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There is something about Dorothy and Herbert Vogel that gets to the heart of what collecting art should be and truly is at its most honestly pursued incarnation. But this something is such a stark contrast to what we see in the art market daily that you can’t help but be caught off guard and struck so strongly by it – that it brings you to gasps in looking over their near four decades of collecting. This is the point in the post when we flag that there is an emohobbyist post ahead, if you haven’t caught it already. But never more warranted.

The Vogels collected each in their own right up to their meeting in 1963, but only around that period did they begin in earnest to collect art. Herbie had just purchased a Picasso lithograph prior to meeting Dorothy, which they followed up with a Picasso vase during their engagement and off they went. Throughout their working lives, Dorothy worked as a reference library in the New York Public Library system and Herbie at the Postal Office. Herbie took a graveyard shift so that he could take art history and painting classes at the Institute of Fine Arts during the day. They lived on Dorothy’s salary and devoted Herbie’s entirely to collecting art. They live in a rent controlled apartment throughout, saving enough room for a bed, a small kitchen table and chairs, devoting the rest of the apartment to storing their collection.

What is extraordinary for collectors goes truly beyond even that. They forged relationships, strong indelible friendships, with artists that endured throughout their lives. They devoted their lives to these friendships, to becoming engrossed and truly understanding the movements of art that were burgeoning around them. Herbie had a Saturday afternoon phone date with Sol LeWitt until the artist’s death as he had with several close artist friends. Christo and Jean-Claude credited Herbie and Dorothy with the ability to catch them up on six months of the New York art scene over one dinner, devoting as they did all of their spare moments of the day to thinking about art.

And think about art they did. They got at the core essential sense of art, that some likely never do. But without breaking it down to something esoteric – instead talking about their engagement and their quest to understand it in common sense terms. And yet they collected some of the least tangible, the most inaccessible art that has been produced in the modern period. Minimalism, conceptualism, post-conceptualism – and abstract expressionism, when it wasn’t so widely accepted by the art market.

Over time the Vogels came to be recognized for what they had amassed – a collection that has become one of the most truly spectacular collections in history. They have collected several artists’ work in depth as has not been done elsewhere – such artists as Richard Tuttle and others look to the Vogels’ collection for their own retrospective sense of their oeuvre.

As they started to engender more interest in their collection, Herbie and Dorothy remained committed to donating it to a public institution where people could see it for free since they amassed it while earning salaries working for public agencies. Herbie’s vote for the ultimate recipient, the National Gallery, also happened to be because that was where he took Dorothy for their first date – and her first lesson in art history. They ultimately donated the collection to the National Gallery – in what took a series of five transport trucks to deliver the works from their tiny apartment. To this day they make twice yearly pilgrimages to the Gallery to see their collection in what Herbie describes as trips to go see the kids who’ve gone away to college. The Gallery didn’t have the space to house the entire collection, which led to the beginning of the 50 Works for 50 States project. Together with the Gallery, the Vogels selected 50 works to go to a museum within each of the 50 states. The Blanton in Austin was privileged enough to receive the 50 on behalf of the people of Texas, which were shown in The Collecting Impulse: Fifty Works from Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, which closed last month.

And such a truly beautiful gift it is. The Blanton had previously received a Tuttle as a gift, with these further works by giving such a breadth to his collected work. The entire 2500 works can be seen together on, along with additional details about the Vogels. Without a doubt, the clearest glimpse into their lives is through the 2008 documentary by Megumi Sazaki, giving a glimpse into this lifelong pursuit by such a pair to surround themselves, to get at art and let it get into them.

4 tablespoons each of coarse sea salt and sugar
one lemon
one lime
one orange
a 600 grams filet of fresh wild salmon
¼ cup of fresh dill, roughly chopped

Zest the citrus. Combine the sea salt and sugar together. Cut the filet in two pieces. It will work best if the two pieces are the same size.

Lay one piece of salmon skin down in a glass casserole dish. Cover the flesh of the salmon with the sea salt and sugar mixture. Cover the salmon with citrus zest and dill. Cover the other piece of salmon similarly with the sugar and salt mixture. Place the remaining zest and dill on the first piece. Place the second piece on the first piece to sandwich them together, flesh sides facing each other. Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight.

