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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

Red Wing Heritage Director of Product Creation, Allison Gettings, MN A RTIST FOOD

Kate Greer, IA / C R E AT O R Abby St. Claire, IL / M U S I C I A N Mvstermind, MO

Pastry Chef Diane Yang, Spoon & Stable, MN / P O E T R Y Mary Oliver, OH / F A S H I O N D E S I G N Cavanaugh Baker, 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 January is always a treasured time of year in our offices. My Capricorn soul loves a fresh start and a list of goals. With a new year comes rejuvenation and a look inward, but also present as the calendar changes is the mounting pressure to reinvent ourselves. It could be argued that the cleverest among us recognize life as a series of turns, instead of a constant uphill trudge. I’ve always admired those who buck January resolutions and instead commit to a constant journey of self-discovery, embracing the magic of an open existence and often returning to their roots for grounding. In this issue, we present a group of worldly minds that draw on life’s experiences and present diverse perspectives in their work, with a unique twist that can only be present in those living and working in the Middle of America. We sat down with Muhammad “Mvstermind” Austin, a hip-hop artist in St. Louis who has toured the country and made a commitment to fill his songs with lyrics speaking directly to his peers in the heartland. In his recent release, “Cusp,” he addresses school desegregation programs, blackness in the Midwest and counting your blessings (page 20). Chicago native Abby St. Claire was eager to riff on the state of creativity in America, and how she has crafted an artistic aesthetic that birthed two publications and more than 10,000 Instagram followers (page 24). Three female luminaries from different backgrounds invited us into their worlds to feed off their creative energy. Artist, entrepreneur and political firecracker Kate Greer splits her time between New York, San Francisco and Iowa, where we met up with her to explore her hometown and recent projects ranging from a homegrown popcorn company to a five-woman artist collective. #GirlBoss isn’t enough to capture her many facets (page 16). We then ventured to Minneapolis where executive pastry chef Diane Yang of Spoon and Stable shared her table with us, as well as a couple of recipes that present the simplicity and comfort of winter desserts in an artistic, mouthwatering light (page 26). A value ever-present in America’s heartland is the commitment to craftsmanship. In our feature stories this issue, we visited two wonderfully different personalities both dedicated to creating meticulously-designed goods that last. Allison Gettings of Red Wing, Minnesota, is the director of product creation for the Heritage line of Red Wing Shoes. She’s helped create products that share her family’s global brand with men and women all over the country, from northern-American farmers to fashion-forward Brooklynites (page 42). Next, we met woodworker and artist Dave Stine in the small town of Dow, Illinois. Coupled with his intriguing personality and artistic prowess, Stine won our hearts with his commitment to family, his homestead and the often grueling process of his craft (page 62). If you’re like us, you’re on the hunt this time of year for inspiration and an invitation to take a stab at something fresh and new. Let this issue be the catalyst that spurs a creative and productive year of original ideas. Love,

Rachel Brandt @RachelEBrandt

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Philip Slein Gallery 4735 McPherson Avenue Saint Louis, Missouri 63108 p 314.361.2617 f 314.361.8051 www.philipsleingallery.com


TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S 16 Artist | Kate Greer 20 Music | Mvstermind 24 Creator | Abby St. Claire 26 Food | Diane Yang 32 Fashion | “Seek and You Will Find” 42 Feature | Allison Gettings, Red Wing Heritage 62 Maker | Dave Stine 80 Poem | Mary Oliver

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SA INT LO U IS A R T M USEU M


PA RT N E R

Nestled in the heart of Middle America, St. Louis is a sprawling metropolis balancing a rich and diverse history with technological and artistic innovation. Urbanites, nature-enthusiasts, young families and art aficionados alike can easily mix in the Gateway City thanks to the abundance of award-winning cultural institutions. Encouraging support of urban progress, many attractions are free to the public including the Saint Louis Zoo, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Saint Louis Art Museum, Citygarden, Saint Louis Science Center, Grant’s Farm, Missouri History Museum and more. ALIVE is proud to call St. Louis our home base. EXPLOR ESTLOUIS.COM @ EXPLOR ESTLOUIS


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Recognized worldwide for academic excellence, Washington University in St. Louis offers outstanding continuing education in Arts & Sciences for the region through University College. Whether pursuing a degree, making a career shift or simply taking part in higher learning for personal enrichment, the wide range of programs at University College stands out. UCOLLEGE.W USTL .EDU @W USTLUCOLLEGE

PH OTO: WA N SHI


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Balancing reverence and revolution, Urban Chestnut Brewing Company sets itself apart by embracing forward-thinking ideas with a traditional brewing approach. This new-worldmeets-old-world philosophy is reflected in every aspect of their business. In their home base of St. Louis, Missouri, their innovative brewery and bierhall situated across town from their traditional brewery and biergarten create a balance that’s also ref lected in their wide array of beer styles. UCBC contributes to the transformation of the worldwide beer industry while dedicating itself to a sustainable existence in the communities it inhabits. UR BA NCHESTNUT.COM @UR BA NCHESTNUT


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Sourcing from the highest-quality manufacturers and most respected designers, CENTRO Modern Furnishings remains St. Louis, Missouri’s go-to retailer for design enthusiasts, business owners and career creatives. The meticulously curated showroom housing high-design furniture, lighting and accessories is at once accessible and inspiring. Driven by a team boasting more than 60 years combined experience, CENTRO’s coowners Todd Lannom, Ginny Stewart and manager Steve Schuepfer will help guide you, often sharing personal stories from their close relationships with world-class designers. CENTRO-INC.COM @ CENTROSTL

