Category Archives: art

Is Chicago my kind of town?

image: Flicker by ph4nn1 Chicago Skyline Panorama

image: Flicker by ph4nn1 Chicago Skyline Panorama

Last summer I made plans to go to Niagara Falls and Toronto with my kids for a few days. We’d never been and it seemed like a cool and economical getaway. I made hotel reservations and enthusiastically crowd sourced for some tourist recommendations. Then my two older sons got jobs. Plural. Not one to complain about employed children, I cancelled the trip and instead took my youngest down to NYC for a couple of days. That slacker doesn’t have a job, but I suppose he is only 11. Soon enough, little man.

A few weeks after the change in plans, I ended with both a Southwest voucher and a credit on my credit card, a situation which I immediately interpreted as a sign from the universe to buy a plane ticket. I reached out to my posse of friends, a number of whom were also celebrating a milestone birthday this year, to gauge interest in taking a weekend trip somewhere. While there was interest, it didn’t translate into action, so I decided it was time for me to take my first ever multiple night solo – Chicago, here I come!

So, I’ve got three nights in Chicago coming up in a few weeks and I’m a bit overwhelmed by all of the things there are to do! The luxury of traveling alone means I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to, which is pretty amazing. Knowing myself, I see my days being structured kind of like this:

  • Wake up, get out and do something.
  • Go back to the hotel for a nap.
  • Take a run.
  • Take a shower.
  • Go out and eat something tasty.

I imagine there will be alcohol involved, at times, too.

The two things I definitely want to do are the architectural boat tour and an art museum or two. I know there are a million places to eat, but I’m most interested in places where I can eat at the bar.

What can you tell me about Chicago?

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Filed under art, drinking, Eating, ideas, Recommendations, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, Wine

No sleep till Brooklyn*

image

My picture does NOT do the work justice. Apologies!

On Friday, despite Mother Nature’s attempt to disrupt my plans, I ventured down to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to attend my uber talented neighbor, Ken Ragsdale’s art show opening at the Front Room Gallery. As someone who doesn’t often attend gallery openings (read: hardly ever), I was a bit out of my element, and, as a person who doesn’t stray from Manhattan usually, I was definitely outside of my borough of reference. After consulting my Facebook friends regarding attire and Google maps for directions, we hit the road in the late afternoon. Next stop: The Hundred-Acre Wood!

View from the Roebling Tea Room on the first evening of spring.

View from the Roebling Tea Room on the first evening of spring.

The drive was uneventful, other than my imagination working overtime creating vivid scenarios about how the piece of Ken’s which ended up in the back of my wagon could be damaged during the trip to Brooklyn. Rear-end collision, encounter with a remarkable pothole resulting in the shattering of glass…

imageSafely parked around the corner from the gallery, wearing the suggested attire of skinny jeans, ankle boots and a cool hat, we met up with some of the Albany contingent and enjoyed a lite bite and a round of drinks at the Roebling Tea Room. My cocktail, an excellent old-fashioned with a clean, citrus element was wonderful, the small plates equally perfect.

The show was an absolute triumph. The work vividly expressed a time in the artist’s life and is truly stunning.  The presence of so many familiar faces must have made the opening a dreamy blend of memories and modern day moments.  So friggin cool.  Can’t get to Brooklyn?  Check out the group show opening Friday, 3/27/15 at the Albany International Whatever Airport right in the 518.

*This post has nothing to do with sleeping in Brooklyn or the Beastie Boys. Nothing.  I just love the sentiment.  Here – watch the video anyway.

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Filed under Albany, art, DelSo, drinking, Events, friends, Local, NYC, Recommendations, road trips, Spring

Saturday – a celebration and a speakeasy

DSC_0005Saturday was one of those days when I wished I could get ahold of that special timepiece that Hermione used in the Prisoner of Azkaban – even if it came with a Dementor or two.  There were just too damn many fun things to do!  Had I been able to master the skill of being in two places simultaneously, I would have managed to attend both Winter WonderLARK and the wonderful celebration for newlyweds Amy & Gretchen held in the oh-so-cool space known as Time & Space Limited in Hudson.  After those events wound down, I would have loved to have remained in Hudson for their holiday walk while also attending Albany Center Gallery’s Speakeasy Gala held at 90 State Street.  I did the best I could, believe me.

What I managed to accomplish was a drive to Hudson to toast the brides, a quick run and then a delightful couple of hours at the speakeasy-themed Gala.  The gala was held at Angelo Mazzone”s newest event space on lower State Street in downtown Albany.  Parking was a bit of an issue, but, in all honesty, I found the challenge of parking to be a wonderful indicator of downtown’s appeal on a Saturday night – go, Albany!  The venue, formerly a bank, was magnificent with gorgeous details and elaborate ceilings.  They don’t build ’em like that anymore. There definitely are some finishing touches which will complete the space, particularly some attention to the acoustics from the lowers level, but it is a incredible option for any of you planning an event.photo

The party was fantastic – a  great crowd of artfully attired guests seemed to thoroughly enjoy the music, food and entertainment.  As always, there were many familiar faces, as well as new folks I hadn’t met previously. There were performers who provided a wonderful theatrical interlude and, as a woman, I was thrilled and appreciative of the beautiful female burlesque dancer whose body was womanly and sexy.  So nice to see in a world filled with lollipop performers!  Here are some pictures to show you what a lovely event Tony Iadicicco and his entire crew put on.  Hope to see you there next time!

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Filed under Albany, art, Events, SEEN

Last weekend – in photos

a bonfire with friends

photo(152)

soccer season opener

a memorial service
image: http://www.gbgm-umc.org

Were you Seen at September Splendor to benefit the Washington Park Conservancy at the Washington Par

an event – September Splendor
image: Joe Putrock

photo(153)

there were flowers

photo(154)

and a trip to the Hyde Collection

to see this…
image:nytimes.com

I think I finally caught my breath…

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Filed under Albany, art, Boys, Events, Flowers, friends, Lark Street, Local, road trips, Wine

So-so to DelSo

DSC_0043My day started unbalanced.  There was a fantastic series of wind storms that interrupted my sleep with clanking blinds and papers flying.  I had a dream I would have preferred to forget and a slippery bottle of milk left my sneakers in a puddle of white.  The clean up of that dairy disaster, stole my YMCA mojo and left me feeling slightly…sour.

But, then… a coffee moment with someone special, a thorough bathroom scrubbing, and a somewhat cooler afternoon, started to swing the pendulum in the opposite  direction.  I watched a little Wimbledon, read a couple of chapters and had a five-minute power nap.  Yes, there is such a thing.

Slightly after 5 pm, I made my way, accompanied by my favorite globe-trotting 30-something, to the Albany Barn fundraising event, Build Up.  I wasn’t familiar with the location, but it was easy enough to find and we found convenient parking before the skies opened up for real.  There was a meaty smokiness to the air which did nothing to diminish the bright airy quality of the well-lit room.

The attendees were upbeat and overwhelmingly familiar.  There were more burger toppings than you could dream of, including locally sourced chanterelles, cheeses from R&G in Cohoes, sesame seed sprinkled buns from All Good Bakers and an overwhelming array of pickled, chopped and shredded veggies.  Libations, exclusively from the Empire State were served.

I met the couple who own the house I most admire in the DelSo and had a Carrie Bradshaw moment despite my flat sandals.  I shot photos and made introductions and assembled my own slider with chipotle chèvre, chimichurri, bacon and purple leaf lettuce.  I drove home, noticing that Delaware Avenue was parked nearly full on both sides.  My neighborhood was busy.  It was a good day.

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Filed under Albany, art, DelSo, Events, Local, SEEN, Summer

Everything I know about Troy, I learned from Mary Panza

A flower grows in South Troy

A flower grows in South Troy

Ok, maybe that isn’t 100% true, but she really did get me started on my Troy education.  When I first moved to Albany almost 25 years ago, I received some advice from a childhood friend regarding Troy.  He said, and I quote, “Troy is the armpit of the Universe.” I was uncertain exactly what that meant, but seeing as how I didn’t have a car, Troy wasn’t an area that I planned to explore with any haste anyway.  No problem.

