Saturday, July 31, 2010

The End of a 3 1/2 Year Saga

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Last Day, George Billis Gallery
I sit solemnly at a desk of a white washed gallery, looking over bookkeeping and receipts as I have done since January 2007. It is my last hour as prisoner within these somber walls. I look back at all of the memories and the things I have learned. Often have I felt oppressed and cruelly treated, but alas, it took me over three years to leave. I have learned an immense amount about the art world and have had incredible opportunities to run an art fair in Miami Beach and to understand how the gallery market works.

I have made life-long friends and have buffered my resume with incredible qualifications. I have seen how artists are treated and learned how they should act and how to get a show, which will be very beneficial to my future. I have learned how to take care of artwork and how to hang a show, how to do my own taxes and how to ship and handle artworks. I have learned how to talk to clients and how to price my own work. I am thankful for all of the experiences I have had and will carry them with me for the rest of my life.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Last Day, George Billis GalleryAs I collect my belongings, scuffed and cracked with overuse, I feel at once a sense of dread and an immeasurable lightness. Soon after starting at the George Billis Gallery, I began a novel about my experiences starting out as an intern. The crazy tasks I had to do and the entertaining characters that strolled through our doors. I spent hours scribbling down my stories and reading them aloud to Tamar and Nicole when I came in to work. My writing was immature and goofy then, but I am still very fond of those hand written books. They contained my frustrations and my joys upon first entering the art world. I think about them in my last hours here, wondering how I would have completed those chapters, had I not lost the books. I would have written about crazy artists and "spiritualizing" the gallery to get better sales.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Last Day, George Billis Gallery
To mark my last days here, I brought in a cake from Billy's that I had inscribed with "Chief Daris Silky Smooz is out!!!". My friends here started calling me that after the number of impromptu spiritual cleanings I had to do of the galleries. I am still unsure why I was the chosen spiritual leader, as I don't believe in the whole mess, but alas, I got to dress up in silly costumes and parade around throwing water and scratching the floor with sticks.

I have seen so many people come and go in my time at the gallery, and find that I am the longest running employee to quit so far. I wonder if I will be missed, as there doesn't seem to be any kind of good-bye planned. Alas, if you are not appreciated for three and a half years, what makes you think you will be appreciated in the last 20 minutes.

I am taking "magic lucky powder" (a vial of burnt sienna) with me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Parent Night and Lobster Boil

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Lobster BoilI don't see my parents as often as I would like since I live in New York and they live in Maryland. I visit as often as I can, but I can't survive in Maryland since I can't drive (as evidenced by my crashing into a cop car and the subsequent three and a half years of court dates that followed) and I have gotten far too accustomed to the late hours and speed of the city (I get frantic in grocery lines when my groceries aren't bagged fast enough).

Now that I am out of the house and my younger brother is heading off to college, my parent's have developed an exciting "camping lifestyle." It is almost pointless to call the house line since my parents are either at work, building sets for my mom's new opera or off in a tent somewhere in West Virginia or Maine. Last week, I got a call from my mom as they drove past New York on their way to Maine to eat lobsters and sleep under the stars. They wanted to stop by on the way home and spend the night, and granted my request for a lobster (and by granted I mean my dad said OK while my mom threatened to walk back from Maine if there was a live lobster in the car).

After an amazing day of painting in my studio on Monday, I threw another chicken in the oven and awaited my parent's arrival. We dropped of their car at the ghetto parking lot in my neighborhood and walked home with a dancing lobster in a plastic bag. I got home and boiled a pot of water to bathe my unsuspecting friend.

I did not have a pot big enough, to put him in the water, since he was fond of spreading his claws out, I had to sit him in a pot and pour scalding water over him. For some reason, I figured he would die instantaneously, like a shrimp. This was not the case. I poured water over him and yelled "Im Sorry, Im Sorry, Im Sorry" as i watched him squirm around. A bit of a traumatic start, but he cooked down and was delicious. I am saving half of him in the freezer to make a lobster risotto or a bisque. MMM.

The next day we walked around the city and I took my parents to my favorite sushi place, Zen Cafe on St. Marks place. I take every visitor there at least once, and since my parents love sushi, we go every time they visit. I had to report for work at 3:30, so I made my parents a couple of cappuccino's and gave them directions to the parking lot, and thus went my 16 hour visit from the parents.

