Wednesday, December 11, 2013

chairs, chairs, and more chairs….

It all started with this sofa...

A client of mine decided it was time to part with this much loved family piece, and never one to let a good, solid, vintage seating accommodation slip by, I volunteered to pick it up and take it home.  My grandmother Stella honed my appreciation of well-constructed, older pieces, scouring yard sales and haunting local auctions for her favorite goose neck rockers.  My first apartment won the fruits of her labor that summer - a heavy, overstuffed, horsehair sofa covered in wine velveteen, and a rose brocade chair of the same vintage.  The sofa is long gone, as we had to cut the legs off it to get it out of that apartment when we moved (how did we get it in??), but the chair sits recovered in my office.  Anyway, I digress...

The sofa sent me in search of some funky, comfortable chairs to pair with it, the plan being to have the pieces recovered to begin replacing the furniture we've had in the gallery since we opened.  Those chairs came from Dr. White's old office waiting room when he moved, and they've served me well.  But time for a change.  One word to my favorite upholsterer, Ricardo, and he had several pairs of chairs for me to choose from.  This pair seemed funky and fun, and I could envision them, and eclectic balance to my  sofa.

Next the search for fabric… and again thanks to Ricardo, I found there were several good outlets and discount fabric sources closer than my usual visit to the Philadelphia Design Center (and far less expensive too!)  The trick is to go without too many predeterminations about what you are looking for, and wait for something to strike my fancy, catch my eye, or otherwise, get my attention.  Then, start looking for natural counterparts to finish out the selections.

Mocha brown and haystack gold?  Not exactly what I had in mind, but with the purply hue, the mix of pattern, proportion, and texture, I fell for this combo.  The fabric on the left is for the sofa, the pattern on the right for the front of the chairs, and the chenille brown solid for the back of the chairs and the buttons.  So what would really take those chairs up a notch, but to detail the piping in a taupe leather and add some brass tacks along the chair arms to accent the curves.

Just right!

Here is a photo of my chairs in progress, re-stuffed, with the seats rebuilt, and the piping underway.  

Brass tacks begun… I'm loving this!

Meanwhile, I'm still on my mission for more potential seating I can rehab for the gallery.  Since much of my design work, is about repurposing, putting redone pieces in the gallery seems fitting.  Now I've found a meticulous furniture refinisher too, and he just happened to have this trailer in the back of this shop full of old wooden and upholstered pieces he's collected over the years.  The chairs just kept coming, and then….

I totally fell in love with this pair - a caned lounge and a rocker - this would be my next project.  All I needed now was a sofa.  "What?"  I said, "you have a sofa to match?"  

Wow!  Can't wait to go fabric shopping again.  I have these vintage Parisian visions of Madeleine Castaing and her warehouse full of old chairs - she wasn't afraid of vibrant color, mixing patterns and details, and her rooms came alive.  The best part?  I get to be my own guinea pig, push the envelope, and try some new things.

First delivery - a pair of re-imagined chairs!

First delivery - a pair of re-imagined, re-built chairs!  Looking forward to sofa delivery in a week or two….

Monday, February 11, 2013

not your ordinary figure show...

The bi-annual Chocolate, Champagne and Jazz Figure Show features 1930's style gypsy jazz by Rue de la Pompe, and the exhibition includes a company of accomplished artists, some familiar and some new to Lynden Gallery patrons: Eva Bender, Jeff Bye, Robert Patierno, Janette Toth, Mike Tymon, and Fran Williams. Central to the exhibition is the work of Clarity Haynes, of Brooklyn, New York.  

I first met Clarity Haynes at her thesis show in 2003 at the esteemed Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia.  It stopped me in my tracks with it's honest reality, rendered with such tenderness and joy.  Yes, joy!

I grew up like most young women, being told to stand up straight, tuck my tummy in, and contort my body into Barbie-like form with underwire bras and control-top panty hose.  Mom, after all, was just beginning to emerge from an era of pointed bras, corsets and girdles herself.  Any kind of reassurances to her first born - a daughter - were overwhelmed by my perception that what really mattered was what other people thought about my appearance. 

Only as an adult did I become aware of beauty in different shapes and forms, and begin to embrace my own changing form as more than merely an acceptable means for getting me around in this world.  It housed my spirit, sheltered my soul, brought life into this world, provided nurture for others, and will ultimately be shed as I spread my wings into the next life.  Why shouldn't I cherish the scars, wrinkles, and fading that come with age?  I've earned it!  

Clarity's work has intrigued me for over a decade, and I was thrilled when she agreed to show her work for our mid-winter figure show.  Though I'm sensitive to the fact that her figures may be startling to some, it is my hope the viewer will walk away with the same sense of having witnessed something important.  Perhaps the juxtaposition of what may at first glance be considered with revulsion, will give way to the spirit of its rendering.

As an "exercise in draughtsmanship" life drawing has been an important element in honing ones drawing and painting skills since the early Greeks.  "Fundamental to success is training the eye to look analytically, as opposed to seeing something is there without really taking it in."   The value lies in learning to see, both for the artist and the viewer.  Art provides a canvas for conversation and begs people to think beyond their assumptions.

"not your ordinary figure show: body image" opens Friday, February 15th with an artists reception from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.  A $5.00 cover is requested at the door in support of the band.  For more about the artists and this exhibition, visit our website  The exhibition will continue through April 6th.