PA INTINGS: BR YCE H U DSO N


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T H E W I L DLY C U R IOUS K AT E GR E E R A MIDWESTERN BI-COASTAL IT-GIRL TO RECKON WITH. by EILEEN G’SELL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

In 1996, Mariah Carey’s bouncy “Always Be My Baby” took over radio waves, the accompanying video a tire-swing spectacle to rival Katie Holmes’ Rolling Stone cover two years later. The song’s melody and keyboard chords are relentlessly upbeat, but listen more closely and the verses’ gravity lands like Firestone rubber on campsite soil. It then seems fitting that the pop track was named “favorite song from childhood” by artist and Renaissance woman Kate Greer. From a limited 2D vantage point, Greer is blonde, breezy and beams the kind of gentle optimism of a yoga instructor. Online, her Polaroid-posey homepage (kategreerwashere.com) and Instagram-esque visuals for her company, Cheerie Lane Popcorn, could pass for NYLON fashion spreads. It could be tempting to discount Greer as another dimpled gamine—too pretty to be substantive, too friendly to be wise. And that would be a big mistake. “I had this epiphany at one point,” Greer recounts in our conversation, “that a lot of my work and what I do—and how I probably annoy some of the people I come in contact with is that I love the full breadth of any experience—to not just talk about the happy things. I think the phrase ‘Don’t say anything if you don’t have anything nice to say’ has probably ruined a generation of men.” Here, Greer laughs, briefly pausing to explain further. “As humans, if we’re being honest, sometimes we’re going to have things to say that are tough to say and experience things that are tough to deal with, and it’s important to have outlets where we synthesize all of our feelings—good and bad.” Greer grew up in Marshalltown, Iowa before studying journalism at the University of Missouri and pursuing her M.Ed. in psychology. She then headed to

New York and launched Chez Conversations, a collective of five female artists working across a variety of disciplines. “We are best friends. We banded together because we realized that having the support of each other not only opened doors to work together on projects, but strengthened our individual projects.” One such collaborative project—particularly timely in the context of last year’s election —is “Tiny Political Zine,” a collection of ink portraits and typewritten statements showcasing the women involved in U.S. politics, presented on lined memo paper from New York’s Chelsea Highline Hotel. “We wanted to learn more about how skewed the proportion of female politicians is—the number of men representing us versus women is not reflective of the population,” says Greer, who doesn’t mince words on the challenges facing ambitious women across professional fields. “I have this powerhouse of a mother and a feminist father, and truly thought growing up that I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything I wanted to do. But the truth is that when you move out into the world and see what exists in our system, it’s just not systemically set up that way.” However, Greer finds joy in the hard work of unearthing injustices. “I think people are scared to dive in and look at systemic issues—what we inherited through our culture,” she says. “But one of the beautiful things for me over the last couple years has been engaging these issues. There’s so much freedom in excavating my history as a female in this society, growing up in a primarily ‘vanilla’ world—in being able to really understand and fight for all of us to have equal chances to do whatever we want to do in the world. That process of unpacking can be life-giving and freeing. It’s a big load off of your shoulders to shake off some of what we were handed.” ›››

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Part of what Greer shakes off is the conventional understanding of what being an “artist” means in the first place. Though “primarily a portrait artist,” she is also a new-media maverick and entrepreneur. “At the heart of what I do and obsess over is understanding people better and how they connect. I’ve been all over the map, and I hope to always be.” It’s unusual for creatives to admit that their art need not be an exclusive vocation, but Greer revels in her diversified fervor. “I hate when people ask, ‘So what do you do?’” she says. “I’m grateful to live in a world where I can chase curiosities. The truth is my painting gets better if I spend some time picketing or exploring another creative avenue.” And for those from the supposed “fly-over” zone who feel a chip on their shoulder, Greer offers an ardent counterpoint. “I’m wild about the Midwest. I am so proud to be from here. In New York you get catapulted onto this treadmill the moment you land, but in Iowa they care about your individual story. Whether you have integrity, whether you’re kind.”

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Greer’s artistic output often aims to redress the myths of what the “Midwest” means. “The picture that so many people from New York have is not right,” Greer stresses. “I’ve been exploring the idea of a portrait project in small towns around America. My Grandma Lily went to Bingo, socialized, tended to her garden and ate healthy in her own special way. A lot of us today across America have the exact same recipe for satisfaction. We could all be better connected in our country if we understood what happens in other parts of it.” Adamant about women championing other women? Check. Passionate about politics, while earnestly dedicated to creating the world’s perfect popcorn? Double check. Serious, smart and also girly? Keep your No. 2 sharpened. Whether in Iowa or Big Sur, Omaha or Soho, Greer isn’t afraid to buck expectations, and her personal investment in others proves central to any measure of success. In light of our highly divided nation, Greer has developed an ItGirl model to follow—with humility, rigor, and to a shamelessly catchy refrain. A


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ON THE CUSP ST. LOUIS HIP-HOP ARTIST “MVSTERMIND” THOUGHTFULLY ADDRESSES RACE, CREATIVIT Y AND THE EVOLUTION OF RAP. by EILEEN G’SELL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Muhammad Austin might go by “Mvstermind,” but his countenance is quite humble. In person, he’s one of those rare artists with both a chill affect and sincere ardor. That same balance is cultivated in every track of his recently released album, “Cusp,” whether tackling existential questions of space and time, or in a more political vein, the history of police brutality against black men. One sunny Saturday afternoon, we had the chance to sit down with Mvstermind and chat about everything from gangsta rap and desegregation in public schools to what it’s like growing up with a whole bunch of sisters (he has four). After the hour, one thing was clear: this artist is on the cusp of greatness—not only within the robust hip-hop community of St. Louis, but also within the genre at large. In many of your songs, like “Ain’t no Water in the Water Tower,” you directly reference your St. Louis roots. How did growing up on the North Side affect you?

