in search of the art we love.

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Once upon a time in a lifetime of mine long, long ago I worked in New York City.  Ok yes, decades ago at this point but there were things outside of work that are still these pleasant snippets of enjoyable experiences and memories.  Among them was there was (and still is) art everywhere.

Music, art, theater.  Subways with poetry on posters like my favorite poem by William Butler Yeats:

Image may contain: textWhen You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Hearing fabulous jazz bands at the Blue Note.   Rediscovering Caffè Reggio on MacDougal.

All of the various street fairs, and flea markets, and art markets. Dusty old bookstore, antique stores, thrift shops.

A lot of what I liked at the time was down around Greenwich Village. There were so many cool stores and places to check out.

And then there were all of the artists you would see hawking their wares outside of various museums all over the city like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  A lot of this still goes on, incidentally…in between the knock off designer handbag stands and so on.

I was young and well when you are young your salary doen’t go far and funky shoes from a boutique on the Upper West Side was likely to win out over art because well…you couldn’t wear a painting to happy hour, right?   But here and there there were artists I would see and just liked for whatever reason.  Not necesarily them personally, but their work.

There was this one artist named Anna Tefft Siok whose work I had seen somewhere one time that I liked, but had then forgotten even her name.  It had been a bird watercolor.  An owl. Sort of abstract but I liked it. And that was saying something because abstract is not really me.

I had not seen work from this artist again in the intervening years until a piece popped up on eBay a year or so ago.  Dishfunctional in West Chester had this woodpecker for sale in their eBay storeIt was that artist from long ago. I remembered the owl. Her name was Anna Tefft Siok. Only I did not want to pay what Disfuntional was asking for something I would have to definitely re-frame.

So I watched the woodpecker print and waited…and over a year later I pulled up the Disfunctional listing just to see.  The print had not dropped in price but when I put in the artist’s name another copy of the print showed up with an antique dealer in Maine.  At less than half of what the other exact same print was listed at. That seemed more reasonable to me. (I have found the Disfuntional prices to be a little high at times, sadly.)

Today I took my newly found woodpecker to be framed.  Framers Market Gallery in Malvern is who I use for all of my framing. As a related aside, they also represent quite a few Chester County artists.  I will have to take something off of my walls when the woodpecker comes home.

I love the process of finding the perfect mat and frame.  Framers Market Gallery is very patient with me when it comes to that.  And the owner Jayne has impeccable taste.

We ended up with a double mat and a frame which will pick up the texture of the woodpecker’s tree:

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The frame my print arrived in was older and while in o.k. condition, the print had never been properly framed and you could see some yellowing on the edges – nothing which was properly acid proof was in the frame with the print and when we took the old mat and paper away from the print we could see the damage from inexpensive framing, sadly.  When it is finished, the woodpecker print will be framed properly and last a long, long time.

Curious about the artist, I went a Googling.  I discovered she had gone to RISD in Rhode Island and had taught for years at Greenwich House Pottery and  the 92nd Street Y.

I found her obituary, which told me more about her:

anna obit

Courtesy of Greenwich House and the pottery staff the following  sentiment from them was shared with me about my rediscovered artist:

Esteemed faculty member Anna Siok taught children’s classes at Greenwich House Pottery from 1958 to 2009. Throughout this period, Anna’s generosity of spirit enriched many lives. We established the Anna Siok Award in her honor in 1995, which honors her life of creativity, nurturing support and enduring presence. We continue to give out this award annually to an artist at Greenwich House Pottery who displays excellence in handbuilding.

I will note I also contacted the 92nd Street Y.  Sadly, they had absolutely nothing to share.  What I got was “Unfortunately we don’t have her bio on file. Good luck in your ongoing search!”   Anna Tefft Siok taught at both places for over 50 years.  I know she died in 2010, but seriously? They had nothing on file? It’s like she never existed.

I am glad Greenwich House too the time for me.  I urge people to check out Greenwich House Pottery.  It seems really cool.

