Category Archives: antique

An Artist’s Dwelling (6)

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Roxa Smith was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela (yummy Arepas). She came to the US in her teens and attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, earning a degree in Art History and German in 1984 with a minor in Visual Arts. In 1987, she received a Graduate Certificate in the Fine Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She now lives in and works in New York City and is represented by George Billis Gallery NY and George Billis Gallery LA.. Roxa has exhibited nationally and internationally.  Her painting focus on mostly empty interiors, wherein the remnants of a family or place remain regardless of human portraits. She is currently an English as a Second Language (ESL) Instructor at Baruch College- Continuing and Professional Studies (CAPS). Her interests include cooking, biking, traveling, education, and India. To buy some of her works and prints directly online, go HERE.

Roxa Smith, Green Couch, 36”x45” oil on canvas, 2009

Roxa Smith, Continuity, 2011, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Smith explains her series, Interiors, “The spaces we inhabit or visit each take on an individual character and sensibility in our minds, a memory of the time we passed there, of the company we shared. These voyeuristic paintings depict actual places, recalling their essence without seeking to faithfully recreate them. The intimate scale in this ongoing series of gouache on wood portraits, often only 5 by 7 inches, invites the viewer to enter the room, to experience the narrative quality within the quiet space, devoid of people, yet evocative and teeming with life.” Her use of light, color, shadow, and angle is extremely unique. Her images are intimate and a little lonely. Don’t you just want to dive in to the realistic depth of the painting and take up residence on her canvases?

Roxa Smith, Pillow Heaven, 30″x40″ oil on canvas, 2010

Roxa Smith, The Piano Room, 2010, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Roxa Smith, La Cocina Azul, 2009, oil on canvas 45 x 36 inches

“In these interiors and exteriors, I strive to capture and then distill fleeting moments in time and seek to illuminate the “spirit” of a space. The images are often devoid of people yet evocative and teeming with life, intended not to purely document a place but rather to portray its essence. I concentrate on the architectural details, source of light, and complex patterns within a composition. The isolation and juxtaposition of these elements creates a picture that is anything but a straightforward view…”, continues Smith in her motivation for another series, Interiors and Landscapes. I love the fact that her images often feature a room within a room. The art on a wall captures and directly reflects a captured moment in space, a moment that is ephemeral. This concept of magic realism reminds me of  another native South American – Argentinian, Jorge Luis Borges, who writes, “You have wakened not out of sleep, but into a prior dream, and that dream lies within another, and so on, to infinity, which is the number of grains of sand.” What is life but an image within an image, a dream within a dream? Borges believed that reality is not always based on probability, and so Smith’s paintings remind me of the weird and fanciful aspects of interiors. Sorry for the esoteric mind bend but, it just goes to show you how deeply Smith’s paintings make me think and feel.

The above paintings are equal parts traditional, eclectic, and culturally inspired. Rooms that remind me of Roxa Smith’s oeuvre, and her use of pattern, juxtaposition, and unexpected color:

Room designed by Vintage Renewal from Idledale, Co., image found HERE.

Back Bay Apartment, Boston by Nirmada Interior Design, image found HERE.
This eclectic, print-filled room from Better Homes & Gardens, HERE. 
Neon pink fridge, Latin American flair, Mosaics, and that yellow wall!  Image via Big Chill, HERE.
The two-room 40 Winks hotel in Stepney Green, London, UK. Images found HERE.
This patterned filled workspace courtesy of Absolutely Beautiful Things, HERE.
Image found via Anthropologie, HERE.
Image of Hotel Thoumieux in Paris, France found HERE.
HOW CAN I LIVE IN A FANTASTICAL AND BRIGHT ROXA SMITH PAINTING?
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I understand that not everyone can live in such a BRIGHT and multifarious room so, like in Smith’s paintings, it is enough to just contemplate the type of people that fill a space. My mind has been attacked and invaded by color and pattern lately; I promise I will calm down the rooms in the next few posts!

Silver Screen Scenes (3)

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The Royal Tenebaums directed by Wes Anderson and co-written by Owen Wilson follows the lives of three gifted siblings who experience great success in youth, and even greater disappointment and failure after their eccentric father leaves them in their adolescent years. An ironic, sardonic, and absurdist sense of humor pervades the film.

The house used in the film is located near Sugar Hill in the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem in Manhattan, New York City. The address is 336 Convent Avenue. If you want to visit, you can take the A, B, C, or D to the 145th Street stop or the 1 to the 145th Street stop. This is a private residence so do not camp out or re-enact scenes. Wes Anderson explains, “Though we never call it New York in the film, I was looking for a certain feeling of living in New York, not the real New York, more a New York of the imagination”. Although the exteriors were largely shot in New York, Wes Anderson intentionally avoided virtually all shots of skyscrapers or other distinctive New York landmarks.

The sense of the formalized, fairy tale city is reflected in the screenplay by the faux-New York neighborhoods, unmarked gypsy cabs and various simulated landmarks: Archer Avenue, Mockingbird Heights, Public Archives, the 375th Street, the Irving Island Ferry, 22nd Avenue Express, and Green line Bus (none of which ACTUALLY exist on the isle of Manhattan). Thank you to Mooviees for Production Notes!

Here is a photo of the house:

“It was apparent that the house was one of the characters in the movie,” notes production designer David Wasco.

