Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mud Pies

I was just telling local antique dealer, Rich Hoffman, "I have all these brown things.  I don't think I have enough stuff, yet I look around and I have all these brown things.  And if you asked me, 'Do you like brown things?' I would say, 'No, not really.'"  I was telling him because I was admiring something brown at his and Christopher Filley's shop.

Then, I ran across this picture of Steven Gambrel's Sag Harbor entry.  Featuring a bunch of brown things.  Maybe I'm on to something.

Image from Annie Kelly's Rooms to Inspire in the Country; photography by Tim Street-Porter.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

(Will) I Love LA (?)

Nick Olsen is California dreaming and so am I.  I think I went to Los Angeles when I was a kid.  I think.  It's a little foggy, but I have a vague memory of Disneyland.  Megan Arquette at beachbungalow8 has been saying, "Come to LA!" for three years, but there's always been the kids and their stuff and, well, it never happened.  Then Elle Decor called and said, "Do you want to go to LA?" and I said, "Um.  Sure!"  Not that Elle Decor means more to me than Megan, but, well, you know.

Elle Decor is hosting a keynote panel on Wednesday, March 24th at 11a.m. moderated by editor, Margaret Russell.  Panelist are Michael Bruno, founder of 1st dibs, interior designer, Vicente Wolf, Mayer Rus, Design and Culture Editor of the L.A. Times magazine - and me.  Of, here.  Funny, huh?  The event takes place during WestWeek, which is all kinds of good design fun at the PDC.

I know it's a month away, but it's cold here and it's warm there and I'm pretty darn excited.  I'd love to see you there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bracelets I Cannot Afford

The newest selection in the on-going series now titled, "Bracelets I Cannot Afford."  While I love the black coral pictured above (it's actually a necklace), I'd really like to have a bracelet made with the white branch coral pieces that I collected on my honeymoon.  I wouldn't even need the fittings to be jewel encrusted.  That's how grounded I am.

The necklace, and many other amazing pieces, at Kara Ross New York.

Image above from Elle, issue and photographer unknown.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Glutton for Punishment

I'm in choppy waters here.  The few times I have thrown this room open for suggestions it's brought an incredible amount of opinions, information and criticism.  With a little help from a friend I decided to move the painting to the living room, move the living room prints here, paint the picture frame moldings black and recover the chairs.  I picked up an incredibly inexpensive ticking at Nell Hill's which may or may not remain depending on the sure-to-never-be-ordered curtains.  (You can see the "before" here.)

I love the paper, still, but this room is a whole lotta brown.  Never a fan of brown table and brown chairs, I'm lucky to have this hand-me-down set.  

I do like the table, but it's oval top is constraining.  The room is nearly square and round would be a million times better.  The front legs of the chairs are appealing.  You can't see them, of course, because they are pushed under the table.

This really bothers me.  A lot.  It is not carved into the wood, but applied, and I think I could easily remove it.

Which would make the front look more like this.  Which would be better.  Assuming I don't jack up the chairs.  My latest idea is to paint them black.  The only thing that stopped me Sunday was two other paint projects that I had started and not completed.  And, please, don't advise the purchase of either table or chairs as my budget will not allow the purchase of as much as a picture of either a table or chairs.

Also, if you are going to say something unkind, at least preface it with "Bless your heart."  All good Southern women do it and, oddly, it takes the sting out.  For example, "Bless her heart, I don't know why she wears sleeveless tops when her arms are so heavy.  Sweet thing, maybe it helps keep her cool in this heat because she's so big."  Something like that.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Slippery Slope

I've been noodling around with the idea of what to do with my dining room chairs.  Courtney Barnes, at Style Court, is always a good sounding board and patient with my paragraph upon paragraph of indecision.  The thought of painting eight chairs is daunting as I don't even like them.  Then another friend presented the idea of slip covers.

I hemmed and hawed with Courtney.  Would they be too kitchy?  Too 80's?  And she emailed back, "Well, the dining room chairs in Will's apartment on Will & Grace were not country.  They were tailored and chic."  Or something like that.  Then she did that great slip cover on her own chair.

