Chantal Joffe Paints Moments of Motherhood and Grief

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Based in Tucson, Ariz., the boutique Desert Vintage has specialized in rare designer clothing since Salima Boufelfel and Roberto Cowan took it over in 2012. Many of their offerings — a century-old Fortuny evening robe or an Azzedine Alaïa suede wraparound top, for example — “can be a bit demanding to wear,” says Boufelfel. So when she landed in New York to open their Orchard Street outpost in 2022, she set out to complement their period pieces with her own designs. The collection, which is named Ténéré (“desert” in Tuareg) in a nod to both Boufelfel’s Arizona origins and Berber heritage, is meant to be worn across seasons and settings: There are airy crinkled chiffon dresses, sleeveless caftans stitched with antique African trade beads and double-pleated Italian-linen trousers. The silk lounge sets — available in a range of sandy shades, as well as a poppy red — are modeled after Desert Vintage’s best-selling 1920s loungewear ensembles, which, Boufelfel notes, “always fly out the door and look amazing on everyone.” From $598, ténéré.com.


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For the British painter Chantal Joffe, “art is a way of understanding life.” So when she experienced the loss of her parents and brother-in-law around the same time that her daughter left for college, it became a way of processing their absence. In her new exhibition, “My Dearest Dust,” currently on view at Skarstedt Gallery on New York’s Upper East Side, Joffe explores themes of motherhood and grief, capturing the bittersweet intimacies of daily life with vivid hues of yellow and green. Her self-portraits depict moments of private sorrow — the artist bathing, lying in bed or walking the dog — interspersed with domestic scenes and paintings of her daughter, Esme, whose childhood Joffe previously documented in her work. “Painting is a very visceral thing,” says Joffe. “And in the end, it isn’t a picture at all. It’s an experience.” “My Dearest Dust” is on view at New York’s Skarstedt Gallery through June 15, skarstedt.com.


When Casey Axelrod-Welk moved from New York, where he held clinical positions at Weill Cornell Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital, to Los Angeles in 2018, the nurse practitioner traded internal medicine for dermal fillers and skin-correcting lasers. “I guess you could say L.A. changed me,” he jokes. In December, Casey and his husband and business partner, Nick Axelrod-Welk, who co-founded the website Into the Gloss and the brand Nécessaire, opened Contrapposto, a cosmetic dermatology clinic in West Hollywood. Inside a 1937 John Elgin Woolf-designed building, the original moldings and 14-foot ceilings are offset by custom stainless-steel cabinetry. An array of antique accents — including 1930s Swedish Art Deco hand mirrors, William Spratling sterling silver Nautilus bowls and a Pierre Jeanneret chair in the main treatment room — were selected by the interior decorator Courtney Applebaum, who has previously helped Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen design the Row’s Melrose Place boutique. The carefully crafted setting reflects Casey’s own subtle approach to cosmetic procedures, which emphasizes natural movement. “I believe in getting the most optimal outcome,” he says, “by being judicious and going slowly.” contrapposto.com.


Eat Here

On Rue Saint-Roch Street in the heart of Paris’s First Arrondissement, not far from Palais Royale, is the latest spot from the chef Pierre Touitou. In 2016 Touitou ran the wine bar Déviant, and in 2018 followed it with Vivant 2, where he fused his fine-dining training (with Alain Ducasse at Hôtel Plaza Athénée) and wine bar experience (at Aux Deux Amis) to create two restaurants that quickly gained followings among the fashion week crowd and stylish locals alike. He’s since spent time at Drum Café in Arles, a restaurant at the LUMA Foundation that hosts visiting chefs from around the world, and traveled extensively in Japan. These experiences are reflected in 19 Saint Roch, his first solo project, which opened at the end of March. Touitou designed the 40-seat space himself, giving it the feel of an American diner meets sushi counter with tiled floors, chrome-and-leather retro bar seating and a fresh fish window. The menu combines French and Mediterranean influences with notes of Japanese cuisine in dishes like oysters topped with salmon roe and yuzu kosho; white asparagus with nori, capers and crème fraîche; and pan seared turbot with saffron-seasoned turnips. The predominantly natural wine list leans French with Jura whites and pét-nats from the Loire Valley. 19saint-roch.com.


