Monday, June 23, 2014

Humans of the 518

I seem to go through spurts when it comes to writing and then a dry spell will hit and I completely lose interest or I get bored with hearing myself write. That being said, something or someone will come along that jolts me forward and I am able to write once again. Yesterday, I had the great good fortune of having two high school girls come into my shop. They spent quite a while looking around and sat in the cool boomerang love seat in the middle of the shop and conversed for quite some time. They were cute, upcoming juniors or seniors. Both wore glasses and one wore a camera around her neck while the other sported some blue neon on the side of her hair. I left them alone because they were enjoying what I had to offer and I was pretty sure they didn't have two nickels to rub together. Eventually, they floated out the front door. A little while later they returned and exclaimed "we're back!" Then they seemed hesitant, like there was something they wanted to ask me. I was thinking maybe a summer job, but that wasn't it. "Have you ever heard of Humans of New York?" Of course, I had and a couple of years ago I liked the page on facebook and have been following Brandon's escapades ever since. "Yes!" I exclaimed. "I love that site." The girls continued "Well, we are starting a new page called Humans of 518 and we wondered it you would let us take your picture and ask a few questions. After I had queried them about why, they basically told me that they were doing an independent study based on the HONY page for the summer without a mentor. The 518 in the page title was for the area code for Upstate New York. It was just something they felt compelled to do. This was their first day and they had already interviewed a few people. They seemed shy and hesitant, asking if it was okay to record my answers to questions rather than write them down. I acquiesced and basically told them what my business was about and my passion for art. They departed, telling me that they would be posting their finds that evening and to check it out. Last night I liked their page and I have to tell you I was really impressed. These two girls, who were obviously not your typical teens had interviewed several shopkeepers on my street and had managed to post sophisticated and thought provoking pictures and statements. It brought me much contentment to know that these girls were pursuing a passion aside from the usual teenage stuff and that they were using current technology to satisfy intellectual curiosity. If you have a facebook account, check this new page out. I'm certain you will see what I'm talking about.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Deconstructed Style

I'm always trying to keep up with the latest fads and styles that pertain to my vintage business, so what's trending is what I try to find for my shop. It's more difficult than it used to be since trends come and go as fast as the latest smart phone development. One trend that I have developed a deep appreciation for is the deconstructed look. Deconstructed furniture and accouterments are pretty hot items in the designer field and I've noted that this is especially true out West. I recently wrote a blog about deconstructing a bench that sold to a young designer in L.A. She loved it. And just a couple of days ago a dress form that was beaten looking, having seen better days, went to a gal in Nebraska.
Stripping a piece of furniture down to its basic elements allows one to see its bones more clearly and gives strength and character to the piece. An added bonus is that in a clean, minimalist environment, these pieces become functional sculptures. So I'm gonna keep this look around and I'm hoping it's a style that will stay around for a while.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remembering my Father in 1969

In the summer of '69 my father sent my mother to her high school reunion and a much needed vacation and was left as caretaker to his seven children ages 3 to 12 in the week that she was to be gone. We, of course, were thrilled at the prospect of having just Dad for an entire week, especially given the fact that he was generally a softy and often gave in to our whims and more than anything, he was a great entertainer both in word and deed. And being free from Mom's no nonsense approach to rearing her children was an added bonus. We went to Timber Lake or Manassas Park to swim almost every day. I loved it when Dad, a former navy man and an athletic one at that, did wonderful jackknifes off the high board effortlessly. Sometimes one of us would "get lost" or wander off the beach to the refreshment area or second hand shop and the rest of us would end up spending more time trying to find the lost one than swimming while another one got lost in the process. Eventually, the loud speaker at the top of the hill would come on and announce a name and request that the parent please come and pick him/her up. One night we took the Ford Country Sedan station wagon to some drive in movies which my older brothers had picked out. Dad had no idea what they were about until we got there ... rated "M" for mature Hell's Angels 1967, Three in the Attic and another one which I don't recall, but we begged him to let us stay and watch. He just shook his head at my brothers who he said had set him up while on the screen a guy was literally being screwed to death in the attic by three women, who had, upon finding out about his infidelity, gotten together and decided to imprison and "punish" him. Dad got plenty of questions from my younger siblings which he managed to diplomatically answer. My brothers were thoroughly entertained. One morning we woke up to eggs benedict and champagne. Dad taught us about French cuisine and fine dining as we older siblings sipped on our thimble glass of champagne and enjoyed our eggs. We finished breakfast feeling like accomplished and worldly adults. When Dad wasn't trying to figure out where everybody was or figuring out how much money we had managed to swindle from him for candy and trinkets, he would tell wonderful stories about his youth or stories about history. As we didn't live far from Washington, D.C., he took us on trips to all the historical buildings and was our personal tour guide. It was a fun filled week and by the end, I'm sure my mother's return was never more welcomed by my father. I'm also pretty sure he had a greater appreciation of what she had to deal with on a daily basis and I also remember it as one of the best times I had with my Dad while growing up.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Woo-Hoo! It's National Running Day!

