Posts Tagged ‘education’

when it rains, it pours

I haven’t updated in a week. What is this, last summer? But I have an excuse! Several, actually. Let’s catch up.

1. Last Thursday morning, B. went to meet with a professor at school. He came back an hour later, with my best friend (who lives in Virginia! Who just got back from living in Cambodia! And Korea before that!) in tow. A surprise visit! I freaked out and couldn’t stop screaming and bouncing for ten minutes. Then we all ate lunch at Short’s, made those ridiculous enchiladas the next night, went to Amana on Saturday and had brunch at Blackstone on Sunday, and for a change of pace, ate some more and lay around watching movies. She left on Monday. Sad.

2. My birthday was on Sunday! I’ve been trying to come up with a witty way to broach the subject of now, officially, entering my mid-twenties, but I believe that would require me to feel discernibly older. Which I don’t. When people mention something about “the last decade,” my brain immediately leapfrogs to the nineties, not the 00’s. Clearly, I am stuck in some kind of ageless time warp, but maybe the next point will help on the “feeling older” thing.

3. I’ve been dropping breadcrumbs on this subject since London, but since it’s official, I’ll come out and say it: next fall, I will be taking my place at a stellar grad school on a full-tuition-plus-living-stipend fellowship. The town is both smaller and colder than Iowa City! I can’t wait to (a) start, and (b) blow all my money on a puffy down coat that I deemed unnecessary for these Midwestern winters (a dusting of snow yesterday morning, by the way) but am finally caving into for this return to the Northeast. (Any suggestions?)

4. I am leaving Iowa City in a little over a month. For good. Haven’t bought a plane ticket yet (maybe I should get on that?), but it’s coming, and not soon after May 1st, I will be winging back to the East Coast. My number one goal before leaving: visit the Grant Wood House, which is a real house, and in which someone actually lives. In fact, the woman who lives there writes a blog! about pie! Oh yes, there is a road trip to Eldon in my future. Ain’t that America.


five things

{having inherited my mother’s need to eat at least every two hours, i never travel without a snack — this time, it’s trail mix plus peanut butter and and milk chocolate chips}

In just a couple hours, I’ll be getting on a plane to Dallas, and from there a plane to London. I can’t wait: I’ve only been to London once before, and that over ten years ago, so I remember little apart from Big Ben, a Thames river cruise, and the crown jewels. I’m so excited for a new, grown up experience that’ll include the British Museum and the Tate Modern, Indian food and gastropubs, vintage markets, and a walk down Portobello Road. This visit is ostensibly a test drive to see if I’d like living in London for a year (I’ve been accepted into a graduate program there), but I’m sure to have a splendid time with Clara, high school friend and London resident, either way. In the meantime, as I ready myself for a jet across the pond, here are five things I can’t travel without.

{my increasingly ancient ipod loaded with some new favorites like adele and florence + the machine}

{scarves are my jam: my collection numbers in the dozens and i wear them as much in summer as in winter. this floaty turquoise number will be coming with me and doubling as a blanket or pillow on the plane}

{i was super proud to score this watch one for over 60% off the retail price on ruelala}

{books are friends, and i can’t wait to travel with this new one — i’m counting on its 330 pages to last me the way there and back home}

quick hit: pollock for keeps

We had a little (by which I mean “big”) deaccessioning drama play out in Iowa over the last couple weeks. You’d be forgiven for not catching it; this isn’t exactly national news fodder, for all it should be. But I’m telling you about it now.

The University of Iowa has a Jackson Pollock painting. I bet you didn’t know that. Just like the Museum of Modern Art, the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) has a Pollock. And not just a sketch, but a large, important, relatively early painting gifted to the university by Peggy Guggenheim and appropriately titled Mural. It is easily the state’s most famous painting.

After the 2008 flood, which destroyed the art museum, Mural was relocated to the Figge Museum in Davenport, about an hour away. Its house, which is to say, the museum building, has not been rebuilt — the collection is dispersed between the Figge, the Iowa Memorial Union, the Studio Art building, and others — and soon after the waters receded there were calls to sell the Pollock to offset the costs of repairing flood damage. They quickly died down. One wonders what the point of rebuilding an art museum would be, if the Pollock were not inside.

But we don’t have to go anywhere near these philosophical questions, for it is not allowed on purely legal grounds. Peggy Guggenheim plainly donated the painting with the expectation that it be used in teaching, and she wrote that the Pollock should be returned to her, rather than sold, if ever the museum wished to deaccession it. As the UIMA pointed out, if her descendants chose to pursue the matter in court, “We could end up losing the work with no compensation.” Moreover, the American Association of Museums specifies that proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned works can only be put toward acquisitions or direct care of the collection. You can’t sell a painting to pay for a new carpet. You can’t sell a painting to raise salaries, or otherwise cover operational costs. And, it should be abundantly clear, you cannot sell a painting to fund an entirely separate scholarship program.

It should be abundantly clear, yes, but this did not stop State Representative Scott Raecker, Republican (of course*) from proposing a bill that would have forced the university to sell the Pollock to create a trust fund. (*Side note: Yes, it is always Republicans, and yes, I do feel compelled to point this out, if only to draw further attention to the blazing hypocrisy of a political party that crows “small government! no government intrusion!” while somewhere finding the gall to reach into a single art museum and remove a single painting. We saw this on a much larger scale this winter, when the Republican Congress threatened to pull the National Portrait Gallery’s funding over a four-minute video. But I’m sure you remember that mess. So let’s move on.)

The question of funding arts and (not versus) funding scholarships is a challenging and important one, all the more so during trying financial times. But we must ask, again, what is the point of funding art history or studio art students (as the bill would have, sort of) if they don’t have any art to study? The trade-off is so clearly, so blatantly, so horns-blowingly nonsensical, and thankfully other representatives realized this. The Pollock story has a happy ending: the bill died in the legislature after just twelve days. Mural remains safe in its cozy Iowa home.

breakfast of champions

Last night, I dreamed I had been interviewed by a very friendly student at a graduate program and woke up feeling quite relieved. Then I realized the telephone interview had not yet taken place, and that it would certainly not be conducted by a jovial colleague only three years my senior. So I spent the morning rereading past essays and exhibition catalogs, reviewing college notes, and jotting down answers to potential questions, from the likely (“Why grad school? Why art history?”) to the slightly further out (the infamous “What is your greatest weakness?”).

Of course, because these are the questions I prepared, I wasn’t asked any of them. That’s just the way the world works. Slightly tangential variations on them yes, but also one question that hadn’t even occurred to me and left me grasping wildly for recent museum exhibitions to discuss. (Yves Klein! Marina Abramovic! Chagall at the Art Institute! Sure, now they come easily.) (It’s okay, though, I mentioned a couple in my thank you email. Nothing if not tenacious here, people.)

Otherwise, though, I think the chat went quite smoothly. I think I kept my manic nervous giggle thing to a minimum, a blessing for the both of us. And I talked about a Hans Grundig painting at LACMA and my interest in provenance research and Nazi looting, and probably, you know, not everyone can pontificate chat what something approaching knowledge about those things. So there’s that.

But you want to hear about these turnovers, don’t you? First of all, I am sad to report that they are not what I had for breakfast this morning. (That would be fruit. Law prom’s this weekend, you know, and puff pastry midweek isn’t exactly the wisest choice for me. The beginning of the week is, of course, a different foxhunt altogether.) (Name that TV show!) This is what I made for the morning of Valentine’s Day.

I hate when people say a complicated (at least, complicated-looking) dish just “fell together,” but I promise that this one did. I had some leftover dough from the rolling out the quiche crust and I had some unused puff pastry and cranberries hanging around the freezer. From there, I just had to buy a couple apples, slice an orange and dig the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg out of my pantry. I filled and sealed the turnovers on Sunday, refrigerated them overnight, and had only to bake them on Monday. They puffed up nice and golden (especially the puff pastry; who knew!?) and the piping hot filling was sticky and rich, sweet with a tart edge. Hey, it’s breakfast: it couldn’t be a total apple pie rip-off.

Apple-Cranberry Turnovers
(Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, who serves them as dessert and is erroneously overlooking their beautiful function as breakfast food)

For 8 turnovers

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/4 pounds tart apples, such as Granny Smith (about 3 apples)
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 handful fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Combine the orange juice and zest in a bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples, then cut into bite-sized pieces, less than an inch all around. Immediately toss apples with the orange to prevent browning. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and toss well.

Flour your work surface and roll each puff pastry sheet to a 12″ by 12″ square. Turn the pastry frequently to prevent sticking. Cut each square into quarters and keep cool until ready to use.

Brush the edge of each square with the beaten egg (or, if you’re like me, forget this step) and spoon about 1/3 cup of apple mixture into the center of the square. Top with several cranberries. (N.B. I added them last because I didn’t want their juices to run and make the entire turnover super tart.) Fold the pastry diagonally, over the filling, and seal by pressing the edges with a fork. At this point, you can refrigerate them overnight, or even freeze them for longer than that.

To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange turnovers on a baking sheet and brush tops with beaten egg. Sprinkle each with a couple teaspoons sugar and cut two small slits in the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

cheers to that

Ladies and gentleman: as of midnight last night, I have officially finished applying to grad school. Everything is submitted. For those keeping track at home, that includes three professors’ recommendation letters (and wasn’t THAT a cause for premature graying), transcripts, tailored statements of purpose, writing sample and the accompanying images, resumes, GRE scores, application forms, and heinously expensive application fees that I am trying to recast as “professional investments,” but having a spot of trouble with, because where does a city university get the nerve to charge a $125 processing fee?

Oh, what’s that you say? It’s my first choice? And they can do whatever they want? And I would still apply? Okay then. I’ll shut up.

This process was an adventure, diplomatically speaking. Read: it gave me the vapors. I have had to Fedex overnight more applications and/or supplements than I care to admit. Basically, I had better get in somewhere, because at this point I would rather just not go, just can the whole Master’s thing, than go through this smelling-salts-clutching process once more.

So I hope I get in somewhere. Or somewheres.

Anyway, the cookies. Wouldn’t you like to know about those. Several reasons for baking them: to toast the end of applications; to thank our good samaritan, snow-blowing neighbor with a special delivery; and to honor a very special, yet little-known holiday, one which officially falls tomorrow but that I couldn’t help celebrating early. Please tune in then, and do yourself a favor: make sure you have Nutella on hand.

thought of the day

Art galleries are laboratories where artists can take chances. And that’s a scary thing. Not just for the artist, but for the viewer. Unlike a museum, there’s no docent, no wall text, no art history book to tell you what’s good or bad, what it all means, why it’s so expensive or what it’s made of.

That’s scary, yes, but it can also be thrilling, as with anything that’s brand new. There’s a rush that comes from being among the first to experience something that’s never been seen before.

— Michael O’Sullivan in the Washington Post

last night’s snack, v. 2

Last night I turned in two more grad school applications. That’s a total of six down, two to go. (In fact, maybe just one, depending on how uppity/over-analytical I get over a prospective professor’s snippy email.) The process is no longer difficult: recommendation letters, GRE scores, and transcripts are all in, CVs and writing samples have been definitively slapped with a “NO TINKERING ALLOWED” banner, and personal statements only require the substitution a single, school-specific paragraph. It is not difficult. It remains, however, a muddy-watered combination of mind-numbingly dull busy work and high-pressure, high-stress tight-rope walking. For instance, B.U., why you gotta make me manually input my entire employment history since 2005 if you ask for a CV anyway? Why you gotta do that? But as one-time roommate, longtime friend, and fellow sufferer-in-arms Ksenia bracingly observed, “Make some tea. I will too. We can have a virtual tea and crumpet session. We are making it out alive!!!!” And isn’t that a thought for sore minds!