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lindsaythehobbyist | The Hobbyists
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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 Vogel5050.com, 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.

Following up on our Smoked Salmon recipe from last week – http://thehobbyists.ca/?p=5298  -  here is another favourite recipe of ours, which we have learned to make with the great fisherman, Murman, in Terrace. This is the perfect key to last minute hobbying and a great way to make sure that you have delicious smoked salmon in the house long after the salmon stop running.

Ingredients

delicious, fresh salmon
1 cup brown sugar*
1/4 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup thai red chili sauce**
several large grinds of black pepper

 

*In order to make the essential core of the brine, you must keep a 4:1 ratio (brown sugar to salt). Use this ratio to ensure that you have enough brine for the amount of salmon that you have. As long as you keep the ratio in mind, you can built out this recipe to accommodate as much fish as you are lucky enough to have!

**Siracha or sambal oelek would work as well if you would like a spicier brine or were trying to be somewhat mindful of the additional sugar going into this brine.
Cut the salmon into filets according to the size you choose. We like to use filets that are about 10″ in length, with the width depending on the size of your catch!

Mix the brine together. Place the salmon filets side by side in a glass casserole dish and layer the brine overtop. Layer any remaining filets on top and coat them with the brine, ensuring that no salmon remains uncoated. Leave the salmon covered in the fridge overnight in the brine. Preheat your Big Chief smoker at 150 degrees. Rinse off the brine, then pat the salmon dry with a paper towel or clean towel.  Smoke the salmon for 4-6 hours at 150 degrees. While your salmon is smoking, sterilize your jars and prepare your lids and rings. We recommend using either 4 oz. or 8 oz. jars.

Carefully remove the salmon from the smoker. Then, portion the salmon into the sterilized jars so that the salmon comes up to the bottom ring of the jar. Place the lids and rings onto the jars, only very loosely tightening the rings. For hot water bath canning, process your jars for 4 hours. For pressure canning, process your jars for 90 minutes at 15 lbs pressure.  Remove carefully – and enjoy your delicious canned smoked salmon for up to a year!

We love to serve this as is on fresh sliced  bread or flatbread with cream cheese, red onion and capers. It also makes a delicious appetizer for last minute hobbying in no time – simply mix with cream cheese (low-fat or no-fat works great), some fresh dill, a couple grounds of coarse black pepper and serve as is, or cool in the fridge until you can roll it into a ball and coat with your favourite chopped nuts.

Since the salmon are running and can be found fresh on the docks and at markets throughout B.C., it seems like the best time of year to pass on this recipe. We just returned from a great trip home to Terrace, B.C. (yes, Vancouverites, that’s past Hope) where we fished the Skeena River and caught some delicious sockeye. More on the stunning scenery on the Skeena (shown above) and around Terrace in another post…for the time being, we were intent on getting the sockeye fileted and brined, and into our dad’s smoker. Since first learning this recipe years ago from our dad, the great Murman, he has had to replace his Big Chief smoker. Certainly not the most p.c. name of smoker, but it produced spectacular smoked salmon for years…and learning on this new one was certainly not the same. At any rate, find a corner of your yard or deck in the city where you can safely put a smoker or barter for some real estate in a friend’s yard as we’re doing in exchange for some smoked salmon and you’re set. Murman’s recipe is meant to be enjoyed and tweaked as you make it your own – so keep us posted with your variations!

Ingredients

delicious, fresh salmon
1 cup brown sugar*
1/4 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup thai red chili sauce**
several large grinds of black pepper

 

*In order to make the essential core of the brine, you must keep a 4:1 ratio (brown sugar to salt). As long as you keep that in mind, you can built out this recipe to accommodate as much fish as you are lucky enough to have!

**Siracha or sambal oelek would work as well if you would like a spicier brine or were trying to be somewhat mindful of the additional sugar going into this brine.
Cut the salmon into filets according to the size you choose. We like to use filets that are about 10″ in length, with the width depending on the size of your catch!
Mix the brine together. Place the salmon filets side by side in a glass casserole dish and layer the brine overtop. Layer any remaining filets on top and coat them with the brine, ensuring that no salmon remains uncoated. Leave the salmon covered in the fridge overnight in the brine. Preheat your Big Chief smoker at 150 degrees. Rinse off the brine, then pat the salmon dry with a paper towel or clean towel.  Smoke the salmon for 4-6 hours at 150 degrees, then increase the temperature to 200 degrees and smoke the salmon for two hours. Remove carefully – and enjoy! To have the salmon keep, use a vacuum sealer to contain each individual filet and store them in the fridge. While this photo below does not do our gorgeous smoked salmon justice, the vacuum sealed package does keep away the hordes while we try to ration our last few filets before our next visit!

Cormac McCarthy - All the Pretty Horses

Although it’s a McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses, doesn’t necessarily break up the list of coming of age / first romances that seems to be unfolding on this list – but it does so in a characteristically McCarthy way. I read this on one of my first trips to Austin and couldn’t put it down – except to think about hitting the road south for Mexico. If you have seen the film, try to leave it at the door and let this novel take on a life of its own. His prose is often without par, making you stop short and re-read sentences with a respect for his skill level. His characters are dense and raw, taking on a real presence with you as you read it that is not often attainable for many writers.

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. http://virtual.friezenewyork.com/

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.

