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Showing posts from June, 2011

Thursday's Visual Treat - Day 4/ Peep-Show (wings of faith/endless rapture mix)

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Peeps,






Good Friday will be celebrated tomorrow, and across the world believers of every race and nationality gather in sacred places to reaffirm a shared belief in holy transcendence.  I am profoundly moved by their passion and zeal and faith; to suspend rationality in deference to the purported realm of the metaphysical is indeed an act of defiance.  Clumsily paraphrasing the musician David Sylvan, the words still haunt me and thus I share that song bar:  millions live their lives in His Name.  In spite of personal reservation and some hesitancy about the place and placement of oneself among the heavens, I remain quite open to the possibility of presence, as well as absence.  This state of being, I realize is quite similar to the theme of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi's austere yet beautiful interior: a series of rooms plainly empty, yet somehow inhabited by an unseen presence.  I find that this work challenges me to find meaning and its ambiguity brings me a certain satisfact…

Wednesday's Visual Treat - Day 3/Peep Show (Tycho/dream club remix)

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Peeps, The transitory nature of life is not lost on me; my stated preference for interiors where the passage of time is markedly evident has been noted by many of my fellow design-obsessed peeps.  As an artist and lover of beautiful objects, I am especially drawn to the patina of age; the tell-tale signs of extended use and toil; the signs of wear, repair, care, and respect.  Similarly I find buildings and rooms that reveal their histories without guilt and guise to be illuminating and transformative and quite analogous to our own destiny. This beautiful sitting room captures the Cuba of both present and past.  The fate of the owners of these Colonial masterpieces is frequently unknown.  An exit visa to the US or an extended sentence at one of the many work-camps would have had the same result: a home quickly abandoned and entrusted to the vicissitudes of one's family or the vagaries of an increasingly corrupt government under Fidel Castro.  Luckily, some residences escaped destruc…

Tuesday's Visual Treat - Day 2/ Peep-Show (Araki's sweet skin and E remix)

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Peeps,
Proclamations of the royal nuptial and the extensive media coverage of the accompanying festivities appeared everywhere and with great fanfare.  Aficionados of that sort of thing seemed quite pleased with the restrained elegance and style displayed by the future King and Queen {of England}.  And yet for me and countless others, the long anticipated news of another queen quickened pulses and whetted the appetite of a legion of fans, followers, devotees, bloggers, fashionistas, curators, editors, walkers, wanna-bees, wankers, weirdos, and assorted persons as well as personalities from all genres and sub-genres of society who prepare to congregate at the temple of his highness in order to pay respect to his memory, to collectively gasp at his creations, and to be surrounded by others of like kind.  We will bear witness to true genius as displayed in the MET/Costume Institute's exhibition entitled "ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: SAVAGE BEAUTY."  McQueen, besides being an extremely…

Monday's Visual Treat - Day 1/ The Theme of Royalty

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Peeps,


Proclamations of the royal nuptial and the extensive media coverage of the accompanying festivities appeared everywhere and with great fanfare.  Aficionados of that sort of thing seemed quite pleased with the restrained elegance and style displayed by the future King and Queen {of England}.  And yet for me and countless others, the long anticipated news of another queen quickened pulses and whetted the appetite of a legion of fans, followers, devotees, bloggers, fashionistas, curators, editors, walkers, wanna-bees, wankers, weirdos, and assorted persons as well as personalities from all genres and sub-genres of society who prepare to congregate at the temple of his highness in order to pay respect to his memory, to collectively gasp at his creations, and to be surrounded by others of like kind.  We will bear witness to true genius as displayed in the MET/Costume Institute's exhibition entitled "ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: SAVAGE BEAUTY."  McQueen, besides being an extremely…

Monday's Visual Treat - Day 1/Peep Show (Bang-bang boy/Underground remix)

