Friday, December 19, 2014

Hello Cincinnati, It's Been A While

Cincinnati, Ohio, home of four undergraduate years, was a beacon of possibilities.
First semester is over. It's been grueling and heartbreaking. Little joys weaved between struggle, fear, and anxiety. Broken laptops, late nights making nonsensical travesties, losing sleep. Life of an artist, writer, foodie enthusiast. I'll never forget one of my critics saying that 24 hours a day isn't for someone like me. My MFA review was Wednesday-- thirty minutes of hardcore tough talk from four critics familiar to my ideas. I had friends help me set up sculptures, photographs, watercolor with typewritten text, and the Nappylocks and the Three Combs installation. Foursome liked the drawings and writings, believing them to be strongest components. The large rubber duck sculpture was something enjoyable as well as a braid composed of pieced Brillo scrubbers. However, argument is that my writing is more considered, more special than any shown art. Writing is more articulate than a piece. These are criticisms to take towards both painting and lithography classes come spring. I'm already sketching ideas for my litho stones, thinking of profound ways of having writing and drawing intersect successfully.

Massive afro pick composed of newspaper and tape (masking and duct). Critic pros: great concept, humorous, loved inaccurate "teeth" components. Con: duct tape doesn't seem to be right tool.
The large rubber duck. Critic pros: scaling up rubber duck. Cons: visible cardboard, should have more obsessive qualities, more rubber duck the merrier, my desire to throw it away.
Another positive aspect of my MFA Review is one of the coolest people at PAFA, Greg Martino, Career Services Director. Actually came to see work and hear critics. Extremely thoughtful considering it's last days of the school year and what must have eaten thirty minutes out of a busy schedule! Few days prior, he showed me magnificent jewelry work of Samira. She also lives in Philly and attends University of the Arts (another Center City art college). I highly recommend visiting her site-- Arimas Jewelry Box. So many wonderful items to purchase from reasonably priced to pieces I'll have to sell a few paintings to get. If you sign up for her emailed newsletter, she offers $5 off first purchase and opportunities to win free jewelry every month. It's quite special supporting small businesses, especially artist run businesses that one can understand and appreciate. Seeing as my own work is about my heartfelt longing for African Diaspora and cherishing ancestry, kindred kismet to find someone creating beautiful attainable art to be worn and displayed. I'm quite excited about wearing fashion statements bound to strengthen my own.

These are 1" Africa Continent Studs made with brass and 14kt gold filled ear wires, $20. Samira also says, "Please note that these earrings can be customized to any state, country or continent. If a custom order is desired please indicate your request at checkout." So awesome!
Wood cut Afro Pick earring studs come in both hand painted black and crimson red, $18. I chose black!
Package on its way.
Speaking of packages, check out my artist/vegan pal Jolyn's 31at31 post on winning the AfroVeganChick Pacifica Giveaway. Just adorable and sweet to read! Plus she's included a short video of unwrapping.
Now with holidays coming fast, I needed another vacation-- an extended one away from Philly. Home of course. However, I took a little pit stop on the way en route to Dayton-- to its larger populated sister city Cincinnati. I have many memories here- good and bittersweet of course. Nice to reflect on old history, revisit places formerly frolicked or passed by.

