Saturday, October 24, 2009

market day repast

Sometimes, the best foodie moments are the simplest.... roasted pepper hummus, fresh red grapes and authentic middle-eastern pita bread from Central Market in Historic Downtown Lancaster. Central Market has for decades been one of my favorite places on earth - the sounds, smells, people, emanating from this Romanesque Revival market house built in 1889 permeate some of my favorite memories. Living downtown five years of my early marriage, I traveled the ten blocks to market with my first child Jenna in a snuggly every Tuesday and Friday. I prided myself in "living off the market", venturing to Giant only for things like diapers and other sundry items.

When Joe came along, I packed him in the snuggly with Jenna in the stroller, and piled every spare spot with groceries for the walk home. The walk was an architectural feast along Duke Street, and we often stopped by Watt and Shand Department Store, or the Marion Art Store along the way. Each of my four children had their first outing at about 5 days to the market, a tradition I intend to continue when the next generation comes along.

This particular day, David and I found ourselves in Downtown Lancaster for Lorelei's karate exhibition in the old Watt and Shand building, now the Lancaster County Convention Center and Marriot Hotel. For lunch I took them across the street to market, and we had a simple picnic in Steiman Park, complete in fall's colorful splendor.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Installing Coccoons at the Convention Center

Busy today installing sculpture, first at A.R.T. as part of the Lancaster Museum of Art's "Artful Dining" series. A.R.T. is hosting a "Think Sculpture" exhibition Friday evening the 16th, with 30% of the proceeds supporting the museum. Tickets can be purchased thru the museum before the event.

After work of our six sculptors was delivered, James Bright, Milt Friedly, Milton Good, John Hertzler, Clifton Sheely and David Zimmerman, we proceeded to the new Lancaster County Convention Center, Penn Square Downtown Lancaster, to install work their for ARTWALK. ARTWALK will be held Saturday, October 17 from 10:00 to 5:00, and Sunday, October 18 from noon to 5:00. Look for our guys in the black, A.R.T. "Think Sculpture" t-shirts both days.

The installation of the cocoons, by David Zimmerman were a bit of a challenge, but with the help of Richard and Steve from the Convention Center (and their scissor lift!) it was accomplished without incident. They look fabulous, and generate an unmistakable energy in the cavernous space of the old Watt and Shand department store building (my employer back in the 1980's, I was a floater in that building!). I have to admit I was rather taken by the vibe of the place, and four of us enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the restaurant upon completing the task.

Lynden Gallery will host a First Friday Artists' Reception at the Convention Center on November 6th from 5:00 to 8:00. Come help us Celebrate Sculpture! For more information about our sculptors and their work, visit our website

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Two years ago, I met Toby Richards, whom I've since found to be an amazing sculpture photographer. Why he would be willing to come spend days on end with us at Lynden Gallery photographing hundreds of shots, letting me turn things just this way or that, another fraction of an inch, and experiment with the lighting until we got it just right, I'll never know. I was beat, and on his end, it all had to be rather tedious! But he had A.J. as his right hand man, and I had six wonderful gentlemen artists who were willing to lift and move at our instruction and bidding all day long.

I remember the shoot we did at John Hertzler's barn like it was yesterday. It was a dreary day, starting to get the autumn chill, and by the end of the day it was raining. It ended up the best shots of the day were taken with a back-drop of field outside the bank barn, with John's tractor sitting in waiting, and the last light of the day providing the most awesome shadows. The water just inside the barn doors glistened on the floor, and though we had feasted on bad coffee and stale donuts most of the day, I honestly think John and Toby were just hitting their stride. John just got funnier with each passing hour, and frozen fingers and toes aside, the day was simply lovely.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

salmon burgers with lemon dill sauce

When asked for the recipe recently, I was surprised to find I hadn't put it on the blog yet. It's one of my favorites from the Classic Pillsbury Cookbooks, June 1995 issue - the only change in the original recipe is the addition of fresh Parmesan cheese and Old Bay. They can be grilled, fried or baked in the oven, eaten with or without a roll, and take well to catsup - just ask Sam Clemens!

Combine in a medium sized bowl and mix thoroughly together with your hands:
(1) 7.5 ounce can salmon, drained
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
2 tbs. dry bread crumbs (I use the Progresso Italian variety)
2 tbs. freshly grated Parmesan
2 tbs. chopped green onion
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
a dash or two of Old Bay Seasoning

Combine in separate small bowl:
2 tbs. dry bread crumbs
2 tbs. freshly grated Parmesan

Roll golf ball sized portions, squeezing out any drippy liquid, then roll into the small bowl of crumbs and cheese. Flatten between your hands into patties and place in a lightly oiled pan, electric skillet, or foil for the grill. Cook or grill for 5-8 minutes on medium high heat, or bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes, turning half-way thru. If you like the coating a bit crispier, try broiling for 4-6 minutes.

