Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Alhambra Antiques Opens New Exhibition to Much Acclaim

Paintings by Asser Saint-Val hang over a vintage composite stag

Olga Granda-Scott stands amidst the work of Eric Besson

After undergoing aesthetic renovations during the spring, the repurposed Alhambra Antiques space in downtown Coral Gables hosted a vernissage on June 16th with a new look and fresh vibe. A cross between antiques store, art gallery, and cultural space, the “new old” Alhambra Antiques is an intellectually stimulating experience. The current exhibit has been curated to include unparalleled vintage, antique, and select contemporary offerings with innovative creative artists Asser Saint-Val, Eric Besson, and Fiorella Chelini showing selections of their work.

Art collectors, designers, and aficionados gathered at the event to benefit the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a charity which has always been dear to the hearts of directors Olga Granda-Scott and Douglas Scott. Attendees included interior designers Jim Murphy, Diane Sepler, and Kevin Gray; Vizcayans president Don Kress, art dealer Marvin Ross Friedman, artist Asser Saint-Val, and celebrity columnist Daisy Olivera.

“The way the space is staged makes walking through the store a mysterious adventure. Humor, wit, and curiosity can all be used to describe the creative vignettes” said attendee Cristina Romney Espinosa. “I’ve come to expect the unexpected every time I visit—as well as a great party!”

As part of the new three artist group exhibition, the surrealist paintings of Asser Saint-Val brought much color and life and were particularly well received. The Haitian artist, who lives and works in Miami and has sold works to important collections including the Rubell family, hesitated before showing his works in a non-traditional gallery space. But once he saw the way they could be juxtaposed with some of the very elements used to create his fictional characters, he loved and appreciated the tension created.

“Asser’s work is a bit of reality spun into a whimsical character which spoke to me when I saw it. I love incorporating humor into my installations, and I felt that he had embodied that sense of blurring the lines between practicality and fiction” explained Olga Granda-Scott. “It is a very exciting process to be able to find interesting work and expose our clients to a new way of living and collecting.”

The exhibition will be on display through August 15th, when a new roster of artists will be unveiled.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Alhambra (Antiques) Brings New Life to an Old World Space

Alhambra (Antiques) continues to redefine the boundaries of the antiques trade with their latest offering: the design works of contemporary French artist Eric Besson. At a time when many antiques stores are closing their doors, Alhambra (Antiques) continues to take their 20-year venture in ever-expanding directions.

“We don’t offer only antiques,” says Olga Granda-Scott, “my hope is that we offer the unconventional – items and objects of distinction. We appeal to people who have a strong sense of individuality – and of course good taste.”

After undergoing aesthetic renovations during the spring, the repurposed space will open again with a new look and fresh vibe. A cross between antiques store, art gallery, and cultural space, the “new old” Alhambra (Antiques) is an experience not to be missed. Exhibits will be curated to include unparalleled vintage, antique, and select contemporary offerings sprinkled with innovative creative artists who share a similar aesthetic.

The first exhibit, opening on June 16th, will feature hand-forged furniture by French artist Eric Besson. Mr. Besson works with pieces of industrial repurposed metal creatively mixed with vintage elements. His work has been selected by leading designers for important commercial projects, including the flagship John Varvatos store in New York City. The collection exhibited at Alhambra (Antiques) features furniture works with sleek lines adorned with letters from old printing houses.

Mr. Besson’s work will be exhibited alongside the whimsical sculptural work of Italian artist Fiorella Chelini, the surrealist paintings of Asser Saint Val, and the arrival of a new shipment of antiques from all over Europe.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Interesting read: An Interview with Richard Wright

I came across this interview a few weeks ago and appreciated the depth of many of Mr. Wright's answers. Here is the entire interview.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Glass Ceilings: Four Women in the Arts

I haven't written in a while simply because I have not been inspired. I have also been putting together some projects which I will announce in due time. But last night, something happened. I went to a monthly meeting of a group I joined several months ago called "ArtTable." The ArtTable is an association of professional women in the visual arts, founded in NYC but with branches in most major US cities. Last night's meeting was a panel discussion on the brilliant Christo & Jeanne-Claude "Surrounded Islands" installation in Biscayne Bay in 1983. While the work of art was provocative and moving, what was magical for me was to witness four heroines of the early days of the Miami art scene come together to share their amazing experiences with us. The four women were: Paula Harper, Ruth Shack, Helen Kohen, and Margarita Cano (as pictured right to left-note that two women wore hot pink in honor of the installation!).

