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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 POTTER

Kate Arends, MN / E N T R E P R E N E U R S Meg and Chad Gleason, IA

Phillip Finder, MO / A R T I S T Seitu Jones, MN / C H E F James Bloomfield, MI DE SIGNER

Chrissy Fogerty, MO


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 One summer, in the mid-2000s I was fortunate enough to spend a little more than 20 days in the UK. I flew into Shannon, Ireland, and romantically explored Limerick and Dublin. I drank cider in a castle near Edinburgh, Scotland, introduced myself to around 1,000 sheep in Northwest England’s Lake District, dipped a toe in the English Channel and spent a few days in Wales. I concluded my adventure touring a handful of cities in England. After touching the grave of William Shakespeare, I sang “Sweet Caroline” with a 75-yearold Englishman in a blue jumpsuit. I was the farthest from home I had ever been, and the history and weight of the magnificent places I took in overwhelmed me. Days after a cruise on Loch Ness, I was staggering in front of Stonehenge. I felt an incredible weight on my shoulders (which I later attributed to a deluge of gratitude) but in the moment, I thought I was nothing and I was nowhere. I felt buried by history; I felt small. And then, an anomalous event whipped me back into the present. As I stood on the edge of the medieval stronghold that is Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland, I felt a tap on my shoulder. As I slowly turned, a classmate from my small-town high school was smiling in front of me. More than 4,000 miles from home, on the exact same day, at the exact same time, we had ended up in the same place. After that, the moment was packaged in my memory, to remind me always that we are all mysteriously connected. The artists we’ve gathered for this issue all have an acute understanding or a thirst for knowledge around how humans interact with others and their surrounding environments. Seitu Jones, a Minneapolis-based multidisciplinary artist, installs public artwork as well as museum exhibitions to connect directly with his audience (page 20). St. Louis potter Phillip Finder is interested in the way humans interact with material and object (page 16). In Traverse City, Chef James Bloomfield reimagines—and re-prints!—new menus every single day to reconnect with the food, the staff and the guests at his 40-seat restaurant (page 24). Designer Chrissy Fogerty realized early on that humans have more than a simply aesthetic connection to their clothing. With a strong, environmental awareness, she is beautifully crafting PVC-free faux leather garments in St. Louis (page 30). K ate Arends is a St. Paul-based creative consultant who creates award-winning strategic design, while injecting wit and realness about her life into daily posts for her nearly three million loyal followers. Her success seems to know no bounds, yet she’s somehow been able to maintain an authentic (and at time hilarious) human element in her work (page 42). After graduating into a rocky economy, Chad and Meg Gleason returned to Chad’s family farm in Audubon, Iowa, and launched letterpress studio Moglea. As you dig into this lovely couple’s story it’s hard to not connect with some part of their incredible journey, as the now thrive in a custom-built studio on their 2,000 acre property (page 58). Whether we’re studying a 5,000-year-old sacred stack of stones or a beautifully designed day planner, remembering the creative hands behind the work can, at times, be lost. No matter how far we stray, our mortal connection to other living souls will always find a way to shake us awake and remind us that connection, above all else, is why we’re here. Love, Rachel Brandt @RachelEBrandt

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TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S 16 Potter | Phillip Finder 20 Artist | Seitu Jones 24 Chef | James Bloomfield 30 Designer | Chrissy Fogerty 34 Fashion | “In Color” 42 Creative | Kate Arends, Wit & Delight 58 Entrepreneurs | Meg and Chad Gleason 80 Poem | Eileen G’Sell

COVER PHOTO

Sunrise over Audubon County, IA

B AC K C O V E R

Moglea Studio designed by Chad Gleason. Audubon, IA

RIGHT

Paintings and sculpture work of Seitu Photography:

Attilio D’Agostino

Jones


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PA RT N E R

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CHERO K EE S TR EE T


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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PA RT N E R

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PA INTING: H A L F PA S T EL E V EN, O IL O N C A N VA S, J O HN ZINSSER (2010 ) THRO U GH PHIL IP SL EIN GA L L ER Y (S T. LO U IS, M O)


THE DIGNIT Y OF OBJECT

INTRODUCING ST. LOUIS POT TER PHILLIP FINDER. by EILEEN G’SELL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

On a day so sunny that toddlers squint from strollers, the Schlafly Art Outside fair in St. Louis, Missouri, swings into its final hour. Booth after booth boasts colorful arrays of paintings, sculptures and handmade jewelry. By comparison, the shaded spot for local artist Phillip Finder looks a bit subdued. A table displays a few vases, ceramic bowls and tiny porcelain spoons. A breeze floats by as a nimble man with warm blue eyes appears. “I had a lot more out here before, but I’m almost all sold out,” he explains ruefully, as a customer examines what remains. Clearly what this booth lacks in flash, it more than makes up in flourish. The same can be said of Finder, an unassuming, friendly figure who, just four years after achieving an MFA at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has his own ceramics studio and a growing circle of patrons. Touring the spacious studio he now occu-

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pies in the Fox Park neighborhood of St. Louis, one can quickly appreciate the multi-media basis of his practice. Two electric kilns—one manually controlled and one massively sized and computerized—stand in one corner, the latter resembling a deep cylindrical Japanese-style bathtub. In the center, there’s a table saw and workbench, and on the opposite wall, a tower of shelves house all manner of clay objects. “A friend told me this is the most finished unfinished basement he’s ever seen,” the artist jests. Raised in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Missouri, Finder didn’t always know fine art was his calling. “I was one of those kids who was constantly building things—working on small engines. Very hands-on.” After heading to Detroit to study industrial design at the College for Creative Studies, he left after a year, disenchanted. “To be honest, I was lost. I fumbled about and went to a few different schools—down in Gainesville and St. Augustine in Florida then back to