Serve between English muffins or rolls, or with a side or rice pilaf, and broccoli "trees" (as my daughter Layne used to call them). Double or triple the recipe - they make great leftovers!

Lemon Dill Sauce
Combine in small bowl with a fork, and serve with salmon burgers:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tbs. freshly chopped dill weed
2 tsps. fresh chives, chopped
1/4 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. lemon juice

Monday, September 14, 2009

black mountain - visiting the stromans

Saying "Goodbye" to Brad and Ellen earlier this year wasn't easy. Our gallery/artist relationship is as old as Lynden Gallery, coming up quickly on 10 years in 2010. Retiring to Black Mountain, North Carolina in January, they have the most exquisite timber frame house, dogs at the ready, and the crystal, mountain air enhancing both life and art.

On arriving Thursday night, we found the two of them on the porch, and a lovely dinner waiting. This recipe is one Ellen found a long time ago in a newspaper, and continues to make often.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 10-inch skillet saute the following in 1/2 cup margarine, until tender - about 10 minutes:
4 cups thinly sliced, unpeeled zucchini
1 cup coarsely chopped onion

Stir in:
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 tsp. fresh oregano leaves, chopped

In large bowl blend:
2 eggs, well-beaten
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
Vegetable mixture

Separate 1 8-ounce can refrigerated quick crescent dinner rolls, place in bottom of 10" pie plate or 11" quiche plate, pressing together and up the sides forming a crust. Spread crust with 2 tsp. dijon mustard, then pour vegetable mixture evenly into crust. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. If crust becomes too brown, cover with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking. Let stand for 10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve. Delicious!

Both Ellen and Brad are finding their new home in the mountains awe-inspiring, and there is so much to see with nearby Asheville, we simply have to go back. Ellen has taken up weaving, and Brad is throwing pots alongside painting. With an exhibition scheduled at Lynden Gallery for April 2010, I'm eager to see how his new work progresses. I think we'll call it, "Brad Stroman, Mountain Fever"....

For more information on the upcoming exhibition, see our website, sign up for our email event listings, or find us on Facebook at "eat well and buy more art".

Sunday, September 6, 2009

quick buttermilk pancakes - from scratch

This recipe comes from my torn and tattered "Eating More with Less" cookbook, that revolutionized the way I cook. I like the whole foods concept and prefer making things from scratch as much as possible. You can add mashed bananas and walnuts (though my kids never liked nuts) - fresh blueberries or chocolate chips are a hit in my house!

In a two cup glass measuring cup, or small bowl mix the following together with a fork:
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Let sit, and meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the following:
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Add to the buttermilk mixture, 2 tbs. olive oil and 1 beaten egg. Immediately pour into the dry ingredients and combine with a wooden spoon or wisk until it's smooth with few lumps.

In a hot electric skillet or griddle (375 degrees, or until a drop of water sizzles when it lands on the surface) - drop batter in 1/4 cup portions, leaving room for expansion. Flip when the bubbles on top have burst.

This recipe works well double and quadrupled for big crowds, and the finished pancakes will freeze well for toasting and eating later.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Robert Patierno - more than meets the eye

I've been researching, reading, writing to and working with Bob Patierno now for months, working toward his show here at Lynden Gallery on September 25th. I've respected his work and enjoyed his company for a long time, and it's been rather a privilege to dig into the lengthy resume and his prolific work in order to write about him. The exhibit, titled "More than Meets the Eye" lives up to it's name. I'm not certain I've adequately, and fully understood the subtleties well enough to translate the work into words, but I'm trying. Bob - you'll have to give me some time!



an exhibition of drawings

Aptly titled, Patierno’s drawings push the boundaries of classical art to a psychological level. What appears to be a well-drafted landscape, or still life, is actually more of a metaphoric commentary. Look closer – what do you really see? The work begs inspection and the telling of the master’s stories behind the work. “Emerging from a history of ideas,” the artist says, “the drawings are really a kind of wandering in the dark.” The primitive nature of things and people in polite society are often overlooked, if not downright ignored. And the humor isn’t lost on the viewer.

Meanwhile, mark your calendars for Friday the 25th and plan to attend. The TRP Duo, of the Reese Project will provide jazz for the evening, and there will be a catalogue available. For more about Bob and his work, click here to go to our website,, or find us on Facebook at "eat well and buy more art" (a good policy!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Language, and the Sound of Trees

The installation of Robert Bitts' new paintings and John Hertzler's sculpture doesn't disappoint. Walking through the gallery it's as if one were walking along the bank of the Cocalico surrounded by trees. Tree language is spoken in the abstract sculpture of David Zimmerman and hand turned bowls of Paul Lutrell - the quiet rhythm of nature echoing the waning days of summer. In the words of Robert Frost "they are that that talks of going, but never gets away; and talks no less for knowing, as it grows wiser and older, that now it means to stay...." For more, visit our website,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

belco credit union - business profile of mom and me!

