We’re thrilled to announce that Elan’s paintings are now available online through the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts website. The online sale is in anticipation of a show at the Carroll Gallery at the Physick Estate scheduled for next year. Though you can buy the same paintings at www.Elan ZingmanLeith-artist.com, if you buy them through MAC, forty percent of the price counts as a charitable donation. Don’t think of buying a painting as a luxury, think of it as clever tax planning!
Suzie and I were driving up the parkway two weeks ago on our way to visit my doctor’s office in North Jersey. I looked up and saw a solitary, enormous, raincloud hanging over the wetlands. The cloud was immense and the landscape was extraordinarily wide. I tried to memorize the scene to paint later when I got home. I just finished it. It’s the largest painting I’ve done in a few years; five feet wide and three feet tall. I’m pleased with the sense of depth in an essentially flat, featureless, landscape. And the color of the wetlands before they really turn green in the Spring.
We are thrilled, happy, and delirious to announce that our new book is being published as a Kindle ebook on Amazon. It’s called Rome Secrets – Eleven Self Guided Walking Tours. You may remember that we spent a winter stay in Rome a couple of years ago because we had a book contract. That project is finally done and we are very pleased with the product. You can stay home and feel that you are wandering the sunny streets of Rome. There are lots of photographs, gossip, scandal, food, and of course, art, and architecture. Or, you can use it in Rome to guide you through the neighborhoods and make you feel like a real Roman.
Saturday night SoMa Art Gallery in Cape May held an opening of three solo shows. The shows will be up for a while and are well worth a visit. The first artist is Harriet Sosson, Her collages always consist of familiar figures from art history surreally set in every-day surroundings. Earlier works have included Greek Gods riding the New York City subway and Renaissance figures in front of graffiti-ed urban decay. The collages are always formally satisfying – well composed with coloring and lighting considered. The humor is in the surprise of seeing familiar images in unlikely contexts.
This show has an added dimension for the old Caper May crowd. This exhibit features the Venus of Urbino being rescued by lifeguards, Mona Lisa at the beach, and others. Another part of Harriet’s show includes covers from an old giveaway magazine in town which featured a grid of photos of people on the beach. Now the people on the beach include Venus, and the Infanta of Spain by Velasquez, as well as friends and neighbors of thirty years ago. The nostalgic element of this show was a big hit with the locals during the opening night party.
Sean Taylor’s work is shown in an adjacent gallery. He makes both landscape and figurative paintings. The landscapes are often of the beach, with very modulated paint creating really beautiful complex colors. He does this in acrylic paint, which is very hard to do. (I’ve failed at it many times.) One large painting is of an empty beach with just sand, water and sky – yet it makes an interesting painting, nicely composed and pretty to look at. Another work shows rows of beauty contest participants, all identically coiffed and colored; all looking in the same direction. It makes a nice pop-art image of the conformist ‘50s or ‘60s, and is also very well painted.
The third artist featured last night is John Borrero. His works are very painted, rubbed, dripped, scratched, smeared, and abraded. Many include paper that has been buried in the paint, and a few include key escutcheons attached to the painting. All this manipulation produced semi-abstract landscapes that are dark and evocative. Some of the images are accompanied by short poems by the artist that are also moody and evocative. John Borrero also showed some sculpture composed of stiffened cloth and found objects. One was a woman made of brown cloth, a valve handle and a wooden spool that evoked a Jane Austen character very well. Another one was black clad and looked much more Wuthering Heights to me.
My last blog post was about the new exhibit at the Carriage House Gallery at the Physick Estate describing the restoration and renaissance of Cape May. That reminded me of our own restoration story at Leith Hall bed and breakfast. In 1989, when we bought Leith Hall, we had to decide what we wanted to make of it. A bed and breakfast is whatever the owners want it to be and usually reflects the owners’ interests and tastes. It is always better for the B&B to embody your real interests so that your enthusiasm shows for the guests’ sake and for your long term satisfaction, too.
Why an Authentic Restoration?
I used to work as an Historic Preservationist advising clients on restoring historic buildings. So, faced with a big 1880s house with 1960s furnishings and decorations, Suzie and I had to decide what we wanted our bed and breakfast to look like. We decided to make a Victorian period house. Since I learned what wallpaper, what furniture, and what objects were popular during any decade when I went to school, we decided that we’d make the house look like the 1880s.
Art Wallpaper at the Beach
The clues were in the woodwork. The baseboards, door and window surrounds and newel posts at Leith Hall have chamfered edges and bands of reeding. This style is part of the Aesthetic Movement that was popular in the 1870s and ‘80s, so we bought hand-made reproduction Aesthetic Movement wallpaper for the whole house. We bought Eastlake style (Aesthetic Movement) dressers and armoires, picture frames and decorations.
The Iris Room on the first floor is a good example. The wallpaper and ceiling paper are from a room-set by Bradbury and Bradbury called “Fenway”. The fens are swamps in Eastern England. All of the motifs in the wallpaper: the irises, cattails, fiddlehead ferns, whirlpools, and lightning bolts refer to the swamps. We thought of calling it the swamp room, but no one would rent it! So we called it the Iris Room. The dresser is made of walnut with burl walnut panels in Eastlake style and has a red marble top. The bedside table, rocking chair and side table, the mantelpiece and plates hanging on the walls – all date from the 1880s. Of course the television and the air-conditioning break with authenticity (not to mention the private bathroom) but even a b&b at the beach has to provide guests with modern amenities. Victorians after all, didn’t bathe much or change their clothes, so even I am not all for authenticity.
Now that spring is sprung in Cape May, we’re having some work done on Leith Hall this
midweek before it gets too busy. Easter is just over, and my mind turns to vacation. For us, vacation is always winter vacation, so I thought I’d share a few pictures of a trip we took to Andalucia, in Southern Spain, a few years ago. We toured most (or all) of the cities of Andalucia. One of these is Mijas, which is one of the “white villages” of Andalucia. It is very convenient to the beach resort of
Torremolinos and the other towns of the Costa del Sol, so it is often overrun with visitors. Not in January, however.
We’ve also been to the Alhambra in Granada a couple of times. I think that it may be the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen; oddly, in a completely different way than Western buildings. Instead of making the palace bigger and grander than a house, the designers made it more and more complicated. Instead of immense, like the palace of Versailles, it
has another courtyard with another set of rooms, and another and another. The result is a palace that is human scale and very pleasant to be in. Versailles is impressive, but not actually pleasant.