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Peeps,








Looking at this sumptuous Art Deco inspired salon, I expect a joyous crowd of revellers to burst from behind the mirrored door; I wait for the sound of corks popping and the clink of champagne glasses.  I strain to hear Cole croon about a night that is just so swell, and a slow kiss that continues well into morning.  I imagine an intimate gathering of debonair gentlemen in evening-jackets and their sleek lovelies all resplendent in ermine and silk,  Patou and Mainbocher. It is the middle of May and the lights from the World's Fair held at the Meadows can be glimpsed from the window at the far end of the library; the event in Gliwice, Poland is almost unimaginable because here, tonight, these charmed sophisticates celebrate an almost guaranteed life of wealth and continued privilege.  For this group and the others like them, the future seems rife with endless possibilities thanks to a nation seemingly flush, the result of recent economic prosperity, technological breakthrough…

Friday's Visual Treat - Day 5/The Theme of Royalty

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Peeps,
This week's theme--royalty, ends with today's visual treat.  I received lots of responses to Monday's posted image:  Alexander McQueen and Bjork's collaboration fondly entitled " The Future and Past Dowager Empress Upon Ceremonial Presentation to the Imperial Court, Where an Assembled Chorus of Operatic Slave Girls, Blind Canaries, Golden Baboons, and Tuva Throat-Singers Will Offer Endless Cries of Adulation to Her Benevolence and Wisdom."  Apparently, his creations struck a nerve with many fashion-obsessed peeps who expressed an interest in visiting the exhibition at the MET.  Tuesday's image of queen-of-the-night tulips and the accompanying narrative prompted many to ask for photos of the garden of the unorthodox Lady Emblom; hopefully this will be done shortly with the aid of my brand-new digital camera.  Wednesday's visual treat featured the amazing RAJA who rocked the house, worked the runway, wowed the judges and was crowned Queen of RuPa…

Thursday's Visual Treat - Day 4/ The Theme of Royalty

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Peeps,

Have we all been too hasty in our condemnation of the little queen?  Did we without much cajoling or prompting become part of a mob mentality, and similar to many others, senselessly rush forward to sling insult, to throw rock, or worse yet--pass silent judgement on a woman still misunderstood by history.  Who among us did undertake any additional search, any attempt at understanding the reason for her remark:  "Let them eat cake!" Noted historian Lady Antonia Frazer kindly points out that 'cake' in the time of 18th century France would have been a robust, hearty, family-sized bread roll and possibly enriched with eggs and butter; when served with a drink of sorts it would have been the equivalent of a complete meal.  It is quite uncharacteristic of Marie Antoinette to have been so callous or so dismissive upon hearing of the famine, as she had always maintained a relationship of great sensitivity and compassion to the commoners.   Additionally, dates of publish…

Tuesday's Visual Treat - Day 2/ The Theme of Royalty

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Peeps,


My neighbor, Lady Emblom is a devoted gardener who almost wordlessly ushered me away from convention and towards a wider gaze.  Not for her are the pastels and softness of pink, coral, and white David Austin roses; nor is she inclined to limit her labors to boxwood, ferns, hollies, laurels--the stalwarts of those who still cling to the notion of compulsory all-year interest, and undoubtedly also to the crossing-guard's hand long after the all-clear signal has been given. Maggie's garden is ablaze with the dynamic combination of fiery-red crocismia planted next to orange day-lilies and courted by undulating banks of strawberry-colored snap-dragons.  Equally captivating are masses of lily-of-the-valley frolicking with queen of the night tulips, this contrast of white against deepest purple, almost black causes neighborhood strollers to always stop and stare.  Frequently I gaze through the crepe-myrtle branches upon this sliver of heaven and I am blessedly content. If I am …

Friday's Visual Treat - Day 5/Gardens to Cultivate

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Peeps,

Almost anything can be pressed into service as a planter, such as wooden mixing bowls, coffee-cans, waste-paper baskets, plastic milk-crates, and so forth.  Experience has taught me that invariably the container which does not have a drainage hole(s) will end up somewhere on the balcony where through some fluke--either human or divine--the contents will turn yellow and die from over-watering.  Lesson learned: always drill holes, cover with pebbles, pottery shards, a layer of sticks/broken branches/leaves, and if nothing else is available when the urge hits you after the hardware store has closed, cut a square of burlap, lay on the bottom of the container and then fill with a mixture of potting soil and water gel crystals, that new invention which slowly releases water and eliminates multiple trips to the kitchen faucet and spilt water which can rot the wooden floor or puddles on the waxed linoleum.  Nothing is so pleasurable as walking down the street and looking up at the narro…

