Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How Could We Ever Pick a Favorite?


Ann and Flowers compressed

When Meg first told me about her idea for this blog -- that we should all pick one favorite painting hanging in the gallery right now -- I balked, "I can't do that! It's like picking a favorite child!". In fact, it is a painfully hard exercise to try and narrow down all my favorites to one painting, and I'm not sure that I am capable. If they're all really small, can I please have three? If so, they would be (I know I'm bending the rules, but I can't help it!) :

Nancy Franke’s In the Spotlight, oil on canvas, 10 x 10”

in the spotlight 10 x 10

For me, this painting is perfection. It is pure magic. The composition is so simple yet so powerful and it is painted with Nancy Franke's signature confidence. There is something so elegant about the patrician pear, standing tall, and ever so protective of the little apple next to it. You can’t help but think of it as a happy little couple. And I love the roughness of the paint, and the sketchiness of the background. Of course, the translucent quality of the color is also exquisite. I absolutely love this painting and would never ever tire of looking at it.

Amy Dixon’s On the Horizon, oil on board, 6 x 6”

on the horizon 6x6cropped

I was out of town when this one arrived, and my reaction was, “Whoa, this is fabulous!,” when I saw it in real life. I love a little painting that carries a big punch, and that is exactly what this one does. Evocative, mysterious, romantic and so beautiful. Again, I’d never tire. (And by the way, wouldn't it look great with Nancy’s In the Spotlight!)

And just to sneak in one more little jewel: this is another diminutive painting that I just picked up from our artist Andree Thobaty, for our Bastille Day show. It’s a study of India Ink and ochre powder from the ground in Provence.

Andree Thobaty, Encre de Chine, 5 x 5”

She did a series of 10, and I would like to own four of them and hang them as a wall in my new dream apartment (when I get it!). Unfortunately, Meg and I have this annoying rule that we need to sell paintings to clients before we can buy them for ourselves. Oh well … I guess that’s why we have a gallery! So we can enjoy them from 9 to 5, until they sell, and then we can have new favorites to blog about!


meg blog photo

I find myself falling head over heels about once a week here at the gallery. What's got me smitten right now is Amy Dixon's By The Window. The figure is elegant and sexy and I love the way Amy has light falling over the angular parts of the body. The composition is beautiful - my eye is drawn instantly to the figure, but the architectural planes on the right side of the canvas also pull me in. The painting is tonally balanced with light and dark playing off one another. And, finally, what initially drew me to this painting is the glorious palette of soothing, calm and clear colors.

By the window 36 x 48 By the Window, oil on canvas, 36 x 48”

I had a little fun on the computer when I was thinking about this painting and wondered how it would look placed in different settings (thanks to House Beautiful for their always gorgeous images).

House Beautiful 1 House Beautiful, July, 2007

House Beautiful 2 House Beautiful, January 2009

House Beautiful 3 House Beautiful, February 2008

If Ann can have three favorites, then I can have two! My runner-up this week is Onyeka Ibe's Village In the Mist. It's a simple, strong painting that appeals to my "less-is-more" aesthetic. I love the symmetrical shapes of the houses and the powerful brushstrokes that compose the background.

Village in Mist #1092_oil_20x20_$1400.00Ibe, Village in the Mist, oil on canvas, 20 x 20”


Sam Jones

Doug Foltz’s But I’ve Been Wrong Before, oil on canvas, 30 x 48”

There is something so calm and peaceful about this painting that can take you out of a hurried and hectic moment and transport you to a place and time when your world was defined by the beauty of the backlit horizon and the absence of any pressures other than the joy of feeling the waves gently lapping at your feet with the promise of a soothing and tranquilizing sail to explore the promise of a new adventure.

(Oh yes, and how often do you hear a man say, much less see in writing, "But I've been wrong before." I'm sure his lovely wife Alecia helped him with the title.)


Linda cropped compressed

Silke Henkel-Wallace’s Interieur I, oil on canvas, 54 x 54”

lo res Interieur I 54x54 7000

I love Silke’s Interieur I for so many reasons. I love it because of the beautiful color palette and the oh-so French subject of a beautiful lustre (chandelier). I am obsessed with lighting and always have room in my valise for a sconce or two from France. I also love the juxtaposition of such an elegant subject; the chandelier and piano with bold, edgy brushstrokes and dripping paint.


Sarah Cropped

Pascal Bouterin's Le Grand Canal, oil on board, 30 x 60”

Pascal Bouterin, Le Grand Canal, 30 x 60, Oil on Wood I’ve loved this painting from the first moment it entered the gallery. The colors and texture lend the piece amazing depth and energy that really capture the viewer and draw you in. By layering similarly toned colors, Pascal creates a seamless sea and sky, while Venice seems to float in between. When approaching the city of Venice via a water taxi, this is exactly the illusion that appears- a majestic floating city.