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St. Louis.” After meeting his wife—then in undergrad at Webster University—they moved to Breckenridge, Colorado, and ski-bummed for a year together. “In the back of my head, I knew I needed to finish my undergraduate degree,” Finder shares. He moved back to Florida to do so, where he studied under ceramics professor Stephen Heywood at the University of North Florida. “It was one of those scary moves, where we didn’t really know what we were getting into. But it turned out to be a good one. Heywood was incredible—he blew my mind. I’d never seen work like what he makes. Plus, he was actually making the whole artist thing work. And that’s what I wanted to do.” While his mentor focused on transforming mechanical systems into functional pottery, Finder went on to experiment with stripped-down expressions of shape and form. “With Heywood, I would accentuate form in as many ways as I could to showcase the technical side of what’s possible. But when I came into my own in graduate school, I was perfectly content with exploring shape—the technique is less important. These days, I want a more clarified vision of form to come through—something more modernist, I suppose.” Examining his rows of vases, urns and bowls, at first glance they look utterly rustic, free of ornament. But up close, a recurrent glaze lends a subtle metallic sheen. “In certain lighting, it sparkles a bit, but it’s still sort of muted,” Finder muses. “I want the object to be something special, but I don’t want it to yell out to an audience. I tone things down purposefully and hope if someone does take notice, then there are rewards for them.” In a world where it seems like everything revolves around convenience—experience and objects ever

more disposable—a bowl that takes weeks to make gains a curious ontological value. Finder’s minimalist creations, at once so solid and vulnerable, remind us of our history as human beings, of a time when raising a clay cup to one’s lips was a pleasure in its own right. “I have an admiration for things of the past in general, but I think a lot about what it means to make work that’s contemporary,” Finder reflects. “I ask myself, ‘What am I contributing?’ In a way, it’s all a response to the over-stimuli of today. I love Instagram, but the experience of scrolling through content—it never stops. I’m purposefully paring down my work, signing on to certain modernist ideals, simply because it seems relevant again—a counterbalance to that intensity that we are all willingly taking part in.” Stepping into the artist’s backyard is like stumbling upon an enclave of the Missouri Botanical Garden or the search results for “verdant” on Google Images. A canopy of trees stretches above; hardscaped bushes, shrubs and vines wind along a path of woodchip mulch. It comes as no surprise that Finder has done this all himself. “I get the mulch that’s free from the city,” he says, describing his process of building the terrain. There’s a bench made of repurposed timber, bricks transferred from rubbish heaps in area alleys. If one thing is clear, it is that Finder has a knack for discovering substance in the humblest of places, then turning it into a thing of beauty. “I like the idea of being able to understand something that I make based on the world we already know,” he explains. “I’m very sensitive to the built environment, to processing the things and materials around me. As much as I love talking to people, they’re just not at the center of my thinking. The way people interact with objects—that’s at the center.”

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R ENAISSA NCE M A N ST. PAUL’S SEITU JONES. by EILEEN G’SELL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Anyone who has set foot in Minneapolis/St. Paul has, in some way, come to know Seitu Jones. From sculptural drinking fountains to public murals to “earth dumplings” planted outside Walker Art Center, the 66-year-old polymath’s artistic presence is its own elaborate ecosystem, garnering a national and international reputation on the rise. In 2017, Jones was named winner of the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, a distinction given—with a handsome cash prize—to a Minnesotan whose work has meaningfully enriched the quality of the state’s culture as a whole. A fourth-generation resident, Jones’ roots in St. Paul’s historic Frogtown neighborhood inform practically everything he does, and condensing his life’s work into a few pat paragraphs proves well-nigh impossible. Be it landscaping, painting, botanical interventions or relational aesthetics, Jones has perpetually redefined what it means to make art happen—both as an object and as lived experience. As a person, he’s that rare artist whose joy in making is matched by taking delight in human beings. He’s the kind of person whose smile you can hear over the phone. “I’ve turned into my grandfather,” he says, chuckling—and it’s clear he’s proud of that. But perhaps as relevant as any award he’s netted is his enduring role as St. Paul sage, the bedrock of his identity. We spoke with the artist just days before news of the McKnight award was announced. With over 30 public artworks and a variety of museum installations, you’ve shown incredible versatility. Is there a difference between art made for the public versus a gallery or high-art setting? I’m thinking of the Harriet Tubman sculpture and the “Birds for Peace” mural in Minneapolis, compared to work shown in more traditional spaces.

As an interdisciplinary artist, I don’t have a degree in art—no BFA or MFA. I have a degree in landscape design and one in environmental history, and these are the tools I use to hone my practice. Part of the reason I don’t have a degree in art is

because at the time I went into college—almost fifty years ago— those degrees meant you were siloed. You were not allowed to cross disciplines. People said, “Jones, what do you wanna do? You want to be a photographer? You want to be a potter? You can’t do it all.” When I was in college, they couldn’t even spell “interdisciplinary,” let alone begin to grasp the concept of it. Because of the mindset that governed that academic approach, I thought when I mixed mediums and crossed disciplines, I was taking off this hat and putting on another. But at some point, I realized that these hats are all on top of the same head. It’s all coming from me, in one way or another. I have been able to cross all these disciplines only because I’m passionate about so many different things. I’ve gotten used to exploring one medium and getting bored with it, or getting excited about a new theme or idea. All of the work I’ve done for the public sphere is work that’s appropriate to a particular site, medium or theme. So many different spaces, methods and ideas resonate with me. When was the first time you remember crossing those boundaries?

