art · international

Art at the Embassy of Haiti

Hey friends! I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while, but I had some distractions on my end that prevented me from focusing for a bit. However, I’m back, I have a bit more time, and I can finally share some of the artwork that I loved at the Haitian Embassy.

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Murat Saint Vil, Islande of La Tortue

As you recall, I went to the Haitian Embassy last month, and I enjoyed a fun evening of music, food and fun personalities. While I don’t consider myself particularly social, I loved having the opportunity to get out for a bit and do something different from my ordinary routine.

Manes Descollines, Odette; Raymond Olivier, Green Light

I’ve mentioned several times before that the Haitian Embassy has an impressive art collection featuring works created by Haitian artists exclusively. The embassy is a mashup of a museum, an office, a library, and an elegant mansion. This is the kind of over-the-top grandeur that I LIVE for!

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Wilson Bigaud, The Healers (1973)

So the embassy is 3 stories high, and on the walls lining the stairwell, as well as all of the corridors, there are endless photos and paintings capturing the vibrant and beautiful energy of Haiti. I’ve visited Haiti and fell in love with the beautiful landscape and people. Visiting the embassy is the closest I can get to the island for now, and I’m thankful for it.

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Yves Michaud, And God created Women

There were so many great paintings to see, and I wish I could have had the whole day to look at them all and ask questions. Sadly, I was only there for a little while: the event was in the evening and there was so much other fun things to check out at the embassy that learning more about the artwork simply wasn’t possible.

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Saint Louis Blaise, Interpellation (1980)

The crown jewel of the embassy was the only known painting of the royal issue of the first king and queen of Haiti. Three of the children of King Henri I and Queen Marie-Louise are depicted in the painting. This precious and significant artwork has been in private in hands for many years and has finally made it back to the people of Haiti. It was my privilege and joy to see it in person. If you would like to know more about the painting, click here. Please disregard the mislabeling presented in the article: this is the crown prince and his sisters, not the king, queen, and one of the princesses.

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Unknown, Prince Victor-Henri, Princess Amethyste and Princess Athenaire

This is just a soupcon of the breathtaking art I saw while at the embassy. I can’t wait to return and see what new art they will have on display! I hope you all enjoy – talk to you all tomorrow!

 

art · international

My Top Picks from Bonham’s Asian Art Auction

Happy Saturday, friends! I’ve got more of my top picks for Asian Art Week. Today’s post is all about Bonhams Auctions. Bonhams refuses to be left out of the Asian Art Auction fun: the auction house will be having three auctions featuring Asian art exclusively. Just like in my last post, I’ll be focusing on just a select few items from the sales that caught my eye.

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The first auction is on September 10 at 10 AM EST. The sale – Chinese Works of Art and Paintings – features just a little less than 300 lots covering several different historical periods. I swooned when I saw these stunning silk robes. The vibrant hues and intricate detailing are the things that dreams are made of. Every now and then, I want to rock the traditional dress of a different country, so this is right up my alley. I love both the blue and red robe, and I’d gladly wear both! The robes could easily sell for more than $5000, per the auction estimates.

Two Han Lady ‘s Embroidered Silk Informal Robes

The other two auctions will occur on September 12. Earlier in the day, the Ancient Skills, New Worlds: Twenty Treasures of Japanese Metalwork auction will occur (starting at 10 AM). This carefully curated selection of 20 pieces from a private collection will sell quickly but the items are all distinct and unforgettable. The piece that I adored is this iron and gold miniature cabinet. This cabinet is a marvel: the perfect blend of strength and style, it is one of the most ornate pieces in the collection. This shiny jewel could easily sell for more than $30,000.

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Komai Otojiro, Iron and Gold Miniature Cabinet

Finally, at 1 PM on September 12, Bonhams will have its last Asian-themed auction, the Fine Japanese and Korean Art auction. Kudos to Bonhams for being one of the few auction houses to have a sale devoted exclusively to art originating from outside of China. While I love China and Chinese art, I enjoy browsing a collection that focuses on different Asian countries. This auction is predominantly Japanese art: out of 307 lots, roughly 10 of them are Korean.  From the Japanese art, I found I was smitten when I saw the small lacquer writing box. I loved its elegance and the fact that this beautiful box held writing instruments. Even though I won’t be bidding on this beauty (it could sell between $4,000 to $6,000+ at auction), I love the notion of having a luxurious container to hold your writing utensils. That’s an idea I may have to try for myself.

