“Every time she dreams up a new dish, Dominique Crenn starts by sketching it on paper, a fitting practice for the daughter of a painter — and for a chef who calls her restaurant an atelier. ’I'm a visual person,’ Crenn says. ’What I do in the kitchen is directly inspired by the things I see.’”
From “A Chef’s Imagination,” by John Sens in the June 2011 issue of San Francisco magazine (accompanying a review of Crenn’s restaurant where, because “frequently what catches her eye are landscapes,” the food is often presented in little scenes “that call to mind encounters with the natural world: a prawn snagged on a rock, as it might be in a tide pool, or a gathering of mushrooms rising from a spongy meringue ‘forest’ floor”).
One of the many compelling aspects of the King George VI movie “The King’s Speech” was its complete believability. I was right there, witnessing Colin Firth’s excruciating attempts to speak, and feeling my own throat tighten up, my lips tremble, my heart race — humiiated at not being able to form the words I sought. And I was right there, savoring Colin/George’s breakthrough moment of finally being in command of his own speech.
I assumed that this believability was “simply” the work of an imaginative team that racked up 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this year. In fact, of course, it was — but for Academy Award-winning screenwriter David Seidler, it was also — his reality.
Patrick Healy, in The New York Times on April 18, 2011, tells of Mr. Seidler’s own battle with stuttering and stammering, which lasted from when he first began to talk until he was a teenager. No need to ask how Mr. Seidler got certain of the ideas he wrote in his screenplay! ”He tried to overcome the condition with various therapies that George VI … underwent, as shown in the film: placing marbles in his mouth to speak through, for instance, and developing a smoking habit,” writes Mr. Healy. Eventually, Mr. Seidler had his own “memorable meltdown” similar to the “profanity-laden, F-bomb-filled emotional catharsis” that the King experienced in the film.
Aside from the beauty of the film, Mr. Seidler’s ideas are living on in another way — his fund-raising involvement with Our Time, a NY-based theatre/summer camp for children who stutter and stammer, resulted in a 33% increase in donations to the annual gala.
“I wanted to recreate the feeling I had when I looked into the eye of the mother whale.”
From “Whales’ Grandeur and Grace, Up Close,” by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in The New York Times on April 19, 2011 (quoting whale-specialist photographer Bryant Austin on the inspiration for his series of life-size photographs of whales; he had been tapped on the shoulder by the pectoral fin of a humpback when he swam too close to her calf and, turning, was able to, literally, look into her eye).
“I design everywhere … The wheel is turning so fast that it’s hard to keep up with the concentration. You’re being asked to come up with brilliant ideas all the time … We’re all trapped in this system that’s accelerating.”
From a Cathy Horyn interview with Marco Zanini of Rochas, in the April 24, 2011, issue of The New York Times (quoting Mr. Zanini on the pressures of the fashion design world).
On March 13, 2011, the San Francisco Symphony’s Youth Orchestra performed — so beautifully, with all appropriate energy — Arthur Honegger’s “Pacific 231″ — familiarly known as “the piece about the train.” How did this piece come about? What was the idea behind it?
The program noted ruefully “that’s a pity” that Mr. Honegger was most known for composing this short piece, when in fact he “was a complex composer whose breadth of achievement … extends far beyond this famous six-and-a-half minute exercise in machine-age esthetics.”
I’m not so sure that Mr. Honegger would be disappointed that this piece, composed in 1923, would be his legacy. Quoted in the program notes, he said, “‘I have always loved locomotives passionately. For me they are living beings whom I love as others love women or horses.’”
And: “Honegger insisted that his purpose in writing “Pacific 231″ was not in fact to be descriptive. ‘To tell the truth … I was on the trail of a very abstract and quite ideal concept, by giving the impression of a mathematical acceleration of rhythym, while the movement itself slowed. Musically, I composed a sort of big, diversified chorale, strewn with counterpoint … I first called this piece “Mouvement symphonique.” On reflection I found that a bit colorless. Suddenly, a rather romantic image crossed my mind, and when the work was finished, I wrote the title “Pacific 231,” which indicated a locomotive for heavy loads and high speeds (a type unfortunately disappeared, alas, and sacrificed to electric traction).’”
And: “‘What I sought to achieve in “Pacific 231″ was not the imitation of the noises of the locomotive but rather the translation of a visual impression and of the physical enjoyment through a musical construction.’”
Talk about a body of work. Or, embodying one’s work. Anyway, Kiki Smith has put her hair front-and-center into yet another artistic endeavor. This time, lithographs of her hair illustrate $5,000 limited edition copies of ”I Love My Love,” a ballad by Helen Adams. The lithographs began when Ms. Smith literally bent over a photocopy machine and had her hair copied. Earlier in her career, Ms. Smith had also used her hair as an ingredient in her projects. Why the idea of hair? According to the June 2010 issue of ARTnews, she says that hair makes “‘a drawing that is informed by you, but not in a way that comes out of your hand.’”
“Estee had this idea that there were no ugly women.”
From the corporate profile “What Would Estee Do?” by Natasha Singer in The New York Times on March 27, 2011 (quoting granddaughter and company executive Aerin Lauder on the beauty magnate Estee Lauder’s promise that “every woman … could be beautiful — if only she used products bearing the Lauder name”).