Saying Something: Toyin Ojih Odutola

 

Say hello to the newest heavy-weight in portraiture, Toyin Ojih Odutola.

I first became acquainted with this Nigerian artist’s work during a run at the galleries in Chelsea a couple years ago. I remember being so viscerally struck by her drawings that day. They were white pencil on white paper– I had to lower my body and kneel closer to the ground to see what the drawings held. It was a moving experience to encounter the fullness of these white identities she drew out for the appraiser– very controlled and calculated.

I’ve since become fascinated by the unique mark-making techniques she employs.

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Imagine a big drawing like this, except everything was white on white.

 

The Brooklyn based artist uses whirls and lots of hairy (really that’s what it looks like in person: the wispiest of wispy hairs) detailing to create rich visual narratives that surround her already deeply contextualized subjects. If you look at her artwork in person, you’ll see all the swirls and membrane-like pieces that make up the sum of a composition of faces, bodies, and identities– so much integrity and thought put to paper face via graphite, charcoal, or pastel:

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Toyin toys with anything from discussions on natural identity to more poignant POVs on say, racial profiling.

 

I’m happy to share that Toyin Ojih Odutola will be holding her first solo exhibit at The Whitney Museum this month, a commission that is well deserved by this outspoken wunderkind.

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Pregnant, 2017

 

Check out her upcoming show, To Wander Determined, at The Whitney Museum of American Art on 99 Gansevoort St., open to the public from October 20th.

I can’t wait to see it.

 

Home Secrets

I don’t call myself the ideal homemaker, and my friends know I rarely cook. I’d also prefer to use FlyCleaners, but they “don’t yet service in my area”.

However, thanks to the Amazon savvy lady that is my mother, combined with my penchant for taste, I have picked up some tips and tricks à la “Health, Household, and Baby Care

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that make me feel somewhat better about my aforementioned failures.

 

  1. Dry Shampoo

The Harmless One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

 

My All Time Personal Favorite

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warning: it does have a strong English garden-like smell to it.

Batiste Instant Hair Refresh Dry Shampoo: Floral & Flirty Blush. I found this at Boots back in England. It will be a staple for life. I only recommend this scent. I’ve tried the others and I wouldn’t say I recommend.

What The People Say

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Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: People have recommended this to me as one of the best on the market, but frankly the smell really irritates my nose and affects my sense of smell. Perhaps you might enjoy it. After all, we are all different.

 

Stains, the bane of white blouses.

If you are busy, sometimes messy, and selectively lazy like me, you’ll need something quick, effective, and something that won’t frustrate you for taking so long to remediate.

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Shout Wipes is your man (your men?). Many people swear by Tide Pens, but this is has taken out more stains for me from experience, and I also appreciate the fact that it’s technically impossible for the treatment to “dry” out before you use it because they sell these in single-use AIR TIGHT packs that retain all that good moisture and active chemicals. That’s what I primarily don’t like about Tide Pens. The pens aren’t dependably juicy. I like consistency.

Start with a 24 pack (I’ve linked you to that one), but I’d say go for the 80! No regrets.

 

Do you even know how humid your room is?

If you don’t believe me, take a look

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While the current humidity level of your rooms won’t affect most of you, you should care because your clothes are the ones that will receive the brunt of all the moisture. Save yourself the emotional pain that comes with a moth having eaten away at your $2,000 mohair knit sweater and buy these miracles that are the Damp Rid Hanging Moisture Absorber.

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The smell is also quite nice.

 The end.

But wait!

One more.

This isn’t really a home – grooming hack– it’s really just a life hack that’s made my life incrementally happier this past month:

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Limitless Coffee, an lllinois based coffee and tea company, has created some of the best flavored coffee I’ve ever tasted in The United States of America. For context, I’m a big coffee enthusiast, and while I don’t regularly go to cupping classes and such, I feel I have sufficient experience to tell you that this truly is different [a gem!] from any of the coffees that you or I’ve ever tasted— even judging against the big coffee names and my favorite coffee makers such as Toby’s Estate Coffee. I don’t know how else to say it.

It’s not sold in Whole Foods yet, but I hope a buyer finds it and places some big orders for New York, and quick!

 

Complement this homey read with some splish-splash music by Caravan Palace, a fairly unique electro-swing French band. My favorite song of theirs is Aftermath.

 

Gehard Demetz, my modern day Geppetto.

Formally trained in religious sculpture, Italian artist Gehard Demetz has progressed to become one of the most talented artists of our century. He wields his art technique and experience to create works, many with children as subject, that explore the dichotomies and marriages of contradiction… between that which is evocative and whimsical – provocative and contemporary. His sculptures often carry an energy verging on the socio-political.

He relies on mediums like wood and bronze and certainly knows how to make dry wood come alive.