To read a larger copy, click here and go to our website,

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Inspiration Strikes

"Inspiration Strikes" again, as John Hertzler's awarded sculpture moves back into Lynden Gallery. Two year ago, it took it's place in the middle of "Art of the State", a juried exhibition at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. It was indeed striking as it held it's own in then newly renovated gallery space amidst a large collection of works from artist throughout the state.

Approaching it from all sides, lazily walking around it at a distance, or up close taking in the detail of Hertzler's craftsmanship, "Inspiration Strikes" has an unassuming presence, much like the sculptor himself. Delivery of the work itself is no small feat, as the photos below attest. This week we've decided to let Inspiration Strike in the middle of the gallery. Come see and contemplate amidst the latest collection of work by Bob Bitts. Exhibition continues thru mid-September. For more information, see, or find us on facebook - eat well and buy more art.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

ned's opening, celebrating 50 years

Lynden Gallery on Market

so i went to an art opening
at the lynden gallery
in etown & many people came out
including Luke and Mallory
whom i hadn't seen in about
two years or so plus Lisa
the owner was there
with her beautiful raven dark hair.
Ned Wert was the artist on display
and his works are now largely abstract
hanging with red as the predominant shade
i was gasping at the numbers as fact
then noticed several full prices were paid
but it was simple since the mood was so good
to be friendly and feel that you should
in this fire hall converted to art 
just mingle and fondle a heart
drink wine, eat crackers, and cheesy
to imagine that living is easy
here is original stuff as it should be
poking holes in the idea of normal
a space which is happy and free
relaxed and certainly not formal
so visit.
GREG HOOVER, blogpost

Monday, April 6, 2009

my brother's electric car, part II

SAAB 96-V first run on full voltage!... electric car conversion EV electric vehicle.  That's my dad in the background, witnessing this accomplishment.  I'm waiting for the first Sunday visit...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

jenna's graduation (ok, we're going back a few years!)

Speaking of Jenna, this piece of artwork was her college graduation present from me.   I told her, if I'm doing my job right, it's an investment in her future!  This one is called "Shadow Chase" by Ned Wert, measuring 22" x 28", acrylic on woven canvas.  When I found it at Ned's studio that fall on a visit, I knew she'd love the colors.  When I read the title, I knew it was for her.  She had emerged from her own year and a half of shadow chasing that year, more lovely, beautiful, and confident than ever.  I'll never forget the smile she had that day - I think only the one on her wedding day outshone it!

chicken noodle soup

I promised this to my daughter Jenna a week ago - sorry! This recipe has evolved over the years, just by experimenting, but I must admit enriching the broth with the pureed vegetables came from my favorite Moosewood cookbook.

In a large stock pot, bring four quarts of water to a boil, with the following:

1-2 whole chicken breasts, depending on how large they are - with bones and skin you get a richer broth, but have a bit more work to do.

1 large carrot, cut into about 1-2" pieces
1 stalk of celery, cut into 1-2" pieces
1/2 medium sized onion, quartered
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs. salt
cracked pepper to taste.

Bring all to a boil, then simmer for several hours - all day is good!

About a half hour before eating, remove the meat and drain the broth through a sieve. Put the broth back in the stockpot and puree the drained vegetables in a food processor, then add back to the broth. Bring to a boil.

Add about 8 ounces old-fashioned, medium-sized soup noodles and boil until softened. The homemade, Lancaster County variety of noodles are the best.

While the noodles are cooking, cut of the chicken into bite sized pieces. If you cooked chicken with bones and skin, this is where the extra work comes in, but it's worth it. Pull the chicken from the bones, and discard the skin and bones. By now, the noodles should be soft, and you can add the chicken back into the soup. Add a small bag of frozen corn and simmer until the corn is cooked. It's ready to eat, and especially good with homemade french bread.

The above version of soup is the kind my kids like best. For myself, I prefer adding a 6 oz. bag of Barilla Tortellini instead of noodles, and freshly sliced baby spinach at the end.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

robert heilman's commission

Stopped out in Scheafferstown at Bob Heilman's studio this afternoon with my client.  Three large oil paintings had been commissioned, and we were coming to see the progress, as the paintings are about 50% complete.  Originally the paintings had been specified a bit larger in size, but the budget brought the work to a size that allowed for enough ceiling height to accommodate the work in the studio, so as not to require a rental space to accomplish the job.

