NEW YORK’S WRECKING BALL

NEW YORK’S WRECKING BALL

Looks like one of New York City’s top museums, The Frick, could become another mammoth site. One of my favorites, is going bye, bye. Not that they are destroying the existing, but rather stretching its wings. This expansion will eliminate the prized garden on East 70th Street and revamp how this mansion is used.

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has the power to turn down the proposed expansion that will wipe out

Frick Garden

Frick Garden

the cherished garden with an inelegant addition. Our city has suffered from tearing down the old beautiful buildings from the Gilded Age and replacing them with clumsy additions. Remember the handsome historic Beaux-Arts Penn Station, built in 1910, on West 34th Street and 8th Avenue, by architects McKim, Mead and White? For the sake of New York City’s wing stretching, it was taken down in 1963 and replaced with a modern version in 1969, a characterless space. New York suffers from an ephemeral philosophy. Do we really need to continue to destroy our precious history?

Entry

Entry

In a recent article in the New York Times, by Michael Kimmelman, he said, “New Yorkers have seen the consequences of trustee restlessness and real estate magical thinking, which destroy or threaten to undo favorite buildings.” Kimmelman goes on to remind us about buildings that had additions stuck onto them, and then the use of the building flopped. “Even the New York Public Library wanted to disembowel its historic building at 42nd Street before thinking better of it.” said Kimmelman.

Dining room

Dining room

Although the Met does have a great decorative arts collection, just think of how Frick gathered his  to decorate his mansion. What the Frick has meant to me is its personal, magnificent, historic works. While studying interior design at the New York School of Interior Design, I spent many hours and days studying, sketching and absorbing history. Housed on Fifth Avenue in his former home, the private collection of Henry Frick is the perfect escape from the larger galleries and museums. This is a great spot to unwind after a long morning walking and of course enjoying the shops, the people and the architecture.

Conservatory

Conservatory

The central conservatory space can be peaceful and relaxing. Try to time your visit with one of the free talks provided. The museum staff is knowledgeable. The audio guide excellent.

In 1910, Frick purchased property at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street to construct a mansion, now known as The Frick Collection. Built to a massive size and covering a full city block, Frick told friends he was building it to “make rival Carnegie’s place look like a miner’s shack.”

Frick collection gallery

Frick collection gallery

To this day, the Frick Collection is home to one of the finest collections of European paintings in the United States. It contains many works of art dating from the pre-Renaissance up to the post-Impressionist eras, but in no logical or chronological order. It includes several very large paintings by J. M. W. Turner and John Constable.

Living room

Living room

In addition to paintings, it also contains exhibitions of carpets, porcelain, sculptures, and period furniture. Frick continued to live at both his New York mansion and at Clayton until his death in 1919.

Frick and his wife Adelaide had booked tickets to travel back to New York on the inaugural trip of the Titanic, along with J.P. Morgan. The couple canceled their trip after Adelaide sprained her ankle in Italy and missed the disastrous voyage.

What are you thoughts? Is bigger better? Should they stretch their wings and make another New York behemoth out of this charming historic mansion?

BLUE SKIES SMILING AT ME

BLUE SKIES SMILING AT ME

Lapis lazuli block

The most famous of all color studies are by Johannes Itten in his book, The Art of Color, last printing 1969. My experience, my work, for the last forty years, in interior design, has proven that truth in color exists and persists in Itten’s studies. It doesn’t matter what type of environment, warm and cool colors affect the mood and physiology of a person as well as how an occupant feels in a room, an environment. Itten says in his book, it may seem strange to identify a sensation of temperature with the visual realm of color sensation.

Chartres Cathedral-Virgin and Child. French stained glass-early example c.1194, warm and cool colors juxtaposed.

However, experiments have demonstrated a difference of five to seven degrees in the subjective feeling of heat or cold between a room painted in blue-green and one painted in red-orange. That is, in the blue-green room the occupants felt that 59 degrees was cold, whereas in the red-orange room they did not feel cold until the temperature fell to 52-54 degrees. Objectively, this meant that blue-green slows down the circulation and red-orange stimulates it.

Similar results were obtained in an animal experiment. A racing stable was divided into two sections, the one painted blue, the other red-orange. In the blue section, horses soon quieted down after running, but in the red section they remained hot and restless. It was found that there were no flies in the blue section, and a great many in the red section.

Both experiments illustrate the pertinence of cold-warm contrast to color planning of interiors. The properties of cold and warm color are essential to color therapeutics in hospitals.

Lyonel Feininger “Sailing Boats” Overlapping triangles of color echo the sails of the boats creating a rhythmic pattern and sense of speed and space.

Blue is easy to live with, although not everyone looks good in blue. (Everyone looks good in turquoise) Fair-skinned folks with a pink pallor look good in blue. Blue is the color of the clear sky and the deep sea. Common connotations are Ice, water, sky, sadness, winter, police, royalty, Hanukkah, boys, cold, calm, magic, trueness,

Blue in the ancient world
Blue was a latecomer among colors used in art and decoration. Reds, blacks, browns, and ochres are found in cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic period, but not blue. Blue was also not used for dyeing fabric until long after red, ochre, pink and purple. This is probably due to the perennial difficulty of making good blue dyes and pigments. The earliest known blue dyes were made from plants –

Handspun wool dyed with woad

woad in Europe, indigo in Asia and Africa, while blue pigments were made from minerals, usually either lapis lazuli or azurite.

Lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone, has been mined in Afghanistan for more than three thousand years, and was exported to all parts of the ancient world. In Iran and Mesopotamia, it was used to make jewelry and vessels. In Egypt, it was used for the eyebrows on the funeral mask of King Tutankhamun (1341-1323 BC).