I actually spent time all over St. Louis—I lived on the state streets near the river on the South Side, then on Russell St., then the North Side, where I spent the majority of my life. My parents bought an LRA house [Land Reutilization Authority], which was in rough condition when they bought it, but my father is a carpenter and turned it into a really nice home for us. In my video “Mali Moolah,” you can see the house, but since we moved out it’s fallen into disrepair.

sumer culture. In other words, your persona confirms some expectations of the genre but resists others. Was that a choice?

It’s subconscious, but once I realized it and became conscious of my natural direction, that’s what I wanted to tackle. The album is called “Cusp” because I’m on the cusp of these two realms—me, living in the grid, a “rapping-rapper,” embracing that hip-hop culture, and then the meditative finding-my-purpose-in-a-cornfield Muhammad. How do you feel about the shift in mainstream hip-hop from “gangsta rap” to “luxury rap”? Growing up during this shift, did it influence the way you conceived of the genre in terms of your own distinct sound?

I grew up in the time of gangsta rap, but my parents would only let me listen to the conscious stuff. My sisters were heavily involved in the music scene— the very conscious black musical movement in hip hop, like Talib Kweli’s “Reflection Eternal,” Common’s “Like Water for Chocolate” and “Black on Both Sides.” These conscious artists all played a role in the 2000s, and I was always listening. At the same time, I spent a lot of time with my cousins listening to Southern gangsta rap. At that age I wanted to be cool, I wanted to be hip, but I had to go through the process of becoming me. But just growing up, trying to find my way, I could never totally find myself in that style of gangsta rap. You’ll never catch me singing about shooting folks in my raps. I like to be honest, and that’s not something I could ever stand for.

Your sound often has a confrontational tone distinctive to hip-hop, but it also comes across as

In the track “Mali Moolah,” you sing, “I know

more philosophical and openly suspicious of con-

what I’m worth, don’t need no money.” It feels ›››

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a kind of defiant resistance against credos like “all you need is your paper,” a conflation of capital with identity.

It is a defiant resistance to conflating money with identity, but at the same time I also understand why people equate the two. I want people to go get their money, make it happen, but without stripping themselves of what they’re really worth. I’m not about putting down rappers who value money, but rather the question is, “How can we better spend that money? Funnel it back into our communities so that we are not doing whatever it takes to get it?”

fraught place to grow up. How did that affect you?

We did a lot of traveling while we were young. We are the dreamers; that’s always been our family: not following societal norms, buying and living in an LRA house without electricity. But the job my Dad had enabled me to stay at the Clayton school where I was. My family’s diligence made that happen. It also seems like courage to me—to live life in a

Your latest album starts in the clouds with the re-

way that people don’t expect you to, and do it for

frain “High in the sky for so long that you missed

a greater goal.

the surface,” but at the end of the album, you

I took what they gave me and that’s what I talk about in my music. If you strip down my song “Finesse Bless,” it’s basically saying, “Life is going to be real. It’s gonna hit you and it’s gonna smack you. But no matter what, you’re presented with an opportunity. You can get the good from the bad. Finesse its blessings.” I haven’t really broken down these parts of my story to people yet. My sister, when she was in high school, did her homework by the light of a kerosene heater. It was a digestible moment for me when I was a child, because I was like, “Yo, we’re making it happen.” In my eyes it showed our resilience. I talk a lot about the desegregation program in my music as well, like in the song “Ain’t No Water in the Water Tower.” I talk about being bussed out to the county. Back then the deseg program was new to teachers, and sometimes you could still feel the awkwardness. But at the same time, to me it was a big blessing. Even in Clayton, though, the community

refer to the sky with the verse “too close to God,

your trajectory as an artist?

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As a black person, St. Louis can be a uniquely

I was aware of that—my family broke it down for us. We were always the Afro-centric ones. I see it now with the Delmar divide—I’ll be walking by myself and see it, and being bussed out to Clayton was a whole new world. My parents experienced a lot of racism. They were turned down for an apartment in Clayton, and my mom decided to change her voice on the phone to see if that would make any difference. Coming from a Muslim family as well, that exposed me to a lot of Middle Eastern culture in the city as well. We grew up as very open-minded individuals, conscious of our own identity, but at the same time we were also very open to newnesss.

You’re from a creative family. How did that enable

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was frustrated with the program. At one time I remember my entire school staged a walk out to continue it. Those things completely shaped who I am today. The topic is so dear to me.

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too close to heaven,” which has a very different tone—more triumphant. The song seems to be about black pride.

