In a rather short period of time, Jordan Casteel has become one of the most interesting painters of her generation, working predominantly in the medium of portraiture. Casteel’s subjects are people of color — neighbors in Harlem, where she lives, or her students at Rutgers University, Newark, where she teaches — and they are rendered with a kind of beautiful vulnerability that is both honest and rare. Her work, which is now on view at the New Museum, Casteel’s first solo museum exhibition in New York, is something like the vibrancy of Matisse filtered through the intensity of Alice Neel. Her 2013-14 series of nudes of young black men, called “Visible Man,” is especially striking, with its use of greens, pinks, oranges and reds, all in the service of expanding upon a painterly definition of blackness. “I’m going to paint black men as I see and know them,” she recently told The Times about her artistic intention. “I wanted to get other people to see them in their humanity.” “Jordan Casteel: Within Reach,” is open through May 24 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, newmuseum.org. And for more, watch Casteel discuss her favorite artwork and the affinity she feels for its creator.
In Maine, a Cozy New Restaurant With a Haunted Past
Greg Mitchell is best known as the co-owner of the retro Palace Diner in Biddeford, Maine. But last year, the proprietor launched his first solo act, Flood’s, in Portland. The restaurant is attached to the city’s Francis hotel, a 19th-century mansion by the architect Francis Fassett — who designed many Portland buildings after the area’s great fire of 1886 — that has also served as a funeral parlor. When it came to design, Mitchell mixed contemporary elements with nostalgic ones that pay homage to the building’s past: Alongside a still-life photograph by his wife, Meg Mitchell, of knafeh (a Palestinian dessert) are old maritime paintings, found family snapshots and other flea-market knickknacks that take on a new mythology in the tavern-style space. Like Palace, Flood’s offers creative comfort food like juicy burgers and pancetta toast with apple butter, as well as a laid-back environment personified by several unofficial and irreverent mascots from the minds of the Atlanta-based design and consulting group Office of Brothers, Inc., such as a beanie-wearing, cigarette-smoking fish. “I’m not in the business of challenging people with my space or my food,” Mitchell told me. Rather, Flood’s is about feeling like you’re a regular. floodsme.com.
Though I can’t speak to the fit, I can still remember the first white button-down I purchased (on sale at the mall) with my own money and the feeling that it would add a great deal of sophistication to my sixth-grade aesthetic. Pierpaolo Piccioli’s use of crisp shirting is, it turns out, even more elevated: The Valentino creative director has included various nods to the classic white shirt in his last few couture collections. Now, thanks to the fashion house’s Le Blanc pop-up, debuting at its New York flagship next week (before making stops in Los Angeles and Dallas), mere mortals can get a taste of the bespoke experience. Shoppers will choose between two basic shirt styles in white poplin, one longish and one cropped, and then work with a seamstress to customize the piece as they please, which might mean adding a bib, ruffles, floral embroidery, a feather detail or white-on-white monogramming. The idea, as Piccioli often says, is to bring couture to the streets. Through Feb. 28, 693 Fifth Avenue, valentino.com.
A Sustainably Designed Hotel Over the Kalahari Desert
Habitas, the experience-led members club and eco-hospitality group, recently closed its clubhouses in New York and Los Angeles to focus on building hotels for its community of wanderlusting millennials. The brand’s two-year-old flagship sits on a beach in Tulum, Mexico, and, while other locations are planned for San Miguel de Allende and Todos Santos, its first outpost opened earlier this month in Namibia. A 45-minute drive from Hosea Kutako International Airport, the brand’s take on a safari lodge has 15 sustainably designed suites — each a modular, 3-D-printed mini-lodge filled with custom furnishings and local crafts — and a private villa that sleeps 10. It all sits on a hilltop that overlooks the Kalahari Desert savanna, some 119,000 acres of which Habitas is recultivating as a wildlife reserve. Guests can explore by Land Cruiser, electric mountain bike or on foot with San tribesmen as their guides. They might also help an anti-poaching unit track cheetahs and rhinos, forage indigenous plants for spa treatments and medicinal workshops or go for an outdoor sound bath before heading back for a communal “bush braai” dinner and a drum circle (or DJ set) under the stars. habitasnamibia.com.
The beauty industry is becoming more attuned to the unnecessary waste produced by packaging, and one of its latest eco-friendly measures is concentrating soaps and dental care in dissolvable tablets — which also saves cabinet space. “Many conventional formulas are over 90 percent water and come in bulky, single-use plastic bottles, so consumers are often paying for a new plastic bottle and water, which they already have at home,” explained Sarah Paiji Yoo, the co-founder and C.E.O. of the environmentally minded start-up Blueland, which makes several such tablets, including one for a foaming hand soap. There’s also the New York-based personal-care brand By Humankind, which has created a pill-size, alcohol-free mouthwash that, as of next week, comes in candy-colored ginger, mint-lemon and peppermint. The California-based dental-care brand Weldental, meanwhile, offers a gentle toothpaste tab containing Xylitol, a natural sweetener that helps prevent tooth decay, that activates into a paste upon chewing. Aside from the environmental benefits, watching these compact items fizz into full-fledged products will add a bit of excitement to your daily routine.
From T’s Instagram