Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The full bloom of summer

Isn't it wonderful, what a little love can do?

The before and after pictures of my little community garden plot never cease to amaze me. It has already gone through many iterations since becoming mine last November, and I'm blown away by the amount of produce that can come out of just a 5-by-10 plot. I've grown Brussels sprouts, lettuces, potatoes, garlic, cabbages and broccolini. Currently, it's pushing up tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and strawberries. There are herbs, too... far more than I can possibly use: parsley, three kinds of basil, fennel, dill, thyme, lemon thyme (my favorite), garlic chives, rosemary, tarragon, purple sage, pineapple sage and even shiso. I've added a few flowers too, namely dahlias, foxgloves and petunias, for color and attracting the good bugs. "Guests, not pests," is my new motto.

If you live in a city and are without access to your own immediate gardening space, I really can't encourage you enough to join up with your local community garden. The reward is equal to your commitment, and I'm fortunate to be able to get there nearly every other day.

In the words of British garden writer Penelope Hobhouse, "I feel protected from the world by my plants." She's absolutely right, a garden is a place of respite, even though my attempt at videoing the bees joyously buzzing around my African blue basil implies otherwise...


Saturday, May 27, 2017

My interview with the legendary Jeremiah Goodman

That moment you get to connect with someone whose work you've admired for so many years...

I recently had the absolute pleasure to interview artist Jeremiah Goodman for the May issue of Angeleno magazine (you can read it here), just ahead of his exhibition opening at Dessin Fournir in Los Angeles. We got a full page for the story, which was fabulous of course, but there were still a few little bits that I couldn’t quite squeeze into the feature, so I’m putting a few of his fuller responses here because they're so lovely.

I adore him.

MP: Has your process or technique changed at all over the years, and if so, how?
JG: Yes, until the 1960s all of my paintings were made on the spot, in the room that was being portrayed. I still work that way when I can. In some cases, though, it’s just not possible to set up a worktable for the length of time that would be necessary, so in recent years I’ve often worked from photographs, notes and sketches. If it’s a commercial job for an architect I usually have a floor plan, paint samples, etc. I then make a preliminary sketch in pencil and jump right in, usually on illustration board.

MP: I’d love to know your thoughts on the significance of documenting interiors and really illustrating contemporary history. (My mind goes to the importance of illustration for some of my favorite books, like Peter Thornton’s Authentic Décor or Mario Praz’s Illustrated History of Interior Decoration.) 
JG: I think there is an organic, visceral quality about hand renderings that cannot be captured through CAD or even photography. The mood and subjectivity of a space is given expression in an illustration. I mean, what do you want to see? It’s ten times better if Yves Saint Laurent does a sweep of a drawing than somebody else drawing all the buttons up the back. My interest is the feeling of light and again, the romantic quality of the picture. That’s the thing I’m trying to do. And, hopefully, that the person who sees them receives them in that spirit. There is a Brazilian word, saudade, meaning a mysterious longing. It is the most marvelous word! We don’t have that word in our vocabulary. It is about a feeling of having been somewhere before. It is similar to dreams and you feel that you had another life because it is so foreign to your actual life, and that the reality of your dream bewilders you. Saudade means a longing for something that you can’t quite put your finger on.

MP: Is there a “room that got away,” something you didn’t get to paint before it changed?
JG: Absolutely! Villa Trianon, Elsie de Wolfe’s retreat at Versailles. Oh how I wish I could have visited! Revered as America’s first interior designer, Elsie de Wolfe swept away Victorian hauteur and reinvigorated tired buildings with light, open spaces and soft, comfortable upholstery. Inspired by a strong French aesthetic, she introduced Parisian art to American high society. I have created many paintings of the villa from old research photographs. But would have loved to have walked through the rooms. Elsie worked constantly on both sides of the Atlantic, during a decade where it took eight days, rather than eight hours, to travel from New York to France. Those were the days!

And a few more of the images he shared with us...

President Ronald And Nancy Reagan, Living Room, Bel-Air, 1992. ©Jeremiah Goodman

Greta Garbo, Library, New York, 1990. ©Jeremiah Goodman

Edward Albee, Living Room, Montauk, Long Island, New York, 2004. ©Jeremiah Goodman