Thursday, May 27

Happy Memorial Day

Childe Hassam's Fourth of July, 1916
Metropolitan Museum of Art
(on loan from a private collector)

I know I am a little early. But, I came across this wonderful program and want to shout it from the roof tops. The network of Blue Star Museums is offering free admission to active duty military families this summer, beginning this Monday and ending on Labor Day (Sept 6th.)

There are lots of great museums participating.

  • MOMA
  • The Met
  • The Whitney
  • The New Mexico Museum Art
  • Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum
  • The Museum of the Confederacy
  • The National D-Day Memorial
  • The Norman Rockwell Museum
  • Palm Springs Art Museum
  • Colonial Williamsburg

And here in good ole' North Carolina:
  • The Mint Museum of Charlotte
  • Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem

This is a great way to thank the families of those sacrificing so much to protect this nation and bring precious liberty to the world.

Thank a soldier, a sailor or a marine this weekend. Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 25

Found on Etsy

Q: What do you get with you cross Maurice Sendak, Yogi Bear and a handsome Mexican Wrestler?

A: A dinner plate!

These humorous plates are by London based illustrator James Ward.

Mr. Ward hand draws these campsite loving creatures directly onto 9 inch dishwasher safe plates.

The result is kinda quirky.

Okay really quirky.

But I love 'em. And the bears look right at home, don't you think?

So go ahead, feed the bears! For 25 bucks a piece you can get the whole series for your pick-a-nic basket.

Visit James' shop at jimbobart.

Monday, May 24

I'm cheating on you

Not you! The blog.

I am guest blogging over on my friend Katie's great design blog, Daffodil's, today. She was so sweet and invited me to blog about my recent bedroom redesign. So, check it out!

Monday, May 17

Art you can aim at

I love, love, love this.

September 2007 issue of Architectural Digest

It's an antique shooting gallery target. They come in all shapes and sizes. Here's a more primitive one from the early 1900's:

Artisans of Mentone, Alabama

It would make a wonderful paper weight on a fancy, never-used designer desk that looks nothing like mine.

And this one from Coney Island (I know, so cool) would be an amazing conversation starter:

These squirrels from Sniktaw Antiques are hilarious:

Squirrels and Hunters

And these colorful antique archery targets from a French carnival are lovely too:

Sniktaw Antiques

While I like the whimsical targets more, this archery target with detailed carving is a must for a man room.

Wednesday, May 12

I can't believe I forgot!

So, I kind of didn't realize it until after I posted yesterday but "I'm Famous in China (Part 1)" was our 100th post!



Grace Kelly's famed Taittinger Advertisement
circa 1988

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

For more images of vintage champagne and liquor ads, visit the Ohio State's Treasury of Fine Art Tobacco & Spirits Advertising Collection online.

Tuesday, May 11

I'm Famous in China (Part 1)

Last summer, my husband and I went to Hong Kong and China for a business trip/vacation. It was really pretty awesome. The political climate is bad but the people are very, very gracious and climbing the Great Wall was a once in a lifetime experience we will never forget.

We kicked off our Asian Adventure with a 5 hour plane ride from NC, followed by a 14 hour flight from CA to Hong Kong. (Have I ever mentioned that I hate planes so much I have to be medicated to get on one? Well, I do!) After a quick business meeting in Hong Kong (totally worth the flight), we settled into southern mainland China where we did the bulk of our work. We were blown away by the massive size and exotic history of Shanghai, which is full of fabulous art deco architecture. More on that later.

From there we ventured north on a flight that included 1) a military style take off and landing a la Top Gun 2) the plane being boarded by MPs scanning people for H1N1 with big laser pointers and 3) confused yelling by Chinese passengers being hauled off the plane to a mysterious quarantine location. One Xanax later, we exited the plane in Beijing where we did most of our sightseeing.

Now, that leads me to the art part of today's post.