Zadie Smith - White Teeth

Smith made herself noticed instantly with this amazing first novel. It offers you a view into South London and the ethnic melange of cultures that is contemporary England. Exploring the lives of two kids from very different cultures raised in an area of South London, falling in love and dealing with the fallout, White Teeth enraptured me with its characters and their backgrounds, while doing so with a sense of humanity and insight into the struggles of  many immigrant communities, all framed in the context of a universal story of coming of age and first romance.

Eden Robinson - Monkey Beach

For anyone travelling up the Northwest Coast – either on a fishing trip or an exploration of the Haida Gwaii, this book is for you. Robinson, a young Haisla/Heiltsuk writer from Kitimat, B.C., received several well-deserved accolades for this stunning novel, including a Giller nod. Set in Kitamaat Village, it’s an enthralling story of two youth growing up in this remote setting and all that comes with that – dealing with getting older, falling in love, grief and loss.

MF Warner and Tony Durke, two great, emerging artists working here in Vancouver, have come together to have a joint, short run show at the Beaumont Studios from April 26th to April 29th. They will be hosting an opening night party on Thursday the 26th from 7pm – 12am at Beaumont Studios, 316 West 5th Avenue, that we are definitely not going to miss!

MF Warner – or Mitchell, as his mother may call him –  is a photographer, filmmaker and craft beer maker who has been developing his work with stills for some time now. Taking inspiration from the quotidian around urban and roadscapes, he transfers these into still, contemplative glimpses of sights we may often overlook. Increasingly focusing on large size reproductions mounted using alternative methods, Mitchell is pushing how these images are experienced by his public and exploring how he himself can push this visual language. We are thrilled to be able to make it out for what will be Mitchell’s first exhibition of his work, having seen a stunning development of the visual texture to his work to date.

Tony Durke works with an entirely different medium, creating his pieces from recycled wood, which is often scavenged from tabletops, plywood, discarded set walls, raw lumber and milled wood. Tony carves out and sands the wood, applying oil paint or stain to create stunning pieces that are  abstracted landscapes. Tying his work always back to the environment from which it came, each piece is unique while following a set of personal guidelines and artistic protocol. Speaking of his work, Tony has said that he finds that “texture gives life to form. When form is simplified, it allows us to use our imagination to fill in the biology and architecture. It may be emotional or physical. Real or imagined.

Tony has studied visual arts, film and music, and has been developing this contemporary take on woodcuts for some time. He has had a few shows to date and his work is currently hanging at the Warren Knapp Gallery in Seattle.

Both lads hail from small towns in B.C., which although we may be biased toward this sort of pedigree, undoubtedly must give them both a comfortability in working in the silences around us in rural or urban landscapes alike in order to offer us up these vivid glimpses of life. This will be a great opportunity to see their works shown together and to see how they will likely play off each other, similarly giving a striking, textured look at their versions of landscapes which we all too often run past.

 
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large red onions, finely chopped
2-3 red peppers, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 red jalapeno peppers or 2 small red chilis, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 tsp of smoked sweet paprika
1 cup of pureed fresh tomatoes or pureed canned tomatoes
6 tbsp sherry
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp harissa* see our Fridge and Pantry recipe for homemade harissa
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cumin
 

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft. Next add the red pepper, garlic, chili and paprika to the pot, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the red pepper is soft. Add the tomato puree, sherry, vinegar, sugar and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Once brought to a boil, reduce the heat so the mixture is at a low simmer. Add the harisa,  cumin and sea salt. Leave to cook at a low simmer for about 90-120 minutes, stirring occasionally. The jam will reduce in fluid and become thicker, with the red colour deepening. Give it a taste and add additional sea salt or harisa to your liking.

This is great served fresh and will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for a few weeks. If you want to can it to be kept longer, prepare small jelly jars or medium sized jam jars by sterilizing and filling with boiling water. Sterilize the lids and rings at the same time. Empty the water out of the jars and fill each jar with the hot jam until 1/2″ below the top. Place the lid and ring on each jar. Process the jars in a hot water bath by placing the jars in a pot of boiling water so that the water covers the jars by an inch or so of water. Boil the jars for 10 minutes and then remove from the hot water bath and let cool.

This makes an excellent pairing with manchego, chorizo sausage, aged white cheddar or sliced avocado. We have really enjoyed it as a spread on crostinis with capers or a sliver of asiago on top, or as a spread on a roast chicken sandwich or a veggie sandwich with roasted eggplant, carmelized onions and avocado. It is also delicious with a grilled artichoke…Try it out and let us know what you pair it best with!

1 cup dried red chilis, stems removed
3 tbsp ground coriander
3 tbsp ground cumin
15 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup olive oil
3 tsp sea salt
 

Chop the chilis roughly and then cover with boiling water, leaving them to soak for approximately one hour. Drain the water and puree the chilis in a food processor. Add the spices and garlic, 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 tsp of the sea salt. Puree the mixture together for 30 seconds, then use a spatula to scrape the sides of the food processor before mixing for another 30 seconds or so. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp of sea salt, then puree the mixture again. Continue this cycle, repeating the process until all of the olive oil and sea salt has been added and the mixture has formed a thick paste.

Sterilize the canning jars, using either medium sized jam jars or large squat jars, while sterilizing the lids and rings as well. Spoon the paste in the clean, sterilized canning jars. Process the jars by placing them in a pot of boiling water, with an inch or so of water covering the jars. Keep the jars in the boiling water for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool.

The harissa is excellent for adding that bit of needed spice to couscous, paella or most any recipe around the kitchen that needs a bit of kick. There is always a revolving jar of harissa in our fridge since it finds its way in a surprising number of our dishes…