Friday, February 25, 2011

Donald Sykes Lewis Jr. Art in the Family

Blue Cheese by Donald S. Lewis Jr.
Every now and then you just get the urge to brag.  Donald S. Lewis is my younger brother, and a very good artist.  We grew up in Norfolk Va. in a family that encouraged the arts.  My Father and Mother both trained when I was little as portrait painters.  Dad started out in the adding machine business, but was an advid collector of paintings which he stored in my grandmother's attic.  He loaded up the attic until one day, she declared that if he didn't get them out her ceiling was going to fall in.  This thrust my father into the art business head first.  Norfolk Va. was not know for being able to support Art galleries.  But in our family, you never say never.  I was eight years old and my brother four years old.  We spent several summers helping my Mother run the Gallery, Auslew, while dad worked to make enough money for us to live.

Thus we grew up surrounded by art and artists.  In order to entertain us my Mother encouraged us to draw and paint from an early age.  She would have contest and of course we both won.  We went to museums and were constantly exposed to art through the Gallery.  We met many working artist and grew to appreciate their work.  Dad also painted in his spare time, and he restored oil paintings.

Painting of Wroton Island By Donald S. Lewis Jr.

Don went to Randolph-Macon College for his BA and received his Masters from the University of VA.  Here he met Elliott Clarke.  He later worked for my Father at Auslew Gallery Where he did restoration of art for the Gallery.  He has written about Herman Herzog for the Brandywine Museum and about Elliott Clarke, he is consitered the authority on both Artist.

Willows on Jackson Creek by Donald S. Lewis Jr.
Don kept after me to resume my painting after having my three boys.  I owe him a lot for making me resume my painting.   We both have been painting professionally for over 3o years.  Don has been painting full time for the last fifteen years.  I have to find time to paint.  We both draw a lot of satisfaction from our work.  I have to admire my younger brother for his devotion to his work and to the wide range of his work.

He currently divides his time between his home in Virginia Beach Va. and his Cottage on the side of a Mountain in Highland County Va. Near Monterey Va.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Friend and Artist Pete Tansill

Artist Peter Tansill

Pete Tansill stopped by Saturday.  We had not seen as much of him recently.  He and his lovely wife have their hands full chasing after their lively twin daughters.  Pete is always fun to have around.  His imagination runs a little on the wild side.  He uses Parts and pieces of old dolls mostly those from the 1930's and 1940's.  He intermingles these with odds and ends of found items.  Visiting his website is like taking a flight of fancy into a world of dreams, or a fairy tale.  His pieces of sculpture are enchanting, captivating the imagination.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Brad Stephens Found Objects

Well finally, we got our friend Brad Stephens to Blog a little.  Brad is so much fun that his blog has got to be great.  He takes life to the extreme.  This year he has taken on the project of completely changing the color of his home from ho hum to a wowing Pumpkin.  I  just had to see that.  So, last fall I got my Mother into the car and took a ride down the sedate road in Rural Irvington Va. to see the Pumpkin house.  It was awesome.  The trees behind his house showed an array of fall colors and his home sat nestled in among the foliage.  What a great choice!  His home is now the jewel of the street even though it is not the grandest.

Today he brought in Photos of his newly decorated home.  He recently acquired a vintage black leather sofa from our shop.  This was the catalyst that began the transformation of his living room and his dinning room.  It has been a year or so since he entertained us in his home.  It was an experience.  Everything has changed since then maybe several times.  Brad is a collector of found things.  He arranges them artfully.  His home is a showcase of items that he loves.  Fortunately for Brad he is married to Angie, who must be an Angel to put up with the constant rearranging with which her husband participates.  Although every time he redoes his home, it gets better and better.  He sells his wonderful finds in order to be able to redo all over again!  We all have our addictions.  We are addicted to the Hunt.  There are always new treasures to be found. Check out his Blog!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Movies that inform

We discovered the wonderful world of netflicks on demand.  Woah!  all the great documentaries that are available.  We perused the menu and started watching.  Television choices have gotten to the point of us watching the food channel.   We found a movie about Jean Michel Basquiat.  It was amazing.  He rose to fame too quickly.  He had an extraordinary imagination and a sense of color.  Andy Warhol took him under his wing and they even did a show where they collaborated with each other.  He became very depressed after Warhol died and overdosed shortly there after.  Such a tragedy, genius often is nipped in the bud. He burned brightly for a short time.

Another movie that we totally enjoyed was "Exit Through the Gift Shop" this was a documentary type movie about graffiti artist,directed by Banksy.  This was all seen through the video camera of an obsessive, compulsive, photographer who becomes a graffiti artist himself. He takes the name of Mr. Brianwash.  Throws himself a big show and does fabulously.  He learned from all the people he photographed.  Smart man.

Here is his Dr Spock print. Judge for yourself, rent the movies you will enjoy!

I never knew what I was missing until we got netflixs at home on demand. I had gotten to the point of only watching TV for the morning news and an occasional cooking show.  There just did not seem to be anything thrilling on television any more.  I guess there never really was.  Shows were aimed at the lowest common denominator, outside movies Discovery and Arts & Entertainment; there just wasn't much to catch your interest or to inspire.

