Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Six Month Anniversary Celebratory Dinner

Since I missed Valentine's Day to attend the CAA Conference last week, Tom and I decided to cook a big dinner as a joined celebration of our 6 month anniversary, Tom's parents' wedding anniversary and Valentines Day.

We wanted to prepare a lovely spring themed meal, and chose decorations to match. I love to decorate with glassware and fresh flowers and greens. I layered three tablecloths to create a modern, bamboo inspired runner to give length to the table. A simple black tablecloth allowed white square plates to float elegantly on the surface and gave distinction to the series of repurposed glassware and candles that joined to make the center piece.

The green tablecloth, folded into a runner, served as inspiration for the flora chosen for the evening. I wanted to focus on different shades and shapes of green with minimal presence of floral colors. I love the idea of incorporating herbs and various scented plants as part of the decoration for a meal. Scent is as much a factor of an experience as sight and sound. I chose three dozen un-bloomed daffodils, a green-gold column atop a bluish green stem. As the daffodils began to bloom throughout the evening, they emitted a fresh, springy scent and added spots of bright yellow to the composition. Bushels of rosemary and mint blended magically with the sweet scent of the daffodils creating a the feeling of a late spring/early summer picnic in a blooming garden.

As a preview for the evening, we decided to have a mid afternoon meal of cheese, toast and sparkling wine. We chose a vast, international assortment of cheeses, including a Saint Andre, Camembert, Herbal Goat, Manchego and an Armenian Stringed Goat Cheese with Mahleb.

The goat cheese was paired with freshly baked toasts and onions caramelized in a balsamic vinegar reduction. A toast covered in goat cheese or Saint Andre with a topping of caramelized onions made a lovely bruschetta.


1 baguette, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the baguette slices. Bake for about 10 minutes until both sides are golden and the bread is dry and crackly.

Caramelized Onions

1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar of Modena
3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Add olive oil to a heated sauce pan. Cook onions in olive oil until they begin to golden and soften. Add balsamic vinegar and continue simmering until most of the white in the onion has soaked in the violet of the vinegar. Add leaves of thyme, cook for another 2 minutes. Cool and serve.

Scribbles from the Sommelier: 

This dinner, a combined celebration of Valentine’s Day, the anniversary of my parents, and our 6 month anniversary, is a re-creation of one of our dates from the summer of 2012.  It was the first time that Daria and I cooked together.  While one might think this dish demands a white wine, there certainly are some reds that will work.  Because this dish is creamy, I knew I had to avoid a tannic, heavy red wine.  I picked a very approachable and delectable wine, a Burgundy from Chitry.  The fruity, accessible nature of this 2011 wine from Marcel Giraudon made a wine as much of a pleasure to drink in the summer heat as it was on a February night.

Tom wanted to replicate the first dinner we cooked together, which I thought was quite romantic, so we made a version of Julia Child's Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons (Chicken Breasts with Cream and Mushrooms Sauce) with thinly sliced, herbal baked potatoes and sautéed asparagus.

Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons

8 supremes (boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2teaspoon salt
Big pinch white pepper
10 tablespoons butter
2tablespoons minced shallot
1/2 pound diced or sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:
1/2 cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/2 cup port, Madeira or dry white vermouth
2 cups whipping cream
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons freshly minced parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a oven safe sauce pan (or two if you are cooking the full recipe) until it is foaming. Stir in the minced shallots and saute a moment without browning. Then stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with salt.

Remove from heat, roll chicken in butter mixture, nestle in the dish and cover with wax paper. Cover the sauce pan with lid and bake for 6 to 15 minutes, depending on how thinly you sliced the breasts. Remove the chicken to a covered dish.

To make sauce, pour the stock and wine in the pan with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961)


2 bags small gold potatoes, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Fresh rosemary, thyme or any other herbs on hand
Salt pepper to taste

Spread potatoes on the bottom of a oven safe casserole. Sprinkle olive oil and herbs, season and bake at 375 until the potatoes are cooked through and crispy on the sides.


2 bushels asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup water

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Add asparagus and cook for a fe minutes. Season to taste. Add water and cook until the asparagus is slightly bendy.

