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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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



Design through the eyes of a 13 year old. A 13 year old girl having had her birthday just last weekend and who is immersed in the world of anime. Anime is a style of Japanese illustration and animation. An exciting world of fantasy and action, good versus evil all wrapped in color and remarkable edgy design.  Simply stated in her words “anime is a style of Japanese cartoons of many genre.” Her current favorite is Magi and the Labyrinth of Magic. Anime Magi-The-Labyrinth-of-Magic The characters have large saucer-like eyes belying their Japanese origin. Their story-lines appeal on many levels for all ages.

Katarina loves to watch the cartoons, draw the characters and learn about the world from which they originate. So one of her birthday to-dos was a visit to the Marukai Market in San Diego. Instantly, upon entering “Tokyo Central” colors and forms scream from floor to ceiling producing a sensory over-load that made me take a breath. Katarina beamed at my reaction. She said  with her subtle delivery “See?  I told you.” 2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130765

It is a startling graphic design extravaganza of cellophane wrapped brands, foil metallic labels, signs and glitz and packaging that suggests advanced art classes on the subject.   2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130764 From over-sized dangling flowers to disco balls sparkling from the rafters, the place is alive with static animation. Well, monitors too airing the vary anime of this initial topic!

The merchandise is displayed in such multiples that they are a design of their own. The patterns and redundancy, characters and faces peeking from every inch of space. Row upon row of stuffed animals each with adorable expressions begging to be taken home.2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130767

But it’s the design on EVERYTHING that is so amazing. To see such an emphasis on design. The importance and effect on every package. When comparing to like-kind of variety stores in the U.S., this is product design gone wild. The edifice itself is  but a box. Simple, clean and attractive from the outside,  inside is nothing but raw retail finishes. But it doesn’t matter because the back-drop is invisible. It is impossible for the eye to go beyond the products. It is impossible to see anything of the space other than its intense collections of contents.

2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130773From beverage bottles to bears, pink kitties to hair and make-up lotions and potions, games and costumes – yes you too can dress-up like a bowl of Ramen Noodles or an egg yolk named Gudetama.

Although this amazing chain of markets is concentrated in California and Hawaii, it is worth investigating the Asian Markets in your area especially with an emphasis on Japanese products to see these colorfully artful expressions of graphic design, inspiration and imagination. 2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130775 Thank you Katrink for this amazing experience we shared for your birthday!!!

TRENDS…we HAVE to have them…it makes us think, makes us shift…not to mention keeping viscosity in the economy. The shift is the element that moves the economy forward. Without that shift, we would be stagnantly content. And who wants to be stagnantly content – except the “Settlers” from the Direct TV ads?  DIRECTV_Commercial_2015_The_Settlers-520x245

Yet if you Google design trends they are all over the place. The intrigue is when they land on an actual theme that becomes THE TREND.

So as we advance into the new year and winter fades to spring – what lies ahead? I’m finding lots of nostalgia – features on milk glass and floral patterns and fancy geometric patterns, a recall to wallcoverings in floral prints and botanicals…Rose-wallpaper-Bari-J-WallAppeal-pattern-pink-yellow-zoom

The trick is how to invest in these elements and not have them become passé by next year. It’s all about balance – unless you have the desire and pocketbook to change out your interior annually! The desire to add something new to your personal spaces, or as my mother has always said “punch it up” is an art unto itself. How does one decide?

Information is so accessible. Access to ideas is endless. But HOW does one decide? How to make the decisions, the right combinations, what to keep and what to change…? The internet and TV…Anthropologie to Pottery Barn, Pinterest and beyond…You pin a gazillion things – but how do YOU decide?

But it gets kind of funny  – because for as many sites as you visit – there are oh so many professed “trends.” Therefore,  sifting through is the challenge and distilling what seems to take the lead. Pastels, patterns and florals is my finding…but is this just spring? Will this fade with the next season? Or is this a “look” that will last for a while? And do I embrace it all or pick and chose? How does one decide? Elle Decor 2016 design trends table

Pantone the color experts are even all over the place. Their designers were “inspired by the contrast of urban design and lush vegetation.” Whoa, really? That sure is a wide swath of possibilities!  And to say that these colors  are unisex is as though attempting to blurr the lines. A guy might wear a pastel pink, Rose Quartz, shirt – but would he upholster his sofa with it? Fashion and Home Decor often parallel their trends – and then they must veer off that same course for practical if not socially directed reasons.  Redford-3-Seater-Sofa-Peony-Pink

But the rationale is so amusing…for example,  Pantone writes: “Colors this season transport us to a happier, sunnier place where we feel free to express a wittier version of our real selves.” Yes, we all long to escape the doldrums of the short, dark, cold days of winter – hence the positive effect of transporting us to a happier, sunnier place is obvious – every year for that matter. That’s why tropical destinations are the prime vacations for winter getaways. Even most avid snow skiers manage to sneak in a run to the white sand beaches for some sun and fun alongside their plans to hit the slopes, get frost-bitten and nestle by the big fires.

