Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Weekend! I Heart The Holidays!

Hope you are all enjoying this first long holiday weekend.
Kicked it off watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on television, and continuing the weekend with putting up the tree and outside decorations. I'm totally enjoying myself!
This year the Macy's parade introduced three new balloons, among them Figure With Heart, by artist Keith Haring. Keith would have been 50 year this year. You can read more HERE
I've never been a Black Friday shopper. I hate crowds and it seems so vulgar and not fun to scratch and grab merchandise in order to save a couple of bucks.
In a way, I am glad that consumerism is taking a pause this year. It's time to get more real regarding Christmas, to enjoy each other, and the spirit of the season.
Decorating is the gift that keeps on giving!
What do you think? Will you enjoy Christmas with less crazy shopping?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday House in New York City Extended Until December 14

A designer show house in New York City called Holiday House has extended it's exhibition until December 14.
Holiday House, located at 2 East 63rd Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, is dedicated to holidays and celebrations of life and features the work of talented interior designers and decorative artists. Holiday House is presented in a grand 75-foot wide mansion recently featured in Sex and the City: The Movie

Each room is be dedicated to a specific holiday theme. For example, the dining room is set for Thanksgiving, the living room festively arrayed for Christmas, the library standing by to welcome in 2009 on New Year's Eve, and Valentine's Day an inspiration for a bedroom.
Which room and holiday would you choose if you were asked to participate?
Harry Heissman: Easter

Kelley Proxmire: Bedroom for an annivesary

There is a Holiday House web site HERE
You can order tickets there at $30. each, which includes a journal. The Hours are 11 AM - 5 PM, Monday through Sunday, and until 8 PM on Thursdays. No strollers, children, or pets.
There also is a rather stingy slide show of some of the rooms, but something is better than nothing.
Diane Durocher's Fourth of July

Three years ago Leonard Blavatnik, a Russian-born financier, bought the house. This fall he allowed the Greater New York City Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation that raises money to support research and help breast cancer patients, to use it as its first show house. You can read more about it HERE
Iris Designs: The Closet

DESIGNERS INCLUDE: Albert Hadley, Inc. Harry Heissmann-Easter (Main Floor); Barbara Ostrom Associates-Mother’s Day (2nd Floor); Charles Pavarini III Design Associates, Inc.- Thanksgiving (Main Floor); Charlotte Moss New York-Christmas (Main Floor); Diane Durocher Interiors-Fourth of July (3rd Floor); Eric Cohler Design-Father’s Day (2nd Floor); Gerald Charles Tolomeo, Ltd.-Winter Solstice (3rd Floor); Gunkelman Flesher Interior Design-Chanukah (Main Floor); Interiors Co.-Presidents Day (3rd Floor); Iris Designs- Birthday (2nd Floor); James Rixner-Engagement (3rd Floor); Jennifer Garrigues, Inc.-Carnival of Venice (3rd Floor); Kathy Abbott Interiors-Kwanzaa (2nd Floor); Kelley Interior Design- Happy Anniversary (3rd Floor); Ondine Karady Design-Halloween (Main Floor); Orsini Design Associates, Inc. New Year’s Eve (Main Floor); Prentice Interiors Ltd.-Summer Solstice (3rd Floor); Timothy & Associates-Valentine’s Day (2nd Floor)
James Rixner's Engagement Room

Orsini Design Associates: New Year's Eve Library

I think I would choose to do Christmas! This is a photo of my tree from last year based on Breakfast At Tiffany's. I had a whole bunch of empty Tiffany boxes, which I built my little story around. I'm thinking of doing it again this year, because it was so much fun to let the holly go lightly. The room has changed so much: paint color, furniture, rug, etc., but I think the tree would still look great.
Valorie Hart Designs
Breakfast At Tiffany's Christmas

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your day! Thanks for reading!
Cut an end piece of squash
Glue on a beak (corn husk or nut)
Glue on eyes (whole cloves or beans)
Fold a napkin in a fan shape for the tail feathers
Die laughing

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

John Dugdale: It seems like you're closer to God, or closer to the cosmos, or the ground

Some of you have left some great comments lately, and I humbly thank you for this. The question about whatever happened to John Dugdale came up a couple of times.

First I'd like to tell you how I knew John (and so many other golden girls and boys up and coming in the glittering 1990's). He was a friend, someone I met through the longest job I held working at a restaurant in New York called The Soho Charcuterie.