In the obituary online, I found photos of my artist:

I know people probably think this is strange, but it’s part of the provenance of the piece: who created it.  Now do I think her work is going to be worth tons of money? No, but I like it. Or I like this piece.

And once again that is the thing about art: buy what you like.  It does not have to be expensive.  It does not have to be a famous artist, although Anna Tefft Siok was respected and was well known throughout her life in New York.

Art brings me joy.  I have core things I will never part with (my Margery Niblock wood cuts for example), but I will replace art pieces I discovered with other pieces I discovered.  Tastes change, we evolve in what strikes a chord with us at different stages of our lives.

Art brokers and gallery owners alike probably wouldn’t like me saying art doesn’t have to be rare or priceless to hold huge amounts of monetary value. But art should make us happy, evoke a memory, provoke a memory, cause a new memory to happen. Or when all else fails, you just like something. And no one else has to like it. Only you.

So many people love art yet live with blank walls. Sometimes I think it’s because they do not know what to buy. Or are afraid. To them I say: what do you like? What would make you happy?

For me it makes me happy that I stumbled upon an artist once again I had seen long ago.  And living in the woods, having a woodpecker print is kind of appropriate, I think.

I will close with one last photo of this artist from her 2010 obituary.  Painting in the summer.  I now have a cool provenance to go with a print I just liked.

Explore art.  Support local artists wherever you live. Life is too short for bare walls.

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flo the fox is home

The other day I wrote about buying art that makes you happy . So let me tell you about Flo the Fox.

Flo is an actual fox who lives at the British Wildlife Centre. She was captured first on camera then in a painting by a friend from high school who is an artist named Robin Sears.

I was so excited when I first saw her because I have been looking for a little fox painting for a few years. But every fox I saw just wasn’t my fox.

But Flo is my fox, and she’s perfect. She’s just a little painting at 9″ x 12″ and she is acrylic on board.

The reason I like Flo so much is we have very funny foxes that I like to watch in our backyard. Each has a personality.

Anyway Flo is a perfect British fox sitting in her bed of blue bells and ferns and moss.

She will eventually make her way down to Framers Market Gallery in Malvern to be framed.

Anyway, just wanted to share Flo with everyone!

Have a great afternoon and thanks for stopping by

buy art that makes you happy

I found myself a small treasure today. “Society Hill” by Margery Niblock.

I have written before about family friend and artist Margery Niblock. She was a New York transplant who lived in Philadelphia for many, many years before heading north to Maine.

Margery has been a printmaker artist of woodcut and linoleum since 1958. The 1972 UNICEF Engagement Calendar had one of her woodcuts, “Fantasy,” chosen for inclusion, and her work was used as a cover and feature story in the then “Today Magazine” of the Philadelphia Inquirer She also taught private classes for both adults and children. (Yes, I was one of her students!)

Margery was commissioned by many organizations to do special pieces during her many years in Philadelphia — The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, Ars Moriendi, Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), American Friends Service Committee, Pearl S. Buck Foundation, Developmental Center for Autistic Children, and Support Center for Child Advocates.

In 1989 Margery moved to Maine, where she has had solo exhibits as well as illustrating quite a few books. In Maine, her drawings and woodcuts appeared in Greater Portland Magazine and the Maine Times. For a while she also produced beautiful jewelry made out of found beach objects – like shards of pottery and beach glass.

Margery, or Margie as I have grown up calling her, is a family friend. I have many memories of her and being in her home as a little girl which was across the street from St. Peter’s where I went to grade school. We are still connected today and I treasure her.

As I had already mentioned, she taught me how to do woodblock and linoleum cutting and printing. I still have the scar on my right wrist from when she warned me how to hold my tools when cutting and I did not listen. As a creative medium, I loved wood block and linoleum and I did some of it throughout high school.