I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in drawing at Art Academy of Cincinnati. I hadn't been since former drawing professor Gary Gaffney's retirement party in summer of 2011. That mural by Kim Krause (Painting I and Drawing Seminar II teacher) wasn't always there. Funnily enough, I ran into him (still dressed in all dark gray and rounded glasses) and said "hello." Plus Joe Fisher (admissions director), Anissa Lewis (admissions coordinator), Kim Wheeler (the security head), Sue Hutchens (registrar), Mark Thomas (Foundations and Illustration I instructor) and Jay Zumeta (Art History I and Aesthetics professor) happened to still be around. Great to see them all.
It's Kris! The amazing Libra woman in the financial aid department whom I love and adore. Ladies with almost matching spectacles reminisced about Paris 2009 and mourned the fact that I missed out on Musee D'orsay and the longest line imaginable at Catacombs. I remembered the days of sitting in Kris's office having free chocolates and talking art. Oh how we both enjoy the subject. She did have an art history blog. Plus, we also have Downton Abby in common. Gotta love Downton Abbey. Good things come to an end. On a pictorial note. Joy, financial aide assistant was a real hoot, bringing to life her namesake. I could sense genuine kindness and a real vibrant spirit. She took our photos and off we walked out of AAC together.
Suder's Art Store is the heart of artists community in downtown Cincy. On Vine Steet, just a block away from AAC, it was certainly the place for students to purchase supplies. Sharon Suder, great granddaughter of the founder, stood behind the counter. Plus one of my favorite people in the world-- Ros happened to be working that day as well! We talk all the time via email and phone. Great to see her again in person! We gabbed about PAFA life and "Route." This notion that my writing is "exceptional" and far more superior than artistic pursuit. I still feel drawn and adore both mediums. One thought after that MFA review, however, was is there a stronger fascination, a stronger drive for writing as opposed to art? Is this true?  Ros certainly had me opening Pandora's box.
George Washington the cat performed yoga on rolled up canvas cloth. And yes that is his model photograph on the back left. He is pretty and softer than imagined. Fur must get brushed everyday. Plus his meows were sweet to hear.
"Do not disturb me whilst I reach enlightenment," George seems to hum, with eyes closed in concentration. Actually, he was just napping.
Court View, my old apartment building. Still beautiful and historically charming like the first day I saw it. Those large windows and hard wood floors were a treasure.
Cincinnati's massive main library across the street. Literally. Takes up two blocks. So impressive. I always stayed until closing. Perfect place to read, write, and sketch. There's also a little cafe and used bookshop inside. Loved finding little novelty gifts for family and friends.
Consumed warm crunchy chips and guacamole at Burrito El Charco.
The guacamole was smooth, slightly whipped, but tasted more like lime than traditional recipes. Maybe that's why the light green is much more pronounced. Plus no tomatoes or evidence of cilantro. Very different.
Coffee Emporium was the hangout of AAC students. I rarely went. Mostly stayed lonely recluse in my studio painting or at the apartment drawing or writing.
From the outside it looks like a strictly casual operation.
Plenty of coffees, teas, and specialty seasonal drinks can be made vegan. I adore that they have both soy and almond milk as alternative dairy free options.
I had the alligator pear grilled sandwich. Avocado was a rich, creamy component against fresh spinach, juicy tomato slices, red onions, and smooth, irresistible hummus with delectable pieces of garbanzo bean. Bread was toasted to crisp perfection-- no soggy mess here! Plus the unique savory seasoned crunchy miniature pretzels were amazing. Never had them without distinctive white salt spots before.
I also ordered vegan coffee cake. It was dry unfortunately. I did cherish crunchy cinnamon topping and noting that I can taste most of the ingredients. Would have loved not only more moisture, but some berries, apple slices, or nuts to add texture.
Yummy almond milk hot chocolate inside recycled materials.
Lovely place to have coffee and enjoy art. Music isn't too loud or intrusive. One can have conversation. No screaming match to compete against background melody. Almost regret never coming.
Large, spacious environment, clean dance floor, well worn seats, and neat organization with touches of urban domesticity and bicycle love. Oh, how the bicycle aesthetic is huge in Cincinnati. Huge!
Park+Vine, formerly on Vine Street, moved into Kaldi's Coffeehouse's old location on Main Street. They sell a lot of vegan specialties, beauty supplies, and organic apparel. Since it's independently owned, prices are much higher than even Whole Foods. Field Roast Chao Slices are $7.75 each, Daiya cheeses $7, 32 oz. alternative milks $3-$5, ice creams $8-$9, etc. I had to pass on much. I did leave out with KeVita's Master Brew Kombucha in Tart Cherry. Tasty flavor. Would love to brew my own experimentation someday.
I did have plans to venture further downtown to Fountain Square to the Ballpark to the Ohio River separating state from Kentucky. Chilly weather wasn't exactly welcoming and time escaped faster than sand falling through invisible hourglass. I walked back towards bus station and almost laughed at the sight of the new Horseshoe Casino. Pretty big and flashy for such a rustic, vintage area.
Anyway, it was a charming visit. Hopefully, I'll come back soon. Enjoy more C.E. and chat with my buddies again as well as an old professor or two. Fun times!

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