Bob had provided sketches early on for approval, and the transition to a much larger size - larger than he traditionally works - was remarkably accurate and beautifully done.  Three paintings, each of a different hole on this particular golf course, had their challenges - two of the three being 60" x 30" vertical landscapes.  The meticulous layering of paint, one transluscent layer upon another, achieved glorious, rich, late afternoon skies, and emphasized the shadow play on the green.  A mix of grasses, trees and curvelinear land forms brace the horizon line just below center.  For more about Bob and his work, click here

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a visit to ned's house

Across the Allegheny mountains on the turnpike, then heading north on route 56 from the Bedford exit, the land stretched before us, mostly brown and barren, the hope of spring occasionally showing itself, three and a half hours later, arriving at Ned's door.  He greeted us with a big hug, the smell of dinner wafting thru the door, and invited us in by the fire for a glass of wine.  After chatting a bit, we settled at his big oak table in the kitchen, every detail tended to with care, as is his ever-caring, comfortable manner.  Dinner of chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto, fresh spring salad with grated Parmesan, and a french baguette was served by candlelight, bright orange tulips sitting sentry at the head of the table.  Despite being fully sated, I couldn't turn down the offer of dessert, which was deliciously simple and a most fitting end to the meal - fresh, chilled green grapes with a sour cream and cinnamon drizzle on top
Blossom Kent Series, number 1, 41" x 50" oil on canvas, 1970
We spent the next day reviewing new and old work, and choreographing the exhibition for the end of April at Lynden Gallery.  With a catalogue in the works, I took every opportunity to learn more about where this gentle man has been, and what has influenced his work over the years.  The language of his work hasn't changed, I noted, seeing an older work he completed one summer at Kent State in 1970, under the tutelage of modern masters, Jack Tworkov and Alex Katz.  The expressionistic abstraction of his work simply gathering a bold confidence as the decades rolled by.   We headed home, our small Saab packed to the brim with new paintings, my journal several pages full of dates, notes and comments, research books on Diebenkorn, Tworkov and Katz , and a prized stack of slide pages, 4" thick - images of work from 1967 to 1993.

Set the date aside - NED WERT well-seasoned, Friday, April 24th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm, at the Lynden Gallery.  For more about Ned, click here

my brother is building an electric car

Questioning Internal Combustion: Subverting the Empire by Going Electric

Brandon Hollinger

The standard method of automobile propulsion would appear unchallenged, unparalleled and unquestioned looking back over the course of a century. I haven't been one to theorize about conspiracies and sinister corporate or government plots...until recently.

In 1832, decades before the internal combustion engine (ICE), the first fully-electric vehicle was built.  These silent, zero-emission vehicles delivered abundant torque at any speed, thus eliminating the need for a complex drivetrain and transmission. The gas car eventually prevailed, due to its lower weight and better range. In 1996, electric cars re-emerged[1].  California's notorious air pollution prompted the state to pass legislation demanding that some vehicles sold in its borders be zero-emission.  

Serious advances in technology over the past century enabled GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda to produce thousands of electric vehicles (EVs), although they fought it every step of the way. GM's "EV-1," for example, was capable of 110 to 160 miles per charge, 80 miles per hour, zero-to-sixty miles per hour in eight seconds and had the lowest drag coefficient [2] of any mass-produced vehicle. By 2002, with the help of G.W. Bush's White House, the automakers sued California regarding the new emissions regulation and won. All electric vehicles with the exception of a few hundred Toyota Rav4 EVs were taken back from the lessees, crushed and shredded. To finalize the fate of this innovative technology, GM sold controlling shares of its best battery patents to Chevron/Texaco.  

After I learned about this "backwards into the future"[3] attitude, a little of my own research quickly shed light on an entire global community of people converting their old gas cars into 100% electric vehicles. I have joined this group of change advocates that now numbers well over 10,000. 

Following months of research and with no prior automotive experience, I purchased an old rust-free Saab on eBay three months ago, intent on converting it to electric. Over the month of January I completely removed the ICE and everything ICE-related, i.e. gas lines, gas tank, exhaust system, muffler, etc. Also, a nine-inch, 170-pound DC electric motor is now mated with the existing transmission. 

With my impressive torque and excessive RPMs , I'm planning to use second and third gears exclusively-- and without a clutch. That's gone, too! With the battery configuration I've chosen, partially due to budget, I am hoping for a 40 to 60 mile range (upgradeable!) and highway speeds.

Ninety percent of people in the U.S. drive fewer than 25 miles per day, as do I. The car will be

charged using a regular household 110-volt outlet.  My future plans would include installing photovoltaic (solar) panels on the roof of my house which would allow me to drive solely on the power of the sun. 

Electric motors are many times more efficient than the ICE. A typical gas engine is only 18% efficient, with the majority of its energy given off in the form of waste heat. And for every gallon of gas burned, 19 pounds of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere.  These figures are staggering to me.  

There are numerous ways to generate electricity, some of which are very clean and all of which are domestic. Unlike dreams of running a car on hydrogen, the infrastructure for running a car on electricity is already here now--in every house[4], garage, street lamp and parking meter. A lengthy study by the U.S. Department of Energy suggests that with nighttime use, the existing grid could charge 84% of the country's cars, pick-ups and SUVs (198 million vehicles) while reducing our oil demand by 6.5 million barrels per day.  

