Sunday, September 27, 2009


My friend Nina Bovasso is an artist and one of her watercolors is now a rug. Nina shows at BravinLee Programs and had an exhibition of her beautiful, demented, touching floral watercolors there back in March:
Her 60 x 40 inch watercolor has been translated by Himalayan craftspeople into a 9 x 6 foot 100% wool rug in an edition of 15. The original painting, the rug in progress and the finished rug are shown below. I have known Nina since we were both about 16, growing up in 1980s Manhattan and in the downtown bars and nightclubs like the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, the Peppermint Lounge and Danceteria. She now lives and works in New York and Amsterdam where she also runs a small gallery. More on Nina Bovasso at
. And on her gallery at

Monday, September 14, 2009


My article on 84 year old silversmith Dane Purdo is out now in the September/October 2009 issue of Silver Magazine: Some pictures of his work from the 1950s and an excerpt below. See my previous for more on Purdo.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, regional and national juried craft shows were an important and exciting aspect of the crafts scene. It was an honor to be invited to show one’s work and a further distinction to be recognized by an award or prize. Purdo exhibited in numerous competitive shows throughout his career and served as a juror at many as well. His display at the Wichita Art Association’s Decorative Arts and Ceramics exhibition received a special award for best group of works in metal three years in a row, from 1959 to 1961. Purdo participated in the Fiber, Clay, Metal biennial at the St. Paul Gallery in Minnesota in 1955, 1957, and 1959. From the 1959 biennial, one of his pieces was selected by the United States Information Agency to be exhibited abroad in a show of works by American craftspeople. His 1964 entry to the Annual Exhibition of Michigan Artist-Craftsmen at the Detroit Institute of Arts received the highest honor awarded, the Founder’s Society Purchase Prize. In all, Purdo exhibited in almost seventy shows over a period of nearly forty years.
After 1991, Purdo continued to make jewelry and now enjoys complete retirement in Appleton. In conjunction with the 1958 Fulbright exhibition, Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. wrote that “in design, as in other fields, we are learning that America’s advantages, while great, are not guaranteed; we can maintain them best by a friendly participation in world activity and in the accompanying criticism and progress.”7 E. Dane Purdo’s career was marked by participation in the crafts community on the regional, national, and international levels—as a student, teacher, exhibitor, colleague, and craftsman. The words he applied to the rim of a 1961 punch bowl, although written by Ben Johnson 400 years ago, would seem to be the message that Purdo has sent out to those who have had the pleasure to use and view his works in silver: “Let those who are learned, sophisticated, cheerful and honest gather around.”


Aesthete's Lament recently had a fascinating post about , Mrs Paul Mellon's extraordinary garden library at Oak Spring, Upperville, Virginia:

More about the library at its own website:

The library is one of several structures on the Mellon's extensive property. I had the opportunity to visit the Mellon's estate about 20 years ago. Although I did not visit the library I had the great privilege to spend an afternoon at the Brick House, a large house on the property that the Mellons used as a gallery for their collection of British sporting art and their large group of Degas waxes. The guests that day were myself, my brother Charles and our friend Kristin Leachman who is a neighbor of the Mellon's. There was no "tour guide" and in fact we had the house completely to ourselves. We were simply visiting as neighbors and art lovers (I am told, though, that the requests to visit submitted by many eminent art historians over the years were declined). The d├ęcor was reminiscent of an English country house with walls carefully painted with oil glaze over pale ground in a delicate striated effect. There were very large rooms (a large gallery with several sporting paintings by George Stubbs) and very small ones (a cozy den or reading room with little ivory ornaments displayed on the lamp table). The Degas gallery was pale pink and green with the waxes, including the Little Dancer, displayed on open pedestals (no plexi covers). Degas' fingerprints were easy to discern on the wax. After Mr. Mellon died in 1999 the collections were dispersed with the sporting art going to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and the Yale Center for British Art and the Degas sculptures going to the National Gallery of Art. After the dispersal of the collection a little booklet was sent out as a reminiscence of the Brick House, to those who had enjoyed its pleasures (see scan of cover below). The booklet tells some of the history of the house:

The Brick House at Oak Spring, Upperville, Virginia was completed in 1941 as the residence of Paul and Mary Mellon. The architect, William Adams Delano of New York, had been persuaded by the Mellons to copy the principal exterior features of the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis Maryland . . . the house was occupied by the family until the death of Mary Mellon in October of 1946. . . . Paul Mellon and Bunny Lambert Lloyd were married in 1948 . . . they decided to turn the Brick House into a library and gallery . . .

The black-and-white photo below is from the Gottscho-Schleisner archive where there are many photos of the Brick House, however they were taken soon after the house was built and before it was remodeled by architect Page Cross in 1961. Nevertheless there are great pictures to be seen in the archive at the Library of Congress: