Thursday, November 15, 2012

Station ID

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Federick Weinberg for the Birds?

Birdcage by Weinberg sold at Wright's Auction

Sunday Lewis made a delivery to the D.C. area.  Since he was that far from our home base in the Northern Neck of Virginia, he decided, "What the heck, I think that I'll just go out junking."  So he set off from there in hunt of whatever might cross his path.  We have learned that you never know what you might find, or where for that matter.  Lewis happened into a shop that had older garden stuff just looking. He came across a large bird cage. He had seen a similar cage in another high end shop and was familiar with it's designer, Frederick Weinberg.  He purchased the cage and brought it home along with a few other pieces that he found.

I was not familiar with Frederick Weinberg.  So my task at hand was to learn about him and his work.  I have had to hurry in order to keep up with my son, so that I might sound like I am up on all the items in the shop.  The birdcage that he found is very similar to the one above that sold at auction, but the one he found is designed to hang.  It is the same size and design otherwise. The one below is shaped like a bird. ironic.

Bird Shaped Birdcage by Weinberg

I never realized how many old interesting birdcages are out there.  I happen upon this page on 1stdibs.  Click and enjoy.

Frederick Weinberg was based in Philadelphia.  He has an artist as well as an industrial designer.  He produced decorative wall sculptures in fiber glass and wire. His company bore his name. He manufactures lamps, furniture, and clocks for both home and businesses.  He is know for his Atomic clocks.
Weinberg Atomic Clock 1950 sold at Wright Auction
I think that his furniture is fun and imaginative as well as useful.  He used rattan with metal rods to create some unique pieces.
A Fun Bar Cart on Wheels

Interesting lamp on legs by Frederick Weinberg

He was an artist in his own wright.  Although he is better now for his production pieces. So many of his works are iconic to the 1950's. His works helped create the feel for the era.  Lastly here is one of his paintings.
Frederick Weinberg Live Auctioneers

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Brad Pitt and Billie Haines, Actors & Furniture Designers

Listening to the news this morning, I learned that Brad Pitt was designing furniture.  I could not help but make the connection with another Hollywood icon and heart throb, Billie Haines.

 William (Billie) Haines was an actor in the early movies of the 1930's and later became a furniture designer.
Billy Haines design coffee table

Drawing a parallel here Brad Pitt, actor has been a heart throb for years.  He began to be interested in design when he discover Frank Lloyd Wright in College.  Ever since 1990 he has dabbled in design sketching out his ideas. We are not saying that Pitt is another Billie Haines, but it is an interesting correlation.
Artistic people tend to excel in more than one type of artistic endeavor.    

Two tables designed by Pitt to be on the market soon

 Brad Piitt has been working with Frank Pollaro, who has a firm in New Jersey, that is noted for its reproductions of Art Deco furnishings.  Pitt had ordered a reproduction desk from Pollaro.  While Pollaro was installing the piece he saw a book of sketches that Pitt had been working on, and suggested that they might work together and produce some of his pieces.  Work began on a bed he designed,rom there they went on to produce several tables and chairs as well as a bath tub designed for two.
double bath tub for two by Brad Pitt for Pollaro

Pitt says that he is focused on quality in the extreme, Pollaro has the same exacting attention to quality and detail.  They have made a good team sharing similar principles in crafymanship and design.  There will be an opening of the new designs by Pitt and Pollaro on the sixteenth of November 2012.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gino Sarfatti Lighting

Chandelier by Gino Sarfatti
Life does not always go the way one plans it.  Sometimes things and circumstances lead us into paths that are unexpected, and then sometimes wondrous things happen. Gino Sarfatti wanted to be an engineer, he attended the University of Genoa.  Circumstances changed his plans. His father's business took a turn for the worse, and he returned home to help out.  The family moved to Milan and he took a job as a salesman.  A friend asked him to make a lamp from a glass vase. He used a light from a coffee maker and was so fascinated by the process that he decided to open a lighting workshop.
Sixteen-arm Chandelier by Gino Sarfatti, Italian 1950s

He was so enthused that he had printed “Gino Sarfatti — Lighting razionale” (rational lighting) on the stationery of his first workshop.  He had no training in design and was completely self taught. Sarfatti worked directly with the craftsmen in developing his lighting fixtures, by doing this he gained a great knowledge of technical side of lighgting, thus being able to produce more and more imaginative types of lighting.  He developed around 700 lights of all sorts , which he called "light fittings".  He did this from the mid 1930's through the mid 1970's when he retired.
the "vine lamp" by Gino Sarfatti 1960's

In 1939 he helped to establish  Arteluce Company in Milan.  During World War II he was forced to flee Italy because his father was Jewish they stayed in Switzerland through out the war. He returned after the war to resume command of the company.  He believed that function should dictate form, and that all advances in technology should be thoroughly exploited.  He is know for his innovated designs in the lighting field.  In the early years he concentrated on direction lighting, later in his career he worked with more sophisticate designs.  He hired designers to work in the company as well as going along with his own designs.  He rarely named his designs using a series of numbers to indicate the type of lighting. 