The last song is called “Red Light on the Vending Machine” because the machine is lit when it needs to be changed. Throughout history, even with things being pretty much miserable, we in the black community haven’t been. We’ve always used our creative energy to make change. It goes back to “finessing the blessings.” It goes back to getting the best you can out of a negative experience. Throughout black history, you see us rejoicing; you see us making things happen; you see us in the prime of culture. In the midst of that, you use your creativity. That’s what our ancestors have done from the get-go. The spark of creativity is always a light in the dark. Visit ALIVEmag.com for the full, extended interview with Mvstermind.


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IN BR IEF: ABBY ST. CL A IR E A Windy City native highlights how locally craf ted ar t of fers the best stories. by ALLISON BABK A / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Abby St. Claire’s artistic path has curved and forked over the years as she has soaked in new ways to reach her audience. However, her adventures have one thing in common: storytelling. Throughout her burgeoning career in graphic design, content creation and floral design, the Chicago native has focused on constructing art that reveals human stories.

world and other creatives. I have a vast collection of quarterlies and books that I flip through and obsess over the typography or design. Also, travel is something that has a massive impact in my life. I have a notebook full of lists of beautiful shops and restaurants in different cities that I hope to visit one day. How is working with flowers and objects different from the

The instinct has served her well. St. Claire has amassed more than 10,000 Instagram followers while co-founding “The City Dossier,” a St. Louis-based indie publication, and launching “One Fourth,” a wedding/lifestyle magazine for Flowers for Dreams, Chicago’s much-lauded flower shop that sells locally grown blossoms to benefit area charities. Most recently, St. Claire debuted With/Another, an online space to connect with other creative women in Chicago. “I think it is extremely important to hear the stories of others, it leads to a deeper understanding of and empathy for those around us,” St. Claire explains. “Having a level of transparency and vulnerability is vital in a creative community, and that is why outlets like ‘The City Dossier’ and With/Another are so important. People can relate to local, inspiring creatives.” The Midwest has a growing reputation for creators and innovators. What is it about this region that spurs the imagination?

I think those who have grown up in the Midwest understand the value of community, which translates well into creativity and understanding the human experience. When people think of the Midwest, they think of the stereotypical rural town. Having grown up in the Chicago area, this has never been my perspective. I have always seen it for the urban landscapes, like Chicago and St. Louis. How do you think your aesthetic has changed over the years?

It wasn’t until I started with graphic design and publication design that I really figured out what sorts of visuals I was drawn to. I think it is incredibly important to take inspiration from the

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creativity required for graphic design?

Something about florals enthrall me. It is incredible that so many different yet equally beautiful things can grow naturally. I’ve always considered floral design a form of artistic expression. It’s still about visuals, but it’s three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional like graphic design. Floral design is still about colors, placement and aesthetic, but on a tangible level. When you find yourself feeling out of sorts, what do you turn to?

Ideally, I’ll spend time with a close friend or two, but a good candle and Lush face mask often do wonders. While I’m a very introverted person, I really value good friends and meaningful conversations. I think it just helps to know that I’m not alone. I also love letter writing; I find it very cathartic and a really wonderful way to connect with others. I have a few friends with whom I exchange letters, and I always look forward to receiving something from them. What are all of your amazing steps thus far building toward?

Something that would allow me to travel to beautiful places and interact with the people there through art and design. It is inspiring to see people like Amanda Jane Jones (founding designer of “Kinfolk”) and Beth Kirby (of “Local Milk”) travel, interact with different creatives around the world and host workshops or gatherings in those places. But honestly, my ideal end goal is anything that allows me to be happy, create things I’m passionate about, travel, enjoy family and friends and live a beautiful, simple life.


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A RT AT THE TABLE Minneapolis chef Diane Yang elevates favorite desser ts by getting back to modern basics. by ALLISON BABK A / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

“Keep it simple.” This has become the fundamental principle behind chef Diane Yang’s much-lauded approach to desserts. While some culinary artists may delight in producing overwrought creations, Yang prefers to highlight the simplicity of exceptional flavors, letting one idea take center stage. It’s a notion that has served Yang well, but simple doesn’t mean boring by any stretch. As executive pastry chef at Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, Yang has created a nearly endless menu of desserts that both surprise and comfort the taste buds. She pairs the expected tartness of a citrus curd mousse with a gently sweet molasses cookie crumble to take the edge off. Her pumpkin custard would be grand on its own, but when presented with French toast and white chocolate, it’s otherworldly. Macaroons are a treat, but Yang’s cassis and raspberry specialties create a class of their own.

Pastry Chef division. The dessert Yang presented at the Oscar-caliber awards gala—tangy grapefruit curd topped with Chantilly cream and thyme meringue—was hailed as a highlight of the night. We spoke with Yang about her culinary art and the secret Midwestern ingredient she has fallen in love with. How do you challenge typical ideas about pastries and desserts?

We take something familiar and rethink it, based on why we like it. For example, apple pie—it’s simple, delicious and tastes great with vanilla ice cream. So if we were doing an apple pie, we’d try to reintroduce those flavors. Many of your desserts include surprising elements that are savory or bitter. Do you see any of your dessert recipes as being particularly appropriate for other courses during the meal or on their own?

With creations like these, it’s no wonder that Yang has earned a reputation for her modern takes on classic ideas—or that national culinary observers have noticed. In 2016, the James Beard Foundation named Yang a semi-finalist in its Outstanding

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I’ve seen foie gras paired with our molasses cookies. We’ve done a cheese course and served it with our house-made pâte de fruit. So yes, some of our dessert elements can be appropriately paired with other courses, but they also definitely still hold their own. ›››


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How has your art changed over the years here in the heartland? What are some trends in general or in the Midwest that you’ve have embraced?

