Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Purple Streak Box Braids + Thrifty Fashion = Easiest Math

The purple streaks were good for a while. It doesn't mean the end. I recently bought Manic Panic's Purple Haze.
Purple is the best color on the planet. The end.
Box braids had an amazing run. Amazing. I enjoyed the compliments, the feedback. It was a refreshing, enjoyable experimental experience that fulfilled some inner bucket list. Yet I do want my afro to have purple streaks. Right now, I'm softening and conditioning with a surging commitment because to color hair, mine has to be at top notch strength.
I must give a commendable shout out to the Goodwill, Philly Aids Thrift here in sweet ole Philadelphia, and Cure Thrift in New York City. These great thrift shops made it so easy to match chic hair to a frugal wardrobe. I found wonderful modern pieces and some retro flair that still matches my fashionable spirit and of course-- my retro specs! It's incredible how having purple streaked braids made me value my glasses so much I didn't put my contacts on during my whole purple hair experience.
Please do take the time to find indulging gratification in life's supreme joys: family, friends, summer, thrift shops, hair dye, good books. It's too short. Far too short.

$1 sequin color polka dot shirt with this $1 ruffled purple jumper dress and $3 floral printed purple scarf from Philly Aids Thrift made a pretty statement!
Proud lady getting the selfie smile down pact!
My friend gave me his hat- 100% straw which coordinated well with a $4 white blouse with surprising bit of lace around collarbone area and $5 floor length blue polka dot skirt looking skort from Cure Thrift. The suspenders were a long ago purchase from Hot Topic.
Box braids and retro specs did not hurt one bit!
I'm going to be a private detective one day.
Also looks killer without the hat.
Chic, very adorable $10 Forever 21 vintage style dress from Cure Thrift matches the bow I bought at Forever 21- $3.50 for a bow two pack. Scarf is from Eva's Head Wraps.
These nifty cat earrings (which tried so desperately to match the real life sleeping Siamese baby fluff cat) don't hurt either. You can find these at Books a Million.
It happens to be my one month anniversary of being employed at school in the museum's visitor services department. Yay me! Great to be able to take an hour break painting, enjoying sandwiches, and having oils splatter my nose. Oh this dress was $3 from Philly Aids Thrift by the way. Terrific pattern.
It's not sweater weather, but this is a thin light weight powder blue "I Am What I Am" long sleeved shirt that I found for a $1 at Philly Aids Thrift-- their Dollar Heaven is no joke. It's incredible the amazing items I keep finding!
$1 for a knee length turquoise off shoulder dress from Philly Aids Thrift? Really? Yup.
And of course working out wearing another $1 Philly Aids Thrift find- chocolate brown t-shirt featuring a happy cat about to enjoy an ice cream cone. Motivation right?
New artwork to come? Sniffs a little.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Studio Harlem's 'Everything, Everyday' Artists-In-Residence Deliver A Refreshing Bite of Black Ordinary Perception

Checked out the new summer shows at Studio Harlem and this year's artist-in-residents stuck out like a chewing gum with nonstop flavor.
In the asymmetrical upstairs gallery of Studio Harlem, among low ceilings, white walls and glossy hardwood floors, newly opened exhibition honors the museum legacy's three precocious artist-in-residents tradition. This year's eclectic trinity simultaneously pummel center stage without tripping over individual independence. Everything, Everyday thrusts forth magical manifestations of glitter and glamor tropes framed in a vapid sense of bourgeois commonality. Interruptions of psycholedic afrofuturism narrative weave in between Eric Mack, Sadie Barnett, and Lauren Halsey's wickedly delicious outer space continuum, their sharp laser-beamed unison encompassing defiant push and pull puppeteer mechanics.
Theoretically, afrofuturism is a pulpy concept beyond scope of tomorrow, blending visual art, literary writing, and science fiction in a consciously hot boiling pot with African diaspora seeds embedded in thought-provoking soil. Intellectual movement introduces gratifying brain stimulation to black consciousness; that kind of cerebral titillating stimulation serving as an erotically engaging current to those who know clandestine secrets and those in fetal yearning. The paradoxical triad of Mack, Barnett, and Halsey escort us into the golden cusp of afrofuturism via tersely maneuvered installations.

