Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cafe Iberico

Just a quick entry to tell you about the off-the-charts deliciousness that was my dinner this evening.

Heather and I had planned on eating at Graham Elliot, but we didn't call ahead and so discovered once we got there that they were closed for a private function. Not to worry. We'll eat there another time, and being with Heather (who in all honesty should probably be the person writing this blog because she's the one who knows about all these places) means that we had several more options on the table in a jiffy.
Odd juxtaposition I must share with you right this moment. The nearest restaurant--as in, in the building next door--to Graham Elliot is a Subway. That does strange things to your head, that vision.

We ended up going with Cafe Iberico. As Heather listed the reasons she was suggesting it: tapas, good sangria, cheap, full of Spanish expatriates, my "Yes! Yes! Yes!" got louder and louder. It sounded perfect. (The restaurant, not my shouting.)

And it was very, very close to that.

We got a half-pitcher of sangria--the real kind, with brandy, not this stupid wannabe stuff that's basically wine and sugar--a basket of awesome bread and four tapas plates (two hot, two cold) for a little over $40. Total. Which means that for the amount of awesome food we stuffed into ourselves, we paid a skosh over $20 each. It came quickly, and it was wonderful.

I have to say that ordering was a trial simply because there were so many tasty looking things on the menu and we had to limit ourselves to four. But I consoled myself with the knowledge that I will be going back, and can therefore try lots of new stuff each time I go.

And I recommend YOU go. Because it's fabulous. Friendly staff, incredible food, tasty sangria (though mine may be better) and great prices. What's not to like?

Monday, November 9, 2009

SOFA Chicago

Yesterday, Heather and I trundled through the 70 degree weather (what a gorgeous couple of days for the city, yeah?) to Navy Pier, where we spent the next three or four hours wandering through the Chicago arm of the International Exposition of Sculpture Objects and Functional Art, or SOFA.

We were dazzled.

The exposition filled up the entire Festival Hall at Navy Pier, and it took us almost two hours to get through half. We did the second half much more quickly because the two of us were very close to mental overload, and so didn't stop and gawp at everything, but instead cruised through and only gawped at the stuff we really liked.

SOFA is extraordinary. For $15, we got to look at thousands of works, from glass to ceramic to wood, to guitars, to beaded, sewn and quilted objects. All of which were for sale, though I'm pretty sure Every. Single. Thing. on display was well out of our price ranges. The cheapest price tag I saw was $485, and that was for a piece of jewelry. This is world-class art, and is priced accordingly. Of course, that didn't stop either of us from filling our imaginary homes with it. In fact, though I don't recall the piece exactly, I know there was one lovely wall sculpture that Heather and I both marveled at (it may have been in glass) that, in Heather's words, "You would have to design a house around." It was that gorgeous.

On of the exciting things about SOFA for me was the fact that I got to see so many amazing and different styles of art in so many materials. What incredible, gasp-inducing work is being created out there in the world.(There was also, I have to admit, some powerfully skeevy work at SOFA. I mean, some really creepy stuff. Really creepy. I'm not sure who buys some of those things, but I wouldn't want them in my bedroom or living room or office. I'm getting chills just thinking about a couple of the pieces again.)

Highlights of the show for me included:

Tim Tate - Oh. My. God. TIM TATE. I love his work. I had no idea he would have stuff at SOFA, but he did, and it was even better live than it is on his website. I so badly want a Tim Tate piece. So. Badly. Specifically, Artist's Attic, which was actually at SOFA. Want. Desperately.

That's it over to the left, there. He has an entire series of reliquaries. The most recent have small video screens in them, playing images that have something to do with the theme of the piece. Photo via Source)

Binh Pho - Speaking of desperate wanting, Binh Pho has become one of my new artists to adore. I don't think I'd ever seen anything of his before yesterday, but his works were displayed in several of the gallery spaces, and they're so unique and stunning that I realized they were all by one tremendously talented, amazingly patient person. His pieces are so delicate, I just wanted to pick one up and cup it in my hands, to cradle and protect and care for it.

