Friday, March 25, 2016

Found Art Friday 197

Dear Ones,
How are our days?  We welcome your thoughts, as our own can seem drab like chewing gum too long.  In case you just stopped by The Department of Homeland Inspiration, what we do here is find found (art) and share it.  Contributing to the series, Moments in the World of Commerce:
Noted with a chuckle by Bonnie Hotz
We immediately would like some of that bread to tone our biceps.  And not some of these crackers:
Also captured by Bonnie:  "Nuf said on a triscuit box".
America so clever that it can roll out chemical knockoffs of its own sacred foods.  Heavens to Betsy what a pitiful redundancy right up there with "fat-free half and half".

Then, as an antidote in the same color palette, our friend and local correspondent Richard Anthony (also our sculpture brother) lassooed this:
Sincere and refreshing as far as presidential goes - we want to eat a can of sardines and brush our teeth with baking soda right now to celebrate

Now let us praise El Nino.  And please someone show us how to put the nice squiggley thing on top the small n, so El Nino looks legit.  This year, Art Ranger has been enjoying the moisture inside our noses and its corresponding visuals.
 Sweet Peas doing their vine thing! Probably dancing all night.
Each day, we notice new green moments that are made possible due to water and its lovely percolation.  Secret seeds and fungi spores have been camped out everywhere, waiting and waiting and waiting. 
Almonds for the first time  -  didn't know about the fuzz
Now mosses, tendrils (haven't even uttered the word in years) and tender new shoots are expressing themselves; luscious growth reminding us of the gifts of impermanence.
 A new study reports that even looking at a picture of green ness can de-stress us.  People -  brains should not be dry like jerky and that is why we continue to seek the art and the nectar residing in the everyday moment.  Please send yours to FAF@homeland

Friday, March 11, 2016

Found art Friday : #Sourdough Starter and the history of art

Well, my Crash Test Smarties, let us share a life-art project with you, so that we may all live slowly ever after.  For well over a year now, the Art Ranger has been undergoing a self-inflicted apprenticeship on making dough.  Our journey began after being treated to an incredible sourdough pizza made by some cyclist friends. Soon a gal named Angel mails us a jar of unsightly goop which is sourdough starter from a family in Oregon kept operational since the 1880's (I think).  Instructions were (loosely) to feed flour and water to the goop once a week in order to keep dormant yet alive.  Days before baking, you must wake the starter up with three feedings at room temperature in which the goop multiplies itself.  Doesn't it start to sound like a baby?
like a baby, you must feed it

When Art Ranger learns that sourdough starter, back in day, was also used to patch buildings or repair the heel of a shoe, she is even more enchanted and hooked on this tactile edible.  We've discovered the clay of the food world.  The sculpture of eating.

Beyond the pleasant healing properties for gut flora (now being talked about constantly as though it is new), we are interested in sourdough as a cultural and anthropological phenomenon. There's the primal smell, that fermenting sweetly, olden but not rotten aroma, and the fact that this goop has been passed down through generations of bakers and people - the oral tradition, add bacterium. Influenced by humidity, temperature, what lives on the skin of grapes, climate, people, buildings, pollen, etc., etc..  

And the more the world goes gluten free, the more we are enamored with gluten.

When you wrestle with a dough, you are making food while interacting directly with the forces of Nature. The gnead is really a meet-your-match performance - a fwap -fwap, toss, stretch, tussle, a pushpull of muscularity, it is. We wouldn't think of giving over this duet/ dual to a machine. You are reckoning with this dough and giving it characteristics. You are building its future structural capacity and elasticity (see the child rearing?).  Before baking, you must let it "proof".  Here, geometry meets poetry meets justice; you can read very chemical and biologically and scientifically true explanations for yeast expanding/ bread rising - yet still, each time you cover something with a dishtowel and come back later to find it multiplied by 2/3 to twice its original size, it's magic.

Doughs need to relax, while reminding us humans must learn to do the same.  As it rises, the yeast and gluten help grow a toothsome structure, an architecture of grain. To become our daily bread, our bread and butter.  All this working up the moleculars makes this bread very chewy, giving our gums a reason to still hold on to our teeth (unlike a lot of foods out there).  And you have no choice but to eat slowly ever after in order to swallow.
Egyptian tomb - long long long ago on the internet - an earlier "Au bon pain" business
As a creative person, this "starter" feels metaphorical, a corollary for the artist's role in civilization; we sniff the ongoings in the air and weave it in and out of ourselves.  In the process, we make a cohesive blob to share (so darn many kinds of art).  Vigorously, we combine a selection of raw ingredients that react to one another and to the air we breathe.  Hopefully, we transform this conglomerate of elements into a digestible art viewing experience.  And like art, no one can exactly teach you how to make doughs - you must experience it with your hand-mind and experiment like crazy.
So often as a teacher of hands-on art making, we end up trying to explain (in a very condensed way) the history of art to students.  We try, at least to put legs on it, to fill in some gaps, to give them a range of examples that are signposts on their way to the current array/ explosion of art media of the twenty-first century.

The sculptor in us enjoys seeing this again:
Picasso with "Les Mains de Nice" photographed by Robert Doisneau, 1952
WE WERE THINKING, LET'S tell the history of Art through bread, literally pieces of bread sculpted into landmark art works as talking points to nibble our way through the history of art.

Our first attempt: 
The opposable thumb portrait:
and who out there doesn't need a little leavening?
Imagine a History of Art told in loaves.  Even to say "loaves" is to slow down.  The first one was dense enough to be a brick, inedible. The second one tasted old already, like dwarf toes, the third one a little mossy.  At least one loaf has tasted like a boot.

 In our head pops the Al Green song lyrics -  "baby I think you are the one, but your bread ain't done"

"It's not so easy dear" says our most trained artist friend.
Venus of Willendorf - about 28,000 B.C.
 Please imagine the features.  Art starts as part of ritual.  How do we define it now?
Amazing Movie
Next, we take on the cave paintings at Lascaux discovered by an eighteen year old in 1958, elaborate rock paintings 15,000 to 17000 years old painted in caves like a film.
Lascaux meet Pokey, by Art Clokey
Dough lady clearly needs a lot more practice and a share in Bobs Red Mill Flour company.  See you later then......

Our Next Bread shape:
Ancestor mask, Tanzania
TO BE CONTINUED:  There is infinite art to commemorate and try to bake.  And did we mention the smell? in a home of bread almost done?  Very amazing.  A warm blanket of butter wanting smell.

If you have any recipes, related advice or stories about your mother of civilization, we are still a toddler in dough years.  Please send to: