Friday, October 20, 2017


Parked cars stretched for miles around the little hamlet of Paoli, Wisconsin. It was Fall Festival time and much of Madison and the surrounding bedroom communities had come to partake in the art, music and booze on a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin.
Paoli is a small spit of a town that has turned itself into an artisan's enclave due a lot to its beautiful indigenous architecture.
The landscape of the hamlet is pretty impressive as well with the Sugar River running through it making for one inviting bucolic setting.
For such a small town there is more to do than one would expect from a town whose Main Street is a mere two blocks long. Once I walked the almost mile from where I had to park my car I headed to my favorite spot in Paoli, the Cottage Goddess, a shop specializing in vintage finds
There were definitely objects of desire to be found from needlepoint pillows and canopy chairs
to Lori's specialty vintage clothing. It's been our secret go to for gifts for our mangy gypsy daughter and her passion for denim jackets, Hermes scarves and cowboy boots
But vintage wasn't what Lori was pushing for the fall festival. She was pushing booze. I got there too late to try one of the twenty-four dozen liquor infused cupcakes she had baked the previous evening
But I was able to peruse her small batch Scotch Whiskies
and her "Pajama Party" dessert wines perfectly displayed with a pair of mules and a bed jacket to match the occasion
Just outside the Cottage Goddess a huge table was set up with charms and chains where you could sit and make your own bracelet or necklace. It was a way to either quell the enthusiasm of the young or put together an accessory for later that night.
Food was being served throughout the village but my favorite place to catch a bite is the Paoli Bread and Brat Haus. Unfortunately, on Fall Festival Day the line to get in and the time you'd wait to get served was way too long for me. My recommendation is to go back on a normal weekend where the owner is known to give out refills of ice cream in your empty cone if one scoop doesn't do the trick
As many cars as lined the streets of Paoli there were at least four times the amount of bikes parked and stacked throughout the town. Warm weather biking is a major pull on the rolling hills that undulate over the area surrounding Madison, perfect terrain for avid bikers.
That's why it was no surprise to me that a custom bike shop would find a home in Paoli.
I.O.A.K. is a not only an eye opener for bikers but it's a visual treat for anyone who appreciates design
One of the older buildings in Paoli is what started out in 1854 as a one-room schoolhouse and is now a combination restaurant and gift shop.
Like all of the other venues food wasn't going to happen at the Schoolhouse without a wait that would have wasted the better part of the remaining day. What I could do was to touch and coo over everything I saw that I wanted to take home with me from their collection of antiques and home goods.
Across the street from the Paoli Schoolhouse is one of several galleries now open in Paoli, the Abel Contemporary Gallery. The building is a former creamery lined with glazed tile and a refrigeration room, the perfect space for Marlene Miller's exhibit of ceramic busts titled "Blood and Iron".
Wisconsin has always possessed a quirky side so it shouldn't appear too unusual that one of Paoli's biggest shopping attractions is a place called Cluck, a store dedicated to everything concerning chickens.
You can find everything from a chicken shaped casserole dish to a fancy backyard hen house officially approved for suburban use.
Out front of Cluck was a wheelbarrow filled with Osage Oranges. They were the only purchase I made that day but not for want of the many other things that had caught my eye but not my wallet.
I've mixed the oranges with a bunch of yellow and green gourds avoiding the obvious traditional orange color that normally accompanies the season.
With my bag of Osage Oranges in hand I waited for Paoli's idea of taxi service, a horse drawn wagon, to pass by and let me cross the street for my mile long journey back to my car and back to the twenty-first century and home. As crowded as the town was it was still worth the time spent.
Textiles, 2010
Christopher Payne, photographer
Represented by Benrubi Gallery

