Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Design Always Repeats Itself: Woman from Willendorf and Barbie Edition Part 2

Remember this lady:

Yeah, I thought you might. 

Woman from Willendorf was probably one of the first slides you saw in your college general education Art History course. She was found in Austria and dates from about 22,000-21,000 BCE. She is carved from limestone and was originally painted with red ocher. She is just over 4" high. 

Woman, or Venus from Willendorf, depending when you went to college, has been regarded for a long time by scholars as a fertility goddess from the Upper Paleolithic period. She has an exaggerated body with an emphasis on her reproductive organs. Her stomach is bulbous, possibly referring to pregnancy or a female body that is fertile. Some scholars even suggest her feet are pointy so that she can be stuck into the ground and worshipped. 

One thing is for sure though- we really don't know what Woman from Willendorf was in the Upper Paleolithic period. We can guess, but we really don't know.  

Now imagine that the next image was all that was left of our society 20,000 years from now:

Barbie has similar distortions to Woman, her legs and feet are pointy, she could easily be stuck in the ground. And as much as we'd like to deny it, Barbie has been an important American symbol. Her impact on our culture and society has been vast. 

Maybe Woman from Willendorf was nothing but a toy. If you believe the theory I believe, then one thing is true: people are the same, art is the same, one culture, one time-period to the next. 

- Grace

Monday, January 30, 2012

Artwork of the Week: The Lost Socks

I don't know where I found this image, or who is responsible for it's creation, but I've had it saved among my files for some time now and my mind often returns to it. I responded to the colors initially—the stripes of bright green and shocks of turquoise, with that one pop of pale pink nestled among them, hung next to a white cloud with all of its subtle differences in color, both set against the somber gray of the sky reflected in the water. But what I really appreciate about it is the manipulation of the material, a conglomeration of everyday objects juxtaposed in such a placid natural setting; almost surreal, yet still familiar. A support group for lost socks in a veritable no man's land. If anyone knows who it was that made this piece, please tell me!

UPDATE: It's artist Anu Tuominen! And it's called For Winter Nights

- Cathleen 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Design Always Repeats Itself: Woman from Willendorf and Barbie Edition

What do the Woman from Willendorf and Barbie have in common? Think about it over the weekend and I'll give you my opinion on Tuesday. 

Happy Weekend!

- Grace

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Neon Paper Art

Zim and Zou is a French studio comprised of Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmerman. Together they blend paper art, graphic design, and illustration to create a portfolio of truly unique and fresh art. You can view more of their work here.

I love the collection of now defunct electronics but I couldn't resist posting their Tysons series illustrating what the new Northern Virginia town will look like once the building and new metro line are complete. Cue scary music- going to NoVa will no longer be easy or convenient once the tiny town has been transformed.

- Grace

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The Helsinki Series in Coral
Modern Geometric Necklace or Bracelet, $43 on Etsy

I love taking classes. I would sign up for a class every semester for the rest of my life if I could. Tomorrow night I'm starting my very first JEWELRY class and I'm super excited. At this point I have heart-ed a virtual treasure trove of jewelry shops on Etsy who have all contributed to this impetus to learn the craft myself. One recent favorite is ISWAS+WILLBE, a wife and husband team designing-beading-stringing out of Portland, OR. 

rNA Strand Series-One of a Kind 
Necklace or Bracelet with Hand Cut Brass, $46 on Etsy

Their simple, delicate designs look lovely as single strands, but would definitely make some serious statements layered together. Or with one of the new friends they'll make in your jewelry box. 

The Buffalo Jump Series in Bone
Antique African Trade Beads & Czech Glass, $41 on Etsy

The Satellite Series in Powder Blue
Ethiopian Aluminum & Vintage Sequins, $41 on Etsy 

The Fragment Series: Free Form Ocean Jasper Slab, 
Raw Brass & Braided Linen, $52 on Etsy

Actually the photographs of these beaded beauties is what initially stopped me in my tracks. They make quite the pretty little still life. 

- Cathleen 

[All photographs courtesy of ISWAS+WILLBE via Etsy.] 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Palette + Work

Artist's palette and an example of their work. Palette above, work below. Which is your favorite? I like Delacroix's palette the best. 

