Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How the Huffingtons Help Meg: Part Trois

Good news: I can officially stop whining about my sad, bare mantel because a few days ago, we brought a wonderful selection of paintings to “test drive” in that space.

Our resident stylist/designer, Sam (whom we’ve decided can do just about anything) and I picked a date and enlisted the help of our friend and neighbor, Dr. Howard Hong. By day, Dr. Hong is a serious physician but when his shift is over, it turns out he’s a gifted photographer with a natural touch.

Since he lives around the corner, we invited him to come over with his very complicated-looking camera and its tripod, many lenses, caps, flashes, and whatnot. (He also likes to cook, so we had some fun conversations about making homemade pizzas on the grill, but maybe that’s a whole other blog.)

Sam and I had so much fun – and , of course, I knew this was going to happen: I fell madly in love with every painting hung over my mantel. How could I not? Just take a look:

Here’s the photo-manipulated version of Karen Bezuidenhout’s White Horse. (Granted, I had a tizzy fit when we unpacked this – I love the simplicity and primitiveness of this painting..and you all know by now that I am a horsey gal.) This was Ann’s first choice – and she knows me well!

White Horse

bez with chairs

And, same painting, but in real life…as we frequently say around the gallery: yum, yum. The wooden artists’ figures are equally simplistic but full of zing, just like the painting. I don’t know about you, but my heart is racing seeing it in person over my little stone mantel.

Abstract-loving Linda picked a diptych from our new artist, Svetlana Shalygina but at the last minute, I swapped it for the enigmatic Shy.

Svetlana (2)

Linda is known around the gallery for her amazing eye and this is gorgeous – and we got a number of comments on it. But, as we tell everyone, art is purely personal and you must love it unconditionally. So, for my own home, my heart whispered to try this one:

svetlana Shy

And then Sam got busy with her beautiful orchid and our old market scale from Belgium. The peaches are in season right now here in Georgia, so they are ripe, juicy and succulent. Aren’t they a perfect foil for the somewhat mystical and evocative abstract? And the red! I’m not normally a red girl, but this makes my heart sing.

peaches lo res Howard got in close to get this juicy peach sitting on an antique scale.

Sam, who is delightfully opinionated and keeps us constantly hopping with her clever ideas and stylish thoughts, loves Zae’s new abstract, Semblance. Even though I adored this painting when Zae brought it to the gallery, I simply gasped when I saw it in my home. It’s edgy enough to make you sit up and notice its elegant composition and I simply love the toned-down but compelling palette. Here’s how it looked on the computer:


Pretty gorgeous, just like this….

Until you see this:

zae with chairs

This is the sort of look I adore: a glorious mix of elements that contradict but play nicely together. Abstract, antique, organic and collected….what a dream. I ooohed and ahhed over this one for quite a while until Sam had me moving everything for the next shot.

I loved Sam’s clever addition of a Chinese terra-cotta inspired warrior on the mantel:

objet on mantel with Zae

Next up was another personal favorite (and one that my dear husband loves, too): Doug Foltz’s But I’ve Been Wrong Before. The title reflects the humble and gracious nature of its creator, Doug Foltz, who is, without a doubt, a dear, kind man. Who wouldn’t love a painting that is so forgiving and sweet?

Sarah (aka “M’Selle”) pegged this one immediately and said she thought the realistic and traditional nature of this piece would act well as a “statement” piece. I love this painting for personal reasons: Doug frequently paints in the Bahamas – a part of the world my family has come to love.

Here’s a great case in point: you gravitate to paintings that make you feel good. My whole family loves this piece because it reminds us of lazy, humid and tropical days.


foltz with chairs

Shells, driftwood and objets in natural wood set off the sky-filled horizon of But I’ve Been Wrong Before.

Copy of starfish with foltz This shot makes me want to leave, right now, for the beach.

As we were loading up the Suburban, I grabbed a gorgeous piece by Melissa Payne Baker. Melissa’s work is always imbued with a soft, restful and organic sprit and her Dragonflies is gorgeous. It’s heavily textured (more yum, yum) and beautifully painted. Dragonflies flit and fly on the canvas, but you have to search them out. This is one of those paintings that you can stare out for hours (with a nice glass of Cotes du Rhone to help you along).