These are my favorite works of Demetz throughout his career as a sculptor:

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Introjection. 2017, Wood

 

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Life Without Christmas. 2017, Wood

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Dirt on my Shoulders. 2016, Wood

 

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Restoring My Blisses. 2015, Wood.
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My Parents’ Stories Sound Different. 2015, Wood.

 

Personally, I would say his best works were made in 2013.

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Stones In My Pocket. 2013, Wood.
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Mom’s hands and daddy’s nose. 2013, wood.

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Complement these visuals with a contemplative rendition of Bach’s Christus, Der Uns Selig Macht, BWV 245, arranged by one of my favorite composers and pianists, Chad Lawson.

Not Friends? Then No Benefits

A interesting piece on Modern Love by Emily Demaionewton. Sourced from The New York Times:

 

My friend Nathan and I were walking to a picnic when we passed a woman named Xenia. I stopped to say hello, and she kissed me on the cheek so intimately that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. She had asked to hook up before, and as the sun set and Nathan and I packed up our hammocks, I texted her accepting the offer.

I was lonely. I was cold. I wanted to kiss someone before I turned 20.

I told Nathan I was going to Xenia’s room, and I could tell from the way he looked at me that he knew why I was going. When he didn’t try to stop me, something in my chest caved in. I wished that, instead, he had offered to kiss me.

Here is the problem: I rarely experience sexual attraction. I wanted to kiss a few boys in high school, but by the time I wanted to kiss them we were close friends, which, for me, seems to be a prerequisite for feeling sexual attraction. Unfortunately, on their end, the close friendship deemed me unkissable.

I’m demisexual, an orientation I didn’t even know existed until I discovered the term on the internet after realizing I seem to spend extraordinarily less time thinking about sex than my peers do. Demisexuality is on the asexual spectrum. It means that I don’t experience sexual attraction until I first develop a deep emotional intimacy with someone.

Sure, many people don’t have sex until they establish an emotional connection. But I don’t experience sexual attraction at all until then. I don’t see someone in the coffee shop and think: I might want to kiss her. I don’t go to parties and wonder what it would feel like to sleep with the guy in the corner.

The first time Nathan and I stayed up late talking was after watching “The Dead Poet’s Society” in my dorm room. When it finished, we lay on the bed and talked until 2 a.m. Even as we got too tired to speak, I didn’t want him to leave.

Nights like these became a habit. But after a few weeks of feeling like this was heading toward more than friendship, I needed to address something. Sitting together by a nearby pond, I said, “You have a girlfriend.”

He looked surprised. “Yeah. Why?”

“Well, I feel like some of the stuff we’ve been doing, like reading to each other in the middle of the night, is more intimate than something friends do.”

“I suppose it does seem that way,” he said. “Maybe we should put up clearer boundaries.”

This wasn’t the answer I had hoped for, but I said, “Yeah, O.K.” Then I added: “But I want to be clear that I might have a hard time with that, so a lot of it will have to be on you. Is that O.K.?”

He smiled. “Of course.”

Two nights later, Nathan lay in my bed and whispered, “Shut the lights.”

When I crawled back under the covers, he wrapped his arms around me and I felt close to someone in a way I never had before. I wanted desperately to stay like this, but along with the glow in my chest, guilt twinged.

“Should we be doing this?” I asked.

“Shh,” Nathan whispered. “Go to sleep.”

That night, as we lay in each other’s arms, I hardly slept — having another human in my bed was distracting — but I didn’t mind one bit.

This moment may have been the turning point, the moment when, had I known asexuality existed, I would have realized I didn’t quite fit into that category. Because in this moment, I finally understood why someone might want to have sex.

With Xenia, I knew just seconds into kissing that it wasn’t for me. It felt strange, wet and cold. I felt no attraction because we had never been emotionally vulnerable with each other. I didn’t tell her I wasn’t enjoying myself; that would have been unkind. She was good at asking what I wanted and didn’t, so it wasn’t unbearable. But those aren’t words you want to use to describe your first kiss.

After our night together in my bed, Nathan told me how guilty he felt. I mostly listened, but I was thinking about our earlier conversations about sex — how I told him I never felt the desire for it. But that night was the first time I fully understood how important it is to him and many other people.

I don’t know how I missed it for so long; I guess I just thought sex was something that crossed people’s minds from time to time. I was afraid about what this meant for me, afraid it was the reason I had never been in a relationship, afraid that my lack of interest in sex meant I would never find love.

While Nathan debated if he should break up with his girlfriend, I asked, “Are you afraid I wouldn’t have sex with you?” I didn’t add: Because I would.

He thought for a moment. “No, I don’t think that makes a difference.”

But I didn’t believe him.

Nathan didn’t break up with his girlfriend right away, though he did eventually. He stayed single for a while, then started dating another girl.

The night I was with Xenia I left her room with more questions than I had started with. Was I asexual after all? Was I just not attracted to women? Why couldn’t I make myself feel anything?