I think my art has changed to simplifying my palate. Simple, traditional desserts are coming back, and I’m excited about that! I’ve been trying to source more local grains, nuts, fruits and berries from the Midwest. We have so much going on here that we can use. We get these delicious hickory nuts from Amish families that have hand-cracked them themselves. They’re delicious.

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How does Spoon and Stable encourage your art and creativity?

We all work together as a team here. We have a lot of talented chefs, and we all learn from each other. When minds come together, the result is endless creativity.

You’ve worked with many acclaimed chefs. What

So many of your creations have been appreciated

are some of the lessons that you’ve taken from

by both critics and the public. Are you more nerv-

them, and what lessons do you hope to impart

ous about the opinions of one over the other?

to others?

I’m more nervous when my family members taste my desserts!

I’ve learned so much from everyone. I’ve been very fortunate to work alongside many great chefs. One quote I learned from chef Gavin Kaysen [owner of Spoon and Stable] is “a mistake is a missed oppor-

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tunity. We don’t have to totally rethink what we are doing because we believe in what we do.” I want others to know that if you work hard and believe in what you do, the outcome will be great.

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Read on for Yang’s “Chocolate Profiterole” recipe, and try your hand at a gourmet dessert.


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Chocolate Prof iterole Choux pastry filled with chocolate sorbet, complemented with a speculoos cookie crumble and brown sugar marshmallow

Pate a choux (profiterole)

1 teaspoon ginger

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon cardamom

1 cup water 1 cup butter 2 tablespoons sugar ½ tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon spice mix (cloves, nutmeg, white pepper) 1. Cream 2. Sift

the butter and brown sugar.

and add flour, spices and vanilla.

8 eggs 1 ½ cups flour 1. Boil

milk, water, butter, salt and sugar.

2. Add

flour and cook over heat for several minutes until the mixture doesn’t stick to the sides of the pot.

3. Paddle 4. Add 5. If

in mixer until slightly cool.

eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

too soft, chill before piping filling.

Cocoa sorbet

14 ounces sugar 4 ½ ounces cocoa powder 1 ¼ cups water 1 ¼ quarts milk 5 ounces trimoline (invert sugar) ½ cup coffee extr act 1. Whisk

Milk chocolate pastry cream

2 cups milk 3 ½ ounces egg yolks

everything together.

2. Bring

to a rolling boil and then strain through a chinois.

3. Chill

mixture, then run through an ice cream machine.

3 ounces sugar 1 ¼ ounces cornstarch

Brown sugar marshmallow

½ tablespoon cocoa powder

6 ounces egg whites

8 ounces milk chocolate

¼ cup sugar

1. Scald

1 cup brown sugar

milk.

2. Whisk

egg yolks, cornstarch, cocoa powder and sugar together and temper into milk. Whisk until thick.

3. Add

chopped milk chocolate and whisk until smooth.

4. Pass

through a chinois.

12 ounces corn syrup Salt 1. Whip

whites until frothy and slowly add plain sugar. Continue to whip until medium stiff.

2. Bring

sugar and corn syrup up to 239-240F.

Speculoos cookie

3. Stream

210 g. butter

4. Add

350 g. brown sugar

5. Put

into whipping whites, whipping until thick.

salt.

mixture into a piping bag right away.

540 g. flour Vanilla 130 g. milk 1 tablespoon cinnamon

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SEEK AND YOU W ILL FIND Clean, modern design from the hear tland. Charac terized by creativit y, careful craf tsmanship and sustainabilit y, designers and ar tisans in the Middle of America are merging a locally-made ethos with for ward-looking originalit y. Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

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MODEL:

Lindsay Whidby for NY Model Management

ST YLIST:

Trudy Fogarty-Hayden

HAIR AND MAKEUP:

Caleigh Hampton

Photo Assistant:

Megan Cox


Han Starnes jersey dress in nude - hanstarnes.com + hat stylist’s own.

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Cavanagh Baker Laurenne dress - cavanaghbaker.com + turtleneck, tights, shoes, hat stylist’s own.

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Han Starnes knit jumpsuit in nav y - hanstarnes.com + Ceri Hoover Benson Bootie in grey - cerihoover.com + necktie stylist’s own.

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Cavanagh Baker Libby skirt cavanaghbaker.com + blouse, shoes stylist’s own.


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Han Starnes Pleated Skirt - hanstarnes.com + Cavanagh Baker Andrea blouse in white cavanaghbaker.com + Ceri Hoover Alys Wide tote + Ceri Hoover Miller mule in grey cerihoover.com.

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EMLEE Sar a cape in army green - emleedesign.com + Cavanagh Baker Taylor pant in camel - cavanaghbaker.com + Jenny Walker earrings - jenny walkerjewelry.com.

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EMLEE Moriah cape in dusty rose - emleedesign.com + Han Starnes denim pant in nav y - hanstarnes.com + Ceri Hoover Benson Bootie in grey - cerihoover.com + Jenny Walker earrings - jenny walkerjewelry.com.

