Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Tribute to Grandma Great

Pauline Winstead Garrison Brincefield 1917-2012

I believe it was the spring of 1981 when I was first introduced to the Bedenbaugh Brincefield Garrison clan, and I don’t recall the occasion.  But at the Colonial Beach Fire Hall was a family gathering of some sort, and I found myself surrounded by a tribe of laughing, friendly, exuberant, extended family - somewhat overwhelming to a newly 20, young woman from a quiet, restrained, Anabaptist background in Lancaster County.  And I’d never seen so many Mama Bears all in one place!

My first impression of that gathering was that the group was largely women – strong women, single women, confident women – at the time the only balance to all the estrogen was that of Uncle Kenny and Bobby, who quietly, and contentedly, took supporting roles in the affair’s choreography.  In the middle of this glorious jangle of people, sat Grandma Great, and if Grandaddy was present, and I can’t recall if he was, he would have happily taken a side seat to the matriarch of the family.

I remember her smile – warm and friendly – and the sweet, gentle southern drawl, bred with an undeniable elegance and perceivable wit.  Everyone was bustling about the hall, preparing a long table with food and drink, setting up chairs, and amiably catching up.  I found myself the center of attention, not because I was a compelling personality in my own right, but rather because I was there on the arm of Carl, whom they all simply adored.  As such, I was given the keys to their hearts without hesitation. 

Over a period of 20+ years, holidays and summers included an assortment of such gatherings, evolving over time to include numerous partners, spouses, friends, and children.  As the family grew, the tables extended along with an inclusive generosity toward each new family member or significant other that came along.

With the passing of Grandma Great, my days have been flooded with distant memories, played back in my mind as if they were yesterday… Polly sitting in the neat and tidy, traditional living room of her home in Richmond, rubbing her feet on the dog at her feet, and coaxing Jenna and Joe to her lap, laughing and playing, with not thought to the inevitable muss and chaos left in our wake; her serious demeanor as she sat at a bingo table, markers and a string of cards lined up neatly in front of her, assuming a win; sitting in her pleasant kitchen with smells of pies backing, or ham coming from the oven, while we talked about our shared love of canning, cooking and baking… 

One particular holiday, we were discussing our favorite cookbooks, and I noted mine was an old yellow covered cookbook of my mother’s, that I’d learned to cook from at home - the Westinghouse Cookbook.  I liked it because it had all the basics – how to make chili, roast a turkey or a ham, boil rice or make mashed potatoes, Harvard beets, piecrust, and numerous yummy cakes and cookies.  She pointed out the same cookbook on her on shelf, and whether her perception of my envy of her copy, or a simple desire to do something special for me compelled her, I found it wrapped under the Christmas tree that year with my name on it, and inscribed, “To Lisa, From Grandma Brincefield, Christmas 1990.”


I cherish that cookbook.  For the memories it still stirs after many long years of use, it’s worn cover falling off, notes in the margins of recipes that have developed over years of diabetic cooking experiments, and favorite pages paper-clipped for easy finding.  It contains the origins of my gingersnap, meatloaf, pickled beets, and banana chocolate chip muffin recipes, all of which have changed and evolved, and a good many that failed along the way, but ultimately emerged in the learning as keepers.

Like this much beloved cookbook, family has continued to change over the years, under the watchful eye of the many Mother Bears, in the spirit and grace of what we call “family.”  The women who succeed them, Jenna, Meghan, Jessica, Eva, Katie, Corey, Layne, Summer, Kayla…embrace life with a heritage and character of grace, laugher, forgiveness, and dignity inherent to their clan.  The life they lead, and the character they uphold, is a testament to the beauty that was, Pauline. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

anatomy of a kitchen

Yesterday, I took clients to see their kitchen cabinets underway and was inspired by the professionalism and meticulous crafstmanship of Jeff Gable and his son Chris.  The two of them work out of a barn, an idylic drive down Propect Road, halfway between the Susquehanna River and Millersville.

On our arrival, we were ushered in to the shop, and I couldn't help but feel nostalgic for my Grandpa Louis and his woodshop in the basement while I was growing up.  I was allowed to sit quietly by the door and watch, and on rare occassions be invited in.  I loved the smell of sawdust, and the gathering of neatly organized jelly jars on a wheel - their lids nailed to a round dish that rotated, allowing him to unscrew a jar at the bottom and access it's treasure without spilling any.  I can still hear the gentle tinkling sound of screws and nails as he rotated the wheels.

