tomm el-saieh’s work at the clark art institute

i went to the clark institute to see tomm el-saieh’s work.

his paintings are kaleidoscopic, pulsating, shimmering. they push and pull. they embody languages, sounds, hieroglyphics. they feel like sacred scrolls, like maps with districts, neighborhoods, borders and connecting grids, like cities or skin cells that grow, evolve and transform organically, much like his paintings.

he uses patterns, abrasions and erasures. they are disorienting. one must focus and refocus one’s eyes. parts emerge, recede, resurface. they throb, balloon, shift. like a shallow depth of field where the foreground and background keep switching.

the paintings have texture, like quilted fabric. i’ve never wanted to touch a canvas so much.

my favorite is kafou (below) from carrefour, a commune in haiti – i couldn’t stop looking at it. then there was canape vert, vilaj imajine and wanga neges.

tomm el-saieh was born in haiti, where his family has had roots in port-au-prince for 5 generations. his father is palestinian-haitian and his mom israeli. he lives and works in miami.

the berkshires

today we went to the berkshires, a place that’s been close to my heart for almost three decades. from staying at the cranwell and cross country skiing (while my mom and sister kindly babysat our toddler), to enjoying fall with a cousin and her fam, to taking the kids skiing there almost every winter, and to my husband bringing me back (and giving me all the time i needed at mass moca) after my daughter left for college and we became empty nesters, the berkshires have always been a part of our lives. we started going there when we lived in CT, and kept it up from long island and then from rochester.

saw so much beauty today, my eyes couldn’t hold on to all of it. so i took countless pictures because i wanted to remember everything.

we started with the clark art institute in williamstown with its white marble museum building designed by architect daniel perry and its breathtaking reflecting pool (part of a complex hydrological system that reduces water consumption by 50 percent). more about the art i saw later.

#clarkartinstitute #williamstown #massachusetts #berkshires #partofourlives #fallbeauty #fallphotography #fallinstagram #autumnphotography #autumninstagram #marblebuildings #architecture #reflectingpools

wandering goose farm

the place where we’re staying in west pawlet, vermont, announces its (good) politics as soon as u turn into their driveway. there are signs everywhere, including the largest one which says: all lives don’t, until black lives do. yesterday i went to their tiny store by the roadside and was impressed that it was based on an honor system. u take what u need, enter the items/addition in a large register, and pay via cc, venmo or cash based on the info they’ve provided. it reminded me of berlin’s ubahn which works the same way. there are no gates or turnstiles. people are supposed to buy their tickets, validate them before getting on the subway, or any other public transportation, and that’s it. someone might check once in a while but no one did for the entire week i was there. i had my active pass on my phone, but was never asked to produce it. by visiting the store, i also found out that laurie, my host, is a wonderful artist. it makes a lot of sense. i bought one of her beautiful cards with birds on it.

#goodpolitics #farmlife #honorsystem #berlin #ubahn #artist #art #pawlet #vermont

dorset, manchester, and the mettawee valley

today we drove through dorset where we found this stunning marble quarry now filled with water and reflections of burnt orange trees. then on to manchester and cute bookstores and antique shops. look what i found in one of them – dark chocolate, union-made, with bernie’s face on it.

we then drove thru the mettawee valley, on route 30, a spectacular scenic drive. “the valley winds through the taconic mountains and along the mettawee river with beautiful vistas all along the way. in the northwest corner of bennington county are the picturesque and rural vermont towns of pawlet, rupert and middletown springs. going back to the 18th century, farms and quarries dotted the countryside. today, you can see plenty of working farms in all three towns, including dairy farms that make the cheese that vermont is famous for.”

on the way back we stopped at mach’s general store in pawlet and bought some peach crumb bars.

#pawlet #vermont #dorset #rupert #manchester #marblequarry #farms #barns #taconicmountains #mettaweeriver #mettaweevalley #machsgeneralstore #pawlet #countryside #ruralvermont

thoughts on the berlin wall

a few more posts about berlin.

checkpoint charlie (or checkpoint C) was “the best-known berlin wall crossing point between east and west berlin during the cold war (1947–1991).” it’s famous for its death strip, bordered by mines and channels of ploughed earth to stop people from escaping to the west. now it’s a tourist trap. our guide suggested we skip the fake museum and enormous gift shop and just look at remnants of the wall. i found some old b&w pictures of the area, the way it used to be before the wall came down. it’s the human suffering that sticks in one’s mind, families separated forcibly as they have been (and still are) by colonial borders across the world. there was a sign (in many different languages) saying: “in this very place just 30 years ago u might have been shot at…” and “can u imagine what life must have been like with a wall on ur doorstep…”

all i could think was: this is not history. these crimes against humanity are ongoing. what u are asking us to imagine is every day life for the people of palestine. my only hope is that one day soon, their apartheid wall will also become a tourist trap where people will congregate, reflect, and say to one another: “can u imagine what life must have been like to live with a racist, separation wall on ur doorstep and checkpoints every few steps that encroach on ur human right to move freely?” this is my hope.

lila restaurant in berlin

the day i got to berlin from praha, my train was delayed and so i checked in late. it was already getting dark. my host, lara, told me about this unique restaurant (a very special place) that was a 40 min walk. i was hungry, having had breakfast in prague and nothing else, but i decided to go for it. walked around kreuzberg and all the way to the water. found lila and ordered lara’s favorite – the truffle pasta. i was sitting at a high table right in front of the kitchen so i could see the pasta being prepared. it was delicious. full of flavor, buttery, sumptuous. as i was finishing it off, i wished that i could turn back time and eat it all over again. for dessert i had panna cotta. it came with a lovely sauce that tasted like caramel and coffee. there was a paper thin wafer on top of it (melted in one’s mouth instantly). under the wafer, a fruity surprise. crumble on the side for some nutty crunch. the panna cotta itself was like a cloud – smooth and just the right degree of lusciousness. it was the best meal i’d had on this entire trip. lila restaurant is special.

where i’m staying in kreuzberg

one more post about kreuzberg. i’m staying at this ethereal, organic, pure cotton kind of place in chamissoplatz (beautiful old buildings everywhere – one of the few neighborhoods in berlin that wasn’t bombed and destroyed). it’s owned by lara – a medical doctor and researcher. the bathroom floor is heated, the lights are touch-less, the mattress can be heated, and much more. the entire apt is furnished with real antiques and an abundance of indoor plants. the building is old and being worked on so the outside is a work in progress but the inside is lovely. i have a king size bed and a grand piano in my room.

schnitzel and kaiserschmarren

more kreuzberg. then linner (lunch + dinner) at austria, on bergmannstraße, where i had wiener schnitzel (veal) with a cucumber salad, a potato salad, and cranberry sauce. it was surprisingly delicious. for dessert i tried rum raisin kaiserschmarren, a lightly sweetened pancake named after the austrian emperor franz joseph I, who was v fond of it. it was served with apple purée, plum compote and vanilla ice cream. divine.

chilling in kreuzberg

having a chill time in kreuzberg today (it’s home to students, artists and a large turkish population). it’s also where i’m staying. walked to café marameo right around the corner this morning and was pleasantly surprised to see a small public market with flowers, fruit, coffee, galettes and more. had a slice of apple and heidelbeere (blueberry) cake which was excellent, a beignet filled with vanilla cream and hot chocolate. a cute doggy sitting in front of me was enjoying the scene just as i was. walked around and visited some vintage shops. found these wonderful earrings at dress code vintage. what do u think? my interactions with berliners have been lovely so far. i like it here 🙂