Picasso et al in Philly

Self-Portrait with Palette, Pablo Picasso, 1906

THIS POST IS MAINLY AN EXCUSE to decorate my blog with some of the spectacular images that came to me in a press kit from the deservedly well-loved Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you haven’t been to Philly lately, maybe the new exhibition, Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris, which opened last week and runs through April 25, will be your excuse to get there this spring — as if the cherry blossoms in Fairmount Park aren’t reason enough.

The City, Fernand Leger, 1919

What could be better than the School of Paris, the revolutionary group that included Picasso and his colleagues (some of whom were also his lifelong friends) Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Leger, and Joan Miro?

Three Musicians, Picasso, 1921

The show shines a light on the interchange between them as a Cubist vocabulary developed in the years shortly after Picasso arrived in Paris from Spain at the age of 23.

Still Life with a Guitar and Compote, Picasso, 1923

There are nearly 200 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and collages, some displayed in a partial re-creation of the pivotal 1912 Salon D’Automne, where paintings were densely hung and interspersed with sculptural works.

Still Life with a Fruit Dish, Georges Braque, 1936

Other sections highlight Americans in Paris, such as Max Weber, Charles Demuth, and Arthur Beecher Carles; Eastern Europeans like Marc Chagall and Alexander Archipenko; and photographic portraits of others in that brilliant between-wars circle, including Josephine Baker, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

For info on special hotel packages in conjunction with the exhibition, go here. For more about Philly in the spring, go here.

Olde Brooklyn in Prints

SNOW OR NO SNOW, this evening’s opening reception and gallery talk (and wine and cheese…) at the Brooklyn Historical Society is going ahead as planned.

The images in Brooklyn in Prints, which is curated by Manhattan’s Old Print Shop and runs through March 14, are being billed as “rare and unusual.”

Viewing them is like opening a little window on previously unseen Brooklyn — mostly around the Heights, as the event is a 100th anniversary celebration for the Brooklyn Heights Association.

I love the stoop sitters on State Street, bottom, where we lived in the late ’70s. The artwork dates from 1949, but it feels so familiar.

And it always amazes me to realize anew that Borough Hall is as old as it is (1804) and that the Brooklyn Bridge was a marvel when it was new.

All the prints are for sale in the BHS shop. Go here to see more.


Friday, Feb. 26, 6:30 – 8:30PM

Brooklyn Historical Society

128 Pierrepont Street

718 /222-4111

Admission $15, BHA and BHS members $10


Hudson Valley Graphic

THE INTERNET IS ALL ABOUT SHARING, RIGHT? Just as I was mulling what to blog about, in came the weekly e-mail newsletter from Rural Intelligence, a website that is like the New York Times Style, Dining, Home, and Weekend sections all rolled into one, but for the Hudson Valley.

It called my attention to a crisp re-do of a mid-19th century house, the home of interior and fashion stylist Raina Kattelson and her architect husband, Robert Butscher, in my favorite Hudson River town, Tivoli, in Northern Dutchess County.

Has to be the easiest re-do ever. The couple decided to lose their prior earth-toned, Moroccan vibe and replace it with a fresh, modern look. All it took was a few gallons of Benjamin Moore’s Grape Green, and a winnowing of the furniture, art, and accessories they already owned. “A thoughtful tweaking and sifting” works beautifully when you have interesting, well-designed stuff to tweak.

Go here to read more about the homeowners and see more pictures of their wonderful styled-to-the-teeth house.

A-Junking We Will Go

IT’S GOOD TO KNOW eBAY HASN’T KILLED IT OFF ENTIRELY. I’m talking about junking — the time-honored act of rising early and heading out to flea markets and yard sales to find old, cheap, secondhand stuff that is dinged and dented and rusted and otherwise in dire need of fixing up to turn it into something useful and charming and possibly even re-sellable.

I started junking more than thirty years ago, which only goes to show how old I am. (We were more likely to call it antiquing then — in those days, you might actually find something genuinely old for 50 cents or a dollar.) But to judge by the number of blogs about junking, and a new magazine, Flea Market Style, that debuts today, the pursuit of junk is alive and well, eBay be damned.

Personally, I no longer have the patience to turn tea kettles into lamps or doll beds into coffee tables, let alone drive hundreds of miles in search of maybe nothing. I’m jaded from years of beating the bushes here on the Eastern seaboard, while pickings got thinner and thinner — although the epicenter of today’s junking craze seems to be the heartland, where barns and attics are probably still full of desirable junk.

I’m also weary, perhaps, from three decades of writing about antiques and collecting and flea markets. I must have written forty “10 Hottest Collectible” stories. Meanwhile, Country Living magazine is still reporting on Lucite purses and wrought iron lawn furniture and restaurant china and Blenko glass as if they’re fresh discoveries. I guess, to young people, they are.

I was even half the team that created and produced an outdoor flea market in downtown Manhattan, Soho Fleas, in 1973 — so believe me, I know my way around junk. And jaded and cranky as I am, I can still muster a flicker of enthusiasm for the idea of taking a field trip this September to Junk Bonanza, a three-day annual junk round-up held in Shakopee, Minnesota (it’s the brainchild of Ki Nissauer, who is also co-editor of the new magazine).

Once you’ve got junk in your system, it’s hard to get it out.

Porch Season Approacheth

porch maria maggenti

WHY IS IT I’m always drawn to the funkiest, most accessible decorating? Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought that by the time I attained the advanced age of – er, never mind – I’d be reading Architectural Digest. Instead, I’m still pining for Domino and Cottage Living.

Is it sour grapes because I can’t afford better? I think not. I probably could afford slightly better than the furnishings on these ultra-casual porches. It’s because I genuinely like them, with their paper lanterns and string lights and rattan furniture.

The California front porch, top, of filmmaker Maria Maggenti, is from one of Domino‘s last issues in early 2009. I had to scan the page itself from my tattered files, because it, along with a charming video tour of Maria walking us through her colorful abode, has been disappeared from the Internet. The chairs are IKEA, the sofa some make-do thing, but with the bright cushions and romantic drapes, it’s a place I’d be very happy to hang out.

I also like the porch, below, with its mismatched furnishings and sky blue painted floor, from a publication called Total Beach House, a spin-off of Coastal Living magazine, which I bought last year around this time. Hope they have a 2010 edition planned.


The last porch, below, is from Mary Emmerling’s Beach Cottages, and it’s right nearby in Wainscott, Long Island. It’s a very simple array of elements, elevated by deliberate placement and a notable lack of clutter.