Jeff's shop was neatly organized, and as meticulous as the cabinetry we found in process.  This particular kitchen has it's challenges, as I designed it with two opposing walls on a 45 degree angle.  A small kitchen, this design allows for better work and traffic flow through the kitchen, while maintaining its 1930's intimate footprint.

The refrigerator wall is flanked by two deep pantries, and the challenge of their triangular footprint didn't deter Jeff.  With the request of a pull-out coffee pantry in the confines of a triangle was met not with a frown, but I could see the wheels turning.  A mock-up was brought by the gallery prior to construction, and the cabinet is now underway.   Below is the base of one of the cabinets, with Chris in the background.

And here is the pullout coffee drawer.  An outlet will be installed inside the cabinet, so wires, coffee maker, mugs, coffee, etc will be in one place, and out of sight.

Attention to detail isn't overlooked, and quality crafstmanship is evident even in the hidden corners, with biscuit joining and recessed screws.

Safety considerations have been fully addressed, with a well ventilated paint room set aside from the shop.  Sitting in front of the paint lockers are freshly painted cabinet doors for this project.  White painted cabinetry and walls will give the small kitchen a feeling of openess and light, a priority for the clients.

The cabinetry is as artful as any sculpture I've come across, and I'm still rather in awe of the angles and corners that comprise this kitchen.  I can only imagine the math involved, and the need for exact measurements.  Anyone who knows me, knows I can do the math (if I have to!) but I will avoid a tape measure in favor of "eyeballing it" if I can get away with it!

Last but not least, we inspected two slabs of cherry for a custom table in the kitchen.  I met with the clients around my conference room table several times, a walnut bookmatch table crafted by David Zimmerman, and they often commented on it.  I suggested we use the inspiration for their table, and they loved the idea.  Despite the raw state of the slabs, it was clear to see the graining would be beautiful, and lend a warm, organic spirit to the kitchen.

To see before, during and after photographs of this project, and others of our design, visit our website, www.lyndengallery.com.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

documentary...NED WERT Painter

This documentary project has been gloriously fun and challenging.  I have a new appreciation for filmmakers, now that I've dipped my toe in this creative venue.  Thanks to Steve Witmer for patiently walking me through the process, and then allowing me to actually DO it!

I honestly thought it was all about going out and shooting lots of footage, piecing together the good parts, and improvising until a story emerged.  No.  It's more like writing a research paper, coming up with a damn good outline at the front end - then you need to meticulously follow it in order to get the footage and shoot the story you want.  Not that there isn't room for the unexpected - the elements that make you smile and laugh - but I can't get away with the same spontaneity you'll find in this blog!

So the whole thing started years ago, when Steve and I would chat about how much we'd enjoy working together, on the rare occasion we'd run into one another.  He was a gallery owner long before I was, and truth be told, I think we both loved the art and the artists more than making money - though such idealistic notions have been tempered over time with reality.  You don't make money, there is no gallery!

Steve sold his gallery and started Tape-to-disc Studios with his brother Josh back in 2001, and our discussions morphed into a mutual desire to capture artists on tape and tell their stories.  We finally settled on Gus Kermes, scheduled a time with Gus to come out to his studio - unfortunately, he passed away the week we were to come.  Having lost that opportunity, and between Steve's crazy schedule and mine, it took us this long to set our sights on another - Ned Wert.

Last spring we set a date for a visit to Ned's studio in Brush Valley, PA, and with much coaching from Steve, I started making lists, outlines, and doing research.  By the time we journeyed to western PA on July 23rd, I had a notebook full of interview questions, storyboard, and list of deliverables.  We worked the entire 3 1/2 hour trip out, Steve's questions making it increasingly apparent to me that I really didn't have a clue what lay ahead.

The day we arrived, we spent some time preparing Ned, as I furiously scribbled down more notes - this is nothing new - Ned always has stories to tell, and I love documenting them for the future.   We moved to the studio, got "the set" organized, and began to work through my carefully prepared and ordered  list of questions - Steve pointed out this was key to "finding" things later in hours and hours of tape.

Between a persistent bumble bee caught in the skylight, and the random motorcycle zooming by the window, the noise required the windows be closed during the shooting.  Keep in mind it's the end of July, and it's hot, but that didn't melt Ned's spirit or professionalism despite three hours of shooting.  And he didn't seem to mind being followed around his house, making dinner, feeding the cat, and entertaining us in front of an ever-present camera.  Of course by then, we had shared a couple bottles of red wine, al fresco, and were all feeling rather mellow.

