Friday, August 26, 2011

Miniatures: Contemporary - Metal Work - Persian - Indian - European Portraits + The Vegans are Coming!

Doing Art on a Small Scale

Miniatures have always had a warm spot in collector's hearts, because one must get very intimate and up-close to see the details of the craftsmanship. Any artist who can create a work, which most talented artists make on a human scale, but they do on a "micro" scale - yet still of high quality, is impressive and sometimes jaw dropping. The subject of miniatures could be a life's work, but let's just look at some works by artists working today and a few examples throughout art history.

Contemporary Miniatures
Charles LeDray's Miniature Clothes

Charles LeDray re-excited the art world about miniatures with his fascinating art in 2010. LeDray's recent traveling museum show has been a hit wherever it has opened. (see: Think Small, ARTSnFOOD, Dec. 15, 2010) 

Dalton Ghetti 
At Lori Warner Gallery 
Miniature sculptures created out of pencils and the fragile graphite within!

Dalton Ghetti's misspent school years led to these tiny graphite and pencil sculptures being shown at Lori Warner Gallery in Chester, Connecticut.
Find him on Facebook at: Lori Warner Gallery: See Dalton's amazing work! Original sculptures are on display, although not for sale. Same sized signed giclee prints of the sculpture are available for purchase.

Artist Alan Wolfson builds tiny dioramas of New York City.
Everything is relative: for dinosaurs humans would have been strange miniature creatures; to all of us the Earth is too vast to possibly see every square mile of it, but our big world is tiny compared to Jupiter which is 11 times larger; and Gulliver's tiny friends would have thought Wolfson's buildings just the right size for them! All of his miniature dioramas are complete in every intricate detail. He re-creates parts of old New York: a Nathan's hot dog shop, including the trash; a graffitied subway car; and a depressing "2 bit" hotel room - all perfect within the dingy reality of mid-century New York, when the city was a bit saucier than it is today. His most complicated piece is titled "rent triple X-rated films". It takes Wolfson three to nine months to complete a finished diorama, using wood, cardboard, paper, metal, and plastic. No people are present, but their cigarette butts, unfinished meals and work spaces imply they are about to return any minute. (, Gothamist, ART & CULTURE, Apr 13, 2011)
The interior of a store front, notice the size of a US penny placed inside this diorama.

On Permanent Museum Display
Szymon Klimek's Goblet Sized Metal Sculptures 

Szymon Klimek is an artist and engineer with better eyesight than most his age. His artworks came to my attention a few weeks back when I was searching for Art made of Gold. Then I found a source which said his pieces were actually made of brass. Brass or gold, it does not matter, his miniatures are fun and delicate.
In the US you can see his pieces on permanent display at The Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, California. They are proud to have  two fine pieces by Szymon Klimek displayed. The museum, founded & funded by the "Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship", displays the examples of metalworking craftsmanship in miniature. 
Museum curator Craig Libuse, says: "We are fortunate to have Szymon's Adler locomotive and a solar powered kinetic Victorian engine named "Susi" on display, both protected in appropriately elegant wine goblets. His work is perfect in every respect, even under the closest inspection - they simply leave visitors shaking their heads in wonder at their delicacy, attention to detail and, in the case of Susi, the complex, yet smooth, motion. Joe Martin, this museum's sponsor, considers Klimek's pieces to be his favorite artworks on display."   (Sources: &

History of Miniatures
The earliest painted miniatures appeared in Byzantine and Arabic books as illuminations. They were unframed horizontal works painted along the borders and across the page in the middle of the text. In the 14th century a vertical format was introduced, perhaps influenced by the vertical art of Chinese scroll-paintings. These book illustrations normally occupied a full page and then later "spreads", or illustrations across two pages, which reasserted the square and horizontal formats. Often there are panels of text or captions enclosed in a frame, within the image area, and the page is usually decorated with a border around the main image showing swirling plant designs and sometimes birds and animals. 

Persian Miniatures

A "Persian Miniature" is usually a small painting on paper which was a book illustration or a separate work of art as part of a portfolio album. Many Persian miniatures were individual portraits, either of notable figures or idealized youths, but were rarely portraits of rulers. The highest point in the tradition was reached in the 15th and 16th centuries and the tradition of Persian painted miniatures still exists today. The Qur'an and purely religious works are never illuminated with human figures, but histories and some other written works can include illustrated scenes out of the Qur'an and sometimes even show the Prophet Muhammad, as long as it does not feature his full face. Islam, does not forbid depicting the human figure under these specific circumstances. 
In fact, the depiction of people, often in large numbers, is central to Persian miniatures. The tradition was originally a private form of art, a book or an album which was shared by the owner. Vsuals created for wider audiences, such as public wall paintings and decorations, fall under different Islamic rules. The designs of Persian miniatures are also reflected in other media, specifically book-covers and Persian carpets. Many of the classic carpet patterns were created by court painters of miniatures, assigned by rulers to make designs for their carpet workshops. The country known as Persia is Iran, today. 

