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Something Flavorful to Sip When You’re Abstaining From Alcohol (or Not)
There’s a conundrum I’ve faced when taking a break from drinking: What to drink? We might be richer than ever in flavored seltzers and “leisure sodas” (that’s actually a thing), but abstaining from alcohol, especially during the holiday season, isn’t easy. Plus, alcohol lends beverages a certain sharpness; remove it, and you often end up with a drink that lacks balance and backbone. “Nonalcoholic cocktails are the most challenging to make,” confirms the former Momofuku bar director John deBary. He spent two years toying with various blends of roots, flowers, clarified juices and vinegars before launching Proteau, his brand of botanical aperitifs, in September. You can taste Ludlow Red — a silky mixture of blackberries, earthy dandelion roots, black pepper, licorice and fig vinegar — at a selection of New York bars and restaurants, like Gramercy Tavern, Momofuku Ko and Please Don’t Tell, or, as of this week, find it online. I like it chilled, no ice, in a wine glass — and it stands up to spicy dishes like mapo tofu. Proteau’s second offering, a sparkling mix of strawberry, rhubarb and hibiscus called Rivington Spritz, will be out next year. Two for $70, drinkproteau.com.
A Glimpse Into the World of Mike Kelley
Hauser & Wirth has spent the last few years breaking down the complex career of Mike Kelley, the Detroit-born, Los Angeles-based artist who died by suicide in 2012 — and if there is a steady theme throughout Kelley’s diverse work, it is his chameleonic ability to leap between genres in order to examine the darkest corners of his own subconscious and memory. Kelley was a conceptual trickster so subtle and clever that in the gallery’s latest view of him, an exhibition called “Timeless Painting,” curated by Jenelle Porter, the word “painting” itself is delivered with a knowing wink. The show’s centerpiece is a remarkable and little-seen installation from 2006 called “Profondeurs Vertes,” which includes slow, panning videos, each projected on its own large screen, of various American paintings from the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the museum Kelley visited as a boy. Viewers are treated to a physical approximation of Kelley’s eyes as a child; as the camera scans the works, we are seeing them, like Kelley himself, as if for the first time. “Mike Kelley: Timeless Painting,” is on view through Jan. 25, 2020, at Hauser & Wirth, 548 West 22nd Street, New York, hauserwirth.com.
Since watching Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” last fall, I have been looking for a pair of tall heeled boots to wear with long A-line skirts, as the actress Mia Goth does in the film’s eerie but stylish reimagining of 1970s Berlin. And so it was a pair of patchwork leather boots that first drew me to the new London-based label Ssōne. Its founder, Caroline Smithson, spent over 20 years working in fashion before starting her own brand earlier this year. The boots, she told me, are stitched from scraps of dead-stock leather by a third-generation artisanal shoemaker in Italy, and Ssōne’s entire ethos is guided by sustainability and handicraft. Smithson will release only two small collections annually, comprising classic styles designed both to last and reduce manufacturing waste. Her latest offering includes a sculptural white balloon-sleeve dress made from hemp (which requires one-third of the water used to process cotton), a brocade suit woven from yarn derived from recycled plastic bottles — and the perfect white A-line skirt to go with the boots, in denim sourced from an environmentally conscious mill. From $402, matchesfashion.com.
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Beautiful Wooden Tableware Inspired by Black Mountain College
Four years ago, Michaele Simmering and Johann Pauwen, the co-founders of the Los Angeles-based furniture and homeware brand Kalon Studios, saw a set of 1940s dishes made by a woodworker and nurse named Mim Sihvonen who had studied at Black Mountain College. The mahogany bowls and plates were beautiful and simple — produced on a lathe, a craft technique that has all but disappeared in the United States. Simmering and Pauwen worked with Simmering’s father, a wood turner, to create pieces inspired by Sihvonen’s, an involved process that required many trials and errors. They updated the items to be as sustainable as possible, using a domestic maple instead of mahogany; the pieces come either in a natural finish or are roasted a darker color using a nonchemical process to ensure maximum durability. Evocative of midcentury modernist homeware, Kalon’s versions are elegant but practical. “We’ve always been fascinated by humble objects,” Simmering told me. “Our work is deliberately not precious. When we design, it’s with the intention that people are going to truly live, and live hard, with the pieces. We want them to be part of everyday life.” From $50, kalonstudios.com.
Every holiday season, I’m hard-pressed to find greeting cards that are chic without being solemn, festive but not too on-the-nose. So I was delighted to discover Scribble & Daub, a small stationery business run out of Rye, England. The founder, Caroline Kent, first draws each design in pen before letterpress printing the illustrations on Fabriano paper and then hand-painting them in vibrant hues. Along with colorful candle- or balloon-covered birthday greetings and bespoke stationery, she makes a range of blank cards that can be used for any occasion; my favorites feature delicate drawings of wildflowers based on those grown by the painters Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, and were created as part of a collaboration with Charleston, the Sussex home of the Bloomsbury Group. This year, Kent’s holiday selection includes nine new card designs — from cheerful present-stuffed stockings to jaunty snowballs — as well as themed gift tags. The only downside to buying them is having to give them away. About $6.50 for one holiday card, or $30 for a set of five, scribbleanddaub.com.
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