Thursday, July 10, 2014

Like... Aurel Schmidt

Art is a tricky thing and I often question my own tastes. Then I walk into someone’s apartment and see a black and white print, likely purchased from the contraception-averse folks over at Hobby Lobby, of the Eiffel tower and suddenly I feel a lot better. For the past few months I’ve been increasingly drawn to Aurel Schmidt’s irreverent and often haunting drawings. The longer and closer you look at them, the more you appreciate the intricacies that make up their overall compositions – which can be deceivingly pretty – a word likely deigned by the artist in question.

Schmidt is candid in interviews and much like her art – isn’t afraid of putting forth a duplicitous message. In an interview with New York Magazine, Schmidt was asked what she meant in an earlier statement claiming that she liked to draw, “dicks a lot, but it’s more of a the feminine kind of wanting it or thinking about it.” Without missing a beat, Schmidt responded with the utterly charming and forthright response, “I must have been ovulating when I said that! What I probably meant was that I was drawing penises in a simple loving way instead of as a symbol of power or threat.” What’s not to like about that?

Undoubtedly, much of the artist’s work is fueled by a certain sexuality – even when penises aren’t sprouting out of a bed of flowers. Oftentimes it’s the subtle provocation elicited by colors, textures and obscure configurations of shapes that really highlight Schmidt’s ability to tap into something honest and raw.

When not evoking yearning, wonder or desire, Schmidt’s work is likely to elicit a laugh: Visages created with cigarettes and beer bottle caps, labia-filled lettuce leaves and well -- penises growing out of a bed of flowers.

Like her, hate her – whatever you do – don’t put another tired poster of Audrey Hepburn on your wall, pretty pretty please.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Love... Philip Larkin

People are born with a natural capacity for certain things: While some excel at sports, displaying incredible hand-eye coordination and agility others are born with the unique ability to observe humanity and all it's intricacies and vulnerabilities. Obviously, I believe the latter to be the more enviable set and Philip Larkin is one of my favorite poets who ceaselessly captures the human condition--however drearily.

Larkin's poems aren't of the cheerful variety, but they are the sort that will stay with you. Haunting your dreams should you read them before bed and lingering in the back of your mind all day if you happen to take in a stanza or two over breakfast. Thought provoking and mysterious, Larkin has a way with words. An ability to bring into focus in a few concise lines what most authors struggle to convey in an entire novel.

He's been described as "The saddest heart in the post-war supermarket" and in some ways I agree. He's not an optimist, but I imagine he'd deplore the very idea of optimism vs. pessimism. Life wasn't that simple for him and frankly shouldn't be for any of us. He was an emotional slueth, picking up on parts of humanity that most overlook--the parts that sting. For that, I am grateful.

Here are a few of my favorite poems and quotes from Mr. Larkin:

"Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth.”

“I think writing about unhappiness is probably the source of my popularity, if I have any-after all, most people are unhappy, don't you think?”

“Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.”

“Life has a practice of living you, if you don't live it.”

“Earth never grieves, I thought, walking across the park, watching seagulls cruising greedily above the ground looking for heaven knows what. Don't you think it's a good line? A very good line”

“I have a sense of melancholy isolation, life rapidly vanishing, all the usual things. It's very strange how often strong feelings don't seem to carry any message of action”

“Why can't one stop being a son without becoming a father?”

Next, Please

Always too eager for the future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
Something is always approaching; every day
Till then we say,

Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.
How slow they are! And how much time they
Refusing to make haste!

Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks
Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks
Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked,
Each rope distinct,

Flagged, and the figurehead wit golden tits
Arching our way, it never anchors; it's
No sooner present than it turns to past.
Right to the last

We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long.
But we are wrong:

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence.
In her wake No waters breed or break.

High Windows

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives--
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly.
I wonder if Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought, That'll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest.
He And his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Like... Needlepoint Pillows in Tasteful Spaces

Sorry, but who doesn't want to cuddle up with a Fench bulldog...

Like a lot of people, I grew up surrounded by needlepoint--and no it wasn't of the "Bless this Mess" heart-shaped pillow variety. Thank god. My mother needlepointed gorgeous pillows for our house and those of relatives and pillow-worthy friends. My sister followed in suit, even needlepointing the item every cool 16 year old at my high school HAD to have, a monogrammed key chain. And while I never jumped on the needlepointing track, I've always appreciated the luxurious quality they add to rooms, immediately adding depth and warmth to even the most modern of spaces. In recent years the wit-wizard Jonathan Adler has made needlepoint truly cool with his irreverent needlepointed numbers that read playfully "pills", "drugs" and of course "hugs".

Here are some fantastic examples of needlepoint done right--but please be careful. The line between contemporary and kitsch is very thin when it comes to these thread-full accessories!

Rob Lowe's stylish master bedroom, note the pillows...

LOVE the floral needlpoint--and this whole space...

Kelly Wearstler taking a more masculine approach...

More from Kelly W., this time with retro-chic pink...

Really love the bright on bright- totally whimsical...

Kelly Wearstler's "Spectrum" pillow...

Not totally in love with the Asian-meets-Botanical look, but a look non-the-less...

Graphic needlepoint is conetmporary without being cold...

The pillows warm up with the space perfectly...

Jonathan Adler, needlepoint King...

So feminine, and the needlepoint adds some depth...