16th Century Feast

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, 16th Century Feast
I am extremely fond of the old world, not necessarily the right term for what I mean, but anything that existed before myself. I seem to possess a sentimentality for things the way they used to be, although I was never there to experience them first hand.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, 16th Century Feast
This weekend, I hosted a "16th Century feast." It wasn't entirely 16th century, but it was definitely a feast. I invited all of my friends from Billy's Bakery, and prepared an extensive menu. I went to Murray's Cheese Shop on Bleecker Street and bought an amazing selection of cheeses: a simple Brie and a goat cheese with rosemary, a Morbier and a Comte de Saint Antoine, which I fell in love with on my first trip to the Franche-Comte region of France in High School and a Gruyere, an amazing alpine cheese from Switzerland. MMM. I made a spinach and artichoke dip with parmesan and colby jack cheeses which was paired with toasted slices of baguette.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, 16th Century Feast
For the main course, I roasted a chicken with rosemary, onions and butter. For those who didn't love chicken, and in theme with the century impersonated, I made a minced lamb pie. Potatoes were roasted with rosemary and olive oil, garlic butter asparagus and buttered green beans served as sides. I found buffalo mozzarella at the new Trader Joe's, and bought it immediately since it reminded me of my time in Italy, and made a caprese salad. I feel the need to have one at every formal meal, even if it doesn't fit the theme.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, 16th Century Feast
The dessert course was a chocolate croissant bread pudding which I made in single serve ramekins and strawberries dipped in chocolate and drizzled in white chocolate.

The party was a success and the random dishes seemed to mold together well. We played cards and told each other's fortunes with an old deck deck of fortune telling cards I had around and spent the majority of the night recalling entertaining mementos in our time working at the bakery. The room was lit by candles until they slowly drizzled down the sides of their holders and burned themselves out.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Brooklyn: Flea Market and Dumbo Picnic

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's Brooklyn Flea Market, DumboI lived in Brooklyn for four years, and it never crossed my mind to explore any of the culture it had to offer. While I lived there, my focus was on school, and any time I didn't spend there I would take the train to Manhattan.

A year ago, my dear friend Tamar (seemingly switching places with me) moved to Clinton Hill, just as I made my move to Washington Heights. Tamar has absorbed herself in the colorful culture of Brooklyn, riding her bike to the Fort Greene green market on Saturday mornings, the library and gardens, a myriad of eclectic coffee shops in the area and the Brooklyn Flea Market.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's Brooklyn Flea Market, Dumbo
This past Sunday afternoon, I met Tamar on the corner of Hanson Place and Flatbush Ave for my first visit to the Brooklyn Flea, which she assured me is the perfect place for me. In fact it was! I am not sure if I have been to another place that had as many of my random passions held together by one string of tables: Just as I entered, the narrow hallway was flanked with tables holding precious items that I wanted to possess, to my left a stand of typewriters, to my right a moss covered bench holding quaint glass bell jars. As I gleefully walked through the hall, I sucked in the scent of vintage leathers and home made soaps, marveled at the flavors of miniature cupcakes and was astonished at the paper quality of century old lithographs.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's Brooklyn Flea Market, Dumbo
I had to reign myself in to prevent me from buying everything in sight, but what really caught my eye was an Olympia "De Luxe" typewriter from the late 50's or early 60's. It was beautiful and I have wanted one for years. It is in my nature to long for old world things, for mementos of an era in which I did not reside. I bought the typewriter and lugged it to Dumbo, our next destination.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's Brooklyn Flea Market, Dumbo
It was a lovely day for a picnic, and I longed to sit with the grass between my toes and try out my new precious prize! Tamar and I stopped by a grocery store and picked up bread and goat cheese, figs and grapes, apparently I was in a Grecian mood. We sat on the steps leading to the shore and watched little kids frolic by the edge of the rocky, moss laden shore dipping their unclothed feet in the somewhat foamy water as their dogs paddled around only to come ashore and splash every adult in sight. It was a lovely sight of young families and embracing couples taking their wedding photos by the shade of a fruit laden tree.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's Brooklyn Flea Market, Dumbo
Daisy met us in the park as we lay around looking at the sky and we took her daughter to the kids park down the hill. The jungle gym is shaped like a sail boat, with three decorative masts reaching high into the clouds, reminiscent either of Peter Pan's flying pirate ship, or the sail boats that must have glided past the land that holds this park even years before the Brooklyn bridge was ever built. Lola at first was hesitant about splashing around in the puddles of the water fixture therein, but soon became so comfortable and enjoyed the park to such an extent that she had to be dragged out over Daisy's shoulder after several failed bribes with ice cream and treats. We did not leave the park until the sunset hit the horizon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


No matter where I find myself on Sunday morning, I am instinctively drawn to my computer. Almost without knowing it, I start typing "postsecret" into the navigation bar. I have been religiously checking Frank Warren's weekly Sunday updates for over 4 years, since he published his first book my freshman year in college.

