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Austen meets Austin

What Jane Saw

 
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Shawn Huckins’ art exhibition “American Revolution Revolution” is a wild and creative mashup of 18th century iconic images with 21st century internet-speak. His portraits hit us with the words: Traditional, classical, historical and reverential. They are juxtaposed with the lexicon of text messages, twitter, emoticons and Facebook. 

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It is a fast fast forward of where we are now while looking at our past history, how we communicate and a reminder of how art evolves to reflect culture and values. 

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Huckins’ art is clever but to focus on that alone would miss the larger message. Are we more connected today than in 1776? Is life simpler or more complex? Do we have more genuine human relationships than our ancestors or fewer? What is art in the 21st century? How would the Founding Fathers use modern media?

Would they assemble a flash mob at Bunker Hill? 

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Shawn Huckins’ creations are a refreshing and provocative.

What can we say but,” My dear Lord, I am a fan.”.

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For more Shawn Hankins

Click here

Shawn Huckins Art

 
 
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Published on August 17, 2013, in Classical Art.

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Rule #1: Every home needs classical art. 

Specifically, a classical bust.

They link us to our collective past and give us our identity. It is the art that inspired nations, philosophers and poets.

Durning the Enlightenment, the great minds, artists and governments knew the importance of antiquities and their ability to connect individuals to ideas and institutions.  A bust grounds us with dignity and ancient virtues.

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The Greeks created sculptures in an idealized form.  Figures are immortalized in marble with restraint and balance. Exalted images of youth were forever captured in perfect proportions and serenity. 

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While the Greeks thought it was necessary to capture the entire individual, the Romans only needed the face, with all of its flaws and unique features, to convey the life and totality of an individual. Roman busts were used to commemorate people of importance. The realistic portraits of sobering faces with imperfections expressed their true character. Faces communicated bravery, honor and morality.

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“The power of ancient art has to do with its ability to embody great acts and communicate their human dimension. Rome became the model for Western culture from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment.” Michael Kimmelman NYTimes

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“The point is that objects have one meaning to those who made them, others to those who find or buy them centuries later, and yet other meanings for those who come upon them in a museum. Their different careers ensure immortality.” Michael Kimmelman NYTimes

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Breaking Bad begins its final season with a trailer of actor Bryan Cranston quoting Shelley’s Ozymandias.

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It’s a masterful rendition of Shelley’s poem recited against the backdrop of the barren New Mexico desert with the slow pounding of a drum signaling the final heart beats of a dying man. The end is near. This teaser has already attracted over a half million viewers on YouTube and presents a rare convergence of modern media, pop culture and classic literature. Is this a “teachable moment”? 

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Hopefully, a few will google “Ozymandias” and further explore Shelley’s theme of power and hubris, of dead leaders and vanished civilizations. In 14 lines, Shelley recounts a vision of broken majesty, how the great and mighty may boast and posture but in the end, all that remains of their kingdom are remnants in the dust. Words on broken pieces of stone. 

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Ozymandias, one of Shelley’s most famous poems, was the result of a 1817 poetry slam between Shelley and his friend, Horace Smith, as they pondered the the partially-destroyed statue of Ramses II that was making its way to London from Egypt. Napoleon, who was also enthralled with the statue, had previously tried to move it but only managed to mar the 7.5 ton relic.

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After Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign of 1798–1801, teams of artists and scientists were employed to catalogue the sights and new discoveries. This brought about a craze in France for all things Egyptian.

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When the French army finally surrendered to the British in Egypt, they had to relinquished their most prized archeological find, the Rosetta Stone.

The appeal of Egyptian design elements continued to grow in popularity throughout Britain and her colonies. In 1922, Tutankhamun’s burial site was discovered. The bounty of elaborate artifacts and golden treasures created a renewed interest in Egyptian style and greatly influenced Art Deco artists. 

Ideologies and empires disappear, but as Shelley knew, the words of poets and inspired art remains.

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“Dessert on plates”. That scrumptious image is how a contemporary of Robert Adam, the 18th c. designer extraordinaire, described the repeated circles Adam created on the ceiling of the music room at 20 Portman Square.

