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Archive for June, 2007

Thomas McKnight

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Thomas McKnight is the first artist I ever learned about. It was in the late 1980s and living near Miami, my mother wanted our house to look more Floridan. So, a large white sofa and a framed McKnight picture were bought.

My mother also bought a book of his work, titled “Thomas McKnight’s World: A Vision of Earthly Happiness”. And though the couch is long gone, the book remains on her coffee table.

In the book, McKnight describes how he thinks every life has a leitmotif-a guiding vision. His was the search for paradise and you can see his search in his work. He paints pictures of interiors looking out into paradise or exteriors in locations like Venice, Mykonos, Long Island, and Europe. McKnight then creates silkscreens and may use as many as fifty-two different colors in an individual silkscreen. His prints are then sold as limited editions.

Often, you can see a sliver of moon in his pictures, which when I see one in nature, I always refer to it as a “McKnight moon”. On McKnight’s website, http://www.thomasmcknight.com, you can learn about McKnight’s newer work.

To learn more about silkscreening, check out Martha Stewart Weddings Summer Issue. There is a great section with some simple silkscreening projects.

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Hand Embrodiery

When I “vacation” at my mother’s house in Mississippi, a large amount of my time is spent sifting through old issues of decorating magazines. I have always had an addiction to these mini-how-to books. Today, in a two year old issue of Country Home, I found a short article on the lost art of hand embroidery. From 1875-1925, hand embroidery was a domestic activity popular on both sides of the ocean with both farm wives and society ladies. Stitched on sturdy linen, most table cloths were made to imitate the once upper-class luxury. Now, there is a renewed interest in this art. You can find linens at estate sales from a few dollars to a few hundred. Each piece has a story that is as unique as it is beautiful.

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Summer of Love

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Friday evenings, from 6-9pm, the Whitney Museum of American Art has pay as you wish admission prices. It was the perfect opportunity for me to check out the Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era exhibit. I was expecting to see some unusual art and was impressed by the variety of art, which included paintings, photos, posters, music, sculpture, light displays, videos, and films. Organized by Tate Liverpool, the must-see exhibit showed the relation between the emergence of psychedelic art and the social changes and will run until September 16, 2007.
The Whitney also had an exhibititon titled Profiling. It featured two giant screens that used automated systems to track your movements and uses them to explore the ideas of surveliance, protection, privacy, and identity. It was quite unusual and very entertaining. Profiling will run until September 9, 2007.

Another great exhibit, which ended yesterday, was Taryn Simon: An Amercian Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar. This project featured photos and explanations of shrewd information which evoked the viewers’ curiosities.

To find out more about these exhibits, visit www.whitney.org or the museum at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street in NYC.

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This year, there seems to be resurgence in living “green”. Numerous magazines have promoted green products, television personalities have encouraged us to change daily habits, and green has become a topic of conversation among our friends. Since I am a fashion follower, I was excited to learn that Anya Hindmarch was releasing her $15 “I Am Not a Plastic Bag” tote in the United States. The bag sold out almost immediately when released in London earlier this year.

I was able to purchase two bags at the Soho store. I am currently carrying one, which I will save forever in my collection, and give the other one to my mother, who lives in Mississippi. I know that they have probably never heard of the bag, the frenzy, or the designer, so by getting it into her hands, it will be a great way to educate how easy it is to help our environment. Many people are selling the totes on ebay, which does help to get the word out, but at a higher price.

It is almost amazing to think how fashion has come full circle; years ago, high end designers did not think about the materials they used or using their popularity to influence social changes. Now, however, common man materials are being used to spread a message and have become must-have items. Another tote that serves triple duty by spreading an eco-friendly message, donating proceeds, as well as being a fashion statement, is The Feed Bag by FEED and Lauren Bush.

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Old Westbury Gardens

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Old Westbury Gardens is an exquisite example of an American country estate from the early 20th century. Located on Long Island, it was built in 1906 by the English designer George A. Crawley for John S. Phipps (whose father was a partner of Carnegie Steel Company), his wife Margarita Grace Phipps, and their four children. The home is a Charles II-style mansion filled with beautiful antiques and examples of fine decor. A whole day can be spent exploring the grounds, which includes different formal gardens, paths, ponds, woodlands, and statuary. The beautiful atmosphere makes it is easy to lose yourself and imagine that you are a guest visiting the Phipps during the years when the estate was full of activities. With a miniature cottage, dogs, ponies, and rose covered sandboxes, the estate was the perfect dreamland location for themed children’s costume parties.

Visit www.oldwestburygardens.org for directions, events, and schedule. With the leisurely feel of the grounds, you can bring a picnic or eat at the Cafe in the Woods and spend your day taking family photos or just relaxing.

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Lillian Bassman

Yesterday, while visiting the Charlotte Moss Townhouse, I noticed some Lillian Bassman framed pictures. This five-story building at 20 East 63rd in Manhattan houses the retail location of interior designer Charlotte Moss. One of the framed Bassman prints really jumped out because of its five figure price tag. I initially heard of Lillian last year, through my boyfriend whose father works with Lillian’s agent. Upon looking into her work, it is hard for anyone not to become an admirer.

I read a great bio on the Staley-Wise Gallery website where I also saw some of her greatest works. Lillian began her career at Harper’s Bazaar as art director of Junior Bazaar and a postwar photographer. Her photos were noticeably different from photos that men took. Bassman focused more on the model’s upper body, especially their arms and long necks. She retired from fashion photography in the early 1970s. In the early 1990s, she manipulated negatives of photos from her early career in the darkroom and created a style all of her own. The photos now hold not only their original classic fashion, but also a new sensual feel.

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My latest obsession is for the interior designer Sheila Bridges. I first noticed Shelia hosting her show “Designer Living”, which comes on the Fine Living channel everyday. Once I started looking into this designer, I noticed some of her work in some of my favorite interiors magazines; one of which featured her Hudson River Valley home’s guest house. So, while Shelia is a new face to me, she has been guiding the world of decor for awhile, even being named “America’s Best Designer” by Time magazine in 2001. Each of her shows feel like an indulgence. Sheila features creative people, offers design advice, and educates on beautiful and unusual things. Everyday, I am left with a list of stores, areas, and people that I want to visit or learn more about!

Shelia also has a book called “Furnishing Forward”, which is a guide geared towards a younger audience who want to begin to purchase “real” furniture for their first “real” homes or apartments. Also, Shelia appears on other shows offering her tasteful advice. I love her style because it makes living in itself a beautiful thing. Her designs make sense and are pleasing to the eye. You can look at some of her beautiful work from her portfolio on her own website: www.sheilabridges.com or look for show times at www.fineliving.com. To purchase her book, you can visit Amazon’s website.

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