Designing is great fun. But the key to completing the circle that starts with an idea in response to a need (or not) is having that design come to fruition. I am grateful  for having a great team of detailed design fabricators who make my dreams come true.  And they spoil me. I think many designers will say the same thing. What starts on a cocktail napkin,  torn piece of flimsy trace off a roll, a sheet of graph paper or more formally, working drawings, takes shape with the collaboration of designer and fabricators who are not just fabricators, but invaluable contributors to the finished products’ construction and design details. These are the seamstresses, upholsterers, carpenters, iron-workers and all manner of construction trades who bring these creations to fruition!

Several years ago we had a client who was daring in her desire to have a super modern loft. Her history of traditional furnishings and up-bringing was well in place in Washington state, but this opportunity to have a second home, an urban loft, made way for her exercising the juices that offered a new alternative lifestyle and a new “look.”

One of the many key pieces in this fabulous space turned out to be the cornerstone of a new custom collection that we fondly call PATRICIAN DESIGN’S  “Hammered Home.”

As I planned the pieces for this fun and hip urban interior, I designed painted pieces, modern tonsus,  a Nelson inspired coffee table, red and raw steel glass-topped dining table base, a new take on a drop-leaf desk and colorful mixed media end-table/chests all custom fabricated by my team, but I wanted something more, something that gave rich, detail and dimension, interest and art and this new line of custom furniture was born. The first piece, a nightstand/end table for a dual-purposed guest room/study combined clean-lined wood with steel.  So with a quick sketch of the dimensions and form, my desire to have metal legs suspending it off the floor, metal accents but not severe – I thought, hammered?

The wood tone was to be a more milk chocolate than mahogany but tight-grained and true medium  brown. The floors were an existing light engineered material and this brown contrasted nicely.

The next opportunity to introduce this combo theme of our “Hammered Home” design came with a young family’s need for a media armoire in the “family” room. Several years ago when “espresso” hit the design scene for the new trend for modern furniture, everyone  from Target to Pottery Barn to Robb & Stuckey filled their inventory with the dark coffee bean wood finish.  As a designer, I recognized the value of the trend and wanted to accept it, but take it a step further for these very smart and successful, yuppy clients.

In previous blogs, I have clearly stated that all trends are not created equal. some are passing fancies of color combinations that soon become dated or design elements that don’t leave a significant mark to pass the test of time. But the dark chocolate/coffee color enriched that which had so often been blond, light woods and cherry/cinnamon tones of recent popularity and contributed a valid alternate stain theme for wood furniture. The media armoire for a young family’s “family” room, was clean-lined and new. The bling was industrial enough not to be glitzy, but just enough silver-grey metallic to contrast against the dark wood.

The next version of this “Hammered Home” collection came in front of a stacked sandstone wall of bone white, creamy cream, a hint of gold and a tinge of iron rust. We picked the darker rust tone to contrast against the otherwise soft light stone wall colors – the rusty hue suggested a cinnamon colored alder – stain magic! This pair of low profile media cabinets housed all the components and an incredible bundle of wires streaming into the back of the cabinet from all points of the house – and it’s called wi-fi? Really? Due to the color scheme, we decided that a copper metal panel would really meld with the cinnamon-stain of the alder. So we took it a step further to enhance the copper, knock it down a bit and highlight the texture with a blackened rub that nestles into the hollows and allows the bas relief to shine. It is a warm, rich, dimensional textural wonderfulness.

So when a very fun client called last fall wanting a surprise for his wife – nightstands perhaps? I laughed because my husband often says that he’s getting me storm windows for a Valentine’s Day gift…funny – every girl’s dream!! But nightstands are at least in the realm of dreamland!!! So knowing the room and its existing color scheme, I decided upon a satin black with the same hammered blackened copper panels. The combination of the black and blackened copper was sensational. The style was more transitional than the previous clean-lined pieces – but it goes to show that this hammered metal design theme can transcend the styles…

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We LOVE working with this client as he knows that he either has an idea (a new nightstand) that we can create or he calls and asks – what can we create for the next event? Whether birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day – we have provided locally hand-loomed textiles wraps, wild embroidery throws, magnificent oil paintings, locally hand-crafted jewelry and more! How fun for him to know that each present is custom and unique, supports local artists and will be a treasure forever. Plus he doesn’t have to shop!!!!!

