Sunday, April 15, 2012

Black and White

Sculpture, Mike Wright

First, I'd like to thank everyone who read my post on the New England Home Magazine design blog.  I tried to respond personally to everyone for which I had an e-mail address but for those I couldn't, I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on the post.  The guest post "gig" is a two-post deal, so I have another one coming up soon that that will be art focused.

Second, my apologies both for the lack of posts and for getting behind on my blog reading.  I've been trying to achieve more balance in my life and, although it worked for a while, it just hasn't been possible lately.  Work has been occupying a great deal of my time.  I've had a lot of early mornings and late nights that just haven't left time (or energy) for much else.  

I haven't made much progress on the bedroom; in fact, I had a big mishap today...

When I rolled out the seagrass rug, I used a can of water-based polyurethane to weight down the corner and then immediately tripped over it.

The rug is ruined but my feet are really, really glossy...and, I'll bet, waterproof.

Since many of you seemed intrigued by the artwork teaser in my last bedroom post, I thought I would do a post on black and white artwork.  I like to collect artwork.  I buy it even when I don't have a place to hang it.  It's a problem, I'll admit.  I've even limited myself to artists who lived in Provincetown as way of controlling myself.  I've always wanted to have a big gallery wall of black and white artwork so I pick up pieces and just file them away.  Here are some of the black and white pieces for my someday gallery wall.

"Wreckage" by Tracey Anderson done as part of a series
in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Tracey is an artist I read an article about several years ago.  I found her so interesting I reached out to her to get to know her.  She's very outspoken about art that's purely decorative:  pretty for the sake of being pretty isn't art to her.  Her work is filled with icons and symbols that are characters of her own language, often what I perceive to be steampunk-type objects that listen to and watch us.   I find her and her work very interesting.

Sculpture by Mike Wright.  I'd love to incorporate sculpture into a gallery wall to give it more dimension.  To have this sitting on a little floating shelf would be really neat.

Peter Busa, ca. 1950s

Tracey Anderson, 2006

Fritz Bultman, 1961

You've seen this piece before in my living room.

Mike Wright, wood construction

Tracey Anderson

Paul Bowen, monoprint, 2010

A drawing by Peter Busa from his time at the Yaddo artists' community in 1942.

You've seen the piece before in my dining room.

Tracey Anderson, 2005

Suzanne Harding, mixed media

This is the piece, also by Tracey Anderson, that I framed to go over the bed.

It's kind of a harsh piece but I thought framing it in the ornate frame would give it a whimsical quality that would lighten it up.  

And I really wanted something that would be a nice textural contrast against the headboard.  It may be a piece that a lot of people dislike, or even hate, but that's okay.  I like art that makes people ask questions and I think the overall effect once the room is done will be good.  

I'm off to buy a new rug.


  1. Steve,
    I hear glossy feet will be all the rage this summer! I once spilled a gallon of white trim paint all over myself! Lesson learned? Take the paint can off the stepladder BEFORE moving said stepladder. Maybe you can use the poly'd rug on the porch for the summer, it'll keep your feet company.

  2. Oh,
    Great artwork! Simple and powerful. I love the piece that's going over the bed. I think you gallery wall will be stunning, when/where is it going to happen?

  3. No VERY sorry about the rug. At least it wasn't something totally irreplaceable... just something you liked.

    You have a very interesting collection of black and white art. It's not really my cup of tea, but it does cause one to think and ask questions. One of the things I love about collecting art is that there is so much to choose from and everyone get what s/he likes/wants. You would go pastel crazy in my house!!

    Hope work lets up soon. I know that feeling way too well.

  4. What a fabulous collection! I love all the Mike Wright sculpture and will make a point of hunting him down on line. The Fritz Bultman is my other favourite. It is so lively! Pity about the rug but shiny seagrass is so not you. The gorgeous grey in the bedroom certainly is though.

  5. I love all the Mike Wright sculpture and the Fritz Bultman is so lively. It is a stunning collection. Pity about the rug but glossy seagrass is so not you. The gorgeous grey in the bedroom definitely is though! You may have two comments from me as I'm having trouble with blogger.

