Gadora Wilder (wīld-er) was the sobriquet my BFF and I long ago labeled our favorite thrift shop: Goodwill. Ours a secret twist, a high-school spiel to conceal our love of vintage. Those were the ’80s.
It was my Grandmother Velma who made long use of seemingly ordinary objects, and I aim to channel her joyous spirit every day. Everything had it’s purpose and in her world almost everything was re-purposed. Without even intending to, but by living by design, she taught Gadora the fine art of refashioning the things around me. Without even trying, but by living by example, she taught me to find joy in my surroundings.
Grandmother didn’t live in a time when green buzzwords were apropos: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. She JUST LIVED this way.
Gadora Wilder is my little way of remembering her.
By the way I live.
Two thousand thirteen
full of possibilities…
You will be my year.
2012 shaped up to be a good year. Rich with friends and family. We added a new member, my nephew, whom I loved before we ever met. 2013 included adventure. And surprises. Some heartache – but nothing insurmountable. Food discoveries. Lots of laughter. Loads of skating. And all while in good health. I am grateful for each and every day and experience I had in 2012.
For 2013 I will wish and work for much of the same. It will only get better. I’ve enjoyed connecting with friends about what they’ll do to ensure a great new year. Resolutions. Eating black eyed-peas. Alters with fruit, water, coins, etc. For mine, Gadora opted for a 3D visual of my resolutions and set to work pulling the bits together. Hung in the entry of my kitchen there will not be a day I’m not reminded of what I want out of 2013. Each item placed on my alter with meaning. A black and white snap of me holding skates. In 2013 I will skate more. Sand for travel. I will see more places. Seeds for growth. A Prosperity Frog, a gift from a new friend. I will create more wealth. His and Her tea cups ready for filling. I am open to love. Brushes for creativity. I will spend more time creating. A heart for continued good health. And the converted-building drawing Gadora believes one day can come to fruition. Looking good already.
Two thousand thirteen
full of possibilities…
You will be my year.
Crafternoons at The Gardens are in full swing. Gadora has been itching to play, and a recent score at Goodwill yielded the perfect mini project. My Hustlers have been toying with unicorns. Originally designed as a team who paid tribute to the female sports stars of the seventies (think Farrah Fawcett in her heyday), we’ve been working on overhauling our uniforms for 2013. It is a new year, and we are ready! We often giggle about the ridiculousness of the single-horned mythical creature. After all, a few of the Hustlers were reared in the seventies, and all recall fantasizing we’d one day have a unicorn of our very own.
Well, now I do.
Gadora was supposed to bring a used gift to the Hustler holiday party. We’d just named 5 women to the team, and Scrape was poised to wow them with my White Unicorn gift. But… I like the finished product so much I’ve decided to keep it through the holidays. She was hornless when I spotted her. A sad little unicorn on a dirty shelf sat near three wicker baskets, a gnarly spatula and a terrible mason jar sand sculpture even a parent couldn’t love. A marble for a horn, I contemplated if the $2.99 was way too much.
Gadora had visions of grandeur. The marble would have to go. At first I thought I’d repurpose a tiny cake decorating frosting tip, but the thrift store didn’t have that in store. Never mind. I used my hair dryer and pumped some heat on the marble, tapping it lightly with my hairbrush as it heated. A minute later it freed… and my unicorn was ready for the next treatment.
Painters tape is a unicorn-makers best friend.Gadora painstakingly placed teeny pieces around all the bits I didn’t want sprayed.
Unicorn covered, I took my project outside and sprayed her down.
All the pastel bits covered, I wasn’t fully satisfied. So I broke out the glitter paint.
And the baby blue nail polish… only thing left was to appoint a horn. I sat with her for a minute. Then remembered I had a smallish box of holiday ornaments. I dug out an icicle and the tacky super goopy glue. And voila!
Gadora was so proud of her transformation, I walked her right outside to the neighbor. We giggled on our stoop at the ridiculousness of it all. She confided, “funny you brought her over. I have something I want you to hang.” Who me? I followed her upstairs, and there it was…
I thank the Universe for the opportunity to revive a crappy tschotske and for a lovely afternoon.
Gadora has a love-hate relationship with The Big D. Though Dallas was my home many years ago, and though I made the most of my time there, the list of things I generally don’t love about Dallas is long. Save the asphalt heat and maze of relentless traffic. With near proximity to family the ever-growing city boasts a few properties that keep me coming back.
My ole nabe, Oak Cliff, sits just South of downtown. That part of town—which was sketchy at best—has fared quite well over the years. Nearby Bishops Arts District has enjoyed a revitalization. Long ago I enjoyed tootling around the streets along the West side of town. There are pockets of Dallas where the architecture is quite special. This one old motor motel, dusty and dilapidated, overlooked the city scape, and I wished something grand could happen to it. That was then.
This is now.
My girls appeased me over the weekend when a roller derby trip afforded us a night at the Belmont. Since my Dallas departure, the place had been scooped up and was indeed shown some love. Turns out the hotel was a neglected gem from Charles Stevens Dilbeck who took his inspiration from successful California motor court hotels.
