In the wacky world of alt-weeklies, ’tis the season of Halloween happenings and local elections. A bit fatigued of special issues, we steered clear of them this week, which led us to the land of brutal lists, Vincent van Gogh and the Mighty Mississippi.
If you follow the news or shop online, you are no doubt aware of the supply-chain calamity caused by COVID-19. Many employees have opted not to return to work; trucks and ships sit idle; and products once readily available are now in short supply. (Keep an eye out for The News Station’s story about how all of this has impacted the marijuana industry.) In “A Brutal List of Ingredients and Products Restaurants Can’t Find or Afford,” Washington City Paper food editor Laura Hayes zooms in and examines how the supply-chain crisis has affected restaurants in the nation’s capital. The story opens alluringly: “Chef Tom Crenshaw has been sneaking through the back door of one of his restaurants, hoping to remain undetected by diners. When delivery trucks don’t show up with his full order, he begrudgingly darts from Commissary DC to the Whole Foods across the street to buy the ingredients he needs to emergently fill out his menu.” Hayes details the struggles bars and restaurants are facing to find ingredients and products and the difficult decisions chefs, owners and managers are making; for example, whether to jack up prices or remove popular items from the menu. She surveyed owners and staff at 30 businesses, unveiling some startling facts and statistics. One key takeaway from the story: Be kind, patient and open-minded at bars and restaurants. And, of course, tip well.
Another story that has been hard to miss is Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. The digital art exhibit has swept the globe—Las Vegas, New York, Brussels, Berlin, Beijing—leaving glowing social-media posts and reviews in its trendy wake. But The Stranger is not easily impressed. In its review of the exhibit, “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience Is Honestly Kind of Boring,” staff writer Jas Keimig basically takes a sledgehammer to the state-of-the-art VR projections. After hinting that the exhibit is a cash grab and the Seattle incarnation of it has been disorganized, Keimig continues: “While getting drenched in the brushstrokes of ‘The Starry Night’ felt soothing for a few minutes, I quickly got fidgety. What would Van Gogh even think of this? Would he like it or explode? Why does the voice reading his letters have a British accent and not a Dutch one? Why do people even come to shows like this? To take pics for Instagram? Could I even get a good selfie in here?” Keimig concludes the bruising (but seemingly fair and informed) review by noting the show predictably exits through the gift shop, where one can buy a Van Gogh-branded vase or yoga mat.
Memphis artist Matthew Hasty has not made international headlines, but “Mississippi River School: The Life and Art of Matthew Hasty” makes it seem as if he will soon. Not that the Memphis Flyer piece, penned by staff writer Michael Donahue, is a blowjob; it’s a sincere and personal profile of an artist who seems deserving of attention. Donahue details Hasty’s journey from house painter to established regional artist—the late John Prine owned one of his paintings—and from allegorical religious work to landscapes of the Mississippi River region: the river itself, rice fields, cotton fields, sunsets, the moon, hunting grounds. “People are inundated with images all day with TV,” the artist tells Donahue. “Images are coming at you from every angle—your phone, your iPad. You can scroll and look at your phone all day. I try to make things that calm you down or make you feel serene.” The piece previews Hasty’s upcoming exhibit, “The Illusion of Permanence,” at Memphis’ L Ross Gallery, but—thankfully for readers—it ventures well beyond the standard art-show preview.