To give some of you some insight into the event here is how the invitation read:

"Surrounded Islands" was to be a temporary art event, but what transpired during the preparation of the project and what its gorgeous unveiling on Biscayne Bay meant to Miami still reverberates today. The dressing of 11 spoil islands in pink plastic was the catalyst that turned a culturally sleepy town into a vital city, home to art and artists. The panelists for the May ArtTable program, participants and monitors of "Surrounded Islands", will share their memories of the roles played by individual citizens and special interest groups during those contentious days leading to the "live" exhibition portion of their uncommon, common efforts.

Margarita Cano: As head of
Art Services at Miami's library system, it was her initiative that gave us the first glimpses of what "Surrounded Islands" might look like when Christo's earliest drawings and sketches of the project were exhibited at Main Library in 1982.

Paula Harper, Ph.D.: Professor of
Art History at UM, and the Art Critic at the Miami News during the period under discussion, she is a well-known Christo scholar, familiar with most all the couple's projects about which she has both written and lectured.

Ruth Shack: Recently retired President and CEO of the Dade Community Foundation, she was a
Dade County Commissioner from 1976 to 1986, in the "hot seat" during the time the Christo project was the focus of attention from local, state and national governmental friends (she was one) and foes (there were many).

Moderated by Helen L. Kohen.
Art Historian, Critic, Consultant to Main Library's Vasari Project [an archive of the visual arts in Miami from 1945 to the present]

I should say that the only thing contrary to my title "No Glass Ceilings" was the brief discussion that at the time of the project, credit was only given to Christo as an artist. His wife and partner, Jeanne-Claude, was president of their corporation, and was the person who made everything happen, but as he was the one behind the drawings, models, etc, he was considered the sole "creator." It was not until 1995, that the couple changed the accreditation of ALL their works to "Christo and Jeanne-Claude," acknowledging that without the logistics, all of their ideas would have remained just that, ideas.
Lastly, I sat next to Dr. Carol Damian, the director of the Frost Museum at FIU, and another pioneer in Miami's art scene. I left inspired by these women, let's just see where that inspiration takes me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Better late than never....April Food Month

I often like to recommend some of the blogs I enjoy and one of those is Meg Fairfax Fielding's Pigtown Design. She is quite an interesting person who has lived many adventures in Europe and beyond and is Baltimore's greatest fan. Her "real" job, other than maintaining not one but two blogs, is at the oldest orphanage in the US. Due to this day-to-day work with poor, neglected, and often abused children, she is very aware of the hunger issues many children in America experience today. She, and another blogger Chris, then decided to create "April Food Day" so that bloggers across the country and world would raise awareness (and hopefully lots of money) for Feeding America. Happy Easter Season.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lent 2010 goes on...

Lent is almost coming to a close and I have to say that it has been a somewhat tumultuous one for me on several levels. Even though I promised I would write everyday, the store quickly got turned upside down when we decided to paint the entire locale--including the ceilings. This meant removing EVERYTHING off the walls and covering EVERYTHING underneath. Now that may not sound so bad except that we have literally hundreds of items in our store. The good news is that I think we made a great decision and the store is going to look much bigger with white ceilings than it did with black. It also looks more modern and a little industrial--which is what it was when we bought it--one huge storage warehouse. All this moving around is not conducive to my thoughts, it just gets me going in a thousand directions and when my office is completely out of order-forget it, I simply can't think. I've now moved my office back to a closed room at the opposite end of where I previously was. I had been in this location several years ago when this room doubled as the nursery for Cecilia. I'm happy to be back in this space because it has a window. That might seem like a small commodity but my last office began to feel like a dungeon after years without natural light. I also like that I can close the door. If I need/want some privacy, it is possible!
Then, in the middle of this transition chaos. We went to France. Talk about putting me in the zone. Trains at 6am, walking and working ALL day. Forgetting to have lunch. Finally eating at 3 o'clock. Being exhausted by the time you get to the hotel, only to sleep in a not so comfortable bed that is never like your own.
But yes, at least there was some GREAT food! Foie gras from La Table de Marie, fresh poisson, a few ducks, and not just a few pain au chocolat. When in Paris, you also cannot forget to go to Pierre Herme for the world's best macarons.

