fashion revolution

On April 24th, 2013, 1,133 people died when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They were killed while working in sub-par conditions for familiar fashion brands.

Last year, on the first anniversary of this disaster, Fashion Revolution began as a way to call for transparency and change in the fashion supply chain. Fashion Revolutions is backed by a global coalition of designers, academics, writers, business leaders, and parliamentarians calling for systemic reform. We at Artful Home wholeheartedly support this mission.

In their own words, Fashion Revolution organizers explain: “By asking consumers, designers, brands, and all those who care to ask the simple question, ‘Who Made My Clothes?’ we envisage a change in perspective that will lead to a deeper understanding.”

Cynthia Ashby (photo courtesy of Nancy Merkling Photography)

Cynthia Ashby (photo courtesy of Nancy Merkling Photography)

We know our artists and designers by name. We have shaken the hands that sew our clothes. We support these people who create such extraordinary things and make a living through sharing their work with us — and we gladly bring the beauty they create into our closets and lives.

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Join us and show your support for a change in the fashion industry.  Share a selfie of what you’re wearing and ask #WhoMadeMyClothes?

Follow us today on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as we share the designers who made our clothes.

By |April 24th, 2015|events|0 Comments

smithsonian craft show 2015

One of my favorite rites of spring is visiting the Smithsonian Craft Show at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. Here, for four days each April, can be found one of the most dazzling juried shows and sales of American fine craft in the country. This year’s exhibition features the work of 121 artists, each selected from a pool of over a thousand applicants for creativity, innovation and mastery of material. The Smithsonian Craft Show artists are the best of the best, and we at Artful Home are honored that 24 of our artists have been selected to show at this amazing event.

nationalbuildingmuseum

As I enter the National Building Museum, I am wowed by the history and beauty of the place itself. Corinthian columns rise 75 feet and arcaded galleries surround a soaring exhibition hall. The ceilings float four stories above the exhibition floor in a design inspired by Roman palaces. The museum has been the site of 16 Presidential inaugural balls and today, nestled within this inspirational space, are the booths of artists, each lit to show the art work at its best, and glistening with the brilliance of glass, the shine of metal, the warmth of wood, the intricacy of wearable art.

In glass, I visit the booths of Brian Becher, Carrie Gustafson, and Fred Kaemmer. Each of these glass artists has a visual voice that is identifiable the moment you see their work. In his Color Weave vessels, Brian Becher seems to weave with glass rods, creating swirling networks of overlapping colored lines.

Color Weave Oval Vase by Brian Becher

Color Weave Oval Vase by Brian Becher

Fred Kaemmer is known for the placement of silver leaf on the inside of his blown glass vessels. The silver fuses with the underside of the glass to create unexpected and beautiful patterns of color, luminous from the inside out.

Gold and Red Silver Vessel by Fred Kaemmer

Gold and Red Silver Vessel by Fred Kaemmer

Carrie Gustafson creates her pieces by first blowing layers of colored glass into sculptural shapes. After the glass has cooled, she applies an intricate web of hand-cut stencils. When she hand-sandblasts each surface, she cuts through the opaque outer shells of color to reveal translucent under-layers, breath-taking in their complexity.

Spring Birch by Carrie Gustafson

Spring Birch by Carrie Gustafson

Richard Judd’s amazing chairs and tables beckon to me in the furniture section. With forms that range from perfect spirals to undulating waves, Richard’s chairs and tables are as beautiful in person as they are in photographs. The veneers of carefully matched hardwoods help to create pieces rich with personal presence. I breathe deeply in his booth, at love with the perfect simple shapes and the wood that seems to take life beneath his hands.

Ribbon Chair by Richard Judd

Ribbon Chair by Richard Judd

In wearable art, I find myself drawn to the booth of Amy Nguyen. Amy’s work is an unbelievable combination of traditional fiber technique paired with innovative cutting and piecing. She begins each piece with plain white cloth, which she folds and dyes, stitches and manipulates, until deep rich color and layers of texture unfold. Amy Nguyen creates silhouettes of apparel that seem ancient and brand-new at the same moment, and her booth is a wonderland of inspiration.

Enso Infinity Scarf by Amy Nguyen

Enso Infinity Scarf by Amy Nguyen

In the jewelry section of the show, I wander from booth to booth, exploring the treasures that rest within each display case. Pat Flynn’s bracelets and earrings contrast gold with oxidized metal, and gleam with tiny gemstones and the shimmer of diamonds.

