05 July 2015

Artist: Dorothea Lange

I recently discovered how much great viewing there is on PBS online and was intrigued to watch a documentary on Dorothea Lange directed by her granddaughter Dyanna Taylor. Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning shows footage of Lange from 1962-66, combing through her vast photographic archive to choose images for an exhibit at MoMA. Her assessments of her own work are interspersed with the back story of a childhood bout with polio which left her with a limp, her two marriages and her struggle to balance art with motherhood. The photographs she took during the 1930s of the migrant farmers and their families fleeing the dust bowl states for the west coast (and finding that there wasn't work or shelter for them there) came to represent the Great Depression and eventually helped galvanize the public and the government to provide aid. As she traveled the country, often with second husband Paul Taylor (an economist and social scientist), she would introduce herself to her subjects and let them know what she was doing so that they were willing to be photographed. The result was a stark realism that still holds up 80 years later. Most sobering for me, was Lange's description of a series of photos she took of middle class women's mended stockings as they sat waiting to be given a bag of groceries to take home (a surreptitious bread line for women of a certain social standing). Their silk stockings were scarred with thin snags that had been meticulously darned, yet that looked worse for the mending. No self-respecting woman would have left the house in such a state unless those were the only stockings she owned and she didn't have the means to replace them. It's these small details that tell the story of such a difficult time and that remind us not just to look at what is in front of us, but to really see it.


Images: Dorothea Lange via Shorpy and Indulgy.

07 June 2015

Old + New

My appreciation for vintage decor is long established: I discovered after college that flea market finds satisfied both my limited budget and my desire for originality, and later took my passion to the next level when I owned a vintage furniture and home goods store in Philadelphia (RevivalSmith). Having worked as a visual merchandiser for ABC Carpet & Home for almost 2 years, I've now come to see the beauty in sleek modernity. The most interesting spaces to me are those that combine disparate styles that shouldn't be compatible in a way that enhances the qualities of each. In the bedroom above by PROjECT Interiors, the weathered doors behind the bed keep the modern furnishings from feeling cold and serious. I've always had a penchant for the underdog so when an expensive space is inclusive of distressed salvage, it feels like a win. When I renovated a rowhome in Philadelphia a few years ago (featured in this post), an old barn door was the first addition to my living room. In my home there will always be room for the decorating equivalent of the velveteen rabbit.     


Images: 1) Home Adore. 2) Apartment Therapy. 3) Nicety. 4) Blog 'n' Blogs. 5) We Heart. 6) Architectural Digest. 7) Indecora.                                   

03 April 2015

Pastels: Not Just for Easter Eggs

Though pastels are often associated with children's rooms and Easter eggs, muted peach tones and robin's egg blue can actually be very sophisticated. The bedroom above, designed by Dyer Grimes Architects of London, proves that these shades can be used to create a restful, grown-up space. A hint of pink or yellow in a gray or black and white room, keeps it from feeling too serious. I don't naturally gravitate towards these colors, but spaces like these make me think I need to at least consider them an option the next time I have a painting project. Check out this previous post for a more youthful take on pastels.

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