Weekend Vibes

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 53: The One with the New Museum.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Score: Minimagpie’s Birthday Jumper.

Mini turns one on Monday (!), and though I already had a dress picked out for her birthday party tomorrow, I ordered this darling corduroy birthday jumper at the last minute for her actual Big Day.  How could I not?!  The balloon?  The party hat?  Too much.  (More fab spring weather finds for mini!)

The Fashion Magpie Mini Boden Dress


You’re Sooooo Popular: The Easy Breezy Midi.

The most popular items on Le Blog this week:

+Can’t get enough of this dress.  I want it in every color.

+One way to improve your life/outlook with just five minutes a day?

+A chic solution for those of us with showers that lack cut-outs/built-in benches.

+Heavily discounted cashmere!

+The $20 facial lotion I’m using R.N.

+The chic-est mule.

+The secret to a better blowout.

+For the third or fourth week running: my FAB iPhone case!

+Mini’s current playground shoe.

#Turbothot: The New Museum

Last week, Mr. Magpie took me on a date to Bep Ga, a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese spot that specializes in chicken pho.  Mr. Magpie is a pho-a-holic (if you’ve never had it, pho is a fragrant, broth-based soup with vermicelli noodles that you top with basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and — if you’re inclined — slices of hot peppers and sriracha), and we used to trek up to the far North side of Chicago every week or two for a pho fix from an authentic spot, Tank Noodle, where Mr. Magpie would order — without fail — a large pho with slices of brisket and eye of round.  He’d eat his bowl and the half of mine that I could never finish, complaining as he did so (“the noodles are expanding in my stomach!”), but always — always — heave a happy sigh at the very end: “That was good.”  Bep Ga brought me back to the no-frills satisfaction of Tank Noodle, leaving us very, very happy.  (Bonus: it was probably one of the least expensive dinners we’ve had out since moving to New York.)

After, we walked up to The New Museum, which left us very, very disturbed.  It’s avant-garde, shock value art: there was one exhibition that featured plastic prosthetics and doll heads with straws sticking out of their ears, or water burbling out of their mouths, and though the curator’s notes suggested that these installations “incisively critique morality, national identity, religion, and power structures in contemporary society,” the effect was completely lost on me.  I was mainly concerned with finding the exit; the exhibition itself was dimly-lit and circular, with viewers milling about in every which way, and it gave off the impression of entrapment.  I could be generous and offer that the exhibition was designed as such, but I’m feeling uncharitable, so I’ll just say — whether it was intentional or not — it was not for me.

There was one interesting “installation” that featured a hologram of a gentleman moving about in the most unremarkable of patterns: standing, sitting, stretching, turning.  Meanwhile, a professionally-trained opera singer walked around the room in civilian clothes, singing “O Mio Babbino Caro,” carefully avoiding eye contact and seemingly off in her own operatic universe.  The effect was cleverly de-centering, and made me think critically about the form — the medium — of opera.  We’re so accustomed to seeing an opera singer stand on a raised dais, center-stage, in costume, and almost always planted in place.  Here, we weren’t sure where to look; it almost felt improper or untoward to stare at this woman wearing lay clothes as she walked calmly around the hologram, tossing Puccini over her shoulder.  But then again: she was part of the “installation,” so didn’t we have a “right” to do so?

It left me thinking about form, about viewership, about permission, and about the unquestioned assumptions I hold about all three.

That was the high point, however.  My main critique of the museum is this: the curation notes were overly prescriptive and abstruse.  One exhibition was dubbed “Songs for Sabotage” and many of the works in it bore lengthy commentary pointing out the various political and social agendas so obviously imbued in the art (eye roll), and in language that could best be described as self-indulgently academic.  There were lots of references to “the self” and “presence” and “post-xyz xyz” and UGH, it left me wretchy and brought to mind a conversation I had in a break room with one of my classmates in graduate school, who was co-teaching a freshmen writing course.  We were talking about the syllabus he’d helped organize, and he said, with a self-righteous smirk, “And I’ll throw some LeCan and Heidegger in there, for fun.”  My stomach still turns at this comment, as LeCan and Heidegger are particularly erudite philosophers whose works are highly abstract and dense and grossly inappropriate for a first-year writing course; his invocation of them was meant to be shorthand for “I’m smart,” but came off as shorthand for “I’m a pompous know-it-all who thinks I’m smart.”  I avoided him in the break room from then on.

But anyway.  I didn’t care for the curation notes, which forced the viewer to participate in the framing of the art in a very narrow, political narrative that I honestly didn’t fully buy.  Mr. Magpie pointed out that nearly all of the art was produced by artists younger than we are (!), and, while I don’t doubt that the youthful genius behind these works hold strong political standpoints and powerful anti-capitalist messaging, I found it almost unethical that so much of this over-intellectualized interpretive work was being foisted upon voices that may not have such razor-sharp intentions.