MPB with chairs

Dragonflies is currently available and Melissa is going to donate a portion of the proceeds to Jumpstart Your Career, a non-profit group here in Atlanta that fosters fledging business women, teaching them skills and techniques to start and run businesses. We love that!

Finally, this beautiful, evocative and energizing abstract by our dear Jeffrey Terreson. (Jeffrey painted Quiet Blue, the famous equine painting that I did not jump on quickly enough, so now it resides happily at the home of some dear clients…sigh.) What is it about Jeffrey’s work that makes me so happy? I adore the texture (literally, it can be inches thick on the canvas); I adore the abstract vision of a landscape; and I adore the blue-ish palette (which has me quite obsessed lately.)

I wasn’t the only one who adored this. “I vote Terreson's Storm Break - but reluctantly, because I think I might have a crush on it! What fun!!” said one reader.

Here is was the first time:

Terreson Storm Break

And then after Sam got a hold of it and placed translucent star-shaped objets and my funny little papier-mache birds (made by a Haitian artist who is donating a portion of proceeds to helping his earthquake-ravaged country– aren’t they funny?)

Copy of terreson with chairs

And, yet again, here’s Quiet Blue, aka The One That Got Away…


I also adored this painting by Alice McNeely but it happily went to a new home last week…

White Night White Night by Alice McNeely

How am I ever going to make a choice among these spectacular paintings? I find myself dithering and completely unable to make a decision (for now...but I promise I will, soon.)

I loved one reader’s advice which is to “Rotate! Live with a painting you love and then replace it will another painting you just fell in love with. Kind of like going through a series of boyfriends - until you find The One.” What sound and wise advise from our dear April at Just Verte.

I find, after this exercise, that what we say at the gallery is true: art is subjective, personal, and brings life, imagination and creativity to any setting. What would we do without it?



Thursday, August 26, 2010

How we almost lost our conscience


We kind of missed the blog boat this week, since we are all knee deep in fancy frames, getting ready for our HUGE sale event on Saturday. I’m not sure if this is the reason Meg’s back went out on her earlier in the week, but this has been quite an undertaking, lugging over 70 frames up our rickety stairs from our basement to our back rooms. Our own backs are definitely feeling the pain.! Oh, the glamour of owning an art gallery ...

Our main purpose for doing the frame sale is to clear out the space in our prime basement location, or, as Sam calls it, “Huff Harrington South.” (She is also the one who renamed our lovely WC the “Lou-vre” (which is so clever and appropriate, given all the paintings we have hanging there) and she is the one who wants us to buy a Huff Harrington van and call it, “Van Go”! But enough about our clever Sam …). We're very excited to have more space in our basement for paintings and just as thrilled to pass on our collection of gorgeous frames.

We had a very successful frame sale two years ago from which we donated the proceeds to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk for a Cure, a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. The Walk for a Cure was held a few weeks after our frame sale, and we were excited to contribute to our own school team, which raised more money than any other school team in Atlanta. But this being 2010, with a rougher, shakier economy and having our own modest goals of recouping at least some of our framing costs, we decided early on that we would be the only beneficiaries of the frame sale. After all, 2010 is not 2008 ... unfortunately.

August 2010 031

August 2010 030

August 2010 032

Linda, Sarah and Ann, preparing for the frame sale (Meg hobbled over to the back doctor)

And then we looked at what we did two years ago. We found the cute pictures of our young friends who helped us with the sale. We found the page on our website dedicated to the Walk for a Cure and felt proud that we had participated in something that is so important to us. We remembered how happy our team was when they exceeded their fundraising goals. And we thought about how when times are good, it’s easy to give back. And when times are tougher, we naturally resist it.

Amelie 2





So at the last minute, our consciences caught up with us and we’ve changed the nature of our frame sale. We decided that we all liked it better when it could benefit a cause, like the JDRF 2010 Walk for a Cure. We may not be pitching in at the top level this year, but we’ll do our little bit. And we’ll reuse the cute pictures of our young friends, now two years older, and remember the smiles on their beautiful faces when we support them in their lifelong cause.

After all, who can resist this?


If you’d like to join the 2010 JDRF walk for the Cure, please click here. And if you’d like to join the Huff Harrington frame sale, come see us on tomorrow !