The main dinner was served a few hours later. I really wanted to have a formal feeling for the service, and we decided to plate the dishes in the kitchen and serve plates as opposed to having a family style dinner. Tom's parents, his brother Joe and girlfriend Jen joined us for dinner to make a party of six. I felt quite like a restauranteur preparing all of the plates for service.

For desert, I made a French styled fresh raspberry tart with a custard filling. The. Tart called for my signature tart crust, the recipe for which you can find here: New Years Eve Tart.

Raspberry Tart

Preheat oven to 400 and bake your crust for about 25-30 minutes until it has a golden edge.

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch and flour in a saucepan. Slowly add milk and cook it on medium heat until it bubbles and begins to thicken. Mix constantly to prevent burning or chunks. Remove from heat. Add yolks to a separate bowl, mix about a quarter of the milk mixture to the eggs, a spoon at a time to prevent the eggs from cooking. Mix this back into the milk mixture and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour into baked tart crust, decorate with raspberries and cool for an hour or two before serving.

We had an amazing evening and a lovely meal and I hope you guys have fun using the recipes. The Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons is a copyright of Julia Child and the rest are Tom and mine, all rights reserved and such.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Becoming a Competitive Candidate: my notes from training sessions at the CAA Conference

Image from IBM Archives
As we scramble to transition from graduate student to successful artist or educator, it is habitual to hoard all of our opportunities, for fear of being beat to the punch.  I am too frequently guarding my precious lists of job applications and juried show openings, hoping that somehow my secrecy will limit the number of people that apply, bettering my chances.

Several times over the past few weeks, I have heard that it is the community that makes the artist, and our peers and friends are the ones that help us get the jobs and get into the shows.  In that spirit, I wanted to share some of the tips I received attending workshops and during mock interviews last week at the College Arts Association Conference in New York.

I know that many of our classmates were not able to take the time or money out to attend, and there is a stigma about the value of attending without any scheduled interviews, but I found the workshops very helpful and am making the best out of keeping up with all of the connections I have made. Perhaps this information is old news to most of us, but I found the repetition of it very valuable, so here it is for anyone who wants to know...

On Preparing Documents

Curriculum Vitae

The College Art Association offers a format for CVs, although this format is not required, many schools are expecting a standardized format and everything you can do to make it easy for an employer to find the information they are seeking is in your favor.

1. The education is always first, in order from most recent down.

2. Teaching Experience (I always presumed that I should put my shows first, no dice, move those down). Teaching assistant positions should include the name of the course. List at least the past 10 years (everything since grad school) for positions and descriptions of duties for the most recent or most impressive.

3.  Shows: Show histories seem to be very valuable in an education format, as schools are looking to hire people that are relevant in the contemporary art scene. Apply for any shows you can find. Juried shows and solo exhibitions at community colleges are excellent opportunities.
Separate any solo shows you have had (especially in Galleries, College Galleries, Museums, Art Centers), these are valuable. Avoid placing venues such as banks, cafes and the like in the solo section. If your thesis show is your only solo show, group it with the rest of the exhibition history.
Regional shows are okay. National shows are better. International shows are superb! Don't forget to put the locations of the shows, do not presume the gallery name is sufficient.
List whether the shows are juried or international.

4. Lectures and Workshops come next. Need to build these up? Ask the professor you are TAing for to let you teach for a day, contact your undergraduate program to see if they would be interested in you coming for a guest lecture or to help with critiques in a course you excelled in.

5. Everything else: Publications, Awards and Grants, Fellowships, Commissions, Residencies. Foreign languages and extra skills are a good thing to point out.  One of my interviewers noticed and mentioned that as a valuable asset.

Cover Letter or Letter of Interest

A cover letter should not be longer than two pages. If you are just coming out of graduate school, a page to a page and a half is a good length.
Each letter should be unique. Make sure that you know the program you are applying to. Mention items from the mission statement of the program and cater your description of skills and experience to the exact position you are looking for.  If you are applying for foundations, do not spend the entire letter writing about painting courses.
Most schools are very interested in your dedication to service and scholarship in addition to the time you would spend teaching. Look into what each school means for these terms and put in a paragraph about what you have done and would do. Diversity, multi-cultural and interdisciplinary approaches are big right now as well.
Do not waste your time applying for positions that would not be a good fit.

