Chan Chich Archeology Season, When Skygazing Is Also At A Premium

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Today and tomorrow we are finalizing preparation for receiving a nearly full house of archeologists, who will be at Chan Chich Lodge for the next couple months. I came across the photo above at the same time I was looking at the to-do list related to their arrival, and am remembering that in May 2016 I was struck by the quality of night sky at Chan Chich for stargazing.

So this is a shout out to all those people who are intrigued by Mayan archeology, are stargazers, and have not yet made vacation plans for the next couple months. We have a few rooms available, so come on over!  The photo above is paid content from Intel, and while usually we avoid passing along commercials, this is on a topic we care about. It is worthy of a read. Also, after the text the Skyglow short on Vimeo is worth a look:

Timelapse photographers zigzagged 150,000 miles across the U.S. to capture the wonders of the dark skies and raise awareness about the growing threat of light pollution.

Their family and friends think they’re crazy for devoting so many nights to create Skyglow, a book and video born from Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic’s passion for nature and photography. Just how Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking brought deeper understanding of the cosmos, Heffernan and Mehmedinovic are raising awareness about the damage caused by ever increasing light pollution. Their magical timelapse photography just might do the trick. Continue reading

Bedazzled

Works that can be seen in “CHIHULY,” Dale Chilhuly’s exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden. Credit Photographs by Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

Although fairly ubiquitous in Botanical Gardens and museum rotundas, Dale Chihuly’s colorful and primarily organically shaped glass installations add an intriguing juxtaposition with the spaces they inhabit. Despite his popularity, opinion varies whether his work enhances or detracts. Whichever camp you choose, there’s a fertile ground for conversation.

The single-word, all-caps title — “CHIHULY” — of a new show at the New York Botanical Garden conveys immediately exactly what visitors will be getting: vibrant glass sculptures in a familiar style, one that often recalls nature, and sometimes competes with it.

He started by weaving glass into tapestries but, eventually, the weaving part, once his primary technique, fell away.

“There is something about glass, one of the few materials that light goes through,” Mr. Chihuly said. “You’re looking at light itself.”

The shapes that Mr. Chihuly has spread to institutions worldwide remind many people of organic forms. But he has always maintained that copying nature has never been his goal. “I’m not conscious of mimicking,” he said. “I don’t study plant books. Glass wants to make forms like that, if you let it.” Continue reading

Yarn Bombing, Indian-style

Elephants, many of whom have suffered serious abuse in the past, photographed wearing the knitted multi-coloured, pyjama-like garments knitted by local villagers Roger Allen

While the concept of yarn bombing (also called guerrilla knitting) is usually a playful way to bring color to an urban setting, this isn’t our first story about altruist knitting in the realm of animal protection.

This story seems particularly poignant considering it weaves together the matriarchal nature of elephants and the communal work of the village women…

Villagers knit jumpers for Indian elephants to protect the large mammals from near-freezing temperatures

Elephants in India are sporting colourful woollen jumpers after villagers knitted the super-size garments to protect the animals from near-freezing temperatures.

Women in a village near the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in the northern city of Mathura reportedly began producing the colourful, pyjama-like garments after staff at the centre warned temperatures were approaching sub-zero at night. Continue reading

Cabinet Of Curiosities

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We link so often to contents of this magazine, occasionally for in-depth profiles and often for items posted only on their website; but their covers tend to be particularly poignant visual cues. Those  of us who post here think of and refer to our WordPress platform as our cabinet of curiosities so this week’s cover captures our attention more than most:

“I drew a bookshelf, and the lines made me think of the streets of a map,” Luci Gutiérrez says, about her cover for this week’s issue. Another inspiration for her image: Wunderkammern, the cabinets of curiosities created in the Renaissance to display collections of extraordinary objects. “I don’t have this particular piece of furniture, but I wish I did. I keep strange and pretty objects,” Gutiérrez says. “It can be a chocolate paper wrapper or a Japanese mask. . . . they provide me with a way to remember the place they come from.”

Vermontini & Other Delicacies

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Braun Hughes, a cook, center, stokes a fire while another cook, Andy Risner, keeps watch. Drew Anthony Smith for The New York Times

Last week at Chan Chich Lodge we had guests from Vermont who were on their 6th visit, the first having been back in 1998. This couple started at dawn each day and while primarily birding they witnessed plenty of the other wildlife. Each sunset they enjoyed a classic dry martini with olives, and some conversation with Migde (yes, that is the spelling, pronounced mig-day) the bartender.