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A R ET U R N TO CR A F TSM A NSH I P

A CENTURY-OLD HERITAGE BRAND —AND THE CIT Y IT SHAPED — CHARGES FORWARD WITH A NEW FACE AT THE HELM. by DAN MICHEL / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

Allison Gettings is 6,000 miles from home. She’s standing at a bustling intersection in the heart of the business district in Osaka, Japan. As she’s about to cross the street, a young woman on the back of a motorcycle catches her eye. The woman has long, platinum blonde hair and wears black leather biker gear from head to toe—except for her boots. Their vibrant orange-red leather pop against her otherwise monochromatic outfit. “She looked so cool on that bike,” says Gettings. “I felt like such a small-town girl right then. Most days I wear what I can find in my closet, so it’s surreal to see people all over the world with awesome style

wearing boots that were made in my hometown.” As director of product creation for Red Wing’s Heritage line, Gettings oversees the style of boots the woman was wearing—from the other side of the world. “In that moment, I realized the scope of my family’s legacy and that I’m connected to so many people who wear our shoes,” says Gettings. “I thought, ‘I’m not cool enough to be working for this brand.’” But in fact, Red Wing Shoes has been in her family for four generations. The company is named after the town where Charles Backman started it 111 years ago: Red Wing, ›››

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Minnesota. It’s a town of 16,000 people, located about an hour south of the Twin Cities. Right along the west bank of the Mississippi River, Red Wing was originally a trading town. It’s grown in the past century, but even today you can drive across town in about 15 minutes. Farmland stretches for about an hour outside the city in every direction. Much of the city revolves around Red Wing’s boot factory, which started by making leather work boots for farmers, miners, loggers and other American workers. Soon after the factory opened, Gettings’ great-grandfather took over its finances and became president of the company shortly thereafter. In the next generation, Gettings’ grandfather expanded the business globally and created the legacy we know today. Although work boots still remain the biggest part of the company’s business, the brand has exploded among fashion insiders, Brooklyn hipsters and everyone in between. But the people who wear Red Wing know the hype is well-founded. “Red Wing shoes are a staple in American workwear,” says Sandra Nygaard, menswear veteran and fashion director at Men’s Health. “The factory itself is an institution. It’s steeped in tradition. They still tan and manufacture every part of the boot right on site. It’s what America was like at the height of its manufacturing era.” Some of the company’s traditions and techniques have been updated, but many have not. The upper portion of each shoe has a signature triple stitch that’s still made with Puritan sewing machines, many of which date back nearly 100 years. They’re so old, in fact, that the factory’s full-time maintenance team now has to manufacture parts themselves to make repairs. Every sole is still attached

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with a Goodyear welt, a nearly 150-year-old process that creates a tough, durable foundation which allows the soles to be replaced after they wear out. By the time a new shoe is finished, no less than 30 skilled artisans have worked on it before it leaves the factory. “They have salt-of-the-Earth people crafting these shoes by hand, so there’s plenty of attention to detail, but there’s also a sense of ownership and pride in the end product,” says Nygaard. “The brand really is one of the last strongholds for the old traditions of American craftsmanship.” But because Red Wing doesn’t see a lot of outsiders, its people aren’t as influenced by nationwide fashion trends. “It’s not out of the pages of Vogue,” says Gettings. “There’s a slower pace here, and that’s an important part of our company. We’re consistently true to our roots.” By fostering and developing new products in the brand’s Heritage line, part of Gettings’ job is to ensure that every product keeps within the company’s rich heritage. Although Red Wing has always been a family business, Gettings didn’t originally plan to work there. Her father was CEO when she was growing up, but he never pressured her to follow in his footsteps. Gettings studied neuroscience at college in Minnesota, but later decided to start product development for Red Wing in 2006. For years she helped create new shoes and accessories, but after a while decided to break out on her own. In 2013, Gettings moved with her husband to Los Angeles to start her own shoe line. “I was out there creating shoes, hauling them everywhere, and doing sales by myself,” she says. “It was grueling, and ›››


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I felt very alone.” Then the couple had a daughter, Grace. So in 2015, when Gettings saw the opportunity to come back to Red Wing and launch the brand’s first women’s Heritage line, she didn’t think twice. “I jumped at the opportunity,” she says. “I was so happy to develop a new collection with the resources and support of so many people.” The 24 styles in the women’s line adopted some of the classic men’s silhouettes, but introduced new heeled boots as well. “Translating the brand for the women’s market was special for me,” says Gettings. “As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I’m always asking myself what makes a man tick, so it was a nice change. I think women are really having a moment right now, and this line symbolizes that for me. It’s so inspiring to see women from all over the world come into their own and support each other. For so long women have tried to fit into a male stereotype. Now, it feels less about being like a man and more about achieving success on our own terms without trying to cover up our femininity.” Working with every aspect of a new product, from market research and analysis to manufacturing and the technical aspects, Gettings describes her job as a balancing act of sorts. “We’re always trying to con-

nect with consumers, push forward, and stay relevant, but we want also to stay true to Red Wing and its history, too,” she says. One way she achieves that with all Red Wing shoes is through authenticity. “It’s a big part of our brand, but people experience that differently. For example, my husband grew up on a farm, and when his feet stopped growing his dad bought him his first pair of Red Wings, which is very common here and all over the country.” Because their shoes can last generations, sons will often send back their fathers’ shoes to be refurbished and repaired. “The brand—and the city, for that matter—both have a real sense of community,” says Nygaard. “In the past few years, there’s much more interest in American workwear, but I don’t think Red Wing ever sought to be trendy. I think fashion just caught up with them.” Although her job brings Gettings all over the world, each time she sees a pair of her family’s shoes on one of her international business trips, she’s thinks about her community back in Red Wing. “I’m reminded of the great people whose livelihoods are impacted by the work we do,” she says. “The responsibility weighs on me. I want to do right by them, and my hometown.” A