  6. What a fabulous collection.

    I'm intrigued by Tracey Johnson and am off to read more about her.

    OMG it's so deliciously warm here today.

    Tomorrow I'll just be bitching, today I'm loving it.

    xo J.

  7. So sorry about the rug but these things happen. I know it's an expensive lesson but at least it's replacable.

    I really love the first sculpture by Mike Wright. Black can really say a lot. I personally think art can sit there and look pretty not sure why everything needs to be saying something but that's just me. Sometimes I need things to simply stay quiet and say look at me.


  8. Glossy feet are excellent for rainy days. No need to get your shoes wet, barefoot rules. But I AM sorry about the rug -- I can imagine the words that flew about the room over that. I love your art. it is bold and daring and you.

  9. S...I had a rug "incident" myself a couple of years ago. It turned out to be a happy accident, however, when it provided for the use of a small 3x5 that I had inherited, but had not found a place for. I love a threadbare over a grass rug.
    Your "black and white" are stunning. I love how you have incorporated a bit of modern into your classic home's life. This was an excellent post...thanks...k

  10. Total bummer on the rug. Could you get it cut down and bound and use it someplace else?

    I really like sketches and find them great art pieces...they are on my wish list to find some really cool ones to frame.

  11. Ummmmmm... you KNOW what I'm going to say, so I won't say it.

    but sorry about your rug. :(
    and I totally understand how life can get in the way of blogging.
    Just as long as you eventually come back. :)

  12. That's a very good selection of black & white art you have. My husband's collection has two particularly striking black & white pieces. One is a dark 'mine' print by Henry Moore and the other is a door-sized Leonard Baskin. The word you used to describe the Tracey Anderson is a good one for describing Baskin’s print… "harsh." My thanks… I have never quite found the way to describe it properly before. Door-sized is a lot of ‘harsh’ to live with!

    I like graphite sketches, myself. And – okay – I’ll admit am also an admirer of some “pretty art”, particularly Japanese woodblocks.

  13. J.W.,
    Love Henry Moore. And I know Leonard Baskin's work because he has some connection to Cape Cod. Many of his print certainly aren't pretty but he was really good.

  14. Love this post, and the amazing art. What a treat to see this kind of art incorporated into "real life."

  15. I think your choice for the frame for the one in your bedroom is perfect. Love it. My other favorite is the white Mike Wright (and the larger 3D one.) I saw one of her pieces at the 21st Century Design show at the Cyclorama a few weeks ago.

    I was very close to purchasing a very nice abstract black & white lithograph today at Todd Farm. It would fit right into your collection. I refrained though (instead I bought a super colorful, whimsical fantasy painting. My hyper eclectic tastes are amaze me somethings. I hope work eases up soon for you.

  16. Black and white is it all. I know. I wish there were more walls!

  17. I love the Pail Bowen. Couldn't wash out the water based poly? Crap. Back to Pottery Barn?

  18. Sorry about your mishap, can the rug be resized? Hope so!

    I don't remember seeing the Harding before, I love it!

  19. Thank you for sharing your black and white art collection, Steve. Very interesting. I love the contrast of black and white. At an art exhibit last fall, one of my favorite pieces was by Franz Klein (Untitled, 1961). I'd love to have a huge, modern b/w painting in my home some day. Of your collection, my favorite pieces are Wreckage by Tracey Anderson and The Fritz Bultman. LOVE it in your living room. So interesting how art looks different in the context of the room. It's perfect there.

  20. So sorry about your rug. What a bummer.
    I really love the art collection you have amassed and those on your wishlist. In reading comments on my own art I have noticed that most people want something pretty. Personally, I am in your camp of liking things that make you think a little more. The piece you have for the bedroom is a marvelous counterpoint to the "cottage" feel in your house and I think you are on the right track.

  21. you have some fantastic pieces, there, steve. I did a little gasp when I saw a few of them. I'm a b&w lover as well, so they resonate with me. and I for one love the quirky, harsh pieces; right up my alley. as I have said, anyone with antique dress forms in the dining room has gotta love stuff like that. donna

  22. Wonderful collection! I love your style. N.G.

  23. Hydrogen Peroxide is a miracle for getting paint out of the rug. I use it all the time in the steam cleaner, and it does not take out color, I promise. The rug can be saved; if we were neighbors I'd save it for you!