In all this madness, I think that the real reasons of the Lenten season got drowned out in my world. Faith is a complicated thing you know. And like all relationships, they take a lot of nurturing. With three kids, a husband, and a job, the things that aren't flashing bright lights are the ones easy to forget. And when you stop struggling, you stop remembering what you believe in, and that is dangerous. Yet, conflicting views come from every corner and I'm too mentally exhausted to sort them out. So this Easter weekend, I pray that my faith becomes a little more tangible again. That I know what to believe.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Enjoying some buying and dancing through Paris

I've been off on a buying trip for the past week and a are a few quick photos from my trip:

Theatre de L'Odeon (right across from our hotel-sorry about the big white truck!)

Crossing the Seine to the Ile des Impressionistes

My favorite Fois Gras Stand

Magret de Canard at Brasserie Fernand (permanent stop on every trip)

Place Saint Sulpice-6eme Arrondissement

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Redesigning our Home (again!)

Hopefully you recall what our living room looked like the last time I featured it:
Most of the items at our home (with some important exceptions) we maintain actively for sale on our website, so we frequently have to start over again with the design of living spaces. The first thing to sell was the great industrial coffee table, gone to Greenwich Village in NYC, via 1stdibs. We are still in need of a great coffee table. Those are really hard to find. My husband had seller's remorse after that sale. The next thing I changed (not because of a sale but just because I liked them better) was the pair of white-painted armchairs. Instead, I took home this pair of comfortable French bergeres:

But alas, those are now on their way to Hong Kong, so I decided to bring home some rough leather moustache club chairs for a totally different look:

The same week I sold the charming white settee to a designer from Illinois. So off that went and my only choice was this more formal gilt settee which I upholstered in a light burlap to dress it down. I think it makes a fun contrast with the club chairs.

I never really liked the proportions of the little table in the corner with the pink table lamp next to such a big mirror...
so I brought home this amazing antique processional statue. I'm sure you've figured out by now that I have a weakness for religious pieces, though part of what I love is its sculptural qualities.

She is sitting on this appropriate gothic style side table (also originally for processions):

I don't have pictures of the new room because my camera was stolen (grrrr....) but I'll have a new one soon, I promise!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The rarity of antiques: to love or hate the www?

In 1988, when Alhambra Antiques was founded I don't need to tell you that there was only one way to buy scouted them either from estates, auctions, or wholesale dealers, bought them and put them in your shop, where people from your area would come looking for them. As a dealer there were options to participate in group antiques shows, often monthly in many cities. There was of course no such thing as the world wide web. The antiques world was/is a world full of gypsies and interesting characters, people addicted to hunting and buying the rare, unusual, or simply under-appreciated.
A few years ago I got the "majolica bug" and began offering majolica in our shop. I also attended one the conventions of the Majolica Society, in Charleston that year. There are less than 10 majolica dealers who exhibit in the US (two of them being English dealers, two being French). For what the convention called "Majolica Heaven" all of these dealers were gathered into a not-so-attractive ballroom in the hotel where the convention was being held. All of a sudden, majolica seemed so common that you might find it at Walmart. The unique colors all blurred into one mixed shade of turquoise green. This was not Majolica Heaven as far as I was concerned, this was Majolica hell. Instead of making each piece look better, the grouping made each piece look worse.

So there is something that I don't understand about shopping for antiques on the internet. 1) antiquing has long been about the experience, the hunt, etc (my all time favorite blog Tongue in Cheek can attest to this) and 2) if you search for things on sites such as 1stdibs, by grouping just about every nice sunburst mirror (for example) in the country on one neat page, doesn't it cheapen the rarity and individuality of the piece?
Just wondering.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 6: New projects...more inspiration

It's been harder to write these blog posts than I anticipated, largely because my brain has been focusing on a new idea I have for a project...which I obviously cannot write about on my blog! It's just one of those things that for me has been the intersection of many ideas, concepts, answers to questions, analysis of changing markets, etc. We all have dreams and the difficulties come when it is time to make decisions. Am I going to be one of those people who will always look back thinking about what "might have been"? Or do I have the courage to take the plunge?

