Monthly Archives: August 2010

Alexander Calder

By the end of his nearly century-spanning career, Alexander Calder (1898–1976) had worked in virtually every artistic medium, but metal was undoubtedly his muse. Raised by artist parents, Calder was encouraged to be creative from an early age, producing his first sculptures at age 11.

Mobile by artist Alexander Calder, Untitled, 1959

Calder, Untitled (Mobile), 1959 (Image courtesy of The JPMorgan Chase Art Collection)

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Giant Pumpkin

Giant Pumpkin contest winner

A pumpkin tipping the scales at 1524 pounds next to Thad Starr of Pleasant Hill, Oregon.

The winning Big Pumpkin at this year’s Iowa State Fair clocked in at 1,323 pounds. It was the first year in the history of the Iowa State Fair that the Big Pumpkin outweighed the Big Boar, which weighed a mere 1,022 pounds. Kaufmann Mercantile got a chance to chat with Dan Carlson, one of the winning pumpkins growers to discuss all things big and pumpkin. Carlson, who joined forces with his growing partner, Marc Petersen, in 2004 (both hail from Clinton, Iowa), has been growing big pumpkins since 1992.

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Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Lemons, a glass bottle and other equipment to make lemon marmalade

In 1908, Frank Nicholas Meyer, a professional food explorer, brought a decorative Chinese hybrid of mandarin and lemon to the U.S. For the next seven decades, Meyer lemon trees continued to be thought of as mostly ornamental plants. Productive trees grew almost exclusively within California, and it wasn’t until Alice Waters started using them did Meyer lemons begin its slow, but steady courtship with the broader culinary world.

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Organic Wine

Steve McQueen and Neile Adams taking sulphur bath, Los Angeles, June 1963. (Photo by John Dominis for Life magazine)

Steve McQueen and Neile Adams enjoying a sulphur bath and glass of wine in Los Angeles, June 1963. (Photo by John Dominis for Life magazine)

On a recent trip to the wine store, I was tempted from my standard of big French reds to their shelf of ecological wines. I picked up one bottle after the other, flipping them over and trying to learn what I could from the labels. There were the usual notes on origin and grape, as well as declarations of environmental credentials – organic, biodynamic or natural. After peppering the staff with questions, I settled on a biodynamic bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier les Baux de Provence, but resolved to find out exactly what separates this new wine from my beloved French Margaux.

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Tapio Wirkkala

Alvar Aalto certainly earned his title of “father of modern Finnish design” but Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) deserves credit for raising it up right. His designs celebrated nature and spoke to the inherent rugged beauty its forms. He championed a type of design that was “democratic” because he was, creating soulful, well-crafted, usable objects that never sacrificed functionality for beauty.

Pipes by Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala.

Wirkkala’s “Meerschaum” (“Sea Foam”) and Nylon pipe models, 1974-1976.

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