Gino Sarfatti For Arredoluce Triennale Floor Lamp

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Preserving Our Historyin Our Buildings

I'm from Norfolk Va. and remember my grandparents complaining that there had been old homes that had been torn down to make way for more business in the down town area of the city.  This was back in the 1950's and they were talking about some of the older homes of the city.  At the time they said that Richmond had managed to keep more of their old homes.  Va. Beach Va, had nice old hotels intermingled with the new larger hotels until most of the really old hotels with their vintage charm have all but disappeared.  If they were not torn down they were up dated to the point that they no longer had the charm that was so appealing.

When I was growing up Va. Beach had as it's civic center the Dome....Quote from Wikipedia...Shows the lack of fore thought by the City of Va. Beach.

"The Alan B. Shepard Civic Center ("The Dome"), a significant building in the city's history, was constructed in 1958,[15] was dedicated to the career of former Virginia Beach resident and astronaut Alan Shepard.[16] Eventually, the Dome was frequently used as a smokey bingo hall. The building was razed in 1994[15] to make room for a municipal parking lot and potential future development."

Once an iconic building is gone there is no bringing it back. The dome did not have to be a Bingo Hall...What a wonderful information center it would have made.  Some it is the cost of up keep that decides the fate of an old building.  But when it is so iconic, the cost should be weighed against the value of an iconic building. 

There have been so many valuable architectural buildings lost torn down to make way for progress.  Wonderful Deco and Early Modern buildings azed to the ground to make way for things like parking lots.  Norfolk lost their one grand hotel the Monticello Hotel again making way for the new.

Richmond has so far respected their past far better than Norfolk or Va. Beach. 

An easy Modern Building to find in Richmond is the Markel Building, designed by Haigh Jamgochian, a Richmond Architect in 1962.  He was inspired by a foil wrapped Baked Potato.  In 2012 it was designated one of the ten Ugliest building in the country, we think it is gorgeous.  It can not help but draw your attention.  Hopefully Richmonders will respect it and keep it for future generations. 

It is interesting to note that some building that are not appreciated it their time can never the less be iconic parts of our history and deserve to be respected and saved for future generations.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grosfeld House

A PAIR OF PLEXIGLASS AND WATERED SILK CHAUFFEUSESManufactured by Grosfeld House, circa 1940

Grosfeld House Furniture Company manufactured some iconic designs of the twentieth century.  Some of the great designers that work for the company were Vladimir Kagan and Lorin Jackson.  They produced some of the earliest chairs using the new product Lucite.

USA 1940s
Grosfeld House produced pieces that were edgy often unique and would add an accent to any room.  They were both classic and modern and the quality of the construction of their pieces was always impeccable

Shell Console by Grosfeld House

They were both moder and classical but always iconic.

2-Piece, Tufted Ottoman by Grosfeld House

Monday, October 1, 2012

Harvey Prober's Furniture had ''the quality of aging gracefully"

Travertine top side table as seen on 1stdibs

Harvey Prober, 1922-2003, was a mostly self educated furniture designer.  His earliest piece was designed at age seventeen while he was still in High School.  He sold it for ten dollars which was a good amount for a young man at the time.   After he graduated from High School he made regular trips from Brooklyn to Manhattan to sell his designs.  He did take some evening classes at Pratt in design, but learned production of furniture on the job with Trade Upholstery, a New York company.

Harvey Probber 1922-2003

During World War II he served in the Coast Guard, after his sevice he established his own furniture manufacturing company, Harvey Prober Inc. 1945-1986.  His designs were of elegant modern lines
with touches of bright color.  He believed that good design would stand the test of time, "Having the quality of aging gracefully."  This he believed to be the fourth dimension of furniture.   Augmenting this he used beautiful materials.
Probber Sectional Sofa Todd Merrill Antiques
He believed in flexibility of function. He introduced in the forties independent geometric shapes of furniture, which became sectional modular furniture. He expanded on this in the seventies with even more innovations of his sectional seating.

