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C r e a t i v i t y , C o m m u n i t y a n d C o n v e r s a t i o n i n t h e He a r t l a n d

C R E AT I V E V ISIONA RY

Herman Miller Global Brand Director, Sam Grawe, MI

Peregrine Honig, MO / A R T I S T José Lerma, IL / C H E F Ben Poremba, MO

A RTIST

Lyndon Barrois Jr., MO / S O N G W R I T E R Drew Holcomb, TN


We tell the stories of interesting

people doing remarkable things in the heartland of America.


L E T T E R F ROM T H E E DI TOR I’m sitting on my back porch watching the yellow sky turn pink then blue as May slowly burns into June. I can hear a dog barking somewhere but can’t pinpoint how far or exactly where. The crickets are beginning to chirp, and the air is so still that I can hear the brushing of leaves against each other in the trees that line my yard 60 feet away. I’ve been awarded almost twenty uninterrupted minutes to melt into my chair and simply sit. I look down at my arm as a mosquito lands and I stare seconds at its long legs before brushing it away. An itch on my leg lingers for a whole ten breaths before I reach down and scratch it. I slowly blink, and open my eyes to a lightning bug in the field ahead of me turning on for the night. My sight adjusts to the night turning black and the color is slowly pulled away from everything in the gray haze of dusk. Moments like these have always been my fuel. When gasping for air and drowning in life, I pull up a chair with Mother Nature and make friends with the moon. I reconnect with the natural world, and I try my best to pool inspiration from the collective phenomena of my physical surrounding. In other words, I’m outdoorsy. For those who don’t use flora and fauna to spark inspiration, it can be sure that there is a particular go-to method that ignites their ingenuity. Inspiration can be found anywhere and in this issue, we gathered together a group of people who realized early on what fueled their fire and they spent their lives stoking that flame. When Peregrine Honig was just two years old, her artistic practice was immortalized in a psychological study on creativity and childhood development. As a 22-year-old, she became the youngest living artist to have work acquired by The Whitney Museum of American Art. We profiled her wunderkind legacy (page 42). Sam Gr awe grew through an editorial and design career choosing one strategic move after the next—all inspired by modern design. Those mindful choices led him to the pinnacle post he holds today as global brand director for Herman Miller (page 58). Drew Holcomb has been writing songs for the Americana songbook in Tennessee since college. He’s a steadfast example of a hardworking artist inspired by joy and suffering equally as they come (page 24). Artist Lyndon Barrois Jr.’s work is a meditation on the mundane—an exploration of what we look at every day and why we should peer a little closer. Juxtaposing high and low, Barrois notices and exploits the complexities of pop culture (page 16). In every issue we share an inspired recipe and speak with a Middle America chef about their practice. This month is no different, but this chef stands out among most. An immigrant from Israel, Ben Poremba has had an entrepreneurial spirit since the age of 17 when he arrived in the Midwest (page 26). Not unlike Poremba, artist José Lerma has not always called this country home. This Spanish artist, now living and working in Chicago, is interested in exploring culture in America and the way thought is shaped by political and business practices (page 20). The creative canon is filled with artists producing from all kinds of inspiration, whether it be food, fine art or even facial serums (Julie Longyear, page 32). Inspiration lives in every object and every moment. It’s sitting there, waiting to be needed. The gray haze of dusk has turned to pitch black and it’s time to go inside for the night. As I slip on my shoes, I shift in my chair and turn my head in the direction of a rhythmic “hoo-hoo-ha-hooo” in the distance. An owl is calling to a friend. I stand up and hum the rhythm to myself. I imagine drums tapping to the beat and a melody begins to unfold in my mind. I pick up my pace and walk inside to find a pen. A new song begins to form, and as I smile to myself—inspired—I silently thank my muse. Love, Rachel Brandt @RachelEBrandt

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TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S 16 Artist | Lyndon Barrois Jr. 20 Artist | José Lerma 24 Songwriter | Drew Holcomb 26 Chef | Ben Poremba 32 Maker | Julie Longyear 34 Fashion | “Come Clean” 42 Visionary | Peregrine Honig 58 Feature | Sam Grawe, Herman Miller 80 Poem | Alison C. Rollins

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COVER PHOTO

Western shore, Lake Michigan. Laketown Beach, MI

R I G H T A N D B AC K C O V E R

Miller House by Architect Eero Saarinen. Interior Designer, Alexander Girard. Landscape Architect, Dan Kiley. Columbus, IN

Photography:

Attilio D’Agostino A L I V E

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PA RT N E R

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P A R T N E R CONTENT

NOTHING STA NDS IN YOUR WAY

UNIVERSIT Y COLLEGE AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSIT Y IN ST. LOUIS

