Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eva Stina Bender, painter

A visit to Eva Stina Bender's home is an aesthetic feast for the soul. Friend Cindi Dixon captures the everyday surroundings of this Swedish born painter in a montage of photographs of exquisite detail - light, shadow and reflection embracing a vision of a simplicity and joy in a life well-lived. A few are snapshots by Eva herself who inherited the simple pleasure in homemaking from her mother, whom she declared was quite "excellent" at the task.

I visited Eva recently to put the finishing touches on her upcoming "Vessels" exhibition, and was struck by the light and airiness of her front room, sun streaming in the large south facing windows. A collection of small potted, flowering plants - pink cyclamen, yellow tulips and red amaryllis - were sitting on the table, a fresh painting or two of the vingette sitting opposite, propped against the wall.

She had prepared lunch served on a simple white linen cloth in vintage green glassware - open faced sandwiches of smoked ham, grilled with a banana sliced lengthwise, grated sharp cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of curry, a small bowl of sliced blood, Cara Cara and regular oranges topped with toasted hazel nuts and a drizzle of maple syrup, and a cleansing ginger beer.

Conversation wended its way easily between us, having the pleasure of knowing one another for over a decade now. We've shared each other's joys, sorrows, and changes in life situation. I've had the privilege of watching the reflection of it all in her work, so eloquently, unapologetically and honestly executed. One of her darkest moments was losing her son Eli, just shortly after I knew her. I recall a period of mostly black in her watercolors - black leaves, vessels, and spaces - and they were beautiful, deep, colorful and elegant.

Eva says of this latest body of work, "I am dealing with loss, aging, dispossession and re-orientation... I am not saying I have lived through anything out of the ordinary. I have lost my house and community, my family situation, my marriage and my mother. Grieving is involved in all these events." Her reflections on loss and emptiness in this exhibition aren't sad, and the metaphorical parallels in shadow and darkness, are instead fresh and suffused with light. "I don't feel all empty vessels and containers are sad. Some hold air, some even joy, maybe just possibilities of change."

Recently I read an essay by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki entitled "In Praise of Shadows", in which he says, "The quality that we call beauty must always grow from the realities of life...to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty's ends. And so it has come to be that beauty... depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows - it has nothing else." So aptly does he state what Eva executes in her work and surroundings with such divine clarity.

The exhibition, "Eva Stina Bender: Vessels" opens Friday, March 25th at the Lynden Gallery, with an Artist's Jazz Reception featuring the Charles Muench Trio from 5:00 till 8:00 p.m. Ceramics by Casey Dixon will be included, and Front Wall Feature is Lou Schellenberg. The work will remain on display through the month of June.

A Workshop and Luncheon with Eva will be offered on Saturday, May 7th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Reservations are required. For more information, contact the gallery at 717.367.9236 or refer to www.lyndengallery.com.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

gypsy soup

One of my favorite soup recipes, Gypsy Soup, was originally given to me by Susan Davitti Darling. It was from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, whom I'd not heard of before. I found the combination of ingredients curious (sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cinnamon?), and the outcome so delicious, I couldn't wait to visit Barnes and Noble again to purchase my own copy of the cookbook. Much to my surprise I found an entire series of Moosewood Cookbooks - I've since collected four of my own, and given many away as gifts. The recipes are all vegetarian, flavorful, wholesome and abundant. I love the combination of ethnicities, and especially the explanations of ingredients I've not heard of, or know little about.

Gypsy Soup
Heat 2 tbs. olive oil in medium-sized soup pot and saute' the following over medium heat for about 5 minutes:
2 cups chopped onion
3 medium cloves garlic, crushed with flat edge of large knife
1 stalk of celery, minced
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced

Add 1 tsp. salt and saute' 5 minutes longer. Add the following and simmer 15 minutes:
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. basic
a dash of cinnamon
a dash of cayeene
1 bay leaf
3 cups water

Add the additional following ingredients, "cover and simmer for 10 more minutes or until all vegetables are as tender as you like them."
2 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced (or substitute a 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, reserving the juice)
1 medium bell pepper
1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (or one 16 0z. can, drained)

I've added leftover V-8 juice, diced tomatoes and chickpeas to stretch the recipe for unexpected guests. It's delicious with homemade french bread and a fresh salad.

Several weeks ago David and I visited my cousin Jody and her family in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. One chilly, windy afternoon we walked downtown for lunch, ending up at a wonderful little coffee shop/bakery. The soup of the day? As soon as the woman behind the counter started listing the ingredients, I knew it was Gypsy Soup, and I determined to make it again on returning home.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Modest Quests for Jenna

"Modest Quests", an 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas by Ned Wert, recently found a home on my daughter's living room wall. A gift in keeping with tradition, she received it on the completion of her master's degree, a Masters in Human Resource Management from the Keller Graduate School of Management. Congratulations Jenna!