It is hard to explain exactly what these collections of words and images mean to me, be they a link to kindred unknown or a route to understanding my own inner workings.

Frank Warren started the Post Secret as a community art project where he handed out postcards to strangers, asking them to fill them out with their innermost secrets that they have never exposed to anyone. An astounding number of people replied, and soon these beautiful works of art were curated and organized on Mr. Warren's site, Through the simple act of collecting and bringing together of 4x6" pieces of cardstock, Frank Warren created an incredible community of artists, of writers, of humans: In our innermost solitude, we became one.

Every Sunday, thousands of visitors type the same words into their navigation bar, only a few letters suffice for the computer's memory to suggest the right link. Each person is looking for something different, be it their own secret staring back at them in calm defiance, perhaps they are looking for an apology from a friend, a wedding proposal, or simply the awareness that at the same moment, countless others are searching the same images for links to their own hearts. I am fond of scrolling to the bottom to see what number visitor I am, and refreshing the page once I am done, to see how many I have shared those past few minutes with.

For the past year or so I have been slowly collecting my favorite secrets in a folder called "Love". The secrets share this folder with images of my favorite people in the world, and in those fleeting lonely moments of life, I find myself flipping through these images as if I was looking at glimpses of memories.

A few months ago, I bought the most recent Post Secret book, Confessions on Life, Death and God. Gleefully, I ran down the escalators of Union Square's Barnes and Noble to purchase my book so I could devour the images. I flipped through the pages with fervour, unlocking the new secrets hidden behind each page, until I stumbled upon something quite unexpected. A secret! Alas, unlike all of the others this was not included in all of the others, someone has slipped their own secret in on the back of the packaging of a pair of men's socks. The secret read "I only feel ALIVE when my love is UNREQUITED."

I felt a strange pity for this stranger upon first reading it. I longed to find him, if him he is, and be his friend if nothing more. I spent hours staring at this card, wondering why it meant so much to me, why I felt a kindred to this person, until I realized his secret is my own.

Thank you Frank Warren for allowing so many of us to feel connected through your efforts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Natural History Museum

East of the park, 5th avenue is crowded with dozens of museums dedicated to Art, History, Science and what have you and hoards of tourists clamber up and down the esteemed avenue not realizing that across the park is quite another treasure to behold: the Natural History Museum. Granted, I exaggerate, since the Night at the Museum movies came out, the Natural History Museum has received its due share of popularity.

It is still one of my favorite places to wander on a Saturday afternoon.

My friend Adam, from Australia, has been in town all week and I have been too busy with work and he too busy with his flock of adolescent school boys to meet up for tea. We finally set down an afternoon date where I was off work and he was taking the boys around to museums. We agreed to meet at 12:30 and I dutifully showed up, but the boys decided on a pit stop for lunch, so I got to spend an hour wandering the halls on my own (no complaints here).

I have always been impressed with the vignettes of different habitats they have set up throughout the museum, in the main halls particularly. There is a great deal of truth to them, with the smallest amount of sarcasm: A lean rooster cleanses himself in a transparent pool of water, doubtless preparing for his mate, as an epic snake coils in anticipation to swallow him whole. The stuffed animals seemed somewhat morbid to me when I first visited the museum, but the more time I spend with them, contemplating their lives and whether the groupings were even of the same decade, let alone the same pack or family, the more at home I feel around them. I often wonder if they still know each other, or are they strangers forced into a glass bubble (yes, I know they're dead, but after all, energy is never lost or gained, it can only be displaced).

I am also very fond of the prehistoric collections on the upper floors. Wandering through remains of colossal creatures that could not possibly exist today brings forth an incredible longing to know what the world was like before we entered it. To see the giant porcupine husks and colorful outer shells of these prehistoric animals would be quite a treat. Imagine, a world with epic flying reptiles and turtles that could swallow you whole. Amazingly, although contorted and different in shape and size, each bone has the same structure, they are so similar to the way we are today. Sure, sizes decreased and animals no longer need spikes jutting out of their spinal cords, but the ribcage still performs the same task, and the same sets of limbs move us about our lives.

