Monday, December 18, 2006

Special Exhibitions

The Met is having a special exhibition: The Americans in Paris 1860-1900, that will be open until January 28, 2007. In the late 19th century, American artists by the hundreds - including such luminaries as James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Thomes Eakins, and Winslow Homer - were irresistably drawn to Paris, the world's new art capital. By studying with leading masters and showing their works in Paris, these artists aimed to attract patronage from American collectors who had begun to buy contemporary French art in earnest soon after the end of the American Civil War. Paris inspired decicive changes in American painters' styles and subjects, and stimulated the creation of more sophisticated art schools and higher professional standards back in the United States.

The National Gallery now has an exhibit: Strokes of Genius: Rembradt's Prints and Drawings, as well as Master Drawings from the Woodner Collection. The latter is only open until Dec. 31, 2006.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I met a man as I was going to St. Ives...

I have just discovered a new (modern) school of painting that I really admire. I stumbled across it after touring a home for sale, whose previous owners had excellent taste in art. I wrote down a couple of artist's names and began looking them up. It's called the St. Ives School of Painting. I'm posting some samples of their work. Eric Ward, David Beer and Simon King are among the artists who I particularly like.

They offer courses year-round, such as Printing Without a Press, and Towards Abstraction:

St. Ives is considered by many to be the cradle of British abstract painting, and with so many contemporary galleries, including the Tate, close by, we have the ideal setting for this workshop. The first morning will be spent walking and gathering visual references to be used over the three days. Through practical exercises and with the help of the tutors, students will find their own path towards abstraction, a journey that will be placed in the context of the post-war St Ives modernist movement. All materials necessary to complete the course are provided.

Another reason why I need to go to England!


After doing a bit more research, it is no wonder that I love these painters! Here's a review in The Burlington Magazine about The Artists of St Ives. London, by Julian Spalding [The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 127, No. 985 (Apr., 1985), pp. 246-248]:

"The small Cornish fishing town of St Ives had proved so attractive to British artists during the last hundred years that it is difficult to think of many who did not spend some time working either in it or close by. Artists as diverse as Whistler and Alan Davie, Matthew Smith and Joe Tilson, were drawn to it, not to mention whole generations of academic painters who made a living there painting holiday scenes for city dwellers. Cheap accomodation, a warm climate and good light combined to make St Ives the ideal artists' resort and, during the war, the ideal artists' retreat. The question that these exhibitions and the recent spate of literature* raises is whether or not St Ives was more than an interesting sideshow in the history of British art, more than just a local peg on which to hang a battery of disparate talents."

* More reading:

A Sense of Place, A Sense of Light, Cornwall. Introduction by David Brown

Painting in the Warmth of the Sun: St Ives 1939-75. By Tom Cross

The St Ives Years--Essays on the Growth of an Artistic Phenomenon. By Peter Davies

Monday, December 11, 2006

More on Babies and Food

Today I picked up Super Foods for Children. I like it because it goes through each food and tells it's nutritional value and also gives sample menus for each age that are seasonal--so all the food is fresh! (It's best for the information, than the recipes).

CW suggests Super Baby Foods too. It teaches you to make your own cereal.

On Introducing Solids, etc.

CW sent me this article, which is really GREAT! I know it's long, but it's really good.

(AP) -- Ditch the rice cereal and mashed peas, and make way for enchiladas, curry and even -- gasp! -- hot peppers.

It's time to discard everything you think you know about feeding babies. It turns out most advice parents get about weaning infants onto solid foods -- even from pediatricians -- is more myth than science.

That's right, rice cereal may not be the best first food. Peanut butter doesn't have to wait until after the first birthday. Offering fruits before vegetables won't breed a sweet tooth. And strong spices? Bring 'em on.

"There's a bunch of mythology out there about this," says Dr. David Bergman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor. "There's not much evidence to support any particular way of doing things."

Word of that has been slow to reach parents and the stacks of baby books they rely on to navigate this often intimidating period of their children's lives. But that may be changing.

As research increasingly suggests a child's first experiences with food shape later eating habits, doctors say battling obesity and improving the American diet may mean debunking the myths and broadening babies' palates.

It's easier -- and harder -- than it sounds. Easier because experts say 6-month-olds can eat many of the same things their parents do. Harder because it's tough to find detailed guidance for nervous parents.

