I Shop Therefore I Am: Mr Heartbreak

When I was in high school my sister blew my little mind by giving me a cassette copy of Laurie Anderson's Mr Heartbreak.  I've really internalized this music.  Now at Wright in Chicago an edition of the cover image!

Laurie's film Home Of The Brave made just after the album is available for us all to watch!


Family Portrait

Roy McMakin made a dining room table and chairs for a family of four in Austin.  He sent many painted wood blocks to the family and had each member choose two without seeing what the others had chosen.  The resultant palette is weird, actually really weird.  Somehow, just like a family, it works together.  
Adding to the already very handcrafted work of Roy’s team in Seattle, we got to oversee the hand dying and hand weaving of the merino wool upholstery fabric.  Different dye colors had very different characters- some are almost purely solid color, others have tonal variations, and the dark blue has some white dashes- where I maybe tied the skeins a bit too tight.  The red with its rich rich variation is one of the most beautiful fabrics I have ever seen.
I’m very thrilled to have been part of this family portrait in 8 colors.
In Austin Roy’s work can be seen at the Lora Reynolds Gallery.

photo by Mark Woods

photo by Mark Woods

photo by Mark Woods

photo by Mark Woods

Recombinant!

On a recent visit I got to see new work in process by my dear pal Leslie Baum.  She has been exploring and stretching in her painting practice for a while now.  It is in a great place. 

Inspired by this image of Helen Frankethaler:

Helen Frankenthaler in Life Magazine

Leslie is making two environments of painted tarps.  The cloths I saw in progress are the kind of environment that one can really enter into.  Boldly she will be showing Mountain and Sea as a two-venue solo-painting exhibition in two locations:

4th Ward shows MOUNTAIN and sea starting 6 March to 15 April

St Xavier College will host mountain and SEA 17 February to 22 March

As if this wasn’t enough, she brought my hubby and I to the Art Institute where there is this show of Buddhist Monk's robes.

Kesa, Buddhist monk's robe at the Art Institute of Chicago

So much cutting and recombining lushly!

Kesa, Buddhist monk's robe at the Art Institute of Chicago

Inspired Living: Fonthill Castle

My sister Becky took me to a remarkable house .   Henry Chapman Mercer was a lover of handmade things who thought the industrial revolution would mean their end.  He feared fire and loved idiosyncratic building techniques, so built his house of cast concrete to be the ultimate handmade architecture to house his personal collection of objects.  It is a warm and welcoming structure with columns and stairs everywhere.  Tiles from his Moravian Tile Works were cast into the vaulted ceilings and cover the walls.  The ceilings and walls were cast over boxes stacked up and covered with dirt and finally sand to make the forms of the rooms.  His team then poured the concrete and later dug out the cavity of the rooms.
Walls are covered with a mix of his tiles and also historic surveys of different cultures and their tile making techniques.  Windows in his study, for example, have more than 100 years of delft tiles imbedded in the walls around the windows ordered by age.
Every surface has things to discover.  Book prints right next to Cuniform Tablets next to Moravian Tile mosaics.

Mercer is also the man behind the nearby Mercer Museum- my favorite museum in the world.

Fonthill does not allow pictures- so the first ones here are culled from the internet. Bergdorf Goodman did a stunning photoshoot there.

photo: mserfass

 

Photo: mserfass

 

photo: mserfass

photo: mserfass

 

Photo: Scott's phone

photo: Scott's phone

It's Science! In the Fold

My friend Sarah Baker first turned me onto paper tessellations.  Turns our folds can give more than just a little rigidity!  This once flat disc becomes a real barrier.

From NewScientist: The shield [developed by Bin Liu Lab]  is a paper doughnut with a hole in the centre, and has been scored with an exact pattern of perforation lines by a laser. The pattern consists of smaller and smaller concentric circles, with each circular strip further divided into triangles. The triangles in adjacent strips lean in opposite directions, creating a network of zigzags from the rim to the centre.

Apply pressure to the edge of the shield and it begins to fold up along these zigzags. But because the folds' sizes shrink incrementally, the hole in the centre never changes size, protecting anything inside.

Here is my suggested soundtrack.

Image: Bin Liu Lab

Image: Bin Liu Lab

Husband Watch: Kiss Me Kate

Fabio designed the production of Kiss Me Kate now at Hartford Stage and the Old Globe in San Diego soon.  The show is directed by Darko Tresnjak with love of both Shakespeare and also Old Broadway that gives it remarkable resonance.  I'm not a musical theater guy, but I let out a yelp during the show that was an expression of pure joy.
Fabio's costumes got to be both back stage in the late 40s and also theatery Shakespeare.  He really made some magic.  I am proud to say one of my designs made it into a snood! 

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Photo: T. Charles Erickson



Peacockery at the Met

Elaborate Embroidery: Fabrics for Menswear before 1815 is just two walls of cases showing swatches.  It is a little hard to find being down a small stair case off of a medieval room.  This beautiful succinct show gives us a moment when men’s clothing was adorned with a care and cost one can’t really fathom now.  The thoughtfulness and precision are a marvel and worth spending some time with.  Some of the samples are visible online.

The show is concurrent with the Met’s huge, full, and decontexturalizing China: Through the looking glass.  This much smaller and focused show in the Antonio Ratti Textile Center is a restful and clear counterpoint to the other show's bombast and breadth. 

Ratti is a hot mill in Como, Italy.  Any vintage Larsen Velvet  (that isn’t batiked) was made by Ratti.  Mr. Ratti had a love of textiles that so deep he founded this small center and also a museum in Como.

I love the sensitive use of paillettes in this fabric and the one below.