Which is why I like Courtney.  Because she has a great eye and she remembers the slip covers on dining room chairs in a sit com that hasn't been on the air for four years.  So I'm reconsidering slip covers.  But not really doing anything.  For the record.

In other Dream House decorating news, a friend recently asked how much input the eldest Blandings boy is getting on his new room.  You tell me.  And, no, I didn't paint it.  It's a Fathead; based on my ability to bring my dining room to closure, some would say we both are.

Image from Will & Grace from here.  Slip cover images from New Farmhouse Style; photography by Kindra Clineff.  Drawer-painting is on the list this weekend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Seasonal Appeal - Post Script

Terrific post on Duncan Grant and Charleston at 2TheWalls here.  And, also, in my fog I forgot to mention that Persephone Books offers a six or twelve-month gift subscription here.  I believe you can choose the titles or the giftee can choose the titles.  Need help choosing?  Suggestions on their site here. Assuming the gifter and giftee are not the same person.

Seasonal Appeal

This may be a meandering mess as my head is clogged, and my ears are ringing just a little bit, but I am not sick enough to go to bed with no guilt.

One of my fellow travelers last week was showing me the catalogue for a charming publisher and I realized at once that the universe was hitting me over the head as this was the second time it had presented me with this jewel.  Today, as I was clearing my desk of tissue and tea cups, my hands fell upon a page ripped from a current magazine and I had to admit that my cotton-headedness has nothing to do with my cold.

Persephone Books is a British publisher specializing in books by women that had previously been out of print.  "Middlebrow" as they describe it.  Well written, good stories, though probably not "literature."  The covers are the chicest dove grey.  And then there are the end papers.

This is from the book at the top of my list, The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.  The end papers are described as follows, "The design of this Warner silk, velvet and terry material, exported to the USA during the early 1920s, was derived from a French fabric based on medieval tapestries: two birds are facing each other and away from each other - as in marriage, they are both coupled and confrontational."  These are the type of people you want to support, aren't they?  Rather than the large on-line retailers who make you feel your books fall with a flat, hard "thunk" when they hit your shopping cart.

Not the type of girl to choose a book on end papers alone, still Good Things in England by Florence White caught my eye for just that.  (Intrigued by the name I lost interest when I realized it is about cooking.)  These end papers are based on a fabric designed by Duncan Grant.

Duncan Grant of Bloomsbury fame.  Coincidentally, I've just begun a reading run on the Bloomsberries since my book club chose Mrs. Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light.  I've finished Bloomsbury Recalled by Quentin Bell, which gives a nice overview of the cast of characters, and have just begun Virginia Woolf, a Biography, also by Bell.

After admiring the end paper I went on a hunt to see if the fabrics are still in production.  Charleston was something of a country outpost for the group and the home's site has a nice selection of original fabrics from the house under the heading, "Learning."  Indeed.

What little I knew of Bloomsbury did not seem to fit these designs, though I couldn't tell you exactly why.  Probably because of what little I knew.

Charleston does offer reprints on some of Grant's original designs.

Including "Grapes," which may make me like gray.  Which would be a good thing as it has been the theme of January and February around here.

No persuasion necessary to like the glimpses of the house that the site provides.

And this detail of Grant's door, a photograph by Tony Tree, makes me want to head off round the house with my paint brush immediately.

Immediately after this cold has gone.  For daily-ish updates from Persephone Books check their blog here.

Top three images via Persephone Books, the remainder from the Charleston website.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

S'not What I Was Thinking

I was away last week which led to some wonky posting and comment moderation.  Forgive me.  I hate to give the internet a heads-up when Mr. Blandings and I are away and the boys are home.  Upon returning from sunny climes I found they had conned the babysitter into fixing their lunches (they were supposed to be "hot lunch") letting them eat all their Valentine candy in one sitting and not bathing the entire time we were gone.  Five days.  "They didn't really want to," the explanation.  The oldest did shower after basketball, both practice and games, which was oddly reassuring.  In addition, the youngest claimed we were "out" of Pop Tarts so a newly opened box greeted me from the pantry.  Everyone agreed they were perfect angels.  Why wouldn't they be?

And, yesterday, I woke up with a cold.  Not the flu, not a fever, nothing dramatic, just a garden variety cold.

So, today, no post, but I need a little help.  I've received sporadic emails that some, though not all, readers who receive the email subscription of Mrs. Blandings  are having trouble with jumbled text and pictures.  I have done a little tweaking to see if I can fix it, as Google provides absolutely no support for either blogger or feedburner.  Do let me know if it is better today.

The image, above, is Cecil Beaton  for Vogue using a Jackson Pollock as a backdrop.  I can't begin to remember where I found it, but it is all over the internet .  It seemed mildly on theme.  If there ever is such a thing here.

I wish I looked as chic as she; I more closely resemble the chaos behind.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Home Bound

Waylande Gregory keeps coming up to meet me, but we are continually interrupted.  I saw his pieces originally at Hall's over the holidays and noted their appeal, but, well, you know, sometimes I get distracted.

While I like to sprinkle my Kansas City promotions subtly, I fear this week I have been heavy-handed.  Perhaps the cold and snow is keeping me inside and insider.  I will try and look beyond the hedge next week, but for now I need to point out that Gregory was from Baxter Springs, Kansas.

Gregory's mother, a concert pianist, moved her three boys from Baxter Springs to (you're going to love this) Pittsburg, Kansas so they could get a better education.  A wise woman.  Waylande Gregory went on to study at the Kansas City Art Institute and become an influential Art Deco sculptor.  Gregory was responsible for the exterior sculptural decoration of Strong Hall, the main administrative building at KU.  He also designed the Aztec Room at the Hotel President.

Several small vintage pieces are available on line.  This polo pony being particularly enchanting.

The peacocks, Penny, are just for you.

I noticed Bergdorf Goodman had a lovely selection of Gregory's re-issued pieces when I was in New York; Hall's carries them here in town.  Terrific, no, with their graphic shapes and crisp black and white? I seem to never get enough of turquoise and gold together.

I just keep thinking three of these square dishes and one circle placed on a cocktail table would be terrif.

Image, top, Elle Decor, March, 2010, photography by Gentl & Hyers.  Images of Gregory courtesy of Pittsburg State University.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gifts from the Heart

The Nelson-Atkins announced last week that the museum will receive 400 works from 75 patrons in honor of its 75th anniversary.  Included in this outstanding outpouring of support is the promise of the Marion and Henry Bloch Collection of Impressionist Masters.  Some of you may remember these pieces from the celebration of the opening of the Bloch building.

Adele and Donald Hall have donated seven pieces of their African art collection. (The Halls invited museum director and CEO, Marc Wilson, to choose six.  After his selection he had chooser's remorse; the Halls graciously offered up the piece that caused the regret.)

The opening of the exhibit celebrating these gifts, which will feature 140 pieces, is this Saturday, February 13th.  You can find out more about specific gifts and ticket information (for non-members) at the Nelson's site here.  A perfect escape from this frozen tundra for your Valentine.

Images from top, Pierre Bonnard The White Cupboard, 1931, from the Bloch collection; Salt Cellar, Ivory, Sierra Leone, late 15th - early 16th century, from the Hall collection; Akio Takamori, Kanzan, 2006 from the Lennie and Jerry Berkowitz collection.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Meandering Mind

I received a very thoughtful email on Friday from the Belger Art Gallery.  They were closed for our monthly art walk as they are preparing for Beneath the Surface - Excavating the Belger Collection. The exhibit, which opens March 5th, will feature rarely seen works by Terry Allen, William Christenberry, Viola Frey, Jasper Johns, Creighton Michael, Ed Ruscha, Robert Stackhouse, Renee Stout, William T. Wiley and Terry Winters.

I was enchanted when I visited the Belger for their Jasper Johns show three years ago.  They have the largest collection of Johns's work, and while that was really something, they also have Mo Dickens to tell you all about it.  Mr. Dickens is in their employ and he knows a heck of a lot, but when he tells you about it you feel more like you're sitting on the front porch having a lemonade than getting a lecture about art.   When I received the email I responded and asked Mr. Dickens if he could reserve a chair for me in front of the Johns pieces.  There will be only a few rare etchings at this show (they were not part of the last show), but he told me of an exhibit he saw this summer.

Mural, a work that Peggy Guggenheim commissioned Jackson Pollack to create for her New York townhouse, was on display at the Figge Museum in Davenport, Iowa.  The piece belongs to the University of Iowa (it was a gift from Ms. Guggenheim.)  Mr. Dickens informed me that a thoughtful soul had donated two Eames lounge chairs to be placed in front of the piece so visitors could sit and enjoy.  And see.  Rather than, say, strolling by and snapping a pic with a phone.  When Mural travels the chairs travel with it.

Pollock struggled with the piece and finally pulled things together at the last minute.  The show!  The client!  Everything banging around in his head and then he painted.  And turned his work in on time.  Which I like in a person as I am deadline driven myself.  Myths have sprung up around it - it was cut down to fit Guggenheim's wall, it was painted in a day - but the canvas does not support these tales.

Pollack said of the piece, "It was a stampede...[of] every animal in the American West, cows and horses and antelopes and buffaloes. Everything is charging across that goddamn surface."  Seems that would warrant taking a moment to stop and wonder.

Pollock, as many of you know, was a student of Thomas Hart Benton, a native Missourian.

Mural, completed in 1944, was a turning point for Pollock and American art as a whole; he began his drip paintings in 1947.

Top two images of pieces by Jasper Johns in the Belger collection from here, next two images of Mural courtesy of the University of Iowa,  Pollock in his studio from Time Out Chicago, Persephone by Thomas Hart Benton courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm Turning Japanese, I Really Think So

Also on my recent travels, I ran across these.  Delicate and delightful.  Lighter than air.

The finest porcelain?  Nope. Paper.  Of Japanese design, these are the most engaging paper plates (and cups and bowls) I've ever seen.

The shop owner told me she has used them and they are incredibly sturdy.  They will hold hot soup without absorbing the liquid.

Do you love them?  I love them.  Any guesses what sophisticated retailer is the first (and, as far as we know, only at this time) to carry these dishes in the States?  Are you thinking Moss?  Or Takashimaya?  Darling, no.  Asiatica.  In Kansas City.

Completely environmentally friendly, biodegradable, all that jazz.  Relatively inexpensive, and cool packaging, too.

They also have some of those captivating glass floats that Meg and Holly have been talking about.

For Mama Bear and Papa Bear and Baby Bear.

4824 Rainbow
Westwood, Kansas


or ring them up

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

American Modern

One of the biggest treats while in New York was being able to stop in and visit Thomas O'Brien at Aero, his studio in Soho.  He devoted an amazing amount of time to this near-stalker/blogger, giving me a tour of the shop and his design studio.

The shop is a wonderful jumble of vintage and antique pieces with O'Brien's own designs seemlessly mixed in.  He is a collector.  Personally, and in the store. You can see his hand in everything.

When we sat down to visit I asked him why he thought he had been named as a designer who will "last" in my Enduring Style series.  "Huh.  I don't know," was his reply and then he went on to discuss his design process in everything from product to interiors to his book.

O'Brien wears his soul on his sleeve and his is not the manic creative energy that you might expect from someone who is executing this inspiring amount of work.  He is exacting and passionate, but in a very low-key way.  He talked a great deal about process and inspiration; he spoke not at all of himself nor did he ever mention the word "brand" though I am sure he is quite aware of this buzz word and its significance.

O'Brien had a copy of his new book, American Modern, there for me to flip through while we talked.  It is a beautiful book featuring some favorite projects, but also homes that have not been published.  As Dick Diver, O'Brien is a man with repose.  His gaze is steady and his hands are still even when he speaks intently about the need to be inspired.  Even though many of us are struggling he notes, "The great buildings still need to be built."

Thomas O'Brien has new lamps for Visual Comfort that should be hitting retail locations by Spring.  His new collection for Target is rolling into stores now, including some very chic bedding.  He has several new pieces for Hickory Chair that will debut at Highpoint and be in stores by late Summer/early Fall.

You can pre-order his book, American Modern, here.  You should.  It's terrific.

I received no compensation for this post other than the complete delight of the experience.  All images courtesy of Thomas O'Brien and Aero.