Docent Invitational exhibit in which he is showing 3 photographs at the Riverside Arts Center (76 N. Huron in Ypsi). We tend to be a couple of homebodies, so we have determined that it is important to go out and experience the world on occasion rather than simply isolating ourselves peacefully with our various creative pursuits of digital photography, writing, and cooking. We may not need to hire a sitter to watch any children -- his daughter being 25 and living in Philly, and Jeremy being 19 -- but we do need to take time for ourselves just to have some fun and to find new diversions. Daily life can become too routine without deliberate efforts to seek new stimuli.
So we started with dinner at Dalat (100 Michigan Avenue), conveniently located across the street from the Arts Center. I had heard of it -- and even driven past it countless times -- but never eaten there before … provincial child that I am, as a product of NYC and its neighborhoods, I tend to stay very much in Ann Arbor with its multitude of offerings. I also like to cook, so obviously I spend more time in my own kitchen than I do in restaurants.
I really do enjoy Vietnamese food, though, despite not eating it very often. Therefore, as you can well imagine if you know me -- or know of me -- at all, I was overwhelmed by a menu filled with 59 listings of different salads and soups and entrees PLUS desserts and beverages. Fortunately Tom has a favorite dish which we knew we would share, and we decided to try a new option, as well, in addition to that.
Unfortunately, since the photos on the menu looked so gorgeous and the offerings were so unique (i.e.: “Red beans, yellow mung bean and green jelly. Served with coconut milk and ice”), we were too full for dessert … sounds like a future adventure to me!
Then we meandered through the neighborhood for a bit, as Ann Arbor’s pre-Yuppified (too many hair salons, phone stores and chain restaurants these days for my personal liking) character has clearly wandered down Washtenaw and into downtown Ypsi. There was an alternative art gallery that Tom wanted to show me; but it has apparently been displaced by my new favorite clothing shop, which is saying something considering that I am the Queen of Thrift Shops and never buy anything but shoes and underwear new or at retail prices : Lezley Anne’s. It is at 128 W. Michigan Avenue, and is worth going to even if you have to crawl in torrential rain on blistered knees; I am completely and utterly enamored!
There are dresses and more dresses, each one more colorful than the next … well, how could a girl like me, who wears gold and purple nail polish and sprinkles glitter into her hair for special occasions, resist??? And Lezley, herself, is just the kindest, warmest hostess you can imagine, placing no pressure upon customers as she shows off her amazing artworks (that’s really what they are); she seems far more intent upon making new friends and sharing her pride in the neighborhood than she does in making a sale.
As we talked to her, we learned that Lezley actually designs some of her own fabrics and is delving into organic cottons; the printer across the street lets her create her designs there, before she then cuts and trims and sews her one-of-a-kind dresses. Lezley told us that she’s never felt such a strong connection among neighbors and pride in a community, such that the shopkeepers and restauranteurs along Michigan Avenue are like members of an extended family. Tom and I were proud to support a local artist, as well as a collective spirit such as the one we were welcomed into as we ate and shopped and just immersed ourselves in the ambiance.
There is an extraordinary variety of works being presented by the docents who work at the Arts Center, as well as by the guests that each docent was permitted to invite -- everything from paintings to sculpture to photography, with the simple listing of each of these media really seeming inadequate. Tom’s works are stellar, of course, with one of them -- twin, though not identical, images of a mannequin no longer able to maintain a public façade -- being a particular favorite. His friend Tara -- one of the docents, who very graciously invited Tom to participate in the exhibit -- also has some photographs on display; the one of an abandoned armchair in an alley with a vibrantly colored "Jesus" graffiti-ed in the background, and another very peaceful one of lovely pink flowers, are two that I found particularly distinctive and touching.
So come on down to the Riverside Arts Center on the 10th to see Tom’s work, to meet the artist (and later say “I knew him ‘when’!”), and to watch me giddily spin in my beautiful, sassy new dress ….
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