Angela Peacock served nearly seven years in the military as a tactical radio operator—including a deployment to Baghdad in 2003—before being medically retired for PTSD. Eager to find purpose, she transferred to University College at Washington University in St. Louis where she set to work on a degree in psychology. “I had to do a bunch of therapy to recover from what I’d seen. School has been part of my transition back into civilian society,” she explains. Peacock will graduate from University College this summer and matriculate to WashU’s top-ranked Brown School of Social Work, where she plans to pursue a career path that permits her to work with other veterans and help them heal from trauma. Her journey has not always been easy, nor has it unfolded in a linear progression. Classes at University College have led her to a fulfilling professional and educational future, allowing her to find and reintegrate back into her home country. “I absolutely love University College,” she says. “The classes are small and highly specialized, so instead of taking general psychology, abnormal psychology or forensic psychology, I got my choice of superior professors and topics that really interested me. I became interested in psychology because I wanted to understand some of my own trauma, but also how the human mind copes with it. It’s fascinating. That has evolved into a strong desire to work with other veterans.” You too can attend a world-class institution, where you will reach your goals and discover your true passions. Tuition is surprisingly affordable and classes take place at night, as programs are designed for working adults with full lives. Don’t let anything stop you from chasing your dreams. Read more about Angela’s story at alivemag.com/a-midwestern-military-veterans-path-to-graduate-school.

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AG A I NS T T Y PE Introducing St. Louis Ar tist Lyndon Barrois Jr. by EILEEN G’SELL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Doe-eyed Prince in a bow tie. A curvy cardboard electric guitar. An old-school basketball shoe above a Xerox box. Eddie Murphy’s blank stare. “They are individual projects—they look different, and they take on different motivations,” Barrois reflects. “But ultimately, I’m interested in the same things all the time.” With a multi-disciplinary artistic practice that embraces the high, low and in-between, Lyndon Barrois Jr. is a scavenger of form, a taxonomist of cool. A GQ ad appears aside a recreated Disney still; James Naismith crosses with Constantin Brâncusi. Plumbing deeper into Barrois’ vast array of work, a common thread starts to peek from the seams: color itself is a dense construction, and no shade or hue can exist outside of the performance of race and gender. Moving back and forth from figurative painting and image-making to sculptural pieces, Barrois’ cognitive colorscapes call to question the oftensubtle yet real ways that race—especially with relation to divergent masculinities—is created and disseminated. In a 2013 work, Barrois essentially re-dresses to redress—an image of two retired NBA players selectively sanded away, their uniforms replaced with formal three-piece suits. In a related series launched in 2017, faded scenes from mainstream movies foreground matters of racial stereotyping. “This is about how actors could address the audience, breaking the fourth wall,” he says, pointing to a still from “Hollywood Shuffle” and another from “Coming to

America,” both hits from the mid-to-late ’80s. “I’m thinking about this move as a progressive gesture in Hollywood cinema, almost a political measure. When something very problematic was taking place on screen, Murphy was inviting viewers to recognize that this isn’t just a film. These are real issues.” But Barrois’ work feels more exploratory than didactic, more ruminative than overtly political. As one of three St. Louis-based artists featured in the Great Rivers Biennial exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum in 2016, he assembled eight life-size sculptures on an indoor asphalt basketball court. Called “Of Color,” his installation represented two teams mid-scrimmage—the players at stake comprised mostly of recycled printing and toner packaging. “I was already dealing with the convergence of different masculine archetypes, all relevant to costume— athletes, superheroes and those in gentlemanly dress,” he explains of his vacillations between 2- and 3-D. “And then there was a point where I didn’t need the object anymore—the image was enough. Later, I actually started incorporating toner boxes as an accident, using them as pedestals.” In “Of Color,” shooting hoops became a meditation on the reductive—and seductive—practices of mass media. This exhibition and other recent shows frequently allude to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key) printing as a negotiation of color as illusion—relevant both to the depiction of race in visual media and how people of color are constructed in conceptually loaded ›››

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ways. In his “KMUltra” series on view last year at Lambert International Airport, the hues are blown up in line with modified graphics from Konica-Minolta packaging. What seems bright and innocuous becomes less so when considering that “MKUltra” refers to a series of CIA experiments from the 1950s and 1960s in which chemical agents were used as a form of unsanctioned mind control. Barrois’ 2017 series “Stereotypography” extends consideration to the effects of font design, specifically iterations of Neuland, a font commonly used to represent any subject even tangentially related to African heritage. “When I first started using this font—merging the history of typeface and stereotype, commentaries on printing and construction—it was a way of working towards a formal agency,” he recounts. “This process of decision-making was not available for groups of people in the past. Nobody had a say in what font represented them.” Born in New Orleans in 1983 to two creative parents, Barrois received his BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, moving to St. Louis in 2011 to attend Washington University’s MFA visual-arts program. “It was interdisciplinary, which was exciting,” he says of his time at the university’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. “It got me more interested in connecting dots across platforms.” Barrois is now connecting dots all over the map, with work included in more than a dozen national group exhibitions and four St. Louis-regional solo shows. In May of 2017, his work debuted at the South Dallas Cultural Center in a joint exhibition with St. Louis artist Kahlil Irving. Titled “One Step Ahead” (a reference to the eerily prescient 1965 Aretha Franklin song of the same title), the show probes the aftermath of the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. “I’ve been pulling from images about Malcolm X without really using his image,” says Barrois of his ongoing process of collaging disjunctive glimpses of the time period. When taking in his work, one can move from the tragic death of Malcolm X to the spellbound face of a cartoon Mowgli. It can be a bit confusing as to how it all adds up, but Barrois’ vision nimbly balances a serious rigor with mindful levity. “My relationship to images has always been one of asking questions: When does the image take over, when do objects in image form work as a stand-in for the object?” he asks. In either case, Barrois’ brilliance is in navigating the poles between the blithe and intellectual, the historically heavy and the defiantly buoyant.

