I am sitting in a room probably very different from the one you are in now. I am sitting on a metal glider swing in the front parlor of a Somerville home facing two intensely bright lamps and listening to recorded sounds of nature. It’s artist Lyn Nofziger‘s installation, Home, at the Nave Gallery‘s new Annex on Chester Street, part of the group show, Picnic.
I’m too stuffed up to know if there’s an olfactory component, but except for the temperature, Home does in fact deliver on the promise of Picnic, to glorify “the lush serenity, the ripe thriving growth, the vibrant color of what’s living in these sultry days of summer.” In January and February, of course. It’s a bit like a sunset but maybe even brighter and yet it makes you want to linger.
There’s almost too much going on the four or so rooms of an otherwise typical apartment that the Nave Gallery has taken over. The card lists 16 artists and there are almost certainly more if you count the dozen or so conributors to the open call to “preserve summer” where local artists were asked to “capture the endless and invincible season of summer in a mason jar.” This is at least as cool as when you could seal anything you wanted into a can at the now-gone Museum of Useful Things.
In an awesome three-part sink next to the jars of summer you might notice Sophia Sobers’ installation Abandoned Nature, a series of organic forms whose shape recalls coral or some kind of fungus, but whose location and color also remind you of flora that flourish in the dark corners of some ill-attended kitchen or bathroom.
The lith prints of photographer Adam Gooder are sprinkled around the galleries (and some prints in a bin are for sale at criminally low prices, by the way) and depict flowers in closeup with a delicate sunshiney tonality and delicious grain. I don’t know if Gooder has a stash of old Kodalith paper or has an alternate chemical or digital method, but it works for me.
There’s a tremendous amount more work in this show, it could take you till summer to digest it all, but since the show closes on February 8 with a reception and mason jar auction, I suggest you get over there soon and join me in welcoming this art space to Davis Square.
I recently discovered the site of George Emerson’s Pickle Factory in Somerville’s Powerhouse Park. Other than the engraved rock and cast metal pickle jars (bottles?) I have no information about it, but I have a feeling it could be the next Cronin Park.
In other more contemporary pickle news:
Last month at the Somerville River Festival (Did you know Somerville had a river? It’s the Mystic river.), a food truck was vending deep fried pickles. I have to say I was imagining something more like crinkle-cut dill discs, but the whole spears in fluffy beer batter were piping hot and still pickly inside. I think there’s finally an improvement on the classic Japanese summer treat, pickle on a stick. That is, if you could deep fry the pickles AND put them on sticks.
At the newish M3 (apparently means, “Meat and 3 sides”) near Davis Square, house made is all the rage, including the pictured duck proscioutto and rainbow array of pickles. Note the pickle fork provided.
Here’s to celebrating Somerville’s 100+ years of pickles.
After relatively brief and painless trip to the Somerville department of Traffic and Parking – would you believe a parking ticket from 1996? – I dropped in at the recently opened and oddly capitalized iYO cafe in Davis Square. At iYO you can make your own waffles and extrude your own frozen yogurt. Fortunately for all concerned, the coffee making is confined to behind the counter. I combined some French Vanilla (since Davis Square is the Paris of Somerville) frozen yogurt with a double espresso for a makeshift affogato.
I have yet to make my own waffle, but I can give iYO high marks for decor, friendliness and coffee. They’ve also got a community room and art gallery going on in the back. Operating a cafe in Davis square a block from Diesel and Starbucks is going to be a challenge, but I have a good feeling about these folks. Drop by and check it out. Since their website omits it, I’ll note that the address is 234 Elm Street, across the street from Martsa on Elm.
Following up on the five things I won’t miss about Davis, here are five that will keep me coming back:
Dave’s Fresh Pasta: there are lots of fine lunching establishments around here, even though not one serves the idealized cheese sandwich, but Dave’s is special. Besides the awesome selection of grilled sandwiches (my faves include the cubano and the muffaleta), Dave’s has an excellent wine section, a wonderful cheese case, an impressive deli, and oddly enough I’ve never even tried the fresh pasta.
The lunch special at Dragon Garden: yes, I know this place looks suspect at best, but they dish up a ma po tofu lunch special that’s $5 with soup and a can of soda. There’s something comforting about this sort of thing, and it helps lower your center of gravity in the winter. I also enjoy their general gau chicken and tofu.
Coffee: Davis has at least three major coffee streams: Dunkin, Starbucks and independent Diesel. I enjoy the latter two in equal measure, but I have to give special kudos to Diesel’s pool table and Starbucks’ fireplace.
Local shops: There’s some chain food in Davis, but not much if any chain retail. I especially like Magpie, D Squared, and Bowl & Board as representatives of the vibrant local business scene. Sharp-eyed fashion blogger A even crossed the river from bizzaro-Davis fashion capital JP to visit Suneri boutique here.
Rounding out my top five is the double treat of the Kick Ass Dairy Bar and When Pigs Fly Bakery a bit outside the square proper on Highland. I don’t care for those allegedly kick-ass cupcakes (and cupcakes are so last year anyway) but the fresh and local fare at the dairy bar and bakery are peerless. A bakery that sells loaves whole or cut on the spot is a must-have for any neighborhood that wants to be called such.
Rome might be the Eternal City, but I will always return to Davis Square, the Paris of Somerville.
Change is the only constant, and soon I’ll be spending a lot less time in Davis Square. It’s truly the Paris of Somerville and I’ll miss it – except for these things:
Chuggers: Maybe one day I’ll have a minute for their cause (by which they mean a dollar, or several) but until then I will continue to avoid these earnest yet shadowy CHarity mUGGERS who are a plague upon Davis Square. At least the clean-cut gents promoting the LDS wear nametags, and we know who they represent. I gave at the office, thanks.
Crappy pizza: Sure, this is a problem in many places, but the drought of quality pizza in Davis is just despressing. There’s lots of great places to have lunch around here but sometimes you just want a slice. Is thin crust without orange oil too much to ask? Do we have to order in from Medford?
Precision parking enforcement: I don’t have much sympathy for people who park illegally or for those who try to drive in dense urban areas, but the Somerville parking enforcement around Davis is deadly accurate to the minute of meter expiration, and frankly, it bums me out.
Diesel booth squatters: I don’t remember ever wanting to study as long and hard as these people do, no matter how caffeinated I was. What’s the deal with spreading your stuff out to soak up an entire four-top all day long? Don’t you ever have to go to the bathroom? Aren’t you worried about bedsores?
The horrifying stench off Grove Street near Elm: I don’t know what it is or where it comes from, but it’s bad. Real bad. I think it’s actually the smell of death. And as summer advances, it’s not getting better. If that’s coming from one of those restaurants, somebody needs to look into it, stat. Maybe the guys playing soccer in bloody aprons in the parking lot know something about it, but I’m not going to get close enough to ask them.