Where do you live?
We live in Coral Terrace just west of Schenley Park. We’ve been here for 11 years.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to town?I grew up in Southern California and then lived in Santa Cruz, New York, and San Francisco before meeting Joel, who’s from Maryland but was living in Berkeley. We moved here for his job. He’s a professor at UM.
Will you share a little bit about your family?
Joel teaches English literature with a focus on global modernism and poetry. We have a five-year-old daughter.
How did you meet Joel?
We met on Friendster. Yes, pre-MySpace. I was minding my own business and he was looking for a girlfriend. I was temporarily in LA and he was in San Francisco. We corresponded for a couple of months before we finally met.
Please share about what you do for a livelihood or what keeps you busy during the week?
I’m an artist. I’m represented by Bernice Steinbaum Gallery. I recently installed a show that runs through December 22. The show is called Low Roads and touches on different aspects of climate change, gentrification, habitability, our place in history, and the role that both policy and personal choices make in finding a solution. Ultimately, it’s a hopeful message: that people can take responsibility and take charge of the future, so we don’t become an underwater snorkeling destination.
What medium do you work in? Mixed media, primarily using embroidery as a drawing medium. My work tends to fool the eye and look like a drawing or a painting, but then you get up close and its embroidery or an intricately cut piece of fabric.
How long have you been making art?
I had my first show in 2001, when I graduated from college. But things didn’t really take off until around the time I met Bernice a few years ago. She’s the one who jump-started things for me.
Will you have any work during Art Basel this year?
Yes, at Art Miami, with Bernice. I’ll have at least one piece there, but I can’t describe it yet. It’s still in the works.
Where is your studio?
For now, I work from home. My last studio was in Allapatta. But among other things, I started to have reservations about the role that artists play in gentrification, specifically at this time, when climate gentrification is really picking up. I feel better not participating in that process. Developers often follow artists and end up making changes to neighborhoods that are not in the best interests of the people who have lived there for a long time.
What advice would you give to other artists?
Focus on making good work rather than trying to get famous. And, be nice to people.
You mentioned to us at the market a project you’re starting called Zero Waste Miami. What is it about?
The idea of Zero Waste is, depending on who you ask, either a philosophy of resource efficiency, a lifestyle movement, or both. But either way it’s about the responsible conservation and use of resources—to work at preventing waste instead of working at dealing with it after it’s made. As a general idea, It’s origins can be traced back as the 1970’s, as far as I know. Ideally, we would strive to eliminate all waste that can’t biodegrade, but we can at least start with reducing it. One of the best places for individuals to start is by cutting out or reducing single-use plastic and unnecessary plastic. And there are so many amazing local resources for those of us here who are working towards our own zero waste goals, but especially for someone new to the area or someone just discovering the idea, it can be difficult to know where to start or how to find what you need. So, coming soon is ZeroWasteMiami.com: an online hub that corrals those resources into one easily accessible starting point. And soon we’ll start offering workshops where people can learn how to preserve seasonal produce at home, basic garment repair, pot composting for apartment dwellers, and so on. Over time it will grow in whatever way is most helpful.
As a Smoothie Vendor, how can we be better?
I know that you had paper straws as an option last time I was there, which was great to see. It would be great if someone at the market offered reusable metal straws. And it would be great to see some kind of incentive for customers to bring their own re-usable cups or glasses. I know that the market is moving toward using only biodegradable plastics, but there is an important difference between compostable biodegradable plastics and non-compostable biodegradable plastics. Compostable plastic biodegrades at a rate similar to other compostable material, doesn’t release greenhouse gases, and leaves no toxic residue. But non-compostable biodegradable plastics actually still contribute to the problems of pollution and greenhouse gas emission. Unless they end up in municipal compost—which South Florida doesn’t have–they still take a really long time to break down. And even when they do, they emit more and more methane as they break up into smaller and smaller pieces. Unless the plastic is labeled “compostable,” it isn’t any better than the regular kind. And, even though compostable plastic is better, it still is classified as a synthetic substance, and that can cause problems. Certified organic farms, for example, can’t use compost that includes bioplastics. (A+W) Thank you for the suggestion! We ordered some stainless straws that will be available tomorrow!
How often do you come to the Pinecrest market?
Every week, unless something weird happens.
What is your ritual?
It’s depends on where we park. We visit you, Pam at V&B, Bee Heaven and sometimes KeezBeez and Zak the Baker.
What is the market missing?
It’d be awesome to have an incentive that favors actual farms over other vendors who are reboxing fruit. I think the market should require that stands clearly label their sources–or if that’s too onerous for the actual farms, then I think stands should be labeled in a more general way that lets people know who the reboxers are. I think people go to a farmer’s market to buy produce in large part because they want to support actual farmers like you, and may be surprised to learn that at certain stands they’re really just getting rebranded supermarket produce from California or Mexico. I really think that it’s important for there to be truth in advertising, and just the fact of having a stand at a farmer’s market invites people to assume that they are local or that what they’re selling is in season. Also, I agree with your last interviewee that there should be recycling and composting available.
What’s your favorite thing from our stand?
Well, that’s hard to choose. Probably your avocados and the fact that you have so many varieties that the season is so long. Your avocados changed my mind about Florida avocados. For a while after moving here, I only had ones from the grocery and they were terrible. And, my husband cannot live without jackfruit. We just bought a ton of it as the season ended and froze it for smoothies or ice cream. And we of course love your smoothies, but we only occasionally get them as a treat. We were spending way too much on prepared foods. So for a while now, I’ve been making as much as I can from scratch. For me, I think food can feel more valuable when you make it yourself, because you experience the time and labor that it took to bring it into being. When I have to throw out a big chunk of bread I made because I didn’t use it or freeze it in time, it hurts more than something from the grocery going to waste. Not a lot more, because I don’t like wasting any food, but enough to notice. I think it helps me live more mindfully.
What have you made with ingredients from LNB?
With your bananas, we make banana bread or freeze them on popsicle sticks, which Is nice for kids. I have jackfruit ice cream on my list of things to make, but I haven’t done it yet. We use everything from you guys for smoothies. I’ve also made Mamey popsicles. They’re so naturally sweet that kids don’t notice there’s no sugar in them. I buy tons of the turmeric and freeze it and use it to make golden milk as an immune and general health booster. I also freeze a lot of your ginger to make a cold & congestion remedy, or just for cooking with. And we use the Roselle to make tea or a Jamaican holiday drink called sorrel. It’s nice to make it from the fresh ones instead of the dried, although this year I plan to dry some for later.
What’s a favorite activity you enjoy with your daughter?I’ve been teaching her to knit and it’s really fun to just sit and chat and knit with her. Also cooking.
Do you have something that you cook together, and you might like to share?
She mostly is interested in things she can do (mostly) all by herself, like scrambled eggs or pancakes. But one of her favorite things to make together would probably be quiche, with eggs from Bee Heaven and seasonal vegetables. We don’t make it that often because it’s so time consuming, but when we do it’s worth it.
Pie Crust: Whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut in 10 2/3 Tbsp. butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Slowly sprinkle in 6-7 tsp. cold water, pulling dough together with fork. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and roll to slightly bigger than your pie pan. Ease into pan and flute edges. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Filling:1 small onion, sautéed until lightly browned & set aside to cool2 cups Swiss and/or Monterey Jack cheese, grated5-6 eggs1.5 cups milk1 Tbsp. flourPinch of salt2 cups fresh greens (spinach, arugula, chard), sautéed, squeezed of liquid, & set aside to coolOptional: sautéed mushrooms, bacon, or anything else you like.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, toss the grated cheese with the sautéed onions & flour. Spread the cheese mixture in the prepared crust; top with sautéed & drained spinach and whatever other vegetables or meats you’re using. In a small bowl, whisk milk, eggs, and salt; pour over cheese mixture & bake for 35-40 minutes or until the egg mixture is set. Let cool for an hour or so before serving.
Do you participate in any community or philanthropic events that you would like to share?
My daughter’s school is amazing. It’s the democratic, student-directed Miami Sudbury School. It just opened in August. It’s ages 5-18 in a mixed-age learning community, with no formal instruction—unless the students decide to invite an expert in to teach them something–but with a formal, daily structure for democratic governance of the school that involves every student. It’s the first one in Miami, but Sudbury schools have been around for 50 years, with some of the best long-term outcomes and college acceptance rates of any type of school. Students learn at their own pace and follow their interests, while practicing the crucial life skills of problem solving, conflict resolution, accountability, and critical thinking. They also get hands-on practice with what it means to be a democratic community, in which every member is equally accountable to all the others. Also, I want to share with anyone who doesn’t already know: there’s a great sustainable-living shop that recently opened up near Wynwood: Verde Market, where you can buy bulk items and plastic-free household things that until recently you could mostly only get online.
Do you own your own business or offer a service? Would you share a pitch about yourself or company with the community?
I invite people to stay tuned for ZeroWasteMiami.com, which should be up and running by the end of the month. One other thing we have planned is to spotlight local businesses who are doing a really good job of reducing waste, so recommendations are welcome!