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DAVE STINE THE ART OF CRAFTSMANSHIP AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE TO THIS MASTER WOODWORKER. by JORIE JACOBI / Photography by ATTILIO D’AGOSTINO

The small town of Dow, Illinois would be easy to miss unless a traveler were specifically aiming for it as a destination. It also happens to be the origin of a terrific noise on this Midwestern evening. Dave Stine, clad in a t-shirt and jeans held up by suspenders, emerges from the barn that houses his woodworking shop with a ruddy glow about him, revealing a large table saw to be the culprit of the noise. Tomorrow he will head into town to pick up a special safety stop for it, which prohibits the saw from cutting further upon detecting human flesh. “All the other woodworkers I know are miss- ›››

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ing fingers,” he laments, without sentiment. Stine’s woodworking shop is a short walk from the family farmhouse, one of many dotting the cornfields and gentle knolls of Dow. The scene is so beautiful that it subverts the potential for cliché. Two stories high, the shop has every kind of tool and raw material imaginable: hundreds of handsaws, chainsaws, table saws, varnishes, nails, sanders, pencils, paper, right-angle squares, hammers, chisels … ad infinitum, all covered in sawdust, as though he somehow used every single tool in his possession today. The walls are lined with stacks upon stacks of giant slabs of wood that Stine and his one studio assistant, Eli Cronin, process in the sawmill next door. By some process of alchemy, he then transforms the raw materials into the furniture displayed on his website: sumptuous, shiny tables crafted from one slab of vertical or horizontally-sliced wood, benches, desks and popular pieces like the “Wrench Bench,” which incorporates actual wrenches into the piece as its legs. The land where Stine sustainably harvests his own wood, chopping down timber that is ailing or dead, has been in his family for four generations. While narrating the phases of its vast acreage, he points to a plot of land a few miles away and explains that it used to be a dairy farm, where he grew up. An only child, his parents and extended family cared for the farm, livestock, and its seemingly endless necessity of work: cleaning, providing hay, managing waste, bottle-feeding calves. “We did everything on the farm, from repairing our own equipment to butchering meat and growing our vegetables,” he remembers, though not always fondly. “If you’ve ever milked cows, you know why I don’t. It is fucking hateful. Twice a day, every day, for the rest of your life. No one gives a shit about anything else because the cows need to be milked: you’re hungover, you’re sick, or your mom died. It doesn’t matter. The cows still need to be milked, twice a day, every day, from now until forever,” he says. The process took him three hours, morning and night, every day. By the time he was in junior high, Stine was driving a com-

bine and managing around 100 head of cattle. His 4H project involved animal husbandry, farming and land management. “A 4H project can be things like extemporaneous public speaking, public service, automotive lessons, welding, cooking, sewing, cleaning … things related to general living.” Now more than ever, he is routinely confronted with the division of city and country life. Along with his wife and two children, Stine splits his time between the farm and a house in Richmond Heights, Missouri, which gives his children the benefit of an awardwinning school district. “Having children ruins your life completely. In every way,” he says. “You care about them so much that if something bad happens to one of them, you’re totally fucked.” Stine’s parents divorced while he was in college and his father moved to Florida, but his mother still lives nearby. He calls himself an only child, but he had a sister who was killed by a drunk driver when she was young. He remembers very little about it. “I was young too. I think she was nine, and I was around eight. We were at a family thing, and she was either on the sidewalk or the road. I don’t ask a lot of questions,” he says. “It’s not like it comes up a lot.” He has read about how many couples don’t recover after the loss of a child. “I was young enough that it didn’t really register. I think of it now that I have children more than I ever did before, because I can’t imagine if something happened to one of my kids. Another reason they ruin your life.” Stine was initially exposed to the outskirts of woodworking while growing up on the farm. His father had dabbled in furniture building as a hobby, but it was his grandfather who became a pivotal mentor. They used to attend antique auctions together, where they’d find old furniture, repair it and resell it for a marginal profit. Stine would assist with the repairs once they found their salvageable treasures. It was here that he learned the basics of woodworking tools, types of wood, finishes, joints and more. While neither of his own children appear drawn to woodworking, Stine is deeply aware and vigilant of his teenage son and daughter’s interests: fashion, ›››

