So what exactly was I DOING in Santa Fe last week, you ask?
The designer Todd Oldham was Honorary Chairman of this year’s auction. There’s really nothing Todd DOESN’T design: clothing, housewares, interiors… In a way, it made perfect sense that he should create an art event. In any case, Laura wanted a designer on hand to assist him in the days leading up to the auction.
That’s where I came in.
Todd had already come up with the concept, of course, which involved shots of neon color within SITE’s gigantic white and black galleries. My job was to help him do whatever needed to be done: wrapping cocktail tables in neon fabric, painting the rims of the serving trays he’d designed…you know, the usual stuff
But nothing came close to what I shall call, affectionately, “Vials A Go Go.”
Todd had ordered roughly a gazillion pink, green and yellow test-tube-like vials to make centerpieces and whatever else he came up with on site. At SITE’s entrance, Todd had placed three eye-searing, pinkish-orange, box-like check-in desks.* (Tyler, the poor guy spray-painting them in the parking lot, was caught in a crosswind and ended up looking like he fell asleep at the beach.)
But something was lacking.
I’d created some medium-sized centerpieces out of the vials just in case we needed them. Todd fiddled around with those for a while, and then we embarked upon a glue-gunning odyssey the likes of which the world has never seen.
Using the centerpieces as the starting point, we glued many, MANY more vials to the top and sides of each desk. The idea was to make them appear as though they were tumbling down, leading you into the galleries. (That’s Todd’s partner Tony in the picture, one of the sweetest men you’ll ever meet.)
Then, as though that weren’t enough, we used a squirt bottle to fill each vial with water and put orchid-like flowers in them. I believe they were Cymbidium…Todd knows a lot more about flowers than I do.
There was, however, one foe lurking in the wings, just waiting for the right moment to sabotage our beautiful, edgy installation.
That foe was gravity.
During the preview on Friday evening, the vials slowly started coming loose and clattering to the ground. They were plastic, so they didn’t break, but they did spill water everywhere and create quite a mess. SITE’s quick-thinking staff just kept picking up the vials and flowers and putting them in a water-filled bucket behind the desk, but it was a real pain.
So Saturday a.m. found me back at the gallery, more powerful glue gun in hand. If the one I used before was a derringer, this was a bazooka. No messing around. And we decided to nix the water; the flowers could go without for 15 hours.
I’m delighted to report that not a single vial came loose on Saturday. Not one. That victory, plus I got to work with a super talented, super cool, super lovely designer AND the funky fresh staff of SITE.
All in all, a successful trip.
*Today’s blog entry has been brought to you by the hyphen.
Art. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?)
I touched on this subject in an earlier post about enlivening dreary hallways. In that case, though, there was wainscoting to deal with and very little light…in other words, we had bigger fish to fry before we could think about art.
But speaking of big fish, that recent trip to Santa Fe yielded two excellent-use-of-art-at-end of-hallway situations. Here’s the first one:
How fantastic is this piece? It’s by Kate Javens, an artist represented by Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta. The large scale is perfect for this space (obviously), but the piece is remarkable up close, also: the brushstrokes are intricate and there’s a translucent quality to the paint that’s beautiful to look at.
In another house, this ancient Chinese piece is visible from the kitchen:
And as you approach it, the mottled surface of the piece becomes more evident – a reminder of how old this is. (How old? Not exactly sure. Wicked old.) The skylight provides an ambient glow during the day, and spot lighting from the side helps when it gets darker outside.
So for the end of a hallway, look for art that has a strong graphic quality from afar AND details that make the piece interesting from, ah, a-near.
And for the final installment in the 2008 “Blogger at Large” series: minimalism is yet another viable tactic for coping with Pueblo Revival architecture.
Everything belonging to the owner of this condominium – an absolutely delightful scientist at Los Alamos – is functional and attractive. (You’ll recognize DWR’s Cubitec shelving, of course, and the dining chairs are or are similar to 9 Hole Dragon stackable chairs…many other pieces of furniture were purchased in Boston.) No object is superfluous.
Hey – looky there! The picture above! Could it be…a modernist vignette?
A clever move on the owner’s part was to keep the furniture modest in scale. Technically, these rooms can handle larger pieces, but leaving ample space around the furniture makes for quite a dramatic effect. And everything has room to breathe.
Thoughts about Pueblo Revival architecture or any of these survival strategies? I’d love to hear them.
When faced with “Pueblo Revival” architecture, an alternative to a traditional Southwestern interior is the homey approach. This Santa Fe guest house is comfortable but elegant, distinguished by an airy interior and a fabulous art collection.
As with Survival Strategy #1: Contemporary, the walls and ceiling are light in color. Note, though, that here they’ve skipped the traditional viga ceiling in favor of simple exposed beams. It’s fresher and less stylized…the ceiling’s clean lines are echoed in the no-frills built-in bookshelves and simple fireplace mantel and surround, all of which are painted to blend with the walls.
On their own, the living room furnishings are nothing to write home about. But the neutral tones (warm beiges rather than cool greys) and natural materials (linen upholstery, sisal rug) are an appropriate backdrop to the resident’s collection of art and antiquities. I wholeheartedly agree with this approach to decorating and art: when you have an interesting collection, establish a consistent, muted palette and get out of the way.
Here’s another thing that makes this interior so successful: the “vignette.” Using this term in normal conversation is pretty much the same as screaming, “I watch too much HGTV,” but it has its uses. You know what I’m talking about, right? A set piece – a display, a “little picture…”
Yes, like this. Exactly like this. Vaguely Southwestern/Taos table, distressed. Carefully chosen art books neatly stacked below, small sculptures and arrowheads arranged on top. Two pictures on the wall above, the exact width of the table, reflecting the colors of the figurines on it. Whole = greater than sum of the parts (although in this case the parts are pretty darn good).
Here’s another one (right), more color-coordinated, and below is the arrangement immediately to your left as you enter the house. (There’s no separate foyer, so this vignette defines the space near the door – it separates the entry from the living and dining areas, which are all part of the same room.)
Do note that the bathroom here is nothing like the streamlined bathrooms in the contemporary Santa Fe house I discussed previously. This is more typically “Southwestern,” as evidenced by the handpainted tile in rich, festive colors.
After spending a lovely cocktail hour(s) in this house, I started to think, “Maybe I could live in Santa Fe. This Southwestern adobe thing is actually pretty versatile…” but that might have been the wine and art lust talking. At the very least, I’ll go back for a visit. If I’m invited, of course.