you do the same:
(2) Zady is a relatively new venture built with the “grand vision” of combatting “the fast-fashion craze by providing a platform for only those companies that care about timeless style and solid construction.” Right now they carry brands like Imogene + Willie, Pendleton, Won Hundred and Clare Vivier. They also share features ranging from "The History of Denim" to "Work-Life Integration." Short reads, but always good stuff. I highly doubt you’ll ever see something related to “10 Must-Have Something-Or-Others for Fall.”
Cuyana’s entire brand is built around a (3) "Lean Closet" initiative that puts responsibility back on the consumer. “Our Lean Closet movement challenges us to collect fewer, better things, and to donate the pieces in our wardrobes that are merely taking up space to those who need them.” Another reason to follow them: their products are globally-driven, so the collections (and the inspiration, materials and craftsmen behind them) vary based on where cofounders Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah have traveled.
At home in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I see the slow movement manifested in local designers like Lisa Hackwith, of (4) Hackwith Design House, who has chosen to release one piece of clothing from her newest collection each week. After anticipating the launch for months, I was initially confused by her method of rollout. Now, I embrace it as a lesson in patience, and actually enjoy having the time to think about and decide whether to pursue one piece or wait for another. To actually anticipate, to get excited. Because how easy would it have been to scroll though the entire collection, had it been released all at once, and overlook something? Or everything?
These days, it’s easy to get caught in the fray.
Are you seeing others step out of it?
Have you slowed down?
I’m so curious to see how others are embracing it.
I looked up from my desk after a particularly frustrating day at work to realize the space around my computer was crammed with all manner of lifestyle and business magazines, at least four weeks of worth of The New York Times, junk mail and bits and pieces of inspiration I’ve been meaning to put up around my office since last fall. I wondered. Was I hitting a wall with my writing because I was running low on creativity, or was I hitting a wall because I was literally wedged in between two of them?
Trying to convince myself I couldn’t be the only one, I remembered a few links I had saved from fellow bloggers who routinely cover the studios and offices of other creatives. After visiting From The Desk Of, a site by Kate Donnelly “dedicated solely to the canvas of the desk,” and the Spaces column in Eva Black’s blog, I was feeling better. Slightly. Then I remembered the office of Jenna Lyons (pictured). The creative clutter queen. Suddenly, my space doesn’t seem so crazy.
You’ve been there, right?
A few weeks ago The New York Times ran a piece on artist Ed Ruscha that I set aside to share with all of you (but had completely forgotten about) until I saw one of his pieces sitting in the office of Jenna Lyons inFast Company’s May 2013 issue. It was a nice reminder that I can’t keep hoarding this inspirational stufffor rainy days.
So here it is.
Despite describing himself as a less-than-dedicated reader, Ruscha is an object of inspiration because of his ”use of language to document and comment on the shifting character of American culture.” And it’s all done so succinctly. If you take a moment to read about the process he uses to create some of these pieces, you’ll see it proven again, that many times work that looks simple often takes the longest to complete.
I called it traditional art (above) when I really meant the words are set down on traditional mediums. The genre of his work isn’t so straightforward. The Moderna Museet in Stockholm actually poses the question of whether Ruscha is one of the first "pop artists, a trail-blazer of conceptual art, a late surrealist, [or] a pioneer of postmodernism," which is another lesson to take away from this: we should all be so difficult to label.
Today, if you go to the J. Crew website and type punk in the search bar, a page of floral patterned apparel will appear, including the “punk floral teeny hipster” (3). If you flip open the pages of The New York Times, you’ll see an article about celebrities struggling to get dressed for tonight’s Met Gala (the theme, Punk: Chaos to Couture). Oh—and Miley Cyrus is now punk (1). Apparently.
You guys, punk is f-ing pervasive. But do you know what punk is? Here are a few recent pieces that may help you decipher what all the bollocks is about.
Punk Is in the Air | The very idea of Punk Nostalgia (2) would have been anathema in the raw, self-destructive music scene that blossomed stinkily in the bowels of 70s New York. But here it is, gathering steam with a Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute show, a memoir from Richard Hell, and the movie CBGB.
This Is Punk? | If a movement known for rage, rebellion, and adolescent id becomes the focus of a high-fashion celebration, is it the final studded nail in the coffin or proof of everlasting life? What punk means now, and what it meant then.
Anna Wintour, Accidental Punk Icon | It’s hard to imagine Wintour, known for her perfection and love of Prada, getting down and dirty in the spirit of the theme, but some have endeavored to do so. And, yes, it’s “Annarchy.”
Punk Rock Branding | The man who helped introduce the world to Nirvana shares stories from the band’s first European tour—a pivotal eight days for Kurt Cobain, Sub Pop records, and rock ‘n’ roll as we know it.
William Gibson on Punk Rock, Internet Memes, and ‘Gangnam Style’ | In the third and final installment of the Wired interview with William Gibson, the noted science fiction author discusses punk rock, internet memes, the dawn of recorded sound and the now-infamous “Gangnam Style” video by Korean pop star Psy.
IN the studio of Neal Perbix
ON his new installation for BlackBlue
"I think the Pink Pretzel is kind of my jam."
Neal Perbix is standing awkwardly in front of said Pink Pretzel as I direct him to pose for a photo. He turns and faces it, his hand hovering over the highest curve of the neon pink tape cacophony and feigns an explanation. “You see, this is a line, here, just like that. Oh, and this is another one … Did you get the shot?” I’ll find out later that Neal is often exhausted by people in social situations, which might explain his lack of enthusiasm in front of the lens, but our conversation about his process, his background and his new installation at BlackBlue is anything but tired.