By the end of the week watching their sunset ritual, I had the image of a martini we might create in their honor. Instead of their favored olives we would put a few small cubes of chilled Harrington’s of Vermont smoked ham. Perhaps just to humor me, they said they would like to try that during their next visit. In the last few days I have been looking into the matter and I can find no evidence that this is a good idea.

I can also find no evidence that it is a bad idea. So I am continuing the investigation. And today I am happy to see a review related to another form of smoked meat, quite different from that of Harrington’s, in this case at a restaurant in Texas. Pete Wells now holds my attention better than any reviewer, on any topic. Anthony Lane, for a long time, held it on the residual strength of the laughter produced by one film review in 2005; his predecessor Pauline Kael also held it a long time before that. In the era of crowd-sourced reviews, the professional is still relevant for a reason. Today’s restaurant review is a case in point:

AUSTIN, Tex. — “How much brisket are you having?” Continue reading

Images Of Immigrants’ Things

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The C.B.P. considers rosaries to be potentially lethal, non-essential personal property, and agents dispose of them during intake. THOMAS KIEFER / INSTITUTE

This story, and these images, would maybe have less impact at another time, but during what seems like an assault on all immigration (hidden behind the veil of fighting illegal immigration) in the USA this exhibition is exceptionally moving:

Tom Kiefer was a Customs and Border Protection janitor for almost four years before he took a good look inside the trash. Every day at work—at the C.B.P. processing center in Ajo, Arizona, less than fifty miles from the border with Mexico—he would throw away bags full of items confiscated from undocumented migrants apprehended in the desert.

Shopping Bags

In addition to backpacks, shopping bags are used to transport food and belongings. Many are durable though non-biodegradable and adverse to the desert environment. THOMAS KIEFER / INSTITUTE

One day in 2007, he was rummaging through these bags looking for packaged food, which he’d received permission to donate to a local pantry. In the process, he also noticed toothbrushes, rosaries, pocket Bibles, water bottles, keys, shoelaces, razors, mix CDs, condoms, contraceptive pills, sunglasses, keys: a vibrant, startling testament to the lives of those who had been detained or deported. Without telling anyone, Kiefer began collecting the items, stashing them in sorted piles in the garages of friends. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he told me recently. “But I knew there was something to be done.”

Toilet Paper

Personal hygiene items such as toilet paper is disposed of during intake.When migrants are apprehended, Customs and Border Protection agents dispose of personal-hygiene items such as toilet paper during intake. THOMAS KIEFER / INSTITUTE

Kiefer, who is now fifty-eight, had moved to Ajo from Los Angeles, in 2001, hoping to simplify his life, purchase a home, and focus on his passion: taking pictures. (Previously, he’d been a collector and dealer of antique cast-iron bed frames, and, before that, a graphic designer.) He took the C.B.P. job, in 2003, for purely practical reasons: it paid ten dollars and forty-two cents an hour, and it seemed unlikely to steal mental space away from his photography projects. Now he began photographing his C.B.P. collection in his studio, arranging and rearranging items, sometimes putting Continue reading

Model Mad, Musical

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Timbers specializes in offbeat revisionist fantasies about historical figures.Photograph by Pari Dukovic for The New Yorker

Our goal, linking out to stories like this, is not to politicize this platform; it is to showcase creative problem-solving, akin to our fascination with and commitment to entrepreneurial conservation. That is what we mean by model mad. We are wary, and weary of the name of the polarizing figure, but resolutely curious to read about how others are dealing with it. Even with a title like A PROTEST MUSICAL FOR THE TRUMP ERA we know it will deliver on the creative side rather than the political. Thanks to Rebecca Mead for a well-focused message:

Five actors gathered in a room on Lafayette Street, in downtown Manhattan, to start rehearsing a new work for the Public Theatre, “Joan of Arc: Into the Fire.” Written by David Byrne, formerly of the Talking Heads, the show recast the enduring, improbable story of Joan—a teen-age girl in medieval France who experienced divine visions, led an army to defeat an occupying power, and was burned at the stake for heresy—as a rock musical that spoke to the current political moment. Continue reading

Liquid Renaissance

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Sullivan Doh, owner-mixologist at Le Syndicat in Paris.Credit Charissa Fay

We are pleased to read of Mr. Field, in some ways doing in Paris what we have just noted happening with cacao in the Caribbean–a kind of renaissance of beverages that is also on our agenda in Belize:

The Slow Rise of Craft Cocktails in Paris

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28tmag-cocktails-slide-Q0D3-master180.jpgIn her new book, “The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement” ($30, amazon.com), the writer (and T contributor) Lindsey Tramuta documents the creative and cultural shift she has witnessed in the city in recent years. Below is a passage on the rise of craft cocktails there.