In 2005, “Local developer Monte Anderson assembled a new urbanist team of architects, designers and craftsmen to bring the wonderful though long-neglected hotel back to its glory days.” In 2008, the Belmont announced a partnership with THE Liz Lambert. You (should) know her of San Jose – THE Austin motor coach hotel with its own movie and el Cosmico fame. Again, what she touches is gold. And this weekend it was emerald-green, pumpkin orange and fire-red.
Sure, I’ve been to the Belmont before. Gadora covets her ‘inspiration’ snaps from the many visits. I’ve just never blogged about it. While the interior is smartly and sparsely appointed, it’s the exterior I relish most. The auto carports have all been transformed into common-area resting nooks.
Each one quietly different, they’re at once stark and inviting. Those that face the city’s sparkling skyline benefited this day from the mid-morning overcast sky rushing into each window.
This car port was the only one to share a wooden wall with its neighbor.
Room enough for a simple gathering, and bright enough for a good time.
Gadora doubts it’s an accident the round rug, Acapulco-esque chair and Tulip-inspired table were paired in the patio with the square window. Yeah, Liz is that good.
Facing East, the portal’s rays illuminate the entire car port. I love the subtle shadows the chairs cast.
The fuzzy and rambling courtyard makes a loop around the upper portion of the property. The car ports are only separated by themselves and the muted primary palette. A canopy of happy trees opened up to reveal this scenic entrance.
Back inside: over the years, the hotel has revealed an ever-changing lobby. It’s moved from a stark existence to nod to the Mexican Hacienda to this colorful urban-lodge vibe. The black and white “rug”, the must-have in today’s interiors, is painted over the original bricks. The original spindled iron handrails (just out of view) feel right at home in their new surroundings.
Through the lobby, and covered outside bar (no self-respecting Liz Lambert spot is complete without a place to enjoy a libation) I took in the killer Dallas view. While Dallas isn’t one of my favorite places, I give it major props for recognizing such a special, and historically relevant place. Good on ya’ Big D.
Nothing seems to split a nation like some good ole’ fashioned politics. So tonight, exactly one day after a narrowly re-elected 44th President, Gadora pays tribute to some creative Americans who valiantly exercise their right to peddle their artsy politico crap. And while we’re a nation divided, both sides of the camp get in on this equally. And while politics are indeed serious business, let’s relax for a minute, shall we? And take a romp around Etsy.
The last few months of Politicking drive you to drink? LittleChairPrinting‘s ceramic nod to an iconic brand allows you to toast your candidate while enjoying your favorite libation. Though Romney wouldn’t join in if it were the adult variety.
Ever since Gadora’s discovery of Dada artist Hannah Höch, in Madrid’s Museo Reina Sophia, I’ve entertained an affinity for mixed media. The moment I spied this piece from Achristocraft, I belted my favorite political anthem…. “America F- Yeah!”Obama— now THAT would have jazzed up your supporters prior to your acceptance speech.
Mitt for Mutts is one of four dog toys in Annika Sandback‘s series, “Throw Them to the Dogs!” “Grab the politician who drives you crazy and THROW HIM TO YOUR DOG! Or, keep him for yourself!” Turns out Jada (pictured) didn’t like Mitt for Mutts one bit. “A real beauty from Brooklyn and all muscle, Jada tried her best — without success — to rip him to shreds. Guess she heard about the dog on the roof!”
Jon Stich is quite the gem. For this 18 x 25 acrylic painting he simply offers, “Five of the Republicans competing for the 2012 ticket, all guised as Batman villains.” His Isaac vs. Romney is pretty incredible too.
With that, it’s only appropriate Obama gets his play time. Thanks TinaSeaMonster for sharing your handy work. Bam!
Let’s not forget about our lovely First Lady. For $8,000 (yep, that’s with three zeros), you could proudly display this massive Klimt-inspired tribute to Michelle by New York City artist Hannah Laufer-Rottman. “Oil on canvas – 52 x 35 in. Have any questions?”
I prefer the more simple art. Graphic in nature. Something more in line with this succinct print from Checker Press. Yep, ain’t no party like a Democratic party.
This Christopher Genovese guy is mad genius. I can’t get over the detail. He doesn’t give up much in the way of technique or inspiration. But you’re looking at a “Hand painted series cast from an original clay sculpture. Individually numbered and signed.” Kudos.
Sure, there’s a lot at stake during any given election. We get heated. We take sides. It is a grand responsibility for us all. And while I may not agree with your candidate, nor you mine…. We are in this together, folks. This is OUR great nation.
There was a time long ago when I believed everything was perfect. Gadora (before I assumed the moniker Gadora) had taken an exciting editing gig in The Big Apple, moving there from The Big D. I hadn’t figured my new life would afford any friends, I was there for work… and fearing NYC was cold and soulless, assumed I’d simply work. I would simply only work. But sometimes life offers us a needed diversion, and when a friend from Dallas introduced me to some friends who also called the city home we quickly became a tight-knit group of independent women. We led our lives, each on a path of discovery and self-fulfillment, and came together as often as time would allow. It was a glorious, magical time. We enjoyed the shit out of one another. Then slowly the picture began to fade. We took chances on new opportunities, or fell out of love with our hurried, cramped city lives, and systematically began the exodus. Sometimes even with the most ardent plans laid out to the contrary pieces will fall into place. I swore I’d never—never ever—return to Texas. But in fact life would prove otherwise. I did, eventually. And luckily one of my NY lady-loves was already paving the way in Dallas, as if she knew I would eventually return. Our new lives would prove busy too, and though Dallas never felt like home… being in Penny’s presence did.
