Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remembering Julia My Way

I’m certain many of you have seen the recent release of Julie & Julia, an immensely entertaining and engaging film recounting the very amusing and real life tale of blogger “Julie” and the renowned life of the late, great Gourmand, Julia Child.

The movie poster for Julie & Julia
Reaching into the cobwebs of my mind, I can still recall the day in New York when I purchased my very own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and certain at that time, that in my role as “new bride”, I would prepare each and every recipe for my new and adoring husband. Alas, that dream did not come to did. Unfortunately for me, it was only too quickly I was immersed in schoolwork, salaried work, and too little time.

Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.
This past week I received a lovely gift from dear old Dad – a case of Frog Hollow peaches. He knows peaches are my undoing and I was thrilled beyond words to receive such a gift. Being unfamiliar with Frog Hollow I decided to investigate further, only to find that Julia Child was herself a follower and a great fan of the perfect peach. In fact, one of her dear friends had sent her a box of same for her birthday in 2004, sadly arriving just hours after her death. On the day that Julia’s friends and family immortalized her life, it is said that they incorporated the peaches into a terrific birthday cake.

The incomparable Julia Child.
Fast forward to August 13, 2009. It’s early Sunday morning, and as usual, I’m up early to run down the cold stone steps to grab the Times. Hours later, as I flipped through the Magazine section, there it was… a recipe for Brandied Peaches. This has to mean something.

I’m sure you can surmise the rest of the story. I can now state that I have “canned peaches”; and not easily I might add, but definitely enthusiastically. It was certainly more work that I had imagined, and messier too.
Brandied Peaches, my homage to Julia.
But now as I see these vessels of color sitting on the counter, I have a sense of accomplishment. Truth be told, I feel even better when I think about tasting them hot, poured over homemade vanilla bean ice cream on a cold winter night. I just know I’ll think of Julia.

Barbara Ashfield

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pompidou Part Deux

On my last trip to Paris there was a destination at the top of the list: The Centre Georges Pompidou. I’m crazy for contemporary art, and this is what might one call a “temple”.

The Centre Georges Pompidou-Paris from the entrance and courtyard.
The building, which opened in 1977 re-defined architecture and it’s relation to public buildings, especially museums. Done in an Industrial style which displayed its internal systems and structural elements, it was less about grandeur and monument and more about public interaction and accessibility. The building along with the adjoining square (Place Georges Pompidou) became a destination not only for tourists, but locals and street performers.

A Black and White shot I took in of the Center Georges Pompidou-Paris looking from Place Georges Pompidou.

The “ Musée National d'Art Moderne”, housed in the Centre Pompidou is considered one of the largest contemporary collections in Europe. The exhibitions presented over the years are a literal who’s who of contemporary art from Salvador Dali to Cy Twombly. The building also houses a national library and an acoustic research center.
An elevation view of the Centre Georges Pompidou- Paris.

A new Centre Pompidou has been planned, and began construction in 2006. The new museum will be located in Metz, France on the banks of the Seille River in the Lorraine region. The museum is a collaboration of The Centre Pompidou and the Metz Mètropole urban area, and will be located near the local TGV train station.
An artist's rendering of the new Centre Pompidou-Metz.
An architectural model of the new Centre Pompidou-Metz.

The museum’s architecture was inspired by a traditional Chinese hat. The primary form was constructed from an armature of laminated timber forming a mesh and will be coated in fiberglass. The building’s design is as stunning as the original, but for different reasons. The design of the new building speaks more to organic forms currently celebrated in popular architecture. It’s amazing that the original Pompidou could have look so “avant-garde” just 30 years ago. The building still seems fresh, but with less edge, as it has become part of the global architectural vernacular.
The laminated timber mesh creating the structure of the "hat".

The Centre Pompidou-Metz under construction.

The Centre Pompidou-Metz is scheduled to open in the spring of 2010, and will feature pieces from the collection of the Centre Pompidou’s Paris. The new museum’s inaugural exhibition, devoted to masterpieces will feature works by Henri Matisse, Man Ray and Jean Prouvè.

A rendering of the interior space near the center of the "hat".

This destination has now jumped to the top of my list for my return to Europe! I’m eager to see the Pompidou’s next generation first hand.

David Hansen

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Paris Blooms

Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of traveling and I have to say that I always make a point of seeking out notable florists in the big cities. They give me a sense of place, (no pun intended) of artistry, and a visual memory that lingers long after I have returned to San Francisco.

A beautiful Winter display in a shoppe around the corner from our hotel.

I included my cousin Wendy in the shot for scale.

On a trip to Paris last winter I made a point of visiting some of the famed florists there. They were glorious, as glorious as I had imagined them to be, and when I entered the threshold of each shop I felt as though I had been enveloped in a beautiful blanket of color. The shops are like little Faberge eggs, each one bejeweled and sparkling. They reminded me of the old Podesta Baldocchi on Grant Avenue in the 1960s. Now that was a florist!

Beauty en masse as seen in the shop around the corner from our hotel.

A few of my favorites from the City of Lights are Christian Tortu in the 6th, Marianne Robin in the 7th, and Flamant in the 8th.
The window display at Christian Tortu.

Mares eat oats, and Does eat oats, but little lambs eat daffodils at Christian Tortu.
Beautiful Ranunculus at Christian Tortu.

I am looking forward my next adventure – destination as yet unknown, but I do know that the great florists of THAT city will be on my list of things to see.

Barbara Ashfield

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stone Cold Inspiration - Marble Busts

Barbara and I have been hunting for some finishing touches on a project we’ve been working on and decided a marble bust would be the perfect element for this predominantly classic space.

The ideal! A "Baroque voodoo" sculpture by Bernini, thought to be his lover.

After a (disappointing) look at a few local antique dealers, I decided to scour the internet for inspiration. We find in our work that it’s best to find the piece you aspire to and work from there. Many of the more favorable examples I found were by Bernini, the famed Italian sculptor who did work for the Vatican, and was originally patronized by Pope Paul V’s nephew Cardinal Borghese. I somehow doubt that we will end up with a Bernini in our client’s home, but this is where the aspiration comes in.

Imperial Roman bust of Marcus Aurelius from the Ephesus Museum in Turkey.

A screen shot from the film "Auntie Mame" during her "Neoclassical" period.

A bust of "Lucifer" atop coiled snakes.
I thought I would share some images I found online. After immersing myself, I think a bust of a feminine subject is better for the space, as it seems “softer” and we don’t want the piece to dominate the room.

From Christies a bust of Aphrodite from the Hellenistic period.
A Nineteenth Century bust, possibly of Marie Antoinette.
One of the more interesting pieces I found in my research is a Pre-Hellenistic piece that reads as incredibly modern. It reminded me of a sculpture by Isamu Noguchi. The piece is available as a reproduction, but I think its modernity is not right for this project.

Aegean Islands Cycladic Head bust sculpture (Pre-Hellenistic) from the Metropolitan Museum.
Isamu Noguchi sculpture entitled "Mother & Child" from 1944.

We’ll keep looking, and hope that the “Marble gods” will grace us with the perfect piece.

David Hansen