Tag: art collection

July Calm Puget Sound.

In a couple of weeks I will be moving away from Seattle. I sold my little condo on First Hill (closing in exactly 9 days) and will be packing up a U-Haul to head back east before the end of the month. I guess that’s why I feel the need to “stock up” on art made in the Pacific Northwest as my final few days living in the upper left-hand corner of the USA are slipping away.

Why am I leaving? Well that’s a story for another time.

The important thing is, this morning I found something that will forever make me think of my time in Seattle…

Here’s the backstory (in case you’re interested)…

THE START I have been trying to draw since two or three years old. First, it was funny little men with hats, then cartoons, then wanting deeply to put my version of what I saw in nature down on paper. Drawing was a world apart, which I could retreat into when the world my body inhabited was temporarily uncomfortable. My father was the son of English immigrants, so the children’s stories I was read before bed were illustrated by such great British artists as Arthur Rackham and Earnest Shepherd. These two artists influenced my style of drawing more than any others.

Black and white line drawings fascinated me for many years, as I trained my hand and eye to work together, to relax and flow. So I worked in pencil, charcoal and pen & ink for a long time, always delighting in working outdoors in nature. My family was a California family that camped and hiked, so I formed a passion for nature early on.

SCRATCHBOARD In later years I began to be drawn to woodcuts, linocuts and etchings, and experimented with these media for numbers of years, until I discovered scratchboard. What I loved about this medium was the fact that it allowed me to have the feeling of pen & ink as well as the feel of a woodcut, linocut or etching. The hand printing process of these latter media had never interested me much, so scratchboard was perfect, in that it is a drawing medium that looks like a hand-printing medium. I worked for years with the old type of scratchboard that can only be done in black & white.

http://sharonnealwilliams.com/pages/bio.html

Thank you, Seattle, for being my home for the past 7 years – for teaching me I am tougher than I thought I was and for introducing me to so many new things/experiences. I am forever indebted.

The Lion King Of Beasts…

Today started like any other Saturday. I got up, made breakfast, took my golden retriever to the dog park and decided to hit the Goodwill flagship store in downtown Seattle on our way home. I have found more incredible pieces there than anywhere else. And today was no exception.

As I strolled through art section, I saw “The Lion King Of Beasts” and grabbed it as fast as I could. It looked as though it had been removed from a frame, because it was just a piece of paper – but hadn’t been rolled or folded. The red price tag on the back said $3.99 and it just happened that all red tags were 50% off. YAHTZEE!

I scored the print for $2.00.

My next stop was the Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center on 4th Ave S in hopes of finding the right size frame. I had no idea the exact dimensions (I was guessing 18 or 20 x 24) but figured if I saw a frame that looked big enough I could run to the car and bring it inside to see if it would fit. ANOTHER YAHTZEE.

This black frame was $9.99 but also 50% off. So for a grand total of $7 this was my Saturday morning score!

When I got home I Googled the aritst, Shane Slayer. I found him pretty easily.

While I’m not sure what Shane is up to these days, it appears that he used to have a booth at the Saturday Market in Eugene, OR. In August of 2013 he was featured as the “Beautiful Booth of the Month” and here is what I learned about him:

Sometimes getting fired from a job is the best thing that can ever happen to you. Just ask Shane Slayer…

Fresh out of the military, and three months into a “real” job, Shane found himself suddenly unemployed and in need of funds. In all that suddenly spare time, he started drawing, and selling the drawings. He’s been a self supporting artist ever since. Shane actually sold at the Saturday Market in the 70s, moved away and sold elsewhere, and returned a few years ago.

I asked him how he learned to draw. “Copying pictures of girlfriends when I was in the military,” was his first answer. “Any formal training, though?” I asked, as his draftsmanship is so accomplished. Turns out he took a couple of drawing classes at the U of O while gaining his degree in History. The most important one was taught by a sculpture professor whose class was about anatomy, “We had to learn how to draw each muscle and understand how it works.” This knowledge is very useful for someone who draws a lot of imaginary creatures. You have to know how a dragon’s wings should be attached to make a convincing dragon portrait!

