Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Alexander Calder's Kinetic Art an Overview + A Guide to Afternoon Tea & Scones

Artist Alexander Calder, Title: “Southern Cross,” 
a miniature design proposal (1963for a Mobile / Stabile combination.

This Alexander Calder's stabile (sculpture) is used
by The National Magazine Awards as their
"ELLIE" Award for the best in publishing, 

each calendar year.

Alexander Calder

His bent wire sculptures
are line drawings in a 3D medium!

Calder's artworks had a unique signature style.

 Calder invented the "Mobile"and the "Stabile".

Calder's 2/D artworks often had bold primary colors and thick black outlines.
How Calder mobiles hang
from each balancing point on the wire.

The "Mobiles" are his most recognized
contribution to art.

  1. Alexander "Sandy" Calder
    Bio: Alexander Calder was an American sculptor known as the originator of the "mobile", a type of kinetic sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended components which move in response to air currents (some by motor power). Calder’s stationary sculptures are called "stabiles". He also produced numerous wire figures, notably for his miniature circus.
    In the fall of 1909 he sculpted a dog and a duck out of sheet brass as gifts for his parents. The sculptures were three-dimensional and the duck was kinetic because it rocked when gently tapped.
    In 1915, Calder decided to study mechanical engineering, and enrolled at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey and he received a degree from Stevens in 1919. After several jobs here and there Calder moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students' League, studying briefly with Thomas Hart Benton, George Luks, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and John Sloan. While a student, he worked for the National Police Gazette where, in 1925, one of his assignments was sketching the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Calder became fascinated with the circus, and the theme appeared often in his artwork.
  2. Born: July 22, 1898, Lawton, PA
    Died; November 11, 1976, New York
  3. Full Name: Alexander Calder 
    Parents: Alexander Stirling Calder
    Periods: Kinetic art, Modern art, Surrealism...

  4. (Source: Wikipedia)

In our previous post dated 6/29/15, you will find the related story: "A Close Look at Calder's Circus".

The Afternoon Tea 
All about tea, brewing tea and making scones.

Henry James, the English author, wrote: "There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." This very civilized, English born, break from daily activities can be solitary, shared with family, or shared with friends and house guests. 

It is generally celebrated with a pot of brewed tea (as opposed to a tea bag for a single cup) and some light sandwiches, a biscuit (cookie or sweet cracker), scones, short breads or a small cake. 

The presentation service can range from "high" (a silver tea set or nicer porcelain pots) to "low" (a utilitarian Brown Betty pot with chunky tea cups, or mugs intended for daily use). 

For the English, or anyone fond of senuous luxury and pleasure, the afternoon tea is "me-time" for personal comfort and relaxation. 

So pick your pot, your cup, the tea blend you prefer and a small snack, and relax for 30 minutes to an hour. Contemplate the beauty of life, family and friendships with a "cuppa" wrapped in solitude or in conversation. 

English Teas

- Tea contains tannin, an astringent and caffeine, a stimulant. 
- It is brewed in water, usually boiling.
- The flavors depend on the plant, the soil and the climate in region in which it is grown. 
- The tastes of teas are classified as: pungent, pointy, meaty, bodied, bakey or thick.
- The color is classified as: coppery, dull or bright. 
- Tea is divided into three groups - 1) green, 2) oolong or semifermented & 3) black. 

From tree to pot: Tea leaves are picked and then "withered" by being spread on huge racks and dried in circulating hot air. Next they are crushed by rollers to reveal their aromatics, then left to cool, ferment  and oxidize (except for green teas). The final stage is a firing to further reduce the moisture content which turns the tea black. These processes also reduce the amount of tannins and enhance the flavors.

Green Tea

These are basket-fired and have a pale green color because they do not undergo the oxidation process. Japanese teas are mostly green teas - these are rarely served with an English tea.

Oolong Tea

The word mean "black dragon" in Chinese and is produced by a combination of techniques, the tea is darker than green teas. The most popular varieties are Formosa Oolong and Jasmine - subtle flavors and delicately scented.

Black Teas

The most common teas consumed in the US and Europe are made from fully oxidized tea leaves and have a range of characteristics to choose from.

Assam - full-bodied, rich in color and robust (Indian tea)

Celon - among the most popular - delicate and fragrant (Sri Lankan tea)
Darjeeling - a fine delicate flavor and aroma (Himalayan tea)
Earl Grey -  a favorite for afternoon tea with a sweet, citrusy flavor. The tea is named for an English Earl Grey who befriended a Mandarin Tea Seller, who gave him this recipe for what he called the finest of all teas. (grown in India, Sri Lanka & China)
English Breakfast - a mellow "blend" of several black teas (China)
Keemun - the Chinese people prefer this tea with their meals (China, Kiangsi province)
Lalpsang Souchong - a pungent, strong tea. The leaves are wood smoked to give a unique, rich flavor - an acquired taste (China, Hunan province)
Prince of Wales - a hearty tea with a good bouquet - a blend of Keemun teas created for the Duke of Windsor, Prince of Wales, heir to the thrown of England. This tea is a very popular afternoon tea.


Pekoe - IS NOT A TYPE OF TEA, but it describes the size of tea leaves and not the flavor or quality of any tea. All teas come in 1) Pekoe (largest grade of leaf), 2) Broken Pekoes, 3) Fannings (smaller leaves), and 4) Fines (smallest leaves). Most teas are made from a combination of sizes, with the fannings and fines predominating in individual teabags. 
Orange Pekoe - can* refer to Chinese tea made from the largest leaves, flavored with orange peel. *This is not always the case, today it also may only refer to the size and shape of the leaf.

Specialty Teas: Today there is something for everybody, including many creative specialty (traditional) tea blends, plus decaffeinated teas and herbal teas - all teas can be flavored with everything from apples to licorice. (Note: decaffeinated teas do still have caffeine, but only half that of their regular blend.)

Storage: Teas lose their bouquet and flavors to evaporation. Buy loose teas in small quantities and store them in airtight containers and a cool location.

Brewing Your Tea

1) Select your tea. 2) Put fresh water in the kettle to boil (never reboil the water). 3) When the water is hot, but not yet boiling, pour a small amount of hot water into your tea pot. 4) Swirl that water around and then pour it out. 5) Wipe out the pot to dry. 6) Put 1 teaspoon of loose tea in the pot for every cup to be brewed. Put the lid on the warmed pot to draw oils out of the teas. 7) When the water is now at a rolling boil, pour slowly over the loose tea. 8) Give a good stir then put the lid on the tea pot and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Brew by the clock not the color because different teas have different intensities of color. 9) Pour the tea through a tea strainer into cups. 10) Serve with lemon slices or milk & sugar. 

After pouring the first round of tea, refresh the pot with more boiling water and let it steep for the second cup.

Oven Scones

2 cups of self-rising flour
1 Tbs baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 to 1-1/3 cups milk, plus a little for brushing on scones

Devonshire clotted cream

Preheat oven to 450º. Very lightly grease a large baking sheet / set aside. Shift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. With your fingers, rub in butter until mixture is crumbly. Made a well in center of mixture; add milk and mix with a fork to make a dough that barely holds together (if needed, press the dough together with your hands). Turn out onto a floured surface. knead lightly just until smooth. Pinch off a ball and arrange 1 to 1-1/2" apart on the baking sheet; brush tops lightly with milk. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until well risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. 

Split your scone open and generously spread each piece with jam, topped with a spoonful of cream. Have a pot of jam and Devonshire clotted cream available. Whipped Heavy Cream (unsweetened) also works as an alternative to clotted cream. 

Makes 12 (recipe works doubled to 24)

(Source:The Pleasures of Afternoon Tea)

Until later,

ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness through the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved. Concept, Original Art, Text & Photographs are © Copyright 2015 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Any gallery, event, museum, fair or festival photographs were taken with permission. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Closley Looking at Alexander Calder's Circus! + Food: Eggs Sardou


at Calder's Circus

Calder's Circus. c.1926-31
by Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Materials: Wire, wood, metal, cloth, yarn, paper, cardboard, leather, string, rubber, corks buttons, rhinestones, pipe cleaners, and bottle caps.
Currently being shown as a part of their permanent collection at the new Whitney Museum, New York City.

Alexander Calder originally trained as a mechanical engineer, but he was an aspiring artist  when he arrived in Paris in 1926. Working as a newspaper illustrator in New York the previous year, he had been sent to make sketches of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, sparking a lifelong interest. In Paris he began Calder's Circus, an ensemble work of dozens of small movable figures and props crafted from wire and found objects. adding acts over several years and transporting the miniature circus in several suitcases, he gave performances in his studios and at the homes of friends - including artist such as Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro, and Fernand Leger and art patrons in Paris and New York. Calder acted as both stagehand and impresario, he constructed makeshift bleachers from wood crates and planks, handed out cymbals and other noisemakers, and cued up records on his gramophone. Narrating the acts in English and French, he manipulated acrobats, a bearded lady, a lion tamer and his lion, and other figures.

(Sources: Staff photos taken of the current exhibition and past photos of the artwork displayed at the old Whitney Museuem on Madison Ave. Other photos and videos courtesy of The Whitney Museum & Gagosian Gallery NYC.)

Eggs Sardou

From the distinctive food culture of New Orleans comes the French contribution to America's culinary arts. Lush egg dishes are high food in southern Louisiana and one of the best is reflected in Eggs Sardou. The dish was first served in Antoine's restaurant in 1908 at a dinner honoring visiting French playwright Victorien Sardou. This and other elaborate egg creations are still served at Brennan's and other restaurants.


  • artichoke & eggs
  • 8
    cooked artichoke bottoms(fresh or canned)
  • 8
    poached eggs
  • To poach eggs, heat large skillet of water to simmer over low heat.
  • Add 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar.
  • Crack eggs, one at a time, into measuring or custard cup.
  • Gently slide egg into water.
  • Cook until white is set, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove from water with slotted spoon.

  • For bechamel sauce, melt butter in small, heavy skillet over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour.
  • Gradually whisk in milk; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Whisk in pepper sauce, salt and nutmeg.
  • Set aside.
  • Drop spinach into large saucepan of boiling water.
  • Cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Rinse in ice water to stop cooking; drain until very dry, squeezing out extra water.
  • Set aside.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add green onions; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes.
  • Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes.
  • Add bechamel sauce, salt and pepper; stir well.
  • Set aside and keep warm.
  • For hollandaise sauce, combine yolks, lemon juice, Worcestershire and red pepper in top of double boiler set over pan of simmering water.
  • Whisk egg mixture constantly until mixture thickens and becomes shiny, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Slowly pour melted butter into egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Whisk in wine; salt to taste.
  • Divide spinach among four plates.
  • Top with 2 warm artichoke bottoms.
  • Top each artichoke with poached egg.
  • Ladle hollandaise sauce over; serve immediately.

Until later,

ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness through the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved. Concept, Original Art, Text & Photographs are © Copyright 2015 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Any gallery, event, museum, fair or festival photographs were taken with permission. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The MURALS at BRENNAN'S Restaurant, New Orleans + Breakfast at Brennan's


Restaurant in the
French Quarter,
New Orleans, LA

Interior designer Richard Keith Langham and architect John Williams designed Brennan's recently reborn restaurant and the dramatic Chanteclair Dining Room. Langham hand painted the gouache murals to offer relief from all of the green trélliage (gridded lattice) in the room. The murals were based on 19th-century New Orleans' Mardi Gras Ball invitations, Langham had found during his research on Mardi Gras. The Chanteclair Room is a fantastical orangerie that also includes cozy green leather banquettes and coral clad rattan chairs which contrast with Brennan's white tablecloths and white table service china.

Brennan's Chanteclair Room

Brennan's Original 1960's Cookbook

Original entrance to house
where Brennan's is now.

Brennan's "Rooster Sculpture"
near the entrance.

REX's coat of arms
The King's and Queen's Rooms, twin parlors for private dining resplendent with multi-colored silk taffeta draperies, velvet coronation chairs, golden fleur-de-lis wall covering, and displays of historic regalia, pay tribute to Rex, one of the oldest regal courts of Mardi Gras, reflecting the longstanding social hierarchy of New Orleans itself.

King REX float
in Marde Gras Parade
King REX Crown & Scepter

Brennan's Queen's Room
private dining

King & Queen 
at REX Marde Gras Ball

Marde Gras Ball Invitation from the 1880's
Marde Gras Ball Invitation from the 1880's

Early King REX
at his Marde Gras Ball

Etching of early King REX float 
in Marde Gras Parade

The Brennans planning a seasonal menu, in the courtyard, circa 1970's

Brennan's courtyard, today.
Brennan's private dining overlooking the courtyard.
Brennan's "Rooster Sculpture"
in the lounge area.



Breakfast at Brennan's usually starts with a cocktail, often has an egg dish as the entrée and ends with a dessert, most often their signature "Bananas Foster".

Eggs Hussarde with Hollandaise and Marchand de Vin sauces, plus a side of fried oysters.

Eggs Cardinal with a Creole mustard sauce, 
plus New Orleans' Chicory Coffee and an English muffin.
Bananas Foster
being prepared tableside
at Brennan's.

(photo courtesy brennansneworleans.com)

Brennan's invented Bananas Foster.
(photo courtesy brennansneworleans.com)

Brennan's Restaurant is located at 417 Royal Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

(Sources: Photos taken by ARTSnFOOD staff, two photos courtesy brennansneworleans.com Some text derived from brennansneworleans.com)

Until later,

ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness through the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved. Concept, Original Art, Text & Photographs are © Copyright 2015 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Any gallery, event, museum, fair or festival photographs were taken with permission. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.