Palette images courtesy of Retronaut

- Grace

Monday, January 23, 2012

Different Strokes

Not sure where I found this particular image, all diving stances and swimming strokes, 
but I am always a sucker for instructional illustrations and educational charts.

- Cathleen  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Artist of the Week: Tekla Frey

Born a Connecticut Yankee in Norwalk, but raised mostly in the South (which would supposedly account for her drawl), Tekla Frey identified herself as an artist from a very young age. She still talks about the joy she felt as a child watching her crayons melt into a waxy rainbow on the living room radiator. She grew up to study art education and art history at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. After college, Tekla pursued artistic passions in practically every creative field, from graphic design and hand-painted clothing to ceramics and embroidery. In the early 90's, after a number of years working in traditional western styles of oil and watercolor, Tekla met Gan Yifei, a master painter in the Chinese brushstroke style. She says that the beauty, power, and tranquility of this style, aspiring to capture the life force (or “qi”), is what most appealed to her about the watercolor practice. After a few years honing her craft, she traveled twice to China for advanced training, first studying with one of China's premier painters, Huang Jing, at the Southwest China Normal University in BeiBei, and then at The Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China’s most prestigious visual arts institution. 

Her birds are my favorite of all of her subjects. Just look at the sass on this one! (Click on any of the images for a larger view.) I'm constantly amazed at how much personality she can convey with just one quick stroke of the brush. 
Tekla currently lives and works in Kingston, NY where she has enjoyed much success in the local art scene. Her new website www.teklafrey.com launched this week to rave reviews.  She also happens to be my mom, and I'm incredibly proud of her and every one of her artistic endeavors. She inspires me every day to follow my passion.  

- Cathleen 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

High-Style Christmas - Advent Wreath Edition

Clearly Christmas has me all upset because I am also always on the lookout for a good advent wreath. I grew up with and mostly see the gross plastic green wreath kind that you lay on a table and pop 4 candles in. It puts me in a bad mood just thinking about it.

Then the other day I happened across these on Pinterest. Four individual candle holders, each uniquely designed and glazed in various green tones these are truly high-style, minimalist Christmas. Love!

Can be purchased here.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

OK, You Can Call it a Comeback: Epaulettes!

That fancy fringe up top is known as an epaulette, or "little shoulder" in French, an ornamental shoulder piece mainly worn on military uniforms that would identify a soldier's rank and also keep shoulder belts from slipping. I've seen some pretty cool updated versions around online and I've got to admit, I'm intrigued by these showy shoulder pads as the new! hip! accessory! Though I'm not sure I could confidently rock a pair myself yet. Until I work up the nerve, here are a few I've found that prove the throwback epaulette is making quite the fashion comeback.

Black Pleated Epaulettes by Vietto on Etsy, $45

Embroidered Commanders Epaulettes by Maranon Jewelry, sold out
(first featured on Swings & Arrows in September)

Crocheted Barnacles by Fnine on Etsy, $45

Shell Horn Shoulder Pads by mariaHandmade on Etsy, sold out

One-Shoulder Feather Epaulette by AutomaticDoll on Etsy, $24

- Cathleen

[First image from Oregon Shakespeare Festival]

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

High-Style Birth of Christ?

I am ALWAYS on the hunt for a good nativity set. Yes, yes I know Christmas is over. 

This is the kind of set I grew up with. Oh, Mom! How un-chic.

Fisher Price offers this Little People version- ew. 

Today I stumbled upon this:


Edgy yet holy. I like! 

I found it on the website aplusrstore which you can access here. The set is hand painted porcelain priced at $100 and designed by Massimo for design house Allessi. 

Beware this website also sells a high-style vibrator. It took me a solid 20 minutes to figure out what I was looking at. 

- Grace

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Handsome Hand

I found this amazing artificial arm from the Victorian era on Retronaut, a vast online archive full of photos that chronicle all manner of curious things from throughout history. What drew me to this particular piece was the impeccable engineering and craftsmanship. Made of steel and brass, the wearer could curl and straighten the articulated fingers as well as rotate and move the wrist up and down with a spring attached to the upper arm. It looks like something you might find in your grandmother's fancy silver chest. Though setting the table with this particular utensil might really creep out your dinner guests. 

- Cathleen 

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