  24. beautiful artwork steve. hope you found a new rug too. dang.

  25. Perhaps that corner of your rug could be hidden under a piece of furniture? I'm hoping you can salvage all or part of it somehow.
    Glossy feet are the rage this year.
    Love your art work and keen sense of style.

  26. Marvelous collection. As a fan of modern art, I have admired the way you use it in your more traditional house. A black and white art gallery wall would be amazing. I especially love the first sculpture.

  27. I love your black and white collection of art! and y our living room! Thanks for the lovely inspiration.
    Nancy ( new follower!)

  28. Hi Steve,
    Love your art. I have a Baskin from the 70's that would fit right in.
    Where did you get your topiaries? Somewhere local I hope.
    Loi Thai has inspired me to get back into myrtle topiaries.
    And where are you getting your seagrass rug - do you have a good local source you'd want to share?
    All the best,

  29. Guess it is still too cold to walk barefoot on the beach and test out the waterproof feet? Intriguing collection of artwork. Partial to the Wright sculptures myself. If you decide to edit your collection, let me know. I would take any of them!

  30. Ruth,
    I love Baskin's work. I've been getting my rugs from Natural Home Rugs in California. If you buy a ready-made one, they're very reasonable and the shipping is free. The ones I've been using are actually mountain grass which is a warmer color than seagrass. More of a honey tone whereas sea grass is greener. It also doesn't smell as long as sea grass. They're rubberized on the back if that matters to you one way or the other. They have sales all the time so I just bought a 9x12 for $219! It's a little too long but I'll rip the binding off and cut it down to the perfect size and glue the binding back on. I don't think you can beat the price and if someone spills red wine or tips a can of paint, it's not a big deal to replace.

  31. So sorry about the rug. I love your art collection. Black and white art makes such a statement and you can just use it anywhere. You have some really wonderful pieces and talented artists in your town!

  32. Oh, Ruth, the topiaries are from Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunkport. If you've never been there, you should put it on your list. It's a great place. If you ever make a trip up there, let me know. I can give you a list of all my favorite places.

  33. There's a common thread and vocabulary in the art wotk you showed us, Steve. A particular kind of structure and language. An iconographic repetition of forms and shapes. I like it.

    Sally and I can relate to your collecting "habit", not having wall space, seeing something we like, etc....
    For us, it's old Palladian architectural drawing and renderings and calligraphy. I'm feeling a swing to early American wood carving coming on. There's some pretty amazing bird and duck decoy work out there.


  34. I can't believe I am less than a day late and already number 33 on your commenters list. Hey, how can I get a backstage pass here, or front-row seating or something?

    I like all your art. I really like that it is weird and funny and kind of crazy. It really fits with you and those mad cats of yours. I think it says a lot about you. I am not sure what though. :)

    I find this type of art to be very charming , but I sometimes struggle with the degree of difficulty aspect with some modern art. I find it confusing to evaluate art when I have to know what the artist was thinking/intending when they did it, but otherwise it looks like something I could do. I like the art to stand on its own, either with its beauty or its graphical interest, or even if it is quizzical and I want to ponder it. Many of your pieces meet my criteria, but would I spend the money? I dunno. This art thing is a hard beast to understand. I definitely "appreciate" all your pieces and I am glad you bought them. I like your P'town criteria also - the support of the living/local thing is meaningful indeed.
    LOVE that Fritz Bultman and also the Mike Wright pieces - wow! xo Terri

  35. Oh, and sorry about your rug - that totally sucks. I am having a whole week of bad luck, so I feel your pain. Thank God you didn't get the $5000 Oushak.

  36. Sorry about the rug. No sense crying over spilled polyurethane.

  37. Oh, so sorry about your rug. This sounds EXACTLY like something that I would do!! Love your blog.

  38. Dear Steve,
    Thanks for the tip about Natural Home Rugs in California and mountain grass. Are you indicating that it's less stain repellant than sea grass?
    And I'd love to take you up on your tour guide tips to Kennebunk. I'll let you know when I get it together to go.
    I'd also like more info from Margaret on putting peroxide in a steam cleaner to remove paint, etc. I'm intrigued by the idea but don't want to destroy my rather expensive steam cleaner. I hope she reads this and posts some more.
    Well, continue having fun.