Indian Miniatures
Mughal paintings are a South Asian offspring of Persian miniature painting, within the Indian Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cultures. These developed largely in the court of the Mughal Empire (16th - 19th centuries), and spread to other Indian courts, both Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh.

Antique Painted Miniature Portraits
Miniature self-portrait, by Louis-Marie Autissier,
in the foreground, artist's pencils, brushes, and tools for painting miniatures can be seen.
Watercolor on ivory, 19.1 × 13.5 cm (7.52 × 5.31 in)], 1817, 
Portrait miniatures began in 16th century Europe and the art flourished during the 17th and 18th centuries. They were especially valuable in introducing people to each other over distances to potential suitors. Soldiers and sailors also carried miniatures of their loved ones, or a wife might keep one of her husband while he was away.
Miniature Portrait of Beethoven
by Christian Hornemann

The first miniaturists used watercolor to paint on stretched vellum. During the second half of the 17th century, enamel painted on copper became popular. In the 18th century, miniatures were painted in various media on ivory. Portrait miniatures were often used as personal mementos, as jewelry or snuff box covers. The development of photographyin the mid-nineteenth century, eliminated the need for painted miniature portraits.

We have not even gotten to Bonsai trees and so many other miniature artists and art forms - alas, that will have to wait for another day.

Above - A miniature sculpture
 inside the eye of a needle.
The Vegans are coming! A day of vegan meals.
Vegan Spinach Lasagna

Non-vegans can be at a loss as how to prepare a day's meals for house guests who are vegan. We have personally experienced this situation, several times. 

Vegan diets have gone from being a fringe choice in America to becoming very mainstream. It is one of the ultimate lifestyle changes to improve health. For those who are uncertain: vegans eat no animal products, meaning no: meat, seafood, dairy (including butter & cheese) or eggs. Vegan meals can include fruits, whole grains & flour, vegetables, beans & legumes, seeds, nuts and their oils plus the many vegan substitutes, including faux meats; veggie burgers; flavored soy products, almond and rice milks; non-dairy ice cream and cheese; and snacks marketed to vegans. There is an abundance of chips, dips, cookies, candies, pies, soups, and other mouth-watering items by mainstream food manufacturers that are vegan.

Coffee (Black or w/ Silk Original Creamer or Sugar) 
Note: Non-dairy creamers and some other non-dairy products do not have lactose and the FDA says it would be wrong to classify them dairy products, but many are made using a pasteurized skim milk derivative labeled as sodium caseinate - to create the white color, as a thickening agent and to add a milk flavor. Depending on where you draw the line, there are pure vegan creamers available.
Morning Bircher Muesli w/ Soy Milk and Agave Nectar
Mellon Frappe
Iced Tea w/ Lemon 
Tex-Mex Vegan Salad
Corn Chips
Sliced Mango & Green Grapes
Beverage: Red Wine & Ice Water 
Salad: Mixed Greens w/ Pickled Peppers - Oil & Vinegar dressing
Entree: Vegan Spinach Lasagna 
Side: Steamed Veggies w/ S & P
Dessert: Coconut Poached Pears w/ Toasted Almonds
After Dinner Service:  Coffee, Port Wine, Cream Sherry & Russian Wedding Cookies