I hate to sound corny, but it goes back to my childhood. I had my core family—my mother, father and sister—but also this extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. In my generation, we knew we had to be equipped with a set of tools to battle all the oppressive and racist forces that would be obstacles on our paths. One of the tricks that my aunts used to play is that they’d tell us all how smart we were. After a while, we’d start to believe it. I had an auntie who would call me “Little George Washington Carver” because I was so interested in nature—in my grandmother’s big garden, chasing after insects. I would bristle at that. Like, “I don’t want to be like that old bald-headed man.” And here I am, this old bald-headed man! What people don’t know about Carver is that before he was working with poor Black farmers and poor white farmers down

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South, he was a painter. So here is this person known for his contribution to agriculture, but not a lot of folks know about his history as an artist, mixing these different disciplines. The first thing I did that combined art and nature was probably back in a landscape design program forty years ago, which was housed in the University of Minnesota’s School of Agriculture. We were designing these small projects for landscape architects at the university. I didn’t realize at the time that I was mixing art traditions and design while working with plants, too. I always had the best drawings in the class, and that was one foundation of my practice built there. The first project I did that combined the two was in the ‘80s—the Dupont relief mural in downtown St. Paul at Lambert’s Landing, on the riverfront. I had to think about the space in front of the mural, as well as the plants and design there. But even before that, one of the things that really struck me was the Wall of Respect on 43rd and Langley in Chicago. As a child, I would get shipped off every summer to the South Side of Chicago to grandparents and great-grandparents. In 1968, my grandfather took me to see the Wall of Respect, created by all these African-American artists. It was sacred ground. Even my grandfather recognized the power in it and might have even known how much power it would have over me. It was a touchstone of the Black Arts Movement. In some parts, it was painted crudely, but it was so powerful for Black culture. You’ve called your seed bomb installations “weapons of peace.” Do you see art as having a political function, if implicitly?

Yes. I do work in my studio that is unique and idiosyncratic. I do work that is collaborative, and I sometimes attempt to combine the visions of all the people I work with. But it all comes back to me—even work that is based in the community, that’s for and with the community. It’s still about me. Whatever an artist puts on a canvas, screen, stage or on the street reflects his or her political worldview, even if that work is abstracted or if the artist says, “I’m rejecting politics.” There’s no way you can get around that, even with work that is emotional or based on a movement. Going back to Black Arts Movement, as a child of the ‘50s and ‘60s, I got hung up in all the music, politics and culture of the time. I was researching and close to joining the Nation of Islam. One of the tenets of many philosophies of the time was to “leave your community more beautiful than you found it.” That is the philosophic foundation of my work right now. For me, it’s all political. The work that I do is about trying to change the systems that we live in.

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I grew up in this family that had a deep love for themselves, for the community, sometimes the Church and the larger world. I had my father and crazy uncle who took us fishing as often as they could. They all had this great appreciation for nature, and they passed that on to my generation. With that love comes passion—this passion that I have now for wanting to change some of the systems, and to do it with an artistic invention. How has Minneapolis and the surrounding region informed your practice and approach to art?

I am a real-deal Minnesotan, a Midwesterner. It’s crazy—I work on stuff on both coasts, but I have done the bulk of my work here in the Midwest. Believe it or not, I’m working on projects here in Minneapolis-St. Paul, in Chicago and in Grand Rapids. I was just in Flint and Detroit a couple weeks ago. I’ve traveled all over the world and lived in other places, but this is my home. I am so rooted here. Frogtown has been my laboratory—it’s the grounds on which I’ve been able to share my ideas and vision. All of that is part of being rooted to this particular site. My studio space—where my wife and I have lived for 22 years—is my desk in a way, a place where I hash out ideas, invite people in and look out the window at my neighbors. It’s like an accent—you don’t realize you have it until someone else points it out. I have a real love/hate relationship with the city—there are times that I am ready to leave Frogtown and move out to the country, but there are times that I ride down the street and wave to folks, thinking, “Hey, this ain’t so bad.” But more than anything, it’s the kind of experience I had back in the South Side of Chicago. The project I’m working on there now is a meal project in the Chatham neighborhood, the same place where I used to get shipped as a child. When I was there a couple weeks ago, it was literally the first time in decades that I had walked the neighborhood, but it felt the same somehow. One woman passed by and said, “Hey, give me those shoes! Those are so nice.” People were out working on their lawns, engaged with folks. Chatham is 95 percent Black. At one time it had a really high home ownership percentage, and now that’s fallen. These days, there are absentee landlords, issues with the environment and issues with police violence—but there’s also a particular vibration there. As crazy as it sounds, as metaphorical as it sounds, it’s one of the things that ties me to African-American culture in particular, and American culture in general. And I feel the same way about Frogtown.


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JA MES BLOOMFIELD A young, innovative Traverse City-based chef. by JORIE JACOBI / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

In Traverse City, Michigan, lies a 40-seat restaurant with a small bar and a staff of eight— including servers—nearly on the edge of the storied Lake Michigan. Contained in the Warehouse MRKT, the establishment’s 28-year-old head chef delivers inventive, creative fusions with fresh, local produce and a brand-new menu printed every day, informed by his own explorations of the world—like miniature, edible canvases painted with elements like béchamel sauce and coriander.

Sok National Park, where we slept in a treehouse for three days, then travelled out to an island called Ko Samui. We also went to Chiang Mai, the temple region—old-school Thailand, you could call it. It’s now more modern and developed, but they have kept a lot of very old buildings and temples intact. We went to eat, but also to get inspired. It would have been easy to take a few Thai dishes and put those on the menu, but instead we took bits and pieces from the experience we had and things we saw on the street.

The Warehouse MRKT was given a second life after being renovated by Daniel and Meridith Falconer, who envisioned it as a destination spot for avant-garde entrepreneurial experimentation. They’d been looking for a chef to head up the locale’s restaurant, Alliance, when long-renowned Great Lakes chef Pete Peterson introduced them to James Bloomfield.

What was your inspiration for the beets and peaches salad?

Bloomfield explains that tonight’s menu will begin with a salad featuring heirloom tomatoes and fresh cucumbers, leading into a Filipino-style ceviche dish with coconut milk and Thai chiles, as well as warm vegetable dishes with wild mushrooms, foraged by “a guy who finds mushrooms for me in the area,” he explains, laughing. This past March, Bloomfield and a few Alliance employees traveled to Thailand, where they ate, explored and learned through experience and osmosis, on a quest to re-invigorate their own cuisine. As Bloomfield talks about it all, it’s not without an absorbing laugh, especially if you ask what he eats when not working. “Reese’s Puffs,” he says, in all seriousness. What made you want to explore Thailand?

