Thursday, August 16, 2012

Business up Front, Party in the Back

Come on in. I've been waiting for you. (Since 1984!)
A view of the front door from the inside.

Are you with me? I'm still in Atlanta (for the purposes of this blog only). And you and me we're going to revisit one of my early, early projects. Look at my previous post and you'll see the funky digs I called home. Meanwhile a typical client of mine lived in wild and wooly Buckhead and by wild and wooly I mean staid and sedate. So here we go back to my grisaille mural for a Neel Reid house. In the 1910s and 20s Neel Reid was the go to architect when you made a killing in cotton futures or whatever. Living in a Neel Reid house meant you had arrived. His work has impeccable lines, perfect proportions, and fastidious attention to detail and this was a great foil for my wild, organic, tropical, leafy mural.

1984 at the top and 2011 on the bottom. There's hardly any difference, an added widow's walk and some  changes to the landscaping are all I can see. Classical architecture ages well.
Work in progress and me on a ladder laboring in the shadows.
Look at those magnificent moldings! And by the way this corner was where most of my work took place.
Me, caught in the act of painting.

A signature of the designer, Jim Young's work, was the bullseye mirror. I think he managed to find a place for one in most all of his projects. Alas, Jim, a celebrated designer with a stellar client list is remembered by few today.

What else can I tell you about this project? After beginning decorative painting on a grand scale for the Fabulous Fox Theater and then the stately Edwardian lobby at The Ponce I had a series of rather forgettable projects in homes that weren't very special until the Neel Reid project came my way. Having really fine architecture to work on makes all the difference. I can still take pride in the painting I did in 1984, the colors seem right and the composition isn't bad, though naturally I could do a much better job of it today. Atlanta has a number of extant Neel Reid homes and many too of his successor, Philip Schutze so I suppose there's always a possibility I might have  a chance to revisit the experience of working in some really splendid Atlanta residence.

This is an overhead view of the Neel Reid house where I painted the grisaille mural.

A short walk from the Reid house is Philip Shutze's Swan House. Yes, this is front and back of the same house. It is!

As a sort of side note I've included a pictures of the front and rear facades of Swan House by Neel Reid's protégé, Philip Shultze. It's actually within walking distance of the house on Andrews Drive where I painted my mural. As you can the see the front and back look as if they're from two entirely different houses. Do you think the pupil was trying to upstage the teacher with this bit of daring showmanship? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Artist's Daring Dream House

The David Ireland article in HG magazine (1985?).

More of David Ireland's home in San Francisco.

Crash, collapse, derelict, disaster area,  in a word a wreck. That's just what I found when I ventured back to the bungalow rental home, the last place I lived in Atlanta's charming Lake Claire neighborhood. Let's be clear, when I moved in the house had not been lived in for years and had the predictable deferred maintenance but I went with that and made decadence my esthetic. In fact I had help.

An old church niche and decorative frieze inspired by it. I made the paper star on top, some  stark white and strict geometry for contrast.
A lot of decorative painting used to detract from an ugly space heater. The candelabras are fashioned out of  twigs painted white and that's a real stem of ivy on top of the mirror.
My Atlanta kitchen with pentimento walls inspired by David Ireland.
A detail of the "space heater decoration", a simple trompe l'oeil technique.
The walls are varnished "as is" and I painted the door to (sort of ) match. You can see a bit more of the mantle  painting and the frieze all based on the Victorian Gothic niches.

David Ireland pointed the way for me with his San Francisco Victorian which I saw published in HG magazine. A brilliant conceptual artist, David realized while rehabilitating his home that he needn't return the place to it original condition or conform to any conventions for that matter. He soon realized the significance of the unfinished, of pentimento, and of the mystery of the ordinary.

This was the bedroom/sitting room of my place. Notice the carved wooden curtains. There are more wooden carved pieces on the mantle and the library is actually created out of a hallway.
Another shot of the bedroom/sitting room. The birds and rings motif is based  on Etruscan mural depicting the afterlife.
Soon after I moved into my bungalow I discovered an architectural salvage warehouse just down the road from me which instigated my collection of church artifacts and assorted carved wooden forms. Also, at this time in the world of decorative architectural painting Pompeii was once again being mined for it's stunningly creative murals, wall glazes, and schemes so that was another influence on me.

This is my Atlanta bungalow. I added the yellow stripes to the  awning.
Then/Now. I painted the front door Frida Kahlo blue but currently (as seen on the right) you'll note there's no door to be found!

This Wally Aero Eagle from the 50s was parked across the street from my old house. If only my old house looked this good. It's a shame because the Lake Claire neighborhood is otherwise in great shape.
This was in the window of the Wally. 

It's a little ironic that when I left Atlanta and moved to San Francisco I couldn't wait to paint all the walls stark white. I'm still pretty much that way. I like a neutral background. That's my dream house. Actually for the past several years I've been into traditional Japanese architecture, dark stained wood against white. What do you like?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The 22 Magazine

Now serving tasty hors d'oeuvres. 

From Brooklyn? Yes, yes, yes.

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