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!!!)



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.

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 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!


I awakened in the painter’s house with slivers of sunlight glistening through the bamboo shades, exotic chirping happily piercing the silence and cinnamon scenting the air from the open grill preparing the best French toast on the planet. P1110818

This place exudes thoughtful reflection and invites savoring the simple things of beauty and  meaning. P1110821

From intense and intimate conversations centering around the passions of life to convivial arguments and relaxed exchanges, those gathered at the estudio-café tables examine the events of the world from their own individual vantage points. P1110829Today the primary focus was a topic with which everyone seemed to view from the same perspective. All were in avid agreement as they discussed the recent exhibit in Mexico City from where the artist, Leon de la Vega, has recentlyjust returned. This significant event was an important auction where part of the proceeds were to benefit the Mexican Institute of Neonatology toward research on children’s learning and therapy and no less to benefit the artist expressing his concerns for the current state of affairs with the lost art of writing by hand. Federico's invitation P1110815

With the advancement of smart technology comes the dumbing of the people tethered to it.  Everyone…all of us…are victims and if we are to save the core of our humanity we must preserve our handmade, organic, communications. We have computer aided drafting and graphic programs, texting and video all of which negate the tactile, made-by-hand written or drawn creations of the human touch. To have a computer consistently come between the hand of man and his end results is a gap that will never be regained once lost.  Recovering this lost art, in so many forms, is critical to mankind. This all sounds pretty heady. But once you enter these spirited conversations you realize that the demise of past civilizations is not unlike this self-destructive path to which  we now bear witness. The beautifully insightful, well-crafted video in Spanish introduces Leon de la Vega’s collection and explains these observations which are universally recognized by those who are interested in taking pause to realize what is happening around us. You won’t need a translator.

In response to these observations, as the video explains, Leon de la Vega has embarked on an exploration of  communications by hand, incorporating them into sculpture, stylized images and abstracted interpretations. writing series P1110818

He is inserting into and embellishing on his artistic expressions in the form of calligraphy—which in its finest examples— has proven to be both art and literal communication through the ages. P1110838

But if one examines the very personal and expressive beauty of fine penmanship,  we realize that our schools are not even teaching basic cursive  to our children. Our schools are forced to chose between computer classes, music, art and even the basic direction to form the written word.  The  collection was very well received in Mexico City last month and a second exciting and thought-provoking exhibition/auction of work will take place in early February, also in Mexico City.


Thank you Joel Roberts Poinsett for bringing this brilliant red and green explosion of color and such a perfect plant to represent the colors of the Christmas season to our northern climes! Upon learning that today was National Poinsettia Day, I set forth to learn a bit about why…P1110598

You too can Google it, but in a nutshell, back in the early 1800s, this observant amateur botanist was our first Ambassador to the new Republic of Mexico! Not to mention, his day job was that of a doctor and a soldier! Busy well-rounded guy it seems!

Poinsett sent cuttings of this spectacular and exotic flowering plant from where he was visiting in the Taxco region of Mexico, to his home in Charleston, South Carolina. Once he returned to Charleston, he spread the joy and sent other clippings of his magnificent discovery to friends including a Mr. Buist in Philadelphia who gave a piece to Mr. James McNab who took it to the Botanical Garden of Edinburgh, Scotland founded in 1670. (From “Paxton’s Magazine of Botany” 1837)

The initial botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima was actually assigned by a German botanist, Wilenow, in 1833, but within 4 years it was renamed Poinsettia Pucherrima by William Hickling Prescott a historian and gardener who had been asked, by someone in authority, to rename it. He did so by selecting to honor Joel Poinsett for his numerous achievements in both government and horticulture.

This dramatic flowering plant comes in many colors – the familiar and original red to creamy off-whites, chartreuse, pinks and various variegated versions such as this fabulous marbled specimen called strawberries and cream.strawberries n cream poinsettia

Poinsett retired from his career in public service as Secretary of War in 1841. He became one of the founders of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful – which later became the Smithsonian Institute. I was born in D.C. and raised inside the Beltway and never knew that the Smithsonian which was a memorably mandatory field trip nearly every year of my childhood, was originally named the wordy National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful – but it certainly describes it all in one fell swoop!!

There are many legends and folk stories centering around this “flor de Nochebuena” in Mexico but the thread of this story that has personal interest to me is that the same poinsettia cutting taken to Edinburgh by James McNab is still producing and flowering annually in the Royal Botanical Garden in Scotland to this day.

As I read this history, I was excited about this remarkable tracing of the original cuttings.  In our family we have what my grandmother , Dee Dee, always referred to as “the family cactus.” This rounded, smooth leafed variation (some have pointy, spiked leaves)with its hot pink blooms is our cactus.P1110601

Dee Dee, Anna Ives Wagner, was born in 1892 in Youngstown, New York.  She arrived at our house to live with us in the late 1950s. She brought with her a very special plant. It was a cutting off of the original plant that was in her ancestral home – the Root Home, Twin Pines – 830 River Road – then Main Street, Youngstown.

Dee Dee remembered that plant from her childhood and had heard from her mother and aunts that it was there in theirs as well – which without complicated math puts it in the house since the mid 1800s. Unfortunately we don’t know when it started…but the house dates back to our great, great, great grandfather, Dr. Benjamin Root c.1840. The house stayed in our family, passing finally to my  grandmother’s aunt Helen Root who lived there with an original cutting of the plant until the 1950s when she moved to Elmira with her niece and her husband, Edith and Ray Hulbert.

We grew-up with the family cactus bursting forth with wild fuscia blooms every fall into winter. It was always an exciting and exotic flowering extravaganza in the colder dark months of the season. It brought a sense of life, growth, and color that was a spectacular contrast to the otherwise drab, dull, dormancy of winter.P1110609

I guard my plants, given to me as a cutting by Dee Dee when I first moved to New Mexico, with great responsibility and appreciation.

Last year my Mother’s large family cactus withered before our very eyes…she was so protective of it that she perhaps neglected to give it new soil and nutrients instead favoring watering a bit too much which  resulted in its demise. As she witnessed and worried about the failing plant, we carefully cultivated clippings and as weak and depleted as they were – nurtured them in water losing a couple but saving a few so that they now are flourishing in a clay pot in a window with the soft daylight of  northern exposure displaying a resiliency, hope, and celebration of life that continues to greet each day. Perhaps  metaphors for procreation, family traditions, aging in place…

My mother is 93 and her mother, Dee Dee, lived to be three weeks shy of her 101st birthday.

Joel Poinsett died on December 12, 1851 at the age of 72 – one hundred and sixty four years ago today! Happy Poinsettia Day!! Merry Christmas Joel Poinsett!



There once was a chair

quite bland, blond and fair.

A victim of the 80s

when pickling and white-wash went crazy.

But along came a designer

who sat down beside her

and painted her troubles away.


Now she is sassy

coral red and quite classy.

And with her new flair

has inspired others bland and fair,

to make the change

that’s all the rage

to be bold over lighter

redheads are brighter!


(My bright and creative friend, Lynn Platow has more sassy savvy exuding from her very brilliant core than anyone I know. Check out her site