We spent the following day at Indiana University, interviewing colleagues and students of Ned's, and learning more about his years there as a teacher, then gallery director.  Heading home afterward, we spent the entire trip previewing the film footage, stopping the video long enough to jot down time stamps and note quotes we thought we'd likely use.  I went through them all again back in my studio until I had transcribed highlights of the entire four reels as reference.

After going through the transcriptions and highlighting the parts I wanted to use, I transferred them to index cards for easy shuffling.  Spending a morning at the kitchen counter, putting cards into storyboard order, I began sorting through stacks of photographs and other scanned images in order to begin thinking it through visually.  Reading through the quotes I'd selected gave me some idea of the length - I had a little over 5 minutes worth, and we edited it down to 3 1/2.

I then made copies of cards and images in groups, noting time stamps on the footage, and sent the package off to Steve and Josh.  My job, according to Steve, was to make Josh's job as simple as possible - parsing out the selected pieces and parts, and weaving in scanned images, etc.  Unlike writing a paper, film making has three-dimensions, and though I think I'm rather good at visualizing things, this afforded me a new challenge.

 Steve and I then spent several hours working through the preliminary cuts from Josh, editing further, getting Ned's input, and finding the music to go with it.  After numerous sessions of back and forth, we were ready to premier the documentary clip at Ned's opening reception.  Ned hosted his collectors at the gallery two nights, despite a painful knee, scheduled to be replaced in a week.  Thursday evening was Collectors Only Preview, and Friday the Opening Artist's Reception.  Both evenings featured jazz by Ned's highschool friend, Barrie Spessler, and his jazz trio.  Ned and Barrie used to play in the band together - Ned played trombone.  I have a picture...

This is only the beginning, as we've begun work on a full-length version to release in April 2013.  We'll be interviewing more collectors, friends and family in order to capture not only the essence of this man, but the rich, full life he's led.  I've carved out hours (days!) to work on the script, determined this time to streamline the process with my new found experience.

We'll see.... Steve?

To view the NED WERT Painter, click here - to learn more about Ned Wert, his work, and the Lynden Gallery, visit our website, www.lyndengallery.com.  And when you are in Elizabethtown, be sure to drop by.  Gallery hours are 10-5 Wednesday through Friday, 10-3 Saturday - or by chance or appointment.  717.367.9236

The documentary was written by Lisa Clemens and Steve Witmer, videography by Steve, editing by Josh Witmer, and music by The Reese Project.  Steve and Josh Witmer, Tape to disc Studios.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

revisiting the pies....

Some time ago, I posted a recipe for Peach Raspberry Pie, one of my late summer favorites.  Since then, it's become evident my cousin Jody has one up on me in the pie department.  Not only does her family enjoy pie more often than mine, they readily participate in the preparation.  At Jody's fiftieth birthday party last year, when I was assigned the coveted position of overseeing the pie baking, I learned the secret of what actually holds the fruit together.  

I brought the lessons I learned to the table for this holiday weekend, family get-together and ended up with some delicious Peach Raspberry Blueberry Pie (all in one pie, of course) with a struesel topping.  Below is the recipe, and a photo of the outcome, but the one remaining difference?  I still make my crust from scratch, and you'll find that recipe, along with the struesel topping recipe here.

Peach Raspberry Blueberry Struesel Pie

Roll out the crust for two pies, fit them in the pie plates, prepare the struesel, and set aside.  

Remove the skins and pits, and slice about 8-10 peaches (depending on the size) into a large bowl.
Add about a cup and a half of fresh raspberries and a cup of blueberries with the peaches.  

In a separate smaller bowl, add and mix together with a fork:
     1 cup white sugar
     3 tbs. cornstarch
     a pinch of salt

Pour the combined dry ingredients over the fruit, and mix well, being careful not to mush the fruit, then pour into the unbaked pie shells.  Top with the struesel and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  

This pie didn't disappoint.  Of course both times, the pies were accompanied with my dad's homemade icecream, and that's absolutely the best combination of summer.  There were plenty of ready hands for churning yesterday - delicious!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Extraordinary Stray Birds, Parlor Concert

Last evening, we hosted our fifth Parlor Concert in the loft at Lynden Gallery, the first was with the Reese Brothers, Tom and Kirk, long time friends.  Our musical "house concert" venue has been gaining popularity, this BYOB concert the first to sell out beforehand.  We limit seats to 35, and encourage concert goers to come a bit early or stay after to eat and drink, mingle with other guests, and partake in a salon style conversation.

