Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Bakelite, Baby!

So I bought this wonderfully kitschy coaster set from a guy on ebay who told me it was bakelite. When I got the set in the mail I figured he was bullshitting me, or that he was one of those people who think "bakelite" is just another fancier sounding word for plastic. Plus, the set is in such good shape that it just didn't seem to be possible that it was much older than the early 70s. Tonight, while doing some accidental research on the internet (was looking for something else), I discovered that the set actually IS bakelite and that is hails from the 1930s or 40s (a typical set and design at the time.) Internet, I love you almost as much as I love bakelite!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No, I have not moved to Iowa....

So there have been rumors circling around out there that I finally threw in the towel, packed my bags and moved Jasper and the girls and my good self over to Des Moines. Although the experience I had here in Berlin on the bus today (in a nutshell, rude people who were not at all helpful, rude busdriver, the usual smell, ya da ya da ya da, aka same old same old in this wicked city!) did make Des Moines sound attractive, the rumors are, nevertheless completely unfounded.

What I've really been doing is expanding my etsy shop Schaufenster a lot, even adding new sections like The Dollhouse Gallery Series and jewelry (dismantling my second shop after all because one is truly enough)

I've also lined up a lot of vintage goodies with more to come (let's just say my new, or rather old but re-kindled obsession is bakelite, bakelite, bakelite....)

Oh what fun it is to list on a cold November day. ;)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shout Out To C/O Berlin

So c/o Berlin has definitely become my most favorite museum in the city. It's makes sense because I love photography, but that is not the only reason I love the place so much. First of all, it is located in the beautiful Postfuhramt, the old emperor's mail depot made of honey-colored bricks. The building was in East Berlin and inside is rather run down, but thankfully, they didn't really restore it much (there is something called "Todrenovieren" here in Berlin, literally renovating something to death so it looses all its charm), giving it a very old school, "shabby chic" feel.

The museum itself is dedicated to contemporary photography and has had a lot of great exhibitions, several that I have been too and a couple that I missed (Annie Liebowitz for one. I just couldn't stomach the lines...) Right now they have the most amazing show of Nan Goldin's work called Poste Restante. I've been a fan of hers for a long time. In her own words, her photographs come from a place of relationship, not of observation. She photographs almost exclusively people who are her friends, people she loves. Her works is so incredibly moving, tender and intimate, but also raw and immediate. Because the people she loves tend to be from the edges of society (drag queens, drug addicts, gays, lesbians and bi-sexuals) she has gotten the reputation for always representing the "counter culture", but I think it is really only a coincidence. These happen to be the people she loves and, in the photographs, you can see her loving them; you can see how vunerable they are with her, how they show her a side that is fragile and exposed that they most likely would never show a stranger.

For Jasper's birthday I got a ticket to a talk she was giving at the opening of the show here in Berlin. We went there together with a good friend of ours and sat in the room that was once a basketball court during the GDR days, the markings still on the ground. I was struck with how warm Nan seemed. She is a tough New Yorker who has definitely had a "past" and yet something about her was so exposed, like she couldn't complete shield or protect herself from the crowd.

Last night Jasper and I had a babysitter (for the second time. Yipee!) and we spontaneously decided to go to the exhibit again (after her talk it was too crowded, so we only stayed a few minutes.) I loved everything about it, but the most wonderful part was the slide show with music that they played in the old gym where we had seen her talk. The "soundtrack" was about 20 minutes long with songs as varied as Casta Diva sung by Callas to I'll Be Your Mirror by the Velvet Underground to old school rap and blues. To each song a series of photographs was shown, while people stretched out in the dark on gray nagyhyde loungers. A lot of the photographs could never be described as "perfect": the composition was sometimes strange, with body parts cut off or something framed in a strange way. Many were out of focus. But what she captures each time is an intensity, a connection with herself and the subject. Even when the photographs were blurry you felt like it was because she was moving along with the person. I've also known her work long enough that I recognize some of the people, making them feel like old friends. Truly amazing. Thank you Nan and c/o Berlin!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chain Me Up

I admit it: I've kind of fallen out of love with my etsy jewelry shop, Rose, red Rose. Schaufenster just seems to grow and grow, with funky vintage finds and my own photographs and art work with many more in progress as we speak. Still, this necklace is one that I have recently made and wear nearly everyday myself. The heavy, vintage brass chain feels delicious against the skin and it's simple yet elegant enough to wear for any occasion. Luckily I have one more length of chain to make a duplicate necklace or it would definitely never be offered for sale because I love it too much....To take a look at the brand spanking new listing, please click here

Found Objects: A Rolling Stone That Has Gathered No Moss...

This stone (literally) came to me when I was around twenty years old. I was standing outside of my parent's house, waiting for a ride I think. My parents house was the first house on the left of a very steep hill. Being in earthquake country, everyone always told us this was a very good thing. I'm not sure exactly why (less seismic activity? more solid? old wive's tale?) but apparently you are safer if "the big one" comes and you happen to be on a large hill....

Anyway, I was standing out on the driveway when all of the sudden I heard a strange sound. I looked down and saw a baseball-sized granite stone rolling down the hill only to stop inches before where I stood. To this day I still don't know where it came from. As far as I could tell no one was in sight who might have rolled it to the long-haired hippie girl on a whim (although my hometown is not exactly suburbia in the worst sense of the word, it is definitely a bedroom community where people tend to stay in their houses. Except for a few exceptions, I could have never identified any of our neighbors by sight, though they may have lived nearby for more than twenty years.) I took it as a sign, picked up the rock and it's been with me ever since. At first it sat on my piano, then on the windowsills of various Berlin apartments to where it now sits, in the pot of a small, pitiful olive tree (we so DO NOT have a mediterranean climate here!!) that I keep in the kitchen. Little rolling granite stone, you've come a long way, babe!

Do you have found object, something you were given or picked up somewhere that has a special meaning to you regardless of how seemingly meaningless it might be? If you do, I want to tell your story, so drop me a line. :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Top Five Photos of The Week

* Because it reminds me Fall can be a beautiful time of the year even though these days it hasn't been.

* Because it features two of the people I love best in the world.

* Because this scene so says "German graveyard" though if you don't live here you wouldn't think it.

* Because I love that this old hinge looks like a fish on the hunt (or maybe a goose....)

* Because this trash can shouts "GDR" so close to the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Wall.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

There She Is

Anyone who has small children at home can tell you parenting is an intense business: intensely good and, let's be honest, also sometimes intensely bad. One thing it does force you to do is always be absolutely in the moment. Although in some ways this is a positive way to live (a lot less unnecessary extistential angst, for example) it also does tend to mess with your memory. Although my daughters are only 18 months apart, I have a hard time remembering in any truly concrete way, for example, what Mia was like when she was Lilly's age. Bits and pieces are there of course, but overall my memory is more like a sketch rather than a fully-realized painting. I have heard the same story from other parents, so I know I'm not the only one.

This lapse of memory is one of the reasons photography is so important to me. It gives me a chance to document my babies, less in a typical "snapshot" way, with them smiling and posing and, in so doing, not really being themselves, but rather photographing them in their day to day lives, in the everyday moments. When I look at these photographs I can see Mia; that little mix of a wisp of cloud and devilish girlie; and Lilly; so gleeful and friendly and solid. Though my memory may be faulty (and is likely to remain so), when I see them in a photograph from a week or a month or a year ago I recognize them, as they were, without words. There she is, as she is and was.


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