Friday, April 29, 2011

A Day in the Life at the Gallery

When we first pictured owning a gallery, we figured we’d spend the days happily chatting with clients, hobnobbing with artists and looking chic and drinking lots of Evian. We imagined there’d be an unglamorous side that involved managing the business side of things, opening boxes, hanging paintings and changing lightbulbs but we didn’t give it much thought.



Maybe this is what we envisioned when we thought about owning a gallery…


How times have changed. We realize now that owning a gallery is a little like raising a family – lots of dirty diapers, dishes to clean, noses to wipe, beds to make and yes, plenty of Christmas mornings to make it all worth while. We do get to spend plenty of time happily chatting with our clients and working with our wonderful artists, but we wear jeans and flats and grab a coke and a container of chicken salad from next door (Cafe at Pharr, the iconic lunch spot in Atlanta that is thankfully located behind us.)


Cafe at Pharr’s chicken salads are positively and absolutely addictive. Thank goodness they are right behind the gallery so we can pop in for our daily fix.


We plan our show schedules in between hanging paintings and strategize about our marketing efforts as we juggle zillions of emails that constantly swamp our in-box. Meetings are sandwiched in between studio visits and client consultations. Boxes arrive on an almost daily basis. Paintings need to be catalogued and tagged. Bios need to be written. Sometimes we’re welcoming groups of local art lovers or high school art students. Every once in a while, we celebrate a birthday with a proper lunch and some bubbly.


And yes, we love every minute of it.


Just last week, we had a couple of those funny days that makes us laugh at how we actually spend our hours.


First, Pascal Bouterin popped in to say hello after a sojourn in his native France. As always, we were delighted to see him, but we really were crazy about the shirt he was wearing:


DSC01545 Here’s Pascal in that “Arty” shirt that we loved. He was busy chatting on the phone so we snapped away.


The day got busy with the phone ringing and clients coming in and out and before long, our neat and tidy desk looked like this:


DSCF9024 Don’t they call this organized chaos?


The gallery was looking sort of messy, too, with a big piece getting picked up and Nancy Franke dropping off a wonderful new floral and Peggy Everett stopping in with a spectacular new landscape.


DSCF9022Unwrapping Peggy’s new landscape.


Ease and Flow 24x24 Nancy brought us “Ease and Flow” (oil on canvas, 24 x 24)


Speaking of unpacking paintings, sometimes we have to go at them with all sorts of tools, like we did a while ago when we received a huge crate just before a show:


About to open the crate.jpgThis one took two screwdrivers and even a hammer to open.


Anyway, as soon as we got the paintings unpacked, catalogued and labeled, our friendly UPS driver brought us that one item we just love to hate: bubble wrap. The rolls are so enormous that we have to bodily squish them through the door. Usually Linda takes charge of that one:


DSC01553Linda can do anything in heels – including manhandling the bubble wrap through the front door


After some rehanging (which we do on a daily basis to keep things looking fresh and exciting), Linda had to do a lighting check – our nice bright halogens burn out at an alarming rate. This process involves the ladder, juggling the new bulb while taking the old one out and trying not to sear your fingers at the same time. We volunteered to take a picture while Linda zoned in on the errant bulb.


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In the meantime, we were doing what we love: chatting with clients, looking at art, running the business and generally adoring every minute at this little gallery. People never seem to believe us when we tell them we are slammed with things to do – is it because of our calm and serene atmosphere here?


Just like at home, everything needs looking after. Our little garden took a big hit this winter and our rosemary and lavender plants were looking worse for wear. We arranged for some new plants to be delivered and installed but once we got out there, we couldn’t help but start pulling and tugging.


DSC01547 Linda got into the act, too.


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Our little nursery up the street was out of white peonies, so we planted foxgloves instead.


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Like our families, the gallery presents us with something different every day: many challenges but mostly wonderful rewards that fill our hearts with joy every day when we hang our “open” sign, roll our sleeves up – and get to work.


DSCF9027 Ta ta.




Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gifts of hope

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A few months ago, a dear friend who has dedicated her adult life to finding a cure for juvenile diabetes, approached us at the gallery and asked if we could help out with a project for the JDRF gala in Atlanta. Aside from wanting to support a cause that is very dear to our hearts, at least one of us loves to attend the fabulous JDRF ball, and has been known to do crazy things like drink a martini and bid on a car! But that aside, we of course wanted to help our friend Barbara and with a little brainstorming with one of our lovely and most charitable artists, Melissa Payne Baker, we devised a plan.


