Sunday, December 9, 2018

Macy's Window Revisited

Circumstances have made it impossible to take my annual December trip to New York. Instead, I will share some favorite holiday windows and other sights that I’ve enjoyed in past years. Last year, one of Macy's windows held a replica of the store's 34th Street facade. The facade slowly opened to reveal a fantasy dollhouse version of the store, with Santa waving to all the children. One little boy was so entranced that he went right up to the window and watched the dollhouse-store open and close, taking in every detail till his parents pulled him away. I hope he remembers the magic of that evening when he grows up.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Big Hats, Colorful Dresses

These wonderful ladies came to the Houston International Quilt Festival dressed for fun. Coordinated from head to toe, their dresses were made from cotton prints designed by Kaffe Fassett.  Petticoats of colored netting gave each dress some extra oomph. Years ago, my friend Mary Mashuta coined the term "Flamboyance Quotient." If you are going to create artwear for yourself, you have to know whether your personal flamboyance quotient is high or low. This happy trio can revel in their colorful ensembles, knowing that they are spreading joy, making the day special for everyone they meet. Hooray for all of you out there who happily carry off flamboyant outfits. You bring joie de vivre to everyone you meet.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Goodbye Thanksgiving, Hello Christmas

Americans are too early to the holiday party no matter what the holiday. Halloween decorations show up in July. Valentine hearts will be on the shelves before most children have lost interest in their Christmas presents. Poor Thanksgiving gets the shortest shrift of all. At its heart, it's a day focused on family and food, which is being squeezed out by the frenzy of sales that start the next day. The shelves of the hardware store illustrate this. Days before Thanksgiving, autumn colors and reminders to be thankful have surrendered most of the shelf space to Christmas tchotchkes. I like snowmen and Santas as much as anyone, but it's impossible not to feel a bit sorry for the scarecrows, pumpkins and gentle reminders of families gathering to celebrate the harvest.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

"An Old Woman With Joyous Face"

The Houston International Quilt Festival truly is a global event. Over a dozen countries and 37 states were represented in the judged IQA Show. Above and beyond winning first place in each of the many categories, there are eight special awards, including Best Of Show. This colorful quilt won the World of Beauty award. Created by Brazilians Marina Landi and Natasha De Souza Bugarin, from the moment it was unveiled at the awards ceremony, it became a favorite. Crowds gathered to examine it closely, phones waved above heads, like appreciative fans at a Bruce Springsteen concert. All week long, every time I walked past it on the show floor, the quilt drew people over to look and linger. Everyone walked away with a smile. Joy is contagious.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Geometric Sidewalk

On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, there is a stretch of sidewalk unlike any I've ever seen. A pattern of arcs and stripes spreads out along the front of a tony apartment building. The neighbors don’t seem to give it much thought. Do they like it or think that it’s too bold, too different from the rest of this subtle, well-heeled neighborhood? I want to know the story behind it. Who was the non-conformist who dreamed it up then managed to get it installed? If you could design a special sidewalk, what would your design look like?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Art Deco Memorial, Milan

This has been the week of spirit-related holidays: All Hallow's Eve, Halloween, Day of the Dead, a time long believed to mysterious, when the veil is thin between the living and the dead. Cemeteries hold clues as to how any particular generation remembers and honors those who have passed. In Milan’s Monumental Cemetery, the Morgagni family built this decidedly Art Deco monument. Can you look at this and NOT see a chorus line of eternal-flame-holding dancers, right down to the "curtain" behind them? Design trends come and go but eternity is, well, eternal. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Jailbird Skeletons

Halloween decorations used to consist of pumpkins carved into jack-o-lanterns and a cardboard black cat hung on the front door. Now you can go to the store and buy a life-sized plastic skeleton. It's fun to see what people do with them. This house has one of my favorite neighborhood tableaux. Dressed in traditional prisoner togs, the skeletons gather around an arrangement of orange lights that really does look like flames after the sun goes down. Their friend, skateboarding down the porch railing, is a holdover from last year. The row of skulls on the porch is a nice touch. It’s all in the little details...