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Shiomi Masanari, Small Lacquer Writing Box

When it came to the Korean art in this auction, I really liked the calligraphy attributed to Kim Jeong-Hui. There’s something minimalist but still very lavish about this fine piece. The timeless nature of this piece is especially impressive when considering the fact that is is over 200 years old. Also, the simplicity of the design means that it could hang in any room of a home with ease. Prices for this one could soar over $4,000, and it’s easy to see why.

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Calligraphy Attributed to Kim Jeong-Hui

Those are my top picks from Bonhams’s Asian Art Week. This auction house has fewer pieces overall but the focused themes make Bonhams’s events stand out among the other auctions occurring during Asian Art Week. Be sure to check out their catalogs and see if anything catches your eye!

art

My Top Picks from Freeman’s Asian Art Auction

Freeman’s Auction is kicking off Asian Art week by holding the first Asian-themed auction of the season. This auction has a lot of Chinese art, though there are a few pieces available from India, Japan and Korea. The pieces span multiple dynasties and the expected prices are refreshingly reasonable, with most items expected to sell for less than $5,000. Of course, I have a few items that caught my eye and I’m going to share them with you all in this post. However, I encourage you to peruse the entire catalog and go to the auction in person, if you can.

The first pieces that caught my eye were this vivid pair of turquoise blue luduan. Luduans are symbols of luck in China, and are an amalgam of a deer, horse and unicorn. This pair is especially beautiful and well-preserved. They could go for $8000 or more.

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Pair of Chinese turquoise-glazed pottery luduan

Next, I saw this lantern and immediately fell in love. The lotus design is gorgeous, and the fact that it would work with several different decorating themes appealed to me. This is one of the Japanese pieces in the lot: the age of the lantern wasn’t provided, but my guess is that it isn’t extremely old, as it’s expected to fetch somewhere between $1000 and $1500.

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Japanese bronze spherical lotus lantern

I then saw this pair of striking Chinese vases – one in creamy jadeite and the other in intense lapis lazuli – and I was blown away. So many times, vases that are seen in auctions are very standard in appearance: they look much like the vases we can find in most home decor stores around the country. However, the organic shape and unusual materials make these vases very special. The jadeite one is expected to sell somewhere between $1500 and $2500, while the lapis lazuli vase will probably go for a bit less (between $1000 and $1500). It’ll be interesting to see the final selling prices for these beauties.

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Chinese jadeite “magnolia” vase (Qing Dynasty)

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18th-19th Century lapis lazuli incense tool vase with (later) sterling mount

What auction is complete without jewelry? The jewelry lot that I loved came from India. The item that caught my attention was a set of gilt turban ornaments. While I rarely wear turbans, these incredible ornaments make me want to reconsider my current fashion choices. These make me want to wear turbans daily!

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Indian gilt metal and white stone turban ornaments

Those are my top picks from the Freeman’s Auction. The Asian Art Auction will happen on September 7, in Philadelphia. You can also view the collection on the days prior to the auction (September 3 – 6, from 10 AM to 5 PM [September 3 by appointment]). I hope that you all take some time to see what Freeman’s is offering!

food · international

Review: Awaze Ethiopian Eritrean Restaurant

My first day in Raleigh was great! Along with the main event I attended (more on that in a couple of days), I also got to try a new Ethiopian restaurant. Despite coming to this area several times, I’d never known about any restaurants specializing in Ethiopian/Eritrean cuisine until today, when I researched it and discovered one less than 10 minutes away from my hotel.

Awaze Ethiopian Eritrean Restaurant sits unassumingly in a strip mall. Its simple storefront doesn’t begin to capture the deliciousness that lurks inside. I was greeted by a friendly young man and was seated immediately. I ordered the veggie platter, which, according to the menu, had 4 different vegetable sides. My order arrived quickly and everything looked delicious. To my surprise, there were actually SIX sides on the platter. I was delighted!

(from left to right) Misir azifa (sauteed lentils), fasolia (green beans), kik alicha (yellow split peas), miser wot (red lentils), tikil gomen (cabbage), gomen (collard greens)

The order came with a generous side of injera (flatbread). I ate to my heart’s content. As I ate my last few shreds of injera, the waiter asked if I wanted more – his timing was impeccable! However, I was stuffed and couldn’t eat another bite, so no more injera for me.