CDs and Image Portfolios

Most schools I have come across request 20 images (good thing we just photographed our work for 4th wall!). 1000pixels on the longest edge seems to be the standard, it is good to have an image list to go along with this. Printed and saved on the disk with the CD.
Student work is also very valuable, do not forget to photograph work of classes you teach during the final reviews. Most institutions request 20 images of student work.
Make sure your CD is well designed, do not write in sharpie, especially if you are applying for a design position. Why would they hire someone who does not take the time to make a well designed package? CD labels are easy to print and look really professional.

Dropbox: For schools that are requesting an email application (as opposed to mailed or an uploaded portfolio), I like to have a folder on dropbox with all of my images sorted as I would on a CD and I just send them a link.

Artist statement

I vote add one to the image CD and send in a hard copy.

Teaching Philosophy

Write one, even if they do not ask.


Employers want to know that you have courses prepared. One of my interviewers told me that even if they are not requested, packages with prepared syllabus samples automatically go higher up in the pile. And we all want to get higher up in the pile!

On Opportunities

It is tough to know what to apply for. What do we seem the most qualified for, and what is too far of a reach and not worth the hours prep it takes to send out an application?  

Post graduate fellowships, residencies at colleges and community colleges are good ways to get experience.

Keep looking on the College Arts Association website, in both jobs and opportunities sections, things are constantly being posted. Many people are just finalizing their "steps-up" in education...this means that the jobs they are leaving are going to be available shortly...am I right?

On Interview Etiquette

Wow!  You are lucky enough to have scored an interview!  The only one I have had so far, the job was cancelled last minute. But here are the notes I have on Interview Etiquette and followup.

Don't have an interview? Follow up with your applications...I am terrified of this, but there it is.

The Interview

Prepare a sort of artist/teaching statement for yourself: conveying your strength and goals in a few sentences.
Be confident and approachable, begin a dialogue with the interviewer. Do not wait for them to ask you questions, but do not speak over them. Take a moment after each question is asked to think before you answer, you will seem thoughtful and will avoid many of the "ums and likes" we are all embarrassed by.
Do not make assumptions about what the interviewer has seen or read about you and do not be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand a question.
Always know about the institution and if possible, your interviewer. Have thoughtful questions prepared to ask when the time comes.
Bring ALL of your materials as hard copies, do not presume that the interviewer has all of that information.
Smile :)

The Followup

After you leave, make sure you send out a thank you email or letter.  If you are one of the last to have been interviewed, email is best, if you were among the first, go for snail mail. Do not forget to ask towards the end of the interview how fast the committee is reviewing.
Say something about the campus or job that you liked, show that you are really interested in the position and were listening to what they were saying.

The Presentation Round

Hooray, you have been called back and must now do a presentation of work to faculty and teach a class to students.
As you prepare your presentation for the students, make sure it is not just a lecture. Since they are new to you, they will rarely be engaged.  Make them engaged. Ask them questions, find a way to communicate with the students to pique their interest.
Talk about something that is your strength and that you can do without notes.

On Social Media

Everything is online now a days, and your possible employers will look you up!
Make sure your facebook is presentable.  
Do a google search for yourself. Are you the first thing that comes up or do you need to work on that. Do an image search, what is coming up under your name?  If it is something inappropriate or from your past, remove it or ask whoever is the owner to remove it.
Make a website. You can use several of those pre-made things that everyone has, or make one yourself. HTML is surprisingly easy...I also will add a plug here that I make websites...give me money, I make for you...yes.
Make a blog, title your images with your name, this will increase your visibility. Do it!
Assume everything that you put on any social media, or anywhere on the internet, will be seen by a potential employer.

Have business cards.

In conclusion, please receive my humble offering of notes and super limited experience, and let us all go forth and get jobs!  And not live in our parents basements for eternity!  To action!

Much love,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Metropolitan Museum, Private Tour of the New American Wing

I have spent the year working for the conservator at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art Museum. Spending so much time around masterpieces of American art made me appreciate the incredible art movement that preceded us in America, shifting my interests from an almost exclusively European standpoint.

