Apart from the fact that green bell peppers are sometimes considered “unripe” bell peppers, the difference between red, green, yellow, even purple bell peppers seems to be primarily aesthetic. It is a difference that is markedly surface level yet at once a deciding factor in their usage, and possibly a psychological factor affecting the way our taste buds perceive them, yet unlike the difference between red, green and yellow chillies (if you’ve ever mistaken a yellow chilli or a small red one for a large green one then you would definitely know what I’m talking about) there is nothing fundamentally dramatic about the distinction in their tastes.
I feel like I am the reverse of the multicolored bell pepper concept - whilst I look similar to the kids who have grown up in America and certainly have been told that I have an American accent and sound like I’ve been a longtime participant of American culture, I feel fundamentally foreign. There is sometimes a sensationalist satisfaction with meeting new people here and observing their reaction when I say “I’m from Thailand”, but less fun is the culture shock of actually being from Thailand and adjusting to a world where expectations of what constitutes “fun” in an American residential college are so different. The rumoured party culture has become reality, and every single movie stereotype has been fulfilled despite what others have said to the contrary, and I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer sensory overload of it all.
What I need to become is a bell pepper - a transferrable taste across tongues, adapting to the situation despite awkward differences that sometimes seem insurmountable. It’s a work in progress, but also an act of neccessity.
It’s All Connected, Man: The Drawing Room: Studies in Repetition at Voltage Coffee & Art
Cambridge artist Amanda Laurel Atkins is the latest young up-and-comer whose work makes up the “Art” in Voltage Coffee and Art. Last night I, and thirty or so other other admirers, attended the Kendall Square coffee shop’s opening reception for Amanda’s work. Whimsical and inspiring, The Drawing Room: Studies in Repetition seemed the perfect collection to welcome spring in Boston. Taking the same approach to art that I do to food, I acknowledge I am no critic yet I know what I like. Amanda’s work felt familiar but also empowering. Like Voltage’s signature exotic lattes, while one element stayed constant the accents changed: a mod black and white backdrop behind a strawberry blonde in a chartreuse dress in one piece become a raven haired, tattooed circus beauty in the next. Each piece encapsulated a different experience, personality, or dream- some I immediately identified with while others made me want to be the that kind of gal. Not so different from the Kitsch and The Catcus or Devil May Care lattes and just as delightful.
Running with the theme of community and collaboration, High & Mighty Beer Company sponsored the show (as well as the last one and the next!). Their Don Cornelius brew, a brown ale made with Barrington Coffee (a staple of Voltage’s coffee program) and aged in Buffalo Trace whiskey barrels, was on hand alongside Voltage owner Lucy Valena’s house made raspberry champagne punch. These events have “room to grow” says barista Zoë. “We’d love to partner with a bakery,” she adds.
Curator Anna Schindelar hints there are “a few really exciting shows coming up” (one may or may not feature laser cutting, we’re not telling) and encourages new artists to tosubmit their work.She looks for artists that are “early career and trying to break in to the art scene” and describes Voltage as “a middle ground, somewhere between galleries and student art shows.” With the work so reasonably priced (some of Amanda’s prints are selling for $50) it’s also an opportunity to collect affordable work and get to know the artist herself.
Coffee, art, the occasional free beer or cup of punch, and an awesome community- what more could you want?
Voltage is located at 295 3rd Street in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA. Check out their website or Twitter for information on upcoming shows