Wednesday's Visual Treat - Day 3 / Gardens to Cultivate

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Peeps,

I received many emails today about yesterday's visual treat which recounted the massacre at Hiram's koi pond by the alleged perpetrator, namely Betty Beaver.  Mark I., a gentleman farmer in Manitoba succinctly pointed out that beavers are vegetarians (herbivores) and consume herbaceous plants such as clover and raspberry canes and aquatic plants such as water lilies and grasses; they especially enjoy eating the twigs, barks and leaves of aspen and willow trees.  As such they could not have been responsible for the carnage in Hiram's koi pond.  A phone call to Hiram and an half hour of sleuthing was enough to shed some light on the matter; apparently Betty Beaver had never been actually seen partaking of the sea-food buffet, however had been noticed one season ago on the property which borders on a large fresh-water pond.  Numerous sightings of groups of raccoons had long been reported; all known information about these critters suggest that they were the actual culpr…

Tuesday's Visual Treat - Day 2/ Gardens To Cultivate

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Peeps,

The wet garden allows us to indulge in plants and novelties which otherwise would have been impractical.  Once you have determined that the water-table for a particular spot is high (this can be easily verified during the spring months when rainfall is plentiful) and retains water long after the rest of the garden has dried, you can set about creating your version of a bog-land or miniature marsh--wildlife and all!!  Plants such as ferns, sweet flags, reed grasses, marsh marigolds, rodgersia, chelone, skunk-cabbage, umbrella plant and irises will settle in wonderfully and spread without any restraint whatsoever.  Make your garden the envy of all the other parents on the block by planting pitcher plants, which is sure the draw every kid within a five mile radius.  Additionally, several trees such as willows, silver maple, red-osier dogwood, and poplars just love these growing conditions; as do arborvitaes, birches, black-gum and summer-sweet.  If you want to incorporate a moving …

Monday's Visual Treat - Day 1/ Gardens To Cultivate

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Peeps,
Because I received so many happy emails after posting ' Beautiful Flowers That Make Me Swoon,' the focus of last week's visual treats, I decided to write (or blog) about the different types of gardens cultivated by many of us; namely:  the dry/sunny garden, the wet garden, the shady garden, the urban sidewalk or street garden, and lastly the container garden.  I hope that the daily postings will be informative, enjoyable, and perhaps motivate the non-gardeners and timid among us to try something new and different such as starting a few potted plants, visiting a public garden or park, or making an appointment with a garden/landscape designer or landscaper/gardener to discuss fall plans for the integration of a garden to your existing home. Besides being thoroughly enjoyable, stress-relieving and life-enhancing, an ice-breaker or conversation starter, it adds mucho dollars to your property value--so there!!!
The dry, sunny garden receives lots of sun and calls for plant…

Thursday's Visual Treat - Day 4/ Gardens to Cultivate

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Peeps,

Realtors, appraisers, developers, architects, civic association board members, community groups, landscapers, and various HGTV shows routinely laud the necessity and value of 'curb appeal.'  Apparently curb appeal is the attractiveness of a property to prospective buyers, passersby, civic leaders, and plain folk like you and me--who just want our home(s) to look good, and the block that we live on to look good too.  Curb appeal can be accomplished through painting (or repainting) in attractive colors which are consistent with the style of the house and in keeping with the relative charm and look of the community; exterior and landscape lighting which prolongs that charm at night-time as well as dissuades the criminally inclined from any thoughts of mischief; landscaping to complement the architecture of the house or building, as well as beautify the property through the integration of trees, shrubs, flower and plant beds, borders and walk paths, fencing and driveway/walk…