JDRF 1


The idea was to have some of the Junior Ambassadors, all adorable children with diabetes, come to the gallery and paint on a huge canvas, under the very capable direction of sweet Melissa.



JDRF 2


The children arrived at the gallery not knowing what to expect, and some were pretty excited to be given a blank canvas, and a couple of knives.


JDRF 3


Melissa taught them how to use a palette knife and encouraged them to paint freely, and before they knew it, some were slinging paint with the expertise of a Jackson Pollock.


JDRF 4


Little by little, the giant blank canvas came to life with the strokes of genius from every one of our young artists.


JDRF 5


Some were methodical and meticulous;


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Others were more free wheeling and confident.


JDRF 6


All were excited about it,


JDRF 7


and just a little curious about how it would all turn out.


JDRF 9


They also took turns working on a series of small canvases that will be given to major donors at the gala.


JDRF 10


When we saw the finished small paintings, done by the young artists and ever so slightly enhanced by our Melissa, Meg and I wished we could be major donors for the cause!


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Can you believe how beautiful these are?


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Don’t you think the donors will be just thrilled?


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We can’t get over them. Of course a lot had to do with Melissa’s choice of palette for this event.


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As we often say to her in our “Sold” emails, “You nailed it!”


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We’ve been so excited about this little series, which of course could never be reproduced again because so many little hands were part of it.


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But the most touching part of the process came from what some of these brave young children, whose lives involve pricking themselves several times daily, monitoring every bite they eat, never being able to do sleepovers like most kids their age and living under the cloud of a life threatening disease, carefully crafted on a sheet of canvas to be incorporated in to the painting: Their hopes and dreams for the future.


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So what’s the final canvas like you wonder? Well, you won’t see how Melissa has incorporated these precious treasures in to the painting, until she does the finishing touches at the gala.


But here is a sneak peek of this wonderful painting, a beautiful collaboration in its 48” x 60” glory, that will be auctioned off at the JDRF gala on the night of May 7th, and will hopefully help raise enough money so that some of these kids’ dreams will come true in their lifetime.


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Isn’t it gorgeous?!!


Ta ta …


AH



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Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Huffington Makeover for a Photo Shoot

111010 Atlanta,GA: Ann and Bill Huff(cq) relax with their daughter Alexandra(cq) in the living room of their condo at Terminus. (dog's name Scurry)
"We had this tug at us that we wanted to be urban and we wanted to be  
in the thick of things. We wanted to walk anywhere," she said. "When  
this unit came up at Terminus, we just grabbed it."(Christopher Oquendo/Special)




We had just barely said goodbye to the last group of movers, and were slowly settling in to our brand new digs in the sky when an email came in from the AJC, our local Atlanta paper. Could they photograph our new condo for the front page of their Sunday Home section (you know, the section that everyone reads, kind of like the Style Section of the Sunday NY Times)? My first reaction was to be flattered and pleased, especially since any mention of our condo would obviously include the art collection which would benefit the artists and gallery. And I was also pleased because I love condo living, and would like to fill this place with all my friends, so anything that I could say would help further that cause. So, sure, for the good of the causes … I signed right up.


And then it hit me. We looked terrible! We were raw. Our walls were still bare; our windows, undressed. Our light fixtures were nonexistent. And where were all my accessories? I think that in my excitement to downsize and my quest to simplify, I’d given away or stored most of the props that would normally enrich a photo shoot. I took some sample pictures to see how it looked, and I was dismally depressed.


Ann's camera 007



Yeeks! Need a lot of work here …


Bill's camera 278




View from diing room with chandelier




Why did I love it so much if it looked so bad? Was there any way I could turn it around in time for the photo shoot? Did they have to photograph everything or could I prop and style some little vignettes? What was I to do?


Obviously, there was only one thing to do and that was to call on my dear friend and colleague, the miracle worker Sam Jones. Not only is Sam enormously gifted at furniture rearrangement and creating an environment that feels like it’s been lived in forever but she is also highly resourceful and energetic, and definitely a magician. Wait til you see what she did for me!


My biggest problem was the big, blank windows which desperately needed luscious drapes to soften the edges and warm the environment. These were on order but wouldn’t be installed for several more weeks . So with Sam, we had to fake it. And of course, Sam had a solution. She actually took six gorgeous silk panels off her windows and brought them over, along with a tall ladder and a couple of tension rods and cleverly hung them strategically over six of my windows. Tada! What a difference it made.