I worked at a restaurant with a few guys who were from there. They’d make family meals for us, and it was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life. They were really inspirational to me and influenced the way I cook. We started in Bangkok and then headed down south towards Khao

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Right now is peak season for peaches, and I don’t know where it came from, but I was thinking that golden beets and peaches actually look really similar. I put the two flavors together and it worked really well. We also make our own yogurt here at the restaurant, which we usually strain several times so it’s really thick. We had a batch that was a little thinner, which I seasoned with orange-blossom water and coriander. You grew up in Michigan, near Traverse City. What brought you back to your home state?

I had been traveling and working all around the world and hadn’t been home in a while. I’m from a town called Lake City, Michigan, about an hour south of here. I came home for a summer and my sister was pregnant, so I decided to spend a few months at home. I’d planned to head to Chicago and stage at a few places I knew to see where I’d end up next. I had been traveling and cooking on the East Coast and Cape Cod for awhile, then Boston and Austin. I was there for about three years, and then I made my way through Portland and San Francisco. While I was home, I ran into Pete Peterson, a former culinary instructor of mine who’s also a good friend. He owned Tapawingo restaurant for 25 years, has numerous James Beard Award nominations and is nationally recognized as one of the best chefs of his era. We started doing some catering and talking food, just hanging out and cooking. He brought me in, pitched the idea to them and here we are.


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But I have to be honest—I never thought I would come back and have a restaurant here. After growing up here and coming out of high school or college, you think, “I need to get away from home and never come back.” I did have some of that, until I got out into the world and realized, “Man, Michigan is really special.”

first, even though I wanted to cook and have a restaurant. I got burned out on some of the subjects required, like global economics, and things I just wasn’t interested in. I went to culinary school after that at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute and busted through that program in about a year and a half. It’s actually just a mile and a half from the restaurant.

What’s it like working at the Warehouse MRKT?

What are some of the challenges you’ve come across with

It’s really inspiring to be around other creatives. That’s one of the reasons I agreed to join the project. The coffee shop that’s in the Warehouse, called BLK MRKT, is possibly the best coffee shop I’ve ever been to. They’re very, very detailed and passionate about what they do. We’re constantly talking about new products and drinks together. They’re incredible.

this type of work?

What made you want to be a chef and devote your life to this work?

I had always wanted to cook and own a restaurant. My dad is a really good cook, and we had a family dinner seven nights a week with a home-cooked meal. Subconsciously, that inspired me and my belief that food is really important. I actually went to college at Central Michigan University for a business degree

In the beginning, getting experience is obviously a huge challenge. I was put into management and leadership positions pretty early on, and that was tough for me. I don’t know if I was necessarily ready for it, in a maturity sense. To manage people older than me and gain their respect—that was a challenge. We also work close to 90 hours a week on our feet, with sharp knives and hot fire and very little sleep. There’s incredible pressure each night. But I could never do anything else. That all really came together when I was in college. I felt like I was wasting time and not following what I really wanted to do. It was more what I thought I should be doing. When I was 21 and sent in my forms for culinary school, that’s when I really thought, “This is it. I’m dedicating every minute of the day to this.”

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Beets and Peaches Salad 10 -12 sm a l l to m ediu m-siz ed mu lt icolored beets 2-3 peaches (sliced) Greek Yogurt Or ange blossom water Cumin Coriander Quinoa Shiso Leaf Mint Lemon Salt Pepper Olive oil Place beets in a deep baking pan filled with 2 cups of water. Cover the pan with tin foil and roast in a 350 degree oven until tender (about an hour). Check the beets by inserting a knife into the skin. If the knife comes out clean, the beets are done. Peel the beets and cut into your desired shapes and sizes. Set aside. Mix 1 cup yogurt with 1 tablespoon of the orange blossom water, 1/2 tablespoon of coriander, 1/4 tablespoon cumin and 1 tablespoon honey. Whisk until the spices are evenly distributed and

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the yogurt is slightly thinner than when you started. Set aside. Cook the quinoa following the directions on the packaging and then transfer to a half-sheet pan lined with plastic wrap. Spread out the quinoa so that it will cool quickly. Transfer the cooled quinoa to another half-sheet pan with parchment paper and leave overnight in a dry area to dehydrate. The next day, heat a pan of neutral cooking oil to 350 degrees. Using a strainer, very carefully fry the quinoa in small batches for around seven seconds until the skin puffs and rises to the surface of the oil. Transfer to a pan lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Place 5-6 pieces of the cut beets and 4-5 peach slices in a small mixing bowl. Toss the beets and peaches with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and some lemon zest. Place the yogurt mixture on a plate, and begin to arrange the beets and peaches, making sure that they are evenly distributed. Garnish the salad with the puffed quinoa, fresh mint, fresh shiso leaf and more lemon zest.


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CHR ISSY FOGERT Y FINDING THE SHAPE OF THE UNKNOWN. by JORIE JACOBI / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

“You gravitate towards something when you realize your strengths are there—especially when you’re younger,” says Chrissy Fogerty, namesake and proprietor of the Fauxgerty clothing brand. She has sharpened that priceless quality of self-observation over the years and puts it to use during moments of reflection. “I think if you were to ask my parents, they’d tell you I was always going to be in fashion. Growing up, I did filing at my dad’s internet-processing company in high school and hated it. I thought, ‘I’d rather work at a boutique.’”

Ever since the idea began haunting her, there hasn’t been a day when she hasn’t thought about how to continue growing the company. She consistently asks the question, “Who is Fauxgerty?” and refines the answer. “I like looking at it as something that’s allowed to change. So often with a product or brand, you don’t want to let go of who you’ve been.” Mentally, she’d already been developing the idea for Fauxgerty for years before approaching the fork in the road of risk or reward—though through Fogerty’s eyes, things aren’t always so black and white.

