Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Eats

We are in a city of horn honking and hawking, of cement and steel, crowds and quiet. I am still in Shanghai shock--in awe of the city. We've  been here a week. 

Easter evening is ending at home, but here Monday has begun. I have hosted Easter dinner for family and friends since the early 1990s. This Easter we are away. 

Were we at home, the Easter menu would include a ham, Southern corn, fresh green beans stir fried with onion and garlic, all the good sides and family. Grandparents, sometimes friends too gather around our Easter table at home. 

Here, we three made a trip to one of Rick's favorite spots: Liquid Laundry.

We had a good wander. Tulips are blooming.

And we came across a couple of cool statues on the street: a girl at a phone booth and some sort of hippo-elephant-snail creature. 

Liquid Laundry is near (or in) the French Concession area of the city. The gorgeous tree-lined streets, cafes and boutiques made for a pretty walk.

The restaurant was in full Gospel Brunch mode when we arrived: glorious. We ordered drinks while we waited for a table and enjoyed the music.

We ended up at a warm table in the window, a perfect observation spot.
Rick orderd a lamb flat bread with house-made lamb sausage and I indulged in avocado smash toast with crispy maple bacon.

The salt flake on the side presented well and added just the kick in taste. 

Collin ordered a barbecue, shredded pork pizza. Steamy hot and spicy with jalepenos and pickled cabbage, boy was it good.

We had a wonderful Easter brunch and a good five mile wander. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Art Day

I'm We left Shanghai for Hong Kong late Wednesday. We entered the travelling time machine at 5pm Shanghai time and arrived at our hotel after 2 am. Note to future self: get a good night's sleep, then travel early in the morning next time. 

We did not have much get up and go until 10 or so the next day, my birthday, nor did we have any real plans. 

I'd read about arts month and discovered that our trip aligned with Art Basel, Rick and Collin were game for an art day, so off we went.

It is rainy in Hong Kong and cold (to me). I broke one of my cardinal travel rules by  forgetting a jacket but I did remember an umbrella. 

We stumbled into the Tourism Center to browse events and find our bearings and discovered Art Central, a modern and contemporary art fair with Asian flare.

The opening pieces by Art Central sponsor, Swarovski, are sound activated. A group of kids on an explore with school had great fun making the sparkling jelly fish move.
Like the kids, we loved the paper busts. They seem carved from a huge stack of paper--pages glued together sticky note style. The docent moved the heads like slinky tops. 

They were here and there through the show. With art, I have this theory: size and materials matter. It seems that extremes of size and materials ruled this show too.

There were paintings whose stiff paint peaks made their own topographies.

Incredible art. 

This project is titled "Horizon" and the figure below, "After the Vow." Telling.

I lucked into merting a Chilean collage artist, Tan Vargas. He shared his creative process and talked through a few of his big pieces. 

So much is story. 

The best story of the day happened at Art Basel. We headed there after Art Central thinking we'd buy tickets on site. The line for the line to get tickets was past the sixty minute mark. People had to queue outside to get a number to stand in the ticket line. Online, advanced purchase tickets were sold out. It looked hopeless, so I said, "let's just wander the hall, have a glass of champagne and see what we can see." So we did and we happened upon the Art Basel Miami booth. We got to talking. The kind man there, whose birthday was March 23rd gave us a VIP pass to the show! Score!

And oh the art... just awesome.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sounds and Silence

Qibao Ancient Town is a small, commercial water town: narrow streets, busy vendors. The range of sound surprised me. 

One minute were seemingly in a bubble of peaceful willow branches along the water way, a bit of quiet as the busy modern city street faded away.

Then down a few stairs, around a corner and sound surrounds us.

The market lane bubbled with hawkers shaking noise makers or yelling out specials. These eggs in a clay (plaster?) oven made me want to stop and sketch.

On the narrow market streets there are elbows and shoulder bumps and laughing and throat clearing and conversation: a sea of words I do not know. 

People called out over one another while eating squid or candied fruits from sticks. Meat sizzled. Yams steamed. Then we wound around again and found ourselves on a neigjborhood street behind the hustle.

Quiet, even the scooters, silent.

There are such contrasts here. Old and new, quiet and clamor, Western and Eastern. The background sounds really stood out to me today. 

"Lady, lady, hey lady, hello Lady," there is a lot of that on certain streets. And in the metro stations the loud speaker's repeating announcement in Chinese blurs conversation and blends with horn honking as we walk toward exits. 

Toward home and a quiet evening of paper and books.