Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How I Spent My Weekend

I bought this mirror at the auction house where my husband works for $100. The mirror is huge and is like 70+ inches tall. The frame was a worn gold which I didn't like. I had a friend from my interior design days come over and give me some advice. 

Here's the original mirror in my unpainted hall. 

Here's the mirror primed and leaning against a wall (not where it's going to be hung) painted Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl. 

Here's the mirror complete. Still not hung, but painted Benjamin Moore's Jupiter Glow which my friend picked out. I don't think I would have ever been adventurous enough to choose this color, but it looks AMAZING! And against the Gray Owl, it's such a statement. Once I hang it, I'll post pics. 

- Grace

Monday, July 30, 2012

Artwork of the Week: Woody Allen

Woody Allen by Anna Topuriya, 
ink, gouache, graphite,  love.

Materials above excerpted from the artist's website, though I think she probably meant to list lurve, loave, or luff instead. 

- Cathleen

Friday, July 27, 2012

Craft vs. Fine Art

Where is the line between craft and fine art? 

This is something I ponder often and get into discussions about more than I'd like. 

Is this woven basket craft or fine art? 
Should this basket be in a museum?

What about this set of nesting baskets? 

Would your mind change if I told you they were done by world renowned glass blower Dale Chihuly? 
This set is in a museum. 

What about this basket? 
Made in 1800 by Apache Indians. 
Native American art is craft. Native Americans didn't paint, instead they made baskets, sewed, crafted elaborate war bonnets. Is this not their fine art? 

This basket is also in a museum. 

Something to think about: it wasn't until 1567 that a distinction between craft and fine art was defined. And when it was defined architecture was considered above fine painting. 
Leonardo DaVinci thought sculpting was a low form of art because the artist got dirty while they created. 
Michelangelo was a sculptor and is considered a great artist of the Renaissance. 

- Grace

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Building a Better Mousetrap

John O. Kopas and George W. Bauer

Washing Machine
Alfred T. Sullivan

Sofa Bedstead
Abraham Mooris

Ice Skate
Henry Wilson

Pigeon Starter
Henry A. Rosenthal

The Renwick Gallery has a current exhibition titled Inventing a Better Mousetrap: Patent Models from the Rothschild Collection

This unique exhibition features 32 models of nineteenth-century patented inventions submitted to the patent office from across the US. 

This exhibition is a great reminder of our boot-straps heritage and craft traditions. 

The exhibition closes on November 3, 2013.

View more information and pics here

All pictures via The Renwick Gallery website.

- Grace

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Artwork of the Week: TV Dinner

Continuing the theme of my favorite things of yore: this ceramic tile sculpture by Gregory Hicho reminded me of the TV dinners my mom used to buy me as a special Friday night treat. I usually picked Salisbury Steak or Beef Stroganoff after a careful survey of the freezer section, but the sectioned plate with meat, usually two starches, and dessert were all pretty much the same. I can still feel that grainy mashed potato mush on my tongue. Mmm. Good. 

- Cathleen 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to Create a Great Art Collection on a Budget

For so long when people would ask me what I wanted to do career-wise I was always stymied. The reason being my true passion is collecting and my lifetime dream is to leave behind a great collection of art and antiques. I've been stumped on how to do this without a great amount of wealth, however yesterday an obituary ran in the Washington Post about a postal worker and his reference librarian wife who amassed an amazing art collection that is now worth millions. 

Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, 2009. 
Image via Washington Post  by Katsuyoshi Tanaka.

Together the Vogels would purchase unknown artists' work and either pay small sums, barter, or pay in small installments to add to their collection.

Their collection consists mostly of conceptual and minimalist art and includes work by artists Jeanne Claude and Christo, Jeff Koons, and Chuck Close, to name a few.

Their criteria for collecting works fell into three categories:

1. It had to be inexpensive.
2. It had to be small enough to be carried onto the subway or a taxi.
3. It had to fit inside their one bedroom apartment.

Herb and Dorothy's story is truly inspiring and illustrates perfectly that you need not be an heiress or an oil tycoon to start a memorable collection. 

You can read the obituary in full here

- Grace

Monday, July 23, 2012

Memories of My Youth

Lately I've been thinking a lot about when I was little. Specifically, the prominent role that TV played in my life growing up. I attended a preschool that prescribed an hour (or three) of TV time every afternoon, a practice that would be completely unheard of in these days of interactive play. No wonder my memories are clouded with nonsensical theme songs and visions of lumbering puppets. One such show that left a particularly deep impression was Today's Special, a program on Nickelodeon about a mannequin named Jeff who came to life (waaay before Mannequin the movie ever thought about doing it), his dresser/display designer Jodie, an old security guard named Sam, a rhyming mouse they called Muffy (who lived in an AMAZING dollhouse with an elevator!!), and it all took place in the children's section of a department store after hours. My, the hijinks that did ensue! Here's a clip: 

Today's Special "Ice Cream" Part 1
[Part 2 can be found here, and Part 3 here.]