He works in dark pencil, then has the art copied. Prints are individually colored by hand by a method he developed himself. He uses cloth to apply pastels to the prints, so each one is unique. Along with drawing, he’s also a poet. He has written poems for all kinds of occasions, al neatly displayed and sorted by sentiment. “It’s all pretty upbeat, people like a positive message,” he says. He will even personalize artwork to commemorate a special person or occasion.

https://eugenesaturdaymarket.org/artisanpages/Slayer/slayer.html

If you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve heard me say it a thousand times. Don’t worry about what something is worth. The pretension of the art world can lead you to believe that something has to be expensive to be valuable. But there is a big difference between those words – expensive and valuable. If you like it, BUY IT! Happy collecting 🙂

Beginning the Journey…

I’ve learned that art doesn’t necessarily have to be “your style” or “your aesthetic” to have a place in your house. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t match our decor or go with the other pieces in your living room. Sometimes you can see something and know that it belongs with you anyways.

This framed print is called “Beginning the Journey” and, upon first glance, I was pretty mesmerized by it.

What better reminder could there be?

Stop. Look around. Put the phone away. Take a breath. Absorb. Be present.

And yet as simple as it sounds, it’s rarely done.

I think that was my attraction to this little print. Anything that reminds me to slow down and pay attention in life, whether it matches the color scheme in my house or not, is coming home with me.

Price: $1.99 at a thrift shop in downtown Seattle.

Place Where the Gods Come and Go…

If you’re like me, you may have never heard of Navajo sandpaintings but now that you’ve seen one you gotta admit…they’re pretty incredible, huh?

The Navajo word for sandpaintings means “place where the gods come and go.

Sandpaintings’ use four principal colors: white, blue, yellow, and black. They remind Navajos of the Four Sacred Mountains bordering their traditional homeland. These mountains and some of their associations are:

White Shell Mountain (Sierra Blanca Peak, Colorado): white-east-dawn
Turquoise Mountain (Mount Taylor, New Mexico): blue-south-day
Abalone Shell Mountain (Mount Humphreys, Arizona): yellow-west-twilight
Coal Mountain (Hesperus Peak, Colorado): black-north-darkness

http://www.collectorsguide.com/fa/fa083.shtml

The sandpainting has been used for centuries in religious rituals, including healing ceremonies performed by Navajo medicine men. A sandpainting for a ceremony is made on the ground in the ceremonial hogan and destroyed at the end of the ritual.

In order to preserve this long-standing tradition, in the late 1940’s Navajos began to create permanent sandpaintings, changing the design slightly to protect the religious significance when these paintings were shown publicly. Pictorial sandpaintings which reflect the Navajo environment and lifestyle are also made. Today sandpaintings are made by slowly trickling sand through the hand onto epoxy-covered particle boards, using sand made from naturally colored crushed rock, stone, and minerals for the different shades and colors.

http://www.penfieldgallery.com/sandPaintings/sandPaintings.html

While I don’t know the story behind this exact piece, I’m happy that I now  know more about the rituals performed and history behind the Navajo sanpaintings.

The Birthplace of Beethoven…

Admittedly, I only bought this because it was small and cute; a little piece that could fill in an awkward space on a gallery wall. At just 4″ x 4″ total, the actual print probably only measures half of that.

On the back, it appears this was purchased in 2001 to commemorate Steve Andy’s visit to Bonn…

I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought Bonn was in France. It’s not. Turns out, Bonn is actually in Germany and is known as the birthplace of Beethoven. Also, fun fact, no one really knows when Beethoven was born. It was sometime in December of 1770, but the date of his birth is not recorded. However, since it was customary for baptisms to take place within 24 hours of birth, it’s likely he was born on December 16th.

Anyways, I hope Steve Andy or Steve and Andy (if that’s meant to be two different people) enjoyed his/their trip to Bonn. And I’m glad, 17 years later, this little souvenir found its way to a store shelf in Seattle.

Why are cigar labels so cool?

In the interest of full disclosure, I know nothing about cigars. I only know that every time I see an old cigar box label I think, “Oh my God that is so cool.” That’s why when I found this Antique Original Label that had been professionally framed for Frances Lee Kaufman in Culver City, CA I was like, “I’m definitely buying this.”

But first, a little research:

Prior to the Civil War, few cigars were packed in boxes. Even in Cuba, most cigars were sold singly, by the handful or in small wrapped bundles called yaguas, made from palm fronds. In this country, cigars were typically shipped in barrels of 2,500 or more. Overworked revenue agents, faced with counting individual cigars in a factory, found it impossible to keep track of the movement of taxed and untaxed cigars. “They all look alike,” one harried agent complained to Congress.

The Revenue Act of 1864 tried to solve the problem by requiring all cigars to be packed in “boxes or bundles,” but feisty cigar makers harassed inspectors with odd lots, turning record keeping into a nightmare. With Lincoln’s strong support, the laws of 1865 resolved the problem of counting by requiring all cigars, foreign or domestic, to be packed in wooden boxes containing 25, 50, 100 or 250 cigars, giving IRS agents somewhere to paste a stamp proving taxes had been paid. By the end of the war, cigar boxes were everywhere: the federal solution to a very taxing problem.