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SE R IOUS PL AY A conversation with Chicago ar tist José Lerma. by EILEEN G’SELL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Artist José Lerma is best known for painting, but a brief exchange with him reveals a scope of concerns that far exceed not only the realm of painting but the world at large, too. At once gregarious and cerebral, Lerma can jump from Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine” theory to the expressive possibilities of social media. Revealing the synergy that can result when the proverbial right and left brain hemispheres befriend one another, Lerma has built a roster of solo and group exhibitions around the globe. Born in 1971 in Seville, Spain, Lerma grew up in Puerto Rico and is now associate professor of painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During a chat in the coffee shop of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, we talked history, the rise of neoliberalism and the limits of identity as a means of interpreting art.

erased the figures from these paintings and statues and left the pedestals in the background. Pedestrians could pose and take the place of these figures. There’s a kind of timelessness caught in the images, then?

Yes, it’s essentially an Instagram project, intended to be disseminated as photographs with flash. Viewers are interacting with all these things without knowing precisely what they are. They take the place of politicians from the right and the left, military figures, native Canadians—people from all sorts of society are in the wrong places. [laughs] The terms “irreverence” and “playfulness” seem to be used interchangeably to describe your work, but I don’t think they mean the same thing. The former seems more accurate, but I’m interested in your take on it.

Can you say something about the concept behind your recent large-scale installation, called “Militant Nostalgia,” in Toronto? The title reminds me of the “Make America Great Again” slogan.

The curator of that series was Spanish artist Paco Barragán—“Militant Nostalgia” was his concept for the selection of art. My piece was somewhat emblematic in terms of its context. I photographed Toronto landmarks and paintings in museums that were representative of certain ethnic groups and historical figures from the past. Essentially, I condensed history to include only certain people. But then I

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You’re touching on a sore point, but it’s fortunate that you bring it up. The word “playfulness” is often used to describe my work, but that’s not all it is. My subject matter tends to be either politicians or economists—pretty dry. The point of access is a childlike environment, with the colors and so on. For “Militant Nostalgia,” the project was seen as fun to a lot of people, but they don’t know that they’re participants in something historical. If I’m making something dry, I want the delivery system to be the opposite. And there’s something ›››


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perverse about little children running around an installation about banking.

talking about the president. These guys in the ’80s behaved in horrendous ways—but now they have their foundations and are treated as gurus.

You dropped out of law school to pursue an art career. Did your time in that analytical environ-

For these new shows, are you continuing to repur-

ment affect your creative process?

pose materials?

Law school gave me a sense of precision; a different work ethic. I’m also not as loose or ambitious with language as some of my artist colleagues in terms of describing my work. Sometimes I listen to artists describe their own work, and I think, “Did that guy just say that?” [laughs] I try to be more honest about what is actually there. I come from a generation really steeped in French theory. A lot of artists hear that stuff and maybe understand about 20 percent of it but use its language nonetheless.

Yes—right now I’m working on mobiles that simulate large body parts, so that they’re surrounded by these moving giants. I’m also looking to use these portraits of Greek gods, except they’re wearing ’80s clothes. A lot of Gordon Gekko fashion! I’m interested in image and power in moving parts— fragments of a giant. The mobile is a new idea for me—I like the idea of it being like an “exquisite corpse” built out of these ’80s financiers.

What are you excited about now, in terms of your own work?

I have a show in Milan that opened in May. I’m also excited about a future Chicago show at Kavi Gupta that focuses on similar themes politically. Lately I’ve been watching documentaries on Michael Milken and other financiers of the 1980s, which influence my current work. It’s a way of talking about today’s political situation in the U.S. without

Our country’s culture is so center-right now, and there’s not a lot of pushback. Today, people ask what we’re going to use liberal arts for. Like, ‘You should just get an MBA.’ But what are you going to actually produce with an MBA? You’re really just moving money around. But this type of thinking is the air we breathe. It has filtered through culture over the decades, and that’s what my new work is trying to explore.