Mack's vivacious, high contrast palette emerges straight from Octavia Butler's obscure tenacity- sucking on systematic witchcraft and ironic symphonies playing orchestrated anarchy. Thick paint applique fabrics seem to mimic splattered blood speckles. Deliberate and intense like a confrontation, these vocal green and blue earth colored splotches deliver meaningful blows in a voracious rioting scream of acid tongued linguistics. Two medium sized urban styled jackets- one black bubbled and the other denim- feature fat sinister metal grommet holes like riddled bullet holes. On white hangers, they spin slow and creepily as if mirroring a barbaric Southern lynching. These ghastly unassuming 'bodies' tell cathartic stories that appear an almost violent commentary on the short life span of the African descendent or perhaps spark fueling debate about the politics behind used, voided cloth. In its sparkle, glimmered, textured surface, there is a mundane attitude, something cold and deceptive spitting blunt, metaphorical rhymes. He has carefully and precisely sewn together modern time with old history, logic with confusion.

Barnett is the pragmatic documentarian. Vivid, chromogenic color prints have a peculiar three-dimensional sensory reaching out and touching in soft, sedulous pleasure, harrowing leverage mirroring dilated pupils overwhelming eye sockets. On another wall, Barnett's collection of typewritten letters with faded stains and aged off white paper housed behind wooded frames and glass are highlighted by direct ceiling bulbs. They entail passionate correspondence from the heated 1970's. Angela Davis had been forced underground to escape the FBI who placed her on America's Most Wanted list, but these collected manifestos contain behind-the-scenes rebellious visionaries determined to keep Davis a free woman. Barnett has spoken strong, articulate language transcending boundaries of the norm. She lets past accounts bridge onto gaping passages of the now and of gritty obstacles burgeoning on horizon.

Halsey is the savory third branch, reigning sharp corners in a sweet effervescent surprise- a profoundly whimsical work-in-progress. On one side of her monumental cave installation, viewers are seductively invited inside hand tiled plaster floor and ceiling, reading chiseled Egyptian hieroglyphics as though in the midst of archaeological excavation. However, these are not typical, historically accurate Egyptian hieroglyphics nestled in perfect squared compositions. Alongside geometric pyramids and pharaoh motifs are braided hairstyles, nappy Afros, repetitive Air Jordan logos, chewed out Ebonics, and other recognizable iconographic chronology defining the twenty-first century black American experience. At cave end, majestic African deities simmer, but ambitious architecture turns monstrously abstract, submerging out of morphed wall in pastel colored clusters. Another white wall, resuming path of handmade cave, has rhinestones spelling “V.I.P.,” brown skinned portraits, and burned CDs. Just when engulfing enough saccharine dripped visual confection, Halsey presents an ebony world with outbursts of schematic saturation. A white My Little Pony with black synthetic braids hides under a cliff where a rainbow sun hangs mid orbit. A question rises to the surface. Is Halsey a reincarnated Butler? How else can one entomb heavy handed diligence and serious astrological chops?
Unified Mack, Barnett, and Halsey are varied in approaches, but sustain a quiet, ingenuous dignity. Everything, Everyday is an arousing, sophisticated science promising intellectual lexicons that aren't insufferable complicated jargon.

My traveling companion was Jonathan Chase an up and coming artist also in PAFA's illustrious MFA program. It was nice seeing what Studio Harlem's residents have to offer the world this year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Black Bean & Avocado Salad

A refreshing salad that greets summer appetite just right.
Exciting events are happening. Travels to NYC and Toronto. Published in Soap Opera Digest magazine. Painting cakes, donuts, and Basquiat. Frida Kahlo and the blossoming seeds of a new gratifying form of self love. BLM is up on the Harcum College auction site-- bidding starting out at $50. Nephew is growing bigger. Things are looking up on the sweet horizon of life. I wouldn't dream of any other enticement. Life is surprisingly delicious these hot summer days.