But, then I met Mary Panza, South Troy denizen extraordinaire, and began venturing across the river.  We generally ended up at her sister’s house, where we consumed fantastic quantities of eggplant and pasta, all bathed in the senior Mary Panza’s fabulous red sauce.  My personal opinion began to form about the collar city – Troy was ok with me.

Since that time, I’ve been pulled to Troy for their superior Farmer’s Market, beer and music venues, restaurants and unique shops.  I learned to never move a folding chair left in the street and to maintain a sense of the river’s location to navigate the grid of one-way streets.  I like Troy – there, I said it.

Last night I intensified my like of Troy to a level of affectionate love.  Granted, the company I was in was a definite factor, but the charm of Troy is strong and it has never looked better. Speaking of looking, our evening began at the beautiful and historic St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. Photographer and TU blogger, Chuck Miller, had an event to celebrate the opening of his stellar photo exhibit.  The images he captures are primarily local and demonstrate a keen eye for both lighthearted humor and thoughtful observation.  Cool venue, great show, get there before it’s all gone.

Plenty for two - with leftovers for lunch!

Plenty for two – with leftovers for lunch!

Our next stop was DeFazio’s in Troy for some real pizza.  Everything about this joint charms me – the almost magical way the simple ingredients combine for a pizza that is the best I’ve ever had outside of NYC, the politeness of every person who helped to take care of us, the black and white tiled floor, and the red convertible the delivery guy drives.  Everything!  We went with an antipasto and a small pizza with olives and prosciutto.  The antipasto is substantial (served with crunchy garlic bread) and the small pizza was the perfect size for 2.  I think we may need to try the pasta next time because we witnessed a plate of it being served and were practically in need of restraints.  Have any of you ever had their pasta?

The pizza is all that.

The pizza is all that.

We ended the evening with a visit to the Charles F. Lucas Confectionary around the corner from Monument Square, in downtown Troy.  I would feel guilty about not getting to this place sooner, but I believe last night was the first time I’ve been in Troy since this fantastic place opened.  I have to say, it isn’t as if I’ve been missed, because the joint was positively jumping!  The waves of guests entering and departing during our 90 minutes there, was impressive.  We had a tour of the space by the owner, Vic Christopher, and I can’t say enough about the vision he and his wife, Heather, made into a dreamy reality for us all to share.  Wow.  Our bellies were full of pizza and cappicola, but the beautiful glass of Cote du Rhone rose’ Vic brought my way was exactly the crowning touch to a memorable May evening.  I am incredibly enthusiastic about this project. the additional related grocery store business in the preliminary works and the new-to-me term “reclamation construction.”  Troy is a lucky city to have landed such super smart and cool entrepreneurs and I imagine myself finding my way to the Collar City with previously unimagined frequency.

Armpit of the universe?  Au contraire – more like the heart of the Capital District.  Let’s hope our next Albany mayor fosters the kind of growth Troy is now experiencing – and that Mary invites me over for eggplant really soon.

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Filed under art, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Local, pizza, Recommendations, Restaurants, Spring, Troy, Uncategorized, upstate New York, Wine

Gala is my 2nd favorite word for “party.”

DSC_0057A close second, I might add.  Just for the record, my most favorite is “fete,” but enough of language.  Here are the pictures which tell a thousand words!  Seeing as how everyone at the fete event looked like a million bucks, let me add a few additional words of the text variety:

  • This was a really fun crowd with many familiar faces.  Not one person declined to pose for a picture and I didn’t hear a single complaint while I worked the crowd.
  • The staff at the Hilton Crowne Plaza Albany Hotel were all professional and pleasant.
  • It was fun shooting pictures of some of the same people from Thursday’s event.  It didn’t feel indulgent or redundant – the faces you see in both photo sets are the faces of the folks who make the restaurant industry happen.
  • The Times Union merged my two galleries with another set of photos taken during Friday’s Grand Tasting event – you’ll know mine by the credit in the caption.
  • Personal shout out to a former student and his lovely fiancee* ~ It made my night to see you!  And I told you that you weren’t a Republican – thanks for listening.

*two French words in one post – Mon dieu! That’s 3…

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Filed under Albany, art, drinking, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, SEEN, upstate New York, Wine, winter