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DR E W HOLCOM B The journey of a musician from Memphis. by JORIE JACOBI / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Americana musician Drew Holcomb traverses the state of Tennessee, driving from his hometown of Memphis back to Nashville, where he lives with his wife Ellie Bannister and their two young children. Holcomb looks out the passenger-side window as the world blurs along. A thick beard obscures most of his face. If he had to go on stage tonight, the anticipatory anxiety would be worse than usual—a seasonal cold has deepened the undertone of his voice. Holcomb’s first record, “Washed in Blue,” was released in 2005, and since then his career has expanded to encompass 100,000 records sold, more than 1,500 tour dates and nine subsequent albums released with his band, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. The band’s latest record, “Souvenir,” was released in March 2017. The simple word is a lyric in two songs on the new album. “Music is a souvenir—something you take with you to remind you of a time and place,” says Holcomb. His mother plays piano, and while growing up in Memphis she would rouse Holcomb and his three siblings from their slumbers with bouts of morning hymns. Though his father and siblings aren’t musicians, one of Holcomb’s formative memories of falling in love with music includes them. It was during a family road trip when he was in the seventh grade, just after Christmas. Holcomb and his siblings had each been gifted Walkman cassette players, and when they stopped at a gas station on the road his father permitted each of the kids to purchase a new cassette tape. Holcomb selected a Joe Cocker compilation record which had the song “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” on it. “It’s about being in love with ‘the unattainable one.’ It’s beautiful. I remember sitting in the van with my Walkman on and looking out the window, because I didn’t want my older sister to see me crying.” After graduating from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, he remembers meeting with his father at a coffee shop back home. “We sat down, and I said, ‘Dad, I think I want to be a travelling singer and songwriter. What do you think?’ It wasn’t exactly the ideal thing for a dad to hear. But he was so

great. He said, ‘Are you going to work hard at it?’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ And he said, ‘Let’s go to the guitar shop.’” His father bought him a Larrivee D-60 that day—a much nicer guitar than the one Holcomb had. “That set the tone of my parents supporting me in this bizarre journey.” Holcomb had some success after college, but in 2008 while touring with acclaimed Christian musician Ellie Bannister— who would later become his wife—he fought through the inescapable, timeworn fog of discouragement that often plagues artists. “It wasn’t going well. We were barely getting by,” he says. He’d made up his mind to quit playing music full time and go to law school, where he’d study something practical, like public policy. He planned to join the Marine Corps first to offset the high cost of tuition. “I was in training—I was really serious about it,” he says. “Around that same time, I released a song called ‘Live Forever.’” The song changed everything. Soon after it came out, “Live Forever” was picked up by NBC to soundtrack the hit TV series, “Parenthood.” The licensing royalties brought in enough money for the band to purchase a touring van, and suddenly they were playing at new venues, in different cities, for larger crowds. His music has since been featured on shows such as “How I Met Your Mother,” “Nashville,” “House” and “Justified,” to name a few. Audiences responded to Holcomb’s tendency to frame each lyrical progression as a search for authenticity, something alive and messy. In the world of a Drew Holcomb song, difficulties in life are worth it in order to really live, and relationships are fragile, but also incredibly strong and powerful. Today, there are fewer vestiges of Holcomb’s life as a struggling musician than ever before. His personal journey of trudging lives alongside the contradictions captured in each song—even when it feels like it doesn’t matter, that nothing is moving forward and all is maddeningly stationary. Read the extended interview on ALIVEmag.com.

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A N EVOLV ING HOME Israel-born St. Louis-based chef Ben Poremba. by KEVIN KORINEK / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Ben Poremba emigrated from Israel to the U.S. with his parents when he was only 17. He began his journey in the culinary industry working as a private chef while attending the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he studied philosophy. It was during that time that Poremba started his own catering company, and discovered a passion for developing new restaurant concepts. This entrepreneurial spirit produced an award-winning group of St. Louis-area restaurants including Olio, Elaia, Parigi, Nixta, Salume Beddu and La Patisserie Chouquette. Poremba typically oversees the beginning of each new operation until handing over the reins to another chef, watching it evolve and become adopted by the neighborhood. A visiting wanderer might find a throng of guests gathered at Olio, located in a renovated gas station in McRee Town, or fine dining at Elaia, housed in what was once an abandoned residence, connected to Olio with a delicately crafted corridor. At Nixta, Poremba presents traditional Mexican flavors, resulting in dishes like crispy octopus in mole almendrado and braised-lamb tacos

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in smoky guajillo salsa. We sat down with Poremba to learn more about his process and philosophical approach to cooking. Amidst all of your restaurant concepts, you also recently welcomed a new baby. How do you prioritize and make time for so much?

That is the hardest piece of the puzzle for me. I work a lot of hours, but I also have a team of managers who can take on a lot of work. You just find a way to make it work. It’s a balance of both worlds. I try to weigh in and help focus on strategy, but I also have a lot of help and support to run the operations. How have you developed this pattern of creating successful dining experiences?

I envision a place with a feel and a kind of ambiance—something that I want. That’s the way I work. Then my strategy is to bring people in that I’ve worked with for a long time and put them in charge. A good example of that right now is Tello Carreon at Nixta. He has been with me for a few years, and it was a natural progression. ›››


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Are there any types of cuisines that you feel you

timeless about it.

haven’t mastered yet?

There’s just so much that creates inspiration, and there are always new things to learn. Right now, I’m really drawn to home cooking: traditional, ethnic home cooking, things that restaurants don’t do. Recipes that aunties and mothers and grandmothers cook, passed down or not. That inspires me, and I look to those kinds of inspirations for my restaurants. It happens everywhere I go.