Morning Bircher Muesli w/ Soy Milk and Agave Nectar
Softened Muesli is simple if you start the night before. Make or buy some bircher muesli. Place 2 cups of these grains, dried fruit and nuts in a bowl. Pour 2 cups (16 oz) of Soy Milk over and refrigerate overnight. Serve with halved fresh figs (or any fresh fruit), extra soy milk and drizzle of Agave Nectar in the morning.
  • 2 cups (16 oz.) Bircher Muesli
  • 2 cups (16 fl oz) Soy Milk vanilla
  • Fresh figs
  • Agave Nectar
Mellon Frappe
Frappes are the perfect cool and refreshing mid morning treat. Blend chopped honeydew melon with a few mint leaves, some coconut milk and an equal amount of ice until smooth. Pour into tall clear beverage glasses and chill out.
  • Honeydew Melon (cubed)
  • coconut milk
  • Fresh Mint
  • Ice Cubes
  • Sugar or Agave Nectar  (optional)
Vegan Tex-Mex Salad
A delicious avocado, tomato, onion, lemon, jalapeno, bean and arugula salad with chips with an oil, vinegar and mustard dressing.
  • 3 small avocados cubed
  • 3 roma tomatoes cubed or a can of cubed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 large Red Onion diced and soaked in water for 10 minutes
  • Black Beans, drained
  • 1 lemon
  • Cilantro chopped
  • Baby Arugula
  • Dressing: 3 parts olive oil, 1 part wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper & dry mustard to taste - combined and shaken to form an emulsion. 
  • Dried or Fresh Chives
  • Sliced Jalapenos and Lay's Yellow Corn Chips (on the side)
Combine the avocado cubes, tomato cubes, diced onion, cilantro and black beans in a bowl, squeeze in the lemon juice and mix. Form a bed of Arugula on a plate and drizzle with dressing. Scoop 1/2 cup of Tex Mex with Avocado in a dry measuring cup and form a mound on the salad. Finish with a sprinkle of chives on top. Serve with Corn Chips and Jalapenos on the side.
Mixed Greens w/ Pickled Peppers - Oil, Vinegar, Lemon, s&p
A simple dinner salad, garnished with colorful pickled peppers.
  • Pre-mixed greens from the store
  • Pickled Peppers, Red and Banana (sliced)
  • Oil & Vinegar Dressing
Vegan Spinach Lasagna
Love spinach lasagna with lots of ricotta cheese?  Thankfully, tofu can be transformed into a delicious substitute for ricotta, and vegan gourmet mozzarella works perfectly to top everything off!
  • 8 oz whole grain/whole wheat lasagna noodles, or 12 prepared noodles
  • Tofu Ricotta:
    • 1 lb firm or extra firm tofu, drained
    • 1 tsp dried basil
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 lb frozen spinach, thawed
  • Easy tomato sauce:
    • 14-oz can diced tomatoes
    • 6-oz can tomato paste
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (or other sweetener)
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp dried basil
    • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
    • 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
    • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 oz shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together tomato sauce ingredients in a pan, and simmer on low heat as you prepare other ingredients.   In a food processor, combine tofu ricotta ingredients and process until a semi-smooth yet grainy consistency is achieved (similar to dairy ricotta).  Transfer ricotta to a large bowl and fold in the thawed spinach. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.  Layer 3 of the lasagna noodles over the bottom of the pan.  Spoon 1/3 of the spinach-ricotta mixture over noodles, and spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the top.  Repeat twice more with noodles, ricotta, and sauce.  Layer the final 3 noodles over the dish, and spread with remaining tomato sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and sprinkle grated vegan cheese over the top, cover again, and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese has browned.
Allow lasagna to set for 5 minutes at room temperature before serving.  Serve with your choice of steamed green vegetables!
Coconut Poached Pears w/ Toasted Almonds
Place the coconut milk, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Do not let the coconut milk boil as it will separate. Add the pears and cook for 15 minutes, turning once. To serve, place a pear in a bowl and serve warm with the coconut broth, sprinkle with toasted shaved almonds. Serves 4
  • 2 cups (16 fl. oz.) coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 small soft pears, peeled and halved
  • 1/3 cup shaved or slivered almonds, toasted
Russian Wedding Cookies
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c vegan butter, chilled
  • 2 cup flour
  • 6 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Additional powdered sugar for coating the cookies
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, cream vegan butter and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and flour and work into butter mixture until a stiff dough has formed. Fold in walnuts. Shape into 1″ balls. Bake 2″ apart for 10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet; allow to cool for several minutes. When they’re still slightly warm to the touch, roll in powdered sugar. (If they’re too hot, the sugar will melt, but if they’re completely cooled, it won’t stick as well.)

Until later,
ARTSnFOOD, All rights reserved. Concept & Original Text © Copyright 2011 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.


Sanford Biggers 
Brooklyn Museum & Sculpture Center
"Sweet Funk" at the Brooklyn Museum and the large-scale installation "Cosmic Voodoo Circus" at the Sculpture Center. (September 10-November 28 & September 23-January 8)
September 11th Exhibit
(September 11-January 9)
De Kooning: A Retrospective 
(September 18-January 9)
Bob Dylan: The Asia Series 
Gagosian Gallery - Bob Dylan’s travelogue on Asia, showing impressionist styled acrylic paintings by the singer/songwriter.
 (September 20-October 22)
DUMBO Arts Festival
(September 23-25)
Lisa Yuskavage
David Zwirner Gallery
“Yuskavage's feminine landscapes"  
(September 27-November 5)

Real & Surreal
Whitney Museum
 (October 6-February 12)
Matisse to O’Keeffe / Stieglitz and His Artists 
Metropolitan Museum
 (October 13-January 2)
Carsten Höller: Experience
New Museum
Wild and crazy Belgian conceptual artist. Expect to sign a waver upon entering.
 (October 26-January 15)

Maurizio Cattelan: All
Italian hyper-realist.
 (November 4-January 22)

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture 
Brooklyn Museum
(November 18-February 12)

Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling
Atlantic Theater Company
A wealthy Connecticut couple celebrates its son’s release from a high-end psychiatric hospital. 
(September 9-October 23)
STREB Rehearsals
Elizabeth Streb’s troupe of trapeze artists, stuntmen and tumblers - working towards their huge December show 
(December 14-18) KISS THE AIR at the Park Avenue Armory.
(rehearsals: September 13-November 30)
2011 DUMBO Dance Festival
John Ryan Theater
Same weekend as the DUMBO Arts Festival.
(September 23-25)
Company XIV dance-theater
 (September 23-October 30)
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
 (October 12-November 27)
The New Group  (
October 19-December 10)
The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer
(November 17-19)
New York Philharmonic
Avery Fisher Hall 
(September 7-17)
Metropolitan Opera House 
(November 4-December 1)
Merce Cunningham: The Legacy Tour
(December 7-10)

1 comment:

  1. Correction: For Russian Wedding Cookies, the quantity of Vegan Butter is 1 Cup Chilled