Matisse on Crack

What hath God wrought?

When you enter our apartment the first impression is intended to be one of an uncluttered, simple and symmetrical space. A few items spark curiosity but there’s nothing too challenging. The place may be filthy but the sight lines are clean.

Once comfortably inside with a false sense of familiarity established, you turn to the west for some OMG reveals. Like the questionable house pet art over the sink, the Bambi uber alles above the bed, or the garish faux croc on the doors. To that we now add the Mirrored Wailing Wall.

Clean sight line to the filthy kitchen,

The installation is on the small wall in the living room perpendicular to my bedroom door (where most of the wailing is done). Small in width, 52 inches, but not in height, 11 feet. As I worked, I wondered what the kids at the Social Work for the Elderly Training Academy might think. A 68 year-old precariously balanced atop a 10 foot ladder handling 50 square feet of broken glass. It might set off warning bells as they pursue their number one objective: Senior Safety.

Finally! A place for the vintage, leather bound Kipling to float.

The mosaic’s allegorical title reflects a subject I’ve loved all of my life and have studied in-depth: The Journey of Sperm. When the first pieces were applied, their random, primitive shapes reminded me of Matisse’s cut outs. As the wall filled in and reflected light started to take over, it became more like the silver backroom at The Factory. The mash-up of those two influences conjured up images of Henri taking a couple of hits off of Billy Name’s glassdick.

Less than $50 was spent on materials thanks to Building REsources, a dealer in architectural salvage. Located in the formerly derelict but soon to be gentrified Hunters Point area of town, the charm of the old neighborhood still wafts through on occasion.  The nearby animal rendering facility sneaks up on you sometimes with the scent of burning carcasses. Hours can be spent in that perfumed air perusing the recyclables, exercising free association on what to do with the interesting and awkward materials that are found.

Every which way but up. Detail of tribute to Reagan’s Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Shield Program. God I miss Dutch.

Prices vary from day-to-day depending on who is asked. The woman who works on Tuesdays has been especially kind. I know nothing about her but she strikes me as a life-long San Francisco resident with a high tolerance for the crazies who have come and gone through the years. And bemoans the blandness of the techie lemmings who are currently taking over the City.

She always has a quip for me but I think she secretly questions what this derelict is up to now. I’ll approach the register with sheets of broken mirror or arm’s full of irregularly shaped tempered glass and she will quietly say, “the stickers on the mirror are free, how about $5 plus tax for the rest.”

Home away from home.

People always ask me what me what I do all day. I never know what to answer. I keep busy, it’s just difficult to sum it up. This lack of responsiveness leaves the impression I don’t do anything.

Au contraire. If this project is any indication of my daily diary, 70% of my time is spent thinking, reading and daydreaming. 5% is spent out at the salvage yard rummaging through God knows what. The other 25% is used for actually doing the work.

It’s taken over a month but I’ve just emerged from the 25% portion of the cycle. Now get off my back.

Self portrait in bits and pieces.

Watts Style, Chapter Three: Velvet Resistance

Cacti by night

The biggest obstacle in doing the room was getting the draperies right. Part of it was the mechanics of securing them into a wall. It was a constant guessing game in this old building of whether I was dealing with steel or wood studs, drywall or concrete. There’s nothing like the sinking feeling of an anchor plopping out of the wall when you try to screw into it. This will hold 30 pounds of fabric?

The other component was placing existing draperies in a room they were not designed for. I wanted to reuse the eight foot long black pair from my bedroom in Mother’s Indiana condo. My ceilings are 12 feet high.

 

Coachella Cacti two years on. Thrive.

I’ve previously blogged about these velvet warriors but, to briefly recap, they are an art deco swirl fabric that had not been manufactured since the 1930’s. To prevent the Nazis from melting the huge production drums and using them for ammunition, the French Resistance buried the dies in the forest. It was an effective job. They went undiscovered for seven decades. Around the Millenium they were found and used again in production.

Cut velvet for the free world.

The original idea for the new installation was to create the illusion of longer panels with a two foot cornice hiding the space between the rod and the ceiling. That left a two foot gap at the bottom to be hidden by furniture. It was a messy solution.

There’s nothing to be gained by pointing fingers or trying to assess blame in a one-man project, but the quality of the execution was severely lacking. As the year progressed I watched the cornice warp, come off its supports, and sag. It looked like the trailer trash vicious rumors say frequent this room. And it was depressing to live with.

Then it occured to me that the fake-out should all be at the bottom not the top. So I raised the draperies to the ceiling and constructed a shelf that runs the length of the room. The hem of the cut velvet now stops at a faux window sill as god intended.

To hide the rod (a favorite bedroom past-time) I used a single row of Aalvar Aalto black dots. Below the new sill is additional shelving for the unending stash of books. And for the daily ephemera generated by the busy life of an unemployed, social security recipient.

When peafowl cry.

My budget constraints were alleviated by the discovery of an architectual salvage yard in Hunters Point. They seem to make the prices up every day depending on which clerk you ask. I bought three planks of wood, a half dozen four foot glass shelves and 16 brackets all for $18. (For emphasis I reiterate: I live in San Francisco.)

Emboldened as an urban survivalist, I now forage the bowels of the city jonesing for an interior decorating fix. With some success, as will be seen in an upcoming post on the wood slat blinds I spotted on the curb. They are being transformed into crown moulding for the kitchen.

I’m satisfied with the overall effect of the art deco velvet in my bedroom window. However, although I don’t mind accepting limited praise for my gumption, any attempts to closely examine the workmanship will be met with an armed response.

Pace