King Tut Mask with lapis lazuli eyebrows

Blue is the color of light between violet and green on the visible spectrum. Hues of blue include indigo and ultramarine, closer to violet; pure blue, without any mixture of other colors; Cyan, which is midway on the spectrum between blue and green, and the other blue-greens turquoise, teal, and aquamarine.

Mark Hampton’s blue and white dining room with Portuguese tiles on walls and painted look-alike on cornice and ceiling by painter Robert Jackson

Blues also vary in shade or tint; darker shades of blue contain black or grey, while lighter tints contain white. Darker shades of blue include ultramarine, cobalt blue, navy blue, and Prussian blue; while lighter tints include sky blue, azure, and Egyptian blue (For a more complete list see the List of colors).

The cost of importing lapis lazuli by caravan across the desert from Afghanistan to Egypt was extremely high. Beginning in about 2500 BC, the ancient Egyptians began to produce their own blue pigment known as Egyptian blue, made by grinding silica, lime, copper and alkalai, and heating it to 800 or 900 degrees C. This is considered the first synthetic pigment. Egyptian blue was used to paint wood, papyrus and canvas, and was used to color a glaze to make faiencebeads, inlays, and pots.

Sunflowers in blue vase

It was particularly used in funeral statuary and figurines and in tomb paintings. Blue was a considered a beneficial color which would protect the dead against evil in the afterlife. Blue dye was also used to color the cloth in which mummies were wrapped.

In Egypt, blue was associated with the sky and with divinity. The Egyptian god Amun could make his skin blue so that he could fly, invisible, across the sky. Blue could also protect against evil; many people around the Mediterranean still wear a blue amulet, representing the eye of God, to protect them from misfortune.

Blue glass was manufactured in Mesopotamia and Egypt as early as 2500 BC, using the same copper ingredients as Egyptian blue pigment. They also added cobalt, which produced a deeper blue, the same blue produced in the Middle Ages in the stained glass windows of the cathedrals of Saint-Denis and Chartres.

The Greeks imported indigo dye from India, calling it indikon. They used Egyptian blue in the wall paintings of Knossos, in Crete, (2100 BC). It was not one of the four primary colors for Greek painting described by Pliny the Elder (red, yellow, black and white), but nonetheless it was used as a background color behind the friezes on Greek temples and to color the beards of Greek statues.

The Romans also imported indigo dye, but blue was the color of working class clothing; the nobles and rich wore white, black, red or violet. Blue was considered the color of mourning. It was also considered the color of barbarians; Julius Caesar reported that the Celts and Germans dyed their faces blue to frighten their enemies, and tinted their hair blue when they grew old.

Madison Beach, Connecticut

Artist: Bing Crosby
Song Title: Blue Skies
Writer(s): Conti, Federico/Brew,Ginger

Blue skies smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds all day long

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my, how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothing but blue skies from now on

Blue Serenity

(Blue skies smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies do I see)

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my, how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothing but blue skies from now on
Nothing but blue skies from now on

Tough guy image for my writer friends.

Who knows the tune? It may be available for your phone’s ring tone, if you know how to get it.

Do you like blue? Do you wish you could wear blue? Who is this dude with the tough guy image surrounded with blue tones?

I will return Thursday, September 20th after vacation. Tell  you about it then.

STORAGE STORIES

STORAGE STORIES

From the beginning storage has been sought after.  We accrue, amass, and accumulate.  No matter how much space, we fill it, and need a place for more.

Dining room cabinet in the wall

Cabinets in walls, cubbies in stalls, cubicles in closets.  Did you ever think of a cabinet inside a wall?  It is done with medicine cabinets all the time.  But how about a larger cabinet to store stuff?  Like in the dining room. Instead of a buffet cabinet sitting in the room on the floor, how about putting a cabinet in a wall?  It can have a serving area, as it is here in the middle of the cabinet, as well as storage. All your dishes, crystal, silver, serving pieces. everything.  Everything is away, and still convenient.  This one is a contemporary version, but it can be any design of your preference.

Take a wall out, making two rooms into one.  One large one, and build cabinets around the supporting columns.

Cabinets (open) hiding columns

Cabinets (closed) built around supporting columns

Now you have a party room, with two cabinets housing all your party stuff, right there where you need it. I designed these based on the clients requests so that beverages and refreshments could be served while mingling with guests.

The cabinets are made in wood, olive ash burl, with a special gloss polyurethane finish that is indestructible.

Here’s some back-story.  Let’s call it history.  In the 17th century, William of the Netherlands married Mary of England.  They had their own style for storage.

William & Mary cabinet

These amazing works of art served them well, to store and to view.  Cabinet veneered with burr maple.  English, c. 1690.  The trumpet-legs, typical of the style, are restored. The floral marquetry panels show the Dutch influence.  This period of William and Mary is most characteristically known in English cabinetmaking history as the “Age of Walnut.” See this in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

What about my writer friends.  Do you have a desk?  Where do you keep all your papers?

Here’s one for you.  The writing section can be pulled down, and look at all that drawer space in the walnut-veneer

William & Mary Secretaire-cabinet c.1700

secretaire-cabinet, with bun feet and teardrop hardware, typical of the William and Mary style, with panels of arabesque marquetry and a central panel of flowers in etched and stained woods. Perhaps made in England by an immigrant Dutch craftsman, c. 1700.  Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Where do you keep all those papers?  Would you have enough space for a secretary like this one, or would a smaller one work?

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