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Art Inspired by the Nature of the Sea

Wave Vessel

In planning for the upcoming Heal the Ocean Benefit & Concert that we are chairing in October, we have stumbled upon some beautiful new sources of art inspired by the sea.  Jennifer McCurdy is one of those remarkable artisans.  A potter since her teens, McCurdy, now 54, lives on what she calls the “magical island” of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,  just off the coast of Boston. Her works in porcelain reflect the natural beauty of her seaside environment. She likes to “create soft and hard shadows, shape it, distort it, and test its limits.”as quoted by her in the the current issue of Ceramic Review. The results are confounding, even to other ceramic artists. “People always ask me how I do it. Other artists ask me about the tools I use. I’m happy to share my ideas. By the time people become technically proficient enough to do this type of work they’ve developed their own style.”

Net Bottle

She is inspired, she says, by the patterns she sees in nature. “Pieces of coral, fish bones, anything that shows structure fascinates me.” Each morning, as she has for years, McCurdy sets forth on a twenty-mile bicycle ride around the Island. “I’m inspired by the Vineyard landscape – the shape of shells and other natural objects,” she explains. Time passes slowly in this environment. “We have to ferry everywhere so there’s no instant gratification.” Living on what she calls “Island time,” the serenity of her world affords her the patience and quiet needed for her exacting, delicate work.

Cut Wheat Vessel

Surrounded by the sea, Jennifer McCurdy believes she is influenced unconsciously by light and the movement of light on the water.  She also credits the Vineyard’s “wonderful community of creative people” for supporting and nurturing her endeavours.

Jungle Leaf Vessel

On her website she shares the structural questions she has been working with for the past  few years:

How thin can the high-fire porcelain be before it collapses in the fire? How much can it be cut away and still maintain structural integrity? How can the structural form be integrated with the visual, as in nature? How can the movement of the potter’s wheel and the fire of the kiln be reflected in the finished piece, which is rock-hard and permanent?

Contour Vessel
photo courtesy: Design Sponge

See more of her work online or make it to one of  these
two shows in November on the East Coast.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show
Philadelphia, PA November 11-14, 2010

Washington Craft Show*
Washington, DC November 19-21, 2010

“Haute Interior Design” by Alberto Pinto

Internationally acclaimed Interior Designer, Alberto Pinto, caught my eye while flipping through the current issue of Interiors Magazine today. The issue features the design of a Boeing 737.  A plane that typically shuttles 120 passengers has been generously designed for just 13 passengers with luxurious details in every element including furniture, bathrooms and galleys.   But Pinto’s interior designs include everything from villas to apartments to hotels, and even yachts and are a grand “mixture of genders from more than Baroque to less than bare,” as quoted on his website.  Early-childhood cultural influences, an open mind welcoming challenges and  eclecticism,  and an insatiable quest for perfection have allowed him to discover the best international artisans with whom he regularly surrounds himself.  His high-end clientele all agree he has brought interior design up to the status of “Haute Interior Design.”

From Castles in England
to a Palace in Ryad
A Riad in Tanger
Or an Office Building in River Quest
A Private Boeing 737
Or a Private Yahct
He also has his own line of signed Furnishings
and a line of Tableware
There are many books showcasing his designs on Bedrooms, Modernism, Orientalism, Corporate, Classics and Table Settings.

See more of the many extraordinary villas, castles, planes and yachts on his website


John and I were the lucky guests of a good friend of ours who is quite the philanthropist. She  recently gave a  generous donation to Planned Parenthood , which resulted in a private tour of Hearst Castle  followed by a swim in the Neptune Pool and Roman Pool at the Castle!

Hearst Castle is part fantasy, part folly.  Its fanciful towers dance up a hillside above San Simeon–a palace perched on a most unlikely site. Its eccentric and energetic founder and creator, William Randolph Hearst, was a powerful businessman and  icon of the early 20th century.
Photo Credit: Claire Turner
Hearst’s taste for art was developed on a trip to the Louvre in the 1870’s as a child, where he asked his wealthy mom, Phoebe, if she would buy the museum for him!  That was the beginning of a lifetime of collecting art and creating venues for his ever-expanding collection.  From the sublime to the bizarre, the collection amassed and stored at Hearst Castle is truly impressive.

It seems  implausible that someone as prolific a collector and builder could actually do any other work in their lifetime, but the Hearst media empire was one of the largest of the media conglomerates of the 20th century, spanning film to newspapers.

Hearst castle, the 100,000 square foot self-sustaining city that was erected in the 1920s on this hilltop,  was a favorite camping spot of the Hearst family when WR was a child.  Hearst contracted with the amazing Julia Morgan
, a muse and architect of great accomplishment, to create the magnificent folly at San Simeon he called his “ranch.”

Today, Hearst Castle happens to be the most visited state park in the California State Park system, but the stories that one could imagine occurring on that hillside in the 1920s and 1930s with every luminary from Winston Churchill to Louis B Mayer, from Mary Pickford to Errol Flynn, must have been magic!  It seems that through actress,  Marion Davies,’ longterm relationship with both  WR Hearst and “the bottle,” spirits were limited to 2 cocktails per day during ones stay at the “ranch.”  Like most things in Hearst’s life, everything was tightly controlled.

Our swim was followed by a private dinner for 6 poolside in the Roman Baths.  To have access to the seldom-visited areas of the Castle where no tours go, and to access  archives filled with volumes of  original plans, notes and artifacts that filled this museum of a home, was a treat.

