wherein i curse aggressively at new yorkers who stole my paris stash.

in a 22-minute moment of weakness, i watched an episode of the mindy project where mindy was all like “my favorite painting is monet’s water lilies!” and her snooty date was all like “HAH good one, that’s the katy perry of art!” and mindy was all like, “but i heart katy perry!”

…and i heart monet’s water lilies. on our vacation in august, i had stared in the musee de l’orangerie at purple-no-blue-no-purple brushstrokes of flower evoking every nanomoment of the sun’s slow glide through the sky overhead across three hundred feet of canvas, and thought, i am tripping balls.


les nympheas / claude monet / le musee de l’orangerie, paris

in related news this manhattan couple has a monet in their master bedroom. also, a chagall on their headboard and a picasso in their mancave. WHAT THE FUCK.*

eran chen / architectural digest / dec 2013

eran chen / archictural digest / dec 2013

eran chen / architectural digest / dec 2013

*i’m just jealous.

oh that sculpture in the bedroom corner behind the monet is a rodin. a rodin, motherfuckers.*

the thinker / rodin / musée rodin / aug 2013

*i’m just jealous.

rodin happens to have his own personal museum with some of his own works, such as the garden sculpture i snapped above, and the rare photographable van gogh. so here we are in touristface with the only painting we captured on camera.**

portrait of père tanguy / vincent van gogh / musée rodin / aug 2013

the musee d’orsay grabbed my innards and yanked. do you think you’ve seen impressionist art? do ya? fancy yourself a fanboy of a little degas, do ya? maybe have some renoir with your peach cobbler? that’s right i’m talking to you atiya-circa-july-2013? shut your mouth and go to paris.

also go to saint-paul-de-vence where your moody little mountainside hotel offers lunch under a picasso and a swim under a calder.

a picasso / la colombe d’or / st-paul-de-vence, france / aug 2013

a calder / la colombe d’or / st-paul-de-vence, france / aug 2013

swim under a calder? i gaze at a calder in my apartment on sunday afternoons whilst massaging the kale for dinner. eat that, motherfuckers.*

giancarlo giammetti / architectural digest / dec 2013

*i’m just jealous.

syed and i, starry-eyed and determined to start an art collection, met a charming french artist in saint-paul-de-vence named leo who paints out of his studio. we chatted in broken french and waving limbs, laughed together, handed over our amex with giddy american energy. (i’m embarrassed.)



impressionist in style and cheerfully intense with provençal fields bursting off the canvas onto your face, these guys will fit right into our lives for the rest of time. they tell us a story and they will tell our story.

tchotchkes be damned. i’m an art collector, y’all.*

*humor me.

**except mona lisa, that diva bitch. more on her later.


decor that may cause you to choke on your grape

first, swallow your grape.

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013


watching american idol from under your andy warhol

contemporary art is for galleries.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

oops.  i mean, contemporary art is for your house.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

yeah…  the kind of house where they shoot ralph lauren commercials.  the kind of house where they don’t wear white after labor day.  the kind of house where they think ‘sweet caroline’ is a great song for the dance floor at a wedding.  what do you expect to see inside?  oil portraits?  antique china cabinets?  plaids and mallards?

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

think again.

joe nahem schooled me with his eight-month redo of the connecticut home of allison and warren kanders. these guys collect contemporary art like you collect hours watching reality tv.

instead of turning a house into a sterile museum, nahem turned their collection into a personalized home.

no smooth ice-white MoMA walls at these digs.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

look at the blast of wall art against an antique indian rug.  i am all over that bizniss.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

contemporary art mounted on wood walls?  chairs upholstered in faux-bois?  dude didn’t think outside the box, he took a hammer to it.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

their art is giving me sweat bubbles of jealousy on my t-zone.

conventional wisdom had me thinking that these pieces need a gallery-like home.  i may not share the nahem/kanders design taste, but now i understand how to style a home for my future arsenal of contemporary art.

just do whatever the hell i want.

it’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange

this art is creepy, right?


francesca connolly / elle decor / march 2013

the room is calm and comfortable.  i wouldn’t know, though.  i’m busy peering into the ratty living room above the sofa and wondering if i’m gonna catch a zombie strolling by.

i’ve seen this inception-for-interiors concept now twice in a week, the second time in will ferrell’s midcentury funk loft.


shawn henderson / architectural digest / march 2013

the pop art angle makes it less bonkers here… only slightly, though.  zombie marge simpson?

odd to me that a person would use the image of a room as wall art in a room.  the room IS the art, where principles of aesthetic, balance, proportion, color, contrast are wielded as carefully as a designer might in clothing or sculpture or internet meme.  i think that a picture of a room inside the room mucks up the room.

i mean, does a photograph of a belle epoque parlor confuse your modernist living room?  does an image of a chesterfield couch belong over a real chesterfield couch or a futon?  do overlapping styles complement each other or compete/distract?  what are the guidelines for rooms-within-rooms??