Getting my personal experience "Crossing the Toronto Border" fan story published in the July 20, 2015 issue of Soap Opera Digest was a splendid treat! Thank you so much to Michaela for letting me know on Twitter! <3
Nothing more festive than adding fibrous black beans to a salad dish recipe, especially one that was sounding close to holy guacamole. Not that I mind making guacamole and calling it a salad. After all, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, and onions dancing in a dressing of squeezed lime juice mirrors salad elements right?
Ingredients together provide zesty, colorful fare that pleases the taste buds. Scrumptious perfection for the season when one does not feel like cooking a hot and heavy meal. I love how meaty black beans can be and the creamy, rich texture avocados bring. Why not bring present amazing pantry-must-have twosome as the new dynamic food duo?

Black Bean & Avocado Salad Ingredients and Preparation

1 15 oz can black beans, rinse
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
1/4 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoon fresh cilantro
2 avocados, ripened
2 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of salt (optional)

Mix black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro together.
Mix in avocado, lime juice, black pepper, and salt. Voila!
A blend of crushed dried herbs top a feast. Feel free to serve black tortilla chips on the side!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

For the Joy of Dottie's Donuts

Even with flickers of white paint on my purple retro spectacles, nothing stops the blissful enjoyment of a Dottie's Donut. Enjoying the desired cherry vanilla donut past 5PM.
Dottie's Donuts is Philadelphia's call to the sweet vegan wild.
I was just a gal cherishing Brooklyn journeys to Dunwell Doughnuts, reveling in the confectionery heaven of animal free fried sugar treats when I heard the most exciting news: someone was making vegan donuts in Philadelphia.
On a chill March, I took subway to Grindcore House, saw the beautiful dark pink frosting of a Dottie's Donut elderberry and fell in love at first bite. Love. Great swooning rock your socks off kind of love. They got the sweetness and texture just right. One bite is memorable flaky, chewy softness, moist, tasty dough of childhood craving. Plus if you take some to go and heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds and enjoy with a hot (or cold) beverage, you are set for life.
One of my favorites is the Almond Joy Donut. It has a classic donut base that is then topped with sinfully decadent chocolate appeal, crushed coconut flakes, and almond pieces. Hits all the perfect notes.
Since PAFA is right in the heart of Center City, I am so pleased that I can walk to Govinda's Vegetarian on South Street or Joe's Coffee near Walnut. Elixr Coffee, however, is always fresh out.
Here are all the Dottie's Donuts locations so far.

Elderberry donut was perfect with hot chocolate at Grindcore House.
Cinnamon sugar and vanilla chocolate chip from Joe's Coffee. Naturally, this newfound love sparked creative prowess. Be on the lookout for a series of sweet paintings partly inspired by the delicious world of Will Cotton. The rest relies on heritage. And memory. It really is difficult to paint donuts and not eat the donuts.
Matcha chocolate donut from the 2nd Annual Philadelphia Vegfest. Impressive.
Another painting donut still life preparation- almond joy and lemon lavender also from Joe's Coffee.
Almond Joy (I love Almond Joy immensely okay?) and Cherry Vanilla (mmmmhhhhmmmmm) from Govinda's!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Delicious Hot Carrot "Dogs"