I attended the College Art Association annual conference in New York this past week, and was lucky enough to sign up for a private workshop by the American Institute for Conservation. Learning to Look: Nineteenth Century American Paintings took 12 historians, conservators and myself to the new American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a look at the makings and secrets of the paintings housed there.

Led by independent conservators Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, and Dorothy Mahon, Elizabeth Kornhauser, and Carrie Rebora Barratt of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the workshop discussed the material aspects of nineteenth-century American paintings and gave us an inside look at the close-knit relationship between the conservators and curators working at one of the most renowned museums in the United States.

German-American artist Emmanuel Gottlieb Leutze painted Washington Crossing the Delaware in 1851. The massive oil on canvas painting commemorates George Washington crossing the Delaware River in 1776 en route to an attack against the Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.

This huge river piece boasts a long history that made it the highlight of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new American Wing. The painting housed at the Metropolitan is, in fact, the second reincarnation of Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware. The original painting, created in 1850 was damaged in a fire in his studio; Leutze immediately began a replacement and later repaired the original which was acquired by the Kunsthalle Bremen.

The second, and some say more distinguished, version made its way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 19th century. Sometime before its arrival at the Met, the huge canvas lost its distinctive frame. Photographs were found of the piece, and master craftsmen painstakingly reproduced the original frame for the museum to prepare it for the way it is seen today.

Treating the painting between 2008 and 2009, conservators Lance Mayer and Gay Myers were relieved to find the painting itself in fairly good condition. The surfaces felt very dark and hazy, it had not been treated since 1947, but besides some discoloration in the pigments, all of the grime and damage was in the varnish layer that could be removed.

Looking at the painting untreated, the conservators found the entire surface to be patchy, almost as if it was treated in square sections, and the overlap were over cleaned. Some sections were too clean from close up work and others darkened due to grime being mixed in with the varnish.

The likely cause was the setup for the conservation of this huge painting in 1947: The painting was placed on the ground and a scaffolding was built around it. The conservator would lean over the scaffolding, mere inches above the canvas. The conservator did not have the opportunity to step back and see the painting as a whole, the result produced a patchy sky and a complete obliteration of the morning star, which was too subtle to notice amongst a sea of blotchy clouds.

Another challenge was the thick wax coating used as varnish by the 1947 conservator. The 1920s-40s boasted a fad for the use of wax coatings on paintings and murals. The matte finish decreased glare and allowed a large piece to be viewed easily without distraction. A series of notes of worry about lighting such a large image were documented; the waxy coating would avoid glare and make lighting easier. Lance Mayer and Gay Myers had to selectively clean to remove wax but be careful about removing on areas that had been too cleaned. Synthetic resin varnish that mimics the varnish that would have been used by Leutze replaced the earlier varnish.

Another fun element is the discovery of two series of numbers, still unexplained, hidden among the icebergs. The numbers likely represent dates, but have value of these dates have not yet been discovered.

Emmanuel Gottlieb Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware is a distinguished piece and a fitting centerpiece to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's American Art Wing, and seeing it upon entering the galleries gives reference to all of the pieces surrounding it. Symbolic messages through the lighting and the sky are paramount; manifest destiny represented in the light guiding Washington to newfound land. The newly cleaned star beams in the top right, guiding Washington and the billowing American flag behind him to his new spoils. America...

A big thank you to both Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, as well as Dorothy Mahon, Elizabeth Kornhauser, and Carrie Rebora Barratt of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a private look at the secrets of the New American Wing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Scribbles from the Sommelier, a New Guest Contributor!

I am thrilled to introduce a brand new, and long awaited section to my blog!  Scribbles from the Sommelier. You have seen many posts from me with random cooking adventures and recipes, however, not being an avid drinker myself, I have constantly failed you with the absence of alcoholic advice.  And with the help of my wonderful boyfriend, Tom Pedrick, all of the cooking and entertaining posts will now be accompanied by a paragraph or two about wine pairings.