You were an international student from Israel,

That inspiration has transformed into some really

But you were inspired to stay.

successful concepts. What was your inspiration

I love it here. In many ways, St. Louis is a very big, small town and it is a very small, big town. It’s community-driven, the neighborhoods are great, and in the creative world there’s a lot going on. It’s very forward-looking, so it’s a good place to be.

for the recipe you’ve shared with us?

It’s a classic for the season. It’s a light, velvety soup that somehow manages to be elegant and also simple. People tend to really love it. There’s something

studying in the U.S. What challenges arose from that experience?

There were all kinds of challenges, from language barriers to cultural shock. The first couple of years, I was unable to work because a student visa didn’t allow me to. There is just a laundry list of difficult things that happen when you move into a new culture.

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Chilled Pea Soup W ITH Herb and Seed Salad Chilled Pea Soup

Herb and Seed Salad

1/4 cup extr a-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup basil

1 cup diced celery root

1/3 cup mint

1 cup diced leeks, white part only

1/3 cup dill

1 cup dry vermouth

1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley

(preferably Noilly Prat)

1/3 cup toasted pepita seeds

1 lbs. frozen sweet peas

1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds

miner al water

1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds

salt

1/3 cup nigella seeds

white pepper

1/3 cup lime juice

cayenne pepper

salt & pepper to taste

lime juice 1 cup crème fr aiche Heat olive oil in a heavy pot. Add celery root and leek. Slowly sweat the vegetables on medium-low heat, until soft, for about 10-12 minutes (don’t allow them to color). Raise the heat and deglaze with vermouth. Add peas and enough mineral water to cover. Bring to boil and remove from the stove. Puree until very smooth (if soup is too thick, add more mineral water). Season with plenty of salt, white pepper, cayenne and lime juice. Chill for at least two hours. Whisk in the crème fraiche.

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Using kitchen shears, cut the herbs into small pieces. Mix seeds and herbs in a bowl. Dress with lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Pour soup into individual bowls. Garnish with a handful of the herb salad. Drizzle with high-quality olive oil. Serve.


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JULIE LONGY E A R For this St. Louis entrepreneur, creativity is a question of sur vival. by JORIE JACOBI / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

On a gray morning in St. Louis’ Lafayette Square neighborhood, skincare artisan, career vagabond, student of the universe and eternal wanderer Julie Longyear walks into Blissoma Holistic Skincare and Apothecary, a whitewalled retail space that has been the largest financial risk of her career. This morning Longyear’s entourage includes two dogs— one slightly more gregarious than the other—and a black-and-white rabbit named Blossom. She carefully extracts Blossom from a carrying case and deposits her into a playpen, as she does almost every day. A display table nearby permits customers to don a pair of bunny ears and take photos accompanied by a #crueltyfree caption. “When you hold her, you get to absorb the simple life of a bunny for a moment,” says Longyear. For more than 10 years, Longyear has been mixing recipes, emulsions and herbal infusions from scratch. In the kitchen, which is filled with jars of herbs and pots and pans for mixing, shoppers can see the herbs infusing her elixirs. With all of its cookware and soaking herbs, the room could be mistaken for a chemist’s lab. The venue previously housed a florist, and Longyear makes use of the sizeable refrigerator formerly used to cool budding flowers. It now holds a variety of tinctures and saturated herbs that require refrigeration. Growing up in St. Louis, Longyear spent her days drawing, painting, taking art classes, tie-dying and sewing, and she can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t have a curious, whirring mind. “I knew I wanted to make things. But I never saw myself as a ‘career person’. I don’t know why—it just wasn’t on my radar. I pictured myself having some land, definitely dogs, maybe gardening and making pottery.”

She kept a sewing machine and piles of fabric in her dorm room in college, where she’d sew custom clothing for friends and classmates. “I became known as the girl that would fix everybody’s pants,” she says. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a studio art degree in ceramics, Longyear moved back home to St. Louis and established a small sewing area in the basement of her parents’ home, where she first began experimenting with essential oils and making candles. Researching the science of botanicals marked her first foray into the benefits of plant-based extracts. She also began experiencing skin issues in her late 20s. Skincare items—even ones from natural and organic health-food stores—left her skin dry and oily. But with the knowledge she’d gathered from working in the world of essential oils, she came up with recipes for moisturizers, cleansers and toners, adjusting ingredient amounts to land on the perfect ratios. Three months after she quit a part-time office job and a degree program in art history, Longyear found out she was pregnant with her daughter, Tru, who is now 12. “All of a sudden it was like, bam: motherhood and entrepreneurship. They ran into each other straight from the get-go. It’s always been a juggling act, but I love that she’s grown up literally surrounded by all this.” Two weeks after giving birth, Longyear was working on her website with Tru at her chest, in a sling. Ten years later, Longyear is surrounded by the fruits of her copious labors: moisturizers blended from the mixtures of tea and baobab and pumpkin-seed oils; serums that smell like plantains; and a line of tealight candles—the first offering that grew into what would become Blissoma.

