Zoë Ryan, the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago, organizes the kind of mind-expanding, slam-dunk exhibitions—including Max Lamb: Exercises in Seating (2018) and the meta As Seen: Exhibitions that Made Architecture and Design History (2015)—that make me want to drop everything and fly to Chicago to see them. Her latest such project is In a Cloud, In a Wall, in a Chair, a show that explores the various experiences artists Clara Porset, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Cynthia Sargent, and Sheila Hicks had in Mexico between the 1940s and 1970s. It opens September 6 at the AIC, but I received the catalogue the other day in the post and was blown away. The volume, with its tactile cover material and a font made specifically for the exhibition and catalogue, is a design object in itself. The glossy pages of work by each artist in the show are icing on the cake.
Tiffany Jow, editorial director
Everything about the Italian fashion house’s new scent is divine: from the faceted, column-shaped green bottle (said to recall its ’90s-era fragrances) to the emerald-hued star-covered packaging (inspired by 14th-century Italian painter Giotto di Bondone’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel) to the scent itself, a musky mix of Roman Chamomile, Indian Coral Jasmine, sandalwood, and cedarwood. It’s also Gucci’s first universal scent (for anyone) that’s meant to “transcend gender and time” and explore the power perfume has to conjure memories. Seems like the right thing to wear every day.
Lauren Mang, digital editor/special publications
By the end of summer, I always feel a little tired and very overstimulated. With so much brightness and so many colors abounding (from beach neons to the gorgeous regional blooms), there is nothing more relaxing to me than diving into a great novel. All of that glorious black and white—the more text the better. But as much as I am ready for fall, I still enjoy a great summer read, and I have found the one. Seattle-based writer Kira Jane Buxton released her debut novel earlier this month, and it is unlike any book I’ve ever encountered (and I am a voracious reader). First, it’s narrated by a trash-talking, Cheeto-loving crow who goes on a quest to save humanity after a zombie apocalypse sweeps the world. Second, Buxton’s writing is razor-sharp and foul-mouthed in a way that deftly walks the line between literary highs and low-brow depths. It’s laugh-out-loud, spit-out-your-coffee funny, and I already can’t wait for her next novel. Full disclosure: I met Kira about seven years ago at Hedgebrook’s VORTEXT workshop (basically a sleepaway camp for women writers on Whidbey Island) and she is as smart and hilarious as her writing. You will not regret picking up this book.
Rachel Gallaher, senior editor
I was born in the late 1990s, so I’ve only experienced gaudy ’80s fashions at my local thrift store, in my parents’ photo albums, and in John Hughes movies. So when I saw the polka dot tulle tops, checkerboard tights, and body-hugging, hand-painted floral dresses from Stine Goya’s SS20 Collection during Copenhagen Fashion Week, I was ready to embrace the decade’s imminent revival. This season, the Danish designer, who founded her eponymous brand in 2006 and recently launched House of Goya, partnered with members of the dance community to capture the extravagance of Ballroom culture, as seen in the documentary Paris Is Burning and the 2016 film Kiki, which profiles young LGBT people of color participating in contemporary ball culture. Hosted in an old-school gymnasium, the makeshift catwalk was draped in colorful streamers and scattered with giant papier-mâché hands. Models of all shapes, sizes, and genders (who were all cast, in true 2019 fashion, using the Bumble app) strutted with fans and floral purses, and wrapped the show with a choreographed routine. It looked like the high school dance I wish I’d been asked to.
Claire Butwinick, assistant editor
The Best Things We Saw is a monthly roundup of places, spaces, and things that stopped GRAY staffers in their tracks. Herewith, our picks for the best of the best in August.