Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Exciting New 1stdibs Gallery

The selection from New Orleans antiques dealer Karina Gentinetta.

Darlings, you already know about, the very successful, ten-year-old, online marketplace where more than 1,000 art and antiques dealers in the United States, Canada and Europe offer antiques and 20th century design. Last week in Manhattan, 1stdibs opened an actual "brick and mortar store," a huge gallery space in the New York Design Center featuring 53 dealers. My friend Mario Buatta invited me to join him along with Marilyn White at the preview party sponsored by Elle Decor magazine. The big showroom was really pretty amazing, and I recommend you stop by tout suite. It's open to the public Monday-Saturday at 200 Lexington Avenue at 32nd Street, 10th floor. You can see what is for sale in the New York gallery here.

At the main entrance to the gallery is an exhibition space which will display rotating shows. This painted and gilt table, brought by the dealer Malmaison, was made by Maison Jansen in Paris in the 50's for the Ford family of Detroit.

What's great about the 1stdibs floor is that it's surrounded by huge windows which allow for lots of natural light. Here is the mid-century offering from Wyeth Home, based in the Hamptons:

An enticing display at Bourgeois Bohème, from Los Angeles:

Vintage industrial furniture and and accessories at Get Back Inc. from Oakville, Connecticut:

Heir Antiques, from Providence, Rhode Island, was manned by the charming Tyler Doran who reported that the caribou head was on hold.

Tyler placed a glass top on this antique hospital cot to create a low table. Pretty clever.

The party got under way and filled up with mobs of people.

The friendly dealer Karina Gentinetta from New Orleans had a popular corner.

I met Michael Bruno, who is the president and founder of 1stdibs, and caught up with Michael Boodro, the editor-in-chief of Elle Decor.
There were waves of people at every turn

and a wide selection of offerings for every taste.
On the way home down Fifth Avenue I passed Madison Square Park. A full moon shone over the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building tower on the right, and the "Scattered Light" art installation by Jim Campbell below.

That was a fun night.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Visiting West Elm

Recently I wandered through the West Elm store on 17th Street here in Chelsea. I think of West Elm as modern and minimal, but the other day as I walked through, I found more natural colors and textures and an urban rustic feeling. In the middle of the store is an "indoor garden."

Within its exposed brick walls, items were displayed on stacks of rough wooden pallets. Merchandise in green and brown gave the impression of a garden without actually being plants. Home accessories made out of natural materials had an earthy appeal. I thought the whole display presented an attractive way to live.
These balls made out of drift wood, which were actually quite heavy, would look great in a beach house.

Then I came upon this collection. Made of recycled Spanish glass, it offered wine bottles, bud vases and votive candle holders in a wonderful array of irresistible colors including turquoise, emerald, mint green, amber and olive. You know I'm a sucker for a bud vase and a votive candle.

There was also a display of the collection at the door where the glass was arranged on a table and cleverly hung from the ceiling.

Honestly I had a hard time choosing colors because they were all calling to me, a combination of the sea and the land. I got a bud vase in turquoise which I like in our blue bedroom.

It's the same tone as the wall paint. On the table, which I found in an antique store, is a lamp from Pottery Barn and a transferware plate holding a collection of sea glass and seashells that Ted's sister-in-law Chris gathered in the Bahamas.
Bell likes the bud vase too.

I also got an amber bud vase for our green and brown living room. One tulip in a bud vase is so easy and pretty. You may remember I got these metal snow drops sprouting out of a stone at the Jane Street Sale for $5.

At West Elm I also got a few amber votive candle holders which look more antique to me than clear glass. It's the joy of simple things.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Trip to the Guilford Greene Art Gallery

When TD and I were visiting my parents in Guilford, Connecticut, over the weekend, we stopped on Saturday afternoon into an opening reception at the Greene Art Gallery. I knew about it since I am on the gallery's email list, having visited the gallery before and talked with its very affable owner Kathryn Greene.
The gallery is in a wonderful barn-like building off the Guilford green. It was opened in 1977 by Kathryn's husband Richard Greene, and closed when he passed away. Now Kathryn has reopened the gallery where she regularly hosts openings and events, and she lives upstairs "over the shop."