While in college at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, Fogerty began studying the nature of interpersonal relationships and environmentalism through the lens of fashion. These sensibilities later developed the brand’s signature piece: moto jackets crafted from PVC-free faux leather, a material that has taken Fogerty years to find. In 2015, Fogerty opened a polished, curated boutique store in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood. Since then, Fauxgerty has expanded into a country-wide brand, manufacturing on both coasts and hosting a number of pop-up shops, most recently in Omaha, Los Angeles, and soon, on October 20 and 21, in Nashville.

The quest to pull off the kind of faux leather jacket she envisioned led her to discover a treasure in the fashion industry: a material that feels nearly identical to leather, but is also sustainably produced. “If you buy faux leather in a bolt, it’s essentially plastic. Ours is made in a factory that creates green goods. PVC can be harmful—it’s highly flammable. There’s also flame retardant on typical faux leather, which is very toxic. That’s how they get that sheen that makes it look more like natural leather. The company we work with is the most sustainability-focused leatheralternative company that exists. They’re continuing the conversation we’re trying to have.”

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After returning home to St. Louis after college, Fogerty began working as an administrator at a graphic design firm, where she met designer, artist, future art director of Fauxgerty and best friend Meg Ebaugh-Faris. “That was definitely the universe dropping me in a very specific place for a very specific reason. Meg is a true artist. She has so much creative potential. We were like a Yin-and-Yang dream team in that capacity. I had all these ideas, and Meg had all of this creative energy she needed to put somewhere.” Ebaugh-Faris paints on the moto jackets after Fogerty has crafted and designed them, often with portraits and figures alongside geometric shapes and designs. Fogerty also has many entrepreneurs in her family, from whom she inherited the belief that she could do it too. “My mindset is, ‘It’s not impossible to do things like this.’ When I first told Meg and asked her to come aboard, I remember one of the things she said was, ‘I can’t believe people actually do this.’ Someone’s got to start new things. Why do we think someone else can own a successful brand, but not us?” Though Fauxgerty is on an upswing of growth, it has not been without challenges. A foray into wholesale became a nightmare. There were bouts of uncertainty. Fogerty’s father, to whom she brings many of her business quandaries, often reminded her that if success came down to one thing, it would be one’s ability to move on from a problem. “The people who make it are just the people who outlast everyone else. They just keep going,” says Fogerty. “How quickly can you say, ‘That sucks,’ and then keep trying?” Fogerty’s husband, Jon Keating, is also on board as the company’s chief operating officer, which lends

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it a strong sense of stability. “Jon is an executor. He came in and organized Fauxgerty’s life. And there are certain topics that I can talk to only him about. When something happens that brings us off track, it has been invaluable for me to be able to say, ‘Well, that was really shitty,’ and we don’t have to bring it anywhere else. We get coffee together every morning, so that’s nice,” says Fogerty. “That closeness becomes a mirror.” Their aim also continues to stretch and evolve: when one goal is met, the next one surfaces. “At this point, I’ve finally been in it long enough that I can hold on to what I’ve learned, because it helps me feel comfortable. Meg and Jon are going to laugh—I wouldn’t call myself a control freak, but I’m definitely involved in the details. I’ve seen, touched or discussed everything that goes out with Fauxgerty’s name on it.” Fogerty was recently listening to a podcast in which stand-up comedian John Mulaney discussed a moment of defining success: an offer to develop his own sitcom on Fox. “The show just dirt-bag flopped. In the podcast, he talked about how his biggest fear in life was that he would plummet in front of all of these people. And that happened. Later, he did a stand-up comedy tour, which was crazy successful, and now people love him. But he talks about how the thing he was most scared of in life happened, and it was horrible, but it’s over and he moved on. That really resonated with me,” she says. It’s a mentality she carries to Fauxgerty—her own eponymous dream come true. “If the worst thing that happens is that I don’t have Fauxgerty anymore, I will just think of something else.”


IN COLOR A COLL ABOR ATION WITH ONA REX AND PORTMANTEAU JEWELRY IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE. Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

MODEL:

Lauren Taylor @ Wilhelmina

ST YLIST:

Trudy Fogarty-Hayden

HAIR AND MAKEUP:

Amber Perry

ONA REX

onarex.com PORTMANTEAU JEWELRY

port-manteau.com DR. SCHOLL’S SHOES

drschollsshoes.com

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Ona Rex Grommet Top and Matching Grommeted Culottes in Lilac + Portmanteau Earrings + Dr. Scholl’s The Wondrous Slip On Sneaker

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OPPOSITE: Ona Rex Cape Top in Lilac + Portmanteau Earrings THIS PAGE: Ona Rex Cape Top in Lilac and Twill Palazzo Pants in Or ange + Portmanteau Earrings

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OPPOSITE TOP LEFT / ABOVE: Ona Rex Pleated Denim Tunic + Portmanteau Earrings + Tights Stylist’s Own OPPOSITE TOP RIGHT: Ona Rex Wr ap Dress in Black + Portmanteau Earrings + Shoes Stylist’s Own OPPOSITE: Ona Rex Twill Button Down Dress in Or ange + Portmanteau Earrings + Dr. Scholl’s The Wondrous Slip On Sneaker + Tights Stylist’s Own


TOP LEFT/RIGHT: Ona Rex Par acord Tr apeze Dress in Yellow + Ruth Pant in Lilac + Portmanteau Earrings + Shoes Stylist’s Own LEFT AND OPPOSITE: Ona Rex Shoulder Guards + Par acord Maxi Dress in Yellow + Portmanteau Earrings + Dr. Scholl’s The Wondrous Slip On Sneaker

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DESIGNED TO THR IV E WIT & DELIGHT FOUNDER K ATE ARENDS. by EILEEN G’SELL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Of English poet John Donne, the so-called “monarch of wit,” T.S. Eliot said he should be praised for more than cleverness: for “a direct sensuous apprehension of thought … a recreation of thought into feeling.” Fast forward 400 years, and “sensuous apprehension” well suits the experience of scrolling through the annals of Wit & Delight, ›››