The mixture will cook the salmon and as it does so, the salmon will throw off a lot of liquid. The next day, remove both pieces of salmon from the dish and drag each flesh side down through the liquid that the salmon has thrown off. Sandwich the filets together again (fleshy parts toward each other). Repeat this twice each day. Flip the sandwich stack so that each filet gets equal time sitting in the liquid mixture. Remain covered for 48 hours. If the fish looks like it has thrown off too much liquid and its edges are being cooked too much by the liquid, pour some of the liquid off so that it does not overcook the fish.

After 48 hours, the salmon will look bright with a lovely colour. Taste the brine to determine the flavour. Lay the salmon on a metal drying rack over a casserole dish and place in the fridge overnight to dry off some of the residual liquid.

The next day the salmon will be ready to serve – either on its own, or with red onions, cream cheese and capers on bagels, on salad, in smoked salmon eggs benedict – the possibilities are endless! Enjoy this recipe which one of our favourite chefs, Sandi Irving, taught us to make during a great visit we had together. This recipe was a critical way to help deal with the homesickness solely felt for the home-smoked salmon we devour whenever back in the northwest. Sandi is the Executive Chef at Nimmo Bay Luxury Wilderness Resort and in her off-seasons, she works as Entremetier at the Sooke Harbour House, both on British Columbia’s locavore heaven, Vancouver Island.

*A quick safety note: The fresh salmon that you buy at the store will have been frozen at sea, which is sufficient to stave off worms and other lovelies. If you are using salmon you’ve freshly caught yourself, please freeze it for 24-48 hours in order to ensure that this is done. Once the Gravlax is made, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days – if it lasts that long.

The duo who have pushed the envelope and succeeded in developing Frieze into the successful art fair that it is today, taking over London each October, have expanded across the ocean with Frieze New York, which launches today. Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, with artist, Tom Gidley, founded Frieze magazine in 1991 and launched Frieze Art Fair in London in 2003.

Having just missed Frieze last fall in London, and now missing the launch of Frieze New York, we are understandably green but coping through the help of great art fair online material these days that allow you to live vicariously. For now. Frieze New York is taking place on Randall’s Island with 180 of the leading contemporary galleries worldwide as exhibitors, an impressive Sculpture Park curated by Tom Eccles and Frieze Projects, which launches annual artists’ commissions for the fair.

Art Newspaper estimates that art worth a total of $2 billion has been brought to the city for Frieze New York, falling quickly on the heels of the sale of Munch’s The Scream on Wednesday night at Sotheby’s NYC, creating an auction record at $119 million. Signs that the art world is the canary in the gold mine, as this market appears to be rebounding to pre-recession highs? Perhaps. But what it does do is push the increasingly loud debate of investment vs. obsession to the fore, which often distinguishes the rise of art investment as distinct from the acquisitions by art lovers. As Barbara Kruger’s 2012 work, Too Big To Fail, queried the financial system’s stability, so too can the same question be poised at the secondary art market for art masters. Across the Frieze exhibitor list, it is by far the secondary market pieces that will be making up the biggest portion in terms of dollar figures of works brought to New York this weekend. In this, Frieze will take its place amongst the list of international art fairs where the same level of deals take place in what may be one of the only truly burgeoning markets at the moment.

Feeding one of our favourite trends in the art world, Frieze has a virtual component, of course: Frieze Virtual New York 2012, where you can search by terms such as the artist’s age,  price, etc. amongst 1560 artworks represented by galleries at the fair.

One of the best, but sometimes overlooked, aspects to any art fair: the lectures. On this, it doesn’t look like Frieze NY will miss the mark. Of course, no art fair lecture series would be complete these days without a nod to the man, Gerhard Richter, having just had his retrospective at the Tate Modern. Sunday afternoon’s talk, On Land Occupation, should be a relevant discussion about art and practice moving beyond the walls of institutions with artists and writers looking at land occupation and different ways to reimagine borders. It will be interesting to see what reviews follow Friday’s Expanding Museums discussion about the contemporary art museum’s role in the way that we experience our cities and cultures which is to be held by a panel of directors and a chairman of only the biggest stalwarts in the NYC scene. Being francophiles though and avid readers of Andre Malraux’s work, we are green with envy to be missing Georges Didi-Huberman’s discussion of Malraux’s Le Musee Imaginaire.

