Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A New Artist

Dear friends,

A very good artist friend who I know as Michale has launched his website today (  I found his first painting to be intense, crazy, enigmatic (even somewhat sensual in a weird way).  I look forward to seeing how his work progresses and, who knows, you might see one of his pieces in my store in the future.  I wanted to send this message of support in the hopes that he gains an audience of like-minded aesthetes. And this gives me the best opportunity to let my readers know that I will return to posting more frequently.  It's been too long!

Warm regards,


Monday, November 14, 2011

God is in the Detail: Scaling Memory

It had been five years since my last visit to Berlin and before that, 31 years.  That latter visit was so memorable because 1979 were those steely Iron Curtain days when West Berlin was an "island" of the country.  A mysterious and surreptitious air surrounded the visit: the gloomy and somewhat uncomfortable Checkpoint Charlie and, although the Unter den Linden was beautifully spruced up to give foreigners the impression that all was well in the East, occasionally, a small black car passed the desolate wide streets.  My godmother and I were the only visitors to the Pergamon Museum that day.  Our only other companions were the sound of her heels clicking on the marble floors in those giant pantheonic rooms and the tired but nonetheless "at attention" guards, watching over the enormous installations.

My recent visit was a vast contrast to my first.  This time it seemed as though all was in technicolor: lines of people buying entrance tickets, bus loads of tourists decamping, headsets, and racks of vibrant postcards.  And although part of the museum is under restoration and there were hundreds of people scaling the Pergamon temple and crowding the surrounding rooms, my past memories were wonderfully renewed, and it was nice to relive that cherished and exciting moment from my childhood.

The temple of Pergamon, built in 250 BC as a gift to the gods after
the assassination attempt of King Pergamon failed.
processional gate of Babylon (560BC)...glazed terracotta
tiles cover the entire structure
fragments from colossal emperor statues
A model of the original temple

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thomas Fourgeirol

Photograph by Matthew Rose
I bought my first Fourgeirol in Paris ten years ago after seeing one of his paintings in the very stylish L'Eclaireur.  I made my way to his gallerist who in turn organized a visit with the artist in Irvy sur Seine, on the fringe of Paris.  Thomas Fourgeirol still lives there, with his beautiful and talented wife (who's also an artist) and his now grown-up children.  I was most impressed wandering through that beautiful compound, a modernist airplane hangar type space, as we spent hours together pulling canvas after canvas, some the size of a bus.  His work is mostly about texture and the layering of paints, sometimes initially shocking; however, no matter the subject of his work, they all tend to be very soothing and calm after having studied them.  I particularly like that about his work: the relationship that builds from being with the painting.  Thomas also has a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and during my recent stay in New York I visited him to catch up and see some of his new works.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cutting a Rug

Probably my favorite place in the world to buy rugs can be found in Manhattan.  Double Knot is located at 13 White Street in Tribeca and run by Murat, a Turkish man who is not only very knowledgeable about carpets and rugs but also extremely friendly to work with.  I have even bought a few quieter pieces for my home in Istanbul and had them shipped.  Murat has an amazing collection of old jute kilims, usually sewn together from the best pieces salvaged from late 19th and early 20th Century carpets.  The end result is almost modern in its simplicity.  I also enjoy their artisan quality and provincial feel they add to 18th Century or mid-Century modern furniture.  The photos I took during a recent trip are bold and striking compared to the softer pieces I have acquired.  But placed in the right spot, they can easily liven an entrance or any floor surface for your home.  Definitely worth a visit to Double Knot.  Murat is tirelessly helpful and honest about what he sells.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Another Wedding in Another Hall

I must be in a romantic mood!  This wedding came to mind after my last posting on Friday.  I created this reception for 700 guests at the Four Seasons, outside, along the Bosporus during a late summer evening.  The challenge for this affair was keeping the enormous outdoor area from feeling flat.  I solved the problem by lightly tenting numerous tables and keeping the theme in black and white: I actually covered the entire floor with 4m squares of black and white carpet rolls and filled the tables with long white orchids and clear Belgian hurricanes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Love is in the Air

Most people believe Spring to be the most magical time for romance, and while maybe this is true I always find autumn to be full of romantic possibilities.  Perhaps it's that time of year when people begin gearing up for the cold winter months ahead, of staying indoors with that special someone.  As the air is getting crisper, I thought of this wedding that took place at Esma Sultan.  The couple seemed to be so in love and I found the atmosphere I created to be both ethereal and sexy, all contained inside a fairy tale setting.

The palace was built in the late nineteenth century.  Its namesake Esma Sultan was married at the age of fourteen to Mehmed Pasha, a leading statement.  He died when she was twenty six and she never remarried.  According to legends, she became a maneater, touring up and down the Bosporus in a golden gondola, picking young boys and bringing them back to the palace.  After one night with them, she had her staff dispose of the bodies to destroy any evidence of her sexual escapades.  There goes the romantic setting I composed.  Enjoy these photos and all the best to the fall season!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stewing Over Okra

So last week I mentioned my great okra find at the Union Square farmer's market.  I promised a recipe, and although I'm a bit late, you'll thank me when craving a warm night "in" this fall and winter.  I make the curry paste in a large batch and refrigerate for later but it's very easy to make. For a bigger batch, double the recipe.

Here's what you'll need: 2 tablespoons canola olive oil, three diced Thai chili peppers, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 1/4 cups coconut milk, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon turmeric, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 medium diced potato.

1. Heat a skillet and once hot, saute the garlic in oil for about three minutes or until golden brown.  Add chilis, curry power, ginger, and turmeric and mix for 30 seconds to minute, or until fragrant.

2. Next, mix in the coconut milk, soy sauce, and tomato paste.  Stir, and bring to a boil.  Then add the diced potatoes and wait for your sauce to thicken.

3. Salt to taste and use immediately or store for later.

Now that the hard part is over, you'll want to dice up some of your favorite vegetables and meat.  I like mushrooms, okra, scallions, and cilantro.  For protein I generally cut up 4 raw chicken breasts into bite size chunks.  And I always make brown rice as a base for the curry stew, and steamed broccoli as a side.

When your curry sauce is hot, add the okra and mushrooms first. 

Let that simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  After the mixture is nice and hot add the cilantro and chicken, which takes no more than 7 minutes generally to cook through, but you can check by driving a fork through a large piece.  If it goes through easily, your stew is ready.  Pour into a blow and top the dish with chopped scallions.

I had this meal with a friend a few weeks back.  There is nothing like coming home from a long trip and vegging in front of the television with this fantastic stew.

Let me know how yours turns out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Market Stock: Autumn Harvest

I love the transition of seasons.  Something in the air clicks, and the weather becomes a frenzy of variegation, layers of clothing become necessary, and what better time to visit the farmer's market and become inspired by the fresh seasonal crops. While I have little time to make a butternut squash soup, or a pumpkin pie, I still receive such joy being amongst all the color, texture, tastes, and activity of the market.  Plus, you never know what you'll discover: a bunch of flowers for the table, a block of cheese, or simply an apple that you can eat on your way to work.  The vibrant okra I found inspired me to make one of my favorite quick and easy stew dishes, which I'll share with you later in the week. For now I hope these photos inspire you to get outside and find a grower's market to visit.