One of the things I most admire about man, is his ability to create art – his penchant for creativity. Art is, of course, a loose term, as anyone who has visited a modern gallery knows. One man’s junk will always be another man’s treasure. A piece of art will always be undervalued to one and overpriced to another. But that’s not really the point, at least as I see it.
For me, the point is to discover what I consider to be art, to stumble upon a work and to declare it, by my fiat alone, some thing of genius. In the world of architecture, I throw that label on Santiago Calatrava, whose sweeping shapes and arcs on the Milwaukee Art Museum take the viewer from one work of art into another.
In the world of literature, I favor From Paris to the Moon, a work of non-fiction that captures the emotional state of France and the French psyche in breathtaking imagination. The work remains in my mind for its ability to romanticize the mundane — to turn a trip to the hospital into an analysis of the French family, and a political debate on television into a comparison of the American and French male.
In the art world — in the classical sense of the word — I enjoy a true classic: Une Baignade, Asnières, by Georges Seurat. I like the painting most, for what it is not. It is not his most-famous work; it is not La Grande Jatte. And it is not a portrait of the sophisticated Paris, the one of parasols, silk gloves, and form-fitting fashions. Instead, it’s the Paris of the factory workers, the plants billowing smoke in the background, and the young workers lounging in the grass or resting in the river. It is, quite literally, the other side of the tracks, or the other side of the river as it may be.
But not all my favorites are Western or even well-known. During our recent trip to Santa Fe, I discovered the photography of Naoki Honjo, a contemporary Japanese photographer, whose work distorts everyday images, putting our everyday lives into dollhouse and figurine form.
In my blog, I try to create my own art, in the photography, the writing, and the cooking. When I cook, I think about what will go into the recipe, and what ingredients will make the dish a great dish. Once the dish is done, I think about styling it, about the background, the focal points, the colors, and the camera angles. As the camera shutters and snaps picture after picture, I think about the narrative and words I might use to accompany the images of my meal. It’s this creative endeavor that makes working on the blog so fun.
Recently, Caitlin and I merged the worlds of art and cooking as we hand-dyed eggs to commemorate Caitlin’s Easter tradition. But, rather than purchasing tablets of pre-made dye, we crafted a homemade version using water, vinegar, and foods from the pantry. Crushed cranberries and blueberries lent their subtle pink and purple hues. And, spoonfuls of turmeric transformed the white shells to a vibrant yellow. Watching the cranberries and blueberries color the boiling water, I couldn’t help but think about an early painter, mixing his own colors from the fruits and vegetables around him, before setting off at daybreak to paint a landscape. Watching the eggs turn into bright and vibrant colors, I thought of the art around me.
Hand-Dyed Easter Eggs
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 20 minutes
YIELD: 12 Dyed Eggs
WHAT TO GRAB:
8 tablespoons vinegar, divided
1/2 bag frozen blueberries, crushed
1 bag cranberries, crushed
2 tablespoons turmeric
1 teaspoon green food coloring
HOW YOU DO IT:
Fill four pots with enough water to cover the eggs. Pour 2 tablespoons of vinegar into each pot. Add three eggs to each pot, and add the turmeric, crushed blueberries, crushed cranberries, and green food coloring to a respective pot. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the eggs to an egg-container and allow them to cool. Shine with vegetable oil as needed.