And for the celebrity car crash that no one seems to be able to turn their eyes away from already? Courtney Love’s first ever art show entitled And She’s Not Even Pretty by Frieze exhibitor, Fred Torres Collaborations. While her watercolours and works on paper are said to be surprisingly good and even giving Frieze darling, Karen Kilimnik, a run for her money, is it necessary for her to clutch a photocopied Art and Culture by her great-uncle, Clement Greenberg as her invitation into this world, as she apparently did at Wednesday’s opening. We are not entirely sure what the granddaddy of modern and contemporary art criticism would have thought of her work and, perhaps her most notorious work, her life – but we’ll see what the critics continue to say at least of Love and the fair.

4 jalapenos
5 poblano peppers
1 serrano pepper
1 tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic (diced)
most of a bunch of cilantro (chopped finely)
2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp cumin
1 ½ cups of milk
1 cup of half and half or yoghurt
1 lime, juiced
salt and black pepper to taste

Cook the peppers under the broiler for about five minutes on each side or until thoroughly blackened, removing those that blacken first as the rest finish. Place poblanos in a paper bag, closing it to let them steam for 15 minutes. Rub the skin off of the poblanos, then remove the stems and seeds of all of the peppers and dice them. In a large pot, melt the butter, then add the onions and cook them for 10 minutes or until they are just starting to soften and turn brown. Toss in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the chilis, potatoes, broth, cilantro and spices. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are softened enough.  Scoop out 2 cups of the soup and set aside. Puree the rest of the soup in a food processor (or with a wand) until smooth and then mix in the portion set aside. Add the milk and half and half (or yoghurt) and cook until warmed. Add the lime juice and serve with queso fresco and a bit more chopped cilantro.

Thanks to the Homesick Texan, Lisa Fain, for her livening up of an El Paso Junior League recipe, which we played with a bit further and hope she approves. Check out her site for some great recipes.

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When it comes to fashion it is hard to beat unique one of a kind pieces. If they’re hand made you feel even more special. If you feel like your saving the world (or at least one more item from the landfill) then that purchase can feel downright altruistic. Those are a few of the reasons we love Ora bags. We also simply love Ora’s aesthetic and the weathered look of the recycled leather.

Made by Vancouver based designer Randi Obehauer, Ora bags are handmade bags re-envisioned from discard leather. We love how each bag is a complete transformation of its ‘raw’ materials. This particular hobbyist would like to add a suede Dani bag to her closet. Lindsay the hobbyist has a particular fondness for the bike bag – which we can picture her zooming around with on her bike in Austin.

Check out the video below to see Randi’s skills at work!

Music by Indian Wars. Directed, shot and edited by Alex Pask for Ora Bags.


While travelling through the Texas Hill Country during peach season, we had our pick of peach farmers’ stands to choose from. The peaches were stand-out at each and we settled on a 20 lb. box of “Number 2s” or “seconds”, which are the slightly misshapen brothers to the ones you will see in most produce sections and which are just perfect for canning and cooking with. The peaches we bought were freshly picked just two hours before and the drive back to Austin with the box tucked into the back seat was heavenly with the gorgeous aroma of fresh peaches.

Peach Cobbler

Having never made Peach Cobbler before, what better way to start than by using a recipe raved all over the internet as Salt Lick’s own. Salt Lick is an Austin area barbeque institution that deserves – and will soon get – a Hobbyists post in its own right after our recent visit there with some fellow Vancouverites who came here to visit. This recipe was tried out for one of our Canucks’ playoff parties in Austin and it seemed to be a hit, at least amongst a bunch of boys from the South who may have had a dish or two of peach cobbler in their day. Whether it was a good homage to Salt Lick’s or not, we won’t know until we can try it out on our next visit. Until then, give this recipe a shot and let us know what you think.

For the batter:

½ cup melted butter
1 cup flour
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup milk – at room temperature
1 egg – also at room temperature


For the filling:

9 peaches – sliced and pealed (a trick to pealing: blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then submerse in a cold water bath and the peals should come off in your hands)
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a 9×13 pan. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Stir in the milk and egg. Pour the mixture evenly over the melted butter.

Combine the peaches, sugar and spices and spread over the batter - but do not stir! Bake for 35-45 minutes until the batter comes to the top a golden brown colour. Serve it warm with some delicious ice cream.

