Gun Powder Art

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Jeff has been really inspired by gun-powder artist Cai Guo-Qiang.  He just completed his first collection of gun-powder paintings and it was the BOMB!

The opening night was First Friday, 4 March 2011.  It was held at Total Holistic Center on North Higgins, in Missoula MT.  There was a great turnout!

Jeff’s Rorschach inspired diptychs are astounding.

Read his bio/statement, and get contact info here.

His prices are still reasonable, so get them while you can!

Now that I’ve posted the most stunning 5, following are the (equally as stunning) rest:

Roof Roof!

It was a magical day on December 30th, 2010.  Not only because of Zander’s 7th birthday but because of the “Sun Dog” I was lucky enough to see on the way to the Birthday Party.  It was a crisp afternoon, and the sun was setting over Missoula Montana.  There was a mysterious brightness to the right (north-west) of the sun and I had no idea what it was.  It was worthy of a pull-over though!…and I had to snap a few shots of it.

my Missoula Sun Dog

If you look closely, you can see the edge of an arc (or halo) shooting up from the top of it.  That arc will actually make a perfect circle around the sun if you were to follow it. 

A sun dog or sundog (scientific name parhelion, plural parhelia, from Greek parēlion, (παρήλιον), παρά(beside) + ήλιος(sun), “beside the sun”; also called a mock sun or a phantom sun) is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun.[

 Here’s a better photo of one captured in North Dakota:

Sun Dog - Fargo

 I can’t take credit for this…it was on wikipedia

Needless to say, it was really really cool!

Semi-Precious

What does one inspired evening plus some great semi-precious stone beads equal?  A fantastic pair of earrings for one of my besties!

The coral-colored faceted spheres are Czech glass.

There is also Turquoise Pear Quarts and Mother of Pearl.

The metal is all 14k gold-plated.  The coral and turquoise beads are both faceted.  They really sparkle!

Steamy Weekend

Jeff's birthday dessert - Lemon Cheesecake

For Jeff’s birthday, I decided to treat him to a weekend away.  His likes?  Hot springs, anything old, vintage, “funky”, cozy, comfy, “used”, warm, delicious, lively, antique.  Needless to say, the combination of all those preferences is pretty hard to live up to.  My conclusion:  find a “lodgey”-type place with good food, live music, and hot springs.

I chose Jackson Hot Springs in Jackson, Montana.  By the way, according to a local it isn’t even a designated town.

Jackson Hot Springs Lodge, Jackson Montana

I was pretty confident in my choice, until someone close to us actually said, “Jackson Hot Springs?  Isn’t that pretty shady?”  So, I panicked.  I went back and read the reviews I never chose to read before.  The reviews on Trip Advisor were very mixed.  Half of them gave 5 stars with great things to say from people with open minds and half of them were absolutely horrible.  If a person only read the poor reviews, they would never visit.  Take a look at the commonalities between most of the poor reviewers, however.  They come from an age group that has a build-up of expectations, biases, and judgments.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But in this case, an open mind will definitely pay off.

I highly advise you to regard the following ratings instead of the negative ones found on Trip Advisor.  In the words of my boyfriend, I have very “discerning taste”.  (Thanks, baby, that was sweet!).

Food:  A

Shrimp Etouffee was delicious, perfectly done, and nice and spicy.  8 oz. Prime Rib came out closer to 11 oz.  and was incredibly tasty.  Our chosen hors d’oeuvre was beignets stuffed with shrimp and cream and, well, you can just imagine.

Food Presentation:  B

Salads in wooden bowls with small piles of shredded cheddar cheese on the side.  You know, diner-style.  Nothing fancy.  Jeff said “well, at least they’re trying!”  Plus, the steak came out on one of those old school metal warming plates that nestles atop a wooden one.  Giant Steak knife like at a steakhouse.  The baked potato sat lonely on it’s own small round white plate.

Lodging:  D

Don’t expect much.  I chose the middle-of-the-road option, which was $72.00 for a very basic room adorned with a 70’s mustard yellow tub exactly like the one my grandma used to have in her “posh” double-wide in Lakeside, Montana.  The room delighted us with it’s wood paneling, and brown commercial carpeting.  No TV, no radio, no coffee maker.  Everything was clean, which was the most important thing.

Bed:  B

The bed was surprisingly comfortable, albeit small for 2 people.  It was a full/double.  Jeff hogs the bed in our queen, so this was even worse!

Pool:  A

Day 1, 98F.  Day 2, 103F.  WOW!  Such a difference.  The temperature outside was anywhere between 15F and 20F.  This pool is huge!  I’d say 40 ft. x 20 ft. easy.  It NEVER feels crowded.  It goes from a large section that is 2 ft. deep all the way to 7 ft. deep on the opposite end.  There is a large sundeck that surrounds the entire thing, with lounge chairs that are just screaming for summertime relaxers.

Jackson Hot Springs pool

Lodge:  B

Just an average vaulted-ceiling log lodge built in the 70’s.  The drinks weren’t as cheap as the reviews stated, but they must have been Californians.  To me, a $6 red bull/vodka is still pretty pricey.

lodge interior

Lodge Staff:  B

Overall, very nice.  Very nice to us.  They did get kind of snotty behind the back of a drunk female snowmobiler, but rightfully so, as she was ANNOYING and obnoxious.

In a nutshell?  Go.  Don’t wait.  Don’t worry, don’t overreact.  Don’t listen to those silly judgmental people and just go.  You’ll be glad you did!

Hummus Among Us

Sunday night was game night at our friends’ house.  It ended up being quite the spread!  (Remind me to post about HOMEMADE jalapeno poppers in a couple of days).  I had spectacular plans of hors d’oeuvre possibilities but no time to do them, so I suggested “How about homemade hummus on cucumber slices?”  Jeff loves making hummus so he was in charge.

Dollops of hummus on cucumber slices

Jeff’s Hummus

2 cans garbanzo beans
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
6 whole garlic cloves
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and fully blended, free of all chunks.  Add dollops to sliced cucumbers or use as a dip for blue corn chips.  Yum!

so crispy and refreshing!

This art is HOT.

While in Nice, Jeff and I visited the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMAC).  Having no idea what we’d see or experience, the first salon we entered was an entire floor dedicated to Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang.

CAI GUO-QIANG

His work ended up really moving us.  Aside from a really cool installation of a shipwreck…

Cia Guo-Qiang's Shipwreck at MAMAC

Jeff checks out Shipwreck

…the highlight for us was his work using explosives.  He’ll involve an entire community to assist him with a work of art that is usually near 10 feet tall x 100 feet long at times.

Locals help Cai

He prepares a rough Asian-inspired landscape based on his travels, his culture or that may be attributed to a region he’s visiting.  This rough sketch is done in pencil or charcoal and then he pours black powder all over it’s outline.

Cai Guo-Qiang sprinkles gunpowder

Cai may place organic objects such as dry leaves or branches or blades of grass or other flora to enhance it.  Once he has the rough version the way he wants it, he’ll cover the entire thing in cardboard, then bricks, and then all at once……..BOOM!  The gunpowder gets lit in a series of small explosions.  The end result is BREATHTAKING.

Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang's piece in Nice. You can see Vieux Nice in the work.

As a matter of fact, it was so inspirational that Jeff has been experimenting with explosives in his art ever since.  Check back soon for examples!

So “Nice”

Olives on Cours Saleya

My boyfriend Jeff and I recently took a trip to Paris and Nice, France.  Cours Saleya in Nice is one of the most beautiful open-air markets I have ever been to.  We took some of these olives home in a tupperware and are still munching on them!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.