The african and tribally inspired room of Margot Tenebabum is filled with mock Baule (Baoule) Masks. The Baule People are from the Ivory Coast of Africa. The mask on the lower left hand side of the above image is a type of Baule mask is known as a Goli mask. It is used in dances during harvest festivals, in processions to honor distinguished visitors, and at the funerals of important figures. The circular face represents the life-giving force of the sun and the horns symbolise the great power of the buffalo. Directly above Margot and to her right is a type of mask known as a Dan mask. These are used for protection and as a conduit for communication in the spirit world. If you want to explore what the other shapes of the masks mean, visit HERE.

ALSO, can we talk about that wallpaper? The pattern dates to 1940’s when Chef Gino Circiello decided to open “Gino’s” – an Italian restaurant at 780 Lexington Avenue in New York and he was looking for a decorating theme for his new eatery. According to The New York Times, “Mr. Circiello was a hunter without the means to pay for an African safari, but he reasoned that he could at least afford zebras on his wallpaper.” The restaurant closed in 2010 but will always be remembered for its contributions to the design world – the Franco Scalamandre wallpaper!

Eric Anderson, the director’s brother and a gifted artist and illustrator, was another important contributor to the film. He painted all of Richie’s artwork, including seventeen portraits of Margot, which hang in the family ballroom.

Craving Margot Tenebaum look-alike illustrations? Go HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE

Native American Chief Paintings are clearly by George Catlin. Buy some posters HERE. Also, I secretly love the idea of decorating with a full-size medical skeleton. Skulls have been really in lately (as paperweights, and as small repetitive prints), but lets take this a step further and do all 206 bones. 

The paintings in Eli’s apartment are by Mexican artist Miguel Calderón. The images were part of the artist’s 1998 exhibit “Aggressively Mediocre/Mentally Challenged/Fantasy Island (circle one)”, though they were not actually painted by him. Calderón took photographs of his friends posed on motorcycles and, after deciding the photographs were not realistic, hired a portrait painter to reproduce them on canvas.I actually have a print in my guest room that has a very similar oeuvre by an artist who also works in the ideals of Hispanic culture and the Chicano movement.  Interesting that each Tenenbaum child seems entrenched in a culture that is not his/her own. 

The board game closet, complete with mouse. 

Vintage magazine, vintage board games, vintage lamps, and delicate teacups. 

Clearly this burnt red ochre is echoed throughout the film – in the stained glass, in clothing, in the lamplight. Also, a vintage damask couch is ALWAYS a wonderful addition. 

HOW DO I LIVE IN A QUIRKY FAMILY MANSION?

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P.S. A big thank you to THIS site for all screen captures of the movie.

St. Paddy’s Day

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(Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”)

I visited Ireland once in high school on a British Literature tour. We visited The Book of Kells, The Cliffs of Dover, Trinity College, Dublin, Killarney, and the original place where Irish Coffee was invented in Limerick County (which included waiters milking and whipping fresh cream on the side of the road). My favorite Irish authors include the classics: W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, and C.S. Lewis. However, my favorite contemporary Irish feminist and poet is Eavan Boland (READ HER NOW).

Rather than focusing on the traditional Irish Flag hues – Kelly Green and Orange – let us delve into a less literal approach for Irish interior design. I remember staying in several old B&B’s, castle lodging, Victorian inspired Hotels, and modern caravansaries. During my tour I passed hundreds of shaggy sheep, miles of peat moss bogs, and would sometimes find myself screaming, “HEATHCLIFF” across the moors (or was that Wuthering Heights? OK, I know it’s technically in Northern England but the Brontes are originally from Ireland). The emerald isle was gorgeous, but is not just GREEN colored – other than WITH ENVY for its beauty. Har har. Here are two of my favorite hotels and respectively, each space’s interior delights:

The G Hotel in Galway, Ireland. The Pink Salon image courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler, HERE. The g’s glamour is completely local: Mad milliner Philip Treacy, a hometown boy, designed this 101-room stunner.

The G Hotel in Galway, Ireland. The Grand Salon image found HERE.

The G Hotel in Galway, Ireland. Matz Restaurant image courtesy of Adventures of Brute Force, HERE.

The G Hotel in Galway, Ireland. The Suite image courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler, HERE.

The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin by Renaissance Hotels and Resorts in 2008 – “The grand dame of Dublin cultural society”, Image found HERE.

The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin. The Constitution Room is where the Irish Constitution was drafted in 1922 under the chairmanship of Michael Collins. Images courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler and The Shelbourne, Dublin.

The Grace Kelly Suite in The Shelbourne, Dublin. Image found HERE. This suite is named in honour of the Famous Hollywood film star, Grace Kelly. Princess Grace and her husband stayed at The Shelbourne Hotel many times and had an attachment to room 270, with the finest view of St. Stephen’s Green of all city centre Dublin hotels. 

The Lord Mayor’s Lounge at The Shelbourn Hotel offers high tea service wherein the teabags are made of silk. Lord Mayors of Ireland take a stroll in this elegant, sunlight room during their inauguration.  Historical note: During The Easter Rising in 1916, forty British soldiers were garrisoned at the hotel. Consequently the Shelbourne came under regular fire. When fighting broke out on the Green on Easter Monday, afternoon tea was relocated to the rear of the hotel for safety.

HOW SHOULD I TAKE STYLE CUES FROM A COZY IRISH BAILE (that’s home in Irish)?

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