Thursday, March 21, 2013

Selvedge at Anthropologie, and the Chelsea Town Hall - Kings Road

I don't know what's happening at the Anthropologie on Regents Street, but I can tell you about The Gallery at Anthropologie on the Kings Road.  Sadly this show closes on the 31st.  But you can find more about it, and the artist, Abigail Brown, here and here.  Concurrently this weekend (yes all you in the U.K., that means starting today and for the rest of you, there's something called high-speed air and train travel?  sorry, yes, teasing) is the Selvedge Fair at the Chelsea Town Hall, just a couple doors down from Anthropologie.  (Check that first link again.)

Oh God.  I felt lousy about leaving London on Monday.  It seemed far too soon.  And the Selvedge Fair reminds me why.

Can I get on a soapbox and rant for a minute?


This is what ART is, when it goes beyond craft.  These little birds are so lifelike, so alive, you feel you could hold them in your hands and feel them warm, their bodies shifting under your fingers, their teeny hearts beating under their feathers.  (And the feathers are made of teeny pieces of fabric!)

This is what the English do very well.  The training in the art schools is so very good, that the caliber of their craft and decorative art production is at a very high level.  I am an artist who is not snobbish about craft, a painter who is not snobbish about many American artists are, and have been.  But the sad fact about American art education is that it has so been steeped in abstract expressionism and conceptual art theory for so many years (which, don't get me wrong, I appreciate....but!), and now, perhaps commercial expediencies, that art graduates get very boxed in for their lifetimes in a complacency and reductivism about their own ideas and achievements and cheat themselves and the world of a richness of texture, detail, color, realization that.....they may not know they are capable of.  And which is very satisfying, and as I've said in a recent post, transcendent.

Work like Abigail Brown's is possibly also the product of a culture that, beyond London especially, still moves at a slower pace. Where it's o.k. to talk long-ly, to sit quiet and look.  LONG-ly.  To listen.  Carefully.  To persist, to adventure, to explore.  All this is what I LOVE about traveling to Europe.

(vs. bashing something out and talking very loudly about it then rushing on to the next NEW THING.  because that's what a commercial, "monetizing" and info-trash overloaded culture expects of you.  something America seems v. keen to sell to the rest of the world.)

We have a cliche in America about "raising the bar".

(Selvedge's mini-haberdashery)

To be fair, I think someone like Martha Stewart has succeeded fabulously well in doing this through commercial means, and changed a couple generations' worth of Americans' ideas of norms and expectations in aesthetics.  And in terms of what are valuable ways in which to spend your time and your life.  Values, which HAVE always existed in American life but which in the late 20th century were increasingly denigrated and marginalized by the "marketplace".  You can count Anthropologie  now alongside Martha in countering these attitudes.   And broadening our mainstream vocabularies (YAY!)  

Also now, we can give thanks for the internet.  My experience of it is that it can broaden everybody's minds and propose other choices, standards, and inspiration.  Should we so choose to seek in that way......  And I am so happy, through the internet, to share some of these with you.  We can't all travel, but we all can LOOK and learn.  And find lots to wonder at, emulate...... And.....enjoy.   (En-joie!) 

I guess what I'm saying is that work like this still seems extremely rare in America.  And I hope that situtation is changing.  (And quickly)!

...........Happy Weekend!

(Thanks for letting me get that bee out of my bonnet!  Guess I needed to!)


  1. my point exactly, in a sense, when i travel and experience british riches.
    now. on europe... hmmmmm.
    conceptualism is high strung in belgian colleges, 'm afraid. don't know about pace, haven't got a clue, actually, but am under the impression it comes down to an individual choice. perhaps all will be well, like it's always been.

    interesting counter on the worth of MSL. i have to admit i haven't missed the woman on tv by the time her program disappeared, but she may have had her impact, i mean she's referred to by many creatives, over the internet; creativity in itself of course undergoing a thorough revival.

    you were in london? beastly lucky!

  2. I love the American dynamism and sheer power put behind things -trends, even leisure activities - but sometimes, it's scary. Part of that is that market drive as you say, that dehumanizes. There isn't that canned sort of notion of what is in here. The US Market is too big for its own good!!

  3. Oh my goodness, I want Daniel to read this, you couldn't have said it better MP. I always had a feeling about this, but was unable to articulate it. yes yes yes... xo

  4. il y a en Dordogne (magnifique région du sud ouest de la France fameuse pour ses grands vins) une communauté bouddhiste vietnamienne très appréciée, dont le maitre THICH NATH HANH vient de rassembler plus de 600 personnes cette semaine, j'y étais, comme tous les ans depuis 7 ans. L'ambiance est indescriptible! et en plus cette année j'avais dans mon équipe une fille clown qui nous a fait rire, c'était vraiment très joyeux! Il écrit de nombreux livres, traduits dans toutes les langues, tu devrais regarder au rayon psychologie de ta librairie.
    Ils sont marrants ces oiseaux!!! XOXO dear miss Paradis, as tu passer un bon we?


    Racine, Wisconsin, has a craft museum that I think you would enjoy if you ever are in the Chicago or Milwaukee area. I've been there once; I loved it. (And I really enjoyed visiting downtown Racine.) I'm afraid I don't know much about it but what I remember is that this "fine" craft museum is only one of Racine's craft museums; at least, when I visited, they had another craft museum in another part of town that was older and also featured crafts - presumably traditional crafts. Perhaps the Abigail Brown parrots will inspire me to go again!