This painting has a strong horizontal element that allows it to hold its own on any wall, no matter the scale of the room or furniture. Yet at the same time, the soft, almost feminine color palette gives the painting a quiet serenity that make it ideal for any room in your home, including a bedroom. I’m a lover of all things Italian, so the fact that this is the Grand Canal in Venice makes it all the sweeter!



Karen Bezuidenhout's The White Horse, oil on canvas, 48 x 48”

The White Horse 48x48

This is my favorite painting hanging in the gallery right now. It has a fantastic, striking composition with a sophisticated, monochromatic color palette. I imagine this painting hanging in a fabulous cream bedroom with dark wood furniture to create an elegant beauty.


We hope you'll stop by the gallery and let us know which painting is your favorite! (And don't worry if you can't pick just one- it's a difficult task, to be sure)



Thursday, June 24, 2010

Having a Crush

Postcards from Paris


Looking for a Paris apartment has its challenges, especially if you are not in Paris. To begin with, there is no MLS service that lists all of the apartments. All the real estate agencies work for themselves and will only show you their listings. Sometimes a seller will list their apartment with several different agencies, and sometimes you will see multiple ads for the same apartment, at different prices!

Having lost our first love, the “Bourdonnais,” I started to pay more attention to the rules of the Paris real estate market, and tried to learn the ropes, even from a distance. I learned to fine-tune the location within Paris, and subscribed to the notion that an investment apartment had to be in one of the single digit arrondissements, preferably the 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th.

Rue de Verneuil sign

I learned to differentiate between the low and high end real estate agents in the 7th, and figured out which rental agencies catered to the high end American clients who could (hopefully) eventually rent my apartment. I figured out all the various ways to view apartments over the internet and got my morning exercise by virtually walking up and down the streets of Paris with Google maps, practically salivating over a virtual croissant in a neighborhood bakery.

Rue de Verneuil street view Rue de Verneuil in the 7th, as seen on the street view from Google maps. Helpful…un peu.

SONY DSC Shop fronts along Rue de Verneuil

Doing everything long distance was a tough challenge, especially when there were so many bad apartments to weed through. But when this little charmer came up on my radar, again thanks to Cecil Jones, of Just France, I pounced on it.

Building exterior The exterior – oh-so-promising! The facade is elegant white limestone – so chic, so Parisian. But what’s hiding inside?

I had a little crush on the apartment from the get-go, mostly because of its stellar location but also because it had good bones, and some irreplaceable old fashioned charm in the bedroom and dressing area. I could just envision the elegant petite dame who had probably lived there for most of her life. Blue bedroom Perhaps where the elegant petite madame laid her head to rest every night…?

Blue bedroom, closet
Oh dear. A closet fit for a…petite madame with a petite wardrobe. Hhmmm.

Its location in the totally crush-worthy “Carre des Antiquaires” part of the 7th, behind the Musée d’Orsay, is definitely “le top” in Paris terms. The streets are small, elegant and charming and lined with mostly white limestone 17th century buildings that house high end art galleries and antique stores, along with a few marvelous restaurants and fancy gourmet shops, all just steps away from the Seine and a puddle jump from the exquisite Tuileries gardens.

the 7th Arrondissement The scene in the 7th

Plus, the building had a sweet courtyard and the most rare and precious commodity of all, especially in a 17th century building: An elevator! But for the most part, it needed to be redone from scratch and it had the fatal flaw of facing north, which you’ll come to learn is my ultimate bugaboo.

Living Room 2 The “grande” salon has such charming touches – the antique fireplace, original moldings, and large windows (which must have curtains, unfortunately).

Living Room 1 Living & sitting rooms View from the grande salon into the petite salon

Kitchen 1 The kitchen…oh mon Dieu! But nothing new wallpaper & appliances can’t fix. The layout, however, is a wee bit trickier to change.

Kitchen 2 Bathroom La toilette…in need of a little update, don’t you think?

Through Cecil, I found a wonderful young man who was a part-time architecture instructor at the Sorbonne, who visited the apartment and sent me his opinion, along with a few more pictures. He gave the location the expected high A, the courtyard a B, and, much to my dismay, the apartment a C+. Why? Because of the layout, the north facing windows and the shallow depth of the courtyard, ensured that it would always be dark.

Looking up Looking up from the courtyard – Voila! The sky! (way up there…) And such large, charming windows that face the (shady) interior. Who needs natural light, really?

