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The Art of Believing in Ellsworth Kelly

For weeks I worked on a stretched piece of canvas 46"x46". I was 16 and this would be my largest work up to that point. I wanted my painting to hang in our living room to match our new blue sofa and I wanted my family to know I was a real artist, worthy of art school.

At the time I was in thrall of the American minimalist Ellsworth Kelly, an American abstract painter, sculptor and printmaker and pioneer of minimalism. I had admired his works at museums and bought his soft cover catalogs of paintings at the museum shop. I loved Kelly’s angles, colors, curves and mediums. I adored his outdoor sculptures that now adorn public places in cities, parks and gardens. He did a number of works using just two colors and decided I would do the same.

Since the sofa was blue, one of the two colors had to be a shade of blue. I experimented and decided white would be the second color. Working with just two colors was a new challenge for me—I love every color and was (and still am) in awe of all of them.

I worked on the canvas every day after school, passing over invites to movies, pizza parties and good times with my friends. I had to meet my self-imposed deadline. I painted in the angled style that was very popular in the 1960s and the curved shaped images that were the rage in the 70s.

When I finished the work, Mother suggested that since my oldest brother’s birthday was coming up, we should have an unveiling after the cake and fanfare. Oh, yes, I was excited.

The day came and Mother and I worked on party decorations and food. We fluffed our new living furniture and I privately hung the painting over the sofa as promised with a white sheet over it. Everyone arrived, we ate and sang Happy Birthday to brother “Bootsie” and my mother said I had a surprise to show and wanted everyone to come into the living room.

Of course I was nervous, but the moment of truth had come. With a quick jerk of the wrist I unveiled my masterpiece. The room got so quiet you could hear a pin drop. My mother quickly started clapping and praise me on what a beautiful color blue I had chosen to match the new sofa. But it was clear to me that not everyone understood or enjoyed abstract art.

My mother kept the painting as long as she lived, and I don’t know where it is now. But she helped me keep believing in myself and pushing forward to being the person I am today. Ellsworth himself died at the end of 2015. His obit reminded me of my high school effort.

Recommended Reading

Endless Summer Cookbook
by Katie Lee, 2015. I used this book all last summer for fun food and entertaining ideas.

Bohemian Modern
by Emily Henson, 2015. I love how she mixes color, texture and styles.

My Kitchen in Rome: Recipes and Notes on Italian Cooking
by Rachel Roddy, 2016. This book makes you want to be in Rome right away!


California Dream Time

Lindbergh Field looks out over San Diego Bay. When you land, it’s right there, sparkling blue splendor dotted with white sails. It’s exactly what you’re looking for.

Cold, dark, icy images evaporate as you step outside and take it in. San Diego is Miami on the West Coast, without the humidity and urban stress. California isn’t tropical, but it makes up for it in vistas and vibes. You can see farther out into the ocean in California and you can feel the limitlessness that has brought 40 million people here in search of—a dream?

I was in San Diego in January, leaving behind for a week the blustery darkness of the nation’s Upper West Side. In the middle of winter in northern climes, you really need it. You need to have the sun recharge your batteries that can run low this time of year. Seeing San Diego in winter is a reminder that somewhere the sun is shining, and the darkness where you live will pass.

A winter getaway line back East offers, “You need some Florida.” Maybe so, but here in Seattle it’s California dream time, waiting for the summer sun to return to the Great Northwest, where everyone wants to be once winter passes.

Tostadas Tonight!

What I like most about Southern California is not the weather (which is usually great), but the food, made with simple clean ingredients creatively combined.

Nothing pleases the palate like fresh avocado (good fat!) lemons, olives, tomatoes and the host of fresh produce that makes tacos and salads irresistible.

On a recent visit to family in San Diego this year, we gathered for a “Tostadas Night” and created unique and personalized combinations of ingredients. This is something the whole family can enjoy preparing and sharing together.

Here is Auntie (Tia) Lutz’s recipe, which she shared with us. You can add as many ingredients as you like and let everyone decide how they want theirs to taste.

Be creative!

Tia Lutz’s Tostadas

  • 8 tostadas (crispy whole corn tortillas) Store ones are fine
  • 1 cup refried beans (can works)
  • 12 ounces shredded rotisserie chicken meat (deli works)
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced into wedges
  • 1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup chunky salsa or diced tomatoes (your favorite jar or can works)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange tostadas on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat beans and chicken separately in the microwave or in small pots on the stove until hot throughout.

Spread tostadas with beans, then top with avocado slices, chicken, cheese, lettuce and salsa and serve immediately.

Yum! Can’t stop at one. And for adults a cold Mexican beer can make it a true South of the Border experience. Enjoy!

Twelve Things I Can't Live Without (right now)

  1. I love my new set of Eiffel Chairs (Black) by Charles and Ray Eames (www.dwr.com)
  2. My day starts off with Eau de Mandarine Amree shower gel By : Hermes. Hints of amber and mandarin scents.(www.hermes.com)
  3. The best Crepe Pan in the world (ok my world) :) Cuisinart 623-24 Chefs Classic Non-Stick 10-Inch crepe pan. I love making crepe for a light treat after enjoying dinner with friends. (www.amazon.com)
  4. Fresh Flowers from your yard or a market.
  5. SAM Rental/Sale Gallery at The Seattle Art Museum. Thanks, Jody Bento for making the magic happen in my own small collection. (www.seattleartmuseum.org)
  6. Jonathan Wood — Abmeyer — Wood Gallery. Thanks for showing me the love when I come to your gallery. (www.abmeyerwood.com)
  7. I love cooking with Le Saunier de Camargue — Fleur De Sel — French Salt. (www.amazon.com)
  8. I keep bottles of Voss Artesian water both Still and Sparkling in my fridge. The water is great and the bottles are very handsome. (www.vosswater.com)
  9. Domaine Jean Royer Cuvee Chateauneuf du Pape 2012. It’s a great French red wine that most will find very good. You can find this wine at most wine shops and supermarkets.
  10. Lemons, I love them!!!!! Cooking, Salads, Garnish, etc... I can’t get enough.
  11. To my dear friends that keep me supplied with great cookware from “Martha Stewart Cookware Collection” (www.amazon.com www.polyvore.com)
  12. Thank you to all of the family and friends that really believe in me. I love you unconditionally.