Category Archives: Visual

Midterm Season (and a pic of a bluebird)…


I have been way too busy to post anything lately. With midterms (grading) approaching I don’t expect much opportunity to post over the next week or so. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a bluebird on our balcony and these blog posts:

Airforce Amazons continues with the series Heart of Darkness, the Core and the Gap. This is Part 5

Bob from Brockley on the credit crunch

But I am a Liberal! on Ron Paul

Lots of material at Contentions on the Obama-Ayers connection and why it matters here, here, here and here.

Contentious Centrist on out of control political analogies

Don’t Trip Up on Afghanistan

Greater Surbiton: The multilateralist castle built on sand

Modernity Blog: No end of Fascist Cockroaches and their Allies

NeoConstant on Somalian pirates

Snoopy (Simply Jews) on Yom Kippur canards

Sultan Knish discusses victimization



[All images from LACMA website.]

Besides hanging out at the beach and eating, we also checked out these exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). LACMA holds a special significance for me as my grandmother (זיכרונה לברכה) worked there for close to twenty years. I fondly recall going in through the back doors, seeing material in crates being unloaded from trucks and opened up in the spaces closed off to regular visitors. It was a real insider perspective on what it takes to keep a museum operating. That and everyone was always real nice to me, a young child with an interest in art, culture and history. Whenever I make it back to LACMA I visit my grandma’s department and remember her love, intelligence and sense of style. Unfortunately the department was being remodeled so I was not able to pay a visit this time. But I did see the following:

The Age of Imagination: Japanese Art, 1615-1868, from the Price Collection

The Etsuko and Joe Price Collection is world-renowned for its collection of Japanese paintings of the Edo Period (1615–1868) featuring screens, hanging scrolls, and fan-format paintings. The Price Collection reflects the eclectic diversity of a remarkably creative span in Japan’s history of visual art and is highlighted by some of the finest examples of the distinctive and compelling renderings of animal life by Ito Jakuchu (1716–1800), an artist who caught Joe Price’s eye five decades ago, when the artist was fairly unknown. The collection also features Kansai-region artists such as Maruyama Okyo, Nagasawa Rosetsu, and Mori Sosen, and artists of the Edo Rimpa school including Sakai Hoitsu and Suzuki Kiitsu. The exhibition has been on a four-city tour in Japan with enormous success; it was the highest-attended exhibition in the world in 2006.

Watch a video here.

Hosoe Eikoh and Butoh: Photographing Strange Notions

Hosoe Eikoh (b. 1933) is considered a preeminent contemporary Japanese photographer and filmmaker; he emerged in the experimental arts movement of post-World War II Japan. This exhibition consists of three series of works featuring butoh, an iconoclastic dance form often employing grotesque imagery and transmutation of the dancer into either an animal or person of the opposite sex. Two murals will be displayed, one based on the 2003 photographic series Ukiyo-E Projections and the other based on a series of photographs in which the butoh dancer, Ohno Kazuo, dances within projections of a folding screen painted by Soga Shohaku, an eccentric artist living in Kyoto at the end of the eighteenth century. These photographs will be transformed by the artist into a mural that expresses his interpretation of Shohaku’s work. A third series, Kamaitachi, will be presented as framed photographs. Kamaitachi refers to a swirling, cutting wind, in legend depicted as a supernatural being that haunted the Japanese countryside of Hosoe’s childhood. Using the avant-garde artist and dancer Tatsumi Hijikata, Hosoe created a series of photographs with the dancer seen as this wandering ghost, mirroring the stark landscape and confronting farmers and children.

Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement

Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement is the largest exhibition of cutting-edge Chicano art ever presented at LACMA. Chicano art, traditionally described as work created by Americans of Mexican descent, was established as a politically and culturally inspired movement during the counterculture revolutions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This exhibition explores the more experimental tendencies within the Chicano art movement—ones oriented less toward painting and declarative polemical assertion than toward conceptual art, performance, film, photo- and media-based art, and “stealthy” artistic interventions in urban spaces. The exhibition includes approximately 125 works in all media, including painting and sculpture as well as installation, conceptual, video, performance art, and intermedia works that incorporate film, digital, and sound art. Artists featured are photographer Christina Fernandez, who documents the poetic and “phantom” in the urban landscape; Mario Ybarra Jr., who creates performances, site-specific installations and intermedia works; the “intermedia synaesthesia” of the seminal conceptual art group Asco; and the New York-based artist Nicola López, who creates dramatic installations with drawings that extend from the wall into the gallery.

Check out the slide show here.

Ceviche de Pescado Recipe (for Noga)


The first time I had ceviche was in a small cantina in Merida, Mexico (Yucatan) back in 1987. Three beers for 1000 pesos (less than a dollar) and free botanas (Yucatecan snacks) kept coming out of the small kitchen as long as you were paying for drinks. There were some of the standards including taquitos but I had never seen, let alone tasted, ceviche. They served two varieties, fish and conch. Both were excellent. After marinating for so long the conch had the texture of chicken breast with 100 times the flavor.

When I got home I told all of my friends how delicious both types of ceviche were. They seemed confused, some even disgusted. “Raw fish marinated in citrus juice? How could you eat that?” When I made some for one of my backyard barbeques they changed their tune.

Twenty years later, ceviche is all the rage in California and NYC. Little did I realize that this cantina snack would acquire a reputation similar to sushi as well as demanding a hefty price tag in trendy restaurants.

Here is my variation of ceviche. It isn’t totally true to the version I had in that cantina (they used a white fish) but it always gets great reviews from friends and guests.


Two or Three large Ahi Tuna steaks

10-12 Limes or Lemons

Cilantro (how much is up to you. I love the stuff)

One Small or Medium Onion (preferable Vidalia, Maui, or some other sweet onion)

One or Two tomatoes

Jalapenos (how many? Depends on how hot you like it! I generally use two to three, depending on how hot they are. If you want it more mild, remove the seeds and ribs.)

One or Two Avocados (Preferable Haas, the one with bumpy skin)

Salt and Fresh Pepper to taste


1) Juice the lemons or limes into a large glass bowl.

2) Cut the tuna into small square pieces, about ½ inch by ½ inch. You don’t want it much smaller than that. Put those in the bowl with the citrus juice.

3) Dice the onion and jalapenos and place in the bowl with juice and tuna.

4) You’ll want to let this mixture marinate overnight, at least twelve hours but not more then twenty. The tuna will change color from red to white. Some people marinate it in the bowl but I pour the mixture out into a plastic bag to make sure the juices are distributed evenly. You don’t need a special bag. The sort that you put your vegetables in at the supermarket will do just fine.

5) After the fish has marinated pour the mixture into a serving dish. Depending on how much juice you have there will either be no liquid in the bag (preferable) or a lot of liquid. If there is a lot of liquid, poor it off before you place the mixture in the serving dish.

6) Dice the tomato and chop the cilantro and mix this into your fish/citrus/onion/jalapeno mixture before serving.

7) Top it off with chunks of Haas avocado.

8 ) Salt and Pepper to taste. You may not need any salt so taste it first.

How you serve it is up to you. Some people like it on a tostada shell (preferably home made) or tortilla chips (again, much better homemade) but my favorite is on top of a Saltine cracker. That’s the way they served it in Merida. If you want it a bit more spicy, put a couple of dashes of Tapatio hot sauce on it. Nothing but Tapatio will do for me.

You’ll want something to drink with this and I recommend an ice cold Mexican beer. I prefer Modelo Especial (in the bottle). A bit more substance than Corona or Tecate but not so heavy that you can’t taste the wonderful flavors of the ceviche.


PS: This needs to be eaten in one sitting. It does not keep well at all. So make sure you invite some friends over. As far as the number of servings, that depends on how hungry your guests are!

Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk


[H/t Mom]

I received a copy of Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk in the mail yesterday. Most readers are probably familiar with Szyk’s art. I posted the “Four Sons” image from his illuminated Haggadah earlier this year.

As I mentioned in that post, a problem common to much political art is the political content takes precedent over the quality of the drawing, painting, sculpture, etc. Szyk, by contrast, is a political artist who is truly a master. His biography is incredibly interesting as well. Born in Lodz, Poland (1894) and expelled from high school for producing anti-Czarist, pro-Zionist sketches, Szyk went on to study art in Paris, Krakow and Palestine. He fought in the Russian Army during World War I (1914) and as an anti-Bolshevik guerilla during the Polish-Bolshevik War (1921). He also served as Artistic Director of the Department of Propaganda for the Polish Army from 1919-1920. For Szyk, the ideal type of modern Jew is a warrior who fights for his dignity and for that of others.

Szyk was an early anti-fascist and his caricatures of Axis leaders in Collier’s, Coronet, and other magazines are perhaps his best known work besides the Haggadah. Eleanor Roosevelt termed him “ a one-man army” against fascism. Examples below:

Szyk believed in the promise of the American Dream and celebrated America’s gift of Liberty to the world writing, “In America, I have found the home I always searched for. Here I can speak of what my soul feels. There is no other place on earth that gives the freedom, liberty and justice that America does.”

At the same time, he recognized this country’s faults (racism, injustice) and supported the civil-rights movement and the labor movement.

Szyk was a dedicated Zionist. Gad Nahshon (Jewish Post) writes, “Szyk and his wife, Julia, served the Irgun with love and dedication. He fought for justice with Peter Bergson, Ben-Hecht, Shmuel Merlin, Yitshag Ben Ami, Harry Selden, Stella Adler and Eri Jabotinsky, to name a few.” Despite his obvious dedication to the Jewish people and state, the revisionist strain of Zionism which motivated Szyk and his strong advocacy of the Irgun may explain why his work has never been exhibited in Israel.

In another sad irony, Szyk, a life-long anti-communist, was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) for his supposed relations with a group affiliated with the Communist Party. Friends and close associates feel the disillusionment he experienced from this event led to his death by heart-failure in 1951.

The image below compares the ships bringing Jewish refugees to Israel to the Mayflower.

If you have never seen his work, it is fantastic. These digital images do not capture the vibrancy of his color palette but you can at least get an idea. This last image is Hillel:

Geert Wilders’ Fitna


Fitna, the controversial video on Islamist terrorism by Dutch politician Geert Wilders was removed from due to “threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill-informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly lead to the harm of some of our staff, has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.”

It is still available on YouTube.