It was a haven for beautiful misfits, a whole bunch of people who needed a job, but were artists, musicians, photographers, poets, dancers. The owners were a couple of kooky and wonderful women who treated their business as a salon of sorts, a couple of Gertrudes and Alices collecting people, art, life experiences, while serving up food that wrote a historical foot note in the lore and history of Nouvelle Cuisine.

It is remarkable that from this pool of people and their friends and lovers, how many of them went on to become known to the world at large: Gina Davis, Ellen Barkin, Max Blagg, Jim Farman, John Dugdale, Annie Wright, Sarah, Philip Maberry and Scott Walker, Brenda Norton, Jimmy Smith, Gretchen, Ann Philbin, Jerri Bochino, Suzanne White, Elizabeth Strebb, Nancy Alfaro, Susan Salinger, Robert Maplethorpe, Bruce Clibourne, Jude and Tommy, Richie Emilo, Ivan, Danilo, Timothy Pope, Harry Fireside, Laura Zarubin, Jane MacDonald, Vera Lekas, David Berman, Floyd Lifton, Eric and his boyfriend Mats Gustafson, Billy Felder and Greg Reeves, Ethel Eichelberger, Carl George...
Well I could go on and on, but my memory bank is closing - please write me if I left you out or you remember someone else! The Charcuterie was like our finishing school of sorts...
At the time we all worked and loved and laughed together, we called upon one another to help out with our little projects. When one of us got a lead on a job, another one often took someone along with them. I called it the "good girl (and boy) network."
So many of those boys died from the great AIDS scourge of the 1980's and 1990's. I moved away from my beloved New York City in 1995. I was in bad shape myself, sick in body and soul and heart. My darling Alberto offered the safe haven and open arms that healed me. It took years.
As a result of that I lost the thread of my life, and track of many friends. It is only recently that I am back on track, trying to find people to reconnect with. I always dread finding out that someone else has died. And so it was when the question about John came up.
I Googled him. As far as I can tell he is still living. I have reprinted a portion of an interview I found HERE
It seems most of the things on Google are from the 1990's. John had left New York City and moved upstate to his country house in Pound Ridge, New York. The interview will tell you more and as much as I know...

From B-Net:

DAVID FURNISH: Tell me how you first became interested in photography.

JOHN DUGDALE: I got a toy camera when I was about eleven, and right away I started taking pictures of my sister, who was eight, as the Venus de Milo. This was in my grandmother's garden. She was holding grapes over her head. It's funny, because I'm doing almost the same thing now, thirty years later.

DF: So you've always loved photography. How did it turn into your life's work?

JD: In my last year of high school, I had a wonderful photography teacher who used to leave the back door open to the school so I could go to the darkroom. I'd decided after graduation that I'd go to the Culinary Institute of America to be a chef, but this teacher said, "Why don't you go to art school instead?" I answered, "But I can't draw." And he said, "Don't be silly. What about photography!" That was it.

DF: How did you find your voice as a photographer?

JD: First I went back into the history of photography: tintypes, daguerreotypes, platinum prints, gelatin chloride, bromide, albumen. I reproduced Stieglitz and Steichen verbatim. That's how I taught myself to do lighting and make pictures. I learned more about photography by going back into its past than from anything my teachers said. By the way, while I was in college Interview reproduced four of my pictures. It was while Warhol was still alive, and so was the magazine's picture editor, the late Robert Hayes. It was the first time my work had been recognized, and I thought I would die of pride.

DF: To this day, your works still look in part as if they come from another time. And you still use older equipment, right?

JD: Yes. I use an 8 x 10 camera from 1912 - a beautiful cherry-wood thing that I rescued and had redone. And I have an exquisite, 1935 giant 11 x 14 camera on wheels, a big studio thing that weighs like 250 pounds. It's so big it's got a parking brake!

DF: How does your eyesight affect your work?

JD: A generous estimate would be that I have about 20 percent of my peripheral vision at the bottom of one eye. I can't see up; I can only see down. So if I look at something, I have to scan it with my little bit of eye. I can touch the corner of something and feel the shape, and then I stand back and see it. I have two assistants who make the paper and help me with the printing. I don't focus the camera. Other people focus it for me. Often people are afraid: They think they can't focus an 8 x 10 camera, and I tell them, "Can you tell if the television is clear or blurry?" They say, "Of course we can." So I say, "It's no different. Just roll this knob back and forth until it's clear, there's no magic, it's no secret." But I have the shutter release in my hand; it's very important for me to trip the shutter.

DF: When you flint got very sick, did you think you wouldn't be able to work anymore? Did you think your career was over?

