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In Baja California, a Restored 1900s Villa
Set on the Sea of Cortez, in Baja California Sur’s laid-back coastal town of La Paz, is the recently opened Baja Club hotel. Its original structure — an early 20th-century Spanish colonial-style villa — was renovated by the Mexico City-based architect Max von Werz, under the direction of the hotel brand Grupo Habita. The ground floor of the white-lacquered brick building now hosts a lobby, cafe and library, but the most striking addition is a concrete spiral staircase, which was inspired by the sculptural, free-form designs of the Modernist architects Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier and connects the main house to the property’s new four-story annex. The two wings that make up von Werz’s extension house the inn’s 32 guest rooms and suites, each of which opens onto a private patio. Inside, the rooms feature traditional Mexican Talavera ceramic lamps inspired by the work of Luis Barragán; speckled olive-and-alabaster terrazzo floors; and chairs, made of wicker and wood, that were conceived by the Parisian design firm Jaune and produced by the contemporary Mexican artist Claudia Fernández. Guests can unwind at the property’s sauna, Jacuzzi or infinity pool. And in the evenings, Greek-inspired dishes are offered at the hotel restaurant, an outdoor space set below an ivy-covered pergola, while cocktails are served at the rooftop bar. Rooms start at $275, bajaclubhotel.com.
Kenny Rivero’s artworks frequently make use of discarded materials — from shards of his own abandoned projects to pieces of plastic he gathered while working as a night-shift doorman in one of New York City’s luxury residential buildings in the early 2000s. The 29 never-before-seen drawings in the exhibition “Kenny Rivero: Palm Oil, Rum, Honey, Yellow Flowers,” on view at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Vermont, are no exception: Illustrated scenes appear on reclaimed record sleeves and torn-out book pages, among other makeshift canvases. While Rivero’s recent shows at New York City’s Charles Moffett gallery, and Hallwalls in Buffalo, N.Y., featured vibrant, large-scale paintings, drawing has long been a part of his practice. Growing up in Washington Heights, the Dominican-American artist, who’s currently based in the Bronx, “drew on the blank pages of my siblings’ and parents’ books,” he says. “It felt like a space nobody else was paying attention to — and one that I could kind of sneak inside.” The small-scale vignettes at the Brattleboro show, some of which are double-sided and arranged in vitrines, were made over the past 14 years and were not originally intended for exhibition. “They’re meant to be held and touched,” says the artist. But even with them behind glass, one can see the intimate nature of Rivero’s work. His gentle graphite and watercolor marks depict spectral figures — forlorn superheroes, folkloric characters — in private moments of melancholy or rumination, and are accompanied, in many instances, by bits of writing, song lyrics or overheard dialogue. Whether his subject is a red-handed figure who smiles to reveal a mouth full of tiny teeth, as in “Untitled (Politician)” (2018-20), or a man in swimming trunks with his hands placed delicately on his hips (“Bather,” 2016-20), Rivero imbues each drawing with an undeniable tenderness. “Kenny Rivero: Palm Oil, Rum, Honey, Yellow Flowers” is on view through June 13 at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, 10 Vernon Street, Brattleboro, Vt., brattleboromuseum.org.
Joyful Tableware From a Renowned Chef
The London-based British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks have helped me through many evenings of pandemic-induced malaise. “Ottolenghi Flavor” (2020) is my latest favorite, with recipes like zaatar cacio e pepe and a cucumber salad with tahini and black sesame seeds. So when I heard Ottolenghi was releasing a collection of tableware, I knew it would be both tasteful and bold. The line, which debuted earlier this week, consists of 100 pieces — from ceramic tapas and dinner plates to wine glasses and serving stands — produced by the Belgium-based studio Serax and designed by Ottolenghi and one of his longtime friends and collaborators, the Italian artist Ivo Bisignano, who splits his time between London and Tel Aviv. The wares come in an assortment of brilliant hues — including cobalt blue, mustard yellow, soft pink and forest green — and have been painted with a series of motifs (abstract images of vegetables, smiling faces and the letter “O,” in homage to the cook himself) that are sure to bring a sense of joie de vivre to any table. Bisignano used myriad techniques — such as Japanese ink painting and printmaking with actual artichoke and pomegranate halves — when conceiving the designs for the stoneware items in this range. “I was inspired by everything from Picasso’s ceramics to Dalí’s paintings of forks, knives and spoons,” he says. The result: dishes that perfectly complement Ottolenghi’s own. From $28, available for pre-order at ottolenghi.co.uk.
A Fragrance From Byredo Inspired by the Sky
When Covid-19 forced Byredo’s Stockholm-based founder, Ben Gorham, to stay put in the city early last year, he, like so many other frequent fliers suddenly confined to their homes and hometowns, began to long for travel. After nearly 15 years of traversing the globe for business meetings and Byredo boutique openings — Gorham launched his perfume brand in 2006 and has since added soaps, hand creams and candles to its offerings — he fantasized not about a tropical escape or even a return to East London, where the makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench, his partner in his new venture, Byredo Makeup, resides, but of the experience of peering out of an airplane window. “That idea of movement — of being on your way somewhere — is something I truly missed,” Gorham recalls. And so, with his latest fragrance, Open Sky, he set out to capture what he refers to as “the void that exists between departure and destination” by way of distinct, though nevertheless harmonious, notes from far and wide. Combining juicy pomelo veiled in hemp leaves with a dash of heady vetiver, woodsy palo santo and sharp black pepper, the eau de parfum, which comes in Byredo’s signature magnetic-capped glass bottle, will be available online and in select stores starting May 6 for a limited time only. $270, byredo.com.
The buildings and gardens that the Mexican architect Luis Barragán realized in the second half of his career, from the 1940s to the late ’70s, have in common a monastic feel that tends to inspire a contemplative state in a visitor. When the German artist Robert Janitz first began to engage with Barragán’s designs three years ago, he responded, in particular, to a sense of “dematerialization of space into colored light,” he recalls. It is fitting, then, that 10 of his own vibrant works are currently on view at Casa Gilardi — the final house that Barragán completed, in 1978, in the San Miguel Chapultepec neighborhood of Mexico City — for the show “Best of All Worlds,” curated by Gianni Jetzer. Janitz’s polychrome canvases, with broad brush and squeegee marks made of oil, flour and wax, as well as his first work on ceramic tile and a minimalist concrete fuchsia tile composition — arranged beside the home’s aquamarine indoor pool — demonstrate his own tendency for introspection (as a graduate student in Germany, he specialized in Indology and comparative religion and subsequently dedicated 10 years to meditation before pursuing painting). Set against the home’s luminous white, cobalt and lemon yellow walls, the pieces have a mesmerizing effect. “This is not an eye-level conversation,” Janitz says of how his work interacts with the architect’s. “I come in as a devotee.” He did include one note of defiance, though. While most of the pieces in the exhibition are as bright as the house itself, Jetzer and Janitz chose to hang “Álgebra Sin Color” (2021), a 6½-foot-by-5-foot canvas in black and white, on a first-floor terrace. “This one is anti-Chucho Reyes,” says Janitz with a laugh, alluding to Barragán’s frequent collaborator and master of color. “Best of All Worlds” is on view through May 8 at Casa Gilardi, Calle Gral. Antonio, León 82, San Miguel Chapultepec, Mexico City, archivocolectivo.mx.
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