So we delivered our surprise cabinet last week on Valentine’s Tuesday, I stopped at a quickie store and bought some simple heart stickers – not much larger than a postage stamp, I stuck one in the drawer and one on the shelf of the lower cabinet and thought that whenever she opened this cabinet she will remember that it was her Valentine’s surprise!!! We had a key, took the cabinet to their bedroom, removed the old nightstand, replaced it with the new one…Voila! She came home to a really neat surprise!!! And might there be a matching one in the works?? We can’t say.

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Custom fun – support local artists and make your dreams come true!!!!!

Valentine Expressions

February 11, 2017

You know…we designers design for our clients and ourselves around themes, we design around events, we design around seasons and of course we design around the trends…it all keeps the commerce of products and materials in motion.  And at this time of year, we see focus on wine clubs, pajama grams, stuffed teddy bears in enormous sizes, hearts, hearts, hearts…and roses natural red or gilded, it’s Valentine’s Day!!!

But it’s fair to note that all seasons have valid design consideration. Setting the scene, enhancing the moment – either for you, your family or a romantic encounter, the holidays and especially this one, evoke a desire to create a scene that conveys love and romance.

To that end , my blog is brief. Enjoy that which brings you joy. Revel in the happiness that presents itself. Create beauty where you can. And as we are wont to say….art and good design can almost always bring a better scene to anyone’s place on this precious planet.

So be it a candy heart with a common message of joy, a product acquired to create a scene, a piece of jewelry to promise, a token to send love, a greeting of friendship, a message to offer support, it is all about connecting.

I decided to paint a bowl for my sweetheart. Yes, I had passed this guy’s booth, encouraged others to partake, had appreciated his talent, but never ventured forth. This year, I enjoyed sitting alongside Victor in the shade, with the waves lapping the beach, and soft music wafting through the  air…allowing a moment of focus on an artistic expression, a blank canvas (my bowl) to say Happy Valentine’s Day to MY Valentine.

Here is the finished result.

Connecting. We at PATRICIAN DESIGN support local artists and hope that the next time that you need a gift, want to send a message, or desire a creative addition to your personal space, that you will consider local talent to fulfill that need. OR do it yourself DIY!!!

Wear ART – Shop Local – Support LOCAL artists –  Need we say more?

Ok…we provide the greatest FREE gift wrap to get you on your way!!!

XXX000 Happy Valentine’s Day – (it’s Tuesday – better get prepared!!!)

PATRICIAN DESIGN

Su mundo es corazones. Artist Paola Alonso Rangel is at the heart of Vallarta and literally that is the name of her shop, Corazon Vallarta, where she thrives amidst the bustling activity in the old town, on a busy street corner, with much traffic flowing by both in vehicles and on foot.

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A man carrying a frighteningly large pane of glass about 6 feet long by 3 feet wide effortlessly and without intimidation marches down the street with taxis and buses bouncing by him. I cringe at the site and the young shop attendant, Nidia, shrugs with a smile and says “It’s Mexico.”

With Valentine’s Day nearing, this exciting little shop offers a wealth of opportunities to find just the right gift to say “be mine!”

Paola’s little Chihuahua, Pecas (Freckles), suns on the front step seemingly oblivious to all the activity swirling by. She is front and center of all that is happening in Corazon Vallarta.

A designer and hands-on artist of nearly everything she sells in her shop, Alonso Rangel is a model of organization and time utilization. She has her machine fine-tuned and knows just what it takes to create, prepare, produce and market her work.

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In the well-lit back room of her little tienda, she has all of her art supplies neatly organized on sturdy shelving sparing not one square inch of available space. Her computer plays soft Spanish songs that, with the fan blowing gently, creates a pleasing atmosphere where she designs and paints with a couple of assistants to assemble and package her work to sell.

