Thursday, July 28, 2011

Simply sophisticated

In person this stylized figure initially looks like pottery, but a closer look reveals it's carved wood. It comes from North Carolina but seems African influenced. The pose, the absence of carved details and the choice of one color only, a creamy green yellow, all add up to a striking work of art.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vane beauties

A weathervane that once stood atop a building in South Carolina. It has an art deco look to it, but I don't think it dates to the 1930s; probably more like mid century, 1960s. Unusual and definitely a looker.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Joe Louis bedspread

An unusual chenille bedspread showing the Brown Bomber, who was the heavyweight boxing champ from 1937 to 1949. This textile is particularly interesting to me because Dalton, Ga., northwest of Atlanta, where I live, was the tufted bedspread capital of the U.S. during the Great Depression. But that area of the state is predominately white, so is it still likely the Joe Louis bedspread was made there? The former owner said he acquired it in Texas. Maybe that's where it was made.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to drink from a watering hole

After dismounting, the cowboy should be prone, hat off, elbows up, palms flat, boots vertical. It's permissible for the bandana, shirt and vest to touch the water, but keep the firearm dry. Be aware that loud slurping might spook the horse.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A miner's first president

Continuing with the theme "Large Rocks With Faces," here is a January 1942 press photo of Fred Nicholls of Lovely, Ky., with his towering George Washington and a smaller tablet with two figures. According to the caption, Mr. Nicholls, 59, spent eight weeks "tapping away" at a boulder to make the first president, based on a picture he had seen in a book "a long time ago." The sculpture is "an odd one," the caption writer says, then explains why. Because the picture was taken shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I'm guessing a lot of papers did not have the space or inclination to run it. I'm dying to know what came of Mr. Nicholls and his George Washington, so I've made some inquiries. The Kentucky Arts Council, which is not familiar with either the carver or the carving, is investigating. "It turns out there are still members of a Nicholls family living in that same county," replied the council's artistic director, Adrian Swain. "So, I don’t have any answers yet, but I will be back in touch soon ..." A carving that large would be hard to lose.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

He won't be arriving in the mail

If you want this guy, be prepared to employ a heavy hauler. For sale on, you guessed it, eBay.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A star

Chinese checkers, I learned, is a game that has nothing to do with China. It was first played in Germany in the late 19th century and is based on a slightly earlier game invented in the U.S. A marketer invented the Chinese checkers name in the 1920s. Figures. Up to six people can play the game. This board is visually striking, with a cream colored star bordered in apple green and a burgundy base featuring a dark border created by a lot of handling.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Four eyes or two?

I don't know, I think I prefer you with specs. Souvenir photos, 1940s.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Don't open that box!

A couple of coffins with naughty surprises. If you own the book "American Primitive: Discoveries in Folk Sculpture" (1988, Roger Ricco, Frank Maresca), go to page 33. There they are. The carvings, 7.6 inches tall, were once owned by the pioneering folk sculpture collectors Isobel and Harvey Kahn.

Monday, July 4, 2011

King cat

Lion imagery has been around for as long as man has been making art. Ancient cave drawings include the king of beasts. This is a folky stone carving of a lion head. While perusing the Internet for lion information, I discovered that it is apparently still OK to trophy hunt lions. A company in Kentucky will help you do just that. In fact, they're offering a special. A five-day hunt in South Africa that used to cost $35,500 is now just $25,500. I guess the slow economy has provided a reprieve for the threatened lion. My wife was in Zimbabwe last year and actually approached and touched a young lion at a preserve. It cost her very little, but then all she bagged were a few photos and a story to tell.