"Parents have lost touch with the notion that these charts are guides, not rules," says Rachel Brandeis, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Babies start with a very clean palate and it's your job to mold it."

It's easy to mistake that for a regimented process. Most parents are told to start rice cereal at 6 months, then slowly progress to simple vegetables, mild fruits and finally pasta and meat.

Ethnic foods and spices are mostly ignored by the guidelines -- cinnamon and avocados are about as exotic as it gets -- and parents are warned off potential allergens such as nuts and seafood for at least a year.

Yet experts say children over 6 months can handle most anything, with a few caveats: Be cautious if you have a family history of allergies; introduce one food at a time and watch for any problems; and make sure the food isn't a choking hazard.

Parents elsewhere in the world certainly take a more freewheeling approach, often starting babies on heartier, more flavorful fare -- from meats in African countries to fish and radishes in Japan and artichokes and tomatoes in France.

The difference is cultural, not scientific, says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' nutrition committee who says the American approach suffers from a Western bias that fails to reflect the nation's ethnic diversity.

Bhatia says he hopes his group soon will address not only that, but also ways to better educate parents about which rules must be followed and which ones are only suggestions.

Rayya Azarbeygui, a 35-year-old Lebanese immigrant living in New York, isn't waiting. After her son was born last year, she decided he should eat the same foods she does -- heavily seasoned Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and baba ghanoush.

"My pediatrician thinks I'm completely crazy," says Azarbeygui, whose son is now 13 months old. "But you know, he sees my child thriving and so says, 'You know what, children in India eat like that. Why not yours?"'

How to introduce healthy children to solid food has rarely been studied. Even the federal government has given it little attention; dietary guidelines apply only to children 2 and older.

In a review of the research, Nancy Butte, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine, found that many strongly held assumptions -- such as the need to offer foods in a particular order or to delay allergenic foods -- have little scientific basis.

Take rice cereal, for example. Under conventional American wisdom, it's the best first food. But Butte says iron-rich meat -- often one of the last foods American parents introduce -- would be a better choice.

Grain cereals might be worst thing

Dr. David Ludwig of Children's Hospital Boston, a specialist in pediatric nutrition, says some studies suggest rice and other highly processed grain cereals actually could be among the worst foods for infants.

"These foods are in a certain sense no different from adding sugar to formula. They digest very rapidly in the body into sugar, raising blood sugar and insulin levels" and could contribute to later health problems, including obesity, he says.

The lack of variety in the American approach also could be a problem. Exposing infants to more foods may help them adapt to different foods later, which Ludwig says may be key to getting older children to eat healthier.

Food allergy fears get some of the blame for the bland approach. For decades doctors have said the best way to prevent allergies is to limit infants to bland foods, avoiding seasonings, citrus, nuts and certain seafood.

But Butte's review found no evidence that children without family histories of food allergies benefit from this. Others suspect avoiding certain foods or eating bland diets actually could make allergies more likely. Some exposure might be a good thing.

And bring on the spices. Science is catching up with the folklore that babies in the womb and those who are breast-fed taste -- and develop a taste for -- whatever Mom eats. So experts say if Mom enjoys loads of oregano, baby might, too.

That's been Maru Mondragon's experience. The 40-year-old Mexican indulged on spicy foods while pregnant with her youngest son, 21-month-old Russell, but not while carrying his 3-year-old brother, Christian.

Christian has a mild palate while his younger brother snacks on jalapenos and demands hot salsa on everything.

"If it is really spicy, he cries, but still keeps eating it," says Mondragon, who moved to Denver four years ago.

That's the sort of approach Bhatia says more parents should know about. Parents should view this as a chance to encourage children to embrace healthy eating habits and introduce them to their culture and heritage.

"So you eat a lot of curry," he says, "try junior on a mild curry."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Great Deal!

I know I haven't posted in a while, things have been really hectic in trying to prepare for my mom's Annual Home Sale. But I just came across these amazing deals on, while I was doing my Christmas shopping... and thought I would pass them along.

Calphalon pans are on HUGE discount right now on Amazon. For example the Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Everyday Pan with Lid is $22.99 down from $168.00!

There are other styles also on sale, as well as a 9 piece set for $184.99 (originally, $492.00).

Kids toys

Oompa is a site for European children's toys (resonably priced!).

These fun blocks are $23.49.