Life happens. Gadora would find happiness in Texas. It’s true—Austin IS awesome. And Penny found love. She and her Love moved to Salisbury, NC many moons ago, and it wasn’t until this past weekend that I’d see her again when we original five starlets ALL gathered to be with her as she married her Bride. She’d been busy planning her perfect wedding—sewing canvas butterfly boxes for each guest, crafting what looked like hundreds of Mexican paper flowers, and choosing a discerning menu. All I had to do was get there. This post isn’t about their wedding. Though it was one of the most personal and delightful small weddings I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. This post pays homage to the lovely home Penny and Laura have made for themselves. It’s filled with all the interesting bits the two have collected along their own life-journeys and now share together.
Theirs is a roomy mid-century Ranch on a sprawling leafy parcel of land. Much of the gathered family found their way to the kitchen, and spilled into where to spread was laid, natch! They were eager to show their space off, and where they weren’t… Gadora simply helped herself. The metal hanging lamp, originally purchased for the roomy pantry, was relocated to the dining room. And it was a perfect, perfect choice.
Opposite the wall shown above was a lovely shabby chic cabinet with a collection of candelabras. It’s hard to spot in this shot, but get a load of the bigger-than-human hand-carved, French antique wood fork that rests beside the cabinet. A less nosy guest might have missed it. But Gadora went in close, even touched it.
A pair of porcelain Day of the Dead cups, by American artist Michael Corney, glared back at me as appreciated the contents of the dining room’s nook. I. Love. Them.
The dining room spilled into the cozy family room. Just last week the duo reworked the wall of mirrors, added a rug and brought in seating for their guests. Just outside the glowing wall of windows, the pair’s pups swirled in their spacious yard. The same robin’s egg blue from the dining room found it’s way in here. The effect is positively soothing.
Various collections of themed trinkets found their way to one another, and together made the prettiest vignettes. To know Penny and Laura is to understand their deep appreciation of ritual. Their collection of Buddha hands (in various gestures) dotted the warm brick mantle. The winged sculpture was a show-stopper.
Years ago Laura gifted Gadora a sweet “hand with heart” ceramic sculpture. Placed prominently above my stove, it gives me a smile each and every day. I’m not so sure, but I think this is Laura’s heart, and me thinks it’s from the same Dallas artist. Laura?
Opposite the family room the kitchen gave way to a converted carport. I imagine this is where Penny spent her hours crafting for her big day, and from the wicked, golden velvety couch we three freed from a landfill-fate long ago. It’s hard to make out, but the golden coil in the spindled lamp is a lighted Buddha figure. Clever girls.
Towards the front of the room, Laura had her nest. A corner filled with musical instruments, and trinkets and things to please the soul.
Case in point. Any less-witty musician would simply have a harmonica. But Laura rests hers on this Mexican carved skull. At that very moment, I wished I could channel Big Mama Thornton. Oh Mama!
A colorful homage to the State Laura grew up in, a decoupaged paper mache Lady Liberty, from folk artist George Dukov, beckons passers by to try her on. Gadora didn’t then, but knows there’s a story in there somewhere. Laura mentioned, “he started this whole mask creation with George Bush, Monica and Clinton, and then the lady liberty series.”
A world of space separated the living and sleeping quarters in their home. A stroll between the two offered another glimpse into the early autumn yard. It’s so nice here, Gadora sighs. The neighbor’s hand-constructed 1-room barn sits just out of view.
Each spacious sleeping room was warmly appointed, just as the more trafficked rooms had been. Gadora toured them each with the same appreciation as the one before. This Joan of Arc sculpture is from closer to home, a duo of of San Marcus “Eye of the Dog” ~ Billy Ray and Beverly Mangham. Savoring pictures of their sleeping quarters without the aide of an iPhone, they each told a story of love, and life, and welcomeness.
I saved the best for last. Life is about our journey, isn’t it. We find happiness, and we’re challenged with disaster, and it’s about how we navigate between the two. And in the end, it’s not the things that make our lives grande… but the people we fill it with. Penny and Laura have made a lovely home in Salisbury, and are making friends of their own. They’re all a talented bunch. Robert Crum and Cherie Turner, friends whom we can now address the same, painted a surprise wedding portrait of the two. It will soon find its place with the other sweet things Penny and Laura have filled their home with. A reminder of their big day, and that they are loved.
• • •
Some of Laura’s other faves (some how I missed snapping a pic of their wares on the tour):
Mary Fischer – above the ledge where I snapped the lounging figure and bright red heart, stood a mini village of buildings (all white with black tracings). Laura adds, “They are my VERY favorite top loves….”