The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 5 November 2016

Image: David Jensen/PA

Keys’ issues

We’re living at a time when important black artists are expected to release records that say and mean something above and beyond the standard lyrical fare. Alicia Keys’ sixth album Here comes in the wake of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered and Kanye West’s Life of Pablo, all albums with hearts on their sleeves and issues upfront. Fortunately, Keys is on the form of her life and answers on her own terms. Here is witty and joyous (“Blended Family (What You Do For Love)”), political (“The Gospel”) and powerful (“Illusion of Bliss”). Who’d have thought Keys would cut her best record at the end of 2016? But here it is: across soul, blues, R’n’B and hip-hop, Here is as effortless as the voice behind it.

Image: Artissima

Art of travel

It’s not too late to drop in to this year’s edition of Artissima at Turin’s Oval, Italy’s most important contemporary-art fair. Since 1994 the international fair has been an annual fixture of the capital of Piedmont, this year hosting about 200 galleries, from London’s Repetto to Tokyo’s Tomio Koyama, with more than 2,000 works of art on display. One of 2016’s highlights is Berlin pop-art talent Thomas Bayrle’s (pictured) “Flying Home” installation in the baggage-claim hall at Turin airport. Curated by Sarah Cosulich, the artist’s sequence of images on silk screen depicts the same aircraft he created for Lufthansa in 1980, inspired by the technology and speed of flight. The project neatly connects the art fair and its venue – a glass pavilion constructed for the 2006 Winter Olympics – with the life of the city as whole.

Image: Darron Cummings/PA

Northern lights

While quality of life surveys tend to focus on major centres, a recent study from financial company WalletHub aims a little smaller. The firm has conducted a survey in the US of the best cities and towns with populations ranging from 25,000 to 100,000. Taking into account everything from the home-ownership rate and coffee shops per capita to crime levels and percentage of residents with a high-school diploma, it found that most of the country’s best small cities hug the Canadian border, located in the US’s northern-most states such as Minnesota, Iowa, Maine and Vermont. At the top was the sleepy 19th-century town of Westfield, Indiana.

Image: Expovina

Winter cheer

Unless you’re a skier, winter might not seem like the ideal season to enjoy Zürich’s outdoor offerings but the city is worth a visit for its annual wine-tasting festival, the Expovina, on now. The action takes place on board boats anchored at Bürkliplatz on the stunning Lake Zürich so wrap up in a cosy cashmere scarf and indulge in some of the 4,000 or so wines from 22 countries and five continents that will be on offer until 17 November. In between sips of wine and the stunning views, visitors can partake in culinary offerings from three restaurants cooking cheese fondue and raclette, Swiss meats and fish, as well as Italian dishes. That, and a couple of glasses of red, should be all you need to stay warm.

From Monocle 24

Image: Evdropkick

A guided tour of Los Angeles

We explore the great city of Los Angeles old and new with the production designer of Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, Shane Valentino. Plus: a walking tour past the houses of Hollywood Hills and revisiting a classic Hollywood nightspot, the Cocoanut Grove.

From Monocle Films

Blooms or bust

Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market might be a must-see for tourists but the Japanese capital’s flower market is also that rare thing – a place of beauty and big business.

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