Saturday, November 30, 2013


I am hoping fate has its eye on me and with three loses within a 24-hour period I've hit my quota of bad luck for the remainder of the month if not for the year. This past week it was my turn to fly out to New York for client meetings and making sure all our projects were on track. My family may have thought it was a perverse form of escapism, baling out from the chaos and turmoil we are currently living through with our renovation project. I have to admit the pace of New York was serene in comparison to the Madison madness and that is a real turnabout. It was that madness that made me dash out of the house, totally ill prepared, at five in the morning to get to my 8:15am flight out of Milwaukee without doing my mental checklist of all the essentials. I was never a boy scout and therefore I never really learned how to do that "be prepared" thing. It was an uneventful flight and on this rare occasion I actually slept for the entire flight. I woke up just as we began descending in to La Guardia, my bag was the first one out of the carousel, it was a balmy 60 degrees in November and there was no line for a cab. Seemed like a good start. We rolled over the Tri-boro, down the East Side Highway and across the park to the apartment. I always keep my travel keys in my dopkit. That way I don't have to think about them. As I got out of the cab and pulled my bag up to the front steps a little dose of panic seized my frazzled mind. A memory flash of me cleaning out my bag popped above my head like a cartoon bubble. I saw myself dropping my keys into another leather pouch. I had always kept that pouch in my satchel but in a fit of cleanliness precipitated by the disarray of my Madison life I decided it was too big to carry with me everywhere. I flipped my four-wheeler, extra-large, easy carry black bag on its side, wrenched the bag's zipper around its racetrack course, and dove into my dopkit. No keys. I rifled through my satchel. No leather pouch. Out came the cellphone and the panic calls to our rental agent, the building super, the management agent and Rick. The first thing I found out was my keys were back in Madison, the second thing was the super didn't have a pass key to our apartment, and finally the management had an extra front door key and a key to the apartment below me but not to my apartment. The agent said he'd see what he could do. Ten minutes later my cellphone rang. It was a, "what did we do before cellphones" moment. The agent had found their construction crew. They had a key to my apartment and they were right around the corner. In ten minutes we met at the ACE Hardware store and I had a set of keys and a pass on having to sleep on the streets card.
It wasn't until late in the afternoon when I was getting on the subway to go back to the apartment that I reached my hand into the right-hand side pocket of my pants.. I'm a creature of habit and the right side is where I always keep my house keys. Change and lip balm go into the left and the wallet goes into the back. My newly pressed keys were not in the right-hand pocket. I checked the left just in case I had a lapse in continuity. No keys. It was cool enough for jacket. I checked all its pockets. Like Joan Rivers' sex life it came up empty. One last stab into the right pocket and that's when I discovered the hole in the side of the pocket, the escape route of my new set of keys. You never get cell service in the subway. It was 4:30, the very end of quitting time for any construction crew in New York. I dialed Yaokim in one futile attempt to totally embarrass myself with my stupidity. No answer. I left an S.O.S. from my sinking ship.  Desperation makes me do strange things. As I got off the subway my cellphone rang. Yaokim had twenty minutes before he had to get back to New Jersey. He'd meet me at the ACE in fifteen. Old age was no deterrent to my dash to the corner of West 90th and Columbus. Embarrassment aside, I now had another set of keys and I had avoided a night of relying on the kindness of strangers for a place to hang my hat that night.
The next morning, still less than twenty-four hours since I arrived back in New York, I had rented a car, gone out to do a site survey in New Jersey, returned to Manhattan and picked up a lamp on the upper Eastside that we needed repaired. When I arrived a detective was at the counter asking to see their video surveillance footage one more time. I had no idea of what she was looking for but it delayed my getting anyone to help retrieve my lamp so I could get out of there. It was as I was returning the lamp to our apartment that I realized I couldn't find my cellphone. I did find my keys were safely in my right pants pocket this time. When I got up to the apartment I called the lamp store on our landline but I knew the results. The owner who had been working with the detective said he'd look at the videotape but no one had turned in my phone in. I called my cellphone but no one answered not even my own voice telling me to leave a message.
They say bad things happen in threes. I'm hoping this was the last of my bad luck. It was depressing enough to make doing last week's posting the first missed week in my blogging history. Please forgive me, and to add to the embarrassment I discovered today that my apartment keys were attached to my car keychain all the time safely stored in a plastic bag at the bottom of the fabric sack inside inside my satchel.
A belated Happy Thanksgiving.

Homeless, Ca 1950
Weegee, photographer

Monday, November 18, 2013


This is the latest I've ever been in getting out my weekly post.  We've been buried in getting our home ready for the holidays. For most that would mean putting together a grocery list and perhaps doing a deep cleaning.
For us it means new hardwood floors throughout the main floor, new tile in the entry and for the fireplace surround, all new windows, exterior soffits and gutter guards, and while we were at it all new baseboards and interior doors, a new ceiling in the living room (all already posted this one), painting almost every wall in the house, new window treatments and general all around decorating. The cleaning people don't show up until Friday.
Since my mind is filled with the mathematical calculations necessary for hanging a wall of pictures, my fingers are covered in 50 shades of gray paint and my body is stooped more than usual from loading everything I'll never see again but couldn't afford to give away into the crawl space below the kitchen. I going to ask for a pass for this week.
As we empty out the Pods and ll I'm capable of is a little tease of what I hope will be a series of peeks into the new Shaver/Melahn residence, a cottage in suburbia.

Palace Theater, Gary, Indiana, 2008
Andrew Moore, photographer
Represented by Yancey Richardso

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I always thought everyone had art. It didn't matter how rich you were or how sophisticated your eye it was unimaginable to me that people could live without art. I'm finding out that my assumption isn't completely true and I'm stunned.
Even the earliest cave dwellers decorated their walls with art. Civilizations throughout history have made art an important part of their visual history, a way to document their lives, a means of bringing comfort and joy to their surroundings and a way of confronting issues and provoking imagination.
I'm no art historian and documenting ordinary households in early history isn't an easy task to research but my assumption is no matter how many rungs down the financial ladder you are standing on at any point in history art will have somehow found its way onto your walls.
Even during the depression of the 1930's people made due with what they could find and decorated their walls with scraps of wallpaper and discarded advertising signs.
Sooo, I'm stumped with a client who has no art and no apparent need to acquire any. My client is a financial whiz kid. He knows numbers and money and investments. It made me do a little more research to see what the experts had to say about art. What I found out didn't make me happy. The money analysts said art is rarely a strong financial investment. Art is fickle, like in fashion one day your in and the next day your out.
At first I tried to argue the investment option on the argument of financial return but it was a losing battle with someone who knows how to count beans. He countered with art isn't liquid.  It needs time, the right auction or gallery with a hungry client to show a profit and it can't be sold off in pieces like stocks and shares. The big sales and profits you see at auction houses isn't for the faint of heart and doesn't revolve around mid-level artists.  If you happen to have a Van Gogh in your closet or a Picasso in your attic you're in good shape. All this information made me extremely depressed about my own meager collection until I remembered why I collected the art we have.
Try to imagine any of these rooms without their art.
We're furniture designers, as well as interior designers and I can't imagine a space with our furniture that wouldn't be enhanced by the addition of art.
Walls need art. That's why I still see art as an investment. It's an investment in your soul. It's beauty. It's provocative and at the least it makes your walls look better.

Sidelong glance, 1948
Robert Doisneau, photographer