Current & Coming | By Eleanor H. Gustafson

Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile

March 19, 2014  |  The pan roast is back. The herring is coming. The famous Oyster Bar restaurant in New York's Grand Central Terminal reopened last Thursday after a four-month renovation of its 101-year-old interior, particularly a thorough cleaning of its ceiling of interlocking vaults covered with terracotta tiles by the Guastavino firm.  Seeing the tiles fully cleaned and all the edging light bulbs aglow hints at the wonders in store for visitors to the exhibition Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile, opening at the Museum of the City of New York on March 26.


The Oyster Bar is one of more than two hundred  surviving examples of the marvels of engineering and architectural beauty created throughout the five boroughs by Spanish immigrants Rafael Guastavino Sr. and Jr. in the early twentieth century . Their system of structural tile vaults-lightweight, fireproof, low-maintenance, and capable of supporting significant loads-was used by leading architects of the day, …» More

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The Market | By Eleanor H. Gustafson

End Notes: Photographer Bill Gekas

March 17, 2014  |  We enjoy exploring the ways in which contemporary artists look to the past to inform their work. We are especially intrigued by the photography of Australian Bill Gekas, whose primary inspiration for these images of his daughter is clearly the Dutch old masters. Digital photography is his tool, but his evocative images are also the result of astute bor­rowing and improvisation. To see more of his work, visit billgekas.com.

When did you start photographing, and was your focus always on portraiture?

I've been involved with photography since my early twenties, in the mid-1990s, when I was shooting with film cameras and develop­ing and printing black-and-white film in a makeshift darkroom. During those years I was shooting a bit of everything except portraiture, which didn't interest me until I discovered the great portrait works of Irving Penn, Alfred Stieglitz, and Diane Arbus. They had a haunting beauty that made the viewer connect with the subject. To create the same kind of …» More

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Current & Coming | By Eleanor H. Gustafson

Early California photographs at the Huntington

February 21, 2014  |  The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has made two exciting purchases that enhance its unparalleled ability to tell the story of Southern California as it was transformed from vast rural ranchlands into an international symbol of the good life. The newly acquired Ernest Marquez Collection of photographs, with prints from the 1870s to about 1950, includes rare views of Los Angeles as well of early Santa Monica, which, as the Southern Pacific Railroad was on the brink of connecting Los Angeles to the rest of the nation in the mid-1870s, welcomed city dwellers to its beachside tent cities. Photographers opened studios catering to the incipient tourist trade, and the illustrious San Francisco photographer Carleton E. Watkins visited in 1877 and 1880. The collection includes his images as well as ones by such other early photographers as William M. Godfrey, Francis Parker, and Hayward and Muzzall. Amassed over a half a century by a descendant of Mexican land…» More

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The Market | By Eleanor H. Gustafson

End notes: A carved ivory wrist rest

November 1, 2011  |  A mid-twentieth-century Chinese carved ivory double wrist rest sold at Cincinnati's Cowan's Auctions' first Asian art sale on August 26 for the handsome price of $47,000 (including premium) off a presale estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. Designed as an aid for scholars in the painstaking arts of calligraphy and brush painting, wrist rests were long made in China in carved wood and jade as well as ivory and other semiprecious materials. This one was obtained by the consignor directly from the carver sometime after World War II, so it turns attention to the art in the postwar years.

The exterior is realistically carved to replicate a section of bamboo cane, with roots sprouting from the rhizome-shaped end and bamboo shoots and leaves along the sides, while the interior holds polychrome crickets and a cicada minutely carved from the ivory. "This is a brilliant bit of carving and I am completely unsurprised that it sold for the amount it realized," says the Asian art expert Lark Mas…» More

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The Market | By Eleanor H. Gustafson

Dealers bring biggest & best to the 56th Annual Winter Antiques Show

January 22, 2010  |  There is no arguing with the idea that the Winter Antiques Show, which opened last night at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, is the BIG one. Now in its fifty-sixth year, its seventy-five dealers from around the world are showcasing some of the very best in the decorative arts, painting, and folk art. There is a lot to see, and some of it is huge. We've picked out a few that are hard to overlook. You really can't miss James and Nancy Glazer's majestic copper elk right inside the entrance. Standing ten feet high, it was made about 1903 by the W. H. Mullins Company of Salem, Ohio, and originally topped the Elks Club in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Across the aisle, Todd Prickett of C. L. Prickett has an exceptional Boston block-front chest-on-chest (c. 1775) that's almost eight feet tall-and was included in Luke Vincent Lockwood's seminal Colonial Furniture in America of 1913.


It might seem that Gerald Peters Gallery has only five objects on offer, they are so enormous, but there are several smaller pieces as well. The centerpiece, of 1914, is a fourteen thousand-pound, nine-foot-tall urn carved by Paul Manship from a block of Tennessee marble with a neoclassical frieze of Indians hunting buffalo and engaged in intertribal warfare. On the booth walls hang Manship's Four Elements, four of eight parcel-gilt bronze reliefs he did for façades of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company's old headquarters in downtown Manhattan (the other four are in the Philadelphia Museum of Art). All eight were detached during AT&T's removal from the building in the 1980s. Considerably smaller but equally powerful is the gallery's collection of British Championship Animals, modeled by Herbert Haseltine in 1925.
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[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi

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Menconi & Schoelkopf
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Chester County Antiques Show
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Antiques Council
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