Bourbon Peach Vanilla Jam

Makes 7 or 8 8-oz. jars

1 package low sugar pectin
3.5 lbs of peaches – about 9 or so peaches
3 cups of sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
½ vanilla bean – cut into 1” pieces
¼ cup bourbon – or more, depending on your taste!
1 tsp almond extract

Peal the peaches (see above), remove the pits and dice them into ¼” pieces. Put the peaches, sugar, lime juice and vanilla bean into a large pot. Mash the peaches with a potato masher until you’ve found your desired consistency and continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Over medium-high heat and bring the jam to a rolling boil, stirring frequently to prevent the jam from scorching. Boil for 1 minute, then add the pectin. Bring the jam to a rolling boil once more, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute.

Remove the jam pot from the heat. Stir in the bourbon and the almond extract and remove the vanilla bean pieces. Ladle the hot jam into jars and screw on the lids. Then set the jars in a large pot of boiling water, ensuring that there is at least 1” of water above the jars. Bring the water to a gentle boil and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Then remove the jars from the hot water and set aside to cool. When the jam is cool, check the seals on the jars by pressing on the center of the lids. If the lids don’t spring back, they’ve properly sealed and can be stored – otherwise, you have to reboil them for 10 minutes to have them seal. Scrape the rest of the pot and serve on ice cream or fresh bread to the patiently waiting crowd in the kitchen.

Since making this jam, bourbon has become the new craze in most of our cooking – it adds a great, sweet and ever so slightly oaky something. For a true Texas Hill Country bourbon peach jam, try using Garrison Brothers Bourbon, the only bourbon distillery outside of Tennessee and Kentucky located in Hye, Texas. Stay tuned for a post dedicated to the distillery after a great visit there recently!

Spicy Peach Chutney

4 lbs peaches – blanched, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
1 cup thinly sliced onion
3 tbsp vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp coriander seed
2 tsp fennel seed
10-12 dried red chilis
1 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the whole spices. Cook for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onions and fry until a nice, light caramel colour (adding a splash of water if they start to burn at all). Add the peaches and cook for a few minutes, then add sugar, vinegar, salt, ground spice and garlic. Lower the heat and cook until sticky, stirring to ensure that it doesn’t burn while it cooks down and reduces.

Ladle the hot chutney into jars and screw on the lids. Then set the jars in a large pot of boiling water, ensuring that there is at least 1” of water above the jars. Bring the water to a gentle boil and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Then remove the jars from the hot water and set aside to cool. When the jars are cool, check the seals on the jars by pressing on the center of the lids. If the lids don’t spring back, they’ve properly sealed and can be stored – otherwise, you have to reboil them for 10 minutes to have them seal.

This chutney is great to be served with a roasted bulb of garlic or two, baked brie or camembert and some lovely fresh bread. Chutneys are a staple for quick hobbying since they are perfect to grab from the cupboard for a last minute appetizer, add to any cheese board or for something to nosh on with a bottle of wine. This chutney can also be mixed with a home-made barbeque sauce to make a spicy, peachy barbeque sauce or  marinade.

While this recipe, like all recipes, is a work in progress, this latest combination is what we’ve found to work well so far to make a spicy, creamy avocado tomatillo dip. Being huge fans of TacoDeli in Austin and their infamous Dona sauce, we thought we may need to try our hand at making something, while not comparable of course, but that just might do for those days we’re not in Austin to head down to their Lamar Street location.

This is fairly quick and easy to make, which has made it a great trick for some last minute, quick hobbying on a Friday night. We’ve found that this dip goes great on tacos and enchiladas, as a substitute for salad dressing or a dip for veggies and, of course, just with a big ol’ bowl of tortilla chips. If you make sure that there is enough fresh squeezed lime juice in it, with the avocado pits kept in an airtight container, you may even find that it will last for a few days in the fridge…if there’s any left!

1 large poblano pepper

1/2 white onion

1 large can tomatillos, drained – or 10-12 small, cooked tomatillos (husk, rinse & boil them for 5 minutes til they soften)

2 serrano peppers

1 jalapeno pepper

1 habanero pepper – optional for a little more kick

4 small or 2 large avocadoes

fresh squeezed juice from 2 limes

sea salt

Roast the onion and the peppers in a 400 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until they are roasted, but not fully charred. Peel the poblano and remove the stems from the peppers (and de-seed them if you want to reduce the kick). Add everything to your food processor and run until smooth and creamy. Add sea salt to taste.


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We feel fine – an exploration of human emotions in six movements.