To say that cocktails are a new phenomenon in Paris is to overlook a culture of distilling liquors dating back to the 1800s, one that gained greater traction more than one hundred years later during American prohibition, when newly unemployed bartenders came to Europe in droves and landed in some of the continent’s best hotel bars. Continue reading

A Beverage Commentary We Can Relate To

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Blackberry Cooler, Orchid Thief and Mumbai Mule.Credit Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Rebecca Bartoshesky.

We have never before seen an article by this author that would be considered relevant to the themes we write about, link to, and find worthy of promotion; normally she writes about “drinks,” drinking culture, bar stuff. But here she touches on a theme we have spoken of often among ourselves in our day to day work (but would not likely have ever written about here): that ridiculous word “mocktail” — the word police should come and take it away, lock it up and throw away the key.

On the other hand, we have been watching and tasting in amazement as our beverage teams in India, Costa Rica, Belize and Baja all come up with ever-more inventive ways to enjoy liquids that do not intoxicate. Our biggest challenge, after they do the heavy lifting on the chemistry side of the equation is finding words worthy of a name, and worthy of a category that means non-alcoholic. So, hats off to Rosie on this one:

Don’t Call Them ‘Mocktails’

By

I’m always thrilled when a certain former drinking buddy comes to see me at the bar. He stopped drinking alcohol years ago, but he’s as fun to be around as he was when we sat side by side at a corner bar in TriBeCa many nights in the ’90s — probably more so. Continue reading

‘Tis the Season for Creative Arborescent Decision-Making

photo credit: Carol Fernandez

photo credit: Carol Fernandez

Real Vs. Fake Trees – Which is Better for the Environment?

Tis the season for an age-old question: Which kind of Christmas tree – real or fake – is better for the environment?

We love this question, because it’s an example of a simple choice that anyone and everyone can make that can reduce our impacts on the environment.

We also love this question because, like many environmental issues, the answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Our #1 recommendation? Buy a real tree. Read on for more details on the impacts of both real and fake Christmas trees, and then make the choice that’s right for you. And check out our 12 Tree Tips for other earth-friendly holiday decoration tips.

REAL CHRISTMAS TREES

In 2015, 26.9 million trees were purchased from live Christmas tree farms – more than twice the number of fake trees purchased (12 million).   Continue reading

Organic, If Not Natural, Beauty

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German artist Diane Scherer creates low-relief sculptures made from plant roots. DIANA SCHERER

Thanks to Wired for this bit of intrigue:

Artist Teaches Roots To Grow In Beautiful, Alien Patterns

by MARGARET RHODES

THE HUMAN RACE has a long history of bending nature to its will. The results of this relationship can be devastating—but they can also be strikingly beautiful, as German artist Diane Scherer skillfully proves with her low-relief sculptures made from plant roots.

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Scherer grows these works of art by planting oat and wheat seeds in soil, and then carefully, meticulously, warping the growth pattern. DIANA SCHERER

Scherer grows these works of art by planting oat and wheat seeds in soil, and then carefully, meticulously, warping the growth pattern. She prefers to train her roots into geometric patterns found in nature, like honeycomb structures, or foliate designs reminiscent of Middle Eastern arabesques. Continue reading

New Directions In Art

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Flexn artists, photo by Sodium for MIF 2015

We had not heard of Flexn until this week, when they were mentioned in a podcast with the phenomenal Peter Sellars (alluded to once previously in these pages, and linked to another time directly). Now we want to know more. And it looks like one way to learn more will happen at The Shed. Back in August, when we first heard about The Shed, it was a quick glance at the future. Now we have more detail, thanks to this early release of a profile in next week’s New Yorker:

ALEX POOTS, PERFORMANCE ART IMPRESARIO

How will the director of New York’s ambitious experimental cultural center change the city?

By Calvin Tomkins

Every so often, it seems, visual artists are stricken by the urge to perform. The “happenings” movement in the nineteen-sixties—young painters and sculptors doing nonverbal theatre—was explained as a response to Pollock, de Kooning, and other gestural Abstract Expressionists: it was the gesture without the painting. Continue reading

Living Walls

As Kochi is awash with participating artists putting finishing touches on their Kochi-Muziris Biennale works, it’s exciting to see art flourishing in other cities on a regular basis.