Day 5: More thoughts on Parenting and a another little guessing game

I've written many times before about the daunting task of raising children without a owner's manual. Lately, I've been reflecting on my life and analyzing why things turned out the way they did so that I can choose what I would like to so differently (or not) for my children. While the focus in parenting conversations with other couples usually turns to educational opportunities, I often think of the importance of socialization. I must attribute this to a few influential people in my life.
One of my personal struggles is in this social relationship world. While I have several close friends, each of these friends has usually been in a direct relationship with me, it hasn't been a friend-group type of scenario. I can basically trace this "social-history" back to my middle school days. In those days, I developed some great friends, who are my friends to this day, but there began a disconnect in the 8th grade when ballet became the focus of my after school and weekend activities. Then, after middle school, I went away to boarding school, so those relationships became rather distant. You might think that a boarding school scenario would be great for building friendships, but my schedule was different from everyone else's in that my parents insisted that I return home every weekend. So there again there was a disconnect for me, I was not part of the relaxing weekend- social scene of my high school, nor was I really a part of the life of the old friends I would occasionally visit back at home. The old soul I have always been, I became friends with some of the dorm supervisors and teachers. From there, I quit ballet and returned home. My friends were seniors in high school, but I had graduated early so had to dive into college. I took off for a year studying and traveling in Europe, and then I transfered as a junior to Davidson College. Most students spend their junior year abroad which meant I arrived on a campus with most of my class missing. So I befriended mostly sophomores, who left the following year when I got to meet my class-but it was a little late for the traditional college bonding opportunities. I'm not writing this to complain or rant in any way, just an expository description of how my life developed. All this to make the observation that I really hope that my children can have more continuity in their social relationships. I know girls who now go on trips with their high school buddies, etc and I want my kids to have those kind of life-long relationships. I watched my younger sister go to an all-girls high school (with many of the girls she'd gone to school with since pre-school) and saw that even while they've all gone away to different colleges those bonds will hold.

The longest standing friendships I do have, I can trace to elementary school, can you identify the four people who are in both of these photos? (One taken in high school, the other taken last month.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Days 3 & 4: Appreciation and Creativity

While I promised myself that during these 40 days I was not going to be swayed by the need to please my readers, I want to thank all of those who have been so supportive of my choice to have these reflective days. Your words have been kind and are appreciated.
When I entered this questioning stage a few months ago, mostly concerning my job situation, I began at the bequest of one of my closest friends to read a book called "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. In this book he talks about the evolution in our society from a "left-brained" world to a "right-brained" world. It is of course more complicated than that sentence, but for me it was quite an empowering book to read because I do believe that he is spot on in his description of this American (and global) evolution. In a sense, I have taken on his challenge as a personal one. How am I going to adapt to this changing world? What am I going to do differently? And most importantly how an I going to embrace my creative talents?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 2: The other man in my life

Today is my little man's third birthday. And what a man he is. He has stolen my heart.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 1: The Zoo

Today I had signed up to chaperone Cecilia's class on their field trip to the Miami Metro Zoo. I had secretly hoped the field trip for which I would be selected would suit my interests a little more, such as the previous two, one to a musical theater performance, the other to a museum. But as these things go, I got to go to the zoo. First we rode on a traditional yellow bus, combinations of memories from my days riding buses to school everyday (all through elementary and middle school) along with the days in which I drove a bus while a supervisor at my former high school crossed my mind as I regretted choosing a thin jean jacket over a warmer fleece. The rest of the trip was basically one chaotic adventure in keeping 3 six year olds under my fold while also trying to keep up with the rest of the class. The best part--at least for me--was the ride home when I got a few minutes to catch up with Ceci's teacher. She let me know that she was recommending Cecilia for the gifted program. As most parents, we think our children are the greatest thing that ever happened to us, but when someone else thinks our kids truly are bright we can only be so proud. And hope that in these few years we have to teach them something...we do something right!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ashes: Lent 2010