Low the mighty Netflix. A whole new world opened up for me.  My mind has not been as simulated since College.  You can actually learn something by watching and you can do this on your down time.  We have watched series on the ocean (The Blue Planet) and series about prehistoric beast.  Documentaries on artist particularly modern 20th century artist. I've learn about the artists that I had only touched on in my art history classes.  The documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright  bought to light how advanced his thinking was in respect to his architecture.  Last night we watched "Stealing Art" a documentary on the Barnes Museum outside of Philadelphia.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spring is just around the corner

This winter seems to have been one of the coldest that I remember.  All I've wanted to do was to stay in and cook, as a result of that kind of thinking I ended up eating as well.  Comfort food!  Today has been like a breath of spring.  I woke up and looked outside and the sky seemed brighter, warmer even.  What a nice surpise on Valentine's Day.  We threw the doors open in the shop and let the fresh air come in.

Lewis is working today on doing photos for our spot on 1stdibs.  This means that he carries a lot of the pieces to be photographed outdoors.  The light is so much better and we don't get the reflections from our lighting.  It is amazing all the talents one has to use in our business to get ahead.  Lewis took a course in college on exhibition design and display.  He says that of all his courses that he took, this one he has been one of the most useful.  He has had to become a jack of all trades. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Report on Road Trip

Lewis met up with his antiquing buddy, Chris.  They hit the road to Florida stopping as often as possible to sample antiquing, first on the west coast of Florida and then cutting over to the east coast.  They delivered the dinning table without a hitch to Miami Area.  I turned green with envy over the details of eating seafood at a raw bar and drinking cold beers by the water.  While we got 1" of snow and were freezing. 

Pickings were slow to nil in Tampa area, not the right kind of things for us.  It seems that every retiree was hitting the consignment and thrift stores to find things to go on ebay to supplement their income or just to have something to do.They found a few things in the  Naples and Sarasota Area.  We had heard that Florida was a gold mine, we are still searching for the Treasures.  Lewis did pick up an item here and there.  Most of his finds came out of the Miami area.  He did a favor for Comer & Co by picking up an item for them and found a treasure trove for himself.  I got the call, "Hey, Mom, how much more can I spend?"  He made it to Raleigh NC last night and, of course, is currently antiquing his way home.  I can not wait to see him unpack the van.  One item he purchased was a Grandfather clock.  "A What!"  I said.  This is a cool grandfather's clock standing taller than Lewis  done in faux bamboo and chinoiserie.  He sent a picture but not good enough to publish on the blog.  He also purchased a large Murano sculpture of ducks taking flight.

Up dating Saturday Morning....A great Bronze Altar table engraved by hand with  the creation of  man by Phillip and Kelvin LaVerne.  I had visions of  an all glass  Murano  sculpture of ducks, but what Lewis brought back was a combination of  Murano Glass and bronze  (gold plated 24kt.)  The Ducks are taking off among cat tails.  This is much nicer than my imagination, and much larger.  The grandfather's clock is a tall case clock not like any I've seen before.  It is from the 50's or early 60's almost Hollywood Regency....Cool not kitchy. He found several Murano pieces a really nice lamp with an awesome shape, tones of rose with gold flecks.  A great bowl by Barbini in scavo large in size.  Another Murano bowl by Vistosi in clear glass similar to one we already have.  He found a pair of medal base tables with heavy green glass tops.  As soon as we post these on 1stdibs I'll post these photos on our Blog

Monday, February 7, 2011

On the road again with Antiques

This time of year in my fantasies I take off for Florida or some tropical Island.  Invariably  here I sit behind the counter in Cold Virginia waiting for spring to come.  This year I actually though that I might get a chance.  However, Lewis got lucky and is making a delivery of a dinning table that we sold off 1stdibs to Miami, Florida.  I did try to catch a ride, but alas someone has to keep the home front running smooth.  I can only dream of warm breezes and blue waters.

Lewis and another Antique Dealer friend, Chris, met up this morning early in South Carolina to make the trip together. Last I heard they were antiquing their way through Atlanta GA.  Lewis found a few items yesterday in North Carolina on his way to meet Chris. These two guys have been texting back and forth about their finds to each other for months. Obviously they both have a bad case of contagious Antiquitus which has become chronic  I'll keep you informed on the adventures of these too crazy antique treasure hunters over the next couple of days.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Osvaldo Borsani

Who is Osvaldo Borsani?  I'm always learning about furniture designers of the twentieth century.  We are in the process of acquiring several pieces by Borsani. After seeing these pieces, I knew that he was an exceptional furniture designer.  Lewis is always ahead of me when it comes to knowing about the furniture designers of the 2oth century.  Now is the time for me to do my homework and learn a thing or two. was born, in 1911, into a family already rooted in the furniture making business.  He studied to be an architect, like so many of Italy's great furniture designers of the mid 20th century. After his graduation he joined his family's firm,  Atelier Varedo.  Here he worked as a furniture designer.  During this period the Italian furniture designesr and particularly their architects were ready for a change and grabbed hold of the idea of streamlining both their buildings and their furniture for the 20th century.  Working with his twin brother, Fulgencio, they developed furniture of exceptional quality and design geared to the modern world. He sold to such clients as  Fontana,  Crippa,  Fabbri, and Sussu.  In 1956 the brothers launched a new company named Tecno.  Here they produced notable designed furniture appropriate to the technology expected for the "modern age."


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