I finally met up with Adam and we chatted about our lives since I left Australia a few months back. He double-fisted coffee and wine, as I became accustomed to seeing him do, and we stared out the window in the cafe at the green tufts of trees below.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Robert Moses Beach Package

daria souvorova, Robert Moses Beach, Sweet Daria'sIs there a greater felicity than feeling your toes sink under the sand as the waves hit your feet? I have never found anything more profound than the combination of wind, sand and water (and gravity, of course).

daria souvorova, Robert Moses Beach, Sweet Daria'sI spent the day at Robert Moses beach, Long Island with my friend Tamar today, and a lovely day it was. We took the train in to Babylon and a bus to Robert Moses, and within 2 hours of leaving the city, we were hoofing it across the iron-streaked sand to reach the cool of the water. The MTA has set up some incredible getaway packages for day trips to the beach and other great spots outside of the city. Tamar and I are fond of the beach packages, we try to get out as much as possible during the summers. You go to the LIRR counters at Penn Station and ask for the Robert Moses Beach Package and pay $19 for a round trip train ticket and bus tickets that get you right to the shore.

daria souvorova, Robert Moses Beach, Sweet Daria'sMost of the day was spent lying on a blanket staring at the waves crashing into the shore wondering if it would be lonely to be out at sea. I was thinking about that girl who made the daria souvorova, Robert Moses Beach, Sweet Daria'snews recently with her attempt to be the youngest to circumnavigate the globe on a one-man sail boat. Like Odysseys on his raft, she spent her days without any physical human contact. I have never known how that feels, to feel alone with a world of life around you. Would I feel like I was the only living thing around me, or would I recognize the world of life that shared the water on which I float?

I have always felt the water to be a giant organism full of life and feeling, water connects everything: you can throw a bottle into the ocean and months or years later, it will end up somewhere completely different, in a different part of the world. In 1992, 29,000 rubber duckies broke free from a boat traveling from China. In the 18 years following this accident, the duckies have shown up in Australia, Britain, Hawaii and the Arctic, many traveling over 15,000 miles to get to their new homes. It is amazing that an object can go anywhere in the world with the help of one seemingly simple set of elements.

daria souvorova, Robert Moses Beach, Sweet Daria'sI packed my picnic basket with tomato mozzarella sandwiches, grapes, guacamole, a few bars of chocolate and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, which I haven't read since high school, when I used to underline quotes for myself. In it I found this (which still touches me the same way it did when I first read it):

daria souvorova, Robert Moses Beach, Sweet Daria's"Do you wonder why I avow this to you? Know, that in the course of your future life you will often find yourself elected the involuntary confidant of your acquaintances' secrets. People will instinctively find out, as I have done, that it is not your forte to talk of yourself, but to listen while others talk of themselves; they will feel, too, that you listen with no malevolent scorn of their indiscretion, but with a kind of innate sympathy - not the less comforting and encouraging because it is very unobstrusive in its manifestations."

My mind has been somewhat disjointed today, which accounts for the lack of fluidity in this post, but hey, I post them like I see them. I have often lost myself at the beach and falling into sentimental thoughts about the most disparate subjects, and it seems today is no different.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fundependence Day Weekend

daria souvorova, New Jersey, Sweet Daria'sI have rarely celebrated Independence Day on my own, since I have only been a citizen of this country for a few years, but amazingly, I always get invited to the most hard core Independence Day celebrations by my friends. This year was no different: My dear friend Vicki and her parents Anne and Bill Boardman invited me over to their New Jersey Shore home to spend the weekend.

daria souvorova, New Jersey, Sweet Daria'sThe house stands blocks away from a river and an ocean, its quite amazing. My first night there, the 3rd, we took a boat out and parked it in the middle of the river to watch the Red Bank fireworks from 100 feet away... on the water. It was crazy! The Red Bank fireworks are actually done by the same guys who do our fantastical NYC celebration, just the night before. It is a slightly more intimate affair as they use only one barge instead of four.

daria souvorova, New Jersey, Sweet Daria'sThe show was incredible. We tied our boat off with two other boats whose owners the Boardmans knew and had a three boat picnic with crab dip and fried clams and hot dogs and gallons of beer. Some chose to swim, even though there were thousands of little jelly fish in the water. We sat around in the boat and watched the fireworks and their distorted reflections in the ripples of the water.

daria souvorova, New Jersey, Sweet Daria'sThe actual 4th was spent soaking up the glorious sun on the beach. Vicki, Anne and I set up three beach chairs by the shore, slathered ourselves in sunblock and watched the sun creep across the horizon. It was hot, crazy hot. The sand was so scalding as we walked from the daria souvorova, New Jersey, Sweet Daria'sboardwalk, that we had to sprint from shade spot to shade spot until we found a spot to land (we were wearing shoes...). Amazingly, the water was incredibly cold, colder than that in California or Perth, but in we went, and once our bodies adjusted, it was a great break from the heat on the beach.