Even the most far-thinking visionary in the chaw-chewing 1860s could not have foreseen that within a few years superb, new cigar tobaccos would be developed, cost-cutting cigar molds would be introduced from Germany (then the cigar-manufacturing capital of the world), exorbitant Civil War taxes, which made a five-cent cigar cost 12 cents, would be lifted and a huge, immigrant labor force would arrive eager for work.

With those changes in the 1870s and 1880s, domestic cigars became better, cheaper and more available, and for the next 50 years, cigars replaced the plug as the most popular form of tobacco use in America.

By 1900, four out of five men (and a goodly number of women and children) smoked cigars, and cigar connoisseurship had become an art. Dozens of distinct domestic tobaccos were blended with tobaccos from Cuba and Sumatra and rolled into more than 3,500 shapes and sizes–ready “for every occasion, purpose and time of day.” About 150,000 cigar factories flooded the country with a bewildering array of product. Between 1870 and 1920, more than 1.5 million brands of U.S. cigars appeared and disappeared on the market. More than 250 billion cigars were manufactured. And the law said they all had to be packed in boxes.

At first, cigar boxes sat closed on shelves behind the bar or counter, with only the simplest markings to identify the contents. But as the cigar industry became more competitive, the humidified cigar counter was developed to allow the new varieties, shapes and colors of cigars to be displayed without drying out. Colorful inside labels became essential to make a brand stand out among a sea of rather similar-looking competitors.

Cigars were unique among American retail products because everyone had a finger in the advertising pie. Cigar makers labeled cigars in accordance with their own tastes, but any wholesaler with a big order could get the same cigar packed in a different box with a different label, any saloon or drugstore that bought as few as 10 boxes could have the cigars reboxed under yet another label. With fancy labels costing only a penny or two, even customers could easily order “custom” brands emblazoned with their children, dog or favorite boat. As a result, there were more brands of cigar than any other product in history. During the height of cigar popularity, a small-town drugstore was forced to carry as many as 350 brands to keep its clientele happy.

For example, the 60 hand-rollers at the Powell & Goldstein factory (1870-1926) in Oneida, New York, made only two cigars: a five-center they sold as Factory 370 and a popular 10-center called Napoleon. Although they made just two cigars, they (like many other factories) were responsible for hundreds of brands. For more than 50 years, Powell & Goldstein’s five salesmen covered every town within a day’s ride of the Erie Canal. They created “custom brands” of cigars for hotels, restaurants, barbershops, train stations, social clubs–even haberdashers and shoe-shine parlors. The same cigar was sold side by side under multiple labels depicting well-dressed dandies, children at play, Masonic temples, white elephants and the mustached proprietor of a Buffalo pool hall–each trying to catch the eye of a smoker with a dime in his hand.

And catch his eye they did. Cigar labels were spectacular: full of colorful flags, eagles and naked women…showing off dogs, guns and fast horses. Ballplayers, actors, vaudevillians, opera stars and popular comic-strip characters were immortalized as were local heroes, civil servants and saloon keepers.

Labels depicted the high life, gambling, racial stereotypes, popular paintings, regional railroads, automobiles, inventions, political candidates, famous generals and women by the carload, generally staring virtuously into space. Labels featured lightbulbs, gas meters, wireless, the transatlantic cable, talking machines, radios and the Model T. Each new product or trend, new feat or event made it onto a label.

The Art of Cigar Boxes by Tony Hyman

I mean, I feel cooler just having this in my possession. But again, I’d be lying if I said I  knew anything about this brand of cigar or what the antique original label is worth. I paid $3.99 for it and feel perfectly ok with that.


Welcome, Huichols…

The Huichol Indians (pronounced Wee-shol) are descendants of the the Aztecs. They are a Shamanic tribe who live in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. Their art was first documented in the late 1800’s and is an exploration of their culture.

Recently, my best friend was visiting Seattle and we wandered into a shop at Pike Place Market owned, for the past 28 years, by a woman who travels to Mexico every 6 weeks looking for pieces to bring back to America.

This is a yarn painting, which is made by pressing yarn into bees wax. The Huichols use bold colors, imagery and symbolism; like The Deer Spirit, Paritzica. I love that there is a hand-written story on the back. That’s not something you can get from buying a piece of art from Target.

My BFF bought me this as my Christmas present this year and it is probably one of the best gifts I have ever received in my entire life.