Friday, November 30, 2012

Oops, just a little diversion  from a regular work day.  (I took the photo above inside the Villa Farnese, also known as Villa Caprarola Italy when I was an architecture student in Rome.)

Above:  Painting of the same stairway by Hubert Robert (22 May 1733 – 15 April 1808), a French painter, noted for his landscape paintings and picturesque depictions of ruins.
Above:  In the Stair well (Scala Regia) looking up
Above:  The main facade of the Villa.  The architect, Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola dealt with the changes in grade up the hillside creating a very complex building solution.
Above:  A partial section cut through the complex structure.
Above:   A glimpse of the gardens

Above:  The Villa on the hill above the town.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Italian Dogs 1

Above:  Street Conversation, Toarmina Sicily,  12"x9" acrylic on canvas (painted 2012).
If you have a dog (owners of other pets probably feel the same) and you are traveling, and you see a dog, there's a swell of emotional connection to that dog that you see in the "foreign" land.  Several years ago on a trip to Sicily, I had such an experience...several times with several dogs.  I decided it would be a fun "project" to photograph people with their dogs.  The photograph for the painting above was taken on the street in Taormina Sicily.  This is truly a candid shot, in that I didn't ask for permission and the subjects were not aware of me with my camera.  I had seen this Pekingese dog sitting on the entry door steps of a shop.  Then later the same day I saw this woman (with the most unusual hair) walking the dog down the street.  When even later I came upon her with the dog and talking to this professorial-looking gentleman, I thought "this is a photo opportunity that I cannot let escape me."  This is the first photo I took.  I snapped several shots and later upon reviewing them I noticed this one had a nun in it.  What a bonus!  I never saw the mysterious redhead's face.  Was she an Italian film star?  Who knows, but she had such an incredible presence and from the look of her hair, the texture, it appeared that she and the dog went to the same "hairdresser"!

I continued this little project a bit in Sicily and a few years later, more intently at the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, on trip to Northern Italy.  In the case of the Galleria, I recalled enough Italian language to ask the dog owners permission to take the photos.  An entire charming new dynamic resulted from this encounter.  Of course, every human was proud to show off their four-legged bambino. 

When I began this "project", in the back of my mind I thought it would be fun to paint a series from these photographs.  Now six---seven years later, the time is right.

More of these paintings to follow...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Jay's Weekender

Jay's Weekender ("Ender")  19 May 1999 - 22 November 2012
One of the gentlest, sweetest loyal spirits I have ever known.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

For Desire to Inspire Design Crew 17 Nov. 2012

My Schematic Sketch:  This is the arrangement I'd like to suggest for this irregular, but intriguing floor plan.  Keep in mind that this is a schematic placement of furnishings without having exact dimensions of the furnishings.  Sofas may be moved closer to the fireplace, if their size and radius of their curve permits.  The dining table is located near the window to provide a dining experience that transcends the immediate interior surroundings, possible view?  This arrangement also allows for a smooth flow of service from the kitchen to the dining table.  The piano is now in a more inclusive location and balanced by the sofas and console table and lamp along the long fireplace wall.  The arched floor lamp is positioned on the other end of the sofas.   The large solid-color circular area rug "grounds" the seating in the living area.  The TV, if not left above the fireplace, could be placed on an artist's floor easel near the piano---the height being easily adjusted.  ~Sparky

Link to Saturday, 17 November Design Crew Project on Desire to Inspire.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

George Nakashima Furniture Maker

George Nakashima attended my alma mater and earned an undergraduate degree in Architecture in 1929.  He went on to get his Master's of Architecture at M.I.T.    But he is best known for his work in mid-20th Century furniture design and woodworking.

In January there will be an exhibit of what is now considered vintage Nakashima furniture along with architectural drawings and sketches.