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His creations are works of art that look good enough to eat. Whether they are expansive and colorful or wrap a room in a stately monochromatic design, their appearance is that of a sweet confection.

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Robert Adam was happiest when he had control over all aspects of a building’s design. This included the exterior, interior, furniture and of course the dramatic ceilings. He often repeated the design of the ceiling in the floor or rug. 

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Note to homeowner: These overhead masterpieces are best displayed when you have a 30 or 40 ft ceiling and so it is a total bummer if you don’t.RAdam 3.001

Ceilings aren’t what they use to be. Something fresh and different in overhead design is sadly lacking.  “New” seems to mean the same old stenciled, paneled, exposed beamed, tin covered and fabric draped spaces.  

What a lovely surprise to see the study area created in the Pasadena Design Home in California. The ceiling shimmers from tawny vanilla to creamy carmel to a glistening soft shade of straw. 

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The design was created and executed by Michael Fullen. The ceiling is made from textural grass cloth cut into octagons and finished with automotive lacquer. The ever changing hues of gold are achieved by placing the weave of each piece in a different direction. Ceiling 1.001

Michael Fullen Design Group

Yum – Another dessert for the eyes!

 

 
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Published on July 22, 2013, in Royal Babies.

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If Kate and William want to ward off any evil spirits or paparazzi surrounding the new Prince of Cambridge, perhaps they will use a device employed by their royal ancestors… the baby rattle. 

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Rattles are one of the oldest toys in the world and can be found in almost every culture. For all the unpredictability of babies, they are predictably captivated by rattles. This little noise maker is the ultimate multipurpose toy. They can be used to calm and stimulate while also encouraging hand and eye coordination. The right type of material can provide a soothing surface for teething.

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Who knew they could also ward off evil spirits?

Throughout history, infant morality has been a constant fear for parents. Baby rattles served as the perfect amulets to protect a child from illness and adversity. Materials like coral, rock crystal and wolf’s teeth were believed to have supernatural powers.

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Not everyone was a fan. The French philosopher Rousseau criticized luxury rattles because they accustomed children to opulence at a very young age. Rousseau believed that a twig, stick of licorice or poppy head could equally entertain a child. 

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He already knew what all parents eventually learn,

to a child,

 the box the gift came in…

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is more interesting than the gift!

 

 

 

 

 
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Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 7.42.36 PMWho put the Earl in Earl Grey tea? An intriguing back story is always helpful when it comes to promoting a personal biography. For all his achievements, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, may best be known for being the namesake of one of the world’s most popular teas. Legend has it that Charles Grey received the gift of aromatic tea as a token of appreciation from a Chinese mandarin whose life he saved; or in another story, he apparently saved the life of the son of the mandarin. Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 8.04.50 PMHmmm? This tale is highly doubtful but it’s a win win for Earl Grey’s legacy and all those who market this exotic blend of black tea and bergamot oil. How the Earl came to be associated with the eponymous tea remains questionable. In 1837, charges were brought against an English tea merchant for adding bergamot to a mediocre tea in the effort to pass it off as a superior product. Under these circumstances, it seems unlikely that Charles Grey would endorse a bergamot flavored tea. However, by 1882, Queen Victoria was making frequent purchases of “Earl Grey’s Mixture”. Her purchase was supposedly made upon a recommendation by Earl Grey… and the myth continues …Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 8.04.32 PM

 

The distinctive smoky black tea with its wonderful aroma and flavor comes from the addition of oil from the bergamot orange. It has become a favorite for tea drinkers and chefs alike. Earl Grey tea is a popular ingredient in cookies, cakes, jams, ice cream, pudding and even martinis. The strong flavor is a perfect addition when few other ingredients are needed. Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 8.25.47 PM

Martha Stewart’s Earl Grey tea cookies are deliciously simple. Martha Stewart Earl Grey Cookies  I highly recommend using a strong loose leaf tea like the Earl Grey Lavender tea from American Tea Room. American Tea Room  A diluted version of Earl Grey is rather sad. They have a subtle aroma of bergamot and lavender which makes these cookies doubly good.