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COME CLE AN A COLL ABOR ATION WITH HACK WITH DESIGN HOUSE IN ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA. Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

MODEL:

Haddy Ndure @ New York Models

ST YLIST:

Trudy Fogarty-Hayden

HAIR AND MAKEUP:

Sharday Johnson

HACK WITH DESIGN HOUSE

hackwithdesignhouse.com SOKO

shopsoko.com BYRD DESIGNER CONSIGNMENT BOUTIQUE

byrdstyle.com

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Wr ap Dress in Pale Blue + SOKO Earrings FA S H I O N

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Swing Tank Dress in Black + SOKO Earrings and Necklace + Shoes, Stylist’s Own

R aw Finish Button-Up Jumper in White + SOKO Earrings and Br acelet

R aw Finish Button-Up Jumper in White + SOKO Ring

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Mandarin Collar Dress in Olive + SOKO Earrings and Necklace

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Mandarin Collar Dress in Olive + SOKO Earrings and Necklace

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HDH Basics Shift Dress in White + SOKO Earrings

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Wr ap Dress in Pale Blue + Tapered Trouser in Pale Blue + SOKO Earrings + Shoes, Stylist’s Own


PER EGR INE HONIG A K ANSAS CIT Y ARTIST AT THE INTERSECTION OF PRESERVATION AND BREAK THROUGH. by ALISON SIELOFF / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Multidisciplinary artist Peregrine Honig always knew she would live in a church. In fact, she even had dreams about it from time to time. She just didn’t know what church it would be—until she visited the old Greenwood Baptist Church in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood. ›››

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She climbed through nearly two years of decay and negotiated past a pigeon nest to look out over the church rafters. Moved to tears and awed by the church’s former exquisite beauty and its retained dignity, Honig knew she had found her next home and curatorial space. For months, Honig poured herself into reviving the structure that, according to her research, had served as a house of worship beginning in the 1920s for a black Baptist congregation. With the help of Jamie Jeffries, a preservationist developer of the Bottoms Up Collective, Honig transformed the building into the Greenwood Social Hall. A private residence and public project space, the renovated Greenwood incorporates both Honig’s creative touches and detailed requests—a sense of symmetry, the bathtub from her old home, large pieces from her personal art collection—while striving to honor the spirituality remaining within the walls. Honig has an abiding respect for the building’s history, only hosting events there that she believes are appropriate for a former church. And, she’s written into the bylaws that no one can burn sage at Greenwood, to help preserve the presence she feels inside. “It wasn’t deconsecrated, so the Baptist spirit is still in that space,” says Honig. “It curates me—the space curates me. It keeps me in check, and it keeps me in line.” Honig’s artistic portfolio began when she was just two years old. Her earliest drawings are well documented in “Patterns of Artistic Development in Children: Comparative Studies of Talent” by developmental psychologist Constance Milbrath which compiles a series of studies examining various individuals’ artistic development from early childhood to adolescence. Honig has never really known herself as anything other than an artist. She spent her childhood compulsively drawing and

pondering an artist’s life, wondering what kind of uniform she’d need and whether or not she’d wear a beret. She began to imagine that her work would one day be found in a museum, because that’s where artwork seemed to belong. Honig’s work did indeed land in the collections of esteemed institutions much earlier than she ever thought possible, including in 1998, when The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York acquired “Ovubet: 26 Girls with Sweet Centers”. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by her early success, Honig has felt motivated by the recognition. “Because I kind of started at the top of the food chain, I’ve really enjoyed getting to understand the space in between being in the Whitney and having my first solo show,” says Honig. “You just keep on working. Go to your studio, sit there, space out, and it’s great being around a lot of people who are actually making artwork.” Embracing the stimulation she gains from being a part of the integrated art community at The Greenwood and surrounding Kansas City, Honig often channels that energy into exploring topical themes, such as female sexuality and identity. She’s the creator behind the nationally popular “We Don’t Care” gender-neutral bathroom signs originating in 2016. She has a series of pieces that depict Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in the nude. Still, it’s the intuitive moments that drive her, rather than specific intent, and she’s somewhat surprised when people find her work overtly sexual or political. “I’m the only person who can make my work. It’s from my perspective, and I’m satisfied with that. At the same time, there are tons of people who are dealing with the female figure,” notes Honig. “I am interested in Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, I’m just interested. I am interested in early sexuality. “I’m cis-female and white, and I’m just observing and I’m processing, and so does that make me a feminist, or does it make me a political artist, ›››