Today is (was) Ash Wednesday. While I rarely dwell on my religious views/ practices, etc, my faith is something very prominent in my life. I am a practicing Catholic who goes to mass every Sunday. And there are many different reasons to go to mass on Sundays. But I digress. Very often I think up blog posts in my head and somehow from the time I thought about it to the time that I sit at the computer everything I had to say becomes lost in some vacuum in my head. Somewhere with the two more hours I should have slept and the exercise routine which would have given me more energy to keep going. I'm going to write a few things that I've been wanting to clarify--for me--not for you, my readers. As most bloggers, I often think of you and wonder what you want to me to write about, what your interests might be. And for a long time I've struggled with this battle of the you vs. me. Of course, this is a battle entirely in my head, as you have never participated in it. And across the blogosphere there are certainly both types of bloggers, just as there are writers, those who write for their audience and those who write for themselves, or perhpas out of some internal need for expression. I have bounced back and forth between the two. At times, I follow all the rules of blogging, i.e. visit and leave comments on all the blogs that visited your blog, reply promptly to all comments, list those bloggers on your blogroll, etc. But all this is can be very exhausting in today's blogosphere with new blogs popping up everyday. In that world I find it very easy to lose sight of any goals I had established.
So I've come up with a plan for Lent. 40 days of internal reflection. 40 days in which I will write--not at the end of the day and risk being too tired to write anything, but at the start of each day. Whatever is on my mind. No writing for an audience. No writing for networking or self-promotion, just writing what is in my heart. Right here, right now. So if you are a fellow blogger, be assured that I will visit your blog--after Lent is over. I promise. If you are not a fellow blogger and are just a person who has so far enjoyed reading my blog, I can only hope that you like the "reflective me" just as much as you loved my house renovations and buying trips, its just another part of who I am while dancing through paris. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

And the answer is....

Let's review our guessing game...Here is the photo of the three figurines I purchased at the antiques show. I received 6 guesses:
1. Three Magi
2. Santons
3.Turkish ballerinas
4. Russians, maybe dancers
5. Statuettes of the wives of the three wisemen/kings, dancing they were so happy the husbands were out of the house
6. Petrushka peasant costumes. Designer: Benois or it also may be Scheharazade. Costumes: Bakst.

That last answer already assumes that we have the initial answer which is that they are maquettes of dancers in costume from the Ballets Russes, circa 1920s. For those of you who aren't balletomanes, the Ballets Russes (literally "The Russian Ballets") was an itinerant company founded by Serge Diaghilev in 1909. Many of the patrons and dancers were exiled Russians who gathered in Paris after the revolution in 1917. Here is a quip from Wikipedia: "The company featured and premiered now-famous (and sometimes notorious) works by the great choreographers Marius Petipa, Michel Fokine, as well as new works by Bronislava Nijinska, Léonide Massine, Vaslav Nijinsky, and the young George Balanchine at the start of his career.

The company's productions, which combined new dance, art and music, created a huge sensation around the world, altering the course of musical history, bringing many significant visual artists into the public eye, and completely reinvigorating the art of performing dance. The Ballets Russes was one of the most influential theatre companies of the twentieth century, in part because of its ground-breaking artistic collaboration among contemporary choreographers, composers, artists, and dancers. Its ballets have been variously interpreted as Classical, Neo-Classical, Romantic, Neo-Romantic, Avant-Garde, Expressionist, Abstract, and Orientalist. The influence of the Ballets Russes lasts to this day in one form or another."

Diaghilev's brilliance was in bringing together artists from every spectrum to produce a masterpiece--from Stravinsky to Picasso, Gustave Moreau to Coco Chanel--any aspiring artist who was becoming important in the 1920s worked for Diaghilev.

So here are photos pertaining to the two possibilities. The first is of the principal characters in Petrushka, costumes be Alexandre Benois. My maquettes would not be of these characters, but you get the idea...

The following two images are paintings by Leon Bakst for characters in Scheharazade. My guess is that this is the correct answer. Look at the earrings on the "Sorcerer," even they look like the ones on my maquette!

Thanks for participating in my guessing game! To see more wonderful images from the Ballets Russes, I recommend this book just published in December. See you next time!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Guessing Game! Do you know what these are?

This is my prizes acquisition from the Miami Beach Antiques Show last you know what they are?

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