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the website and style blog “dedicated to designing a life well lived.” Rose-gold flatware shines beside a supple chenille rug. A sunlit master bedroom glows a soft white. A colored pencil troupe peeks from its brass container. Throw pillows abound. But lest this seem another online lifestyle haven supplying mere escapism, the Queen of Wit herself—founder Kate Arends—lends a grounded tongue-in-cheekiness that hangs the Goop set out to dry (over a stunning lawn, of course). With a background in brand strategy, Arends got her professional start in graphic design before setting off on her own. “I went out to the middle of nowhere and got a really good design education that taught me how to think,” says the designer, who left the Chicago suburbs to pursue a degree at Iowa State University. “But the economic downturn of 2008 left me a bit bored, working with all men on a lot of liquor brands. I loved my job, and I was at the point in my career where I felt I knew what I was doing. When I decided to try blogging, it was already a world that had blossomed into an opportunity for business-building, but it was a world of bright pink, glitter and flowers. I couldn’t find myself in there.” So Arends set out to change that, with a blend of wry humor and good taste setting W & D apart, with a social media following of more than 2.5 million, a signature line at Target and a new consulting studio out of her St. Paul, Minnesota, headquarters. “I started by figuring out how to do things better, but also simpler—by which I mean, it has to fit in your lifestyle. It can’t be some complicated thing that you’re not going to do everyday.” What has evolved into the Wit & Delight namesake is a medley of rich visuals, product recommendations and snappy columns on everything from summer date nights to how to sanely baby-proof one’s kitchen. “Admittedly, we were incredibly lazy with making our

home safe for our child,” Arends confesses in a piece on cordless window treatments. “Joe and I wanted to strike a balance between wrapping August in bubble wrap and a ‘Walk it off, kid’ mentality.” In place of pouty models lounging around, Wit & Delight features Arends herself enjoying her elegant home, the family’s yellow retriever, Winnie, making frequent cameos on the couch and bed (despite a high duvet thread count, the pup is definitely welcome). And just when things get a bit fluffy, an article appears with some serious heft, “I Didn’t Understand My Dad Until I Became a Dad” published near Father’s Day. Other posts divulge the struggles of early motherhood sleep deprivation, or the conversational phrases women use that dilute their own authority. Throughout a discussion of careers, travel and relationships, Arends makes clear that the process of growing up doesn’t stop at 27. “I had gone through my own scares and discoveries about who I was,” Arends shares about her twenties. “And I thought, ‘Maybe that’s also what this site is about.’ It’s that juxtaposition of being honest with yourself and taking that knowledge to build the life that you really want—emotionally, physically, mentally. Everything.” This candor about her own personal trials is what further sets her site apart from competing lifestyle brands. “Can our readers relate to this piece? Can they find a bit of themselves in it? Does it leave them a little bit less alone?” she asks. “How can I provide a voice that I’d want to hear in my twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and on?” Key for Wit & Delight is a team of women who seem to genuinely like and learn from each other—the masthead reads like a group of old friends who’ve happy-houred for years. “The people you bring in are just as important as the work that you do yourself,” Arends stresses. “I try to be overly transparent with my intentions, my vision and hope for the future— a lot of that has to do with knowing where my ›››

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weaknesses are. I sat down my first hire and told her, ‘I am terrible with timing. I can’t seem to manage all these deliverables. I need someone who really loves to organize.’ My transparency and directness resulted in her being the same way to me, which fostered a really great back and forth, where we could speak honestly about what we thought and wanted.” Such humility plays a vital role in her overall business ethos. “As a leader, I’m invested in being supportive when people have a better idea than me. There have been so many times when a coworker brings something up and I realize, ‘I didn’t think of that.’ And then I make a point to say that—to not keep that to myself.” On the blessings—and challenges—of steering a rapidly expanding company while also parenting children—an infant son and one more on the way—Arends doesn’t mince words. “I am well aware of how lucky I am, that I’m in a position to afford childcare and have a nanny we trust. In a way, part of being successful is letting other people help me, to fill in on roles that I tend to feel guilty for not being present to fill. As a breadwinner, sometimes I have to make sacrifices. I’ll never feel I am where I’m supposed to be. Accepting that is part of making progress.” Meeting Arends, her ease and unguarded nature speak both to the energy of youth and a graceful confidence, hard-won over the years. “There will be times when things will just be chaotic,” she says of her bustling home. “And that has to be okay. We have a lot of laughs about how the house has changed since having children. There are times it seems like the living room has exploded—but it gets cleaned up eventually, and there’s no point in stressing over it when we have so few years on this planet.” No matter one’s stance on “swoon-worthy bathroom tile,” it’s hard not to be moved by a person so genuinely invested in building a female-forward company centered on leading a more honest, mindful and beautiful life. “In the end, integrity is the only currency we have,” says Arends. And to recreate that thought into feeling—that is something delightful.

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SONG OF M YSE L F

MEG AND CHAD GLEASON OF DESIGN STUDIO MOGLEA. by JORIE JACOBI / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

The seasons are pronounced in Audubon, Iowa, where the population hovers around 2,000. Winter is a blur of snow; fall is for crunching leaves; spring lifts unadulterated new life out of the ground; and now, the end of summer, is like a poem of green space. Crickets nestle their tiny bodies into the grass, chirping with mighty gusto, and nothing but life cycles of foliage stretch for miles around Meg Gleason, a young woman with brunette sideswept bangs, artist’s hands and the lion heart of a mother. She lives here with her husband, Chad Gleason, and together they co-run the brand Moglea, under which they churn out letterpress stationery, paper and home goods. Meticulously crafted journals, notes, paintings, inspirational quotes, furniture, birthday cards and more are created at the Moglea studio, each with the feel of a personalized piece of art. What began in the basement of a farmhouse has since grown into a robust studio and business, with 15 full-time employees. “Our marriage and family life is a very natural give and take between the two of us and our kids,” says Chad. They have two children, Ev and Shepard, ages five and seven, whom they adopted from Kinshasa in the Congo. “We have a great understanding that

