Johnny One Note

I swear I'll talk about something other than old art here soon, but at the moment I can't help myself. I picked up the Cape Cormorin print today, and I'm thrilled with both the Roma moulding and the job done by AFW Frame & Gallery.

Those of you around here have probably seen Art & Frame Warehouse , either north of the river or in southern Overland Park. AFW Frame & Gallery in the Crossroads is the same local, family owned business, just with a bit higher-end presentation and feel. (2015 Grand - 816.471.7444)

The top of the black sideboard feels so naked to me, but we're still on the market so I'm in minimal acessories mode. This picture also makes me realize I desperately need a new lampshade. Anyway, I couldn't be more pleased with the end result of this reframing.

See now why I raved about Roma's Tabacchino collection?

Art Upgrade: Modern Japanese Printmaking Edition

At our local consignment auction, when it comes to artwork, floor position is everything. The best things are on the front wall. This is where they hang the listed artists or especially good images.

On a three sided freestanding wire wall in the furniture area are lesser pieces, once-good images that have fallen victim to time, groupings of just-okay things, reproductions, or marginal works in good frames. (It happens a lot - I buy art, and I buy frames, but rarely at the same time)

Then finally, along the back wall are what I call "the racks." This is where the crap goes. Occasionally sold choice for 5 or 10 bucks, but more often by the shelf, again usually for 5 to 10. You'll also find boxes of odd junk art here as well.

I always dig around though, because sometimes you find something like this.

I noticed it first because it was the tallest thing in the box, and stuck out from what looked to be 9 or 10 framed pieces of embroidered cloth in cheap wood frames. The surprise was that another regular, who rarely buys anything and almost never for much money, seemed to want that box too. Finally I gave up. But I liked the print, so I offered him 20 for it, and he said yes.
I tried to get a detail shot here but my camera seems to hate anything white. It's an original intaglio print by Kenji Ushiku, titled The Lake Festival. Framing was done by the Little Gallery here in Westwood Hills. The title card and gallery sticker were both still present on the back, unfortunately there was no date. The brass-wrapped wood frame makes me think 80's, but I don't know that.
I googled when I got home trying to date the print, but couldn't find it. I did find out that Mr. Ushiku was born in 1922 in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. He studied at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and was first published in Japan in the mid 1950's. He's since exhibited in Japan, Europe, and the US. There were a few auction results, and it looks like he sells in the 150-250 range. (So it's not the pay-off-the-car find, still dirt cheap for a nice piece) I found a 2005 print online, but nothing after, so I don't know if he's still working or not.
Tomorrow I've got to go to the frame shop to pick up the Cape Cormorin print (photos of it in it's gorgeous Roma moulding to follow), so I'll drop this off for matting while I decide on the frame.

Continuing Education

Blogs are amazing learning tools. Mrs. Blandings posted about Richard Wright's site and mentioned some architectural drawings of the Empire State building, so I went over to take a look. The drawings were great, as was most everything else, but what stopped me was the tea cart above. Italian, c. 1965, by Cesare Lacca, $950.00.

There was one of these sitting at the auction house last Tuesday night. I originally thought it was probably Danish. I looked at it, but not closely, until it came up for bids. I remember thinking it was good looking in a quirky way as I was digging in my pocket for my bidder number. That turned out to be for naught because before I could even get my hand in the air it was well past my limit, although now the $175 that it sold for looks like a really good deal.

The evening wasn't a waste though, as I picked up a great Kenji Ushiku intaglio print for 20 bucks. 20 bucks cash paid to the guy who outbid me on the box of miscellaneous framed stuff, but still a total steal. You'll see that in the next installment of Art Upgrade.

Policy change: Anonymous commenting

It was straight up 11pm this evening when a reader from Woodbridge, Virginia (or a Woodbridge, VA proxy server) clicked over from Soodie's blog and took 44 seconds out of their day to leave a comment. It wasn't about anything I've written, or even any opinion I've expressed, but about my profile photo.

This surprises me only because it happened here. If I leave a comment over at Decorno I can count on Anon to pop up shortly after with some sort of little attack. I rarely comment back because, well, what would the point of that be?

But this is my house, and frankly I'm not obligated to deal with anyone's bullshit.

I've said before that I've been blessed with a small, thoughtful group of regular readers, whose online friendship and encouragement have been hugely rewarding. Hopefully the changes I've made in my commenting settings will allow them to continue to add their thoughts to my posts. What the changes should do is disallow anonymous comments without my having to moderate.

And to you, Anonymous, I'll say this: Leaving derisive remarks from behind the cover of a computer screen doesn't make you witty or clever, it just makes you a dick. Anyone is welcome to read and comment here, and while I'll never require that you agree with anything I've said, I'll always insist on a level playing field.


So, do you watch Torchwood?

If you do, you know that rather than a full season they went with a five-night miniseries this year, and it's been running this week. We've been recording it, and Brett's been watching each night. I've been at the workshop so I was planning to watch them all back-to-back this weekend.

I came home last night, walked through the front door, and Brett yelled "Don't look!" So of course I looked. Right there on the screen was the single thing, the only thing, that could happen that would upset me.

I'm going to watch the miniseries still, even knowing what I now know. After that, I'm not so sure.

There's a home in my head

The new Pottery Barn catalog came in today's mail, and the headline was "Vintage Style." I was curious to find out what that meant exactly, and I have to say, I saw some things I liked.

I'm digging these shades, I could totally make these
This bar is designed to look like a vintage workbench. I have an actual workbench on sideboard duty in our dining room.