Carrots take up space between whole wheat buns in a fascinating way!
The minute I saw the recipe for Carrot Hot Dogs on Blacks Going Vegan's Facebook page I knew a tasty destiny was in store. Carrots replacing hot dogs? Replacing even processed vegan alternative hot dogs? Get out! I had to test them out in order to see if tantalizing, well-documented photographs were simply teasing delicious possibilities.
Well, as it turns out-- a bonafide hit! Hot carrot dogs are amazing! So simple and easy to make.
Vegans never cease to amaze with their creativity.
Long carrots are cut, boiled until softened, marinated in eight ingredients, and then cooked up the next day. One could grill these too. I can already imagine them with the signature black lines, taking on a smoky rustic flavor. The texture from frying them on the skillet alone is phenomenal. The exterior is crisp and a little charred (just how I like them) while the interior is firm and soft with that irresistible carrot sweetness. Plus the buns and the fixings took on unique challenge too well.
Hot carrot dogs are definitely the way to go! I recommend them.

Hot Carrot "Dogs" Ingredients and Preparation

8 carrots, rinsed and peeled

2 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1/4 cup Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings (optional)

Bring carrots to a boil. Drain and rinse with cold water. Mix ingredients to make marinade together.
Coat carrots in marinade ( use about two tablespoons), wrap them in plastic (or ziplock bags), and refrigerate overnight.
Along with some olive oil and a little extra marinade, fry carrot dogs, browning each side to desired preference.
I dressed my carrots with Daiya Provolone, sliced red onions, and Annie's Homegrown Organic Ketchup.
Closeup of terrific color once biting into the "dog!"

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The BLM Project

At Harcum College's Trout Library delivering my bear called "BLM."
Harcum College is celebrating 100 Years. To commemorate their bicentennial milestone, back in March, they asked artists to respond to the call on Philaculture's Job Bank. The theme was "Bears and Squares" for an upcoming gala to show and auction off the white bear plaster molds and white square canvases. I was more than overjoyed at being selected, choosing to work on the white plaster cast bear- a most worthy challenge. For weeks it sat in my school studio untouched. Critics and I would stare at it, mention its peculiarity, and move on to other random works.
Soon, some volcanic eruption shot right through me and birthed out BLM. Maybe it was the braids in combination with the horrors of the country inciting fervent inspiration. I wanted to create something rich and bold, something that spoke to history as a black life mattering in this society. There is so much fuel to add to the fire, so much terror and fear each day breathing air. As an artist, I needed to illustrate the time, the now in a metaphoric poetry that translates through my personal writings.
The once all white bear has been painted a vibrant copper and brown, with brown eyes, and a defiant aura about her. She is rooted in past and future. Body is of the Egyptian Sphinx- a mystical creature evoking both lion and human qualities. I gifted braids from my own hair, attaching to her head, covering her "bear" ears, and made her "listen" to Black Ivory forever.
I am quite proud of this project and very excited about what is next to come on this artistic adventure.....

BLM on the train cloaked in my Harry Potter Marauder's Map backpack.
My "twin" looks so comfortable. Thankfully no one sat next to us on the train to Bryn Mawr. She sat with red, yellow, and green headphones, listening to Ivory Black.
The back of her features the Ivory Black paint tube acting as a walkman, an iPod. Pan African ribbon adorns the "music."
With a drawn black outlined bear in the center.
Unfortunately the globs of black and brown paint did not survive. See the many languages of Ivory Black-- German, Spanish, French....
Back part of BLM's head. I coated her synthetic hair braids in Argan Oil. Hopefully they stay shiny forever.
Another back look.
Check out BLM's Spinx inspired body. It is Golden's pretty line of rich copper metallics and Gold Painter Marker as well as the Sharpie to spell out "BLM" in patterned mantra.
Spinx body closeup.
BLM's face. Brown eyes. Large pink lips. Lots of iridescent medium. She wears Pan Africa colored ear buds and a bright green flower in her braids. 
Purple braided choker does not have any Argan Oil, but looks quite sheen worthy regardless. Purple means royalty and uniqueness. BLM is all those qualities.
I love the build up of medium on her nose, her snout like a pig more than a grrr bear. Layered, thickening of creamy white sparkle is so fascinating to look at. 
BLM is quite happy. I cannot wait to attend the September gala and see who takes her home.