With a tagline like that, who can’t be drawn in…and then, there goes an hour exploring this interactive site that rearticulates the postings of bloggers the world over, all centred around core emotions and how we interact and express our emotions in this current moment. Created by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris, the project stems from a book the two published in 2009, We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion. Their project draws from over 12 million human feelings collected over a three year period from personal blogs on the Internet, “presenting a contemporary portrait of the world’s emotional landscape, exploring the ups and downs of everyday life in all its colors, chaos and candor.” The site has you navigating these personal insights into the emotional landscape of “us” out there through six movements: madness, murmurs, montage, mobs, metrics and mounds – which are different arrangements of these emotional statements, their characteristics and statistics. Try checking out “Mounds” and not playing with the mounds representing the most common emotions to see if Better can swallow up Bad, and what Bad can do to Good.

Having just discovered this site, we already need to address the addiction…or more time will be spent on this than was once upon a time spent on (don’t knock it til you try it, their rendition of Jaws might be the best way to kill a slow day in any office).

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The shortlist for the 2011 Sobey Art Award has been announced. The annual award for emerging Canadian contemporary artists is a collaboration between the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) and the Sobey Art Foundation. This year’s shortlist, announced May 18th, includes Charles Stankievech (West), Sarah Anne Johnson (Prairies and the North), Christian Giroux and Andrew Young (Ontario), Manon de Paux (Quebec) and Zeke Moores (Atlantic). The finalist won’t be chosen until October 13th but the works of these artists will be shown at the AGNS from September 17th onwards, if you happen to be heading out to the eastcoast this fall.

The Hobbyists are thrilled to see that Sarah Anne Johnson’s work has been recognized, whose earlier work has been included in the curated collection of the Canadian-run art foundation, Femmarte, which supports the work of female artists working in Canada today.

Curious, though, how the geographic lines were drawn, considering that Stankievech practices in the Yukon and Ontario, yet Sarah Anne Johnson’s work fell into the category of “Prairies and the North”. Alberta and B.C. appear markedly absent, which may be attributed to the changing roster of curators on the Sobey’s curatorial panel. Grant Arnold, of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Scott Watson, of the Belkin Art Gallery, a curator well-loved by The Hobbyists, have sat on the panel in the past few years, which always leaves open the debate as to the influence of particular regional voices on the emerging talent in contemporary art in Canada with any of the continuously growing number of art awards.

To see the longlist of nominees and more details on this year’s curatorial panel, check out the Sobey’s website for details.

A cross-country gift from a friend who knows what a hobbyist likes: to eat.

What else do you get a hobbyist who you know to famously love to…well, eat? Recently a friend of the hobbyists found the ticket…a beautifully packaged of still-frozen Soupe aux champignons sauvages avec huile de truffle - or Wild Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil – flown (almost) directly from Les Fougères near Gatineau, Québec.

Les Fougères is a restaurant not 14 miles from Ottawa / Gatineau that has deservedly been winning accolades for several years for its delicious cuisine and commitment to showcasing local ingredients. It had been on our hit list of restaurants to enjoy back east for some time – and when this hobbyist started finishing an Ottawa-based friend’s sentence about this amazing restaurant that he had recently tried, he knew exactly what to bring out on his next trip west.

This frozen gift sure didn’t last long – a couple quick tears and the package was opened faster than a five year old at Christmas. A few flashes in the pan later and two gorgeous bowls of fragrant wild mushroom soup took us far from Gastown and into the wilds of the Gatineau Hills as if we had been on a foraging trip ourselves that very afternoon. The soup was textured with lovely pieces of wild mushrooms and certainly not overshadowed with cream, but rendered fairly velvety in between these mushrooms through a healthy amount of cream and crème fraîche. While a lover of truffle oil, it can too often be overpowering when used with too heavy a hand – but this soup, it gave a whole new credit to truffle oil.

And the big reveal was over too quickly – and we were on the intertron as fast, to grovel to our friend to take another drive out to Les Fougères for some more take-out soup. We will definitely be taking a drive on our next trip to Toronto through Prince Edward County and on to the Gatineau Hills to experience this local gem ourselves. An admittedly long drive, yes, but well worth it. Until then, while scoping out their website, we learned that they are generous with sharing their recipes both on their website and in a cookbook, A Year at Les Fougères, that has been released to rave reviews. Check it out and let us know what you think – and don’t be surprised if you see us lauding some of their great recipes on our site soon!

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