I've mentioned before, I'm not much of a wine drinker. I could however be a wine bottle chandelier hanger. I just think they're good looking.
If you walked in to Chez Malaise, "vintage" isn't the vibe you'd get. Upholstery here tends to be simple and tailored. Lamps are generally white or a silver metal, usually topped by simple black shades. You'd find a painted piece or two, some asian accents, and a few things you'd call contemporary. It's a mix of new and not new, but (I like to think) smart and comfortable and current. What you might notice though, is the handmade quality of a few furniture pieces, and handmade is what I tend to think of when I think "vintage."
Our home is furnished for us, taking into account both our tastes and preferences, and it's always been very easy for us to put together rooms we both enjoy. But I am at heart, a lover of age and wear and things that are not perfect. The inclusion of pieces I would describe as handmade is how I've incorporated that love into my home, mixing them into a look and feel we both like.
There's a house in my mind though, where everything shows both the hand of the maker and the hand of time, and where if it's not true "vintage" it's at least "vintage-inspired." Looking through this catalog PB's got a few things that would fit right in.

Delivery day

And the bookcase project is in the bag! We delivered Virginia's furniture to her today, and I'm so pleased to report that she seemed very happy. Still, I can never really read her. So on the drive home I called Rich to tell him we'd finished, and she had already called and told him she loved it. She also told him she thought I wanted her to jump up and down, but that's just not her. As I told Rich, I didn't need a cartwheel, but it really was important to me that she was happy. The fact that she called him so quickly tells me all I need to know.
Before we loaded it up Brett took my picture next to it. Yes, I've recently shaved my head. And then after we got it set up and the shelves put in I took a shot of it in it's new (old) home.
In its original state it was the same dark stain as the crown and base moulding. The room is dark (which the client likes), but having something lighter, especially something this big, I think is going to provide some nice contrast. The RL chair fabric she's using is predominantly two gray-greens that I used on the case, accented by a navy and raspberry color, thus the raspberry grasscloth.
She's changing out the carpet but mentioned that she hasn't found anything she "love love loves." At that point her husband said "we're 70, we're going to die, can't we just get something we like like like?" I bet they're a riot to hang out with.
What I like about Virginia is that she's got the right priorities. She likes nice things, and she's fully prepared to spend money to have them, but they're not the most important thing. She said she would really like to be done with the rooms she's updating, but she's been busy. They go to their condo in Florida a lot. Then her youngest granddaughter gets christened tomorrow. It's those are the sorts of things that keep her busy. Talking about her grandkids she said, "those kids are going to be grown before you know it, the carpet can wait."

The economic downturn finally hits home

The email came today, Smith & Hawken is done. Catalog and online ordering is no more, and remaining merchandise is being liquidated through the retail stores, which of course we don't have here.

I read an interview with Mr. Hawken today, and he's pretty happy to see it go. It began as an importer of quality English gardening tools, but through the years and multiple owners had turned into more of a home decor retailer with a gardening flavor, and he seemed kind of bitter about it.

It's not my name over the door however, and I've been a fan for a long time. The rusty iron urns and cement archtectural plaques on the patio, and a set of imported French stoneware in the kitchen were all S&H buys. We've had them for years and I still love every piece.

I'm not generally a fan of national chains, be they retailers or restaurants. When a big national business closes, I'm always hopeful that there are small businesses waiting to step in and fill the need. I'm in favor of small businesses. I like the independents.

But I'm bummed out, because I liked so much of what Smith & Hawken offered.

And worst of all, I did not order a pair of the antique galvanized planters above. (Damn the condo market, I thought I'd pick them up after we moved...which of course we've yet to do.)

But the email linked to a store locator, so the calling around begins tomorrow. I'm not confident that they'll ship as they're liquidating, but it never hurts to try. If you've seen anything similar anywhere else please let me know.


Finally, we're nearing the home stretch on the bookcase project, so I'll be finishing things up this week and delivering it Saturday morning. I don't know why but I've been extremely nervous about how the client will like the end result. I've sold plenty of painted furniture, but because this one didn't belong to me and I've changed it so drastically my confidence is all over the place.

I took a few shots tonight since I've been talking about it forever. The colors are a lighter and darker gray green taken from a Ralph Lauren fabric she's using on four wing chairs around a table that will sit in front of the bookcase.

Here's a closeup of the crown and dentil moulding that ring the top, and the acanthus at the top of the three columns. The entire thing was stained dark to begin with, so you really didn't see most of the detail before.

There are three shelves that go in each of the two bays that are painted the same as the exterior, so the dark color will be broken up a bit. It also looks more blue in this shot than it actually is.
What I'm really pleased with is Rich's suggestion that I run a bit of the interior color around the panel of the bottom cabinet doors, giving it the look of an old polychromed piece.
Before we deliver it I'll get Brett to help me heave the case up on top of the cabinet (Mary mother of God it's heavy!) and get a shot of the whole thing the way it will look in the client's home. It's going up against a wall of raspberry colored grasscloth, I'm excited to see it place.

Almost done

Sorry for having gone missing, I've been working on the bookcase/cabinet I was hired to paint. I'm almost there so I'll have a photo to show here soon. Of course I forgot to take a before, but the after is looking pretty good so there's still something to see. Should be finished by the end of the weekend, and I'll have Brett help me heave the case up on top of the cabinet and I'll shoot it.

It's killing me that I didn't get a shot of it in it's completely dark-stained pine state as it's been quite the transformation. What I'm very happy about is that Rich came by the workshop tonight to check it out and not only was he extremely pleased, but he thinks the client will be too.

Also, testament to having a designer involved, he made a suggestion on one small element that has really improved the overall look.