Atlanta’s Living Walls seeks to promote, educate and change perspectives about public space in local communities via street art.  Dozens of international artists participate in an annual conference on street art and urbanism that began in August 2010 in the city of Atlanta. Continue reading

Dr. Seuss, Champion Of The Unusual

drawing5_smWe were led to this by a news/feature story, but the background material is even more interesting than the feature in the news. Here is a note worth a moment of your time:

Dr. Seuss was a storyteller in the grandest sense of the word. Not only did he tell fantastical tales of far-away places but he also gave us a unique visual language that carried his stories to new heights of artistic expression. Surrealism provided the foundation from which he built his career, but like a launch pad sitting idle just before liftoff, surrealism was soon to be engulfed in the flames of ridiculous fun and its launch tower thrown to the ground with each new editorial cartoon, magazine cover, painting, or children’s bookContinue reading

Fiber Fashion

PiñatexTM production will bring new income opportunities for pineapple harvest farmers in developing countries, with the initial development stage taking place in the Philippines

We’re not insensitive to the frequent commentary on both news and social media by animal rights activists against viewing animals as commodities. With those feelings in mind, this discovery of Ananas Anam, a not for profit organization that is developing leather-like textiles using natural fibers that are the by-product of the pineapple harvest, is an exciting one.

I’ll definitely be on the look out for Pinatex products and hope our readers will as well!

ananas- anam – new materials for a new world

OUR SOCIAL IMPACT

Ananas Anam supports pineapple-farming communities in the Philippines. We are developing a new industry that will enhance the social network in rural areas as farmers will be able to sell fibres as a commercial and viable proposition.

Furthermore, the farming communities will benefit from the potential output of natural fertilizer/biogas which is the by-product of fibre extraction.

Other pineapple-growing developing countries will join the Philippines in the production of Piñatex, which will support local economies and strengthen their exports. Continue reading

Birdsong – Making Visible the Invisible

We recently posted on artist Xavi Bou‘s creative use of chronophotography, a series of photos that capture the illusion of movement, to craft still portraits of birds in flight.

Australian artist Andy Thomas specializes in creating ‘audio life forms’: beautiful abstract shapes that react to sounds. These videos were created using computer program to activate particle effects from digitally captured bird sounds. Continue reading

Ornitographies – Making Visible the Invisible

Great cormorants, Ibars Swamp, Catalonia (Courtesy of Xavi Bou)

Great cormorants, Ibars Swamp, Catalonia (Courtesy of Xavi Bou)

Birds are photogenic in their own right, but this creative capture of their flight by artist Xavi Bou is both innovative and etherial. A geologist and photographer by training, Xavi’s love of birds goes back to childhood.

Xavi Bou focuses on birds, his great passion, in order to capture in a single time frame, the shapes they generate when flying, making visible the invisible.

Unlike other motion analysis which preceded it, Ornitographies moves away from the scientific approach of chronophotography used by photographers like Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey. Continue reading

Veggies Punching Above Their Weight

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PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC HELGAS FOR THE NEW YORKER

When scanning the hard news, feature stories, reviews and profiles we are on the lookout for stories that address any of a group of themes, generally related to better treatment of the planet we live on. We are interested in creative approaches to making better human treatment of the natural world more likely, more palatable, so to speak. After reading this article about magnificent results from modest parcels of land cared for by relatively common folk, we see a parallel theme in this restaurant review; it qualifies:

DINING FOR THE MODERN HERBIVORE

“Vegan” evokes two images: judgment for abstemious virtue or scarcity on meat-centric menus. Neither happens at Ladybird.

By Jiayang Fan

…Of some two dozen tapas, the most successful were the least expected and the most unassuming. The olives and cornichons—perfectly pert, coated in seasoned rice flour and gently fried in chili oil—proved to be the kind of addictive nibblers that make you forget the etiquette of communal dining. Continue reading

Save Your Screen Time, Kochi!

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 “main stage” doesn’t start until December, but Kochi is already throbbing with activity – from the Piramal Art Residency at Pepper House to introductions to this year’s participating artists on the KMB Facebook page.

Interested in film and video? The Signs Festival 2016 begins in less than a week at the Kochi Town Hall on September 28th.

SiGNS, the pioneering festival in India for digital videos featuring national level competition for documentaries and short fiction for the prestigious John Abraham National Awards. John Abraham Awards was instituted in 1999 by the Kerala Region of Federation of Film Societies of India  Continue reading