Sunday, October 15, 2017


The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, MMoCA (pronounced Ma-Mo.Ka an anagram sounding like something you could order at Starbucks) holds an event twice a year where artists and artisan venues open their doors to the public. It happens once in the spring and then again in the fall. Last Friday night under the threat of rain my best friend and I armed with umbrellas headed out to see what this year's fall event had to offer.  Past forays into the Madison art scene had been packed events where you squeezed through crowds and then attempted to view the art over the shoulder of guys with ponytails and girls covered in tattoos. This year, maybe because of the rain the crowds were thin but this played to our advantage.
We had started out around six with the intent of covering the eastside area around Schenk's Corners. Growing up on the eastside this was our social hub. My parents banked at what was then Security State Bank, I had an aunt with a beauty parlor a couple of blocks below the Eastwood Theater and another aunt and uncle ran a bar kitty-corner from the bank on Winnebago Street. This was my parents date night destination they'd go to once every other month. We'd stay home waiting with the hopes they'd return with a bag of hamburgers smothered in fried onions from the Nibble Nock, a greasy spoon where the short-order cook flipped his burgers in the window of what is now a part of Texas Tubbs.
Jim and I grabbed dinner at Alchemy before heading out umbrellas still in hand.
Our first stop was right next-door at Nomadic Grill + Home, a shop specializing in Indian vintage signage and cooking paraphernalia. It's surprising what you don't see passing by year after year without looking. This shop was amazing. Huge graphic signs lined the walls while a gorgeous bicycle powered rickshaw was planted center stage.
The windows were laden with cast iron braziers, huge pulleys and a beautiful set of painted doors.
From there it was two blocks down Winnebago to the Winnebago Studios, a collective artist's studio in the waiting room of destruction as it held fast to hear its fate on being torn down to make way for a more profitable residential replacement.
One of my favorite spots in the Madison art scene is housed inside the Studios. The Atwood Atelier is evocative of another world where models lounged in colorful Japanese kimonos on worn chaises covered in faded chenille.
The walls of the Atelier are covered in the portraiture work of artists transporting one to the dingy lofts of Montmartre.
You expect to see Matisse and Picasso in heavy conversation while the smell of oil paint and linseed oil mingle with the circling smoke from ashtrays laden with cigarette stubs.
There are hidden treasures behind every open door in the Winnebago Studios, from printmakers
to political satirists.
Across the street is Studio Paran mostly known for its glasswork.
The glass blowers were at work set in front of the glowing kilns sweating as they demonstrated the artistry of making vases from molten sand.
We put our umbrellas up and headed down Atwood where our upholsterer had an opening to debut his new line of furniture. There were so many pieces to love in his new line and too many to try to showcase here. Matthew Nafranowicz, of the Straight Thread, is a French taught upholstery genius.
His new line combines woodwork, leather and the underbelly of furniture construction in his line of chairs and ottomans. He exposes the webbing and tacking that is usually hidden underneath in a way that makes these elements elegant and unexpected.
Two of my favorite pieces where this wing chair with its walnut embracing side panels and exposed crisscrossed webbed arms
and this perfectly executed stool with its leather top and baseball stitching. We're looking for the right client to persuade that they shouldn't live without them.
We were just about ready to pack it in but the rain was subsiding and there was an area of the Madison art scene we'd never explored. We had to drive to get to this one located further east and in a small industrial pocket I'd never ventured into.
Hidden in a low one-story building was the Baraboo Woodworks. They specialize in live edge wood slabs in different species of wood culled from the Wisconsin area. The wood is absolutely gorgeous and so were their finished products.
I'm guessing the organizers of the event would have hoped for better weather but for us the opportunity to actually see the art and talk to the artists was selfishly much more enjoyable

Georgia O'Keeffe, 1956
Yousuf Karsh, photographer
Represented by Robert Klein Gallery, Boston

Thursday, October 5, 2017


We've had a thing for orange for quite a while so I wanted to take a look at what trends were looking like to see if we were passé; Donald Trump's hair not withstanding.
Trolling the Internet I discovered orange seemed to still be holding it's own.  So the orange pillows we've stocked our living room with
and the new orange infused carpet we bought to replace the pee stained (this was dog done not human) rug in the office was okay.
Now if you're hunkering for a little orange in your life here's a bit of inspiration and a plan to get you going,
Lets start out with baby steps and do some accessorizing with orange. I'm guessing if color and especially orange is totally intimidating to you then you might want to start with something you can throw away. Try flowers if the result of adding a touch of orange makes you too nervous and weak in the knees. The flowers are going to die soon anyway.
Another way of to ease your way into orange is to take it down a notch and go with a more elegant and understated version of orange. Try the burnt version. It's a duller less risky way to dip your toe into the vulgar world of orange.
Pillows and throws are always a way to introduce pops of color and still keep your country club image intact if you swing traditional.
Keeping orange in the traditional design family is actually pretty easy. Throw some embroidered antlers on an orange background and then lay them on a neutral sofa and people will think you're some snappy designer.
Now once you've accepted that you can handle a little orange you should be ready to take it to the next level. You could add a strip to the rug on the floor and a more permanent accessory like a lampshade. You should feel pretty good about yourself at this point. You've made a bold move. You've now accepted that you can handle a little orange infused into your design aesthetic and it might even have brought a little swagger to your design confidence.
Now lets go for a bigger step where you can not only see the orange but begin to smell it as well. It you've got the guts for it you can start flinging orange on your walls, make your bed with it and even carry it in a bag on your arm.
You can sit on it, put a drink down on it or even wrap it around you.
You don't even have to be cutting edge. You can still put on your velvet beaded Connecticut evening slippers and say, "Oh Darling" out of lips that appear only to move when you take a sip of your extra dry three olive martini.
Just imagine all the places or objects you can cover in orange. Take this beautiful Asian inspired chair set in front of this incredible wallpaper lit with orange paper lanterns.
Or this minimalist living room where orange is like an exclamation mark on a stark black and white sentence.
Then if you've really earned your orange balls you can shoot for the moon with orange and put it on your ceiling.
Or you could let it drip and swirl from floor to floor
You can polish it like an apple and let it shine in your kitchen
You can go complimentary and quilt it on the back of a nook surrounded by a sea of brilliant blue.
The Moroccans were big on orange and you could be too with plaster walls, niches with tiles and a settee cozied up with orange bolsters and seat cushions
You could also create your own Orangerie if you had a Renaissance inspired mansion and wanted a place to winter your delicate fruit garden
You can keep it simple
Or you can go all out.
We tend to take ours neat with a vintage brandy

Contact, Times Square, 2002
Andrew Moore, photographer
Represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery