AUGUST 2012 - The General Aesthete

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Solid Perfume by Mox Botanicals

The solid perfumes by Mox Botanicals, a Portland, Oregon-based maker of natural grooming products, are made with essential oils and absolutes from both the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Suspended in a base of organic jojoba oil, fractionated coconut oil, Oregon beeswax, and Vitamin E, the wax-like perfume is a quiet alternative to alcohol-based fragrance.

With just three scents, the company has concentrated on quality and unique formulations. Mox describes their fragrances in the most minimal of terms, but the perfume reads as much more niche, and frankly, expensive smelling than the simple notes specified. For instance, Actium, my favorite, and the most male-friendly (though one should not subscribe to the obsolete masculine/feminine rules of perfumery), is listed as containing oakmoss, sandalwood, and neroli; those notes can be detected, but in unison, Actium reads as almost avant-garde in composition, with a balanced accord that suggests motor oil or mechanic’s grease (in only the best way, of course); the scent stays close to the skin, and has no burn of alcohol. Their other fragrances, Arsinoe and Asp, venture in the direction of floral, both with a true sandalwood tone, but not excessively “natural” smelling.

Packaged in recyclable Miron glass, Mox’s perfumes are paraben, sulfate, chemical preservative, and synthetic free. On top of that, the product is priced fairly, and you can be confident you are wearing something unique and sophisticated, but also handcrafted and natural.

Available online at Mox Botanicals, or Woodley and Bunny in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, $44

Plant Drawings by Ellsworth Kelly

The Metropolitan Museum of Art first displayed a selection of Ellsworth Kelly’s plant drawings in 1969, as part of the historic exhibition New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970; though separated from other Kelly works, this was the first time the drawings had been shown. The museum recently reintroduced the collection, along with newer work, as the nearly eighty piece exhibition Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings.

As Kelly’s work is most easily recognized as bold and of the abstract “hard-edge” style, there is a certain gracefulness and insight to the artist’s mind that these drawings embody. Kelly suggests depth and dimension by way of overlapping strokes, while avoiding the superfluous. From clean, unbroken pencil lines, to strong black strokes, and even some nuanced color, there is variety in technique, but the work is decidedly minimal, a direct portrait of each plant drawn.

A nature lover, Kelly started making his plant drawings in the late 1940s, and today, at 89, is still producing them; he makes clear that this catalogue is not to be approached as an encyclopedic volume of plant varieties, but as individual plants captured in time, lending a personal story to each.

Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art through September 3, 2012. Schirmer Mosel has published an accompanying catalogue in the format of a coffee table art book, $95.

Above: “Sunflower,” 1957; “Briar,” 1961