An open-air, tianguis inspired restaurant

Jessica Evans has spent months pouring her blood, sweat and tears into transforming a downtown Albany, NY space into an urban Mexican haunt.   ama cocina, translated from Spanish as “she loves cooking” is Evans’ brainchild. Drawing inspiration from the tianguis [open-air pop up food truck & wares markets] of Mexico, the restaurant envelops a modern Mexican street food concept. With music pouring out onto the sidewalk from the open garage style doors, the giant portrait of Frida Kahlo greeting you as you walk in, and the hand-painted Mexican tile beneath your feet, you feel like you’re stepping out of the Mercado de San Juan and stopping for a moment to enjoy some food and a drink with friends.


The materials and finishes, created by at least ten local artisans and artists, offer the space a welcome mix of texture and contrast. During the renovation Evans not only collaborated with the construction team, but often picked up a sledgehammer or metal sander herself to get the job done right.



Thoughtful and subtle details, like the salvaged oil lamp light pendants, and the shapes of street signs built into the bar back are what give this space its inviting and warm energy.

Reclaimed pallet sliding doors closes off a meeting space, and hand-painted geometric concrete tiles spill into the wood floor.

A local graffiti artist adds colorful sugar skulls on the bathroom walls.


All in all, the ama cocina is the place to be for a high energy atmosphere and gourmet street food.

bus window




The Five Barns Farm houses a family of artists

Walking in to this charming colonial style farmhouse in rural upstate NY, I am immediately greeted by the dog of the house, “Splash”, and get the feeling that this was the house of a magical childhood. The kind of childhood where you giggled with your friends under the dining room table, ran through the backyard at dusk collecting fireflies, and sat at the kitchen island daydreaming as the sun cast rays of light through the blue glass collection lined up on the window sills.






The 2,500SF home is a blend of two old farmhouses built in 1850 and 1750, joined together over a hundred years ago. With five bedrooms and four bathrooms the house could have fit the Brady bunch, but instead the Mincher family, a family of three, has called it home for the past twenty-two years. Susan Mincher and daughter Chloe’s artwork decorates the walls and the mantels of the estate, which befittingly houses an artist studio on the top floor. Rick Mincher, a spoken word artist, showcases his creativity throughout the house with a multitude of renovation and remodeling work. “He is a very handy man,” Susan states as she gives me a tour.




The large home is full of surprises that intrigue your imagination, like the secret passageway through the studio that winds through a closet and lands you in the master bedroom, or a hidden doorway behind a bookshelf that keeps an entire bedroom hidden from view.


{hidden doorway & secret passage)


daughters room

guest bed

Stepping softly over wide plank wooden floors, covered by a collection of oriental rugs, Susan’s paintings inviting you to stories from other parts of the world, enticing you to kick off your shoes and perch up in the screened-in porch with a copy of Pride and Prejudice.



screened porch






I remember the first time I saw this photograph, for which I discovered via the always inspiring TheBlackWorkshop tumblr account. It was one of those rare, game-changing moments, where a concept I thought I knew, hit me over the head in a new and fantastic way. Oprah would call this an AH-HA” moment. And Doris Lessing would say it’s learning “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” I call it an epiphany.

The concept of “projection” has been one that was first brought to my attention when I started to take a look at how my emotions were affecting my behavior, and how I might gain some manageability by taking responsibility for them. My mentors would constantly point to me and say, “you’re projecting”; which I understood to mean that I was imagining a future outcome without weighing out all the alternatives. This was a great awareness that helped me in moments were I felt the familiar signs of anxiety start to take hold. I would think to myself “you’re projecting, things could go well just as easily, now make the doctor’s appointment, job interview, etc”. I practiced this for years before I saw this image.

However- my idea of projection changed upon seeing this image of light cast through stained glass, creating an abstraction of the existing element, onto the surfaces adjoining the element. And suddenly, I understood the ways in which I was propagating my own misery by viewing the many situations and relationships in my life through a set of lenses that abstracted my perception of what was real.  I suddenly realized that I was making assumptions about how people were feeling, based on how I was feeling.  Simply, I had imagined many of the tense or awkward dynamics that I felt were true among the people who touched my life.  I especially did this with pain.  I frequently found myself assuming people were in pain, when in actuality it was my own that I was projecting.

From design blog, who wrote a great review of this work by Armin Blasbichler Studio.

Now I am able to better understand that each person’s perception of a particular experience will have been molded by all other experiences leading up to that point.  I am able to ask people how they are perceiving an experience, and listen.  This gives me the opportunity to build compassion, for once I saw the ways my own experiences shaped my outlook, I was able to see how others could have arrived at theirs.  And today I can find some peace in the differences.

Like many of these epiphanies, they are big in the moment and often lost soon after their inception.  However, this realization possesses even more depth by the permanent association I will forever have binding this emotional sentiment to the architectural element of stained glass.  I am also fond of and intrigued by the purposeful use of shadow. These elements are used beautifully by Armin Blasbichler Studio, who is responsible for the door shown at the top.  The fascination I have lies in the ability to create a separate characteristic within a space with the addition of a light source.  Where, there was one element, there now are two.  And the displacement of the original creates a dimension that can create a feeling of the space, a feeling that can be thoughtfully manipulated; that is truly magnificent.

L.J. for StudioE-IQ