I first met Charlie Muench as part of a jazz trio with Chris Smucker and Josh Bailey when they played for Eva Bender's Artist Reception in March of 2011.  He has since finished his degree in music education at West Chester University, on the main line in West Chester, Pennsyvania.  Bass may be second nature to Charlie, having inherited his love of the instrument from his father.  Classically trained, he found bluegrass harmonies compelling, and quickly connected with Maya deVitry and Oliver Craven when their paths crossed in 2010.

"Music exists in a time and place," says Charles, "reveling in the energy of each room, a connection to the audience is the essence of the show."  Our parlor space, or "the box"as noted by Charlie, provides the perfect acoustical setting for an intimate exchange between musicians and appreciative audience.  This is the first time I took advantage of the second level loft seating, and was surprised to find it the best seat in the house regarding the sound.

After three years of traditional university study, Oliver Claven traded in the books for the open road.  "I listen to people... then pay attention to that."   Traveling forty states and four countries as a fiddler, guitarist and harmony vocalist, he is developing his own repertoire of original songs.  Maya deVitry, a seasoned traveler herself,  spent time at University of Asheville, North Carolina, and at Berklee College of Music in Boston, before shoe leather hit the pavement - she made her way across Europe for three months "as a fiddling street performer."  

No stranger to musical performance, her family has a deep, rich history of musicianship.  Though the deVitrys call Lancaster County home for several generations, the tune in their hearts has wandered afar.  Pete deVitry, Maya's dad, spent time with the Gadjo Playboys, a Parisian style string band, and currently plays with Vinegar Creek Constituency a bit of a more eclectic take on American folk music.

Maya's brave and sultry voice rises firmly above the din of a family tradition, soulfully and skillfully weaving tales in the Appalachian genre - some old traditional tunes, others her own.  Listen to The Stray Birds first CD, "Birds of the Borderland," and you'd never know five of the seven tunes are contemporary.  Such is the consummate nature of Maya's song-writing and her soulful, fervent voice, sitting rock solid on the seasoned musicianship of this accomplished trio.

The Stray Birds will launch their new CD in July, and I for one, can't wait.  This young trio has "miles to go" before they sleep and I intend to follow them as shameless groupie.

To find out more about the Lynden Gallery and upcoming exhibitions, concerts and events, visit our website, www.lyndengallery.com.  Want to be on our snail mail, or email update lists?  Give us a call 717.367.9236, or email us - we'll be happy to share!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ned Wert, Bright Introspection

I love art.  Living with art, teaching an appreciation of art to another generation, learning to understand the process of invention and inspiration behind the work, the privilege of knowing the people, the hands, faces, trials and tribulations, and enthusiastic joys that create the work - my life is richer because of the arts.  It speaks to the deeper underside of my life, and enhances my journey through this world.

Through art I find both common ground and contentious discussion, as each of us connect with our visual worlds uniquely.  I see the color play, you see the shape of a tree.  I see shadow, you see light.  I find joy, you find repression.  I feel peace, you are jarred into discovery.  Art isn't about the image alone - it's about what you bring to it, the discussion around it, the people behind it - all of which are experiential and ever-changing.

I can say the same of music and literature.  Each time I hear a Concerto or read a Psalm, I bring myself to it - where I am at the moment, who I'm with, what I'm feeling - and it's different every time.  The lovely thing is that art, music and writing each have the capacity to capture a moment in time.  You'll never see it the same way ever again, in part because you now bring experience to it.  I believe this is why people bring a tattered piece of paper with a poem written on it to be calligraphied, an old print from home with no inherent value to be framed, or go back and purchase a painting - there is a connection, and it isn't stagnant.

This afternoon, I received an Artist Statement from Ned Wert, long-standing artist and friend.  He's finishing up a new body of work for a Lynden Gallery solo exhibition in October, and wrote a bit about what drives his enthusiasm for painting and his experiementation in this new collection.  He captures not only the magic in the making, but in the viewing, and I couldn't wait to share it....

The works in this exhibition represent two years of work in my studio and have been inspired by personal and shared experiences during that time.