As is true of most urban storefronts, the fine grit that is continuously accumulating from the dusty streets and vehicles in passing contributes to the concerns of successful retail presentation. Hers and others in this type of scene perhaps suffer more due to the cobblestones which collect and distribute ongoing layers of the sooty, dusty, fines.  So everything is kept painstakingly clean and wrapped in cellophane  – just another stage of the process that makes her conscientious practices so impressive.

From colorful wooden puzzles, picture frames, key hangers, boxes and magnets, the expansive home decor and gift collection, on which she collaborates with her brother in Guadalajara, is a treasure of her designs and creativity. All manner of colorful animals with whimsical expressions are the subjects of her puzzles with a bit of flowers and fruit in the mix for a generous variety of choices. Alonso Rangel designs all of the pieces while her brother and his crew with a manufacturing studio in Guadalajara do all the mill-work, brilliantly colorful painting and glossy lacquer finish.

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Other of her work is comprised of original one-of-a-kind creations on canvas and wood, heart-themed all in keeping with her heart-felt passion for  corazones.

She efficiently sets-up her own assembly line of stages of production, with Pecas supervising closely, so that each of her made-by-hand (hecho a mano) originals are always filling the walls and shelves from where they are being lovingly selected by customers to take home.

Steel heart sculptures, wooden cut-outs, carvings, and more are the multi-media of her continually, seemingly endless creative concepts and body of work!

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Thank you Paola for all of your inspiration – by design!

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Art and architecture meet all the time. Sculptural forms, building models, buildings themselves, sketches…but at this time of year, the fanciful world of gingerbread houses takes the spotlight and, in this recent scene we encountered, offered a beautiful fund-raiser while at it!!!

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As we pulled away in the pre-dawn hours of the  morning…we felt the chill in the air and the glow over the mountain sending us on our way.

We traversed across the terminal and before cutting over left to the escalator, we spied—at the same time—a wondrously tall Christmas tree adorned with airplanes and ribbon…and surrounded by an amazing collection of ginger bread houses on display in some sort of fund-raiser fashion.

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Upon closer inspection, the fantasy became tangible. The individual structures took on a form of expressive life in their individual attention-getting style. Each one was quite unique incorporating rivers and ponds, vehicles and foliage of all manner.

It is a Christmas tradition to create a gingerbread house full of fantasy and fear, hope and salvation. From the simple joy of baking traditions for Christmas, to the many versions of fairy tales that save children from the wicked ones in the woods creating and story-telling surrounding these magical edifices makes gingerbread houses a staple of the winter holidays – all the while offering architectural design and  construction projects for all ages. Below, see the Hanukkah version of this adorable house.

I just read a great piece by Tori Avey in which she summarized the history of gingerbread. http://toriavey.com/?s=gingerbread

She references architectural design with the fact that: Elaborately decorated gingerbread became synonymous with all things fancy and elegant in England. The gold leaf that was often used to decorate gingerbread cookies led to the popular expression ‘to take the gilt off of gingerbread.’ The carved, white architectural details found on many colonial American seaside homes is sometimes referred to as ‘gingerbread work’.

Having been raised on the east coast, describing houses with ornate “gingerbread” detailing was part of our vocabulary. I now see it in Rocky Mountain Victorians and California seaside cottages. It always conveys a quaint, welcoming feeling.

Avey further states: Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. Their popularity rose when the Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the main characters stumble upon a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest. It is unclear whether or not gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa.

Recently the record for world’s largest gingerbread house was broken. The previous record was set by the Mall of America in 2006. The new winning gingerbread house, spanning nearly 40,000 cubic feet, was erected at Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas.

Everything is bigger in Texas!!!

The house required a building permit and was built much like a traditional house. 4,000 gingerbread bricks were used during its construction. To put that in perspective, a recipe for a house this size would include 1,800 pounds of butter and 1,080 ounces of ground ginger. Sounds more like a gingerbread resort!

So as we walked around this wonderful display at the ABQ Sunport and marveled at the colorful creativity, I knew this was the story for today.