I didn’t want to give up easily, so I studied the pictures and layout in the greatest detail and -- you’ll get used to this, I am a design nerd -- went to bed each night with pencil and paper trying to manipulate and stretch the layout to yield a viable two bedroom, two bath apartment. (I’ve since learned to stay away from apartments that are too big to be cost effective one-bedrooms but are not big enough to be viable two bedrooms.)

Verneuil floorplan Try and try again, nothing can undo the northward orientation or lack of 2nd bedroom. Phooey!

But I had to wonder. Although it had many charming characteristics, and a neighborhood that was le plus ultra, even the most extensive redo wouldn’t turn this apartment into a fabulous pied-a-terre because the courtyard, although pretty, was only just so so and the apartment would always be dark. I had a little crush on this apartment , but no matter how hard I worked at it, I couldn’t turn it into the love of my life.

I haven’t give up and know that it’s out there, for sure!
Stay tuned for “Holy Moly, What a View” …



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heavenly Destinations

The great thing about the gallery gals is that we all gladly and enthusiastically share in each other’s little travel adventures.

So, when one of us returned from visiting a little slice of heaven (a long-anticipated family voyage and one that was to be treasured), it was fun to be peppered with questions and comments. Of course, it’s always a pleasure to spill the beans about beautiful Harbour Island in the Bahamas.

Harbour Island’s iconic symbol: The Lone Treelone tree at Harbour Island

What do we adore so much about this little jewel? Could it be the shell-pink beach that stretches for three miles? Perhaps the crystal-clear aquamarine water and endless skies? What about days filled with sunning, swimming, beaching, boating, fishing, snorkeling, island-hopping and diving? Or curling up under an umbrella in the shade with a really good book? You’re probably getting the idea now.

Dunmore Town

Courtesy of Dunmore Town is the only community on the island. It’s named after John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, who was the governor of the Bahamas from 1786 to 1798 and had a summer house there. Smart guy. As expected, the style has colonial flavor.

Dunmore Town

We all love arriving at Harbour Island (“Briland” is the island’s nickname: say Harbour Island 5 times quickly and you’ll see where it came from.) We come by water-taxi and when we see the sorbet-colored cottages and white picket fences that dot the shoreline, we all do a little dance of excitement. Our first visit here was 18 years ago, so our little family has spent many a summertime vacation here and this teeny island has a special place in our hearts.

HI New England style The brightly painted cottages have a distinctively New England feel.

The preferred method of getting around is by golf cart – and what’s more fun than cruising around in one of those? The pot-holed and narrow streets of Dunmore Town are full of them and even though we’re driving on the wrong side of the street, we all get around perfectly. Brightly painted houses, cottages and shops line the streets and hundreds of roosters and hens and their chicks roam the island, as do the adorable “potcakes,” the sweet-tempered and native dogs whose lineage is at best a massive muddle of breeds.

Poppy9 A Briland potcake dog

One of the two grocery stores is a Piggly Wiggly (our Southern readers would feel right at home) that keeps odd hours and even odder selections in the aisles. India Hick’s Sugar Mill is an ever-so-chic little boutique that feels right at home along with Dilly Dally, which stocks a dizzying array of touristy shell tchochkes. And, congregating one recent morning at the popular Arthur’s Bakery was an international melting pot that included hungry Americans, Brits, French and Dutch.

Harbour Island is a study in contrasts.

piggly wiggly

Sugar Mill Beautiful vases from India’s shop, Sugar Mill.

dilly dally Dilly Dally

There’s no shortage of wonderful restaurants on the island and there’s a nice assortment of hotels so lunching and dining is always a treat. One of our very favorites is Sip Sip (Brilandese for gossip) which overlooks the beach and is the perfect spot for killer lobster enchiladas and exceptional people watching.

And, if you’re lucky, your fishermen will come home with fresh yellow fin tuna that is truly a delight for the taste buds, especially when served carpaccio-style, with soy sauce, sesame seeds and wasabi.

The fearless fishermenDSC01239

And that’s the beauty of Harbour Island: it’s a place of delightful contradictions The Brilanders live simply and efficiently here while incognito supermodels, moguls and jet-setters flock here in the pre-requisite sunglasses and hats.

ralphscloseup[1] This sign says it all.

It’s unbelievably laid-back, but impossibly easy to spend a small fortune of a hotel room and meals. Maybe it’s the price of paradise, but no-one seems to gripe about it too much and, luckily, there are plenty of options for everyone.

pink sand beach Yes, the sand really is pink.

In the last decade or so, Briland has become ultra-chic butt at the same time, it has managed to retain its sweet soul. One of the first questions you get is “how long have you been coming here?” and if you can breezily say, “oh since at least the sixties,” your ranking goes way up.

Whatever the accommodations, whatever the occasion, Harbour Island’s magical combination of sea, sky and beach never fails to delight the senses and soothe the soul. It’s truly a little piece of heaven on earth.


