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Present Joys: Week of August 1, 2023
Popsicle pouts, homemade gochujang, falling fruit, and pub dogs.
Wrapped in a Bow
I’m definitely not immune to the Gohar-ification of my Instagram feed which is veering increasingly towards an aesthetic of elaborate tablescapes, intricate butter molds, and fruit and flowers casually strewn throughout it all. There’ll come a time when I’ll likely tire of this trend, but for now I remain guilty of tying gigantic bows atop any and everything.
McManus & Morgan
Last week I stopped into McManus & Morgan to pay a visit to owner Gary Wolin as well as source some samples for a client. If you’re not familiar, McManus & Morgan is an incredible (100 year-old!) paper supply shop located in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park neighborhood. (More on my visit here.) It’s always a fun place to peruse, but what makes every visit special is the chance to chat with Gary. No matter your level of savvy, he will meet you with kindness, patience, and generosity in selecting the best paper for your project. Back when we sent out jam as present to announce our studio launch, Gary personally called me to express his gratitude. Sigh, what a gentleman.
I was working out of a coffee shop in Koreatown last week and popped into Hannam Supermarket on my way back home. Stepping inside was instantly nostalgic as it felt wholly unchanged since the visits of my childhood. Unglamorous and a bit unkempt, the market is even described on Google as a “straightforward supermarket.” Despite (or I suppose because of) it all, I found the space so comforting. While it’s fun to try out new places in the neighborhood, there’s something so nice about no-frills spots like Hannam that exist staunchly outside the influence of any TikTok trends.
Squeaky Clean Liquid Lip Balm
I’m somehow always in search of the right shade of lip color, with “right” being an ever-moving target. Sometimes it’s a nude-toned pink, other times I want the perfect shade of plum. This month, it was Westman Atelier’s Squeaky Clean Liquid Lip Balm in ‘Pipsqueak.’ It’s a sheer red lip balm that mimics the look of popsicle-stained lips. With the 90+ degree weather lately, it feels entirely appropriate.
My dad gifted me some gochujang from a recent batch he made. It’s a spicy, slightly sweet fermented chili paste that’s a mainstay condiment in Korean cooking. Growing up, I hardly ever saw him in the kitchen, so I find his new hobby to be so cute.
Exploring the UK
Stumbled upon this really great newsletter that showcases different areas of the UK focusing on art, food, and culture generally. I recommend it to anyone who lives in the UK or who might be visiting in the future and would like a bit more of an inside scoop on where to go and what to do. For those who can’t bear to sign up for another newsletter, you can also follow them on Instagram.
Always on the hunt for local fruit and veg, it’s been fun to discover falling fruit, an open-source interactive map that showcases all the trees that are publicly available to pick from in your area.
I visited Grayson Perry’s retrospective at the National Galleries of Scotland this past weekend and my favorite part of the entire retrospective was the artist’s dedication to Alan Measles, his childhood teddy bear and the subject of many of his works.
Perry writes, “I have always been envious of artists of the Northern Renaissance. They lived in an age when most of them created art in the service of the Church: they had a prescribed set of subjects and did not have to worry much about their subject matter. This was one of the reasons I made my teddy bear Alan Measles into a God, so that I had a ready-made subject to turn to. This bronze was inspired by jewel-encrusted medieval Christian reliquaries of the Madonna and Child and also Chola bronzes from Southern India.”
What strikes me about this is the agency the artist gave himself to chose Alan Measles as his replacement for the traditionally religious figure he seemingly yearned for but didn’t have and then to go totally gangbusters in making Alan a central part of his work. It feels like a calling to make of the world what we’ll have it be and if that world doesn’t exist, then it’s up to us to fashion it.
Dogs at the Pub
It’s well known in Scotland that you can take your dogs just about anywhere - cafe, salon, bus, train, pub, you name it. It’s always fun seeing the pups about especially when they make themselves truly at home.
Having never read any Kingsolver before, I am really enjoying Demon Copperhead, an ode to Charles Dicken’s “David Copperfield” a la Americana. It’s reading to me like an Appalachian version of a Steinbeck novel and I’m thoroughly enjoying every page. I look forward to each evening when I get through a few dozen pages (or more if lucky) and can’t wait to see where the novel ends. —Michelle
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