Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two (messy) Thumbs Up

Great, great coverage.  Almost no odor (which is a little sad, actually, as I love the smell of paint.)  Blandings Seal of Approval.

Bread or Basalt?

Remember that little Wedgwood bowl I stumbled upon at the River Market Antique Mall?

I thought it might be a good way to start a collection.  

Then, while hunting and gathering last week I popped in to see Don Fields and Rick Bumgardner at Morning Glory Antiques.

You know how collectors are.  They troll and search and bargain and buy and then, well, then the thrill is somehow gone.  

And one is simply left with dozens and dozens of pieces of amazing Wedgwood.

I haven't touched base with Rick as they are just getting ready to unveil a new shipment, but a little bird told me that this is his collection spilling from shelves and tabletops in the shop.

It's tempting isn't it?

To build a collection in one fell swoop.

The basalt - the all black pieces? "Wrap it up!"  Oh, don't I wish.

I'm restraining myself.  Like Meg, I'm focusing on the essentials.

Stick around.

You know me.

This just might be essential.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


When I posted Dee Dee Arnold's apartment recently a few folks asked if I could get my mitts on any more images of George Terbovich's work.  Unlikely, I thought, until my editor from Spaces reminded me that they had run another of George's projects in their June/July 2006 issue.

A little surreal, isn't it?  I know, I've been off for a few days and you are thinking that I am a bit confused, but no.  Same George.

And the thing is, neither of these homes typifies his look.  I've seen three others besides these two that Spaces has published and they are completely distinct.

There are some similarities.  An intense focus on detail.  A commitment to wait for the right piece.  Truly, perfect pitch.  Each time.

There is the unobtrusive mix of old and new.  

A dedication to revealing the voice of the owner, not the decorator.

OK, I'm gushing.

I see these images and wonder what George would think of my jumble of color and hand-me-downs and nonsense.

I do know he wouldn't come in and wave his arm and say, "White!  It needs to be all white!" Because that isn't me and he isn't interested in inflicting his taste on anyone.

But we should be so lucky.

All photos courtesy of Spaces; photography by Landon Collis.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bead of My Heart

T.S. Eliot had it all wrong.  February is the cruelest month by far.  Even with our occasional glimpses of the sun, the winter has not kept me warm, though I am hopeful for the lilacs.  I'm weary of the cold and gray.

Casting about for inspiration and distraction, I enjoyed Town & Country's profile of Diane von Furstenberg.  It reminded me of the House & Garden feature of her Paris apartment in September of '05.  (Yes, that is the kind of nonsense I retain, while I had to remind myself that Eliot deemed April the cruelest month.  April, even in the waste land of the modern world, is a piece of cake compared to February.)
von Furstenberg's apartment is that tireless and timeless mix of old and new and this and that.  Oh, and the Warhol, of course.  But when I looked it up, what I couldn't resist was the African beaded chairs.

Right?  Then, on the hunt for something else, I ran across the image of Charlene de Ganay's vacation home, second from top, which features a beaded chair as well.  

This is just the kind of folly that would lift my spirits.  Imagine how much fun those boys would have pick, pick, picking until the cascade began.  I cannot begin to imagine if these are comfortable or not, though if I were a guest of von Furstenberg or Ganay I am pretty sure I would neither notice nor care.
Several beaded chairs, stools and tables can be found at 1st dibs and other spots on-line.  In addition, Christopher Filley sometimes has a piece of beaded cloth or such that holds the same graphic appeal.

Looking over the budget it appears that Mr. Blandings has left off the "African Beaded Chair" line item, so perhaps I will make my way back to the Nelson to enjoy the African beaded throne that sits just outside the Homer Page exhibit.  Where I will stand tapping my beaded slipper, impatiently waiting for Spring.

Image, top, photography by Francois Halard, next, Ganay's home, Elle Decor, October 2007, photography by Simon Upton, chairs and stool, 1st dibs, image, last, courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Homer Page at the Nelson

Friday found me with just the right size window of time - too small to go home and work and too large to go early and wait until the boys were released from school - so I headed to the Nelson-Atkins to see the new photography exhibit. My father was a television news photographer and while he captured his subjects moving and not still, it has always increased my interest in photography. I'm intrigued by the way the photographer sees the intensity of the image but remains detached.

Homer Page was born in Oakland, California and studied art and social psychology (ok, really, think about that for a minute) at the University of California from 1936 - 1940. His neighbor and mentor, Dorothea Lange, encouraged him to take up photography in 1944. By '47 he was featured in a major show at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Page received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1949 and he took the opportunity to document his interest in modern culture primarily by photographing people on the streets of New York City. He was easy and sly in his craft. Mostly his subjects seem unaware of his presence, but the tension of the '40's is clearly visible.

The fellowship allowed Page to focus on his photography for a year. While he was widely recognized for this work, he transitioned into a professional career as a magazine photographer. Few of his photographs were in private hands and his work was largely forgotten by the time of his death in 1985.

It's engaging to see the romantic, formal styles of the 40's off the movie screen and on the street.  Intriguing as well to study Page's interest in popular culture and commerce on the era.  One photo is of a wall of tawdry, paperback novels.  Some thought the paperback book the death knell of serious literature.  If you look closely at the dozens and dozens of titles you will find a copy of Eric Hodgins's Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

The exhibit runs through June 7th. The Museum has planned several programs around the exhibit; check the site here.

"We are not sure of war or peace, prosperity or recession; not sure what balance to strike between our freedom and our security, either as a nation or as individuals.  The fundamental issues are clouded and almost certainly in transition.  This makes any attempt to record conditions extremely difficult." - Homer Page

Images courtesy of the Nelson.

Friday, February 13, 2009

To Twee or Not to Twee

I just read a friend's blog post describing her back and forth with Valentine's Day.  Commercial, jaded and grown-up v. romantic, inspired and whimsical.  Most of us experience a little of both.  I love having fresh flowers in the house but flinch when presented with a florist's bouquet on Valentine's Day as I know the cost, while equal to the sentiment, was inflated.  Especially with roses.  So, while my male readers may be small in number, I offer some advice.

Choose another flower, one that can be purchased reasonably, sometimes at the market, and make your words your gift.  It is often tricky to say something sappy aloud, especially if your relationship has progressed pass the first bloom.  It is much easier to write.  

Tell her she is as feminine and complex as French anemones. (Let me stress complex. Don't get muddled and say complicated as this will surely start a row.)

Tell her your heart bursts with the joy of lilies each time she enters a room.

Tell her she is as elegant and fresh as the day you married her with an all-white bouquet as a reminder of her bridal gown whether you saw it sixteen years ago or sixteen months ago. 

Tell her the bend in the stem of the tulip reminds you of the curve of her neck as she leans over the crib.

Or take her a fistful of color wrapped in ribbon and tell her how happy you are that you are bound together.  The flowers will enchant her in the short term; the note, which surely if she is a woman worth having, she will keep forever.  And every time she finds it tucked in a drawer she will feel the blush of this Valentine's Day all over again.

You might even get lucky.

Images from top: roses, unknown, but I think House Beautiful, French anemones - which are not inexpensive, I don't think, but beyond beyond- Vogue, lilies and Todd Romano Elle Decor June-July 2001. Photo by Pieter Estersohn, white bouquet, idea, tulips, unidentified H&G, tulips, again, Southern Accents some time ago.  Clearly, my entertaining file could use some due diligence.  This last arrangement I have used again and again in a tea caddy with both colorful flowers and all white.  Pretty, and pretty easy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sandy's Circus

Yesterday I left the combined comfort and frustration of the world wide web and sought research information for my latest article at the library.  Libraries are rooms filled with books and people looking for things in books.  I should go there more often.  Except I do get distracted.  I left with books filled with information pertinent to the article, which sit, patient, on the kitchen counter, and a book on Alexander Calder by Jean Lipman which is happy to be open and active.  

I brought the book home "for the boys" as I had regaled them with stories of the circus at the Whitney, both Calder's and the Sunday crowd.  We've gone on-line to see a bit more and the middle boy received Sandy's Circus for his ninth birthday.  Our middle child is a creative thinker.  He draws a lot.  Sometimes he just draws Star Wars and battles and race cars.  But sometimes he sees a picture in his head and he draws it by color.  He will take the red marker and draw all the lines or sections that require red.  Then blue.  Then black and whatever else and as you watch him you can't always see what the picture will be until the last color is added to the page and his vision is revealed.  This one, the middle one, gets books about art and artists and origami and clay. 

We took him to see a Chihuly exhibit in a small gallery in Colorado one summer.  As we left he asked for clay.  Immediately.  I complied.  When we got back to the house I advised him to pick one color and save the rest for another day.  The clay would dry out, we wouldn't want to use it all at one time, that would be wasteful.  "I have to open them all."  Blink.  Think.  Blink.  "Fine." And while I moved around the house doing things that mothers do, picking up, putting away, stacking and murmuring, expecting to come back to find a red pot and a blue bowl and a yellow dish he had mushed the clay all together.  It swirled and leaped with pattern and color with veins like marble.  All bowls, but some low and squat, some tall and thin, but all asymmetrical many with fluted and ruffled edges.  And when he was finished, when he had used all the clay, he walked away and has never asked for any again.

A couple of years ago I called his art teacher at school to see if she could suggest an art class that he might like.  "It's not that I think he's gifted or anything, I just want him to have the opportunity to do what he wants to do" which is generally not math or spelling or sitting still.  This woman, whom I respect, who goes in everyday and teaches art to those who are interested and those who are not, listened politely.  I'm quite sure she had her head in her hand and her eyes closed as she held the phone and heard my anxious plea for an outlet for my artistic genius.  Who was six.  "Patricia, the best thing you can give him is a well-stocked art cabinet.  Just let him have fun." 

So last night as we lay in my bed, at loose ends as we had finished reading the last of the Harry Potter books aloud on his ninth birthday, we looked at this big book on a man named Sandy whom I keep talking about and mentioning and showing.  "Look, see how it all balances?"  "Did you notice he used mostly black, white and primary colors?"  "Don't you think it would be great to have a work room like that?"  Then we came to a page that had a man on stilts from the circus and he asked, "What are those wires?"  "Well, maybe that is what he needed to move the man for his act in the circus."  "Maybe.  Or maybe they are the shadows."  Who is teaching who?

When asked, "Presuming that you as an abstract artist are drawn to nature by certain eternal qualities or forces sensed there, would you say that your work is a predominantly subjective expression of your personal relation to these qualities and forces?" Calder replied, "I just do the best I can."  From Calder's Universe by Jean Lipman.

Photo, also from the book, by Marvin Schwartz.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Have the Blues

You might remember that a while back I had a wonderful evening in the home of a very chic woman-about-town.

I had my camera with me (I almost always do) and I longed to snap her home right then and there, but my editor at Spaces beat me to the punch.

So, I waited.  Fortunately, not long, as this month's issue features Dee Dee Arnold's captivating condo.

I was besotted, of course, because the space is so distinctly personal.  While there Dee Dee gave us the full tour and each piece has a little story.

Do not ask me for the paint color.  To begin, it's custom, and further it's been translated twice, first by the camera and then by your screen.  But, yes, it is divine.

Dee Dee is dear friends with my former employer, designer George Terbovich.  He is directly responsible for the paint color, inspired by Madeleine Castaing, and the black moldings.

And maybe a thing or two here and there, but the beauty of George's work is that, when complete, it looks like its owner and not its designer.

Many of Arnold's pieces were inherited from her family and some has been acquired here and there about town.  

If you are thinking "dramatic" or "stunning" or "bright," well, yes, it's all those things.

Just like Dee Dee.