Another real gem was Pinwheel, which was like the Canadian version of Sesame Street. It took place in and around a Victorian house on a quiet leafy street instead of in and around an apartment building on a busy city street. But there were still plenty of puppets and friendly neighbors galore. The opening credits introduce you to all of the characters with a sketchy/drawn effect that I rather liked. They had a fortune teller, a blind mole named Molly, and—just like Today's Special—there was even a mime in the mix! (I guess mimes were really big in the 80s?)

They also featured an international cartoon segment every episode. 
Anyone remember The Rabbit with Checkered Ears?

I wish I could get both series in their entirety on DVD so that I could park my future children in front of their glowing magic for hours on end. 

- Cathleen 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Artist of the Week: Kimberley Laurenti

Cute Plant, $39 via HermanMarie on Etsy

Kimberley Laurenti is the painter/illustrator/sculptor extraordinaire responsible for these cute little guys. She has two Etsy shops: Herman Marie, where the first five of these flat wall sculptures hang out, and My Grey Sky, where she features the rest of her 3-D Mooks and 1-D prints. Though there is a distinct difference in color and content between the two stores—one's a bit brighter and more whimsical, while the other strays into slightly darker territory—you can definitely tell they were made by the same funny hand. Kimberley lives in Florida and has a blog that she occasionally updates with sweet shots from her daily life and sneak peeks of what's soon to be in store. You can check it out here: www.ilovegreyskies.blogspot.com

Two Orange Snakes, $56 via HermanMarie on Etsy

Yellow Bear with Bow Tie, $46 via HermanMarie on Etsy

Anatomical Art, $56 via HermanMarie on Etsy

Egg Cups, $55 via HermanMarie on Etsy

Bear Hood Mook, $36 via ilovegreyskies on Etsy

Mook Love Print, $15 via ilovegreyskies on Etsy

Wolk Mooks, Mounted, $40 via ilovegreyskies on Etsy

- Cathleen 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baby Book: Sara Midda

I'm a huuuuge pain in the butt when it comes to baby books. I have two children and I picked their baby books out with the same care someone might use to pick their life partner. I also have very large baby book shoes to fill. My own baby book is stuffed (!) and I mean STUFFED! It's probably 10" thick and the binding is long gone because my mother archived so much stuff in it, including my umbilical cord (I'm not joking), and lots of fallen out baby teeth. Anyone new I meet I make come over and look through my baby book (this is why I have like 2 friends). I should also note that I'm the youngest of four, my mom worked full time, and my older sisters' baby books are just as complete. I have no idea how my mom did it. 

Anyway, I just stumbled upon this gorgeous baby book by Sara Midda yesterday at a bookstore in the city. 

A popular baby book in the UK, it features delicate watercolored images as well as all of the important keepsake moments, first lock of hair etc...

If you have a reason to buy a baby book, I suggest this one. I might even throw out the ones I've done for my kids (ages 5 and 2) and start over ;)

- Grace

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jar of Clay

Spotted in the NYTimes Style section last week. Aren't these vessels stunning? They are called "Utilitarian" Ceramic Jars, and all of their movable parts would suggest that perhaps they'd make a great cocktail strainer or tea maker, but no. The artist, Ben Fiess, handcrafts each one and suggests they'd be better suited for holding "salt, pepper, herbs and spices." Whatever you decide, they'd look beautiful on any shelf or tabletop, and can be purchased on gretelhome.com

- Cathleen

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sticks and Balls

I will be making one or both of these for Appetizer Night at the McKeon family reunion upstate this week. It's like summer camp (says the girl who's never been to summer camp) for adults! With a few teenagers thrown in the mix. Lots of lake swimming, card playing, kayaking and solid family hang time. The year Micky first invited me to the gathering, we had only been dating a few months, but everyone was so wonderful and welcoming. I immediately felt like I was brought into the fold and I loved it. We even had a second wedding ceremony there last summer! Now it's something I look forward to every July. And Appetizer Night is definitely one of the highlights. Everyone makes something and it's all bite-sized and delicious. The mozzarella tomato pops above are pretty self-explanatory: cut baby tomatoes in half, spear with toothpick, then add a mozzarella ball. I plan to swipe them all through a puddle of pesto before serving. The baked mozzarella sticks below are a bit more involved. 