Before Sammy came to the rescue…


Ann's camera 001



… and below, what a difference one curtain panel and a little greenery can make!


Dining Room



Look at that wide and cold expanse of windows …


Living room where there will be curtains



and below, see the difference one panel can make (and a few pink roses to brighten up the room)


corner of LR




In Christie’s room, before curtains were installed …


Christie's room and balcony



… and after, with a painting by Bethanne Cople, and some luscious drapes.


Beethanne and Christie



Bare naked windows before …


Bill's camera 264


… and after, what a difference the panels made (even on their makeshift tension rods!)


A corner of the MBR



Of course the problem was that there weren’t enough curtain panels to go around, so we had to make sure the photographer didn’t take any of the windows where there were no curtains, as in the vignette below with only one panel!


one curtain only



Once we fixed the curtain problems, I felt like the rest would fall into place. Together we hung paintings, which is something we love to do – for ourselves, at the gallery or for clients. Then Sam, who is also a gifted florist, brought over some fabulous flowers that were just enough to add warmth and a touch of color. A dear friend sent me an orchid (again, using Sam’s services) and immediately my favorite piece of furniture, a Louis XVI dresser that I inherited from my parents, just came to life. And finally, we did a little creative exchange with a desk I had loaned to the gallery –


MBR with desk and secretaire



… and suddenly it became my new desk in our sitting room area, and my favorite focal point.


111010 Atlanta,GA: The number of windows caused some challenges, in terms of limiting the  
wall space for art and in the placement of furniture. Huff said she  
was concerned about the layout and created several floor plans trying  
to position artwork and furniture. She's pleased with the result.
(Christopher Oquendo/Special)



The gift of an orchid brings my favorite chest to life. Photo courtesy of Christopher Oquendo, AJC.


111010 Atlanta,GA: The number of windows caused some challenges, in terms of limiting the  
wall space for art and in the placement of furniture. Huff said she  
was concerned about the layout and created several floor plans trying  
to position artwork and furniture. She's pleased with the result.
(Christopher Oquendo/Special)



A floral arrangemet by Sam Jones on the dining room table, shot by Christopher Oquendo, AJC



Bill's Study



The study, above, gets warmed up with some richer painting, below. (Photo below courtesy of Christopher Oquendo, AJC.)


111010 Atlanta,GA: The study was a bonus, and it has been decorated with bookcase and  
media system from Restoration Hardware that fits the space as though  
it were custom built, Huff said. Downsizing meant they had to get rid  
of their collection of books, but the study provided space for them to  
store favorites.
(Christopher Oquendo/Special)





Judy cox vignette



111010 Atlanta,GA: The kitchen is outfitted with high-end Wolf, Bosch and Sub-Zero  
appliances and space to fill with art, including a modern black and  
white piece by Erin Ruetsch and two drawings of women by Bonnie  
Beauchamp Cooke. A mirror reflects two oil still lifes by Nancy  
Franke, allowing Huff to see them when she's cooking.
(Christopher Oquendo/Special)



I love how the AJC photographer captured the reflection of the kitchen in the trumeau, above. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Oquendo, AJC)



Kitchen with oranges




The writer for the AJC was enormously gifted and very patient with me as I whined that I wouldn’t be ready on time. But she worked around my plans and wrote her article before the apartment was pulled together, and managed to totally capture the essence, and my love, of it. She also made several references to the gallery, so one of my goals was happily achieved. And so far, I’ve had several friends say they’re almost ready to give up the house and the yard and join me in our condo building, so it looks like that worked too!



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(Photo courtesy of Christopher Oquendo, AJC)


How in the world Scurry, our infamous Pup landed squarely on the front page of the AJC home section with a big grin on her face is beyond me! And it’s a little unfortunate that our daughter Christie happened to have play practice at school during the photo shoot, and ironic that our daughter Alex (who rarely comes home from college), happened to be visiting that weekend. But as we said to Christie, we’ll photoshop her in for the Christmas card!


Christie



(Christie Huff, who missed the photo shoot because of a school obligation)


It wasn’t perfect but it achieved its purposes and had one more benefit for me: It got me settled, quicker than I ever expected!


Ta ta,


AH


PS Here’s the article link from the AJC: http://projects.ajchomefinder.com/gallery/view/homes/private-quarters/classic/private-quarters-huff/