The cartoon in the paper that morning also found  humor in the subject.

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And to further galvanize that thought, we arrived in San Diego to find Keira proudly presenting their half-eaten, already picked apart gingerbread project in the center of the kitchen table. T’was the joy of gingerbread houses—post construction, eating them!!!

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Oh the Faces! Spanish Market

November 27, 2016

The sky was grey and the air had a decidedly seasonal still-cool yesterday which called for a cozy indoor activity – offered this weekend in the handsome Hotel Albuquerque, host of the Winter Spanish Market. Yes, the decades old traditional Spanish Market held in Santa Fe outside around the Plaza, on warm summer days in July, has begun a new tradition in Albuquerque in the opposite season indoors. http://www.visitalbuquerque.org/abq365/events/detail/28th-Annual-Winter-Spanish-Market/31793/

The collection of world class artists’ booths beneath the enormous hand-tooled tin chandeliers suspended from the spacious ballroom sparkled with festive illumination and colorful creations.

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A variety of Mariachi bands played to the crowds as the curious and collectors wove in and out of the rows of talented exhibitors.

Fine tin-work, dyed and cut straw assemblies, weavings and jewelry presented an incredible variety of work. Fine crafted furniture and spectacular wall pieces were displayed by master carvers. It was a collection of world-class art and fine craft.

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Crazy interpretations of his beloved traditional retablos are Charlie Carillos commically contemporary interpretations of vintage cars with saints at the wheel. Humor that is received with mixed reviews. But his talent is undisputed. Here he entertains at his booth with his colorful delivery.

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By startling contrast, the rich warm colors and traditional reverence that Catherine Robles-Shaw displays in her incredible carvings and painting techniques, wonderful detail and soulfully expressive faces. Her rich hues are Old World in their sensitivity to tone on tone and dark earthen colors outlined and enhanced with ribbons of gold.

Daughter, Roxanne Shaw-Galindo, a respected santero in her own right has continued to carve her own niche in this exclusive world of bultos, retablos and other manner of fine carving and painting.

The mystic powders carefully sought and gathered from ancient land forms and mineral-rich geology diluted with water and even the precious red of the rare cochineal all contribute to the luminous, translucent colors that read so differently from other media.

And further contrast is Frank  L. Garcia with his primary colors of electric blue, yellow and  red shining off of his wood surfaces. Uplifting and extracting smiles from all who pass his booth.

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Oh the faces!! Each santero has his or her own style.  Like fingerprints, the santeros each have cultivated a unique “look” to their work and expressions of their subjects.  The eyes say so much. Mournful, cheerful, pensive or stony stares, the characters are exclusively their own. Despite the similarities bound by tradition, each artist presents a specifically unique style which conveys incredible personality. These signature expressions, as individual as fingerprints, represent so distinctly each  inimitable artist. Despite the similarities bound by tradition, the methods and materials, each shine with startling individuality!

Here santero Ruben Gallegos poses with Mary Anne Green an avid collector and fond owner of several of Gallegos’ work.

Lee Valdez hunches over his soon-to-be cross carefully carving the rope detail around the edges. Light pencil lines define the decoration that he follows with remarkable precision – and look – he is sporting two pair of glasses stacked atop one another – which he says works just fine.

Behind him displayed on the wall are several other crosses in all manner of carving and decorative woodwork. One piece in particular is a yellow pine cross that is riddled with dark cinnamon colored worm holes – splattered actually – creating a spectacularly natural design. And further marks of nature that Lee captures are a knot hole and adjacent burled wood that he places dead center in the intersection of the cross. The four end pieces are carved from a piece of butternut wood providing the perfect natural contrast to the yellow pine yet complimenting the dark flecks of the worm holes. Quite a find, in this amazing piece of wood he spied in a hardware store, and remarkable sensitivity to isolate and assemble the various pieces to create the whole.

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A striking woman caught my eye. Her thick curly black hair and handsome silver cross strung on a multi-strand necklace of turquoise made a big statement amidst all of the art and drama. Meet Vanessa Baca.

