mashama bailey wins james beard award for top chef: southeast

The most wonderful news this week came out of Chicago Monday evening: Mashama Bailey of The Grey restaurant in Savannah won the James Beard Award: Top Chef: Southeast.

For those of us living and eating out in Savannah; we have been well aware and have been waiting (kind of) patiently! It brings a gush of fresh air into the lungs to see this woman recognized for all she is, thinks and does.

“We should all be very proud of ourselves,” she said. “We are moving this country forward in the right direction. I am a black girl from Queens, New York, and my most influential cuisine is Peter’s Kitchen Chinese take-out, ” the AJC recently quoted Bailey.

Bailey is the first black American to win this award. She is the second woman of color as Nina Compton (born and raised in the Caribbean) of Compère Lapin, in New Orleans won for best chef in the South. But only LAST year - 2018. Good grief. May more women rise to be recognized!

Congratulations to Mashama Bailey, John Morisano and The Grey team. Thank you for your two fabulous locations and thank you for bringing a bright shiny comet of GREAT and redemptive news into our week.

mashama bailey of THE GREY restaurant, top chef in the southeast + in this writer’s heart

mashama bailey of THE GREY restaurant, top chef in the southeast + in this writer’s heart

harrison scott key for the bitter southerner: the swiss army painter

I’m Swiss, was in the Army and I’m a painter!

So goes the recent feature story for the Bitter Southerner by my long-time collaborator and writer Harrison Scott Key goes.

While my paintings and some of my history is covered, the story centers on “seeing art” and how it might contribute to our greater understanding of and engagement in the world we find ourselves.

Studio and Vernonburg photos are by Kaylinn Gilstrap.

photo: Kaylinn Gilstrap for the Bitter Southerner

photo: Kaylinn Gilstrap for the Bitter Southerner

strategy: zoomorphism +

Illustrators, among others, try to avoid it by using several "tools". Here's "explanation". Metaphor/Simile: You're as docile (or woolly?) as a lamb. Which one is it? Metaphor = Equate. Simile = Like or as.

Juxtapose: I hate this word, but, you know. Next to. As in I draw you next to, or place you atop of a lamb.

Visual pun: In the shape of a lamb?

Repetition: As in, many lambs accompany you.

Skew: It's odd (somehow) so you see that you're related (or differently) to a lamb.

Allusion: I lift (steal) from an image, story or idea that is known. I didn't do this to my knowledge (but have before).

Isolate: I separate colors, or shapes or textures (or other elements) so you know what I mean.

Scale change: One thing is smaller or bigger than the other. As in, I make your lamb ears so large, or your skin so hairy, you can't avoid noticing.

Compare/contrast: Things are the same, or different. As in, you're soft or woolly or, conversely, not looking like a lamb.

Paradox: A man is not a lamb, is he?

Personify: I give attributes of a human, or represent as a human, not an animal. And in that vein...

Anthropomorphism: Duh, but can extend to inanimate objects or phenomena.

Metamorphosis: As in, I turn you into a lamb.

***** But you are ONE. And are loved (extraordinarily). You, Mr. Albert Lamb.


strategy: personification + anthropomorphism

An object, place, the weather - anything that is not a person - takes on the attributes of a human being.  To personify:  give abstract ideas like the weather and seasons human attributes.  To anthropomorph:  give human attributes to non-human entities.

In the illustration below, the tree takes on the behavior of a beau and nuzzles the lady surrounded by a grove of other, less realized tea olives.


"love in the time of tea olives,"  originally published for salted & styled, 2013.

what is a thumbnail sketch?

The difference between a thumbnail and a sketch is that the thumbnail is bound by the orientation and proportions outlined by the project or art director.  

It is a small, thumbnail size-ish drawing that tells two things:  the basic composition and the basic concept of the image.  A good art director will tell you, “I want three compositions for this concept,” or “I want three concepts for this scenario.” That should prompt you to draw one concept three ways, or draw three concepts one way.


This here's a thumbnail for a potential image for the 2017 book of short stories titled "The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead." by Chanelle Benz.  I like one-eye stories and folks whose names end in "Z", so even though I haven't read the book, I can speculate.(Eye joke!)

Specs:  The image is squarish - or so the thumbnail indicates.  Someone is standing in front of a shooting range.  They appear to have a shot out, or, at least, a very dark eye.  He or she is holding an urn.  Draw conclusions. 

Facts:  The flower on the urn is a stinking corpse flower!  It grows the largest individual bloom in the world, larger than 3 children, and smells like a rotting body!  The shape of the shot-out eye person is similar to the target silhouettes.  The shot out eye and the stinking corpse flowers shapes are also similar. Alice Walker, who I used as my hair model for this piece,  is a one-eyed wonder.  This comparing and contrasting of shapes and relationships is also a strategy for making strong or stronger concepts (see concept vs. idea) and visual communication.  

Fun things:  Give the AD something to worry about so they don’t harp about your drawing skills or lackadaisical visual strategizing:  Why does he/she wear a Frenchy-like striped shirt?  What does that have to do with anything?  What is the subject a he or a she?  Are all shooting ranges found in the desert?