Rosewood Decagon Lamp Table by Harvey Probber


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Paul Klee pronounced Clay

Ad Parnassum (1932) Paul klee

I studied Art History under Parker Leslie at Old Dominion College in the 1960's.  One of the Modern Artist we studied was Paul Klee (December 18, 1879 –  June 29, 1940).  I remember that he was a fore runner in the mordernism movements, however I had forgotten how utterly charming his works were.  That was until Lewis purchased a wonderful rug made in the 1970's after a painting by Klee.
l-Polyphony 1932 by Paul Klee

Moved by the whimsical quality of the rug and it's palette of colors, I decided to look once more into the works of Klee.  Klee a Swiss artist, who is also considered a German artist, studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Munich.  He excelled in drawing but felt that he lacked a concept of color at that time.  After finishing his studies he traveled to Italy where he had a great appreciation of the colors that surrounded him there.  He continually felt that he had a lot of work to do to understand colors. Taking an over view of his work you can see how he developed his keen sense of color by continually studying color in his paintings.  He was influenced by the modern movements in art at the time, among these the cubism, expressionism, and surrealism.  He met and worked along side the Russian Artist, Wassily Kandinsky.  They both taught at the German Bauhaus School.  He grew up in a musical family and musical rhythms seemed to be an influence in his art.  He also had an almost child like view of the world in some of his paintings as well as a sense of humor.  After struggling with color he wrote about it.  This was published in English as the " Paul Klee Notebooks."  Those are considered to be as important to modern art as some of the writings of da Vinci were to the Renaissance..

part of charming rug after Paul Klee Painting 1926

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Brimfield Show September 2012, Two Trimbles, Double Trouble

Lewis and my eldest son, Chris, both headed out to the September show in Brimfield, Mass., this past Sunday.  The shows opened on Tuesday.  Lewis shopped all the way there.  Chris and his partner for the show, David McDaniel drove all the way non stop.  David has an Antique Shop, 50 East Church, in Kilmarnock, VA.  They are sharing a tent in the Meadows Show, at Brimfield.  They called, saying that they made the front page of the Springfield Republican Newspaper, Springfield, Mass.  There was a great picture of the interior of their tent and David.  They were also filmed by the Crew of "This Old House". 

Lewis rather than trying to sell and buy too, just stuck to buying.  In order to find the type of things that he likes to buy, he had to walk, and cover as much space as possible.  He started as early as he possible could, hitting all the shows that he thought might have the type of items that would catch his fancy.  You never know what or where you might find things.  That evening after walking all day scouring the shows for what he felt was the very best, he got into his van and drove 20 minutes to his motel.  When he got out of the van he said his legs were weak from all the walking and his feet were sore to his knees.  Exhausted he retreated to his room to rest and revive until the next morning and he started all over again.

Monday they experienced some rain showers from tropical storm Issac.  Tuesday the heavens opened up dropping  4" of rain in a very short time.  The rain rushed through low areas, flooding some tents.  Chris realizing what was happening at the time, grabbed a shovel and started digging a ditch in order to save his furniture from getting wet.  Some people were not that lucky.

Last year the find from Brimfield for us was a rare floor lamp by Fontana Arte.  This year I have yet to see the treasures that Lewis found.  After two hard days of walking, shopping, hauling, and rain, Lewis headed home.  Then the fun begins in town as we ready for the reveal.

Chris and David will start the long journey home on Sunday after they pack up and take down the tent.  They will make it back at some point on Monday and by Tuesday or more Wednesday will be back to business as usual.  Stop by their shops as well as ours to see all the new items and hear the stories.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Discoveries in Art

Massey's Portrait in The National Gallery London

Lewis is on the road visiting and buying at the fall Brimfield Mass. Antique Show.  He just purchased three grotesque paintings of heads.  Each one is both curious and unique. Spurred on by his recent purchase, I decided to do a little investigation into paintings of the Grotesque on my own.  I was interested in two of the images that came up on my web search.  One was a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, and the other a portrait by Massey of a grotesque Duchess, that is in the National Gallery in London.  They bear a resemblance to each other and although both are hard to look at they seem to be of real people.  There was no plastic surgery and people had to deal with life as it was dealt.

Leonardo da Vinci's Drawing of a Grotesque

While visiting the National Gallery, London, website I was intrigued by another more tranquil portrait of a refined somewhat modest lady.  The video played on and a discovery was revealed showing changes that had been unvieled as the painting was cleaned.  The modest lady was revealed to be somewhat of a harlot.  You need to visit the site to see this for your selves.