Friday's Visual Treat - Day 5/Inspired By Gardens

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Peeps,


I want my garden a little dirty.  I want my garden, like natural--you know.   Baby, I want my garden 'real.'  I want my garden to resemble what I imagine is the harmonious order of growth: trees and shrubs and plants that provide food and shelter to the birds, bees, butterflies, and one that provides me with beauty; also somewhere where I can work off my stress (in the tedious task of weeding or pulling ivy).  I want a garden that exemplifies the inherent rhythm of life through orderly phases and then death, or an indeterminate sleep.  I want this all in a well-planned design that mimics what I imagine 'nature' to be:  thus-- the natural garden principle(s) that rightfully should be adopted by every concerned community within earshot (or eye-sight) of this f/blog.  Following closely the native flora of that region for integration into one's design; installing and maintaining one's garden as close to undisturbed as possible; holding back on the fertilizer…

Thursday's Visual Treat - Day 4/ Inspired By Gardens

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Peeps,


It has got to be one of the nicest months on record.  Lots of rain at night, t-storms at times hardly appropriate- like rush-hour; yet we welcome both the precipitation and the distraction it brings to the daily hour and a half ride from downtown to Riding, Va.  Temperatures are fairly mild and not rising above the 80's until this coming weekend.  The gardens are loving it, and it shows.  The past few weeks have been all about the azaleas.  Just like circus acrobats or Vegas show-girls, they look good in pink/white/coral/fuchsia blooms and lots of it.  Previously quiet and demure during the earlier months of the year,  really just waiting for the sign, the signal, the drum-call; and then in a blaze of feathers, sequins.  Face. Body. Attitude. DIVA.  This I know:  PARIS IS {NOT} BURNING!!   Azaleas are like gypsies in spirit, meaning unconventional.  To place them in rows as foundation plantings does them a disservice; attempting to prune/clip/shave/shape/bully them into forma…

Wednesday's Visual Treat - Day 3 / Inspired by Gardens

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Peeps,


Wednesday is here and the realization hits me that the month of May is almost over; in a few days it will be Memorial Day and the Rolling Thunder parade will once again honor the fallen, the forgotten, the missing and those who honor and love them.  If you have to run an errand across town, or plan to visit the District with visitors from back home, please be on the alert as the highways are abuzz with throbbing activity as scores of muscled/mustached/tattooed/pierced/shaved patriotic dudes and their preening 'babes' in biker-chic ensembles cruise up and down the beltway in search of hospitality, camaraderie, or just looking for a good barbecue joint with ample parking.  I enjoy the sight of hundreds of bikes spilling across four or more lanes and creeping upwards from south of Potomac Mills through Shirlington and clear to the Wall.  Row upon row upon row of bikes and banners and flags and hearts burning with purpose.  I am deeply moved by this public manifestation of m…

Tuesday's Visual Treat - Day 2/ Inspired by Gardens

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Peeps,

With the focus on taking in every minute of life, it seems only logical that experiencing the pleasure of dining al fresco creeps upwards in one's consciousness.  After all, the evenings are balmy and the light is still magical way beyond dusk; thus the opportunity to contemplate the garden must not be wasted.  Lady Emblom has already set up an impromptu dining room on her patio.  Between the garden shed and vegetable beds, she has carefully positioned a round table and four sturdy, comfortable wicker armchairs painted engine-red.  When setting her table, she always first covers the tabletop with colorful Moroccan-style linens, and then lots of candles in assorted sizes and shapes.  She prefers to use old china plates, mixed patterns of crystal glassware, and vintage silver found inexpensively at estate sales; she said that setting a pretty table reminds her of growing up in small-town Illinois, of a favorite Grandmother who insisted on long naps in the afternoon, and polite…

Monday's Visual Treat - Day 1/ Inspired by Gardens

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Peeps,

As earlier promised, the collective focus shifts away from wood-paneled libraries with peeling paint and faded, thread-bare carpets (the only way I like them), bedrooms in the G. Vanderbilt style, and kitchens that tug at the heart through sheer nostalgia for a lost innocence.  It's May and the gardens outside are brimming with joy and color, bursting forth with energy and zest, spilling out and over the gravel paths.  Since returning home--after the little incident--I've begun to take a second look at the 'weeds;' really, some of them are downright beautiful, as well as useful.  Any obsession with ridding an area of dandelions has long vanished; instead I think of dandelion tea with heaps of sugar and if one can, open-faced sandwiches of salami on Dijonned-rye.  Or, young leaves tossed with skeletal slices of red onion, a few cubes of cold, ripe mango, a sprinkle of cilantro leaves, dash of vinegar/oil combo, and a calorie-low, vitamin-rich pleasure to be quickl…