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or what is it? There are politics in everything. There are politics in sexuality, there are politics in gender identity and there are politics in taking off your clothes. Most of the time, the people that I’m drawing, painting or sculpting are naked because clothes set somebody in time.” When Honig first moved to the Midwest from San Francisco at age 17 to attend the Kansas City Art Institute, she realized the middle of the country was far different than what she envisioned after watching “The Wizard of Oz” and “Meet Me in St. Louis” as a child. “I’d never been to the Midwest,” confesses Honig. “I thought it was fields of wheat and barns, and it would be some kind of rural residency. Then I would go to a coast. I was incorrect. I fell in love with Kansas City.” Throughout the 20-plus years she’s spent living, working and creating in Kansas City, Honig has found that the art community has not depleted. And despite an undercurrent of resistance, people take pride in supporting artists. She’s incredibly grateful for the critical funding she’s received from the Seeley Foundation, the Lighton International Artists Exchange Program (LIAEP), the Charlotte Street Foundation and others. And, like many artists who find alternative ways to fund their craft, her Kansas City lingerie store Birdies—which she has co-owned for 15 years with her friend and business partner Alexis Burrgrabe—also helps subsidize her work. “I co-own the business because I don’t want to have to think about money when I’m in my studio,” says Honig. “I’m not interested in being a starving artist. That’s a debilitating way to think about yourself, and I think it’s unfair. It’s condescending and patronizing, and I think it allows for academics to look down on people who are producing the optical seeds that might save the world on a scientific level.” Honig credits the support she’s received in the Midwest, along with her early success, for giving her the confidence and power to take on things she wouldn’t necessarily be able to if she were in a bigger city. She knows that her ability to turn material into thought happens most fluidly when she has easy access to good space and good material. She has found both at Greenwood. She has spent countless hours researching the history of the building and the Baptists that used to call it their spiritual home, fostering hope that one day the current congregation’s choir will return to the space for a special performance. For her, living at Greenwood feels like living inside of a sculpture, and it’s bringing a sense of balance to Honig’s life and giving her the space to process her own past and make plans. “Right now, in my art life, I almost feel like I’ve caught up to myself. I’m not looking over my shoulder. I’m looking forward,” says Honig. “That is very powerful. I feel that everything that I’ve done—and having a space that’s functional and beautiful—it’s like falling in love. It’s like I did everything that I was supposed to do to get to where I am.”

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A MODE R N ACCOU N T

BUILDING ON A LEGACY OF GREAT IDEAS, GLOBAL BRAND DIRECTOR SAM GRAWE SHARES A NEW VISION FOR STORY TELLING THROUGH DESIGN AND JOURNALISM AT HERMAN MILLER. by DAN MICHEL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

“Nesting” is an interior-design term for when seveal small items fit together perfectly flush to create a greater overall effect. It’s an apt analogy for Sam Grawe’s post as global brand director at Herman Miller, the iconic, 112-year-old Zeeland, Michiganbased furniture manufacturer responsible for archetypal modern furniture pieces like the Noguchi table, the marshmallow sofa and the ubiquitous Eames Lounge Chair. Looking at Grawe’s career path, you’d think he was training for this job since childhood. While growing up in Virginia and spending time in India with his parents, he was obsessed with building, and especially with Legos. He admired architecture across the world, and he later studied art history and music composition in college. “I like to go really deep and dig into the layers of history, so I can gain

insight into a work of art or music,” says Grawe, now 40. While studying, Grawe also maintained an interest in design. He fondly recalls the Dana Arts Center at his alma mater, Colgate University, designed by Brutalist architect Paul Rudolph. “I loved seeing that building every day,” he says. His obsession with furniture began as a college freshman in the form of a poster that depicted a visual history of chairs, which he purchased during a trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. “It helped me learn the intricacies of how things flow and connect in that world,” says Grawe. “It pushed my buttons.” Design became the heart of Grawe’s career. After ›››

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college, he landed a job working for designer Bruce Burdick, whose executive desks won Time Magazine’s “Ten Best Designs Award” in 1981. Next came an editorial assistant position in San Francisco at Dwell, the aspirational design and technology brand and accompanying popular magazine. Over the next 11 years, Grawe held just about every job at the magazine until he ascended to editor-inchief in 2006, later successfully steering the magazine through the publishing slump of 2008 and 2009. “I like to think of Dwell as my post-graduate education,” says Grawe. It was there that his interest in furniture became infatuation. “Furniture is ultimately serving a need and solving a problem,” he says. “Certainly there’s always a story behind it: the designer’s thinking. That’s the story I’m after.” “When he was editor of Dwell, Sam saw it all, met everyone and experienced the world of design fully,” says Kim Colin, who runs UK-based design group Industrial Facility with her husband Sam Hecht. “He’s always been well-respected for how he carefully commissions and creates stories.” As Grawe’s career grew, so did his ambition. He sought out a brand, Herman Miller, instead of another magazine. “I saw the tools and resources that brands have now to tell their stories,” he says. “I’d already been writing about modernism, modern furniture and modern design. It was a natural fit to bring that knowledge and those skills to Herman Miller. They have no shortage of stories to tell.” Grawe’s career, it seemed, was taking a strikingly similar path of one of his idols, George Nelson, a former architect-turned-magazine editor, who worked

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at titles like Architecture Forum and Fortune. He later went on to become design director at Herman Miller and eventually create some of the most iconic modern-furniture designs of the 20th century, inspiring a generation of young designers. The biggest influence on Grawe’s work was another Herman Miller alum, Nelson’s colleague and former head of the textile design division, Alexander Girard. Known for his intricate, geometric patterns, Girard also designed interior spaces throughout the Midwest. “I wouldn’t be at Herman Miller if it weren’t for Girard,” says Grawe. You’ll find Gerard’s textiles represented in Michigan’s most design-centric places: the Herman Miller “design yard,” the Marigold Lodge (an Herman Miller-owned design space)—and Grawe’s own home. To him, Girard’s work represents a golden age of modern design. In the 1950s, Girard was part of a design dream team that also included George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames. “They were organized like a network of design knowledge, taking the best inspiration from different parts of the world to create this multicultural, global perspective,” Grawe says. It’s the model for how he runs his team today. “Connecting with that legacy was what, in part, attracted me to working at here and why I identify with the brand,” says Grawe. In 2013, Grawe connected his editorial prowess with his design passion by starting Herman Miller’s online WHY Magazine—a magazine which approaches design with what Grawe calls a “spirit of inquiry,” telling the behind-the-scenes stories of how we ›››