I guess I’m looking for a more cerebral explanation for the color movements. And yet, maybe there aren’t any – so let’s not pretend then. What does it mean a “place where we feel free to express a wittier version of our real selves.” Wittier like a guy upholstering or painting his man cave with Rose Quartz or Peach Echo? That’s witty all right!!!!! That’s not the cerebral that I meant. But it is an interesting rationale. Color is giving us permission to express our REAL selves. I guess that’s one way.

Yet, here are 5 different color series for the upcoming year…and as you can see – it’s all there – it’s all covered.  Pantone color-trends-2016


So as you climb out of the dark, cold recesses of winter and squint your eyes at the bright, colorful luminosity of spring in bloom, where will trends take you on your journey to “punch-up” your interiors?


A little bug selectively bred on a cactus in Mexico way back in the 1500s, for its use as a magnificently unique red dye, soon became recognized, by European traders who discovered it while bartering  in the Aztecan markets, as the most dazzling rich red on the planet. The result was the realization that this red bug juice was a rare trading commodity that rivaled even gold!  Yes, a squished bug that oozed a red color that was so extraordinary that it was nearly valued above all. This indigenous American discovery spread worldwide and altered the course of history for art (obviously), cultural  influences, certainly its trading value and even science.

Before I continue with this brief summary of this extraordinary discovery and my personal  comments on the subject, try this little experiment.  Think of all the things that you associate with red. Think of all the things that are special and standout because they are red. Do this yourself – make a list or maybe make it a game of it at a party – have everyone make their own list and then share the lists – see how many make the same observations and how many identify different items.  More on this later…

This story behind  today’s blog is derived from a book by Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire which influenced a collective of international experts, in a variety of fields of expertise, to produce an incomparable exhibit  at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe that astonished the world.  The book that compiles photographs of worldly treasures and narrative describing the making of and content of this extraordinary exhibit is A Red Like No Other – How Cochineal Colored the World. It was my Valentine’s gift and it truly is a treasure – a gift of love. A red likeno other - book

Cocheneal, this little bug and its unexpected authority and influence, is the center of this universal love affair. A love affair with a color so seductive and so powerful that it evokes passion and emotion with everything that bears its true hue. The forward of this book by co-editor Carmella Padilla states that “everyone has a visceral knowledge of red. Therein lies its power. ” Red is imperative. And if you didn’t realize the depth of this statement, you will be amused, challenged,  amazed and intrigued beyond belief to read about the history and processes behind this exhibit .

Carmine  – this regal bug juice, so purely red, the prized pigment – is something all artists revere. They know the importance of this hue as they strive to create their projects. The quest for the perfect colors and the balance of colors in painting and in other art forms is an ongoing progressive journey. I feel remiss to not have known about this earlier. How can you take art history for semesters on end and not be introduced to this? It’s been an exciting discovery for me to learn of this viscose bug extract, carmine, and this recent journey I have taken to read of its history has been truly thrilling.

As I write this, by stark contrast to the wonderfully cerebral documentation and observations in this book, I find myself watching the endearingly inane movie Nacho Libre out of the corner of my eye.  And  what surprises me all of a sudden is that the color red is so effectively inserted into the scenes. nacholibre

The director, Jared Hess,  knowingly or not recognized the value of the color pop and punctuated many artful scenes that would have lacked depth and interest had he not had the eye to do so. My heightened awareness amuses me – especially in the context of this crazy, silly movie. The creatively artful incorporation and placement of red is so apparent in this nutty, fun film.  Ana de la Reguera lips Nacho  LibreHer lips, his costume, the children’s masks, a sunspot on a bus, the fighting ring ropes, structural elements in the arena are all so subliminal yet so vivid. Consistent and repeated use of the contrast with the bold red color in combination with turquoise is also a key element in this film.Nacho Libre masks

So back to the party where everyone is listing things they associate with red. If you can get a copy of this book and whip it out after everyone has read the lists, I promise everyone will find it captivating on so many levels and subjects – great lively conversation, fun, fascination and amazement will ensue!!





Presidents’ Day – and what is the more significant focus for interior design on this day that celebrates the preeminent leaders of our country and the world? Well, the relatively modest (by some country’s standards), but significant home in which they reside, the White House.