The likely path for electric vehicles today would include a generation or two of “Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles” (PHEV) or “Extended Range Electric Vehicles” (EREV). Picture a Prius with a plug. This version would include an electric vehicle with allelectric drive that could be charged at home.  It would be driven on battery power first until depleted. Then a small, efficient on-board gas engine would kick in and generate power for the electric motor. Most large automakers now have both EVs and PHEVs in the works. Because of the lack of need for maintenance, replacement parts and oil products, and the extremely long lifespan of an electric motor, the industry would make substantially less money on these cars in the long term. For this reason I believe Detroit would never make this step without enormous consumer or government pressure. 

Our nation's dependence on foreign oil is impractical, no matter how much we pay at the pump.  It is dirty and finite. Barack Obama said that by 2012, half of all cars purchased by the federal government will be plug-in hybrids or completely powered by electricity. With the car of the future available now, Detroit needs to rise to the occasion.


[1] from the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?

[2] lower drag means more aerodynamic

[3] Ralph Nader

[4] non-Amish


Thursday, March 12, 2009

auction results

The Habitat for Humanity Auction was a huge success- the highlight of the evening was the introduction of Heather Roberts whose new home will be built from these proceeds.  Currently living in a one-bedroom apartment with seven children, she will be the Women Build/Artist Build homeowner for 2009.  According to Director, Eve Gurian-Wachhaus, when the house is complete, it will be sold to her for $72/square foot, with a 0% interest mortgage.  She will pay less than 30% of her monthly gross income back to Habitat for both principle and escrow, which will cover her taxes and home owners insurance.  Heather is juggling children and two jobs, and working to accumulate her required 350 volunteer, sweat equity hours with Habitat.  
Kudos to Lynden Gallery artists Jim Bright, Gary Butson, Susan Davitti Darling, Paul Flury, Milt Friedly, Janet Hammond, Robert Heilman, Bob Patierno, Florence Putterman, Lou Schellenberg, Peter Sculthorpe, Annie Strickler, Brad Stroman, Ned Wert, and Mark Workman, all of whom offered up work for the auction.  Six of the 14 pieces we took were purchased, at higher prices than the auction has seen before, raising over $5000 in bids for Habitat.  Truth be told, if I'd have been allowed to bring more, I'm sure none of my stable of artists would have turned down support of this event.  It's humbling to have taken part in this....

Later this year, we're all going to don hammers, battery operated drills and paint brushes to work alongside Heather building her house.  We'll put together a work crew of artists, and would love to have our patrons and collectors join us!  Stay tuned for details.... and a heartfelt thank you.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Habitat for Humanity Art Auction

Art Auction?  Anyone who knows me is aware of how I feel about Art Auctions in general, and I typically discourage my Artists from participating, preferring instead to support the cause with framing or gift certificates.  The HABITAT FOR HUMANITY of the Greater Harrisburg Area Art Auction, however, had several key considerations in place allowing me to encourage Artist participation without hesitation.  
  • the Auction is juried - over 120 pieces were entered, only about 65 were accepted
  • the Artist will receive 25% of the final purchase price of their work
  • the Artist can set the minimum bid - in this case 5-10% under retail, so their work's market value is not compromised in any way
  • the funds from the Auction will directly support a local housing project 
  • the Artists will have an opportunity to further donate to the project later this year when we organize a work day or two at the site
  • the Gallery has an opportunity to give back to the community in a relevant, thoughtful way
This event is superbly well run, by Habitat for Humanity Director, Eve Wacchaus, a long time, well-connected friend and fellow supporter of the Arts.  The Auction has raised over $65,000 since it's conception four years ago, funding the rehabilitation of four Central Allison Hill residences in the city of Harrisburg, now home to families who would otherwise be living in poverty.  The Simm's family, last year's recipient of the Auction funds, moved into their newly renovated home in December.  

Friday, March 6, 2009

hints on the Hitz bread

I had the privilege of sitting next to Lucy Hitz Maghan last night at our kids swim banquet, and shared with her my struggle to bake bread that tasted as good as her dad's.  She explained he makes the yeast, water, and flour sponge, and let's it sit overnight.  Then adds in the rest of the ingredients, kneads it, and lets it rise.  Then, repeats the kneading and rising another two times, which she suggests accounts for the necessary glutenation that produces the texture that has alluded me....  will try this next time!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

the creative individual....

