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The Painter Carole Wantz’s Debut Exhibition
For the architecture-obsessed, Columbus, Indiana, offers many attractions, with buildings by renowned figures such as Eliel Saarinen, Harry Weese, I.M. Pei and Deborah Berke. But when I made the pilgrimage last summer, my biggest discovery wasn’t the midcentury structures; it was the work of self-taught artist Carole Wantz, who in the 1970s and ’80s created more than 150 paintings of its residents. Now, over 35 of her pieces are on display at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, marking Wantz’s first-ever museum exhibition, at the age of 81. Curated by Richard McCoy, the executive director of the Landmark Columbus Foundation, the show provides a glimpse into the artist’s oeuvre, with pieces reminiscent of those by the American folk artist Grandma Moses: “I was captivated and charmed by her,” Wantz says of the artist, whom she credits as having inspired her technique of “painting memories.” Wantz chronicled everyday scenes like her daughter’s swim meets and son’s hockey games, but it was a commissioned portrait of the philanthropist J. Irwin Miller, one of the most prominent champions of Columbus architecture (he lived in a home designed by Eero Saarinen), in 1975 that launched her career. The piece — which depicts various aspects of Columbus life along with scenes of people or places important to Miller — is the result of several weeks’ worth of interviews, whereby Wantz asked Miller and those closest to him to tell her stories of his life, from which she would draw from. The portrait garnered so much attention that Wantz was soon sought after for more commissioned paintings, primarily by the upper echelon of Columbus society. Fifty years later, she’s finally getting her due. “The Artwork of Carole Wantz: Collected Stories From Columbus, Indiana” is on view through July 25 at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, indianamuseum.org.
Taiwan is an island of 23 million people who care deeply about food. And now, some of its food products have made their way to North American shores. Small-batch, handmade soy paste, an everyday condiment for dumplings or turnip cake, is traditionally made by cooking glutinous rice grains and water with soy sauce, which gives it a thick, glossy body similar to oyster sauce. Yu Ding Xing, a family-owned business in XiLuo, still produces it this way, along with a range of soy sauces made from black soybeans that are naturally fermented in terra-cotta barrels then wood-fired. One of the brand’s notable soy pastes is mixed in with miso paste for a smooth and pourable umami burst; another variety, which contains mirin and licorice, has subtle notes of chocolate and anise. Yu Ding Xing products are sold online by Yun Hai, an e-commerce site launched in 2018 by Lisa Cheng-Smith and Ivan Wu that specializes in Taiwanese pantry ingredients. Cheng-Smith personally likes to drizzle these on blanched greens or brush them on scallion pancakes. “It’s essentially an even more versatile soy sauce, with a little more sweetness and body,” she says. This year, Yun-Hai will add several more products to its small collection of Taiwanese ingredients, including cold-pressed black sesame paste, or “Taiwan’s Nutella,” as Cheng-Smith describes it. From $14, yunhai.shop.
A Restaurant and Culinary Residency Opens in Brooklyn
After six years of growing their chef residency program across three spaces in Paris (at L’Adresse, En Face wine bar and L’Entrepôt), the trio behind the restaurant group Fulgurances — Rebecca Asthalter, Hugo Hivernat and Sophie Coribert — recently brought their vision stateside with a 34-seat outpost in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. Opening this week, the restaurant occupies a former laundromat in a landmarked building on Franklin Street, chosen for the location’s size and the street’s European feel. Its understated interior was designed by the local architecture firm Re-a.d, and while the space retains many historic details — such as the tin ceiling, exposed brick walls and original laundromat signage — it also plays up more contemporary, Parisian touches, from custom sconces and tiles to parquet flooring and wood furnishings. “There are really strong ties between this space and L’Adresse in Paris,” explains Hivernat, who’s based in Brooklyn. “It was crucial that the Fulgurances essence remains intact.” Also in keeping with the spirit of the group, Fulgurances Laundromat will act as a culinary incubator for young international chefs. Beginning with the Chilean chef Victoria Blamey, just off her residency at Blue Hill Stone Barns, followed by the American chef Aaron Rosenthal, previously the sous chef at Septime, each resident will take over the kitchen for three to six months. “We want guests to see what these chefs can do when given carte blanche and the spotlight,” says Asthalter. fulgurances.com.
On Netflix, a New Season of “Special”
In 2019, Ryan O’Connell wrote and starred in a semi-autobiographical short-form Netflix comedy, “Special,” about a gay man with cerebral palsy finding his way in Los Angeles that was both tender and acerbic, often poking fun at the ways in which people who aren’t disabled stumble around those who are. Now the show’s back for a second (and final) season, with 30-minute episodes — twice as long as last time — which display a fresh confidence that mirrors the growth of its protagonist, played by the showrunner and sharing his name and ironic wit, honed from years spent as a writer online. “I needed certain moments to breathe and resonate, and in 15 minutes, honey, they can’t,” O’Connell, 34, wrote me in an email. “I wanted to show the world what I could do if given the proper amount of time and resources.” After quickly finishing the new episodes, I came to feel that one of O’Connell’s many talents is creating characters that feel real — unlike other sitcoms, no one is overly aspirational, likable or stock-made, but they still earn some necessary sympathy — and then hiring fantastic actors like Max Jenkins, Punam Patel and Jessica Hecht who add nuance, humor and a bit of self-effacing strangeness to these complicated roles. “I am such a slut for casting,” O’Connell adds. “My poor casting director was constantly besieged with me sending 30 options for a person who has, like, a two-line part.” netflix.com.
According to the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “You can mold clay into a vessel, yet it is its emptiness that makes it useful.” It’s a quote that’s been top of mind for Jenn Tardif of the mindfulness collective 3rd Ritual, who spent the past year working with Object & Totem ceramist Julianne Ahn to create a piece that’s “as useful as it is beautiful, even when left empty,” says Tardif. The Egg, as it’s called, is a ceramic vessel modeled after an ostrich egg and inspired by the Japanese tradition of ikebana, or flower-arranging. At five inches tall, it’s perfect to perch atop a bookshelf and designed with three small holes at the top and a hollow center to display flowers, hold incense or hide small keepsakes (just lift the dome off its base to reveal a sacred space to stow a special object or note). To make the Egg, the shape is set using a plaster mold, after which it’s cleaned, fired in a kiln, waxed and glazed — and fired again. As a finishing touch, diluted India ink is hand-rubbed into the Egg, accentuating the thin egg-shell-like cracks that appear after firing. Each ceramic comes with a card inviting its new owner to participate in a meditative ritual, whether by arranging their own selection of stems or creating a new altar space in their home. $150, 3rdritual.com.
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