Thursday's Visual Treat - Day 4/ Flowers That Make Me Swoon

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Peeps,


     The weather changed quite drastically without any warning and suddenly it's 92F in the shade, about 99F out in the sun, and feels like 1000F if you are a construction worker mixing cement or pouring asphalt on the new connector bridge near the Merrifield/Gallows Road exit off the Beltway.  Seems almost cruel to expect human beings to work under such brutal conditions as we attempt to finish the Purple Line within schedule and budget which realistically has already been exceeded as local/state/federal officials, transportation boards, special interest groups, and concerned citizens demand/lobby/negotiate/coerce/beg/maneuver for concessions, add-ons, exceptions, increased funding, additional lanes, and so forth--not quite pork belly yet certainly more than pork chops. 
     On a lighter note, it's day four of the flower show and the featured star is the rose; I can't imagine any garden or gardener's list to be complete without the inclusion of this all-time fav…

Wednesday's Visual Treat - Day 3 / Flowers That Make Me Swoon

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Peeps,  

It's day three of the peep-show (of visual treats) devoted to the theme of "Beautiful Flowers that make me Swoon," and by the number of emails received, it seems that flowers have the uncanny ability to trigger memories, generate passionate conversation, evoke emotions, and in the case of our group of design-obsessed peeps, prompted many to share their thoughts upon reading the posted daily treat.  Of the many emails that I received in response to yesterday's posting of cosmos, the following arrived late this evening from one of my favorite peeps who wrote:  
Cosmos… I reflect on the wild beauty of these little wispy gems and embibe, almost drunkenly, of their carefree splendor!
Don't you just love the poetic language and the sentiment expressed;  it crowned my day and made this whole f/blog thing worth the effort and an endeavor to continue.  Thanks a million!!
While I struggled on Sunday evening to narrow down the list of flowers that would be presented th…

Tuesday's Visual Treat - Day 2/Flowers That Make Me Swoon

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Peeps,


Cosmos make me so happy cause they are just so darn pretty.  Seemingly carefree (like teenage girls on summer vacation) and always swaying with the slightest wind (like teenage girls on summer vacation walking down the board-walk), surprisingly drought-tolerant cosmos keep their luster during the heat of the summer months and right up into the first cool evenings of the fall season.  Producing an abundance of 2-3 inch blossoms amidst wispy, fern-like leaves on tall sturdy stems, the blossoms range in colors such as white/yellow/gold/scarlet/lemon-yellow/pink/rose/maroon/chocolate-maroon.  Quite easy to grow from seed and fast growers; under favorable conditions they will self-seed and return year after year.  Breath-taking in the wild-flower, natural or perennial garden, tall cosmos give a lift to an otherwise low and heavy bed, and will elicit accolades from passersby, looks of envy from the next door biddy who every year without fail stubbornly crams red and white geraniums in…

Friday's Visual Treat - Day 5/ Big Bang Art Peep Show

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Peeps,

It's the last day of the BIG BANG ART/PEEP SHOW and the featured artist is Louise Bourgeois.  I was fortunate to view her works at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in an exhibition entitled "The Locus of Memory,"  and later saw beautiful little prints of her 'Spider' series hung at the now shuttered Manfred Baumgartner Gallery on 7th Street NW.  For artists, art-lovers, cronies and poseurs, Baumgartner Gallery was the peak of both art-exhibition and art-chic--at least as we then knew it to be.  Manfred maintained a pristine all-white gallery perfect for the display of 'serious' art;  he showed an enviable list of local (regional to be more precise), national and international artists whose works were always featured on the pages of the expensive art magazines; in solo shows and group exhibitions held in New York, London, and cities in Germany, Italy and France; as well as featured in the design monthlies when articles ran about wealthy art collectors and…