Though now that I think of it, I must have seen something of his at the Prichard Gallery in Moscow. They had an exhibit of wood turning art several years ago, and I'm sure something of his must have been included.

The piece to the right is "Broken Dream," and it's a beautiful example of the delicacy and power of his work. I couldn't find any images of stuff I saw yesterday on his website, but that's where I found this photo. (Image Source)

Chris Antemann (porcelain sculpture) & Kendrick Moholt (photography) - Chris Antemann makes porcelain sculptures that are froofy enough to have come from Louis XIV's reign. They're human figuines with gilded, frilly, floral details. They're lovely. (Image Source)

They're also depictions of various sexual activities, which you don't realize when you first look at them, but do upon additional examination. Though maybe not, since a piece which included two fetchingly dressed women holding whips and riding crops, caressing a saddled but otherwise naked man on all fours on the bed, caused the 70-ish woman I was standing next to to say "Isn't that cute! It's called Afternoon Ride." I almost choked on my own tongue I was trying so hard to not laugh out loud.

Moholt's lovely photographs were included in the gallery, showing details of the work.

Emily Brock's glass scenes. Every single detail. Perfect. From all sides. In glass. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find any online images of the stuff we saw yesterday. She also doesn't have a website. A pity. I would have linked to her.)

Christian Faur's astonishing crayon assemblages. They're like pointilism. Only 3-D. With the tips of handcast crayons.

Geoffrey Gorman's found object animals. They look so alive, like they could move at any time.

There was also live glass blowing happening on a stage, and there is a lecture series on Friday and Saturday of the event. Clearly I will have to get a multi-day pass next year and savor the whole thing more fully. It's like the Flower and Garden Show, you shouldn't try to see it all in one day. It's headache inducing to try to do the entire show in four to six hours. Just too much information and stimulation and you come out all vibraty, with a muddle of images in your head.

Plan ahead: The 2010 International Exposition of Sculpture Object and Functional Art hits Chicago November 5-7.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


This is not so much a place as an event. For the past five years, I have participated in National Novel Writing Month, known to the participants as NaNoWriMo. My first two years, I was highly successful, clocking 72,000 words in 2005 and 51K in 2006. 2007 and 2008 were not as good to me, I made it to 15K in my third go, but only 5500 words last year. I was busy teaching and acting and everything else, what can I say? I slept when I would have been writing.

The common denominator for all those years was my location. I was on the Palouse, where a core of about ten people in the Moscow/Pullman areas got together once a week or so to write. They're nice people, but I didn't really have much in common with them, and the write-ins were often at times or locations I couldn't make, so I did most of my writing on my own, at home, in my office or at a local coffee shop. I wasn't even planning on participating in NaNo this year, but decided to sign up to encourage and support a friend.

Because I was no longer on the Palouse, I changed my home region to Chicago. And what a difference that has made.

ChiWriMo is one of the top ten groups in the world participating in NaNoWriMo. In terms of numbers, we are the 9th largest city. And it's tremendously active. There were at least 100 people at the kickoff party on November 1, which was held at the 44th Ward Dinner Party (they reserved the entire restaurant). There are anywhere from two to four write-ins per day, scheduled for locations all over the city, check out the calendar on their homepage (linked above).

Because I'm new to the city, and trying to make a community for myself, I decided to attend several events, including the statewide write-in on Saturday, and I'm so happy I have. Not only have I made tremendous strides on my wordcount, I've met some lovely people and discovered some new places to eat.

ChiWriMo has three really hardworking Municipal Liasons who run the entire thing, and I've met two of them (probably also the third, but I really don't know for sure). They're making some great choices in terms of creating a fun, competetive, supportive atmosphere for NaNo, and I'm pleased enough to be a part of it that I might actually finish this year, though since I currently don't have anything else going on, perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise.

Anyway, if you participate in NaNo, and you're in Chicagoland, you should definitely see what ChiWriMo has to offer. They're awesome.