George Nakashima: A Master's Furniture and Philosophy is on exhibit Nakashima Artthrough January 20, 2013 at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle. From the Wing Luke Museum: A leading mid-20th century designer in woodworking, 1929 UW architecture graduate George Nakashima (1905-1990) is known for his fine detailing, finishing, and spirituality, stemmed from a deep kinship with nature. Featuring vintage Nakashima furniture, architectural drawings and sketches, follow how Nakashima's life experiences translated into his work and explore his legacy today.
Nakashima's daughter, Mira continues his furniture woodworking shop.  Here is a short film in which she talks about their form of art and craft. Click on the link below to view the 3:26 minute film.
Nakashima Woodworker film


George Nakashima made some unconventional choices for his life after his formal education.  Wikepedia provides a concise summary of his experiences here

Monday, November 5, 2012

Louis XVI-style Dining Table with Three Leaves

This  cream painted Louis XVI dining table is the standard 29-1/2 inches high and 42 inches wide.

It includes three leaves.  Without the leaves, it measures 60 inches long (5 feet).
With all three leaves, the table is 96 inches (8 feet) long. 
When the three leaves are being used, three seats are easily accommodated along each side.  (Chairs are not included with the sale of this table.)
If you are interested in this handsome sturdy table and have questions, please contact me via the email button on the right-hand side of this page.  As with most of the items from my workshop, if I don't hear of interest from this post, the item will go on to a local consignment shop which will ask a higher price to cover their fees.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Artist Couples

Here is the link to the following article: 
Pass the Cadmium Red, Honey by Robert G. Edelman