My dad and brother had a similar experience while cleaning a portrait of an 18th century lady.  She also was very demure, but as they cleaned the painting for a customer they found that she had three arms.  two of which lay in her lap and the third was raised and the fingers of this hand were nestled in her cleavage. What to do.  They called the client who had brought the painting in for cleaning and asked them to come into the gallery to decide which arm to keep.  The over painting had changed a famous courtesan into a proper lady.  The clients rightfully decided to go back to the original painting and had quite a conversation piece to hang in their home.  One can only imagine how many risque paintings were changed during the Victorian era.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Maria Pergay

Ring Chair

Maria Pergay, now in her eighties, living in Paris, still is actively creating new designs. Her designs in stainless steel were first seen  in 1968, where she showed her now famous flying carpet bed and the ring chair. This earned her instant acclaim.

Wave Bench

 In the 1970's she was employed by the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia to design interiors and furnishings for their Palaces.  In the 1980's into the 1990's she had several important commissions in Russia.  During this time she still worked on her innovative designs in stainless steel.  She did things in stainless steel that had never been seen before or even thought about.
Commode by Maria Pergay

  She has been a designer who was not limited in her vision, who was constantly thinking and rethinking  new ideas in design. She has had shows in Paris, Korea, and London in the last five or six years.  Pergay continues to work on private commissions and has worked with Demisch Danant putting together a catalogue of her works which was released last year.  Her work is truly an inspiration to women and anyone interested in design. 

Triple tiered table

Saturday, August 11, 2012

IT's by McCobb

Paul McCobb (June 5, 1917 – March 10, 1969) from Massachusetts new from a young age that he was interested in art and design.  He studied at the Vesper School of Design in Boston, but did not graduate.  He served a short spell in the military during WWII.but got early discharge for medical reasons (1943).
The Calvin Group, Pair of End Tables
The Calvin Group, Pair of End Tables

After serving he moved to New York City where he worked for Martin Fienimin's Modernage Furniture and first came to prominence in 1948.  Here he met his soon to be partner in B.G. Mesberg in the Planner and Directorial furniture lines.  The Planner furniture line was some of the best selling of the 1950's.  This was the more common of his furniture, and was in continuous production from 1949 until 1964.  The Planner group made modern design readily available to the every day man.

His furniture produced by Calvin was of a higher quality and thus more collectible today.  Other companies that produced his designs were Custom Craft, O'Hearn Company, and H. Sacks and sons.

Friday, August 10, 2012

More New Shops in "K" Town

Months ago the Town of Kilmarnock had several empty shops. Just recently we have had two new venues open up. Emily Ficklin Hoar opened Rivah Antiques & Accessories on 43 South Main Street.  They have 4,500 square feet with a wide variety of antique, vintage and used items.  There is a group of shops in the rear of the building, among these are branches of The Box out of White Stone, Interior Innovations also from White Stone, Busy Bees from Va. Beach, and Gone Coastal of Deltaville.

Also on Main Street....Specials has attached a new coffee shop to their wine shop.  A small coffee $1.25 not at all bad.  Good coffee, good pastries and home made New York Bagels!   WOW....Ever since Charlottes closed we have been crying for another coffee shop in town.  Thanks, Tom.

On School Street a new Ace Hard ware has opened where the old Eubanks Store once stood.  This is under new management and seem to be atuned to the wants and needs of the area.  Good Luck to Graylend Horn and his manager Ryan Stephens and all their crew.  Welcome aboard to our Town.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blenko Glass...American Made

Winslow Anderson for Blenko

Back in the 1970's Lewis' father and I purchased a gift shop in Williamsburg Virginia.  I went from being just Mom to running a gift shop.   This was my first experience in buying for a shop.  One of the companies that we bought from was Blenko.  Their glass was always well done, but I knew little about their history, other than they were located in West Virginia.
Wayne Husted for Blenko

My brother's wife, Liz who had family connections with West Virginia, talked about the old art glass pieces done by some of the early glass artist at Blenko.  We started getting interested in the early pieces by the company.
Wayne Husted for Blenko

Blenko was started by William J.Blenko, who was born in London, England in 1853.  He was fascinated by the idea of glass making at an early age and was apprenticed to stain glass makers in England.  He came to the states to open his own company making glass.  Here in the states in the early 20th century, people making stained glass windows felt that things made in Europe were better than those made state side.  He was forced to moved back to England but returned later to the states and end up in West Virginia where the factory still is today.
Carl Erickson

During the depression demand for stain glass decreased and the company relied on table ware lines using  classical lines and forms..  In 1937 they hired Carl Erickson as foreman 1937-42 some designs may be attributed to him.  The first design director was hired in1947, Winslow Anderson, he was allowed full and unlimited creative freedom.  This started the historic period for Blenko Glass.  During this time from 1947-1974, Blenko had four designers, beside Anderson, were Wayne Husted, Joel Philip Myers and John Nickerson. Each in their turn were responsible for iconic designs for Blenko.
John Nickerson

