Monday, June 30, 2014

The Printed Square: A Beautiful Scarf Exhibit Featuring Designs By International Artists

The McNichols Building, formerly the Carnegie Library that was built in 1909, is located right in the heart of downtown Denver in Civic Plaza.  The spacious second floor has a new exhibition of more than forty scarves from the 1940's and 1950's.  Commissioned and manufactured by the Ascher Company in London during the World War II.  Zika and Lida Ascher had fled to London from Poland.  They later went on to manufacture the printed floral scarves for Christian Dior and also introduced mohair into haute couture.

With the natural light pouring into the gallery and the over head lights, it was challenging to photograph the scarves without getting tremendous glare from the glass covering the framed scarves. 
Cricket Scene by Polish artist, Feliks Topolski screen-printed on silk.  Topolski later became a British citizen and was one of the war artist.  He was an illustrator and later an Expressionist painter.  
Problems existed during trying times.  There was a lack of good silks and cotton, inferior fabrics and dyes along with the proper techniques of reproducing the scarves. With all these obstacles, Topolski still enjoyed the process and that it offered enjoyment to the end user.  The very first Ascher scarves were printed on parachute silk.
 Old England by Topolski.
Cornish Landscape by Scottish artist, Robert Colquhoun. His studies at the Glasgow School of Art were suspended when he became an ambulance driver during the war.   His technique was heavily influenced by Picasso.              
La Seine screen-printed on silk crepe by French artist, Marie Laurencin.  Known for her whimsical, female figures, she was the only female artist in this exhibition.
French artist, Philippe Julian was a painter and excellent illustrator.  I love the colors in this scarf and could easily add to my own collection.
Baron Philippe de Rothschild came up with the idea that each year he would have a wine label designed by a famous artist of the time.  It was Philippe Julian who was given the commission for the  the first "artist's" label for the famous wine from Chateau Mounton Rothschild.  His 1945 illustration was in memory of the World War II victory over Germany. If you know me, this scarf also would fit perfectly into my wardrobe!
Screen-printed silk twill by French artist, Andre Derain.  He was the co-founder of Fauvism with Matisse.  Later he shifted his work to muted tones influenced by Cubism and Cezanne.
Chinese Panarama screen-printed on rayon by one of England's most famous fashion photographer, Cecil Beaton.  His travels to China inspired him to feature this swirling design of figures in everyday life.  I feel like one is looking through a camera lens.
Contrebadier (Smuggler) by Spanish artist, Pedro Flores.  Flores was part of the Spanish School of Paris along with Picasso.  I really like his style and it does remind me of many of Picasso's works.
Imprevisible Jeunesse (Unpredictable Youth) by French artist, Jean Hugo.  Hugo is predominantly known for his sketches and oil or gouche paintings.
Boats for Hire by English artist, Julian Trevelyan.  He wrote, "The design for Boats for Hire came as a result of a walk one spring morning along the Thames near Cookham.  After a grey winter, everything was vibrating with unusual colours - fruit trees, violet, willows, red, water, yellow.  In textiles it seems to me it is rather the same surprising inversions of colour and form that create a notable design.  The artist's drawing only comes to life when the colours of which it is composed are changed about the printer in almost as haphazard a way as in a kaleidoscope to form new and unexpected harmonies."
Le Jour et la Nuit (Day and Night) by Spanish artist, Oscar Domingues. A Surrealist painter also influenced by Picasso. 
Black Trellis by English artist, Graham Sutherland.  Southerland also worked on the home front during the war.  His works were very descriptive in his documentation of bomb damage.  He later went on to feature religious art depicting crucifixions and thorns.  

All of the scarves were limited editions, no more than 600.  At the time, the scarves cost 12 British pounds each.  Today that would be 400 pounds or around $680 US dollars.  During a time of rationing, these scarves were the creme de la creme accessory a woman could wear!  

Other scarves on display were created by the British actor, James Mason and artists Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder and Henry Moore.

Check it out.  Besides one other couple, we were the only ones enjoying the exhibit on Saturday morning.  The show is on display through August 10.  Saturday and Sunday, 10:00am - 3:00pm.

"The Printed Square: International Fashion Scarves"
McNichols Civic Center Building
144 W. Colfax St.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fifth Annual Mermaid & Margarita Party

I spent two days getting ready for the fifth annual Mermaids and Margarita party.  It is so convenient to have Trader Joe's just down the street to pop in and pick up some fresh flowers.
And it is not a Mermaid party unless I have my guacamole.  The trick to my recipe is to roast the jalapenos and the garlic.  And I am a nut about appetizer plates.  I have a whole cabinet full of them and I still love to collect unusual ones.  These pewter plates came from San Miguel de Allende ages ago.
Beth, Melinda and Lynn starting in on their first margarita.
A few days ago, I made my Roasted Spanish Peanuts, Oaxacan style.
Barbara, Siliva and Mari.  Not much guacamole left.
Another favorite is my watermelon, tomato bites.  I am in the process of writing an appetizer cookbook and the guacamole, peanuts and the watermelon bites are in the book.  Each recipe will have a photo which I have been diligently shooting over the years.  My husband asked me one evening, "Are you going to photograph everything we eat?"  I certainly am glad that I have because it would be a huge chore to start from scratch.
Karen, Nina and Mary polishing off the watermelon squares.
Ann saying Cheers!
 Pam, Jennifer and Peggy waiting for the main course to come out.
 I changed up the menu this year.  And this entree, Roasted Shrimp-Stuffed Poblano Peppers was a huge hit!  Recipe to follow on my next post.  It's a definite winner and going in my next cookbook.
Even after the dishes had been cleared, Lynn could not get enough of the mixed baby greens with mango salad that was dressed with a cilantro and shallot vinaigrette.
And for dessert, my Flan (I posted this recipe on 4/9/2014).
Beth hamming it up.  Do you think it might have anything to do with the margaritas...
All day I had been watching the weather report,  30% percent chance of rain, then 40% chance of rain in the evening.  Well it did rain. Big drops for about five minutes about fifteen minutes before everyone arrived.  The early evening lighting was spectacular, especially looking up into my huge Catalpa tree.  It turned out to be a perfect evening in every sense!