"The creative individual is the more spacious person, the person out beyond whom the future lies.  the artist will not for all time endure alongside man.  When the artist, the more mobile, the deeper of the two, becomes ripe and strong enough to engender his own kind, when he lives what now he dreams, the man will wither away and little by little, die out.  The artist is the eternity that juts into our days."
From my ever-present bedside copy of Rainer Maria Rilke's "Diaries of a Young Poet"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

sourdough experiment number two

For the sponge, stir together in large crock, then cover:
1 cup starter
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 1/2 cup occident flour

I covered the bowl with two cotton towels and tucked it in the oven.  My oven has a pilot light, so it stays a nice constant warm, perfect for starters and homemade yogurt.  I managed to resist the urge to make the bread a day early - the sponge was begun on Friday afternoon, stirred down on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon, I began the Sourdough Oatmeal Bread.

Stir the following ingredients into the sponge:
1 cup hot water (120-130 degrees, and yes, I use my candy thermometer to check!)
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons of honey

Sprinkle one tablespoons yeast on top, then stir in the following:
1 cup oatmeal - I use steel cut natural oats, not the quick kind
1 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup occident flour

Stir in additional occident flour with a wooden spoon, about 2 more cups, until the dough becomes "shaggy mass" that separates from the bowl.  Dump the dough on a floured surface and begin kneading.  I find the dough goes from sticky and unworkable to smooth and yielding rather quickly, so resist the urge to add too much to flour too fast.  

Knead with all your heart and soul, like it really matters ('cause it does) for a full 10 minutes.  The dough will become more elastic and smooth with a few slams to the counter top occasionally - and there is a lot of satisfaction hearing the sound of the dough noisily slamming the counter top!  Baking bread is a great stress reliever!

Let the dough rest under a towel for 10 minutes.  Knead for 30 seconds, long enough to squeeze out any air bubbles.  Form the dough into to balls, slightly flattened, and score top with an "x".  Place on a towel sprinkled with cornmeal, and cover with another towel in a warm place with no draft.  (I put mine on the cupboard by the stove in front of Grandma Stella's picture to work it's magic.)

In about an hour and a half or so, it should be ready to bake in a steamy oven, as described in sourdough experiment number one.  Will report on the success....

OK - let's just say, in painterly language, it's not resolved.  Good, but not quite what I'm after!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

five surefire ways to annoy a gallery

I subscribe to an email newsletter by Sylvia White, Contemporary Art Services, and this one is so true - see below.  There is hardly a day goes by I don't receive requests from artists for representation, and it is simply not prudent to drop everything to respond - sales suffer!  And that is the ultimate, mutual goal we have!  Both galleries I direct, the Lynden Gallery and the Arts Hotel Gallery, have submission guidelines posted on the websites.  When those guidelines are followed, it's much easier to get noticed.  My preference is digital files emailed to me, while other galleries have preferences of their own - take the time to find out what they want.

I don't always have time to look at requests as they come in, but I file them in one place on my computer, and when it's time to schedule the next year, or I'm looking for something special, I pull the files and go thru them.  This happens about once a year, and on no definitive schedule.  I look for a week I can hole up with my laptop, schedule no outside appointments, and I work on a year's worth of scheduling at a time, sometimes even into the following year.   If the files have been received to the specifications requested, you atleast made the first cut!  Everything else?  All the snail mail packages and "please return" CD's?  They are back on my shelf in the office, and rarely get a second glance.  The "please look at my website" emails?  I don't look.

To many artists, being an artist isn't "real" unless you have a gallery to exhibit your work. Although there are several other options available to artists in terms of showing and selling their work, it seems, for some, there is just no substitute for getting gallery representation. To this end, many artists are willing to bend over backwards, do insane things, make ridiculous claims, and, in short, embarrass themselves. The truth of matter is, not all artists are ready for galleries, nor are galleries, necessarily, the best choice for many artists. Especially in these hard economic times, the last thing on most gallerists minds, is acquiring new artists. Much of my time is spent helping artists develop a realistic set a goals, and then a game plan to achieve those goals. Nevertheless, there is always that rogue artist, wanting to strike out on their own, thinking this time it will be different. They muster up the courage to start approaching galleries before they are ready, and without regard to common sense gallery protocol. If you recognize yourself as that rogue, or you know another artist that is, please forward this article to them.

  1. Being confident about the quality of your work is a good thing. It identifies the fact that you have reached a certain stylistic maturity and understand the complexity of where your work fits into the contemporary art world. However, telling the gallery director (or anyone for that matter) how great your work is, is not a good thing. Confidence is something that grows with experience and doesn't need the constant reassurances from the outside world. Quality is not something that is "told" but rather discovered, and changes with each individual and their primary experience with the work. Let your viewers have their own experience with your work. Be confident enough about the quality of your work to allow people NOT to like it. And, never, never, never dictate what that response should be. There is no "right" way to look at or interpret art.
  3. Don't show the gallery director every piece of art you've made since your high school graduation. Galleries are most interested in looking at your most current body of work and seeing if it holds together as a series. Showing fewer pieces that represent a cohesive body of recent work, is much better than showing a ton of older work. If a gallery ASKS to see the development of your work, or is interested specifically in older work, you can have that available on your website. (Yes, you must have a website!) Remember, most people can only absorb so much visual information at a time without getting hydroscopic (can't absorb anymore). You need to be sensitive to the fact that you look at your work every day, and although it might not be tiring or stressful for you to look at 40 pieces of art, a normal person can't absorb that much visual information. Limit presentations of your work, either by snail mail, email or in person, to 10 pieces at the most.