there are seasons for everything. Sometimes we have to give a little more than we’d like, or work a lot more than we want to, but we continue to have a deep, deep love for each other.” Both Chad and Meg, who met in design school at Iowa State University, did not originally expect to settle back in their home state. After graduating into the bleak job market of the late 2000’s, Chad had lined up a job in New York City that fell through, and Meg was laid off from the design agency where she worked. After a prolonged time of little luck finding creative jobs, Chad’s parents informed the couple that they’d be expanding their family farm in Audubon, and suggested that they move home to help run it. With 2,000 cattle and 3,000 hogs on 2,500 acres of land, plus soybeans and corn, they needed all the help they could get. The Gleasons returned to Audubon in 2009 and bought a printing press the next month, where Meg experimented with letterpress and card designs while Chad worked long hours on the farm. Their home is now a short walk from the Moglea studio, which Chad designed and built, a marvel of homey warmth and modern architecture. As Meg creaks open the back ›››

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door, dusky light reflects off of the porch furniture. “It’s so bright!” she exclaims, surprised. For Meg, Chad crafted a corner office with large windows, with natural light that floods the space. “It’s an immense blessing to get to work in a space that your partner dreamed up. I love that it has tons of windows, revealing the beautiful countryside that surrounds us.” It was building the Moglea studio that served as Chad’s most ardent design training, reigniting his passion. “That opportunity taught me a lot about what I was trying to do with design,” he says. “It gave me confidence in my abilities, just to see that massive project come to life. It also continues to give me confidence in my taste, because years later I still like it. Most things that I create, I dislike within a couple of weeks.” It’s now where Meg develops designs for cards and stationery, continuing to experiment with letterpress and dip-dye techniques, among others. At first, her goal was to craft the kind of pieces that no one else was making, which led her to make her own organic dyes from tea and pigmented vegetables—like beets and spinach. She also developed collage cards in which she’d cut out different mat papers, and letter press over the top. That, as she recalls, is when the line truly came together. The prospect of owning her own business not only seemed feasible, but almost inevitable. Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother, a salon owner, raised her. “I grew up with a single parent, and all I knew was a self-employed woman in my life. It made perfect sense to me that I would have my own business. It felt like the only option to me,” she says. Even so, as she and her siblings grew and became drawn to an array of disciplines, Meg remembers she was not the one cast as “the artist” in her family. Rather, it was her sister Mary, a painter. “We often get labels in our families, and I was never

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really known as the artist,” she says—though Mary recognized her obsession with calligraphy and lettering, and encouraged her to drop the degree in dentistry she’d planned to pursue. “My parents were always like, ‘You get great math and science grades. You should be some type of doctor.’ But it was my sister who saw those strengths in me and told me about the design program at Iowa State. She introduced me to her graphic designer friends and I was hooked.” Previously, Meg hadn’t even considered pursuing a creative degree, which is also what brought her to Chad. In 2012, after experimenting with hand-painting, dip-dying and letterpress paper goods, Meg took 30 of her designs and a small catalog to the National Stationery Show in New York. It was there that her uncommon approach garnered the attention of retail giant Anthropologie, who purchased her custom birthday cards. “Since that connection, we’ve just grown.” Among other changes brought about by the business, it is the boss mentality—cultivated by managing employees—that she aims to leave at work. “Being a boss changes you,” she says—though how that change would manifest was unprecedented, particularly in conversation. “You can be more abrasive and matterof-fact at times. It changes how you talk to people.” It has also led her to confront the dichotomy of thinking as both an artist and business owner. Instead of just seeing beautiful objects, she now grapples with the next step of how to produce multiples for a good margin. Though, still, for every product release, she spends between 40 and 50 hours just painting, with meditative, painterly strokes that celebrate the medium, the brush stroke and the visceral feel of the material poking up from the page. Chad’s transition into full-time work with Moglea also yielded his very first chair design and the development of a prototype. “It’s quiet,” he says of rural Iowa—except for the crickets and cicadas. “There ›››


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aren’t a lot of distractions. It feels a bit easier to be honest with yourself about what you’re doing with your life when there aren’t as many things to pull away your attention.” For both of them, working together has been a fulfilling extension of their relationship. It was originally how they bonded in design school, spending large chunks of time working on projects together. “The biggest hardships were in the years Chad had to farm. I know he felt a lot of sorrow in not being able to help me more with Moglea at that time,” says Meg. “The amount of hours he worked to help design the studio at night and on the weekends —he was working double-time with me.” Myriad scraps and small tools can also be found throughout the studio, often put to use by their two young children, who are at an age of discovering their own creativity. You could find them during the work day building an inexplicable something with cardboard and boxes or pretending to package cards, like other Moglea employees. “Ev pretends to ‘work’ at Moglea at least half of the time she is here,” Meg says. She and Chad have them clock in on the weekends and assign them small tasks for which they get paid, like cleaning desks, sweeping the floors and unpackaging cards, to build a sense of ownership and responsibility. “We basically met the kids when Moglea started, so we’ve really run Moglea with Ev and Shepard every step of the way,” says Meg. Her Instagram feed is full of pictures of them: skiing, dressing up in costumes, attending carnivals, playing, building, drawing, painting and exploring. The curated, uplifting photography belies the painful circumstances by which they came into the world. In one of Meg’s favorite images of Ev, she writes, “This photo is so Ev. She has had this intensely sweet, trusting spirit in her from the moment they handed her to me in Congo.” Today, people frequently ask whether Ev and Shepard are brother and sister, which they are—just not

