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Fortress of Solitude

Ansel Adams' photographic career began when his father gave him a Kodak Brownie box camera to take pictures while at Yosemite National Park in 1916. From there his curiosity never dwindled. Everyone has a story. Below are composite pictures of the living room in the house I grew up in. The collection has grown since I left home and continues still. My father loves both taking and printing pictures. This is why I'm so comfortable on either side of the lens.

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A Life of Decadence | Fabergé: The Rise and Fall, The Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

I had the chance to see the Fabergé exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts over the weekend and it was quite a stunning collection of objects from the early 20th century creator of luxury goods. Karl Fabergé took over his family's business as a jeweler but soon learned how to cater to the Russian aristocracy with exclusive, miniature objects. Specializing in eggs, animals and other keepsakes, he was able to build an empire with hundreds of workers and fabricators working under him until the workshop's abrupt ending in 1918.

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While it may not seem wholly relevant during a time that trinkets and candy dishes the size of a couple inches are unnecessary (above), it was a welcome reminder that craftsmanship of this kind existed at one time. I recommend this show if you have a chance to see it now through January 21st, 2013.

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dachshund-undated

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A Must-Do: Our Upcoming Class on Collecting Art

I'm really excited about the course I'm teaching at Washtenaw Community College this Fall. "Collecting Art: Deciphering What It Is and What's It's Worth" is going to be an engaging and interactive look at what the differences are between a giclee versus a painting versus an etching.* We'll also look at the primary, secondary markets and auction house culture. Students will have the opportunity to bring in examples as we decide which ones might be worth money, why they are and what to do if you strike the jackpot on a great find.

Ask all the questions you want and learn about how to insure, maintain and start your own collection. Sign up is now open and only $39 for the two-day course. See you this October!

*If you want to find out the answers, come take the class!

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Jim Henson, Muppetry and An Unyielding Obsession

This past weekend N surprised me by hooking up a Detroit errand with an event at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Heather Henson, daughter of the late, great Jim Henson was putting on a performance with her troupe Ibex Puppetry called Celebration of Flight. Not only was I completely floored that he found out about this fantastic opportunity before I did, I was elated to see some artistry and performance at work.

I don't remember a time in my life that The Muppets were not around. Prior to their "comeback" in last year's The Muppets, I was still clamoring for Animal and singing the theme song. (Some say there's even a Halloween photo where I wear a pig snout and N's face is painted green...) Something as genius as what Jim Henson started in the '60s would always have a place in my heart, even if it wasn't reaching further than Grover watchers out there via Sesame Street.

We saw Jim Henson's Fantastic World, a retrospective exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in 2009 which included early sketches for animations, silkscreen posters he did in college and even key design elements from The Dark Crystal. This was, of course, all dwarfed in comparison to the Kermit which we were introduced to within the first ten feet of the exhibit. It was magical.

Needless to say, I was enamored by the motion, fluidity and realness of the birds and forms created by the puppet group. It was a hot day but the strong breeze made for a beautiful back drop as we watched the performers manipulate kites, bird forms and weave among one another with ease.

My path in art has meandered but never strayed far from appreciation of great artistry and concepts. Jim Henson's legacy and its ability to make us believe is what continues to inspire me.

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Digital Retouching: A Baseball Legend

It's not often I get to work with history. The below picture came to me in rough shape in need of digital retouching. When you have a fragile situation like this, you can have the photo professionally replicated so that you can enjoy the copy while the original is preserved in a safe and acid-free environment. The second option, is to have the photo looked at by a conservator and framed under museum quality glass which allows little to no UV rays to harm the image. Each case is different and we can assist you in the making the best decision for your situation. This photo is particularly significant as it's of a minor league team coached by baseball legend Johannes Peter "Honus" Wagner, circa 1922.

One of the first steps was to remove the tape. To do so, I matched the yellowed color left by the tape to the rest of the image. Then it was a matter of hiding the lines left behind.

Then I had to borrow, cheat and steal... from existing areas in the image. This can be tedious as it not only requires a firm grasp of Photoshop, but painting skills as well. I had to create image where it had been worn away and then make it believable.

Something that should be applied throughout is to PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL! Below I added the column to match the one on the right side of the picture. With a big tear and tape covering most of the original, this was a matter of artistic license. A few things to keep in mind are symmetry, perspective and light direction.

Once I had the photo section satisfactory I was ready for the text. Again, removing the tape was first, followed by some blending. Next was adjusting the overall tone and then it was a matter of cleaning up the text.

Here is the final product. The client was happy, what do you think?

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Top 5 Art Maintenance Tips for Summer

This summer's been no joke. With 100 degree days and intense humidity levels, we're all suffering. If you haven't looked at your art collection in a while, take them off the wall and inspect them. Here are some key tips to making sure that your wall pieces stay healthy and intact in the summer heat. 1. Check all works on paper for foxing, light brown or reddish dots on the outer edges. This is actually mold attacking your paper and needs attention immediatley. With intense sunlight and high humidity this is a common cause of longterm damage. Call your local conservator (we recommend one if you're in the Ann Arbor area - The Art Conservation Laboratory). They'll be able to stabilize the mold and stop it from continuing. Never try to tackle this delicate task on your own!

2. Is your oil, watercolor, etching in direct sunlight? If so, consider having it framed under museum glass which protects it from the sun's rays. Long term effects of UV damage include fading, cracking in paint and deterioration of the paint itself. If you'd rather not spend the money to do so, consider hanging the piece in a different spot...

3. But not in a spot under the air conditioning vent. Just as humidity and sunlight can hurt your art, as can intense cold temperature which could cause paint to crack or photo paper to become needlessly brittle and fragile.

