Friday, January 31, 2014

Plant Life

Lady Luck

For Dawn Tekler, what started out as an attempt to get more out of her photography without the use of Photoshop has blossomed into her first solo show. “I was looking for alternative processes, and I came across the encaustic wax process and it looked so intriguing," says the Cleveland artist. "So I bought a kit and after that, it just sort of took off.” From Feb. 1-March 9, The Truth Lies Beneath the Surface, an exhibit featuring her wax-encased landscape photographs and pressed flowers pieces, will be on display at the Guren Art Gallery at the Cleveland Botanical Garden as a part of Orchid Mania. The Cleveland Institute of Art graduate, who owns the Naji, Naji & Tekler gallery in 78th Street Studios with two other artists, talks to us about finding alternative uses for her griddle and her green thumb.

Cleveland Magazine: Can you describe the encaustic wax process?

Dawn Tekler: It’s painting with hot wax. I have a griddle – basically something that you would make pancakes on, like a Sunbeam griddle – and I have hot wax mixed with oil paint, and I have a heat gun and a paintbrush. As I paint with the hot wax I can control it with the heat gun, keeping it warm or if it cools, I can layer wax on top of cold wax, creating different textures.

CM: How does it preserve over time?

DT: It’s actually an archival process. The encaustic process has been around since between A.D. 100-300. There are Fayum mummy portraits that are still around that have this encaustic wax process. ... It’s beeswax, damar resin and oil paint. Those three things are archival.

CM: How were you inspired by Orchid Mania?

DT: I have a lot of pieces that have orchids incorporated with them. I also grow orchids. So it was a way of ... How I can preserve the labor that I’ve put into the plant ... and make something out of that last a long time?

Want to see more form Dawn Tekler and other local creators? Click here to see her work in Cleveland Magazine's November 2013 "A Handmade Tale" package.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Where in the World is Austin Carr's Jersey?

It's not quite the Lindbergh baby disappearance or the Mona Lisa being lifted from the Louvre, but Austin Carr's retired No. 34 banner is not where it's supposed to be in the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena.

Sometime between WWE Monday Night Raw on Jan. 27 and the Cavaliers' Jan. 28 game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the banner went missing. While the Cavs say there'll be a replacement banner by the team's next home game Feb. 5 against the Los Angeles Lakers, we thought we'd offer a few good ideas on where to start snooping around for its whereabouts.

Mike "The Miz" Mizanin's closet: The Parma-born WWE wrestler is a passionate Cleveland sports fan. And he's no stranger to ladders.

Anthony Bennett is using it as a blanket: The Cavs No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft is having a rough rookie season. We wouldn't fault him for wanting to use a fellow No. 1 pick's retired jersey banner for comfort and inspiration.

Austin Carr's living room: After the second half collapse in Sunday's game against the Phoenix Suns, maybe an embarrassed Carr decided to make a statement.

Photo courtesy of

Glow Stick

The garments flaunted in tonight’s In the Dark fashion show will be glowing, but it’s won’t be from the gleam of silk or the glint of sequins. Some of the pieces will literally light up as part of the 7 p.m. Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland event that showcases wearable technology pieces created through collaboration between six Cleveland Institute of Art students and two Case Western Reserve University engineering students. 

“It’s trying to blur the lines between analog in digital, especially in art culture today to find a complex between what should be analog and what should be digital,” says Graham Baldwin, a participating designer and Cleveland Institute of Art student.

Back in October, Baldwin began working on his avant-garde garment titled “Compendium,” which is a crinoline dress made from 4 pounds of 3-D printed nylon filament that will allow light to shine through it.

“In this piece, I’m hand-sewing 3-D printed structures together, and the 3-D printed structures reference smocking [a way to embroider and fold fabric] used in old-time dresses, so it’s kind of this back and forth balance between the two ideas,” Baldwin says.
The competition is an opportunity to connect arts with engineering, says CIA adjunct professor Barbara Chira. The designers are using 3-D light refraction, glowing LED lights and motion sensors to make one-of-a-kind, futuristic pieces.