biologically. “All we know is it doesn’t take matching genes to be a family,” says Meg. Getting pregnant had proven difficult, and they adopted the two young children when Shepard was two and a half years old and Ev was 10 months. “Ev doesn’t remember anything about that time,” says Meg. “Shepherd has a few memories that are pretty sad. But he doesn’t remember anything about his birth family that would give us indication of his story.” Social services had found him wandering the streets of Kinshasa, the country’s capital, with no parents and no family. Ravaged by war, conflict and poverty, it’s not uncommon to find orphans who live on the street, called street children, or “shegués.” Ev, then a six-week-old baby, was also found on the street with no family. “You can’t imagine how something like that could happen until you see it all firsthand,” says Meg. “But if you go there, then it makes sense. Once you see the corruption, and the intensity of the poverty there—it’s really, really sad. But we’re so grateful we got to go, and that we were able to see where they’re from.” Upon seeing it firsthand, the overwhelmed feeling was enduring. Trash was everywhere; at night, the lack of street lights rendered it ominously dark, and people lived in shacks or shabby cinder-block dwellings. “It was so dense with people that you can see how easily a baby could be laid down on the ground and no one would notice,” says Meg. “It’s a third-world country unlike anything we’ve ever seen and experienced. It’s hard to explain.” When she and Chad met the children for the first time and took them home, Shepard was old enough to unleash a barrage of anger, fear and confusion. He wouldn’t stop hitting them, kept calling them insulting names in Lingala, his native language and tried to run away from them at the airport multiple times. “At first, you have the weight of responsibility and you fall in love with that. Then you fall in love with them. It took so much patience, and so much of ourselves at that time to love him,” says Meg. “It’s ›››

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the same with a newborn. You’re not sleeping, you’re up all the time with them, but you love the responsibility and that they’re yours, that they constantly need you. We’ve talked about that with other parents.” But today, years later, their family life now feels easy. Ev is five, now in kindergarten, and Shepard is seven, having just started second grade. “They’re the best kids. Shepard is the sweetest older brother ever. It’s been fun to see that transition in both of them,” says Meg. At first, the children stayed at home instead of going to daycare, in order to give the adoptive parents the chance to bond with their children. Meg and Chad would be working around the clock with kids and employees all together. Today, as Chad works on furniture prototypes, Shepard also uses a small drill to connect pieces of wood and build miniature chairs, while Ev paints and listens to music as Meg works with employees and comes up with designs. “They’re like our little mirror buddies,” she says. “They’ve been crazy fun to have around.” As a biracial family, they get looks everywhere they go.“We’ve had lots of great conversations about it, with white people and Black people saying, ‘It’s awesome,’” Meg recounts. “As a white person, I felt like I couldn’t come to the table when discussing race. But now I feel like we can, as a biracial family with Black children.” Another time, Meg remembers a random passerby informing her that she didn’t understand Black culture, and couldn’t raise Black children as a white person. “He’s right in that I don’t know anything about Black culture. Man, I really don’t. But I can do everything I possibly can to expose our children to Black culture,” she says. Though it isn’t safe for them to visit Kinshasa now, the Gleasons hope they’ll be able to take the children to their

home country when they’re around high-school age. Even in Congo, skeptical perceptions fell upon them. “The approach is very much, ‘Why are these rich white people adopting Black children?’” Meg remembers. “They’re wondering, ‘Why do they do that?’ But now, more than ever, I think it’s important that these issues of race, that these doors are opened, and that people have a different perception of what family is and what it can mean.’” They’ve grown to expect the reaction of either judgment or surprise, but not always in the most expected of ways. In a recent trip to New York City with the kids, Chad remembers walking across the street towards Central Park, holding hands with Ev and Shepard. An African-American man holding a tour guide sign looked him in the eye, nodded and pointed to his own hand, indicating its color. “At first I thought he was going to give me a compliment on my watch or something like that. But when I got closer, he said, ‘Make the people love what they hate to see.’ He showed me that he understood. I was so grateful.” It’s not always the type of reaction they receive, but that day the Gleasons enjoyed a beautiful day in Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. “I just love my kids, and I want to be the best dad I can be to them. It’s as simple as that,” says Chad. The devotion of their family has become the thing that is the most central in their lives on the “design island” in Iowa. “You’re not really influenced by anything aside from trees and birds here,” says Meg. The bubble makes it all the easier to be in the world unscathed, though they do get cabin fever sometimes, which is when travel and trade shows come in handy. But, they don’t foresee themselves leaving the middle of America. “There’s a magnetism here. You can’t mistake that,” says Meg.

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Melody, Spe e d, a nd a Ma n Wor t h M a n n i n g

by EILEEN G’SELL

I have known them as flashing thunder stealers, echo-fed and friendly. I have called to mind some thirty-plus purples and dare to pin one close to your ear. My lanky

statistician, so stern, so storm-ready, a thousand lighted houses rush across the night to greet you. Littleknown apothecaries lure you to the door. I would stumble

if so doing meant the sky would smell of oranges or that somewhere someone watching would see fit to paint a portrait. But listen to how dulcetly I play

the game of catch up. Time is on my side and finds direction in my frill. Roulade of lucent rationalizations, ocean sad with conjugated rooms, the schooner is

shifting; the race is not rigged. The season of fallen birds that I was too in love to notice comes as close to home as the wind allows. Count yourself among

the counted. Say you know me, and say it again.

Eileen G’Sell’s cultural criticism, essays, and poetry can be found in Salon, VICE, Boston Review, DAME, DIAGRAM, Conduit, Ninth Letter, Secret Behavior, and the Denver Quarterly, among others; in 2013, she was awarded the 2013 American Literary Review prize for poetry. Her chapbooks are available from Dancing Girl and BOAAT Press, and she is a features editor for The Rumpus. She currently teaches rhetoric and poetry at Washington University in St. Louis, and creative writing for the Prison Education Project at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. In early 2018, her first full-length book, “Life After Rugby,” will be published by Gold Wake Press. She lives in St. Louis and New York.


VOLUME 16 ISSUE 5

$10

ALIVE Magazine Issue 5 2017