I'd never stop eating if I had that charming banquette with a mixed bag of needlepointed gems...

I spy an Adler space...

Every aspect of this room is itneresting--it seems so ecclectic and the pillows add to that oganic vibe...

Don't do them kids. Decorate with them!

How adorable is Jonathan Adler- I love these!

Every gay man I know wants this pillow... at their vacation home in Acapulco.

More destination and statement pillows...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

LOVE... This Book

The cover I judged, bought and loved.

Ok. I confess. I was wandering Barnes & Noble when I stumbled upon the virbantly decorated cover of Ron Currie Jr.'s novel Everything Matters! and at first I thought I'd missed the memo that Jonthan Safron Foer had published a fourth book--as it unquestionably resembles both Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. (If you don't know what I am talking about- get to a bookstore or do whatever you do with that Kindle thing and read them!) And while the novel wasn't what I thought- it ended up being better. Everything Matters! is hands down one of the best, most heartbreaking, original and unforgettable novels I have ever read.

We meet the story's protragonist in Utero where the zygote who will soon join the world as John "Junior" Theibodeau is told by an omniscient voice that a comet will hit the Earth and destroy it when he is 36, but also that it is very important that he lives and decides what matters. What follows is Junior's life up to that inevitable end. And while this premise is entirely dark, the novel isn't. Despite Junior's lapses with what he calls soul-dread and the burdensome truths the Voice imparts upon him throughout his life, she joins him, chiming in with impartial information and advice, the novel thoughtfully explores the human condition with humor, keen observation and a lot of compassion. Not a bad way to explore the interminable question that is- does anything we do actually matter?

The author Ron Currie Jr. looking unassuming--you'd never suspect his literary arsenal

A more recent cover that is also swell.

Like... Platform 5 Architects

A rendering of Infobox, a marketing suite in Liverpool- how cool.

Patrick Mitchell and Peter Allen are the duo behind the truly impressive architecture firm, Platform 5 Architects and although they reside across the pond, I love them so and cross my fingers daily that they’ll land some amazing project stateside—perhaps my future summer home?
Founded in 2006, Platform 5 has rapidly garnered accolades from design publications and quickly added some impressive projects to their growing portfolio. What I like about Mitchell and Allen’s designs are their ability to retain a definite overall aesthetic without becoming cookie-cutter versions of one another. Clean lines, minimal embellishments and elegant concepts are displayed in every project, residential and commercial. I certainly can’t wait to see more from these British gents who in my humble opinion are just getting started!

Mapledene Road, a "crack den" turned modern-meets-period home that's winning all kinds of praise including NLA's Don't Move Improve Award,AJ Small Projects Award, the Grand Designs Award 2009 and was shortlisted for the RIBA Award.

Meadowview is a modern dream home situated in rural Bedfordshire, and while I am not sure what that means, from the looks of it, it's pretty darn swell.

A rear view of Meadowview...

From the side, note the seriously clever wood partition-style fence! 

LOVE the interior at Meadowview- clean and a bit playful with pink wall!

To see more great design visit

Loathe... Filmmaker Jafar Panahi's Forced Anti-Film

George Bernard Shaw once said “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” But what happens when a crude reality makes producing the art you live for impossible? For Jafar Panahi the result is a truly courageous anti-film aptly titled “This Is Not A Film.
The 75 minute "film" which premiered last week at Cannes Film Festival chronicles the heartbreaking aftermath of filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s sentencing of six years in prison by the Tehran Revolutionary Court for “colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic”--otherwise known as, planning a fictional film based on the controversial 2009 election that resulted with the rather divisive Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Presidency. While Panahi hasn’t seen the inside of a jail cell yet, struggling through appeals—he has been banned for 20 years from making movies, writing screenplays, traveling abroad and giving interviews.
So, it goes without saying that Panahi’s “This Is Not A Film” is not a film. It also goes without saying that if it were a film, there is no reason in the world why it shouldn’t be allowed to be one. Mysteriously sent in a USB stick to France, inside a cake no less, the project is referred to as an "effort" by Panahi and fellow filmmaker-turned-criminal Mohammad Rasoulof and blank screens appear where credits traditionally roll.

Brave and daring, Panahi’s film reveals the crushing realities of oppression and corruption—at one point Panahi’s lawyer breaks the news that jail-time is eminent—but also the triumph of an artist and his life’s work.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Like... Antoine Watteau

I may be a hopeless romantic but for me spring seems to emit romance. Bare trees are suddenly full and green, cold stale air is newly warm and sweet and of course every block is lined with beautiful blooms that certainly beat the heaping piles of snow that seemed to refuse to melt. So, in honor of spring romance I want to share the work of Antoine Watteau, a man who I am convinced was a fantastic boyfriend to his companion whoever they might have been. Painting the scenes of secret picnics hosted in the clearings of French forests, Watteau is credited with starting the genre fetes galantes, which essentially means he depicted theatrical pastoral scenes. Whimsical and idealistic the paintings leave me starry-eyed and wishing I were one of the fabulously dressed ladies invited on a secret picnic with my friends and a few handsome gentlemen. It should also be noted that Vivienne Westwood was equally enamored with Watteau's work and created a breathtaking number in his honor--naming it the "Watteau" dress. It's so fantastic it now resides in The Victoria and Albert Museum. So with that said, enjoy the dewy, hazy renderings of some truly romantic spring outings.