4. Does your oil painting seem a bit duller than you remembered when you bought it? Summer's a great time to take your paintings in for a good cleaning. Only conservationists know how to clean a painting so leave it to the pros. Even what you believe to be a "light dusting" can hurt the integrity of the paint.

5. Check the backs of all your art work. If the lining on the back of the frame seems rippled or has unsealed itself from the edges due to humidity, take it in to the framer to make sure no condensation is forming on the interior of the piece.

These simple steps will ensure your art work can be enjoyed for years (and many sweltering summers) to come! And if you have further questions, feel free to shoot me an email.

-Y-

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Edward: A Working Man

Our great friend Ed is full of personality. When he asked to have a new professional head shot taken, we jumped at the chance to shoot him in his element: jacket, button up and a whole lot of panache.

Pretty dapper, wouldn't you say? So we veered a bit from the typical corporate shots but we got those too. If you need professional photos and aren't afraid to laugh and kick back, give us a holler.

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Digital Drawing: A Modern Alphabet

A lot of people have asked me how I create my drawings digitally so today I'm going to give you a quick tour of how it's done. I have to preface this by saying that I love drawing with pencil and paper (nothing compares to it) especially when you're doing life drawings of nudes and still life. That said, the mouse has become a great tool for illustrating the concepts I have in my mind in a hyper-realist way that prints in rich, saturated colors, lending a quality of manufactured perfection that I adore in fashion magazines. But it's a process like everything else and while changes are a "click of a mouse" away, sometimes it's more laborious than traditional drawing. For most projects I use Adobe Illustrator and sometimes Adobe Photoshop. Both are integral to our company's success and everyday function. My latest project sparked from our obsession with mid-century furniture and objects. We're heavily into everyday objects of that era and earlier. I couldn't get over my need to illustrate the shapes and lines of some of my favorite pieces so I started drawing the Diamond chair by Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), an icon of Modern era pieces. With its curved chrome rods contouring to the body and guiding the eyes back and forth, it's the perfect marriage of form and function. The idea of illustrating struck immediately as I saw the finished chair (second from the top left, in place of the "B").

Once a piece or designer comes to mind that I want to recreate, I bring in a digital photo to help me shape the outline.

I literally use the mouse and "draw" with it on the mousepad.

With a computer, instead of using an eraser (although there's one of those too), I click to straighten, curve or reposition each line segment individually. Above, I'm fixing the angle of a line that I drew previously. (I think this takes longer than drawing with a pencil)!

I'm making final adjustments so that all letters and furniture pieces are balanced using the graph and ruler tools. I think this project took me about twenty hours to create.

The final poster is printed on heavyweight archival photographic paper with professional grade inks. It's 18 x 12 inches and I'm incredibly  proud of this limited edition run of 50. I can't wait to get one framed and hang it in our home too! If you're in the area, we'll be offering the poster (A Modern Alphabet, $65) along with other custom works at our opening at June Moon Furniture on May 3rd. I'll be on hand signing prints and giving advice on framing, hanging, collecting and more!

-Y-

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Our Latest Project: Objet D'art | One-of-a-kind art objects

We met with Sava's Restaurant in Ann Arbor last week and we're happy to announce that we'll be taking over the upstairs lounge area with our art. We've never curated a non-gallery setting like this and we're really excited to collaborate and match the ultra contemporary and comfy look. We got on it immediately. After a quick brainstorming session, the series Objet D'art was born. This also gave us a chance to print and frame our new series of school desk prints.

Each item is a print illustrated or photo taken by us and carefully hand matted with coordinating accessories. Whether you see one or in a grouping, we're making an experience that we, and hopefully you, have never seen before.

We'll be hanging things salon-style but adapted to the space to get the most beautiful effect. Since we have long spaces to cover, our groupings will be spaced out with most pieces centered at 60 inches from the ground, the professional standard for installing art.

What do you think of these? We're looking for some feedback before the big installation takes place. Right now we're just enjoying having "piles" of art around the studio. Soon we'll have them in our store too. Have a great weekend!

-Y-

OBJECT D'ART - (dimensions denote frame size, shipping is extra)  5 x 7 inch : $25 and up  |  8 x 10 inch: $45 and up  |  Pairs of 8 x 10 inch: $80 and up

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Robert Rauschenberg: Grand Rapids Art Museum

In 2007 I had the pleasure of publicizing a great series of works by Robert Rauschenberg called Currents. Created during the winter of 1970, he clipped disturbing and attention grabbing headlines from various national newspapers, arranging them in aesthetically pleasing and titillating fashion and translated them into photographic prints. Based on the social, political and financial turmoil of the times, he covered events through his clippings in a way that fed that the news in a palatable way, urging viewers to come in for a closer look.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is currently showing and hosting a myriad of events surrounding the works of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. From now until May 20th, 2012, you can join in the conversation and see the pieces from his time at Gemini, a major print studio and collective in Los Angeles.

While he's known for his prints and multiples, his most sought-after and profound works were his combines, objects joined and manipulated to be read in a totally new context altogether. Rauschenberg passed away a year after I installed his show at the gallery where I was. With his passing he leaves behind a legacy of process and collaboration that brought together great thinkers such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Cy Twombly and most notably Jasper Johns. I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibit. I hope you will too.

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Getting out of Town: Powers of Ten

Thanks to our friend Chris at Johnsonese Brokerage, we were reminded recently that we hadn't watched the 1968 documentary Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames. A simple yet exquisitely done film, written and directed by the couple, it explores the immediate expanse and how quickly our world as we know it can become very small. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fKBhvDjuy0]

For it's time, the film was highly exploratory and brave. What do you think of the production? How well do you think they achieved the visual experience?

-Y-

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