 Wayne Husted was a pioneer of the  Studio Glass aesthetic movement and Joel Philip Myers carried on in the same tradition as Husted.  John Nickerson was the only designer that had had pervious experience in the glass making field. After 1974 they stopped hiring designers.  They still manufacture stain glass for making windows.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kilmarnock (the jewel of the Northern Neck)

I am torn between keeping the Northern Neck of Virginia and it's jewel, the town of Kilmarnock a secret.    It is selfishness on my part.  I'd like to keep this wonderful slow paced relaxing area all to myself.  That would be selfish.  We have farmer's fields, wide expansive views of the river ( or as the locals say Rivah).  Some how as soon as you cross the Rappahanock River the weight of the world eases off ones shoulders, and you visibly relax.  With this slower pace life takes on another dimension.

You can smell the freshness in the air, and hear the song of the birds.  Maybe relax on the river sailing, crabbing, or fishing.  There are nature walks be taken. Biking,is another option.

We do not lack for amenities.  There are several first class restaurants, Seven Martini Bar, The Town Bistro, The Trick Dog, and the Car Wash Cafe.  Carried away Cuisine, and the River Market provide ready made fare easily taken home for gourmet meals.with little effort.  Then there is the Tri Star Grocery Store, sometimes referred to by certain locals as the center of the Universe. For a  locally owned Grocery Store it is truly amazing  what you can find in that little store.  We also have a natural health food store.  Down the road a piece, as locals would say there is Edmonds Farm where you can get local Bison, and naturally fed pork, as well as fresh eggs. Here the chickens actually have normal fowl lives.

As far as shopping goes we have several first class shops.  Three shops on Main Street are on 1stdibs and sell internationally.  Show Offs is a fine place to grab some swinging clothes and Foxy's name says it all (clothes for the foxy lady).

The area is some what of an artist colony.  The Rappahanock Artist League affords the area residence a place to gather and practice their art.  So many people put off being artist in order to make a living.  As retirees they are now able to be what they want to be and so many follow the arts.

But don't let me convince you  to move here just come to the Tides Inn in Irvington, the Kilmarnock Inn, or one of the many B&B's for a visit.  Take a breath of our fresh air blowing off the Chesapeake Bay and a deep breath or two and completely relax leaving all your cares behind.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In Love with Murano Glass

We love Murano glass, and we made our share of mistakes when we started out collecting.  It takes studying and understanding the quality of the Glass.  Glass making began in Venice  in the 9th century under the Romans.  Because Venice was a major Port City there were influences from the near and far East.  In the !3th century because many of the buildings were made of wood and there was a great fear of fire all the Glass making industries were ordered by the Venetian Republic to move to the island of Murano (1291). 
Carlo Scarpa 'battuto' vase, Venini & C., 1940

These glass makers became prominent citizens but were not allowed to leave the city.  Some however did manage to leave and set up glass making work shops as far away as England and Holland.  By the end of the 16th century almost half of the Island's population were involved in the Glass making trade.  They produced the standard for glass making.  New techniques such as crystalline glass, aventurine glass ( threads of gold), millefiori.
Pulegoso vase By Martinuzzi

During the Twentieth century some of the better known Murano's glass makers were Venini, Barovier, Toso, Salviati, and Seguso.   These  innovators produced Sommerso , where there are two or more layers of colored glass(deleloped by Seguso) , Battuto (chiseled looking glass), Pulegoso (frothy glass),Scavo, frosted glass and Corroso, glass whose surface is irregular to the touch due to the use of a chemical agent..
Large Red Scavo Vase by Barbini

During the early Modernist period Architects and designers designed pieces in glass. Foremost among these were Gio Ponti, Carlo Scarpa, Archimedes Seguso and Napoleon Martinuzzi.  Their ideas took Murano glass from the frilly Chandelier into the design world of the new modern era.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Raymor Imports 1941-1980

Aldo Londi Vases for Raymor

Raymor Imports founded by Irving Richards started out distributing modern domestic products with designs by noted American designers such as Gilbert Rohde, Donald Deskey, Walter Dorwin Teague, Ray and Charles Eames, George Nelson, and Eva Zeisel.  After World War II they started importing designs by some important Europeans.  These included Pottery by Bitossi,  Aldo Londi, Gambone, and not the least Fantoni.
A lot of the pottery by Bitossi  was glazed in  Rimini Blue. 

Examples of Rimini Blue

 Through the distibution of Raymor, these pieces were sold in some of the larger well known department store in the states. Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in the designs of these artist along with the revival of the designs of the early modernist. Raymor pieces have become highly valued and collectable.

Fantoni for Raymor


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