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music and standing up for others, of which Stine is particularly proud. His son, who is currently 17, came out to his parents when he was 15. “My only difficulty with it is I want my kid’s life to be as easy as possible,” says Stine. “Everything I just said about how they ruin your life is totally true. But you want your kids to have an easy path. You want everything to go their way, and you hate to see them in pain. You hate to see difficulties of any sort in your children’s way. And if you’re gay, it’s going to be harder. That’s just the way it is. Like if you’re black, or a woman.” While Stine has his beef with city living, he breathes a deep, grateful sigh of relief that the Clayton school his son attends has been accepting. “Nobody seems to care. If he were out here, he would be totally shamed, and it would be terrible. People would not be accepting whatsoever. No way, man. There are great people here, but that is not accepted in high school. It’s deer hunting and keggers.” Years later when Stine was in law school at George Washington University, his grandfather gave him an assortment of hand tools and additional supplies. It was then, in an unlikely studio space, that Stine began churning out humidors and building the foundation for what would become the work of his life, and undoubtedly where he now spends most of his time. “My wife’s sister’s boyfriend at the time had a t-shirt printing business. He had rented this derelict warehouse in Don’t Go There, DC. It was 20,000 square feet and he was only using 5,000 square feet of it.” Stine began using the remaining portion as his first studio. He also dug up several back issues of Woodworking Magazine and pored over each one. After three years of trudging his way through law school, Stine completed his degree and worked for a small firm managing client trusts, estate planning and wills. “So what happens to your shit after you die. That’s the basic tenet of what I did,” he describes, which he practiced for a total of

one calendar year before quitting. “I don’t do well in that kind of environment. Almost everyone in my family, and almost everyone in my wife’s family, is self-employed. When I was growing up I thought, ‘Ok, that’s interesting.’ But now I think it’s just because we’re impossible to get along with. We all think we’re the smartest people in the room. We’re completely unemployable,” he says, laughing. Stine worked at a diesel shop to pay his way through undergrad at Penn State, but maintaining a similar strategy to pay for graduate school proved to be both a challenge and an opportunity. He started by baking pies, pastries, cheesecakes and other baked goods to sell to local restaurants and coffee shops in DC, and eventually became inspired to build his first humidor out of wood. “Arnold Schwarzenegger was on the cover of Cigar Aficionado or something like that. It was the Big Swinging Dick ’80s,” says Stine. “I started building humidors on the side and selling them through Georgetown Tobacco. That was really the seed of David Stine Woodworking.” Now, sitting at a table in the house next door to his studio, he points up to a large, elegant humidor held together by a simple box joint, the first one he ever made. “I made one for myself so I could see whether or not I could make them for other people.” Stine spent the first four years of his woodworking career in Washington DC, where he dealt with the growing pains of lacking space, and naturally kept coming back to Dow to harvest timber. He and his wife decided to move back, and today, chainsaw in hand, Stine cuts timber from the comfort of what is essentially his backyard. “I don’t think there was a defining moment or anything like that. Maybe when I quit law. But I was raised to be self-sufficient, to be inquisitive, and constantly learning. I assume other people are that way too.” His daily routine harkens back to his upbringing: manual labor, sunup to sundown. “These values really took root in me.” A

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P A R T N E R CONTENT

WASHINGTON UNIV ERSIT Y ’S OLIN BUSINESS SCHOOL

WHERE BUSINESS LEADERS LEARN TO REVOLUTIONIZE

If you are considering a graduate degree in business, it’s likely that most of your education took place in a traditional classroom setting. Accelerating your education will require more. A degree from WashU’s Olin Business School immediately informs clients and employers that you have been put to the test at a world-class institution where you have mastered cutting-edge business strategies in real-time. Most accomplishments happen through sweat equity, and things of value don’t always come easily—especially in business. You’ll live these axioms as you embark on this journey. “Almost anything you could possibly want to do, you can do at Olin,” says Alaina Flowers, a 2015 MBA graduate. Olin Business School offers you distinct choices to earn your graduate degree: a full-time MBA program, or part-time and executive MBA programs for working professionals in pursuit of a professional edge or a career change. For a deep dive in a specific area of study, students can also choose from a selection of specialized masters programs. Professional commitments or time constraints don’t have to inhibit your educational goals. “Being at Olin just reinforces WashU’s status. All the best corporations in town send their employees here for an MBA,” says Darrel Pfeifauf, an Olin part-time MBA alum. While it’s true that Olin’s programs are very competitive, students also thrive in the highly collaborative, supportive environment, anchored by a team-based educational approach. Courses are taught by professors who are thought leaders in their respective fields, and highly invested in student success. Olin degree programs weave in experiential learning by bringing business leaders into the classroom, offering students a variety of opportunities to tackle real-world challenges for businesses, nonprofits and startups. TAKE THE NEXT STEP TO MOVE YOUR C AREER FORWARD WITH A VISIT TO OLIN’S

UPCOMING PREVIEW DAY ON FEB. 4. Meet current students and professors, learn how to apply and discover more about how Olin’s programs can help you discover and follow your interests. Ready to explore your options? The time is now. olin.wustl.edu/preview

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A Dre a m of Tre e s

by MARY OLIVER

There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees, A quiet house, some green and modest acres A little way from every troubling town, A little way from factories, schools, laments. I would have time, I thought, and time to spare, With only streams and birds for company. To build out of my life a few wild stanzas. And then it came to me, that so was death, A little way away from everywhere. There is a thing in me still dreams of trees, But let it go. Homesick for moderation, Half the world’s artists shrink or fall away. If any find solution, let him tell it. Meanwhile I bend my heart toward lamentation Where, as the times implore our true involvement, The blades of every crisis point the way. I would it were not so, but so it is. Who ever made music of a mild day?

Born in a small town in Ohio, Mary Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of twenty-eight. Over the course of her long career, she has received numerous awards. Her fourth book, “American Primitive,” won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. A DREAM OF TREES by Mary Oliver

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Copyright © 1972, 1992 by Mary Oliver

Reprinted by permission of the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency


ALIVE Issue 1 2017  
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