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learn, think and communicate through design. The perk of publishing under a storied design house with no ties to advertisers, Grawe explains, is having the resources to add critical context. “We like to make interesting, unexpected pairings in terms of an illustration or video that accompanies a story,” he says. “We have a lot of permission to experiment and try things that other magazines or publications might not.” Through decades of storytelling in the design world, Grawe has immersed himself in its history, allowing him to add great context to just about any work he comes across. This skill becomes apparent when Grawe talks about his favorite designs— many in the Midwest—in great detail. “There’s an Alexander Girard design house in Grosse Pointe, Michigan with a courtyard that has amazing glazed bricks,” Grawe explains. But it’s the historical and social context he adds that really showcases his well-rounded, near-archival understanding of the industry. “Those bricks are clearly either remnants of, or at least color tests for, the glazed bricks on the end facades of the GM Technical Center, which is a 1956 building by Eero Saarinen. Saarinen and Girard were friends.” There’s one story he recalls most fondly of discovering great American design in the Midwest. Unsurprisingly, it began on a furniture hunt. “I found this Eames Time-Life chair on Craig-

slist,” says Grawe. “It was in Kalamazoo for $250. I thought, ‘What a great deal.’” Grawe drove there with his wife but couldn’t find the address. After essentially giving up, Grawe mentioned to his wife that there was a George Nelson house in the area, and he stumbled upon the Craigslist seller’s address. It happened to be the very 1950s home, designed by Nelson called the Kirkpatrick House. The owner was a longtime Herman Miller collector who’d restored the home over a ten-year period. “We did a shoot there for WHY,” says Grawe. “Meeting him was a great, providential circumstance, and we actually became friends.” These are the organic, compelling stories Grawe strives to tell, with a somewhat ulterior motive. “Ultimately the secret goal with WHY is for other magazines and websites to steal our content.” Indeed, websites like Fast Co. Design, Engadget and Design Milk have picked up Grawe’s stories. In addition to Grawe’s everyday projects, he is also working with publisher Phaidon Press on a book about Herman Miller’s 112-year history and the brand’s place in world culture. It’s set to be published in the spring of 2018. Grawe seems most content when he’s sharing stories. Lucky for him, his post at Herman Miller—the one he was seemingly destined to have—happens to be the only thing that can sate his appetite for design and storytelling, to the benefit of his readers. It’s a satisfaction reminiscent of those clean lines found in modern pieces, like when two nesting chairs stack together to perfectly align.

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A l l T he World B e g a n W it h A Ye s

by ALISON C. ROLLINS

You don’t say. Then there’s a man taking

that truth sets out to penetrate mysteries,

another man inside himself. Withdrawn,

only for man to rebuild them with fury.

his hands now rest in his lap. Counting out

The reality that this life is pleasurably

the missing teeth and the varying stories

painful is something that I can rely on.

about how they came to be gone. The women

I had perceived you would leave. I won’t

are displaced. Each an out of body experience.

not go, you said. End: a burden of boon.

I was beside myself, one remarks. A rib contradicts

I don’t know what it means to hurt,

its mirror image. Glass has mastered the art of

on account of the signified signifier.

world building, the brevity of silence in self-

I am hungry and you are fearful.

reflection. I am no authority on what is out there,

The ocean is breakbeat blue.

nor the line between trespasser and trespassed. Things without mouths cannot give consent, but body language is a system of gestures. The shoulders are experimental poets, the legs offering no closure to sound. The eyes darting, disturbing the meter. A relativity of rhyme or reason, was there ever a time when I did not sell my body? I am ready to turn in for the night. A full quiver.

Desire: a longing damned. A man once walked in on me holding the mouth of a woman in my own. Live and let live, an act of grace, a folding of threat in on itself. Sorrow devours the image, the hour of the star upon us. So little has taken place.

Morality flexes its musculature, trusting

Alison C. Rollins, born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, currently works as a librarian for Nerinx Hall High School. She is the “second- prize winner” of the 2016 James H. Nash Poetry contest and a finalist for the 2016 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in “American Poetry Review,” “Hayden’s Ferry Review,” “Meridian,” “Missouri Review,” “The Offing,” “Poetry,” “The Poetry Review,” “River Styx,” “Solstice,” “TriQuarterly,” “Tupelo Quarterly, “Vinyl” and elsewhere. A member of Cave Canem as well as a Callaloo Fellow, she is also a 2016 recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship.

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VOLUME 16 ISSUE 4

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ALIVE Magazine Issue 4 2017  
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