This reception was in honor of a new show called "Midwinter Beauty." The work of many artists was on display which celebrated New England's hibernating season. Landscapes often depict the vibrancy of spring and summer, but there is something meditative and slow about a still winter scene. Many of the paintings featured water views and captured the evocative mood of the shoreline during the cold months like these by Sean Murtha.

There were sweet treats to eat

and a glass of wine to enjoy

while a guitarist played in the corner. A very pleasant Saturday afternoon.

I liked this big painting of a barn in the northwest corner of Connecticut by artist Ken Musselman. It looks to me so much like the rolling hills of the Mohawk Valley and Herkimer.

Ken Musselman was at the opening with his wife, and he told me that he is a self-educated artist who worked as an illustrator in the Navy. This barn is on a family farm in East Canaan, Connecticut, which runs down to the Blackberry River.

A group of snowy paintings by Vincent Elliott were encased in silvery frames which perfectly complemented the subjects. Vincent told me that he makes the frames himself, which involves a complicated process of milling the wood and covering it with silver leaf.

His dreamy paintings are created not with a brush but with a palette knife which gives them a sculptural feeling.
This beautiful little painting depicts his art studio which he built in the village of Moodus, Connecticut, in the town of East Haddam. He said that the back side of the studio is all glass

which reveals this view. Pretty nice.

While I was talking to the artists, TD was perusing the exhibit. He came back and said he wanted to buy a painting, this vivid watercolor by artist Jean McQuillan of a bird perched on a snow-covered evergreen branch. Apparently we just missed the artist. I think it will be very pretty in our apartment.

Like the rest of the northeast, Guilford suffered an unusually harsh winter and snowfall, but the gallery reception enjoyed a large turn out as residents ventured forth. "Art lifts your spirits and reflects on the best part of who we are," Kathyrn Greene said to me. "People like to come out and be together with art."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Trip to the Antiques Garage

You know that I love to go to a flea market on a Saturday afternoon. It's fun to look around and offers inspiration. I'm happy when I come home empty-handed actually because honestly I don't need more things. But I'm also happy to discover something wonderful.
Recently I visited the Antiques Garage on 25th Street between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue which offers two floors of vendors in a large space which is used as a parking garage during the week. "Antiques" though is a stretch – it's really a flea market of vintage dealers.
I picked up two discoveries. The first was this metal industrial box in the foreground. It's the perfect size for holding all the tv remote controls, and sits on our metal table which I also found at the Antiques Garage. The box was $8.

At a booth of vintage clothes I saw this colorful wool challis scarf. "It's Perry Ellis," the vendor said. Bingo.

When I first moved to New York I had a temporary job working for Mr. Perry Ellis – I was his chauffeur. Perry then made the most beautiful clothes. He had many talented designers working for him including Isaac Mizrahi and Richard Haines. Liz Kurtzman designed the signature, collectable scarves. I still have handsome scarves that I bought back then.
When I became a freelance writer I interviewed Liz Kurtzman for a publication called Scarves International which was sold in bookstores and department stores. Liz said to me, "Scarves are like little paintings. When you design one, you don't have to worry about shape or fit. Ultimately the goal is to make a beautiful thing that will be perfect on its own." This scarf looks like a Gustav Klimt painting. There are so many gorgeous colors in it – red, orange, green, blue, brown. Liz Kurtzman told me, "Color was very important to Perry. For Perry, if the color was right, it was a good thing."

I think Liz Kurtzman married a movie producer and moved to L.A. Well, I had to have the scarf. It was marked at $25 but I got it for $20. I told the vendor, Susan Bergin, I worked for Perry, and we fell into a conversation. She said she was from Philadelphia and comes up to the Antiques Garage every weekend. As a former criminal defense lawyer, she was much happier selling vintage clothes.
Here I am wearing my purchase. This scarf looks very English Bloomsbury, but it would also be at home in a street-side cafe in the Marais, no?

This scarf makes me happy.