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As we visited briefly I learned that she is a fellow blogger and I am sure it was fate that we met as her foodinbooks.com is a wealth of observations centered around great books and fabulous food within described. She writes with great depth of description and observation AND she breaks it down and teaches you how to prepare that about what you have just read!

Sean Wells painting as we watched, represents her art in her own striking appearance. Dark hair whipped and twisted with a stylish flair and topped with screaming orange flowers.

Wells’ images are equally colorful, happy and festive. If not her fine retablos, You might recognize her Fanciful Day of the Dead wine bottles and famous, collectible Lottery Scratchers! Find her on Etsy!

It was an inspiring day of extraordinary art in a genre that is so historically and regionally rooted with original methods and patient execution paired with the artistic imaginative people who practice and study this fine work. Thanks so much Mary Ann for a rare treat!

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Today YOU can go see this final day of  the 28th Annual Spanish Market 2016! Get over there!

 

While in D.C. last week, in this most unusual season of the American Presidential election, it seemed more than appropriate, if not imperative, to visit Mount Vernon – the estate of our first president, George Washington.

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This historic property has been painstakingly maintained and developed into an exceptional educational facility on unspoiled grounds with uninterrupted, breath-taking views. Experiencing the beauty of the surroundings is magnificent. Learning about the history and minute details of this extraordinary man’s life is fascinating.

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Did you know when Washington was elected our  first President in the initial forming of the United States, presidents were selected only through the vote of the Electoral college, rather than by popular vote? The 69 votes that Washington received in 1789, and the 132 he received in 1792 were all of the available Electoral College votes, and resulted in thereby making Washington the only president in United States history to have been elected unanimously.

Did you know that Washington’s presidency founded the United States Navy, established the nation’s official currency, created the State Department, and established the Supreme Court?

Gary S. Smith wrote in March 2010: While praising his military and political record, many scholars contend that Washington’s genius lies principally in his character. The only other American president who has been so highly extolled for his character is Abraham Lincoln. Since Washington, all presidents have been ultimately measured not by the size of their electoral victories or the success of their legislative programs, but by their moral character. His character helped sustain his troops throughout the travails of the Revolutionary War, convince delegates to the Constitutional Convention to assign significant powers to the presidency, secure ratification of the Constitution, and enable the new republic to survive in a hostile world….He took the standards of his age very seriously and diligently strove to be virtuous. To many, the crowning achievement of Washington’s character was his simultaneous resignation in 1783 as commander in chief o the American army and his retirement from the world of politics. Throughout the western world, his unprecedented relinquishing of power (which he did a second time when he declined a third term as president) was widely heralded. Unlike other victorious generals, he did not expect a political or financial reward for his military exploits. Washington’s character, Jefferson argued, probably prevented the American Revolution from subverting the liberty it sought to establish. The Virginian had a sterling reputation for integrity and honor, dedication to duty and his country, and remaining above the fray.

It is with such depth of character and broad view of his world that he was unanimously regarded as the only man who could effect change of the magnitude required to bring people together.

This many years after his death he still has a powerful effectiveness for bringing people together. The tour of this amazingly preserved property is intimate and familiar – even on one’s first visit. It’s partly scale and partly due to the well-versed guides that are scattered in every pocket of the place. They bring the historic home and it’s people to life.

While attending my Alma Mater, Mount Vernon College (no relation), in the interior design program, we toured this historic interior with rapt attention to decorative art and architectural details. One expects the facade to be white painted wood – but as you see it up close, you realize that it reads like beveled stone blocks. It is actually wood, shaped to replicate stone, with a sanded coating that gives a stone-like texture.

Interior finishes also reveal faux artistry upon closer inspection, with the paneled walls and doors painted with wood grain creating stunning matched patterns. Superficial treatments of faux finishes were elegant touches of the day.

Washington was truly a Renaissance man. He worked with the finest minds in agriculture and technology to develop new techniques for farming, implements and gadgets around the property. He recognized the toll tobacco took on depleting the nutrients in his fields paired with the time it took to grow and harvest and heavy taxes that were levied during trade and changed his operation to grow wheat which had limitless less expensive outlets for marketing and was easier on all counts of growing.

On the advice of his Scottish farm manager he created a distillery which produced more whiskey than any of its kind in his day. You too can purchase a bottle of Washington’s whiskey today for a mere minimum of $100 per.

His sensitivity to art and architecture, entertaining and hospitality, paired with the strength to lead the noble cause of freedom, managing troops, raising morale and keeping promises while always at the helm risking his life alongside his men and participating to the fullest in his every endeavor speaks to the moral character and brilliant creativity of this extraordinary man.

So,  to sum up this unprecedented level of discourse in the current election season and questionable characters on the part of our  candidates, I was left with finding levity in the Mount Vernon gift shop…

 

 

So, in direct contrast to discovering art in unexpected places such as a simple series of brush strokes painted on a course concrete curb, (last week’s pattisays blog) this week, as fall leaves fill the air and pumpkins pop up on every surface, my observations are about discovering art occur in an actual art gallery, specifically the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.. Imagine that! The city has been abuzz for months in anticipation of the recent unveiling of the updated East Building.

It was in 1978, the year I left my home town of Washington that I.M. Pei’s exciting new modern edifice was presented to an anxious art-loving public. So very different from the West Building and all others in the historic vicinity, some people were astonished but most were thrilled. This sleek angular sculpture of a building was a statement in and around which to display the growing modern and contemporary collection. An art-piece of its own accord. Yes, the building was at once regarded as its own work of art.  We eagerly raced to touch the famous wedge of geometry that came to such an acute angle that it begged to be touched.

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Nearly 40 years later that same fine edge is silently showing its age missing little chunks of compound and lovingly discolored with all the hands from around the world that have touched and smiled at the towering stone form in contrast to the rotund, ornamented and domed Capital in the background. Both majestically iconic, but stylistically so very different.

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But wait – this elegant aging beauty has had a three year rejuvenation treatment! New stairways and elevators connect galleries making the flow of exhibits more enjoyable. The tunnel connecting East to West sparkles with light and all the subtle changes result in a seamless passage through and enhanced experience for visitors.

The glassy, crisp, stark, expansive lobby where the enormous Calder mobile is suspended defying its enormity and weight as it gracefully, almost motionlessly, moves silently with the subtle, indiscernible stirring of air is the fulcrum of the building. Exhibit halls tucked away but newly connected are exciting to frequent visitors who know the building so well.

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I naturally had to have a little fun and in keeping with the season made a couple of entertaining discoveries. Here Four Square and oil on Canvas by Franz Kline in 1956 is noted by The Art Story/Modern Art Insight “a fine example of  his gestural approach to painting. The viewer is led to ponder the canvas, seeing as either a close-up of a linguistic symbol, or perhaps, a set of open windows.”

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Really? Linguistic symbol or a set of windows? Well, maybe it’s the season…but I instantly saw a cat – a crazy black cat, an abstraction of James Dean’s “Pete” perhaps, which made me want a mask and to be that crazy cat and prance about for Halloween!

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In another piece, Portage, by William Kentridge of South Africa born in my birth year of 1955, a folded accordion-like book with torn  black figures of paper affixed to encyclopedia pages resulted in my seeing another black cat! I do think it was of human figures bearing weight, carrying, moving through various poses. Call me Halloweeny – but this one was decidedly a black cat. Don’t YOU think?

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It was fabulous, exciting, fun and emotional to see the colorful Matisse cut-outs once again in such close proximity with Matisse’s placement marks and rough cut pieces – crude yet refined – rough yet lovely. Seeing these incredible compositions up close again is breath-taking.

Oh, and might this be another seasonal mask?

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From awestruck to silly…to a quiet reverence at coming to the black and white photo of this enormous piece in Hotel Regina in Nice in 1953!!  Seeing it in the setting of its day and captured in a photo all those many years ago was one of many moments of reverence.

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Once again, pay attention to the little things, be surprised, let yourself be amused and enjoy discovering art wherever you might find it – unexpected and very much expected places!