JD: I had a period of freaking out before I got calm and realized that I came into the world by myself, and as much as I hate to admit it, I have to leave by myself. Then I started having seizures and my eyesight began to deteriorate. I found that the people around me were more anxiety-ridden than I was. They'd say things like, "Oh, John, you were doing so great and your career was going so beautifully." And without thinking, I said, "When I get out of here, I'm going to be the most famous blind photographer in the world."

DF: And what about your commercial career?

JD: My agent asked me, "John, what do you want me to tell people?" The next day I called him and said, "Tell people I had a stroke and I nearly lost my sight to HIV." My commercial clients fled. The one client who did continue to use me was, believe it or not, Martha Stewart. Her office sent me flowers all the time in the hospital. They were very present for me, and they still are.

DF: What do you think you learned as an artist from all this?

JD: Most people when they think of losing their sight are so blown out of the water they can't even think. They think it's the end of their life. But if you ask any person who's comfortable being blind, or nearly blind, you'll hear that something else takes over - your heart and your intuition. And it makes up for what you're not using your eyes for. It sounds kind of cliche, but it's absolutely true.

DF: Since then, you've gone through lots more with your illness, but also with your work. Can you tell me more about the evolution of your photography in general?

JD: Ultimately, I realized that the clarity of my vision was intact and had nothing to do with what was filtered through my eyes and my problems there. And when people came over to do the nudes, they'd take their clothes off, and then I'd take my clothes off. I did that because I was doing a self-portrait with each person, and also because for some crazy reason I found that one of the things that seemed ridiculous to me after spending so much time in the hospital was my clothing. You'll note that in my photographs almost everybody is nude, because to me that way it seems like you're closer to God, or closer to the cosmos, or the ground.

I found a little video clip HERE of John working in his studio. I also found a web site for John HERE. There is an address for him at his old NYC apartment on Morton Street and a phone number. I think I'll be phoning him to say hello.
Entitled: Never Forget
by John Dugdale

I want to thank you all for rattling my cage...Hope you love these photos, all done by John Dugdale of course.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This And That: Zulu Queen Desiree Rogers, Peace, Oprah Folding, French Cafes

My desk top is cluttered with images that I collect as they interest me. I'm a visual person, so I guess I'm kind of a glorified caption writer of sorts. I like to find pictures, and then find a story around them. I've been lost in the black hole that is Google Images for more hours than I want to own up to.
Pre Katrina New Orleans is really coming along. The service that delivered the New York Times is finally back, so after a small lapse of three and half years, I am getting my paper delivered again. There is nothing more satisfying than reading The Times in hand, and tearing out articles that pique my interest.
Friends and the hubs also send me things, and this morning the darling man sent me a very nice story from our local rag, The Times Picayune.
President -Elect Barack Obama has named a New Orleans woman his Social Secretary! Desiree Rogers, a former New Orleans Zulu queen and daughter of the late city councilman Roy Glapion Jr., was named incoming White House Social Secretary on Monday.
Desiree Rogers
photo from The Black Socialite
which fails to mention that Desiree is from New Orleans
from an old family with an esteemed Creole name of Glapion
dating back to the origins of New Orleans.
Marie Laveau the famous Voodoo queen
is part of the Glapion family too.

The White House Social Secretary is responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of official social events at the White House, the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States.
Queen Zulu Desiree

The Social Secretary is head of the White House Social Office, located in the East Wing of the White House Complex. The Social Secretary plans events ranging from those as simple as a tea for the First Lady and a single official guest, to dinners for more than 200 guests.
Letitia Baldridge Social Secretary to the Kennedys

The Social Secretary works with the White House Chief Usher to coordinate domestic staff and with the Chief of Protocol of the United States, an official within the United States Department of State, to plan state visits and accompanying state dinners. The Social Secretary works with the White House Graphics and Calligraphy Office in the production of invitations to social events. The Social Secretary works on both the non-political functions of the presidency and the political, coordinating events for the President, the First Lady, and senior political staff. The White House Social Secretary serves at the president's pleasure and is appointed by each administration. (from Wikipedia)
The president's pleasure! How perfect that Ms. Rogers was the queen of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club!
When we first arrived in New Orleans there were so many things to learn.
I saw signs on buildings around town using the words" social aid and pleasure club" and asked my trusty guides Sabina and Aaron and Eddie what it all meant HERE.
The first time I saw Zulu parade on Mardi Gras, I was astonished by their appearance. What is up with black face and coconuts?
I learned that anyone of any race can put on black face and toss coconuts and ride in Zulu (for the price of the ride and buying all the trinkets and beads to throw).
There are alternate parallel universes here in New Orleans, that on a bad day smack of vestiges of vintage Jim Crow, but on a good day are the choice of how the people choose to party.
We are so proud of Desiree Rogers, and for her family! Maybe it won't be just another Tuesday in the White House, when Mardi Gras rolls around!