PS: On a different note, we’d like to make a plug for our friends at the Swan Coach House Gallery and congratulate our artist, Peggy Everett, for the wonderful critical acclaim she received. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hunting for the Perfect Apartment VIII- Herringbone Envy

Postcards from Paris...


Today I’m excited because I’ve found an apartment that’s got my favorite floors. I know, that’s not much to get excited about but I really love these floors. To me, the herringbone style scream “Parisian” more than anything. In French, these floors are called “Pointes d’Hongrie” and I find them to be as yummy as Pierre Herme macaroons and as gorgeous as a Chanel tweed suit. I would be crazy enough to buy a Parisian apartment just because of these floors.

Herringbone 1My favorite herringbone patterned floors, called “Pointes d’Hongrie”

Pointes d’Hongrie are not actually considered to be as classy in real estate terms as Pointes de Versailles, which are the 17th century equivalent, and as the name indicates, the gorgeous parquet floors that grace the Palace of Versailles.

parquet_versailles-1100440274 The Parquet de Versaille (Courtesy of Atelier des Granges)

By comparison, Pointes d’Hongrie show up in buildings that were constructed in modern times, the mid to late 1800’s. But to me they are the quintessentially Parisian floors you’d find in a gorgeous big old Haussmann style building, flanked by 200 year old plane trees on the Boulevard St. Germain. Usually, along with the herringbone floors, you’ll get nice ceiling moldings and a good ceiling height, solid oak doors with the porcelain oval shaped handles and at least one fireplace with mantel. All I really want is an apartment with these features, in a nice neighborhood, with no vis a vis, facing south! That would be perfection.

At first glance, this apartment may have it all. It’s a two bedroom, one bath, separate kitchen (immediately I think to put the kitchen in the living room and you’ve got a second bath), with the classic “parquet, moulure, cheminee” which are the trifecta of Parisian apartments. The address says, “St. Germain, near Cluny,” which means the beautiful Cluny museum in the 5th Arrondissement, and not the St. Germain neighborhood that we all covet, near the Eglise St. Germain, the Cafe de Flore, Cafe des Magots, and the brand new Ralph Lauren boutique.

Cluny MuseumThe Cluny Museum, Paris

The “Cluny” designation could be good or bad. If you’re too close to the Sorbonne, the value goes down because of all the students in the area. If you’re too close to Boulevard St. Michel, it’s extremely touristy, and, I have it from a good source, the number one area for pickpockets in Paris. But there is a little section between Boulevard St. Germain and the Seine River that is quieter, with fewer students, fewer tourists and lots of great restaurants and hidden little squares. Plus, it is the epicenter of historic Paris, very close to Notre Dame, with charming buildings and unfortunately, skyrocketing prices.

I only have two pictures of this apartment and despite the fact that the price is more than I want to spend, I’m interested because it could be in a highly desirable little location and it’s a high floor, with elevator. But really, for this apartment, it’s all about the floors. I just love them!

Herringbone 2One of two pictures of the apartment, and all I have to go by

And even though I have so little to go by, I can already imagine what these floors will look like when I’m finished with them. Sanded, with only a natural matt stain, polished to perfection, with that wonderful subtle beeswax smell. I can already fantasize about the finished product, kind of like in these gorgeous apartments from Paris Perfect’s site:




large_962173410-1236808699-cote-06a-051211 Photos courtesy of Paris Perfect

I call the agent to get more information and he is very cagy about the specific location but says it’s close to the Cluny metro stop. I urge him to tell me which way it faces, which will determine if it’s on Boulevard St. Germain (facing South but noisy) or a side street. He says it faces South East, and the bathroom and kitchen are on a courtyard. So the bedrooms face the street, I ask? Yes, but it’s a small street, he answers. Aha, that narrows it down. It’s not on the Boulevard St. Germain (nice, but noisy) or the Boulevard St. Michel (luckily!). He tells me a little more about the apartment, but nothing I don’t already expect, such as the kitchen and bathroom need to be redone. I thank him and tell him I’ll be back in touch. And then I head to Google maps for my morning exercise.

Armed with one picture that shows the building across the street, I narrow it down to two little streets that run off the Boulevard St. Germain with buildings that face Southeast. So then I get out my French site, Pages Blanches, and start looking at the buildings in 3D to figure out which one has that rounded dormer, as in the picture. After lots of straining and manipulating of my computer screen, I narrow it down to two possibilities, but then I see that to the right of the dormer, there is a wall and a new building. Aha! I’ve figured it out … it’s on the rue de la Harpe.

