Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday in the Park

I walked through Central Park from the East Side over to the West Side after singing for my supper this morning, snapping these photos with my iPhone as I passed Bethesda Terrace. 

The sky has been grey for the last two days. Manhattan is expected a pounding from hurricane Sandy, the City bracing for impact with the subways closing this evening. I've already been to the market and the wine store and have cancelled tomorrow's lessons as well as those on Tuesday. It will be nice to read a few books I've been looking forward to getting to as well as writing a bit. 

On my reading list? The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution by Denis Sutton; Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madam X by Deborah Davis; and Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, MD. So- between the wine and words: I am all set.  Oh- and candles too. You never know if the lights are going to go out, though that is doubtful here in the City. Last time that happened was during the summer when demand for electricity was very high. However, there are no power lines to knock over since everything is underground, right? God help those in low lying areas. I hear they are being evacuated. Where I live? It's 65 feet above see level.  

The single family Brownstone down the street had fabulous Halloween decorations which they took down today, storing them - I think - so as to put them back up on Wednesday morning after the storm has blown through.  Halloween is a big deal on my street, since it was started by Gwen Verdon back in the 60's as an alternative to the Parade in the Village. Brownstone's decorate big time, and hundreds- if not thousands- of kids Trick or Treat up and down the two blocks from Central Park West to Broadway. We'll see what happens this year! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012


The Buddhist's have a meditative technique which asks one to observe life as if it is a dream (I must confess that I don't practice it much). By this they don't mean that it is without meaning. On the contrary, I understand them to mean that everything we see has the meaning that we give it- a very different thing. 

This came to mind as I stumbled my way through the parking lot of the Serbian Orthodox Church on West 24th Street this past Sunday. The flea market is in a parking lot on one side of the church, while I had never been in the other lot on the other side of the building. What did I see there?  

A beautifully mysterious red door and a green Volvo with an arresting license plate. If this was a dream, I thought, then this would be the message.  

Time to Evolvo. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tiffany at The New York Historical Society

Tiffany is everywhere lately, at least as far as blogs are concerned. He's being featured over at The Devoted Classicist this morning as well as Design Architect. As you may have noticed in my recent post, my father collected Tiffany lamps, acquiring most of them in the 60's, when they were considered old-fashioned. They came with stories. One was picked up at a house sale. When my father got there, it was the only thing left, no one wanted it. Another sat in a basement for over thirty years after being sent home with the maid who happened to knock it over. I took these photos of Tiffany's lamps  at  the New York Historical Society for my dad since he wasn't able to travel to see them. Speaking of which: at one time, the NYHS exhibited these lamps in a large dimly lit room, their jewel-like colors being shown to best advantage. Now these lamps are caged behind glass. Do you see the leg-ish lamp base in the picture below in the upper left? My dad made one just like it. He was quite the craftsman. 

Friday, October 19, 2012


Don't ask me why I'm mad for this old Victorian transfer ware bowl made by Petrus Regout in Holland. Part of me thinks I should have more taste, but what can I say? I like this gaudy stuff. I like the amberish-orange color, and how it highlights the black Chinoiserie scene, even if the pattern itself is hastily matched in places.  

I've been collecting Petrus Regout's Pajong pattern for a while now after seeing my first piece - a  larger serving bowl - at the flea market about a year ago. So far, I've acquired another serving bowl - both are perfect for serving Chinese food,  as well as several bread plates, and a large cafe latte cup and saucer. It's huge! Reflecting, perhaps, the industrial age's push for more, more, more. The imperfection of this mass-produced stuff is, frankly, part of its charm: a bit of crazing here, a blemish there, either it appeals to you, or it doesn't. For many, it's just too busy. Me? I observe my curvy bowl having a long talk with the prayer carpets on the living room chair and the fireplace tile.

This bowl is different from my other pieces in that the central scene isn't glazed with the same color as the band. A mistake? Or a design decision? I don't know enough about the production to know. What I do know is that every single piece will make an appearance at the Thanksgiving table. If only I had some plates! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

night light

The antique amber hanging lantern in the window was a gift from my dear friend Navtej who nestled it in his lap during the long flight from New Delhi. Namasté! I bow to the Light within you. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

my father

Elmer Shigo 1928 - 2012

My father as he was in college. The photo sat on a bookshelf in my grandmother's house for as long as I can remember, eventually coming to me when her house was dispersed and she came to live near my parents in a nursing home, short-term memory shot, living in a past that eventually faded. My dad and mom when to see her twice a day, taking turns feeding her in the morning and evening, getting her to talk about the things she remembered, making the most of what remained, five years passing before the end.

It is hard to sum up a man in a paragraph or two. He was 6'4" and called Slim as a young man, built my grandmother's house with his own hands, served in the Korean War and studied science in college. Working for USSteel after marrying my mother and starting a family, he traveling the world, consulting and running plants - making 'cakes' as he called it - before the steel industry collapsed in the 70's; taking early retirement and obtaining a decent pension at the age of 55, which you can't do anymore. Living until the age of 84, he had significant heart problems which started in his mid-50's. Modern medicine, however, kept him alive with 18 stints, 40-odd trips to the hospital, open heart surgery and a defib-pacemaker. Yet even with serious health issues, he was an intensely creative man; making stained-glass lamps, collecting Tiffany, fountain pens, crafting beautiful silver jewelry and furniture. His talent for taking disparate elements and creating beautiful objects was inspiring if occasionally hilarious (logs in the backyard made into a dinosaur with bejeweled eyes and fangs comes to mind). Had he gone another way, he might have become a full-time artisan.

Tiffany Studios 

His five children ended up alright, which he would point out at family gatherings with an air of thankful wonder - not exactly taking credit. That he championed his gay son's husband in his own quiet way was part of a life pattern: he always did the right thing even if it initially confounded him. He made things right.

I remember him joyously playing the guitar and harmonica, getting everyone to sing camp songs, working with one-pointed concentration in his workshop, lost in the art of making art, asking me if I was ok after a car accident in a preternaturally calm voice, telling me how proud he was after  hearing me sing and caressing my head when I was eight. 

My mother survives him as does his two daughters, three boys, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn at the Met

I popped into the Metropolitan Museum of Art today after 'singing for my supper' on the East Side this morning and before I made my way to the West Side to have brunch with Mr. Husband. Since I didn't have a lot of time, I only took in the lobby and the gift shop. 

And wouldn't you know it: I saw a book that I've wanted to get. Realizing that I could get it for much less on Amazon or B&N, I decided to use the an app on my iPhone right then and there. Cheeky, I know. But why should I pay $55 when I can get it for $32? The shipping was free too, since there are  quite a few stores in town. In the past, they've just packed an order and hand delivered it. Amazing really. Is it just me that's been seduced by this kind of discount? Is it any wonder that small book shops have been going out of business? 

Saw the book below which made me smile since it is in keeping with Fall colors. If I'd had time, I would have gone up on the Met's roof to see the Autumn in New York. The leaves are just starting to have definite color. North of the City? It's already peaked.

The flower arrangements are always big, operatic, over-the-top spectacular. They never cease to amaze me. I just love this space so much. It's one of the glories of Manhattan. 

It's interesting to contemplate that, originally, the lobby was filled with statuary, making it a very busy space, visually speaking. Now, people take focus along with a huge Pharaoh and quite a bit of contemporary art.

The arrangements feature dried hydrangea, if I am not mistaken. 

But I have no idea when the deep pink stuff is. Let me know if you know. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

beautiful blue

If books in a man's library tell us something about who he is, then pictures on a blog probably say something as well. What do these photos say about me? Perhaps, that I like full curtains, deep color, comfort,  soaring spaces, Chinoiserie, a bit of glam and a touch of Modern.