  39. The spilled paint brought back a familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach when I saw your image. I know too well how frustrating that is! Also, I love black and white art too and I know you don't need anymore sources for art but thought you might like to check out this young artist's work. It's phenomenal and right up your alley:


  40. Hi, Steve - I like your taste in art, and I especially like the idea of a black and white gallery - I know it will happen someday. Have you considered Min Wax for your feet?

  41. From one klutz to another. Shit happens.
    On another note loving the black and white art you have shown.
    Like you...trying to catch up on my reading.

  42. LOVELY PICS:) I really like your blog and will happily follow.
    If you want some swedish decor inspiration, you can check out my blog:)
    Have a great week.

    LOVE Maria at

  43. Yes, Baskin was good. We also have a small black & white print of a hanged man. Good but not pretty! :)

  44. Hi Steve,

    I've read and re-read this post so many times and haven't left a comment because I felt I needed to a bit of research (okay...googling) before I commented. I absolutely love your art collection. I do remember seeing that small piece displayed on your built ins when I first started reading your blog, but how in the world did I miss the one in your living room by Fritz Bultman? I don't know what it's supposed to represent...not sure if we are even supposed to know...but I kinda love it and most definitely love it in that exact spot. I'm loving Tracey Anderson's work too. I'm wondering why you describe your new piece as don't have to answer. That's what I love about's great for discussions.

    Sorry about the mishap on your new rug...I'm thinking maybe painting some squares white...or a plant over that spot??


  45. Make the rug an octagon...:P

    Oh and speaking of fabby art, I love your choice-it IS provocative, and that's what good art does-it provokes! IMHO, of course.

    More art: My son is now on Etsy.
    I remember when he doodled on a place mat once and I asked him what he thought he was doing (!) and he said, "um...a prehistoric penguin."

    Check him out here:

  46. Susan,
    The octagon is probably the most creative solution I've heard yet.
    Interesting work of your son's. I love his Leonardo Ninja Turtles, very creative!

  47. seems to me, you have the beginning of a black and white art rug

    john in nc

  48. I love the artwork especially the Fritz Bultman piece - by the way glossy feet sounds like a great summer look!!

  49. Oh no! Poor rug! I have a funny story involving paint. My fiance and I were doing a quick DIY project outside my design store and showing off his muscles David picked up a paint can and proceeded to give it a vigorous shaking to incorporate the paint. Unbeknownst to him I had opened the can earlier and the lid flew off spreading dark brown paint all over the sidewalk. Fortunately concrete is washable. Lesson learned by us both! Shiree'

  50. Yes! Paint the rug!! Go to town Poly-Boy!

    Your art is always

  51. If I were you will go ahed and paint the rug to some color or design pattern, than if it looks too new wil put it out for the summer to lose some of the new on it and va la.

  52. Not to be superficial and pass up commenting on your black and white art (which is pretty amazing), but I most certainly have not seen that photo of your living room. WOW! It is worth a long study on my part.

  53. Steve, I also gravitate towards b/w art pieces. You are showing some really nice examples.

    But I have to say (again) - what a wonderful stylist you are! Yes, really. You have a most wonderful eye for composition, textures and scale. Be proud!


  54. Hi Ruth-
    Re: peroxide on rugs, yes, it totally works in the steam cleaner. I've used it straight out of the bottle for major spills, or pet accidents. The deal with acrylic paint spills-and it happens-is soap and water, followed by solvent such as peroxide, witch hazel, etc. I never met a rug I couldn't revive, and I HATE dirt, so trust me, I'm fierce when it comes to finding solutions when I can't rip up wall-to-wall, or jettison a nice rug due to corner damage. BTW, Urban Cottage blog rocks, and although I don't visit often, it always amazes, and soothes the savage soul. Peace.

  55. PS Ruth, my steam cleaner is a top of the line, and so far it has not suffered any damage by not using the recommended steam cleaners (which I hate, BTW). Disclaimer...