So here I am, back at the “who defines the meaning of art?” debate I dipped into last week, but there’s a critical difference here: in this context, someone was telling us: “THIS IS HOW YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THIS ART.”  And I did not care for that third party intervention.

What was the last exhibit you visited?  Thoughts and reactions?


+Do any of you make espresso at home?  Mr. Magpie has perfected the pourover and the French press, but recently mentioned he’d like to learn to make espresso.  We don’t have the space or inclination for one of those monstrous investment pieces, but I’ve heard very good things about this inexpensive stovetop espresso maker.  Reactions?  Would be so amazing to make my lattes at home!

+These toddler cups feel oddly chic to me — something about the shape and colors are YAAAS.

+Obsessing over this linen-blend, printed dress/kimono situation.  SO CHIC.

+I love the scalloped edging on these shorts.  I’m imagining pairing with a crisp white button-down and tortoise-shell accessories (this headband — or get the look for less with this one, these shades) for a Jackie O.-does-the-country-club vibe.

+This iris blue tote is darling (and under $100!)

+This shape is very right now, if you want to try the trend without breaking the bank.  I’d keep the rest simple and sleek — pair with a bodysuit and unfussy slides like these or these.

+The best of both worlds: both a hoop AND a floral statement earring!   (More epic earrings under trend #3.)

+Love these dino jammies for kiddos — boys and girls alike!

P.S.  How to recover from a c-section.

P.P.S.  I recently re-read this post, written on the eve of moving to New York, and it left me with a huge lump in my throat.  Not only for the small memories I captured of our life back then — the sounds of our house, the hush of our nanny’s voice upstairs, the Madeleine Peyroux I was playing — but for the glimpse of the wide-eyed, uncertain me I get while reading it.  I feel fortunate to have landed, to have settled, and I am sending extra love to those of you who are in the throes of some major transition right now.

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10 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 53: The One with the New Museum.

  1. So interesting about the New Museum. I feel a similar way about many of the exhibitions that I’ve seen there, with a couple of notable exceptions (Pipilotti Rist’s and Raymond Pettibon’s recent retrospectives included, both of which I liked a lot). Songs for Sabotage is a triennial, and I have found that I don’t care as much for the triennials put on by the New Mu. (Especially compared to, say, the Whitney Biennials.) I very much dislike when I’m told to think a certain way about art. It’s so frustrating to me!

    I work in a closely-related field, though, so sometimes I feel I am too close to certain exhibitions to give them an objective opinion! I quite like contemporary art — but I can certainly understand that it’s not for everyone. Much to chew on here — thank you, as always, for your thought-provoking turbothots!

    P.S. Love the shape & details of that bow-sided tote … only wish it were leather!

    1. Ahh! I wish I could go to a museum with provocative (at least in my opinion) art with someone who has a completely different perspective. Mr. Magpie and I nearly always land in the same spot in terms of our reactions to things; I wonder what it would be like to go somewhere and say, “Yuck, that was horrible” and have someone else say: “AHHH I LOVED IT!” So very interesting to get your take on this, too…


  2. My friend Rachel swears by that stovetop espresso maker, and I trust her completely. I say go for it!
    I went to the art show at the Park Avenue Armory yesterday and adored (most of) it. I was especially drawn to Sean Landers work, and his ‘Things I’ve Learned’ series especially. I think the show is still going on, and it’s worth the visit!

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence on the espresso maker! I think it’s a must for those of us living in the city without the space for one of those monstrous tabletop ones…

      Thanks also for the rec on the Park Ave Armory! Will need to check it out!

  3. Love those dino jammies. Is it crazy that I looked for the smallest size, saw 6-12 mos, and immediately closed the browser window? I know objectively that they’ll fit my little one (16 weeks today) sooner rather than later. Still, not quite ready.

    Speaking of the little one, any suggestions for a baptism outfit (for me) in mid-March? If I pick a dress, I’ll likely need tights; I dress in black 99% of the time but it seems inappropriate on that day; maybe a midi skirt and bodysuit sans tights and pray for warmth? I’m a new mom, I never get to dress up anymore! Help!

    1. Hi Jenna — I completely hear you! Though mini is only a year now, she’s in the 70th percentile of height (<http://bit.ly/2D7eBkW and this is elegant, especially with pointed-toe flats: http://bit.ly/2D8Iktz . Personally, though, I love color, and this peony pink dress is EVERYTHING: http://bit.ly/2Fjifhj

  4. I go through phases with coffee – French press, cold brew… my latest phase was/is (once I get a working stove back…) the mokapot you featured! It’s super-easy to use. Smitten Kitchen has far more well-written and comprehensive notes on it here:

    I got the 6 cup size (they’re espresso cup sizes, not actual cups) because I like to make a lot, pour it over ice and add almond milk, and nurse it all day.

    And I just love that bag!! And that birthday jumper too, too sweet!!

    1. Oooh, good to know! I’m kind of sold on it already. I’d love to make a large soy milk latte in the morning!! xoxo

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