He’s stepped away from the Pretzel now, and is discussing how he goes about creating his work. Neal continued his art practice after graduating with a B.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Minnesota, first by scavenging for material. ”There are so many homeless people around Northeast, and they’re going in and out of the allies all day looking for aluminum cans to scrap, and I’m interested in that mentality as an artist,” he says, “like taking on some of that desperation, so to speak.” The spoils of his hunt are pieced together around his studio: pegboard and panels from a bathtub, a Chicago Bulls poster, odds and ends from a dismantled table set, and a piece of Styrofoam shaped like the Millennium Falcon.
These days, Neal counts professional art installation among his many talents, so the tape he uses to freehand his latest pieces is a material that feels natural to him. It’s fair to say the sense of urgency from scavenging has carried over to the new work, though, which often leaves him out of breath, and afterwards, to hear him recall it, euphoric. ”I’m thinking about artists like Donald Sultan, artists like Robert Motherwell, artists like Cy Twombly and Sigmar Polke, and they’re fuckin’ cheering me on, like ’You got this, man.’ ”
Neal approached Steve Kang and Satchel Moore about sharing his work with BlackBlue after unintentionally creating a piece with the St. Paul retail store’s signature colors. They agreed it was a good fit (I’m currently trying to beat Steve to the cash register for the Pink Pretzel) and three others followed. The pieces can be ordered from the store or Neal’s studio, which he encourages would-be patrons to visit. Like all good artists, he welcomes dialogue about his work, with the only exception being the comment, “My nephew could do that,” to which he will respond: “Well, hopefully your nephew has the balls to do something like this when he gets older.”
IN his Words
ON the Little Things
Last Meal | Frozen Pizza.
Prized Possession | My power tools. The router. No. Wait. All of them.
Three Words to Describe Yourself | Witty, Funny, Handy.
Alternative Job Title | Party Guy.
How Do You Measure Success | It’s personal, something you feel.
Greatest Achievement | Marrying my wife (musician Sarah Elhardt Perbix).
UPDATE! Neal is hosting a studio happy hour to kick off Art-A-Whirl from 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. on Friday, May 17. Here’s the address: 1326 6th St NE, Minneapolis (his space is behind the house) OR you can email him for more information at email@example.com.
Have fun, guys!
I have a hunch that Hannah Ferrara brought spring with her when she arrived in the Twin Cities for Kinfolk Magazine’s Flower Potluck last weekend, and it’s a good thing, because arranging flowers for May Day when there’s still snow on the ground is more than slightly depressing. But just our luck — we showed up for our workshop on Saturday evening at the Pretty Mommy Studio in Minneapolis, it was a beautiful 75 degrees, the doors were open, and the women in attendance were wearing their spring finest.
Workshop | Even though my go-to dining room table arrangement is a gigantic bouquet of chamelaucium (wax flowers) from the grocery store, I like to think I picked up a thing or two from local florist Ann Nelson, mostly in the form of words like astrantia, eriostemon and brunia. It was also fun to see what each vase arrangement might say about the lady making it: were the flowers wild? Varied? Bunched tight? I would describe mine as "lazy." At the end of the night, I walked away most inspired by the idea of hosting a potluck that wasn’t centered around food. I’m already trying to come up with some way to do it with music.
Food | The charcuterie from Northern Waters Smokehaus and huge, rustic loaves of bread from Patisserie 46, served on cutting boards from Marvin Freitas, were one of my favorite plates of the night. Caylon Hackwith prepared our supper of radish crisps + cold butter, beet chip + salmon pate and goose fat duck rillette (among other nibbles) by himself — and let’s just say, the man can cook. We finished off the night with rhubarb tarts + fresh cream + pistachio from The Lynn on Bryant, which is now on my list of new date night destinations.
Company | Hannah, a jewelry designer from Asheville, was our hostess for the evening, along with Pretty Mommy owner Michelle LeBlanc (pictured above). One of my favorite parts of the get-together was meeting Lisa Hackwith, of Hackwith Design House, who had made herself the coolest jumper for the occasion. Thao Nguyen, of Parc Boutique, Wing Ta of Canary Grey Photography, and I pestered her all night about adding the piece to her online shop. We’ll see if it worked.
+ One last thing: this was an event that included flowers and food and Kinfolk … so you know ladies were Grammin’. The whole time. Guilty. Check out shots from the other attendees here: canarygrey |shopprettymommy | anotherfeather | stirringofbirds | wideeyedlegless | emmysu | theflowerfades |hello_lindello | lizzyfree31 | hrudka | parcboutique | aprilharries | #kinfolkworkshop
You may have noticed a change on the blog since your last visit, and it’s made more prominent in the title of this mixtape series. I’ll explain the new name later, at great length, rest assured, but for now, let’s just put on some upbeat jams and hunker down for our next round of April snowstorms.
IN + ON | ONE
+ Fast In My Car / Paramore
+ Volcano (Four Tet Remix) / Anti-Pop Consortium
+ Beta Love / Ra Ra Riot
+ Heartsprings / Heiruspecs
+ Synesthesia / Andrew McMahon
+ Down The Road / C2C
+ Diane Young / Vampire Weekend
+ Ready For The Weekend / Icona Pop
+ Under the Gun / Electric Guest
+ Nice Try / I Am Arrows
+ Say When / Generationals
+ Spraypaint / Black Moth Super Rainbow
+ Miracle Mile / Cold War Kids
+ U Can’t Touch This (Dubstep Remix) / dubstep
+ Put Up Your Hands / AlunaGeorge
Photo | Alana Peterson