Thursday, February 28, 2013

BEAUTY: Interior--Jay Jeffers

Since returning from France, I have been swamped with interior design work, which is great. I am hoping this might mark an upswing in finances for people in general and therefore an interest in the hiring of an interior designer (namely me). I am working on a master bedroom and bathroom extension and renovation, completely furnishing a huge 6,000 sq. ft. home, and a guest bathroom renovation. This leaves little time for posting the marvelous things I come across. But I had some time this evening, and I want to share with you San Francisco interior designer Jay Jeffers' new weekend home in Napa. I am crazy for Jeffers' work to begin with, but this charming house is pitch perfect. He took a non-descript California ranch house and created something elegant yet casual. I love the chevron wood treatment on the living room fireplace wall, and I especially love the fresnel stage lights in the bathroom!

The Weekly Reader and Scholastic Books

After kindergarten in 1970 came first grade, a time in fashion history when the dominant color in everyone’s wardrobe was plaid. I was assigned a classroom in the newer section at the rear of the school that looked onto the playground and across to my house. My teacher was Mrs. S and although she looked like she had just sucked the contents of an entire lemon, she was wonderful, kind, and fun. I liked first grade just as much as kindergarten, maybe even more because we got the Weekly Reader. Now, in the middle of this Weekly Reader was an order form from Scholastic Books for what seemed like an endless list of titles, each with a tiny paragraph description and an even more tantalizing rendering of its cover. We would check off all the books we wanted, carry the order form home and then bug, beg, and harass our parents into sending us back on the appointed day with a check for the proper amount. My mom always set a dollar limit—it was unusual for me to order more than six or seven dollars worth of books but one time I brought a check for thirteen dollars to school. Then there were some kids in the class who never brought their checks. I guess their families couldn’t afford books. I always felt bad for them; what did they read? Finally the day would come when the box would appear holding all of our precious little paperbacks. It felt like a miniature Christmas or birthday as we all tore into the box to find our books. I ordered "Rama the Gypsy Cat” because there was a drawing of a black cat with a pierced ear on the cover. I owned “The Cricket in Times Square” and “No Flying in the House,” both of which made me cry. I have since re-read them and they both describe children in scenes of loss. (Why do people do that to little kids? Walt Disney must have loved doing it because there are always scenes like Bambi’s mother getting killed or Dumbo being taken away from his mother. That had to have preyed on children’s fears of being taken away from or being abandoned by their own mothers.) But my favorite was “Tikki Tikki Tembo.” It was a story about two brothers in China (I am sure the illustrations with their beautiful, washed-out, water color palette and Asian sensibility made me appreciate an Asian aesthetic) playing near a well. One fell in and the other had to run and get help. But he had to tell his elders who fell in and unfortunately, his brother’s name was a long one: “Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Perri Berri Ruchi Pick Berri Pembo.” That name is seared into my brain. My mind connects this with a rhyme I learned around this time but I don’t know from where. I still remember it very well. “One fine day in the middle of the night, two dead men got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other. A deaf policeman heard the noise, and came to arrest those two dead boys. If you don’t think my story is true, ask the blind man, he saw it too.”

BEAUTY: Painting--Gérard Stricher

Abstract art can be a difficult thing for people. I certainly have a hard time selling it to my interior design clients...people feel better with something they recognize. But I have noticed that the more one is literate in art, the more readily one appreciates abstraction. I myself have not always appreciated abstract art, but when I was much younger, the more I understood art, art history, and what the artists themselves were thinking or trying to convey, the more I understood abstract pieces. And the work of Gérard Stricher is quite pleasing to my eye. They are light and lively, yet substantial. He has a marvelous sense of composition and placement, and I really love his highly saturated color palette! I would love to show these to an interior design client...

Top to bottom: 100*F; Desert Rouge; In The Back Of My Mind; Jeux Interdits; La Maison de Rosalie; Patagonie Mon Amour; Paysage Guerrier; Time Machine; Take Me To The Beach

BEAUTY: Art--Martin Wittfooth

The animals in Martin Wittfooth's landscapes seem to exist in a post-apocalyptic world where human civilization has either destroyed itself or crumbled. His extremely powerful pieces are comments on our current trajectory...

Top to bottom: Capitoline; Escahton; Fall/Advent; Harvest; Nocturne; Occupy; The Baptism; The Coronation; The Heirs; The Spoils

BEAUTY: Painting--Karen Woods

Karen Woods has created some stunning paintings for her series "Driving Rain." Yes, these near-photo-realist images are oil on canvas and they are gorgeous. Their relatively small finished size, 10" x 15" makes them precious little windows onto a drenched world. She has perfectly captured mist from traffic, water in large pools on or rain splattering against the windshield. I can almost hear the rain hitting the car...

Top to bottom: Afloat; All Ways; Complicit; Corridor; Final Fall; Rain Come Shine; See Through; Slick

BEAUTY: Photography--Benoit Paillé

French Canadian photographer Benoit Paillé's series entitled "Alternative Landscapes" explores light in the darkness of night. The juxtaposition between these undisturbed natural settings and the apparition of the foreign, lighted white cube is enigmatic, startling, and evocative. I am reminded of The Monolith in "2001: A Space Odyssey" or the science fiction idea of worm holes or portals to other places or dimensions...