I went for a nice run this morning without knowing that it was National Running Day. Wow, it's kinda like "I'm a poet and didn't even know it." Anyway, for this middle aged gal, it was no easy undertaking. I just started running again after taking a hiatus last September. Between my partner's health problems, trying to run a small business that requires hours on the computer and physical ailments from years of running abuse, I was ecstatic to finish two and half miles without the bands on the side of my knees kicking out. I even managed to do a sprint interval for about a hundred yards without leaving my pelvic girdle on the ground. There was a time when I kicked ass at running and had these crazy dreams about making it to the Summer Olympics. The year Carl Lewis was jumping (1996?) I was in top condition for a 38 year old. I was cross training and fit as hell. One of the best compliments I remember receiving during that summer was running down a main street towards Union College campus and a group of folks were sitting out on their stoops. One black man observed "That's how I wanna look!" In that moment I felt I had transcended race and gender to become somebody to aspire to, somebody whose hard work to develop physically was being appreciated. It was also during that time period that the Orthopedic surgeons told me that degenerative arthritis was setting into my right hip and that I shouldn't be running any longer. They suggested swimming or biking. But if you are a runner, then you will understand why I couldn't, wouldn't stop. I ran continuously for years after, suffering through iliotibial band syndrome, achilles strains, hip and back aches. After I resigned from teaching and started going through menopause, it was harder for me to get out there like I had since I was fifteen. Life just seemed to get in the way and I found myself running less and less. My son told me the other day if I couldn't run anymore, then I should take up biking, following his suggestion with a politically incorrect comment about wearing a helmet and laughing. His wise ass comments hit a nerve and I became determined, damn my age and my problems and started running again last week. The first couple of days I could barely make a mile, thanks to my bands. But today, I was back and I felt it. I can't run every day any more, but I am working on an every other day schedule. Now all I need to do is to start a new sneaker fund for myself cuz my sneaks are shot and my arches are killing me!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ruth Faktor, Israeli Artist to Watch

Anyone who reads my blogs at all knows how much I love art, be it visual or literary, so when I spend time picking the local thrift stores and City Missions, that's where my eye leans. Yesterday, I had the good fortune to pick up a ceramic wall plaque created by Ruth Faktor, an Israeli artist whose studio is set up near Tel-Aviv. She studied sculpture and modern art at the Ramat-Gan Art School during the 70s and continues her work to this day with her daughter, who is also an accomplished artist. The ceramic tile I discovered features three figures, which represent a small family. The soft earthen colors and the peaceful faces suggest a place far from the violence and uncertainty that often plagues Israel. I am drawn to the balance of the piece. In 2011 Saper Galleries out of East Lansing, Michigan, purchased several of her ceramic plaques and you can find them displayed on the Ruth Faktor page of their website. The tiles depict faces, figures and villages, a collage of earthiness and simple beauty. It's picks such as Faktor's art that keeps me going in my small vintage and art business. Be on the look out for her work and if you have the good fortune to visit Tel-Aviv, visit her studio as well, as I'm quite certain you will be taken with her creations.