Another thing that's on the desk top, are some pictures having to do with the 50th anniversary of the peace sign.

The symbol was created by the designer Gerald Holtom. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Holtom was a conscientious objector in World War II. On 21 February 1958 he designed the Nuclear Disarmament logo for the first Aldermaston March, organised by the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, Easter 1958.
The logo was not copyrighted, and was available for use by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, also founded in 1958; it later became known in the wider world as a general-purpose peace symbol. The design was a combination of the letters "N" (two arms outstretched pointing down at 45 degrees) and "D" (one arm upraised above the head) of the flag semaphore alphabet, standing for nuclear disarmament.
I was about the age of the baby being carried in this photo, when the peace sign was invented. As a young high school and art school student, it became a part of my visual vernacular.
This book (from whence I got these photos) would be a wonderful Christmas gift HERE

Barney's in New York had Simon Doonan do up their Christmas windows again this year, and he has chosen the peace sign annivesary as his muse.

Barney's also has a treasure trove of merchandise like this pillow, and a Fornasetti plate commissioned especially for the occasion.

The next thing on the desk top, is the news that the magazine "O At Home" is folding. The New York Times reports: In a statement on Friday, the company said, “We have decided to consolidate the editorial content of quarterly spinoff O at Home back into the flagship magazine.” Much of the magazine’s staff will move to another Hearst publication, Country Living, including the editor in chief, Sarah Gray Miller, who will take the same post at Country Living.
And speaking of folding, apparently the French cafe as an institution in France is in deep trouble.
Universally know and beloved as an icon of France so popular that it is imitated all over the world, they are closing down in droves as the habits and customs and economy of France changes. You can read about it HERE
Pretty soon we will only have replicas, and photos in books to remind us of this once great and seemingly enduring way of life.
These images are by Carla Coulson of Carla Loves Photography
Carla is a very talented and gifted photographer, and she has a new book out now that shows her beautiful and special back story of Paris. It's only out on amazon UK and Canada, and hopefully soon amazon USA will offer it too.
Below is a random photo from my clipping file of a French cafe. It's a classic for sure, a neighborhood kind of place where you could have a coffee or an aperitif, and a cigarette.
Cafes in Paris (and Buenos Aires) are always such a go-to solution for inexpensive and tasty food at any time of the day or night. Havens for readers and journal scribblers, as well as meeting places and extended living rooms for cramped city dwellers, they have been a boon and mainstay for over 100 years. It's sad to think of them going by the wayside in France of all places.
Okay, the desk top has been cleared off for now! Enjoy your day...
...and to paraphrase the great Don Cornelius with something I say to end our tango classes: Peace, Love, and Tango!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fall Flowers And Food

Unlocking the vault to share some photos from my portfolio that I hope you will enjoy as we start the week with our Thanksgiving preparations.
The first three photos are from the book "New Home Cooking" by Florence Fabricant.
The photos are by John Dugdale, and they were done in my old New York apartment. All of the dishes, flatware, etc. are things I use all the time. I did the photo styling.
The next photos are from various parties I did.
This one is in a favorite container I used alot - a basket that looks like a bird's nest. I think the lilies look very bird like, and the Oncidium orchids look like butterflies. Do you see the quail eggs nestled in there? I also used Khaki color table linens quite a bit. Galax leaf wrapped votives were a signature item.
This is like a Della Robbia painting. Adding the fruit along with the jewel tone flowers looks so rich. The tapestry print tablecloth expands on this idea.
Cattails and flowers nestled into a bed of grass, with Gloriosa Lilies all combine to bring a garden to an urban table setting.
Feathers, flowers, fruit, and the animal skins made a striking vignette. The skins belonged to the client. The location is The Metropolitan Club.
A topiary form using a silver wine bucket holder for the "trunk" of the tree. Jewel tone flowers packed tip to tip suggest a topiary ball. The location is La Belle Epoque.
Cattails and Star Gazer Lilies and Gloriosa Lilies in a simple Art Nouveau hand blown glass vase, with bear grass and ivy tendrils, placed in front of Flemish tapestry. Location: The Burden Mansion.
Thanksgiving flowers for an Upper East apartment. The urns and pedestals are mine, and loaned to the client for the occasion.
Bridesmaids bouquets for a Fall wedding using a profusion of Dahlias,
Photos for my portfolio were done by Adam Anik and Juris Mardwig.