  4. Learn the most efficient way to send your materials. If you are mailing, don't send it insured or registered mail, this requires a signature and/or a trip to the post office. Don't send a ton of materials, or exhibition announcements in which you are one of many artists, reviews with your name mentioned once (and probably underlined in red), or miscellaneous stuff that you think is impressive. It's not, less is more. Don't expect your materials will be returned, unless you include a stamped, self addressed envelope (and, maybe, not even then...) Never, never, never, send originals or nag the gallery for the return of your materials. Remember, it's actually a GOOD thing if they want to keep you on file. If you are emailing, write a coherent cover note and send a link to your website. If you must send images attached be sure that they are appropriately sized digital files. Keep in mind that many email addresses do not accept more than 5MB of attachments to an email and that many people do not feel comfortable opening attachments to an email.
  6. Respect the gallery director's time. Galleries are in business to sell artwork. Do not try to show them your work when they are at an art fair that has cost thousands of dollars to attend. Do not try to show them your work at the opening reception of another artist. Do not come into the gallery without an appointment, carrying your portfolio, and expect the gallery director to look at it. Do not pretend to be interested in another one of the gallery artists (or in buying something), then ask them to look at your work. Do not be insulted, if during your meeting, the gallery director leaves to greet a visitor in the gallery, or take an important phone call.
  8. Fixate on your goal, not your fantasy. If you are lucky enough to get "face" time with a gallery, focus on what it is you can realistically accomplish. Most artists go into these meetings thinking they will come out with the offer of an exhibition, or a gallery that loves their work and wants to represent them, or maybe even a sale. False on all counts. I'm not saying it never happens, I'm just saying your odds are better if you buy a Lotto ticket. In reality, you have a two prong goal when showing your work to a gallery. One scenario could be, you could get them to recommend other galleries that may like your work and/or be more appropriate for you, than they are. Alternatively, and the most preferable outcome, would be the gallery would agree to take a few pieces on consignment, on trial. Keeping your eye on the ball is the only chance you have at hitting your target.

Just keeping these things in mind, remembering to be polite, respectful and professional, will get you closer to your goals. Good luck!  

For more of Sylvia's practical advice, go to her website 
For submission of work guidelines for Lynden Gallery 
For submission of work guidelines for the Arts Hotel Gallery 

Monday, February 23, 2009

sourdough experiment, number one

Years ago I served tables at an uncommon restaurant, The Country Chef in Mount Joy.  Ever since I've been stymied with the challenge of creating that wonderful bread of his.  "Him", being Ed Hitz, veterinarian turned French chef - his studio an old barn outside of Elizabethtown with a big kitchen and lots of nooks and crannies with tables for parties of 2, 4 or up to 12, as I recall.  

Reservations would be made from a selection of dates and 7 course menus.   Guests for the evening would arrive, entering the bottom floor of the old bank barn from the abandoned cow pasture, and gather for wine and hor' d oeuvres.  Chef Hitz would greet his guests before instructing them to proceed up the stairs for dinner.  The meal began with one of his amazing soups - subject for another story - followed by a simple salad, "this bread", the main course, and some delectable, sweet creation for dessert, typically with hand-whipped cream.  The evening would end with a nightcap of sherry back downstairs.

Over the years, I'd come across Doc Hitz and his bread, at Lancaster Town Fair, or family gatherings at his house.  That chewy center and crackly crust was something in all my bread baking years, I hadn't been able to accomplish.  When I asked his secret, he told me that he baked the bread on a tray of stones in water, and would spritz it with water during the baking.   So I decided to try it, reading up on sourdough starters, trying all sorts of steamy tricks, but mine never tasted like that.  This was back in my days at the little bungalow on Orange Street, with Jenna and Joe as toddlers, and my passionate desire to grow, cook, can and bake all things from scratch.  (I could actually clean that small house, wash windows, do laundry and bake bread all in one day - life was much less complicated back then.)

Well, I gave up the sourdough experiment when it seemed I just couldn't accomplish the wanted results - and I did after all, make pretty amazing oatmeal, raisin and french breads.  But two weeks ago, I found myself killing time in Borders Bookstore with my step-daughter Lorelei, and determined to find a cookbook that would somehow provide the extra little tidbit of information I'd been missing in my decades long quest.  Bernard Clayton's, "New Complete Book of Breads," seemed pretty exhaustive, so I jotted down the starter recipe on the back of my latte' receipt in the coffee shop, carefully put it in my wallet, and headed home with visions of crusty, sour smelling loaves emerging from my oven in a few days.