Many years before I had a glimmer of interior design in my purview, I remember the buzz of my mother and her peers surrounding the exciting and noteworthy changes that Jackie Kennedy was bringing to her White House. The exhilarating tone of that time was super-charged with the young, beautiful Camelot couple who made such an indelible impression on all they touched. I sat on my father’s shoulders on November 17, 1962 at the dedication of Dulles airport – Washington’s “jet airport” watching and listening to President Kennedy describe this “distinguished ornament of a great country.” At the same time he recognized the value and beauty of historical properties that warranted restoration and protection. Back then it was a little too much for me to digest, but their sensitivity and appreciation regarding the importance of good design and their influence on the world of fashion and design was astonishingly profound. Everyone was touched by their style and discriminating sense of all things surrounding art, architecture, fashion and interiors.

Having graduated from Mount Vernon College in Washington DC in the first graduating class that was a model for FIDER accreditation in Interior Design, I was surrounded by architectural history and American decorative arts. From the State Department to the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, Washington, DC to Williamsburg – we had an exhilarating education that mere books cannot convey.

Aileen Mehle wrote in Architectural Digest of the first ladies and their very public opportunity to leave their mark on many elements of popular interest not the least of which is the most famous residence on earth. “As the wife of the most powerful man on earth, she commands the attention of the world, placed under a sometimes unforgiving microscope, dissected. From the top of her hairdo to the height of her heels, she is fair game. People want to know: What does she eat, drink, think? Does she like red, pink, mink? How and who does she entertain? Above all, what in her eyes is it like to be the chatelaine of the White House, the most famous house in the land? What mark will this woman make on her surroundings? What evidence of her personal taste and style will she leave behind, hoping that her loving imprimatur will last longer than the few years it was her temporary residence?”Image

Mehle narrowed the field of focus by highlighting two of the most effective first ladies in what I like to reference as the Department of Décor. She stated that “Jacqueline Kennedy and Nancy Reagan were two of the most remarkably caring first ladies of the 20th century. Previously they had both enjoyed brilliant lifestyles.” She notes that both women “were chic and stunning, refined and impeccable. They brought these personal traits to bear almost from the moment they walked through the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How lucky (for their eras and posterity) that they cared so passionately about history. That the White House looked much more authentically beautiful and harmonious when they left than when they arrived is a testament to their exquisite stewardship.”

Jackie enlisted the internationally recognized French interior designer Stéphane Boudin, regarded as a “master of the grand and the opulent” regards Mehle. “He was the star of the renowned Paris decorating firm Jansen” and it was with his brilliant guidance that they transformed many of the more relevant rooms of the White House into exquisite statements of period elegance with timeless good design.

Catrin Morris reviewed Jackie’s fine work and quotes the White House Museum, as stating that the then new First Lady’s appreciation of antiques and fine art prompted her to “not merely redecorate but to restore the White House to a grander, more authentic period look appropriate to its role in American life.”

Decades later, Nancy Reagan, a stellar woman well recognized for her exquisite sense of style Mehle observes “left her own individual mark on the second- and third-floor private quarters of the White House, the Yellow Room, the Treaty Room, the Lincoln Bedroom and the Queens’ Bedroom.  Ted Graber, a personal friend and noted decorator in the Hollywood scene was selected by Nancy to work to create an atmosphere bringing “beauty, color, graciousness and comfort.  Image

It was during her reign as matriarch of the White House’s Department of Décor that I had the good fortune and extraordinary opportunity to have a private tour behind the scenes of the White House. It was in the middle of my career and the wives of a visiting NFL team had just been through earlier that day and although velvet ropes cordoned off many areas beyond which tours could not step, we were escorted by a longtime family friend to get behind the scenes and experience an intimate exploration of the stately rooms. President and Mrs. Reagan were not in residence that weekend. I remember touching Dolly Madison’s tea service and remarking how incredible that felt. Priceless decorative arts – significant artifacts of history were not only on display but presented in a way that suggested that the past Presidents and their wives were still present as following Presidents and their families passed through the halls. This melding of an ongoing, living history is quite unique and inspiring to witness first hand. From the Oval Office where a dutiful agent sat behind an outer desk granting us access to peek inside this dauntingly important headquarters to the spotless stainless steel subterranean kitchen…we explored it all.

Although our tour was limited to a daytime excursion, at that time, any guest privileged enough to stay overnight Mehle offers “might sleep in the Queens’ Bedroom, where five visiting queens have slept in the canopy bed. All was pastel—the Turkish rug, the striped silk taffeta on the bed and at the windows. The 19th-cen-tury painting and mirror over the antique mantel was a gift to the U.S. government from Queen Elizabeth when she was still a princess. Nancy kept intact the cerulean-blue fabric that covered the walls of the adjacent Queens’ Sitting Room.” Such extraordinary history of our fairly recently established great country preserved and made available for view in this exceptional context!