Rue de la Harpe...bustling with restaurants and foot traffic.

Rue de la Harpe strikes a familiar bell and it’s not necessarily a good one. I’m not sure why, so I revert back to google maps and start “walking” up and down the street again. It’s very touristy and there are a ton of restaurants, so I realize it’ll be noisy. Heart sinks a little.

St. Severin

At one end of the street is the beautiful old Church of St. Severin, one of my favorites in Paris, where Francois Espinasse, the brother of our artist Jean Michel Espinasse, is the organist. That’s pretty cool but probably not a reason to buy an apartment down the street. So I turn around and head back up the street towards St. Germain, stumbling over the tourists and imagining the ruckus at midnight. And then it hits me fair and square: McDo! There is a McDonalds on the corner of Boulevard St. Germain and rue de la Harpe! This time, I put on my proverbial running shoes on and bolt down the street as fast as I can, leaving my favorite floors and my trusted google maps in the dust.

Just say no to McDo!

Stay tuned: Le sublime is lurking around the corner …



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Huffingtons Help Meg, Part II

Last week, my dear Huffingtons decided to put an end to my non-stop whining about a very visible and (sadly bare) empty spot over my mantel. They put their clever little heads together and came up with some jaw-dropping options for me that, quite truthfully, took my breath away. Paintings that I've known and loved here at the gallery took on a whole new personality in my own home - just as my very knowledgeable colleagues told me they would. Formats, medias, and styles that I thought were intriguing and beautiful at Huff Harrington (but maybe not exactly for me and my glaring mantel) turned out to be quite striking a la maison Harrington.

And guess what? We're not done yet: gallery manager Linda has weighed in with her opinions - and I'm definitely sitting up and taking notice! Read on - and don't forget to let us know what your favorite pick is so far. (I've got a whole house to fill with art so this may keep us busy for awhile!)

Continuing on, today we have the picks from the lovely Linda.


Linda cropped compressed

I guess it is only fitting that my choice for Meg’s mantel is a diptych titled Indecisive I and II. This lovely, contemporary duo is by a new artist to the gallery named Svetlana Shalygina. To me, her work is very elegant but with an edginess about it - qualities I aspire to embody in daily life, both as I decorate my home or get dressed in the morning. The texture on this piece is exquisite, and the soothing palette a good fit in Meg’s fabulous home. I also like the idea of a two pieces over the mantel instead of one. It shakes things up a little bit!

Svetlana Is two better than one…?


Meg’s Picks

Believe me, I’ve lain awake at night doing a mental inventory of paintings at the gallery and imagining what they’d look like over my lonely mantle. My problem (and not a bad one to have!) is that I fall instantly and hopelessly in love with paintings pretty much on a weekly basis, only to have my heart crushed when they walk out the door with a happy client (of course, don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled they’ve sold.)

So, this is really hard, but here are a few choices that had my pulse racing:

Lorraine Christie’s Trinity: I’ve always loved Christie’s evocative and highly charged paintings that speak poignantly to love’s joy, pain, loss and missed opportunities. I adore the wet and glossy technique she achieves on the canvas but most of all, I love the story that is taking place in front of my eyes.

Christie Trinity

Alice McNeely's White Night: I love the subtle sophistication of this painting and the complexity its texture. It screams elegance and chicness to me.

White Night

Silke Henkel Wallace’s Interieur I: this moody and dramatic painting gets my heart racing. I'm piqued by the mysterious and haunted quality and after pondering those ideas, I happily get lost in Silke’s layers of oil paint. Gorgeous.

Jeffrey Terreson’s Storm Break: one of my all-time favorites. Heavily textured but still luminescent and wonderfully painted. I love everything this artist does (in fact, he has the artist who painted Quiet Blue – the painting that got away from me….)

Terreson Storm Break


So, let us know what your favorite picks are – and stay tuned as we photograph the final top three choices over the mantle. Our wonderful Sam Jones will be on site, acting as the art director and working her magic in the family room and over the mantle.

Ta ta!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Hunting for the Perfect Apartment VII - Hurt by the Spam Filter

Postcards from Paris...