Burnished Cuff by Pat Flynn

Burnished Cuff by Pat Flynn

Steven Ford and David Forlano create wonders with polymer clay –hollow innovative forms of oxidized silver and color that spiral, layer, ripple, and weave with a rhythm of their own.

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Warm Striped Squiggle Necklace and Calder Earrings by Steven Ford and David Forlano

Kate Cusack’s statement bracelets and neckpieces are inspired by zippers, from which she creates the sculptural forms that are an amazing juxtaposition of the commonplace with sheer elegance.

Figure Eight Zipper Necklace by Kate Cusack

Figure Eight Zipper Necklace by Kate Cusack

Ashley Buchanan references historic jewelry motifs with flat metal cut into ornate patterns and finished using the industrial process of powder coating.

Historical Interpretation Cuff by Ashley Buchanan

Historical Interpretation Cuff by Ashley Buchanan

From the modern asymmetrical brilliance of Christy Klug’s silver necklaces to the colorful 3-D printed earrings of Maria Eife, to the playful felted brooches of Danielle Gori-Montanelli, to the hand-forged and fabricated chains of Ken Loeber and Dona Look, I get lost in the intricate and focused visions of these artists who create miniature sculptures to wear.

I finish the show at the booth of Meg Little, who seems to almost paint with wool yarn to create her hand-tufted rugs. The luxuriousness of color and pattern that pulls you into her booth pales next to the sumptuous feel of the rugs beneath your hands (and feet). Her booth is a celebration of the everyday in what may be the ultimate luxury of art. After hours of walking from booth to booth, I want nothing more than to rest on the softness of these surfaces.

Okeefenokee by Meg Little

Okeefenokee by Meg Little

When the temperatures warm and the days lengthen, and the cherry blossoms begin to bloom around the Tidal Basin, I know it is time to travel to Washington D.C. for a different visual treat. The Smithsonian Craft Show is one of the best places I know to revel in American ingenuity and craftsmanship of the highest degree. Each year I am inspired by the fine work and the unique and powerful artistic visions, and I leave reassured that the future of American fine craft is in good (and brilliant) hands.

By |April 23rd, 2015|articles, events|0 Comments

seeing the world differently

For me, the ultimate power of art is its ability to frame the world in such a way that we, the viewers, see the world differently after viewing the art than we had before. Over the past days, I’ve had two wildly different experiences in San Francisco, both of which transformed spaces and transformed the way I saw those spaces and the surrounding world.

The Market Street Prototyping Festival took place for three days all along Market Street in San Francisco. As the name suggests, prototypes for potential public art pieces were erected in groupings, stretching from the waterfront all the way to Van Ness Avenue. The public was asked to experience the prototypes, then to vote via social media on the projects they thought should become permanent fixtures. Some of the work was great, much of it was conceptual and thoughtful, and a lot of it was far more fun than art. But what was exceptional was how these works changed behavior. On a busy street usually used more for getting from someplace to another, strangers stopped and interacted — with the pieces and with each other. A common place was created on this anonymous thoroughfare, transforming unappealing Market Street into lively, smiling, and vibrant Market Street.

This prototype, titled "Uncommon Ground," was not only an oasis, but was interactive. The watering fountains only jumped into action when one person stood on a square and another person sat opposite, forcing interaction in order to make the garden grow.

This prototype, titled “Uncommon Ground,” was not only an oasis, but was interactive. The watering fountains only jumped into action when one person stood on a square and another person sat opposite, forcing interaction in order to make the garden grow.

Here, children climbed the seven hills of San Francisco, and tourists gained knowledge of how this 7x7 city is laid out.

Here, children climbed the seven hills of San Francisco, and tourists gained knowledge of how this 7×7 city is laid out.

On the other end of the spectrum was the Bouquets to Art installation at the De Young Museum. This week-long installation is, interestingly, the museum’s single most popular event every year. Floral designers are invited to create works inspired by works in the museum’s permanent collection, and these elaborate works are displayed near the inspirational piece. I have to admit that it took me a few minutes to truly appreciate what was going on, as at first it struck me as just a bunch of over-the-top floral arrangements. But then I realized two things: this show and these floral designs were forcing me to stop and look at works in the museum which I had never noticed — just as the festival had forced me to stop on Market Street and look around — and through the scavenger-hunt like action of walking throughout the entire museum in order to ‘find’ the next floral design, I was seeing the museum differently.

In addition, there was some truly inspired floral design work. Plumweed Flowers created a piece inspired by Robert Henri’s “Lady in Black with a Spanish Scarf” which managed to be both homage and jumping point to something truly magical.