Mehle also tells readers that “many of the furnishings were authorized gifts from the Reagans’ devoted friends and others who loved and respected the White House. In nearby rooms, she kept her own collection of Battersea boxes, blue-and-white porcelain and jade on small tables. Paintings by Cassatt, Cézanne and Peale adorned other spaces in the private quarters.” Said Graber, “She was responsible for its same elegance and easy charm she herself epitomizes.”

Alas, despite the discriminating efforts of these extraordinary First Ladies, much of their fine work has since been modified as is the prerogative of those who follow. Historians have recorded the periods and transitions while history will determine and confirm the contributions of all who have the key responsibilities for the contents and presentation of the treasures within these walls. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, yet in the final analysis, good design reads through and hopefully transcends attempts at transient change for mere ego. The value of sensitivity is priceless.

Creative Design Ideas

Amphibious shoes!

Some funny things land in one’s email. This came with a collection of fantastically creative shoe designs. I doubted the validity of several including this one so I Googled it. And sure enough, there is a site – but no guarantee that they really sell shoes – http://www.hightideheels.be/Leer.html .
Design – this seems to be the perfect project assignment. Fashion to the extreme – but here, in this instance, it’s a novel thought…from work to play – or a seamless transition…if you live by the water. So let’s try for office to hiking boots where the fine finish of leather is replicated with weather-proof materials suitable for the outdoors! Or bicycle shoes with removable heels – ride to work and stick on the heels when you get there! “Think outside the box” the instructor will council his students. You can hear him now…hearken back to those days in class when you had to design a box to house a raw egg that you could successfully drop from 5 stories up and NOT break the egg. Yes, those were the days…
Clothing – if form follows function – is to cover, provide protection, and to make a “statement.” To make that “statement,” FASHION enters the picture. The function is often a spoof as well as the form – but what fun!
And then there’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – that timeless tale told by Hans Christian Anderson that exposes the farce and illuminates the innocent observation of the child who won’t buy into the idea. But we buy it season after season – the fashion industry that must continue to create in order that we make new, want new, further the industry and the economics that surround it and trickle down from it. It’s a major element of our free-market system – of our capitalistic society. It’s a beautiful thing – creativity – positively reinforced with recognition and perhaps even prosperity.
It’s in the eye of the beholder and the one with the largest pocketbook as to whether honesty in design is perpetuated or merely the idea. Whether real or shock value, humor, farce or frivolity – fashion’s validity is assessed in the present and in the future for generations. From the fashion design of hair styles and clothing, furnishings and decorative accessories to vehicles, industrial design, and architecture- all constantly in motion and time usually validates or not the true merit of that design.

I came upon an article about weathervanes. It was about Massachusetts artist Edwin Waskiewicz and his 20 year old practice of hammering custom copper and brass art pieces into animated creations to indicate wind direction or just for the charm of them as a decorative embellishment. You can imagine the twinkly shine and patina of these manipulated materials perched atop shingles spinning their eclectic forms into the skies. But how many people are in the market for these fine pieces of art and at what price when layered with other retailers’ representation? By that I mean mark-up – or in the case of a gallery, the sharing of the selling price to cover the cost of said representation. After exploring these channels of selling his work, this artist recognized that he could do better with direct representation – this direct market approach has been the basis for entrepreneurialism for artists (and other manufacturers for that matter), since time began.
People looking for unique pieces of anything are willing to research the myriad sources to seek their private find. Exclusive at the least, these treasures are often regarded as private due to the buyer’s opportunity to intimately create with the artists to achieve one’s desired and very custom results. What is the price of personal style? This is true in Interior Design as well when you strive to create combinations of fabrics and furniture that nobody else has – your own personal statement for your environment. Fashion – look for the finds or create your own – it’s all about personal style.
What a contrast custom commissions are to commodity production. Yet, the mass produced items that flood the marketplace every season to emulate these custom pieces still constitutes a treasure hunt – just not as expensive or exclusive. Whether searching retail firsthand – the tactile and seemingly old fashioned way versus the seemingly limitless offerings available when scouring cyberspace – the hunt is on!
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” says it all as relates to this experience in relativity. Perfectly good wing chairs sitting on the curb for pick-up…NOT because they are no longer useable or even presentable – but merely because there is no room for them. Donating is good – and it’s interesting to see what treasures can be found from curbsides to Goodwill stores, junk shops to antique boutiques. It’s fun and exciting – it’s challenging and satisfying – regardless of the price-range, budget and scale, maybe we’re all just a little bit “pickers.”
The price of personal style…is perhaps priceless?