Most Thursday afternoons, I get a little reminder on one of my Paris real estate websites that there are new listings “by owner” that fit my search criteria. I always feel pretty excited when this email pops up, because it’s a chance to jump on an opportunity before it is exposed to the masses. And I always feel ever so slightly smug that in this very competitive real estate jungle, I may be a half step ahead of my competitors who don’t speak French and don’t know about the “by owner” sites. I read these ads with relish and respond immediately if I see an ad that interests me.

One week, I didn’t get the ad on a Thursday, but instead it popped up on Friday evening, and was entitled, Week Ends’ Summary. I thought, “That’s odd – I don’t remember ever getting the ads yesterday,” and so I casually perused them, only to have my heart stop. There was an ad for an apartment on the Avenue de la Bourdonnais (already established earlier as one of my favorite avenues in Paris), fourth floor, elevator, with … you guessed it … a great view of the Grande Dame. As if that wasn’t enough, the four pictures in the ad confirmed my greatest suspicion: This was the perfect apartment in the perfect location. By now very familiar with this neighborhood, I could tell that exactly where it was situated, and figured out not only what it looked out over (Princess Caroline’s apartment across the street), but what building it was in.

Bourdonnais 1

Gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower across Avenue de la Bourdonnais

Bourdonnais IV

The Building that houses royalty across the street, to the left

Bourdonnais III

Typically Parisian Haussmann architecture

Bourdonnais II

Photos that stopped my heart, on the By Owner site

There was one problem: It was 6 p.m. in Atlanta and midnight in Paris, and I didn’t think I’d make a great impression if I called the owner at that hour, no matter how excited I was. So I sent an email, spent the evening walking up and down the avenue (courtesy of Google maps!), and when I’d exhausted myself and calmed my nerves enough, went to bed and set my alarm for 4 a.m., so I could call bright and early Paris time.

Unfortunately, I was 24 hours too late, and the apartment was already sold. Bereft, and more disappointed than I’d been in years, I tried to figure out how I’d missed this one, since I was sure I’d been one of the first. And that’s when I found the original email, stuck in my spam filter, 24 hours earlier. I should have suspected that when I didn’t get it on Thursday, it might have gone in to spam. Had I seen it earlier, I would have jumped on it immediately and just maybe, I would have been the first offer.

When you have a disappointment like this, someone will inevitably pop up with, “It wasn’t meant to be.” It’s never much consolation at the time, but I have found it to be true – at least in this case. The new owners did a wonderful renovation job and it looks like a beautiful and very happy apartment. (Interestingly, since it’s available for rent, maybe I’ll even rent it some day.) Their renovation is so wonderful in fact that it has given me lots of ideas and inspiration for my own renovation, whenever that will be.

Bourdonnais III

Before: Look carefully at the before and see what the new owners did with the after.


After: They replaced the radiator with a beautiful mantel.


...and added sumptuous decor.


This is just the kind of inspiration I need for my dream apartment!

large_591861208-1268044276-Paris apartment-rental-french-style-2-bedrooms

Before: And if you look carefully at the back of the apartment.

Bourdonnais II

You’ll see that they closed off the door to the study,


...which makes the dining room feel bigger.


...and added a beautiful bedroom behind those doors.


Tada! The piece de resistance!

Although I didn’t know it at the time, and it wouldn’t have stopped me from buying this apartment, I have learned that probably the most important thing for me, equal to or even greater than location and view, is light. By that I mean preferably southern exposure, or in Paris, because it stays light so late in the summer, west is good too. That’s because the weather in Paris can be disappointingly dreary, but when it’s nice and sunny, it’s just gorgeous. I find myself wandering around on sunny days and looking up and coveting those western or southern exposed apartments that are bathed in sun. So although this dreamy apartment does have one beautiful window facing west (from which there is the million dollar view), the others all face north. That wouldn’t bother most people, but it would bother me. At the time that I lost this apartment, I felt hurt and deceived by my overly protective spam filter.

Now I’m thinking it just wasn’t meant to be. And so the hunt -- for the perfect southwest facing apartment with gorgeous floors and killer view of the Eiffel tower, in the 7th arrondissement -- continues. Stay tuned for “Herringbone Envy.”



PS: All photos of the after shots, courtesy of Paris Perfect.