“We are very proud of these students' passion for and aptitude in emerging technologies, and in their desire to collaborate across disciplines and work toward creative outcomes that are innovative and new,” Chira says.

The students will also present their high-tech creations at the Brite Winter Festival Feb. 15, the Cleveland Mini Maker Faire March 29 and Great Lakes Science Center’s Yuri’s Night Space Party April 12. Designers will have a chance to revise their pieces throughout the competition until the April show, which features a judging of the garments with one lucky winner taking home a cash prize.

By Cassie Neiden

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Butcher's Best

Butcher Ed Jesse, courtesy of

In search of lunch last week, I remembered Old World Meats on E. 185th Street, a former favorite that I hadn't been to in years — and I hoped butcher and sausage-maker Ed Jesse hadn't gone out of business.

Cottage hams, courtesy of

I am happy to report Jesse continues to cut roasts and chops, grind beef and smoke his own cottage hams and Cajun tasso. The cases were filled with his stuffed cabbage rolls, meatballs and kielbasa. Briefly distracted from the hole in my stomach, I bought a couple pounds each of fresh slovenian sausage, cevapcici (Eastern European casing-less sausage), double smoked bacon, short ribs and oxtails. There will be good eating ahead in the Taxel house.

It was well past the hour when they offer sandwiches — just two versions these days, meatloaf and sausage — but I begged and the woman behind the counter took pity on me and sent me on my way with a two-inch thick slice of warm meatloaf studded with onions and topped with barbecue sauce, tucked inside a soft hamburger bun. Though I rarely eat in the car, I must confess I wolfed it down before I even put the key in the ignition, and it was heaven.

We live in a world where small, old-fashioned businesses like Old World Meats bite the dust daily, so it's nice to see that some can endure. Even without a website or a facebook page. The only way to learn more, is to go there: 651 East 185th, Cleveland. Call 216-382-1262 for hours. It will be time well spent.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pack A Picnic

It's hunch your shoulders, grit your teeth and add another layer cold out there. It's grey and dreary. It's winter in Cleveland. And that means it is the absolute best time to brown bag it at the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse. The glass covered acre is a heavenly spot, a place I consider my own little seasonal retreat. Inside warm, moist air wraps itself around you like a blanket. Skylights make it seem bright no matter how overcast the day.  And there's color wherever you look; countless shades of green displayed in leaves, vines and mounds of spreading ground cover; jungles of lush tropical growth; flowers in giddy bloom. When my son worked at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, I'd pick up food in Little Italy and we'd go there on his lunch break, spreading out our feast on a bench and feeling like we were a million miles away from Northeast Ohio.

It's like a vacation for the eyes. I love seeing bananas, orange, and lemons on the trees; sprays of orchids; birds of paradise and other exotics. The cactus room is a trip in every sense of the word, the sight of the odd shaped plants in their quirky variety surrounded by sand evoking welcome images of deserts where the sun shines, scarves are unnecessary and ice is only for drinks.
There's never a crowd, amazing when you consider that all this is free. No admission fee, no charge for parking. Open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4.p.m. The land was a gift from John D. Rockefeller and his wife, Laura. The chance to experience the greenhouse's spirit-reviving beauty comes courtesy of the city. Although the outside grounds are lovely in spring and summer, I think now is the very best time of year to take advantage of this garden oasis.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Movin' Out

Photo courtesy of Barney Taxel, Taxel Image Group
Brian Reilly has a 216 area code, but he's no longer cooking in Cleveland. The former Noodlecat chef has taken his knives to Seymour, Connecticut, where he's now executive chef at Tavern 1757. The June move was unplanned but was an opportunity too good to pass up. We caught up by phone last week.

LT: You landed the new gig after beating out the competition on Food Network's "Chef Wanted With Anne Burrell." How did it happen?