Viva Las Serinas!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is outstanding!

I was in Scottsdale over Memorial Day Weekend and I lucked out, the temps were in the high 80's and low 90's.  Nothing like it was the week before or the week after.
One morning after having breakfast at the Royal Palms with a friend, I headed over to the MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum.  Boy was I impressed!  The large ceramic tile panels that covered the facade against the Arizona blue sky was magnificent.

Trip Advisor ranks the MIM the number one attraction in Phoenix! And it is the only museum of its kind in the world featuring musical instruments from all over the world.
The main floor is home to the Artist Gallery.  The second floor includes exhibits for every country in the world.  Each vignette features various instruments from that country, explanations on how they are made, played and how they are used in that culture.  What I was particularly impressed with was with the top-notch audio and visual available.  When you walk up to a vignette, the video screen will begin running, showing the musicians or music being played in their original cultural context.  The music and sometimes commentary comes through on high-quality headphones.  If you want to listen again, it will play over or if you have had enough, walk away and the screen goes black and the music stops.
I first toured the Artist Gallery.  The exhibits included instruments, songs, vinyl records and record jackets, posters, stage outfits, props and excellent photos of many music icons such as John Lennon, Taylor Swift, Carlos Santana, Ray Orbison, Black Eyed Peas, Leonard Bernstein, Clara Rockmore, Pablo Casals, George Benson and many more.
I love the exhibit on Dick Dale who invented surf music in the late 1950's.  Leo Fender, the pioneer of the electric-guitar, gave Dale a guitar.  He was impressed that Dale who was left-handed turned the right-handed guitar upside down and backwards and started to play.
It was Dick Dales song, Miserlou, that was the theme song in the movie Pulp Fiction.
The Elvis Presley exhibit with his outfit, records, guitar and great photos.
On the video screen, the were scenes of Elvis in the movie Charro.  A little trivia for you, this was the only movie in which he did not sing and he grew a beard for the part.
Its was Carlos Santana's performance at Woodstock in 1969 that made him an international star.
 In 1970 John Lennon purchased a Steinway 2 Upright and composed "Imagine" based on a poem written by Yoko Ono promoting world peace. 
This young lady was enthralled listening to the music of Toby Keith, singer-songwriter well-known for his patriotism.  He wrote "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" in response to 9/11.
In the Mechanical Music Gallery, listen to the 25 foot long, 2 ton Belgian-made Apollonia dance organ.  Appropriately named for the female for Apollo, the Greek God of sun and music, the dance organ features sounds of accordions, percussion and hundreds of organ pipes.
There is the Experience Gallery where children and adults too can play a guitar, bang a gong, explore all types of different instruments.
The Conservation Lab.  
Then up to the second floor to tour the Latin America Gallery.
With my love of Mexico, I was very impressed with the various vignettes on Mexican music, especially the area on mariachis.  The traditional instruments include the button accordion, bajo quinto or bajo sexto (Mexican guitars strung in five or six courses), violins, tarola snare drum and tololoche bass.
This display features the Rampora frame drums, flutes and violins of the Raramuri (Tarahumara) Indians from the Copper Canyon area in northern Mexico.  Tarahumaras are world renown for their long distance running abilities.
I was very impressed by the Recycled Orchestra.  In Cateura, Paraguay, music teacher Favio Chavez was struggling with the lack of musical instruments.  2006 he put together a small group to sieve through the local landfill for material to construct an eensemblee of "recycled" instruments.  Today there is a thriving music school and a youth orchestra that performs internationally! 
Country music was created from diverse musical and cultural influences.  The Grand Ole Opry helped spread the popularity. 
Ramsey Recording Studio started out as a radio repair shop that eventually turned into a recording studio, called Audio Recorders.  Not only did they record music that was heard all over the nation, my Dad, Bob Mullen, recorded many radio commercials for his clients here.
A tribute to the 1960's and 1970's Rock and Roll.  Great selection of songs can be heard:  "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles, "My Generation" by The Who, "Foxey Lady" by Jim Hendrix and "Ball and Chain" by Janis Joplin.
If you grew up in the valley in the 1950's to the late '80's, you had to have watched the Wallace & Ladmo Show!  Their live music was something else and often was a parody of other musicians like the Beatles.  Alice Cooper was inspired by Mike Condello. 
The European wing represented every country imaginable.  Spain's vignette featured the Flamenco music of Andulsia.  
Other galleries include Asia, Oceania,   Africa and the Middle East.

I had such a wonderful 2 1/2 hours at the museum.  And I have barely scratched the surface on what the MIM has to offer.  
Thanks can be made to Robert J. Ulrich (former CEO of Target) for having such passion and insight to be such a collector.  It was the vision of Ulrich and his friend, Marc Felix, who came up with the concept for the museum after visiting the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels, Belgium.  It truly was a one-of-a-kind experience and I found myself constantly smiling as I toured each vignette.
I am anxious to go back and spend more time listening to all the different venues. 

MIM - Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E. Mayo Blvd.
(corner of Tatum and Mayo Blvd., just south of the Loop 101)
Phoenix, Arizona

Open Daily.