Our tour was guided by the director and curator of the collection. We were shown the archive vault where all of the correspondence and architectural drawings between Julia Morgan and Mr. Hearst are safely stored. It was fascinating to witness the “intellectual affair” these two were having over the design and construction of Hearst Castle.
Photo: Claire Turner
John’s jumping into the Roman Pool from the beautiful dive platform was an experience.  But, the best part of the day was to share it with friends and to have the house all to ourselves, just we six, taking  a step back in time.  Here we were, living like movie stars! Thank you Cyndee!

“WOW” Saturday Shopping with 1st Dibs

Arik Levy-Black Brass Rock
France, 2009
Rare Cocktail Table by Fontana Arte
Italy, 1956

1958 Custom Restored Gilera Road Racing Motorcycle
Italian, 1958

Karim Rashid Omni Sofa
USA, 21st Century

Modernist Monel Sink
USA, 1930’s

Silvered Bronze Hermes Kelly Bag
France, 20th Century

“Butanta” Bench by Carlos Motta
Brazil, 2009

Artisan made ‘Harness’ arm Chair
Argentina, Hand Made

Pair of Modernist Club Chairs by Augusto Bozzi for Saporti
Italy, 1955
5 Paul Evans Cityscape Hexagonal Chairs
USA, 1970’s


Pair of Adrian Pearsall Wing Back Arm Chairs
USA, 1960’s


Art at 360 SEE- A Show in Sustainability in Chicago

‘Shade L’ By grassland (2010)

Natural Grass Object.
Real grass on fabric lamp shade proportioned to be used as a hanging swag lamp.

Another Chicago Art Event, 360 SEE is showing “On the wall & On the floor,” an annual design exhibition. Each artist and designer participating has created a free-standing or tabletop piece and a piece for the wall. All of the results on display in some way embrace the sustainably-minded media-choice philosophy of the gallery and are works constructed with reclaimed, re-purposed, responsibly-sourced and even living materials.

‘Eleanor’ By Jesse Hooker (2009)

Salvaged antique yellow pine and original rear seat from a 1969 Ford Mustang fastback
48″L x 24″D x 24″H, sits 18″H
featured with steel Pastorals 11/06/09 – 12/15/09

Furniture maker and artist Jesse Hooker creates functional works out of reclaimed wood and has started to incorporate metal into his pieces. Hooker is exhibiting a mirror and console pair made of reclaimed English Sycamore and salvaged iron. The pieces, titled ‘Scholes’ and ‘Bogart,’ were named after the intersecting streets where the iron for the pieces was sourced. 
‘Tired Lounge’ By Leo Kempf (2010)

FSC Birch, recycled tires
25″W x 31″H x 50″L
On the floor & On the wall 2 9/2/10 – 10/16/10

Designer Leo Kempf, an “On the wall & On the floor” veteran, has traded in his cardboard furniture designs for newly-designed pieces made of FSC certified Birch and repurposed tires . Kempf created a rocking recliner upholstered with tension-woven reclaimed tire strips and a wall mantle inlaid with tire treads.
‘Current Lamp’ By Kara Bartelt (2010)

Tillandsia kolbii air plants on a white glass orb with CFL grow bulb
12″ in diameter
On the floor & On the wall 2 9/2/10 – 10/16/10

Architect and designer Kara Bartelt creates design objects incorporating living air plants into her pieces. Bartelt is exhibiting both a functional lamp and decorative wall piece with living air plant elements.
‘Untitled: Chevrolet’ By Joel Hester (2010)

Salvaged Chevrolet truck metal collage on steel
55.5″L x 26″H x 2″D
On the floor & On the wall 2 9/2/10 – 10/16/10

Designer Joel Hester continues to show his modern furniture pieces made of reformed vintage car metal and steel at 360SEE. Hester is exhibiting a coffee table made from the hood of a mid-century Chevy truck and a wall covering collage of Chevy truck metal pieces. 

November in Chicago-Green Expo and SOFA

There are two great happenings back to back in John’s hometown, Chicago,IL in November.  The 17th Annual Exposition of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art (SOFA) is a gallery-presented, international art exposition dedicated to bridging the worlds of design, decorative and fine art. Works by emerging and established artists and designers are available for sale by premier galleries and dealers.  This event will be held in Chicago at the Festival Hall, Navy Pier November 5-7, 2010.
Galerie Besson, London
Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia
Liv Blavarp, represented by Charon Kransen Arts

Another great event, the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo 2010 will be held on November 17-19, 2010 in Chicago’s McCormick Place West .   As one of the first cities to adopt LEED for public buildings and the city that is home to more LEED-certified buildings than any other, Chicago is truly committed to leadership as a “next-generation” city – the perfect place for us to celebrate being part of Generation Green. It’s a chance to go and learn how green can grow your business, to get up to date with the latest in innovative products and services and to see what the future looks like in cities and towns around the world.  Greenbuild is a perfect opportunity to meet with green-building colleagues, network with leading industry professionals and learn from international representatives from around the world.

If you’re traveling from out of the area,  book a room at Chicago’s first boutique hotel designed to meet Silver LEED certification.  Hotel Felix is where we will be staying and I am sure we will find an enriching experience there for both luxury and environment alike.
“Felix” is defined as “happy,” and who wouldn’t be happy in one of the “whisper-quiet” rooms with plush furnishings. A rejuvenating spa, chic lobby lounge serving contemporary beverages and Chicago-style fine dining at Elate–all are within steps of your door.
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