Sunday, November 29, 2009

Off to India

The blog will be on hiatus until mid-December while my wife and I travel to India to attend a wedding and commit some journalism. She is a writer and editor at CNN. The carving pictured here we bought in Rajasthan in northwest India -- far from our destination today, Kolkata -- while on a delayed honeymoon trip in 1997.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Uncle Louie

I guess most talented carvers were somebody's uncle. The woman here, from the Midwest, wears a necklace with a heart. The style is folky but also refined, and the result is a compelling example of skill and artistry.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I'm not a terribly organized person. I tend to put things where it is convenient at the time. As a result, stuff piles up in corners and drawers, and sometimes gets forgotten. Recently, under strong encouragement from my wife,  I bought some storage cabinets to organize my things. For the most part the sorting out process has been drudgery. But then I rediscover something and I get excited. That's what happened recently when I unrolled some bubble wrap -- wondering, what is this? -- and found this sewer tile erotic figure. Wow, how could I have ever put this out of mind? And where did I get it? There's no sense of sexual pleasure in the face. She looks like she's been manhandled her entire life. The front side is rough, as if it were burned. The figure is small enough to be concealed in the palm of a hand or carried in a pocket. She makes me wonder: What were the maker's feelings about women? I'm guessing a mixture of attraction and fear.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No "excited din," but so what?

A board from the 1930s uses simple verse to describe the thrill of beating your sister and dog down the stairs. It's signed Wally.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Taxidermist's mold

This mold for a deer head and neck has a beautiful surface with dark green/blue color. Found in the Midwest.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Folky griffin

I would have loved to have seen the furniture that included this griffin. It depicts a person rather than a lion. The legs combine lion and eagle features but there are no wings. The carver definitely had his own way of doing things.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Homemade pinball

This c. 1925 gameboard, with six iron balls contained in a tin cup, comes from Shelby County, Indiana. Note the unusual points earned in two of the slots: 1050 and 110.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Death becomes them

Brief Slate article with slideshow discusses portraiture in cemeteries.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Caution: Water bug ahead

This highway sign is so stylized that it looks to me like one of those critters that flits across the surface of a pond. Or it's an animal as seen through the eyes of a Native-American artist. Or it could even mean a traffic-calming median is ahead — but that's a stretch.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Virgin Mary outsider art

This is a primitive painting on glass possibly done by a Cuban-American. It was found in the Miami area. The work seems to say the Virgin Mary gives her blessing to capitalist America. It's chock full of corporate names and symbols, and odd figures. The paint is a bit faded; maybe it was displayed in a large window.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


A long time ago I bought this amateur landscape, an impasto done in 1964, then put it away. Recently, I looked at it again and grew curious about the artist. So I did some sleuthing. On the back is an old tag that says 436 Thole St. I Googled the address and learned it's in Norfolk, Va. Then I looked up Kurzers in the Norfolk area and found Dr. Barry Kurzer,  a dentist, who told me more about the artist. She was Minnie Kurzer, his mother. Dr. Kurzer said Mrs. Kurzer was a hobby painter who took classes at Old Dominion University. I tried to describe the painting to him but he wasn't sure what location it shows. Minnie Kurzer died in August 2000 at age 83, so she would have been about 47 when she painted this scene. Her obituary said Mrs. Kurzer was a Norfolk native and member of Temple Israel, the Hebrew Ladies Charities, Hadassah, Beth Sholom Home Auxiliary and the Mended Hearts Association. She had been married to Sam Kurzer for 49 years.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The First Family and the Falcons

The Earls of Decatur, Ga., are so proud of Barack Obama and the Atlanta Falcons that they created a yard show honoring them.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday afternoon

Willie Joyner sits in the shade of his front yard in Decatur, Ga.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

But is it big?

Collectors often dismiss a fine thing because they consider it too small. I find myself sometimes asking, does it measure up? But when you really get down to it, often the smallest things are the most impressive. Think about the skill and patience it takes to carve something that's just 4 inches tall. In many cases, that's harder to do than carving a block of wood three times as large. Both carvings pictured here are in the 4-inch range, yet they have a lot of detail and character. The second one, in particular, is a grabber: the man sits in a chair, that's on a ball in a cage, that's on a book. And the paint is great. Here's to the small-fry carving. It rocks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New online gallery

Candler Arts, the gallery, offers more than 100 objects for sale, including the large antique redware head pictured here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Painted pillow cover

When this painting was done around 1925, the Great Depression was on the horizon. Turns out, the lounging man had plenty to worry about.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Old dress form

Having posted four photos, I guess I'm entranced. The overall form is sensuous; then the woven plastic-coated wire and the snaps and ramrod-straight soft cotton straps add to the allure.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No need to worry because ...

Desktop sign made of foil under thick glass with a scalloped edge. The back is metal.