Pass the Cadmium Red, Honey
by Robert G. Edelman

I've always been somewhat in awe of artist couples. It's a wonder that they manage to keep personal ambition and mutual support in some kind of equilibrium. It's one thing to be a creative couple, say, a classical pianist and a novelist, or an architect and a dancer. But to work in the same medium with the same tools as your spouse, well, that takes a certain ego strength. Think of the daily challenges of a second opinion; i.e., "Sweetheart, I just looked at your painting, and honestly, I think you took a wrong turn somewhere last night after I went to bed."
This stormy spring has brought New York a great pair of exhibitions on this very topic. "Out of the Shadows: Helen Torr, a Retrospective" at James Graham Gallery surveys the work of the spouse and soul mate of that pioneer of American abstraction, Arthur Dove. At the same time, Knoedler & Co. has mounted "Sally Michel/Milton Avery, A Portrait," a special exhibition of images of each other made by the celebrated artist couple.
Helen Torr (known as "Reds" for her flaming tresses) was, as the Graham show amply demonstrates, a painter of skill and distinction. That she managed to produce work of quality while being all but marginalized by the modernists of the Stieglitz group is even more impressive, considering how much importance she placed in their approbation. After all, Dove has always been considered one of the torchbearers of abstract painting in America, an artist who made the break from representation and assimilated European influences (simultaneously with Kandinsky, in 1911-12) before any of his compatriots. As singular and innovative as Dove's work proved to be, Torr developed a touch and sense of color that is all her own. It permeates her work, regardless of how much she borrowed stylistically from others.
Not that Torr had anything but an ally in her husband. He was her champion and supporter, in fact, throughout all their years together. According to Anne Cohen DePietro's informative catalogue essay, Dove attempted to get Stieglitz and other modernists to pay attention to her work, though with only limited success. In 1933 Torr and Dove had a two-person show at Stieglitz's gallery, An American Place, and Dove would send missives from time to time updating Stieglitz on her progress.
"Reds is working too," he wrote, "is finding some things -- Color very clean and clear." Georgia O'Keeffe, who had her own struggle to survive within the competitive Stieglitz orbit (despite the obvious advantage of her personal connection to the maestro), may have been disinclined to lend her support to Torr's work, insecure in her own role as den mother. Torr seemed to accept all this quietly (she kept a journal), as though it might have been the inevitable order of things.
These difficulties didn't, however, stop her from painting. To keep working, she battled physical ailments, periods of non-productivity and cramped quarters on their sailboat, the Mona, as well as a commitment to the year-end selection and framing of Dove's work for his annual exhibitions.
As a painter, Torr was aware of the experimentation and innovations of her contemporaries and borrowed freely from them, a way of using what she could to further her own vision. In fact, she worked through these influences only to come to the conclusion that her strength lay in a direct response to nature and her environment, something she ultimately developed through careful observation and an imaginative approach to form. In those heady days of the infancy of American Modernism, the exchange of ideas was crucial to the development of a national artistic identity, generating experimentation that required a sharing of methodology.
Part of the pleasure of the exhibition at Graham is studying the influences of other artists on Torr's efforts. Her attentive variations on Dove's work, which are often her most abstract pictures, have an austere, dark beauty, as in the charcoal drawing Geometric or the richly tonal Hill Forms, and the small oil study, Mountain Mood, ca. 1923-24.
Torr found inspiration in Georgia O'Keeffe's voluptuous forms and saturated color, in her Abstract Flowers (1926), and references O'Keeffe's New Mexico paintings with her own White Cloud (Light House) of 1932. The organic compositions of Marsden Hartley, the structural clarity of works by Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler, the brooding landscapes of Charles Burchfield, can all be felt in Torr's art.
Yet, works such as Melodrama (1931) and Hecksher Park (1932) though illustrational in feeling, are paintings that reveal the artist's nature and temperament, first and foremost. Torr's inventive abstractions from the late '30s, such as From Piano (Music Painting) and Autumn Forms, do not appear to reference anyone else's work, including Dove's.
As Dove's health deteriorated in the early 1940s, Torr gave up her painting to care for her ailing husband. When Dove had a stroke and suffered a partial paralysis, Torr helped him execute his last series of paintings. After Dove's death, Torr stayed in their single-room house in Centerport, L.I., for the rest her life, stored her work in the attic, and created delicate, handmade cards for friends.
One thinks of Lee Krasner, who was able to thrive as an artist, doing her best work after Jackson Pollock's death. Torr's creative life was profoundly tied to that of her husband's, and her great regret was that Dove did not live to see his work achieve wider recognition. But their respect for one another as artists can be summed up in one of Dove's journal entries: "Reds did leaf in new technique -- swell."
*          *          *
Another artist couple in which the wife made stand-by-your-man sacrifices was Sally and Milton Avery. Sally Michel, who died this past January at the age of 100, spent her early professional life as an illustrator for the New York Times, supporting her husband's full-time painting career. They painted together in the living room of their apartment on West 11th Street, and this exhibition reflects the shared intimacy and interdependence of their creative lives. Drawing and painting one another in moments of work and relaxation, these portraits capture the pleasure and humor that these two artists' shared when they turned their gaze upon each other. In fact, Michel's portraits of her husband are anything but reverential; he is rendered in the most human of moments; smoking, reading, sleeping, thinking and, of course, painting. As perceptive and spontaneous as the drawings are, it is Michel's paintings that give us the full measure of Avery the man.
In Milton with Wild Hair, Avery's massive head fills the small canvas. A bold palette of orange with various shades of green and violet animates the artist and his unruly mane. Seeing Michel's pictures opposite Avery's demonstrates that this was a couple inspired by the ongoing correspondence in their work. That the Averys also shared a painter's commitment to bold color, deceptively simple composition and an abiding love of nature is evident in their work from over 40 years of cohabitation.
Michel and Torr were woman artists who had the mixed blessing of being aligned with husbands who were major contributors to American art. It should be clear to those who view both exhibitions, however, that these women were significant and accomplished artists in their own right, regardless of the time that it has taken for that truth to be acknowledged.
"Out of the Shadows: Helen Torr, a Retrospective," Apr. 24-June 8, 2003, at James Graham & Sons, 1014 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10021
"Sally Michel/Milton Avery, A Portrait," Apr. 24-May 30, 2003, at Knoedler & Co., 19 East 70th Street, New York, N.Y. 10021

ROBERT G. EDELMAN is an artist and gallery director of Anita Friedman Fine Arts.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Arch Box: Montepulciano at Dusk

 This little box  is composed of a graphite rubbing of an antique door escutcheon plate and my on-site sketch of  the silhouette of  the Italian hill town of Montepulciano at dusk.

Above:  The interior of the box is lined with a durable upholstery-grade fabric in a Florentine-style pattern.
One from my collection of Architectural Boxes available at
Art Access Holiday Show

November 16th - December 17th.
Art Access
230 South 500 West #125
Salt Lake City, Utah  84101
Phone:  801-328-0703



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