Shanghai's not exactly old "Old Town"

In China, building and art preservation efforts have only geared up recently and much of what the Chinese call "historic" isn't really historic at all. In reality, many of the nation's tourist sites are reproductions, standing within the vicinity of where the original once stood. I'm sure there are many reasons, both political and cultural, why this is a common practice in China.

However, there are several original (but clearly heavily restored) sacred spaces in China open to tourists. And in the northern part of the country, these sites all feature spectacular hand carved ceilings, doorways, eaves and columns.

Temple of Heaven
Beijing, China

The Temple of Heaven is an excellent example of Chinese "caisson" and "dougong" architecture. The top center of the temple ceiling features a carved relief set into a layered dome (caisson) and the carved, interlocking wooden beams form the dougong style support system. The result is almost dizzying.

Temple of Heaven, Interior
(I had to reach over an energetic crowd of Chinese tourists at the entrance to take
this picture. The building was not open to the public, which is too bad.)

Caisson ceilings and dougong beams featuring intricately carved reliefs also thoroughly coat the 800 buildings of the massive Imperial Palace Complex in Beijing. The relief carving is shallow and the grooves are filled with gold leaf, making the ever repeated dragon theme pop against vibrant background colors.

Imperial Palace (aka The Forbidden City), Detail

While dragons and other mythical creatures dominate the relief work, fanciful paintings of fruit and plants are also included in ceiling art.

Peaches (or possibly Lichee Nuts, a Chinese delicacy) in the Imperial Palace

The Chinese Emperor had strict rules when it came to pretty much everything and many activities, articles of clothing and colors were reserved only for his personal use. The yellow-gold color seen here on the roof tiles of the Imperial Palace is called "Imperial Yellow." It could only be used or worn by the Emperor.

Imperial Yellow

This next ceiling has to be my favorite. I remember wanting to reach up and run my hands over relief work. It reminds me a lot of the US Capital Building's dome.

Imperial Palace

Here is a similar but less ornate ceiling in the Ming Tombs, located in the countryside outside of Beijing. The plain beams and columns make the ceiling appear more primitive but its craftsmanship is equally fine.

So tell me, what do you think of these two Chinese architecture styles?

Thursday, May 6

Buried Treasure (sort of)

My Favorite House in Charleston, SC

Yesterday, I was cleaning out a purse that I haven't used since at least June of last year. I know this because in the purse (which is the size of a diaper bag and no, I don't have kids) I found a cheaply done brochure from the totally un-cheap Charles II Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina. I haven't been in Charleston since our wedding anniversary last June. (I tried to find the link to the gallery for you but their website no longer exists. I hope that doesn't mean what I think it means...)

Anyways, it was more than brochure. It was an artist profile. On this guy:

Fred Jamar, Self Portrait

Fred Jamar is a talented Belgian-born artist who lives in Charleston. He also happens to look a lot like Jerry Garcia. According to the folded up paper I dug out of my giant purse, Fred used to work on Wall Street managing JP Morgan's global risk unit. Apparently, he got tired of that so he moved to one of the South's most charming and colorful port cities to paint. Basically, Fred lives my dream life.

I couldn't really come up with anything in artsy fartsy gallery-speak that would describe Fred's work. Honestly, I only have one word for it. Awesome.

(Heads are rolling at my alma mater's art history department right now.)

But look:


How can you look at those palm tree shadows and not call that awesome? How about this:

Rainbow Row

His makes the most over-painted scene in the south look totally fresh. And while I am not a huge fan of "bubble trees," I love Fred's.

1st Scott Church on Meeting Street

Broad Street

While Fred's work captures the beauty and elegance of the Civil War's most famous coastal city, it captures its grit too. And Lord knows I'm a sucker for colorful southern grit.

Lana Cafe

The power lines, the trash cans, the buildings shifting off their foundations...


PS. Did you notice that my favorite house spoke to Fred too?

Tuesday, May 4

Not art

Meet Huckleberry:

The Basset who puts himself in timeout.

Now, for the real purpose of this post: I have been noticing lots of Chinese spammer comments on the blog. I am not sure how to get rid of them. Suggestions, anyone?