How Caroline Z. Hurley Throws a Dinner Party
Feel free to single white female her hosting style.
Not only does the girl make downright amazing scarves, jewelry, and paintings, but Caroline Z. Hurley also throws a hell of a party—and in a tiny Manhattan studio no less. Here she gives us some advice on how to entertain, her way. —raquel laneri
“I really love simple recipes—not only do they taste the best, but if the food is simple, I can enjoy my guests rather than stress over the cooking. I’ve done Mexican and Moroccan food, but I’m Italian, so I’m really good at pasta. This is by far my favorite recipe for dinner parties—t’s a modified version of a pasta dish my mom made growing up. You can use any type of pasta—orecchiette, rigatoni, fusilli, whatever your heart desires. I buy mine from the Italian store at Chelsea Market in Manhattan.”
Caroline’s Kale and Tomato Pasta
1 pound of pasta (whatever you like!)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 bunches kale, roughly chopped
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and grated parmesan cheese to taste
Boil water and a teaspoon of salt for the pasta. While you’re waiting to add the pasta, heat a large sauté pan with the olive oil and add the garlic. Turn heat to low so that the garlic does not burn. Stir in a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, black pepper, and cayenne pepper; the mixture should have a reddish tint to it. Throw the tomatoes and kale into the sauté pan and cover with a lid or aluminum foil so that the kale begins to cook. Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top and stir well again. Let cook until kale is soft. Drain cooked pasta and mix into kale mixture. Serve hot with cracked pepper and more parmesan cheese.
Setting the table…
“I sort of like to follow the theme of whatever food I am cooking. So, for example, for the rustic Italian meal I had I did a farm table with no tablecloth. I used jam jars – I save all my old jam jars to use for mixing paint and for around the house – as cups, and I used old scraps of my fabric for napkins. I bought the flowers I used at the local deli, and I mixed and matched them in different jars when I get home. I hardly ever buy things specifically for a dinner party. I try to use what I have. So for example, when I had a Mexican dinner party, I used tissue paper I had gotten during a two-month stay in San Miguel. If you don’t have Mexican tissue paper, you can just buy regular colored tissue paper and cut it like you would a snowflake. I like to pick up little things when traveling, or at flea markets; the stuff you find is so much cheaper and more interesting and each item has a story behind it.”
…And setting the mood.
“I love music. I’ve really been into Tune-Yards, First Aid Kit, and Yellowbirds this summer. But for dinner parties, sometimes I use Pandora and Spotify to help go along with the theme. I will program Buena Vista Social Club for Mexican parties, and for the Moroccan-food party, I found this weird Pandora station that played Moroccan instrumental guitar music!”
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Dive Into Caroline Z. Hurley’s Amazing Paintings
The artist-turned-designer talks us through four stellar works.
“I feel like I was throwing paint around out of the womb,” Caroline Z. Hurley jokes. Once she grew up a little, she studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and started exhibiting her work all over—New York City, Los Angeles, Rome, Memphis, you name it. Here, Caroline, who now has a namesake line of jewelry and textiles as well, tells about some of her key paintings. —raquel laneri
Pile of Laundry (2004)
“I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college, and I got really inspired by the clotheslines there. You would see these really personal things, like oversized bras and boxers and really small Speedos for men, and it was just so bold—right in the main square! I did this painting directly after Rome. I set up in my studio in Providence, Rhode Island, with piles of clothing, photos I had taken, and images from magazines or books, so my studio was covered with inspiration, which is the way I like to work best. My work is all about colors, and the colors are the ones I kept seeing in Rome. For example, those three blue streaks at the bottom were part of this sweater I wore there almost every day. That was the year I finally figured out what I wanted to paint. After I came back from Rome, it was like ‘OK. I get it.’”
“This painting has transformed so many different times. I keep paintings around and work on them until I feel like they’re done, and this one had been around for like a year. I would just add small things at a time. Then one day I was looking at this magazine about Rio de Janeiro, and all of a sudden I started putting all these pictures of Rio up in my studio. I’ve never been there, but I did a sort of aerial view of what I thought the coast of Rio would look like, with the flashy bikinis and the beachy colors.”
Thank You, Virgin America (2010)
“It was 2010, and I was living in Los Angeles. I had this huge aircraft hanger I used as a studio, and it was so awesome because I could really just let loose and do these huge paintings and be messy. But there was a point where I felt kind of stuck—it was like I had writer’s block but for painting. So I took a trip to New York, and on the way back home, I was walking down the aisle of the plane and every pattern I saw was just popping out at me. It was like this video of awesome shirts and weird patterns, and if you blurred your eyes it kind of looked like a painting. So I sat in my seat, and the whole six-hour ride I was drawing things around me. I had all these sketches to put up in my studio when I got home. I had been so fed up with everything I was doing before then, and this was the painting that refueled my love of painting.”
The Beach (2009)
“I usually do abstract paintings, but with this painting, I was living in New York and really missing the beach. I was looking at this picture of a beach in L.A., and I was like ‘God, I just need to get this out,’ and I did this painting in 10 minutes. I was thrilled by how quickly and easily it came out, and it led to this yearlong series of beaches. I can remember the feeling I had when I was painting this—a little frustrated but also excited by these little patterns and textures—and the feeling is conveyed in the painting.”