[Recipe modified from skinnytaste.com]
24 part-skim mozzarella string cheese sticks 
2 large eggs, beaten
4 tbsp flour
10 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs
10 tbsp panko crumbs
4 tsp parmesan cheese
2 tbsp dried parsley
olive olive cooking spray 

Cut cheese in half to make 48 pieces and place in freezer until cheese is frozen. In a small bowl, whisk the egg. Place the flour on another small dish. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, panko, parmesan, and parsley. Dredge the frozen cheese sticks in flour, shaking off excess, then dip into the beaten egg, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Once all cheese sticks are covered, place them on a tray lined with wax paper and freeze until ready to bake. When ready, preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil, and spread out the sticks. Spray the tops of the sticks with a bit more oil then bake for 4-5 minutes until crisp, turning the sticks and baking for an additional 4-5 minutes on the other side, keeping a close watch so that they don't melt. Remove from oven when done and serve with marinara sauce for dipping. 

- Cathleen 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Drawing Parallels: Rietveld Schroder House

Happy Friday Everyone! 

Don't you wish you had this playhouse in your backyard for your child? I do! So adorable! 

Reminds me of the De Stijl Rietveld Schroder House (below) in the Netherlands. 

Cathleen is on for Monday and I'll see you all on Tuesday!

- Grace

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Katie Holmes - Style Star

Since Katie Holmes has been in the news a lot recently, I've been thinking back on my favorite looks of hers. She definitely stepped up her fashion game when she began her relationship with Tom Cruise and she had a lot of winners during that time as well (a lot of misses also). 
This red dress, blue shoes, tan skin, and Louise Brooks hairstyle from the MET Costume Institute Gala in 2008 is my favorite. So bold and cutting-edge, it hits every right target in my book.

What's your favorite Katie Holmes look? Leave a link in the comments section.

- Grace

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Simple Song

A Simple Song for a Wednesday. 
With some epic guitar under currents that make me think of The Who. 
But this time it's by The Shins.

- Cathleen 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Enamel Art

Enamel portraiture is a lost artform. This detailed portrait is of Anne, Duke de Montmorency and was painted by Leonard Limosin. Housed in the Louvre, this enamel portrait was created in 1556. The intricate frame is highlighted by enamel plaques done in shades of a gray color scheme so popular  during the Renaissance that it had its own name --- grisaille. 

It's a shame enamel work has fallen out of fashion. Over the weekend I picked up this adorable little enamel bowl at Klaradal Swedish Antiques and Gifts in Olney, MD. This store is truly a gem (Thank you to my friend Nicole for introducing it to me!) and a highlight of Olney, MD.

I'm thinking of hanging this on Teddy's bedroom door. 

What do you think?

- Grace

Monday, July 9, 2012

Artwork of the Week: Four Oranges

Ellsworth Kelly, Four Oranges, 1966
 graphite on paper, 22 9/16 in x 28 9/16 in

Currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum in an exhibition titled Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings until September 3, 2012. Saw it in person with my dad last week. This one was his favorite. Beautiful show. 

- Cathleen

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hook & Matter

Lasercut Neon Pink and Clear Starburst Necklace, $28 on Etsy 

Next in Renegade Redux comes Brooklyn-based Hook & Matter, another great seller that caught my eye at the craft fair. What I love about this company is the diversity in what they make—jewelry in metal, plastic, porcelain, and even pillows!—but everything has the same hard/soft aesthetic. Nice!

Simple Gold Bar Stud Earrings, $40 on Etsy

Porcelain Roll Gold Necklace, $58 on Etsy

Gold Stacked Square Earrings, $40 on Etsy

Links on Links on Links White Porcelain and Gold Necklace, $78 on Etsy

Square Geometric Gold Studs, $38 on Etsy

Pink Silkscreened Arrow Pillowcases, $46 on Etsy

- Cathleen 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Amos & Boris

My daughter and I just checked this book out of our library on Tuesday. Amos & Boris is a beautiful story about a mouse and a whale and their friendship. 

I've always loved William Steig, but had never come across this book before. I won't ruin it for those who haven't read it, but if you want a story with substance, great illustrations, and a valuable moral then this is the book for you. 

Check it out and let me know what you think. 

- Grace

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Stars and Stripes

Galaxy Nebula Print Silk Scarf by Pillars of Creation on Etsy

An illustration by Denise Holmes

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!! 
May there be stars and stripes forever! 

- Cathleen 

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