Sunday, January 13, 2019

John singer Sargent's "Repose"

I have many favorite artworks in the National Gallery of Art. This is one of them. "Repose" was painted by John Singer Sargent in 1911. His niece, Rose-Marie Ormond is the elegantly languid model. Sargent painted it at a time when he was tired of the restrictions of commissioned portraits which required capturing a likeness and hinting at a personality, but in a flattering way. This painting strikes me as more about a creating a feeling of calmness. I can easily get lost in the subtle colors and the luminous texture of her satin dress, but it's the composition that holds me. It's all about the horizontal shapes and lines. I cannot visit "Repose" right now and neither can you. The National Gallery is closed because of the government shutdown.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A View of the Construction

A large building is going up on a busy street where a church used to stand. The plot of land adjacent to the building has become a defacto park, with welcoming signs, a bench and birdbath. It's the row of colorful chairs that attracts my attention when I walk on the quieter streets behind the new building. Neighbors can watch the building rise. After all, young children are not the only ones fascinated by swinging cranes and daring construction workers. The park was empty on this gloomy day, but the chairs wait for visitors.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Selfies and Coffee Cups

During the holidays, the plaza at Rockefeller Center is jammed with people who want a photo of themselves with the giant Christmas tree in the background. They jockey for a good position, some waiting politely for their turn, others barging in, oblivious to those around them. It's cold out there, so a lot of them arrive clutching a hot drink. But no one wants to include those cups in their carefully posed selfies. Inevitably, they put the cups down on any flat edge or ledge nearby. Then a large proportion of those selfie-takers walk away, forgetting their drinks. Even if they remember them a few minutes later, it would be difficult to push back through the crowd. The line of coffee cups grows as the evening progresses. Eventually, sanitation workers tidy up and a new line-up of cups can begin.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Santa At the Firehouse

Everyone likes to decorate for the holidays. If your workplace is a historic firehouse trimmed out in red paint, it's easy to make the surroundings look festive by putting up a few lights. I've always admired the architectural details gracing the 1890s facade of Firehouse #14 in Manhattan's Flatiron District.  The tiny skiing Santa was a surprise that was barely noticed by most of the people hustling down the street, intent on their errands. I hope your holiday season has its share of unexpected whimsy and joy.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Snowflakes At Anthropologie

When it comes to holiday windows, the big department stores in Manhattan are the ones that most tourists come to see: Macy's Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf's, etc. Venturing just beyond Rockefeller Center brings you to Anthopologie's flagship store. Their windows sometimes use mundane materials in clever ways, such as transforming hundreds of clear plastic straws into icicles. The Snowflake Year remains my favorite. Some windows had architectural renderings of snowflakes, others included giant snowflakes in the process of being assembled. As a longtime habitue of the stores in the Garment District that sell trims, this particular window, with its spools of lacy snowflakes won my heart. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a few yards of each lacy snowflake trim to fashion a dress full of winter dreams?

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.