Photo by Drew Altizer, courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Fleur to Vie’s tribute to Irving Ramsey Wiles’ “The Sonata” was a tour de force and possessed of a similar passion to the original painting.

Photo by Drew Altizer, courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Photo by Drew Altizer, courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

This is what art is all about. This is what makes my heart sing and makes me glad that the creative spirit exists, to help us all know that there are other ways in which to view the world and to give us mere mortals a different filter through which to look, if only briefly.

By |April 19th, 2015|articles|1 Comment

a colorful spring palette

By the time April rolls around, we’re all ready for refreshing, rejuvenating new colors. Bright, cheerful, and jubilant hues abound. Outside, plants grow and bloom into beautiful sprays of life. The sun shines brighter, and the sky seems more vividly blue.

But you won’t just find spring colors in nature — refresh your home and wardrobe by choosing art, decor, and apparel in these spring colors chosen by Pantone:

Spring 2015 Pantone

PANTONE-14-4313-TPX aquamarineAquamarine

Aquamarine is an airy blue with a dreamy feel. Cool and calming, ethereal Aquamarine is a shade with a wet and watery feel. Open and expansive, this restful blue also acts as a stress reducer.”

 

PANTONE-16-4725-TPX scuba blueScuba Blue

Even though a cool shade, the vibrancy of Scuba Blue adds a splash of excitement to the palette. Scuba Blue offers a feeling of escape as it is reminiscent of a tropical ocean. This stirring and energizing shade takes us off to an exotic paradise that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy.”

 

PANTONE-14-5714-TPX lucite greenLucite Green

“Fresh and clarifying, cool and refreshing, Lucite Green has a minty glow. Light in weight and also in tone, Lucite Green seems almost transparent.”

 

 

PANTONE-19-4052-TPX classic blueClassic Blue

Reliable and thoughtful, Classic Blue inspires calm, confidence, and harmony. Just as with the sea, because of its waterborne qualities, this Classic Blue is perceived as thoughtful and introspective.”

 

PANTONE-16-1720-TPX strawberry iceStrawberry Ice

“Aptly named, Strawberry Ice is suggestive of a cooling and refreshing delicacy, yet its warmth as a color is quite appealing. Both tasty and tasteful, Strawberry Ice is a confection color that evokes a feeling of being ‘in the pink,’ emitting a flattering and healthy glow.

 

PANTONE-15-1247-TPX tangerineTangerine

Spontaneous and gregarious, Tangerine is a juicy orange shade that is energizing, yet not jarring to the eye. Good natured and friendly, but with a tangy edge, this fun-loving color invites a smile.”

 

PANTONE-13-0720-TPX custardCustard

“Just as the name implies, Custard is a delicious and delectable yellow. Sweet and sunny, Custard is a cheering tone that brings thoughts of pleasant relaxation and comfort food. Engaging with its soft and mellow warmth and full of good feelings, subtle Custard has an affable and easy disposition.

 

PANTONE-18-1438-TPX marsalaMarsala

Sensual and bold, delicious Marsala is a daringly inviting tone that nurtures; exuding confidence and stability while feeding the body, mind, and soul. Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this robust shade incorporates the warmth and richness of a tastefully fulfilling meal, while it’s grounding red-brown roots point to a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

PANTONE-16-4120-TPX dusk blueDusk Blue

Reminiscent of the blue sky above, Dusk Blue is ultimately dependable and faithful. In a world that has become increasingly chaotic, the nostalgic Dusk Blue enables us to retreat into a safe place of quiet blue calm.”

 

PANTONE-18-0135-TPX treetopTreetop

Treetop is a healthy harmonious green from nature which offers a reassuring presence. Physiologically affecting the nervous system, this soothing green hue causes us to breathe slowly and deeply, helping the heart to relax by slowing the production of stress hormones.”

 

PANTONE-18-0538-TPX woodbineWoodbine

A classic yellow-green that could be used with anything and everything, Woodbine is a hue of foliage, grass, and growing plants. Inexorably linked to our sense of smell, Woodbine is evocative of a freshly mown lawn or a flourishing palm frond.”

 

PANTONE-16-3310-TPX lavender herbLavender Herb

Lavender Herb is a shade that intrigues the eye. Lavender Herb is also a creative shade; one that will add a distinctive color pop whether on its own or combined with other spring colors.”