Vicki and I took a stroll down the beach and chatted as the waves hit our feet and soaked the bottom of my skirt. It was a lovely walk and I got a good glimpse of the "Jersey Shore" lifestyle: a couple fornicating in the water and a hard pressed suitor that ran and slid under us on the beach and got up to perform an unabridged version of "Like a Virgin" rubbing his nipples with beach sand. Quite a performance!

I have never been sailing, and this oversight was finally corrected this Monday when the Boardmans took me out on their sail boat, the Anne Marie. We got bagels and soda and prepared for an amazing sail, on somewhat limited gusts of wind. My main responsibilities included staying still, not getting in the way and properly weighing down the boat, but I got to pull a couple of ropes and change the direction of the sail and tie a knot, which I apparently did properly (to the captain's surprise!).

Sailing was amazing. I have always loved water: it is incredibly calming yet instantaneously full of life and fervor. Water can fill any container and go into any crack, but can hold its shape and seems to turn into a solid on impact, but what I really love it for is the way it moves and how it moves you. Previously, my experience with this has only been through swimming in currents and such, but seeing and feeling our four bodies propelled by wind and water on a simple craft blew my mind. Vicki would not agree, but my favorite part was when the wind caught the boat and the side I sat on tipped towards the water, a thrilling experience (softened by me being told that the boat is weighed down with lead and would not in fact flip over.)

daria souvorova, New Jersey, Sweet Daria'sAfter sailing, we feasted on shrimp and asparagus risotto, which almost didn't happen due to our chronic napping during the remainder of the day and the blackout once we did finally get our acts together. Vicki's pirate brother Billy came over and enchanted us with tales of the sea... He told us incredible, and sometimes frightening, stories of his adventures at sea. Stories of castaways, crazy shipmen, sailors incessant need to throw everything that injured them overboard and the incredible number of whales they have plowed over with their ships :(.

Vicki and I went on a hike Tuesday morning which turned into much more of an adventure than we had set out for. A 2 mile hike soon turned into a 3 hour black diamond hike during which we got lost and wandered through the entire park and ended up on the wrong parking lot and had to find our way back in 100 degree weather. As much as we pouted during the last hour, it was a great hike and a beautiful park and I feel justified in saying that I can hike when I am not being forced to run up a mountain while while being a life coach.

daria souvorova, New Jersey, Sweet Daria'sI had a great weekend and am very thankful for the Boardman's taking me into their home and sharing their holiday weekend with me. I don't think I have ever spent that much time with the sea.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Terrarium Pedestals and Air Plants

I have been working on permanent inhabitants for my terrariums. Most of the plants I am interested require either too much light or need more air movement. Some cannot take the stagnant air and others just don't fit within the small confines.
I bought an air plant in the flower district a while back and it has been doing very well, so last week at the botanic gardens, I decided to pick up a few more. Even though air plants tend to require a bit more air movement than terrariums generally afford, the fact that their roots are not surrounded by any soil makes them much easier to keep at a good humidity level. One of the plants started to bloom immediately, so I am hoping for the best. They will be watered once a week and allowed the rest of their watering day to hang out in the breeze to dry off.

Another new addition to the terrarium bench are the two beautiful cake pedestals I bought from Fishs Eddy on Broadway. Fishs Eddy is an amazing little shop of kitchen wares both old and vintage. The corner entryway leads to a huge wall of vintage glove molds in all sorts of shapes and colors, like a wall of rubber gloved hands reaching out to you, it can be alarming if you let it.

They have simple ceramic plates as well as war glass in all colors imaginable and a room of 99c glassware. The jadeite pedestal I paired with a bowl of moss which I harvested from the lawn at Pratt. It has been living in this terrarium for over a year now and seems to be doing extremely well. Another dark blue glass pedestal is holding one of the air plants from the Gardens with a purple bloom. The tiny glove mold is also from Fishs Eddy.