Surely, I was broken in some way. This was before I discovered the term “demisexual,” and having a name for it helps. But it only goes so far in a culture that includes sex at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

More than a year after we met, Nathan and I walked to an art exhibition on the edge of campus. It was spring, and plants were beginning to bloom. On the way, I stopped to take a picture because it looked as if someone had hung dryer lint on the trees.

When I turned around, Nathan asked, “Do you love me as a friend, or something more?”

I’m a terrible liar. I said: “You can’t ask that! That’s not fair — you can’t ask that.” But of course he could, and of course, my response was answer enough.

Nathan asked if there was anything he could do to make this easier for me.

I told him, “It’s more the stuff we can’t do that hurts.”

We were the only people at the exhibition when we arrived. One installation made repetitive thumping noises: three balls bounced in repeating patterns on the floor. The bouncing was the only noise, and as it kept repeating and repeating, I got the surreal feeling that this was the only room left in the world.

I stood for an inapt length of time watching soap bubble from a hole in the wall while Nathan stood yards away looking at a broom propped up by a kitchen knife. The questions that had floated through my mind for months all surfaced: What is wrong with me? Why do I hardly feel attracted to anyone? And how will I ever find anybody if I’m only attracted to one person every four years?

A year after Nathan slept in my bed, I went to a concert by the band Daughter with my friend Greta. More recently, Greta filmed a dance rehearsal for me, and as I changed back into my street clothes, I looked at myself in my bra in the mirror and wondered what would have happened if I had changed in front of her. If she would have looked up from what she was doing, maybe come over and run her hands along my back. But the concert was months before, when Greta and I were just two people who lived on the same hall and had lunch together now and then.

Right before Daughter came back onstage for an encore, I asked Greta if she wanted to leave and beat the rush. She said she didn’t mind, and we pushed our way halfway to the door before I stopped and said: “Wait. There’s one song I wanted to hear that they didn’t play. Let’s wait and see if it’s the one they’re playing.”

Daughter didn’t play that song, but the first lines of the song they did play caught my attention: “What if I’m made of stone? … I should be feeling more, draped over your bones.”

Greta and I stood listening to the song I now know is called “Made of Stone,” facing the stage with its soft purple lights reflecting on our faces. We dissolved into the ambient noise, watching Daughter’s lead singer hide shyly behind her bangs while singing soulfully to strangers. The air around us was dark; we, too, could hide.

Daughter finished their song, said one last thank you. And as we walked with the crowd into the damp night, the last echo of “Made of Stone” reverberated through my mind: “You’ll find love, kid. It exists.”

What You Missed at Frieze 2017

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Suspension and mirror play by Japanese artist Tatsuo Kawaguchi
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“Welcome,” she says. Fortuitously positioned by the South exit. I imagine this is how “I’ll burn holes into your eyes” would be played out literally. Nasty : Rich–  good stuff.
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Blackened shoes en masse by UK artist Jim Lambie.
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Schnabel! Broken plates on wood.
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Intriguing works by young artist Matthew Cerletty.
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A giant charcoal drawing of Obama in 2017 with his security– what a view.
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Technology, technology, technology… ever play that dinner game and pool all your phones together? I have, plenty of times. I win sometimes.
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Familiar– why?
Trending: artist Callum Innes
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My favorite discovery from the entire fair: Brazilian artist Waltercio Caldas – works in Neo-concretism and mixed media. Looked into his portfolio upon returning home, and I’m definitely hooked!
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And here I depart and bid adieu. A ton tour!

Good Menswear: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know Until You’ve Seen It.

“Clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.”
—Arthur Ashe, Professional Tennis Player

In support of the art of dress, I give you a version of men’s style, reflecting my current style preferences:

Thom Sweeney – Beautiful bespoke, you spoke?

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The Mount Suit

Herno Light Tech Thermo Jackets:

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The Gillet, available in multiple colors… muted too, yes.

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Bow – Tie, HENRY Loafer:

Necessary Anywhere Socks:

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There is no “better” or “right” style– I believe though that there’s something in the deliberation given to treating oneself and one’s body as a temple, outside and in– that is “style”.

All power to men who see and live that too, whether that be realized in the mode of Jaden Smith or Mr. Birddogs guys here:

I hope this scroll gives you enough pause to think how you might dress for the next morning 💫, and if not, then ponder this:

“Clothes don’t make a man, but clothes have got many a man a good job.”
—Herbert Harold Vreeland, Academic

Julian Schnabel: New Plate Paintings

Launched to fame in the 1980’s, Julian Schnabel‘s broken ceramic plate experiments heralded in a refreshing kind of art for the contemporary art world– cutting, reminiscent, and modern via a rough handling and bondage of paint and ceramic on wood.

While Schnabel created this rose series from the inspiration he received upon one of his visits to Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, he has worked also with portraiture, painting and immortalizing American names like Stephanie Seymour and William Gaddis.

Closing on March 25: Catch the rose works in their entirety at the Pace Gallery, 510 W. 25th St., before it’s too late!

Bises,

Soo