BR: The show producers came to me. The first thing I did was call my mother. Then I called [Jonathon] Sawyer and he told me to go for it — he's been totally supportive — but I never expected to win. By the time the final episode aired in August, I was already gone. The whole thing was pretty surreal.

LT: Was a job at the restaurant guaranteed?

BR: No. Owners don't necessarily have to hire you.  In fact, I was the only one who actually got a job in season three. After we finished filming, the owner and I sat down three hours before I was scheduled to fly home and came to an agreement.

LT: What kind of food are you cooking?

BR: I'm doing mostly rustic Italian with some more Asian-influenced dishes added. It's kind of a combination of classic Italian and new, creative American. This isn't a foodie-centric area like Cleveland, so we have to go slowly. I just got my first review in New Haven Living. The writer loved our food. Gave us four and half stars.

LT: Think you'll ever bring your talents home?

BR: I've left Cleveland three times, and I always come back. Things are going really well for me here right now, but who knows what's ahead.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Paris Connection

Owner and French-trained pastry chef Britt-Marie Culey has been wowing us with her sweet delights crafted from layers of genoise, almond paste, vanilla cream, pâte sucrée and chocolate ganache since she and her husband Shane moved to Cleveland in 2008. Her dessert creations were only available at the Shaker Square Farmers' Market, select area restaurants and by special order. But that is about to change.

Photo Courtesy of Stephen Cutri 

Coquette Patisserie, a pastry shop and cocktail lounge located on Euclid Avenue across from The Art Institute, is set to open next week, perhaps even as soon as this Saturday. Check the bakery's Facebook page for the most up-to-the-minute info on when they're ready for company.

I got a preview of this unique shop at an event celebrating the storefront's debut. The big-windowed space is charming — a quirky combination of salvage chic, artistic flair and a classy crystal chandelier. There's a small bar, communal table and two-tops opposite glass cases where Culey's cakes and tarts will be on display. The menu also includes some savory bites: chicken liver mousse eclairs; egg salad on a house made brioche with shrimp or cured salmon and herbed cream cheese; and crepes, oysters, and cheese and charcuterie plates. The shop ups its sophistication factor with craft beers on tap; bottles of red, white and sparkling wines; and an array of spirits, among them cognac, absinthe and Armagnac. Just the thought of sipping champagne while forking up bites of opera cake gives me a pleasurable little rush.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Cutri
At that pre-opening party, I asked Culey if she was excited. "That's not quite the word I'd use," she replied. "We've waited a long time for this. We spent five years looking for just the right place. And we've been working so hard to get it ready. It's almost surreal now that it's really happening.  What I feel is exhausted. And happy, really happy." I took a nibble of an orange truffle macaron and thought, me too! Good luck to her, and good news for us.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Keep the Fun in Food

   I don't believe in annual resolutions. Mostly because promises made this way are doomed to failure, especially those related to weight, diet, and exercise. I see it every year at the gym. The classes I attend are packed with new faces in January. And by the end of February, virtually all of them are no-shows.
It's the same with edicts to self forbidding consumption of sugar, fat, fast food, red meat, salty snacks ...or whatever form your bogeyman of edibles assumes. What starts out seeming like a sensible idea usually leads to anxiety and a punishing sense of defeat when we fail to abide by the rules we've set.
   I am convinced that fretting over every forkful is harmful to health just as carrying an excess of pounds cane be, and I know that the pleasures of a good meal make life better. For me what is more doable over the long haul is moderation and thoughtfulness about what I eat and how much, and an ongoing quest to treat my body well. Sometimes I get it right, often I don't, and every day is a chance to have at it again.
  And so today, the day of beginnings and fresh starts, as we go hungrily and eagerly forth into 2014,  I share these wise words from James Beard, a man who loved what happened in the kitchen and at the table. "A gourmet who counts calories is a like a tart who looks at her watch."
  The same applies to sweating the origins, ingredients and resume of every bite. Because if you're not enjoying yourself, it's just a job.