Tag: thrift shop

White-Tailed Tropicbird Dec 1975

There is nothing I love more than finding an original piece of art. This is a 5 x 7 “Bradshaw Originals” oil painting, done by Ann Bradshaw in December of 1975 – just a little over 44 years ago. At that time, it had a starting price of $12.00…so obviously it HAS to be worth over a million dollars today, right? Lol.

On that back, Ann wrote: “White-Tailed Tropicbird” (so that’s what I’m calling it). I paid $1.99 for it. Total bargain for an Ann Bradshaw original, if you ask me.

I tried to Google Ann but haven’t been able to find anything about her art online. Pretty sure that makes it even more rare!

Regardless of what it’s worth, it’s priceless to me. That’s the point of this blog. Art is whatever you want it to be. I hope you find something special out there soon, too!

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 🙂

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.

The Bull…

I love how anything can be art. You could frame a gum wrapper, hang it on your wall and…boom…art. No one can tell you that something you put in your house doesn’t classify as art, because there are no rules. Art is the wild west of decor. Paintings, fabrics, labels/wrappers, photographs…absolutely anything you decide is art, is art.

The same can’t be said for a lamp or a couch. Those have a specific form and function. You can’t put a bar of soap on the floor and call it a coffee table. It doesn’t work that way. But art is different. So in a sense, the boundaries that confine other things in our homes don’t apply when it comes to how we decorate our spaces.

Take this picture of a bull standing in the desert. Why do I like it? What made me say, “Oh that’s something I’d like in my house?” The answer is: I don’t know. Sometimes you just see something and it makes sense…to you…even if to no one else.

Bulls symbolize passion, transformation, virility, strength and fulfillment. I didn’t know that before I Googled it. Doesn’t matter. I saw this at a thrift shop for $0.99 and was like, “Yup. Mine.”


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.


The Ancient Kingdom of Mithila…

Besides pieces that are fun, bold and bright…I’m also drawn to travel-themed art and/or anything that comes with a really good story. I bought these two together because, while they don’t necessarily fit my aesthetic, I love what they represent.

These were hand made in India using fingers, twigs, nib-pens and paint brushes. They are identified with the Madhubani District, and are (therefore) referred to as Madhubani paintings.

Because they are devotional in theme, they depict scenes from the ancient epics and legends…and are rich with Vedic and Tantrik symbolism. They are simplistic manifestations of the philosophical heights achieved by Indian civilization.

The point is, you can be inspired by anything you see at any time. I got these both for less than $8 and I think they are worth WAY MORE than that…