Where is your favorite idyllic getaway to escape the rigors of everyday life? We're always looking for new paradises to explore!



Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Campers

The year we lived in Provence, we had a silly little expression every morning, when we would open our shutters to clear blue sky, bright sun and the scent of lavender oozing from every corner: “Oh just another boring beautiful day in Provence,” yawn, yawn.

Provence So that’s how I feel about the trip that we just completed at Les Murets with six fabulous, dynamic and beautiful women, mostly from Baltimore: “Oh just another wonderful week with a sensational group of incredibly fun women,” yawn yawn.

Lovely Ladies I never doubted for a second that this would be a great trip but I don’t think I ever suspected it to be THIS much fun. Looking back on my emails from the group’s ring-leader, Ann from Baltimore, it’s pretty clear that it had all the right ingredients from the start. Then when you add six women who not only travel well and get along, but are all equally fun and interested in new experiences, and you throw in some delicious long lunches, some exquisite shopping and lots of exploring by a chauffeur driven van, followed by long dinners with a “sampling” (in case my insurance broker reads this) of delicious, sulfite-free wine, you’ve got the makings of a pretty wonderful week and the essentials for lifelong friends.

I’d like to introduce you to my new found friends:

May 2010 012

Je m’appelle Laurie, with a wonderful contagious laugh.

Sandra Sandra, who embraced every experience with a sparkling joie de vivre.

Cheryl Cheryl, whose dry wit had us all bursting at the seams.

Karen Karen, whose quiet dignity certainly belied her ability to attract men with onions.

Denise Denise, whose dramatic storytelling had us on the edge of our seats.

Mme Ann And of course Ann, the ringleader and culprit, who knew just what she was doing when she brought us all together.


Like all of our trips, this one had a bit of culture, a lot of shopping, a ton of dining, and a sampling of exercise (and wine!).

Here we are in some of our favorite Provence haunts:

May 2010 016 Laurie, in the garden of Bonnieux where they filmed one of her favorite movies, “A Year in Provence.”

Laurie & Karen, Cassis Laurie and Karen in Cassis, overlooking one of the Calanques.

Hiking The group, minus Karen (whose leg is being tended to by two well-meaning would-be doctors using half an onion on her open bite wound), hiking up to the church in Oppede.

Karen & the drs Karen, with her would-be doctors (who are plotting her cure).

Laurie, Denise, Sandra

Laurie, Denise and Sandra, windswept in Cassis.

Ann, Karen, Cheryl

Ann, Karen and Cheryl, windswept in Cassis.

Laura a la bistro

Laurie, at the Bistrot du Paradou, who is smiling because of …

Cheese! … the cheese platter! (OK, there was another reason too, but we’ll keep that private).

Ann, La Mirande Ann, in the gorgeous garden at La Mirande, following the tour of the Palais des Papes in Avignon.


These were my commentaries. Now let’s hear what they had to say …

“I loved being with women who were intelligent and whose sole purpose was to embrace a new place …and I also liked dancing! However, I could have used not being locked in the toilet – twice!”

May 2010 147 “As much as I liked all the villages, I loved the dinners, sitting outside, getting to know people and looking at everyone’s finds ….”

Sandra La Mirande “I’m a planner and a researcher and this is the first time that I said this is it, I’m not doing it this. I’m so happy that I didn’t do any research because everything you did was what I would have picked it. I couldn’t have done it no matter how much research I’d done. It was perfect. “

May 2010 525 “I’m not a planner when I travel and that’s what I wanted to do. I really wanted to do it this way, and not plan a thing. Also, I feel like I’ve been living inside a painting. The light and this house and all the little villages and markets and cafes, I’d read about and kind of pictured. But when you go and see it in real life, it’s like Oh wow, they really captured it. It hasn’t even changed. Oh, and I loved the long dinners and lunches too!”

May 2010 422 “I have to say that it is your heart and soul that has made this trip so comfortable.”


“My whole goal on this trip was to have no preconceived notions. I loved that I was able to recognize where we were, after spending so much time looking at the topography and picking out landmarks. And I loved just being present and opening up my senses. For me, it was all about the experience of the walls, and the smells, and look, and being open to it. It really made the trip so multi dimensional and comfortable. I loved it.”


“I really liked having different one-on-ones with people and being a part of such a wonderfully dynamic and independent group.”


I think these three photographs pretty much sum up our trip:

May 2010 021 Christophe, our fearless driver, struggling with all the cameras, after a delightful lunch in Lourmarin.

May 2010 020 …preparing for the final beauty shot …

May 2010 005 … and Ta Dah! “Happy Campers” says it all!