 

These vibrant, revitalizing colors can be found throughout Artful Home — but we’ve pulled together collections of fresh blues, tender greens, warm pinks, sunny yellows, cheerful oranges, and lovely purples. You can also find extraordinary works of art in our Spring 2015 Pantone board on Pinterest. We’d love to hear about what colors you’re drawn to this season — let us know in the comments.

By |April 15th, 2015|articles|2 Comments

painting the landscape

What is it about the landscape that fascinates painters so? While the landscape is not a uniquely American tradition, it has played a special role in American art. America’s geographical wonders have always provided artists with a bountiful variety of subjects from the East Coast to the West. For example, in the mid-19th century, the painters of the Hudson River School captured the magical light of the eastern mountains. Painters like Thomas Moran explored and painted the wilder areas of this country. Early on, Moran painted around Lake Superior, and from there, he went on to paint the great landscapes of the West, including Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, and Yosemite.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Thomas Moran (1872)

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Thomas Moran

Moran and the other artists who captured the beauty of this country also played a significant role in helping to preserve its most magnificent areas. The art they sent back East helped inspire the creation of the early National Parks. To this day, many of our National Parks honor the vital role of art through artist-in-residency programs.

The Oxbow by Thomas Cole (1836)

The Oxbow by Thomas Cole (1836)

American landscape painters have also been inspired by artistic fashion in Europe. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many American painters traveled to France, where they were inspired by Monet and the other Impressionists. Upon returning to the US, they helped create a uniquely American version of Impressionism: painterly and colorful, yet faithful to subject and experience. Notable American Impressionist painters include Indiana’s T.C. Steele, Wisconsin’s Theodore Robinson, and California’s William Wendt.

The Duck Pond by Theodore Robinson (1891)

The Duck Pond by Theodore Robinson (1891)

As the 20th century wound on, artists gained more freedom in their approach to painting and took on more diverse styles—landscape painting included. Abstraction, in particular, became increasingly popular, and New York began to play a bigger role in the global art world. However, not all artists found abstraction to be a satisfying means of expression, nor did they feel that New York was the only place in America to create art. The mid-20th century also saw the growth of Regionalism through artists such as Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry. While these artists may not have focused exclusively on landscapes, it was their work that carried the American landscape forward.

Iowa Cornfield by Grant Wood (1941)

Iowa Cornfield by Grant Wood (1941)

Fairfield Porter is another painter who rejected pure abstraction, and his style can be seen as influential to some of the work in this collection. Though he was a realist, Porter included decidedly abstract elements in his work, using abstract shapes to portray trees, shadows, and other landscape features. He also echoed the abstract painters of the day by de-emphasizing three-dimensional space within the picture frame. His work looks flat, yet his colors are so true to life they create an interesting dynamic between the abstract and realistic elements.

Calm Morning by Fairfield Porter (1961)

Calm Morning by Fairfield Porter (1961)

Even as styles diversified during the 20th century, one theme continued to unify artists of the landscape: a love for the land and the desire to evoke the memories we have from our experience in nature. Whether painting en plein aire or in the studio, whether abstractly, painterly or more symbolically, artists of the landscape all seem to have a deep reverence for the earth—a spiritual connection.

The work in this collection represents a diversity of styles and disciplines. Some of the characteristics that make these works special are the use of rhythm, the importance of color, and the role of painterly abstraction. I am intrigued, in particular, by the linocut prints of William Hays. His work has some of the two-dimensional quality of Fairfield Porter. Look at Migration, in which he captures the essence of spring’s light and creates the sense of a fresh spring breeze through his patterns of line.

Or look at Jane Aukshunas’s work, Early Spring. Notice how the big shapes created by the arrangement of fields of color create such an interesting composition. There is a definite Regionalist influence—Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton come to mind when viewing her work.

The paintings of Janice Sugg also catch my attention, work that is decidedly more abstract. Notice her use of bold shapes to create strong, abstract compositions that still echo the landscape.

There is something about spring that creates a sense of urgency for the landscape painter. It isn’t just the return of warmth—though it is far more enjoyable to paint outside when you aren’t fighting to stay warm. With spring comes the burning desire to paint out in nature, rather than from sketches and photographs in the studio, and to feel the fresh breeze and smell the fragrances of rejuvenation. There is a craving to capture the colors of spring—tender greens, subtle pinks, fresh blues, cheerful oranges, sunny yellows, delicate purples—colors just as fleeting as fall’s color show. Out in nature, spring is a special time to paint and a vibrant season to capture. With this collection, we welcome the return of spring and reacquaint ourselves with nature.

By |April 9th, 2015|articles|1 Comment