To this day, Margery is still one of my favorite artists.  If I see her work anywhere (and it’s affordable), I buy it.  Her work represents very happy memories to me. (I see it and I smile.) I can still see her prints as well as the work of other artists fluttering on clotheslines held by clothes pins during the craft fairs of my childhood at Head House Square, known also as “the shambles”.

Circa 1974. That is me on the left watching a quilter at the Head House Square Craft Fair.

One time when we were little, Margie used my sister as a model.  My sister was sitting on the beach in Avalon playing with my mother’s wide brimmed straw hat and playing in the sand.

And during the holidays, Margie would also create these fabulous Christmas-y wood cuts. I have several of those framed and hanging in my home now as an adult. My mother saved them for me and a few years ago I framed my favorites.

When I stumble across her work now, it is referred to as “mid-century modern” . This inexplicably makes me giggle and I wonder since a lot of what’s out there was created when I was growing up, I guess that make me mid-century modern too?

Art brokers and gallery owners alike probably wouldn’t like me saying art doesn’t have to be rare or priceless to hold value to us. But that is a very simple truth. Art should make us happy, evoke a memory, provoke a memory, cause a new memory to happen. Or when all else fails, you just like something. And no one else has to like it. Only you.

So many people love art yet live with blank walls. Sometimes I think it’s because they do not know what to buy. Or are afraid. To them I say: what do you like? What would make you happy?

Living in Chester County, we have so many amazing artists living here among us. And the art these artists create are at so many price points, so there is literally something for everyone’s budget.

In Chester County we not only have galleries and studio tours, we have the Chester County Art Association. Their gallery in West Chester and their outpost in the Exton Square Mall. (You can find some of my friend and artist Catherine Quillman’s work there, for example.)

Art is everywhere around us.

My friend Sherry Tillman who owns Past*Present*Future in Ardmore, PA started First Friday Main Line years ago to literally put art in unexpected places. The whole thing was about making art accessible to everyone, and to make the process less intimidating.

Sherry is so right. So many are intimidated to go into a traditional gallery setting even if they should not be. But because art is everywhere, you can find art at consignment boutiques, thrift stores, rummage sales, fairs, and so on.

Today I stumbled upon the wood block I opened the post with. It’s one right out of my childhood years and the location is also right out of my childhood years. It’s value is I like it. It made me smile as soon as I clapped eyes on it.

I am literally really lucky that I have quite a few friends who are artists. I feel connected to their work in part because I know them.

Yet on the flip side, there is art I feel connected to just for the subject matter. I don’t know the artists at all.

So here we are in the season of giving so why not something homemade? Like art? Buy a piece of art even if it’s just a little print for yourself. And if you need something framed I will gladly direct you to Framer’s Market Gallery in Malvern. (They also represent quite a few local artists, so make sure to check it all out!)

Thanks for stopping by.

My perfect Thanksgiving card from my friend and artist Catherine Quillman

now loch aerie smiles

Today I went to Loch Aerie to drop off my “housewarming gift” —- my big Loch Aerie print by Christopher Schultz and he is or was a Chester County Artist. The print belongs there. (I wish I knew more about the artist!)

The house is so happy she’s smiling. I know it sounds crazy but you can feel the difference in the house now that she has a family that so loves her once again.

The house will be used as a venue space. It is privately, not publicly owned, so please be respectful of that.

Loch Aerie is a jewel and god bless the Poiriers for saving her.

what books are on your coffee table in chester county?

What books are on your coffee table in Chester County?

I can tell you which ones are on mine. Since I moved to Chester County I have added to my library a small Chester County section. And the books on my coffee table specifically are as follows:

100 Artists of The Brandywine Valley by Catherine Quillman.

Speaking for Themselves: The Artists of Southeastern Pennsylvania by Daphne S. Landis.

A Traveler’s Album by Eugene L. DiOrio.

If these books interest you there are a lot of them out there in new/unused and gently used but in very good condition on Amazon and eBay. Also you never know what you will find at Baldwin’s Book Barn 😊