There are all sorts of sourdough starter recipes, but I decided on the simplest one - 

Honey Starter
Combine in a one quart jar with tight fitting lid - I have an old turquoise glass canning jar with a tin screw on lid that I prefer.  Set the jar in a warm, dark place and sour for a week or more, stirring the mixture once a day or so.  Make sure the lid is tight, or you'll have starter all over the cupboard!
1 tbs. yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 tbs. honey
2 1/2 cups occident flour

My story continues with yesterday's maiden loaf baking.  Two days prior to baking, I began with the following in my large bread baking crock, and stowed it in my oven covered with cotton towels:
1 cup starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/2 cups occident flour
2 tsp. sugar

As I was going through this process, my son Lynden passes thru the kitchen, reads a bit of the recipe and says "are you really doing this?  It's going to take a week before you have any bread!"  Proudly, I smiled, and explained the virtues of this long process, teaching a much needed lesson in delayed gratification.  Yesterday, I stirred down the starter with great anticipation (a day early in my eagerness), and mixed in the following:
1 tbs. dry yeast
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3-4 cups occident flour

I proceeded with kneading and wacking the dough against my granite countertop, feeling the satisfaction of it's elastic properties and smooth, sour smelling dough.  Lynden passed thru at some point, seemingly impressed when he noted the cookbook called for 10 minutes of kneading.  "Your going to do it that long?"  Well, I'm kneading away, and my wrists and fingers start to remind me why I splurged on a Kitchenaid mixer with a bread hook when I was 30, but I know better than anyone, the importance of loving that dough and giving it plenty of attention.  

I followed Bernard's advice of breaking "the rhythmic pattern frequently by lifting the ball of dough above the counter and bringing it crashing down against the work surface - wham!"  As I slam it down for the umpteenth time, giddy with a certain optimism, I have a knock at the door, and Lisa Madenspacher arrives.  I think she thought I was a bit nuts too, but lucky for her it was time to let the dough "rest" for 10 minutes.  I made coffee and we sat and chatted in the kitchen.  David passed thru, and we ended up moving to the front room, discussing art, history, and religion for several hours.  I kept excusing myself to check the dough, and move things along on this project.  

After forming the dough into loaves - frustrated that I didn't have proper baguette baking pans, I scored them with a knife and let them rise for an hour and a half.  When they had about doubled in size, I brushed the tops with eggwhite and water, and put them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees.  I prepared the oven according to Bernard's advise, a pan with 1/2 inch of boiling water in the bottom, 5 minutes before putting the loaves in.  Recommended baking time was 45 minutes, for a glossy brown finish to the crust, and he advised moving the loaves around the oven a bit for more even baking.  I took them out a bit early, as I think maybe my oven was a bit hotter.  

The verdict?  Texture and crust were closer than I've ever been able to manage before, but still not as good as Doc Hitz's, and flavor was lacking.  It felt like an accomplishment anyway, and we enjoyed the bread with fresh hummus and olive jelly last evening.  This morning, I pulled my starter from the cupboard to try again.  This time, I'm trying Bernard's "Sourdough Oatmeal Bread" recipe, and I'll make sure the sponge sits for a full 2 days, rather than rushing it at one day like last time.  

I'll let you know how it goes... and hopefully, when we continue our discussion with Lisa, there will be fresh bread, and sweet success, to share with her.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

hungry for chocolate, quick, easy brownies

This recipe comes from my favorite chocolate cookbook, "Hershey's Chocolate Treasury", which was given to me years ago for Christmas.  It's stained, with spattered chocolate, has post-it notes marking the "Cocoa Bundt Cake", "Chocolate Satin Glaze", "Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies", and a pink plastic paperclip on the corner of the "Best Brownies" page.  I've tried to make it healthy, less fat and sugar, but lets face it - those aren't real brownies.  So here is the unadulterated, perfect, original version I return to again and again - especially when I just have to have chocolate now - which is often, when the M&M Mars factory 3 blocks away has the whole town smelling of fresh chocolate!  

Beat together by hand in a medium sized bowl:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

Add and beat by hand until dry ingredients are all wet:
1/2 cup white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Pour into a greased 8 x 8" baking pan, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Ooey and gooey when they first come out, they firm up as they cool.  Some people like to add nuts, but no one around here likes their brownies crunchy, so I never do.

Speaking of chocolate, Frank Mars himself was in the gallery today with his wife, making a quick trip thru the gallery looking for just the right, local, landscape painting.  He likes the detail of some, but they tend to have too much snow and "feel lonely."  "When will he do spring and flowers?" he asked me today.  I wouldn't hold my breath on that one, but I enjoy his visits!