Mmm, injera

I was thoroughly pleased with the quality and flavor of my food, as well as the great service. I noticed that Awaze had been awarded for being the best Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh. The honor is obviously well deserved. I can’t recommend this place enough! If you love Ethiopian food and you’re in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, you must visit this restaurant. You won’t regret it!

food

No More Food Deliveries!

Happy Thursday friends! I’m coming to you all with a (mini) gripe. I don’t usually complain on this blog: after all, I believe that life is wonderful and good things are all around us. As a rule, I don’t complain.

However, I have my limits. And, because I have my limits, I feel that it’s time to put my foot down and turn over a new leaf. As we go into this next blogging year, I felt it was important to tell you all the change that I’m making.

You’ve read the title, so you have a clue what I’m talking about. As you all may know, I love food. Like, I really love it. I’m a huge fan of international cuisine, such as Thai, Indian, Kenyan, Jamaican, Ethiopian and (authentic) Chinese. As a result, I tended to order a lot of takeout and I enjoyed – for a time – having food delivered to me.

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Well, doesn’t this look yummy!

Unfortunately, I’ve had a string of poor experiences over the past few months. Missing items, incorrect orders, food not being spiced/seasoned to the level requested … It was clear that something had to change because the quality of delivery orders that I received has steadily declined.

So, I’ve decided to quit ordering delivery and start making more dishes at home. I only have a surface-level knowledge of foreign cuisine, so it’ll be fun to learn more about how to prepare dishes from around the world. I’ll be blogging about these recipes and sharing my tips, tricks, and (yes) even my fails! I hope that you all stick around for the journey.

I’ll still be dining out and reviewing different restaurants, but as far as delivery goes? There will be a moratorium on that for an indefinite period. It’ll be more fun to learn how to cook and to share what I learn with you all. We’ll have fun together – I promise!

art · international

Portuguese Contemporary Art in Richmond, VA

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite museums, Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) to view the exhibit, Contemporary Art from Portugal. As you all know, I’m currently studying the Portuguese language so this exhibit was an obvious choice. Also, last month (June) signified Portugal’s 900th anniversary of being a sovereign nation (Go Portugal!)  so there are nationwide events commemorating this incredible event. This exhibit was one of many of the commemorative events happening all over the country, and I’m delighted that my hometown participated in the festivities.

I’m beginning to really love contemporary art: this is REAL progress, as I’m a huge fan of Impressionism and Neoclassicism. I’m opening my horizons and making an effort to embrace newness and innovation, and I was very pleased with the exhibit. I’m  happy that I got to learn a little about some of the artists representing Portugal. These artists are tremendously talented and are a great representation of what this wonderful country has to offer.

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Info card from the exhibit

The exhibit featured work from Helena Almeida, Fernando Calhou, Ruy Leitão, and several other notable artists. The exhibit was small but impactful: I was fascinated by the the drawings and paintings enough to start doing my own research on Portuguese artists. As with pretty much all research that I do, I learned of a rich cultural heritage among Portuguese contemporary artists. I am fascinated by what I’ve learned and I’m eager to learn more as time goes on.

In the meantime, here are a few of the works that I viewed. If you are interested in checking out the exhibit for yourself, it will be at VMFA until July 22, 2018, so you still have time. However, if a trip to Richmond, VA is out of the question, you should check out your local museum to see if there are any Portuguese art or cultural exhibits on display. Just go to Facebook’s Month of Portugal page for details

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international · life curation

Learning a New Language

Hey friends! I’m excited to share my latest learning adventure. Of course, I’m still studying Inside Opera and Cultures and Identities in Europe (I wrote about the courses here and here). But I also took on another learning experience because, well, it felt like a good idea!

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I’m studying Portuguese after visiting the Embassy of Portugal a few weeks ago. I love the language and I’m looking forward to becoming proficient over time. As it turns out, I have a few Portuguese speaking friends that are eager to help me practice, not to mention I have a lot more resources at my disposal than I did when I studied French and Spanish years ago.

For starters, I’m using YouTube, podcasts, digital textbooks, and media to learn Portuguese. Also, there are some excellent groups online (specifically Facebook) that can connect language learners with native speakers to practice or even to ask technical questions. I’m still assessing which resources are the best in my opinion, but as soon as I have a good list of resources, I’ll definitely share them here!

Are you all currently studying any languages? Let me know in the comments below!