And now for a little bio from the Sommelier himself:

My name is Tom, and I am above all a historian.  To some degree, my love of studying the human past and its endless intricacies and traditions led me to become an oenophile.  While I realize that the world, and especially the United States, are experiencing a beer revolution and a cocktail renaissance, the immense complexity and longevity of wine wins me over every time.  To me, an intimate evening with family and friends spent enjoying a table laden with well- prepared food and carefully-selected wine is sublime.  I am always trying to learn more about this subject.  While I am a collector of special bottles of wine, I keep an eye wide open for value-driven wines, and always seek the most accurate representation of a region, be it Burgundy, France, or Sonoma, California. - Tom Pedrick

click here to see New Year post

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Incredible Weekend of Openings

Finally back in my studio Sunday morning, I wanted to take a few minutes out to tell you guys about my amazing weekend. I was honored to have my pieces in two shows this week: Third Street Gallery on Second Street in Olde City had an opening of their Philadelphia Community Exhibition during First Friday, and Art Essex Gallery in Connecticut had an opening the next evening for their first Invitational Exhibition.

What a perfect weekend. I walked over to Old City Friday evening to see my pieces at Third Street Gallery.  Tom met me there and stayed for the entire opening to make sure I don't get awkward by myself. Thank you everyone who came by from PAFA and around town, I really appreciated all of your support, especially on such a chilly night.

I ran out of the opening at 7pm to take Amtrak to New York. Raced across town to Metro North and barely made the Metro North to New Haven. George Billis and Robert Sommo kindly opened up their amazing New Haven home to me to spend the night before the next opening at Rob's gallery, Art Essex. I stayed in this lovely Moroccan room and couldn't help but take a photo for you guys.

In the morning I made cupcakes for the opening reception.  Rob commissioned me to cater the opening; I made chocolate cupcakes as well as vanilla cupcakes with raspberry agave filling.  It was a perfect crisp morning, so I decided to cool the cupcakes on the porch.  Please meet the epic squirrel that kidnapped one of the chocolate cupcakes, which may be his last. Good luck fat little squirrel.

My friend Kelcy, who I haven't had an opportunity to see for several years, drove for four hours to come to the opening in Connecticut. I was incredibly grateful that she would make such an epic journey for me and so happy to meet her fiancé, David. We had lunch at a lovely cafe in town to catch up before the opening.

Exploring Essex, we happened upon a shop called Truffle Shots, and seeing this storefront, who could resist? Inside we found a minimal room and counter displaying a series of glass vessels, the truffle shots.

As a lady known for her obsession with chocolate, I was very excited by the prospect and sampled a Fig Balsamico truffle shot. It was delicious, a cup filled with the luscious center of a truffle, and you eat it with a spoon. Each of us bought a flavor to take home: I picked passion fruit with a dark chocolate truffle and am enjoying it with some tea as I type.

Truffle Shots is located on 1 Main Street in Essex, Connecticut and you can order from a selection of over 20 flavors online if you cannot make it to the shop. www.truffleshots.com

We headed over to Art Essex Gallery for the opening, and I was thrilled to see that my piece had a prominent spot in the front gallery! The show was a representation of work of very talented artists from around the country, and I am really proud to be part of the show.

The opening was a great success, a lot of people came out to see the work. I talked to many fellow artists and collectors and had the opportunity to make some great connections and learn quite a lot. And, everyone loved the cupcakes, perhaps even more than my work, we'll, one tries.

If my day could get any better, Art Essex Gallery has a rotating show which included two Fernando Botero drawings, a Robert Motherwell and to top it off, a Pablo Picasso! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my drawing was on display within 50 feet of a Pablo Picasso! Best day ever!

Kelcy!  I am so happy to have seen you again after all these years, I have forgotten how much I love your company!  Miss you already, and I am so glad I got to meet your fancy man-fiance David! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Merit Award in All Women Art Exhibition at the Light Space and Time Gallery

I was so happy to find out this morning that my piece, Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus, was accepted into the All Women Art Exhibition at the Light Space and Time Gallery. Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery conducts monthly themed online art competitions. All participating winning artists of each competition will have their artwork exposed and promoted online through the gallery to thousands of guest visitors each month.

I was honored to have my work selected for one of the overall Special Merit Awards.

Check out my work and all of the other winners here: