Thursday, April 28, 2011

Show Stopper

Part of the fun of last week was seeing a preview of the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse.  There are many, many lovely rooms, but one of the ones that rocked me back on my heels was Amanda Nisbet's room which featured walls adorned with her Positano silk in the Kumquat colorway.*  Pow.   If you are in the city do make time to see the showhouse; it's a home run.

*I remembered this wrong.  Nisbet used Pink Lemonade (I must block out pink.)  You can see the house here at the New York Times if you're not over your limit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Folk Tale

Intrigued as much by the how as the what,

I stopped to see the quilt exhibit at the Folk Art Museum.

I know some folks think they are kitch and corny,

 but they often contain messages once obvious and now obscured.

And I find them strong and graphic and warm and personal all at the same time.

I just don't know how you could look at one and not see the amount of work, the number of stitches, and not feel the strain in the back of your neck.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Journey in the Abstract

This was my third trip to New York since the MoMA launched the Abstract Expressionists New York exhibit.    I had run out of time on my previous two trips, but was able to get there this time.  (And, horribly, it has closed so I feel terrible about going on and on.  But I'm going to anyway.)

I dig 'em.  The Abstract Expressionists, I mean.

Big and graphic and bold, they jazz me right up.  It was terrific to see all of these paintings together.  I forget, so accustomed to their images, so familiar with their forms, how shockingly foreign they were at their debut.  Forget that contemporary eyes might have gazed upon them and thought, "What the heck?" Puzzled, as Bert Cooper's employees were with his Rothko.

Gottlieb's Man Looking at Woman gave me pause.  I occurred to me that it would be logical for the eye to be drawn to that orange smudge in the middle of all that black and white, but my initial focus, and where my eye was stuck, was on the figures.  She seems amused.

Willem de Kooning Woman 1.  Really, we're not all that bad.

I was there Good Friday and the museum was packed.  A swarming museum is an idea that delights, but a reality that detracts.  There were people moving everywhere, looking and talking and listening to audio tours.  But people were visiting Pollack like a rock star.

One, Number 31 was magnetic.  Its presence in the next room made it hard to concentrate on the works at hand.  Pollock seduces.  I stood here for ten minutes at least and this painting could not have lent itself to picture takers any more than a life-sized cut out of William and Kate.

But art is a singular experience and as I pondered Shimmering Substance I thought, "That is exactly the impression I'd like my house to make."

Images from top, Jasper Johns Flag, Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup Cans and Mark Rothko Number 1. Shimmering Substance is Pollack as well.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Prying Eyes

I was in New York last week.  The last couple of times I've gone, I've flown up early in the morning and left late the next day.  It works out pretty well as it allows two mostly full days in the city with only one night away.  Besides the frenetic pace and the feeling that I have tricked the time space continuum, it saves me from obsessing about practice carpools and the fact that, try as he might, Mr. Blandings never gets the lunches quite right.  Not that I'm all that concerned about crusts on or off or apples sliced, but I tend to hear about it when I get back.

This trip I stayed at the Standard, a hotel for which I am not hip enough by half.  I felt quite sure that the people craning around to see who was there figured I must be Justin Bieber's mother.  Despite my cool quotient, the staff was completely delightful.  The view, as well, was wonderful as one entire wall of my room was a window.

Perhaps you'd heard this as there have been some shenanigans with guests using those large pieces of plate glass as a TV screen in reverse, have regarded the neighbors as audience.  After all, people tend to take liberties on vacation.  In a different city you are anonymous; you could do anything there, relieved from the prying eyes of Mrs. Kravitz.  Further daring to invite the witness of strangers.  Some people tell me that when the hotel first opened, encouragement of this kind of inhibition might have been implied.  To negate this, a letter from the manager was left squarely on the table.  "As a reminder, please be aware of the transparency of our guest room windows and that the activity in your room, when the curtains are open, may be visible from the outside."

My eyes brushed this letter three or four times during my stay.  I was amused each time to think that any human being capable of making a hotel reservation would need to be reminded that glass is clear.  That if you can see out, they can see in.  That, regardless your bravado, on-lookers might not prefer to look on.  Needless to say, that when I was uncovered my windows were covered.  The reverse was also true.

I thought I could get a couple of posts together over the weekend, but the holiday tripped me up.  Further coverage to follow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gracing My Walls

After last week's post regarding the endless inspiration that Mr. Redd provides and the impossibility of Gracie gracing my walls, I started clicking around.

At the same time that I was finding Jennifer's post on the Peak of Chic, a few of you were commenting and emailing to say, "Do it yourself!  Stencil Library!"

And, that is exactly what I am going to do in my dining room.  There's hardly a Gracie paper that I don't like, but some of my favorites are those with this white silhouette.

So, yeah.  I'm going to do that.  First I just need to pick the background color, repair the funny thing on the ceiling and make sure the sconces are in the right place.  Oh, and order the stencils.  

Really, I can't wait.

These stencils and thousands more at Stencil Library; image, top, via Little Green Notebook.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Per Your Request

Here's the vintage pitcher that I picked up at Artichoke Annie's Antique Mall.  Slightly Russell Wright looking, except for that handle,  I think.  No markings.  No pedigree.  (Artichoke Annie's?  Really, is she kidding?)  Feeling a little superior?  Passed up were a Elsa Schiaparelli cloche in its original box for $30 and a vintage leather riding hat box designed to hold two hats.

My kid went to a science competition and all I got was this lousy floor pic.

I'd never been to the University of Missouri - Columbia so when one of my friends suggested we go support our children in a state science competition, I immediately hollered, "In!"  We did, actually, show up to cheer on our children (as much as we could cheer from our home base in the student union) but we took the slow road and saw a few things along the way.

Visually, I'm telling this story backward, but as we were headed up to find seats for the awards ceremony, I got held up and when one friend said to the other, "Where's Patricia?" the other said, "Taking pictures of the floor."  As they are friends, they understood and waited patiently holding the "door open" button until I arrived.  It took a lot of time to lay that floor.  Seems the least that I could do to stop and appreciate it for a moment.

That was the end of the trip.  The first part of the trip included stopping at a few of antique outposts between Kansas City and Columbia.  The day was wet and cold and breezy, though Glenn's Cafe at the Hotel Frederick in Boonville was warm and dry and yummy - a welcome respite.

Another delightful surprise was the porcelain pottery by Yukari Kashihara.  Originally from Japan, she studied at MU and has a small shop and studio in her home in Rocheport, Missouri; her garden was an inspiration.   As we wandered out, wondering how in the world she ended up in Rocheport and hoping the world would find her, I was reminded that I seem to find equal inspiration in small spots as large.  If I look.

P.S.  The title is not entirely accurate.  I "got" a lot of laughter (and in trouble from our hotel room neighbor) and a terrific vintage pitcher in that blue-green color I can't get over.  And the floor pic.  Which I love.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Redd-y or Not

I need to get out and start looking at wallpaper books (the olfactory sensation being nearly as good as the visual; what is it about the smell of paint and wallpaper?)  The Blandings's budget does not allow for Gracie or de Gournay so some other something must be found.  Mr. Redd, thank you so much; I'm quite grateful for the inspiration.

Image, Town and Country, photography by Francesco Lagnese; via Post and Grant.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fabric Fanatic

I've been stopping in to visit this wonderful African textile at Christopher Filley's for the last several months.  Of all the things the house needs, this is clearly not a priority, but I yearn for it just the same.

Jennifer Shorto, who has a fabric fascination herself, has developed a short line of fabrics based on Ivory Coast textiles that are long on style.

Graphic and great, you can find them at Michael Smith in LA or on-line here.

The advantage of checking out these wovens on-line is that you can pop over and see some of the wonderful antique textiles in Shorto's collection.

Like this chain-stitched silk on silk.  Heavens.  How many textiles can I hold in my heart?

Image, top, mine - or yours, whatever, the remaining via

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Put a Lid on It

I mentioned these charming cups yesterday.  Charlotte Moss introduced them to me and I have been meaning to order a few.

Or more.  I don't need mugs with infusers as I prefer strong, black coffee, but the three color ways above are available with or without.

The lid is so handy.  I sometimes carry my coffee into the bathroom while I shower.  My low-rent self, lacking a knobbed-top, places a jar of cream atop my cup to keep it hot.

This seems a better solution.  At $3.50 a cup you're still ahead of carry-out with its paper and plastic.  (Be warned that they are a shocking $6 with the infuser.)

Fans of blue and white can really score.  Sad to say, though I prefer the shape, I might have a harder time ordering "straight bottom" over "slim bottom."  Seems one should at least be able to have one on one's cup.  From Pearl River.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"I am a wanderer."

I'm not sure exactly what I expected when I met Charlotte Moss.  I can only say that she was "more."  I expected her to be gracious and smart, but she was more than that, really.  And, I think the most pleasant surprise was that she was as interested as interesting; it's an engaging combination.

She served my coffee in a Pearl River Market coffee cup with clever cover and it was a relief to see someone who is so stylish so unconcerned with label and tag.

Moss's latest book, Charlotte Moss Decorates, is a compilation of show house rooms that she has designed.  She liked the concept of these projects as they reflect a start-from-scratch approach.  "It is what a lot of homeowners face - four blank walls."

This blankness allows Moss to create a story, to develop a character, to build a room to suit a life.  Moss revels in travel and you can sense from her stories that she is an observer, someone who is cataloguing experience and impressions along with color and shape and scale.

She notes that the "high/low" happens; something clicks.  When these types of things are contrived it is obvious - anything forced looks it in the end.  Moss noted that so much work goes into these show houses, and that the vendors and supplies are so incredibly generous, that they "don't get the shelf life they deserve."  We can certainly enjoy them in this latest book.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli from Charlotte Moss Decorates; photography by Pieter Estersohn, except the last which is Moss's inspiration board for Kips Bay 2008.