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“Oh, my heart, don’t ask where is the love; it was a monument of illusions, so it collapsed,” the Egyptian musician Umm Kulthum sings in her 1966 lovelorn anthem “Al-Atlal (The Ruins).” The lyrics, which were based on a poem by Ibrahim Nagi, now frame a mosaic work in Jordan Nassar’s exhibition “Surge,” opening on May 18 at Anat Ebgi gallery in Los Angeles. The 60 by 96-inch piece, titled after the song, is made up of glass tiles on foam board. In the middle, a grid of six square images show animals, including a swan and a dog, hovering above a nocturnal mountainous landscape or a mosque. The composition was inspired by a Byzantine floor mosaic discovered by a farmer in 2022 in the Gaza Strip. “There is a very high chance that the mosaic is now completely destroyed — it’d be a miracle if it’s still there,” Nassar says.

Born in New York to a Palestinian father and Polish mother, Nassar’s art has long been centered on his Middle Eastern heritage. He typically creates wall works with embroidered cotton — traditionally called tatreez — through collaborations with craftswomen in Palestine. Mosaic making is a new medium for Nassar: “Tiles shouted at me because the patterns are built just like how each stitch operates in an embroidery,” he says. The artist first experimented with glass chips during a four-month residency at Hawaii’s Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design in 2022. The resulting landscape work, titled “Lē‘ahi” (2022), now sits in the Honolulu museum’s permanent collection. On display in Los Angeles is another landscape, “Mudun Falastin (Palestinian Cities)” (2024): a peaceful mountain view of an unspecified place is outlined by floral patterns and the Arabic names of 22 current or historic Palestinian cities, such as Jaffa, Jerusalem, Gaza and Nablus. Nassar found the motif on an embroidered tote bag that he bought at a U.N.-operated women’s training center within a refugee camp in Ramallah in 2017. “I’m imbuing [these pieces] with emotions that hopefully find the viewer, even if they don’t understand what the words say,” Nassar says. “Jordan Nassar: Surge” will be on view from May 18 through July 20, anatebgi.com.


Watch This

Over 11 days in July, San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery will host its first film festival. It’s scheduled to take place at the Mission’s Roxie Cinema, which has been showing films for more than 100 years without interruption. The program includes 10 double features each night selected by artists that the gallery represents, including Lee Friedlander, Sophie Calle, Carrie Mae Weems and Nan Goldin. “Artists flow between media in very different ways from when the gallery opened 45 years ago,” says its founder, Jeffrey Fraenkel. “All of these artists learned a great deal from film.” Each contributor’s choices hint at aesthetic touchstones in their work. The Swiss video artist and composer Christian Marclay selected Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt” and Michaelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow-Up,” which Marclay describes as “a film about looking … a film about films.” Marclay has a longstanding fascination with “Blow-Up,” having screened the film with the soundtrack to Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out” for his 1998 conceptual piece “Up and Out.” Hiroshi Sugimoto, the Japanese photographer and founder of the New Material Research Laboratory architectural firm in Tokyo, whose works explore the passage of time across a range of media, selected Masaki Kobayashi’s “Kwaidan” (1964) and Akio Jissoji’s “This Transient Life” (1970). “Both films are about a 1960s modern Japan that rapidly destroyed tradition,” says Sugimoto. “And that was where I grew up. It made my complex artist spirit.”

Accompanying the festival is a new exhibit, Fraenkenstein, with works by over 20 artists delving into the legacy and eternal return of Mary Shelley’s 1818 Gothic novel. Photographs by Diane Arbus, John Waters and Koto Ezawa, among others, will haunt the gallery walls from May 30 to August 10. The Fraenkel Film Festival will take place from July 9 through July 20; all proceeds go to the Roxie Cinema, roxie.com.


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