During that time my foremost goal was to produce over 30 pieces that, while unified in an exhibition, would expand new visions of the artist’s thinking. For more than 40 years I have explored diversity in people’s cultures, as well as the natural landscape. My enthusiasm for personal interpretation, I  hope, leads people to respond with thoughts and appreciation. In two years there will be obvious changes in images. How I see and represent my ideas, and how they are placed in compositional arrangements, become the ingredients in my abstract paintings.

I sincerely love painting. My art has never been a hobby---not even when I was in my teens. Now, 50 years later, I maintain that the underlying character of my work is the joy of painting. The gestural movements I use to produce the brushstrokes as well as the constant excitement about color, what goes with what, represents my enthusiasm. I present myself with challenges and then get energized if my intent is working. When it doesn’t, I’m open to finding a new solution that works.

The final surfaces seen in these works, by no means show the initial attacks to the blank surface. Almost all of what I do is in response to what is already there after the beginning white surface is covered. I like to layer the compositional structure by adding seemingly unrelated elements that might disturb my thoughts. They often result in discovery----and that brings on more original thoughts to deal with as I continue.

I have always been an optimist and I preserve that attitude abstractly in my work. My work is never negative, morbid, nor secretive. I enjoy the “bright side of life”....as they sing in Monty Python’s “Spamalot!”

I am proud of this exhibition of new works. Painting is work and I love my job. It energizes me---what a pleasure it is each time I decide the painting is finished and I get to add my signature as the final touch.

Ned Wert

Brush Valley, PA 

Ned Wert's latest work will premier Friday, October 19 at the Lynden Gallery.  Kindly set the date aside.

The image above is "Urban Momunments" 30" x 42" acrylic on paper.  For more about the life and work of Ned Wert, and details for the upcoming exhibition, visit our website, www.lyndengallery.com.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

highpoint interiors market - trends and faves

Wow.  Where to begin!  After two full, fabulous days at market, my feet are tired, my mind exhausted and I'm a bit overwhelmed.   As I want to capture the essence of my findings, I will push my weary mind to put my thoughts in writing now, and resist the urge to delay or over-edit.

The world of interiors and architecture has been teasing my mind and lapping at my heals since I was twelve.  That was the year my grandmother's friend up the street,  Mrs. Hein, started passing her copies of Architectural Digest to me after she finished reading them.  I read them cover to cover every month, stock-piled them in my room, and have ever since.  My only regret, is that with each major change or move in my life, my purging required dumping years worth of the archived magazines in the dumpster.  Alas...

Market afforded me the opportunity to see first hand the latest trends in the interiors industry, to sit on dozens and dozens of sofas, chairs and ottomans, and investigate developments in sustainable products and technologies.  I was surprised and pleased to find much of the best in textile development and  furniture manufacturing still happens here in the USA.  Many of these companies are here in North Carolina where textile mills originated, hence Highpoint is still the furniture capital of the country.

What's trending?  Here is a quick primer...

Faux furs and hides, draped over sofas and beds, as upholstering, and on the floor...

Furniture upholstered in fun ways, often piecing together numerous fabrics on one piece, and taking a classic, antique, salvaged or reproduction chairs and either descontructing them to the bare bones and muslin (restoration hardware style), or reupholstering them in unexpected ways...

The industrial look is still strong, and you see it everywhere, in tables and chairs, lighting and accessories.  I love the juxtaposition of the cold, hard edges of steel and alongside the organic warmth of wood construction and hand craftsmanship.  Our own David Zimmerman has been in demand of late, and I can't seem to keep enough of his work on the floor.

My personal favorites?  Phillips Collection, above, and the fabulous, brilliantly executed, playful take on classic furniture styles by Christopher Guy.  A change in perspective or proportion is balanced with the essence of restraint and a healthy dose of imagination and wit.  Love it!

I adore the depth of color in Lillian August for Hickory White.  Deep, fun color on the walls, rich, textured upholstery on equisitely comfortable furniture, and art!  Big, bold paintings, stacked collections of etchings and sculptures completed each space.

Baker was among my more memorable stops, with a new collection by Thomas Pheasant taking center stage.  This designer has the gift of grace and restraint in his reinterpretations of classical line and proportions.  

The perfect transitional collection, (sorry, no pics allowed in the showroom), you'll have to watch for it online, in your favorite high-end furniture store, or surely in upcoming issues of Architectural Digest.  

My absolute, hands-down favorite showroom was Luna Bella.  More than accessories for sure, but the jewel in their crown is the lighting.  This is the one to watch!