…challenge accepted.  (i am clutching my blanket in fear.)

don’t mind the body parts in your noguchi fountain

detroit’s waterfront showcases a fountain by sculptor isamu noguchi.


yes, THE noguchi of the iconic 1940s herman miller coffee table, godfather of all things awesomesauce that sit in front of your couch.

Picture 83

feast your eyes on this snowy nighttime instagram of noguchi’s fountain i just snapped from my apartment overlooking hart plaza.


[update:  on further review, i realize that this image is blechhh.  the superpowers of instagram are heavily compromised by darkness… should’ve had the patience to wait for a snowy daytime shot.]


a coworker of mine – one with forty years of experience in the field and one of my greatest teachers – once told me the story of his struggle to fix the noguchi fountain.

the year was 1980-something.  i was twirling my pigtails while reading a berenstain bears book to my baby sister.  “bart” was assigned by our architecture/engineering firm to fix the monumental hart plaza water fountain, broken from the moment of its installation a decade earlier, as a gift for mayor coleman young’s birthday.  (the city may have been crumbling from within, but regional cashflow surged onward thanks to The Big Three Jerkfaces.)

bart supervised the construction of the project on site through the dead of night as the detroit police stood guard to keep hobos at bay.  the mayor being in charge of the city and whatnot, this installation had to be completed in utter secrecy.

the city couldn’t understand why the fountain wouldn’t run.  as bart directed the disassembly of the hydronic system under hart plaza, he pointed to the basket strainer.

Picture 84

what a basket strainer looks like, fyi.

off came the nuts and the bolts… and out flowed the boots and the hats and the arms and the legs.

oh.  so that’s why the fountain wasn’t working.

apparently the local bum network had, in the deep concrete well of this broken fountain, found a comfortable shelter from winds off the detroit river.  i’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

the fountain was scheduled to reopen under much pomp and circumstance at a ceremony with the mayor and a large crowd of well-wishers.  a few moments after water began cascading from the sculptural metal halo to music and cheers, a floating bum emerged over the lip of the well, sputtering and cursing and shaking himself off.  happy birthday mayor young!

noguchi was invited to the reopening of his fountain, but someone botched the travel paperwork.  he arrived on the wrong date without any arrangements at a time of day when the city had decided not to run the fountain.  noguchi took a cab from the airport to the city, wandered around hart plaza in disgust, headed right back to the airport and hopped a plane home, where he died a month later having never seen his detroit fountain actually work.

well.  that’s the way bart tells it.

the hunt for a coffee table continues.  etsy has not yet yielded a reclaimed wood table that meets my willingness to pay, and in the meantime, a noguchi knockoff in natural wood tones is singing my name.

Picture 85

i am intoxicated by the prospect of having my feet up on a noguchi table whilst staring out into the city at a noguchi fountain.  somebody talk me off the edge, please.

lonnymag may or may not be psychic

i spent the weekend in houston.  when we first arrived, our friends had suggested a museum tour but i dismissed the idea in typical jetsetter’s arrogance.  please, son.  i was weaned on the smithsonian and cut my teeth on the louvre.  what the hell does texas know about museums?

a winter wind and gray skies led us to one anyway.


we meandered through the menil collection all sunday afternoon.  i had never heard of this place but was swallowed whole from first glance.  every few moments as i stepped sideways to a fresh piece of art, i re-lived a cycle of surprise, confusion, analysis, understanding, pleasure…  and then a pinch of regret about the ‘no photography’ sign at the front door.  the menil collection rips art out of a late-renaissance-naptime and into the NOW.

sometimes you know in your innards when you’ve experienced something world-class without being spoonfed by experts in words.  my parting thought: houston, you win.

two days after stepping off the flight home, i downloaded the newest issue of lonnymag and found myself staring into spaces i had just experienced in the flesh.  per lonny: the menil collection is “arguably the world’s finest privately amassed cache of 20th-century modern and contemporary art.”

well, shit.

in its jan-feb 2013 issue, lonny magazine features “unlikely houstonian” dominique de menil, philanthropist and patron of the arts who built the menil collection in 1987 to share her treasures with the community for free.


menil collection / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

magazine photographer >> me sneaking shots on iphone.  (not that i did.)


menil collection / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

the confusion phase of the cycle lasted a little longer than normal on this one:


menil collection / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

it’s called ‘cousins’.  you had it all figured out until i told you its name, right?


menil collection / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

after sitting on a bench and letting thoughts wander, i complained to syed that the center-left piece called ‘the seasons’ is out of order.


menil collection / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

hours later as we passed little houston bungalows with yards full of fallen leaves and pumpkins by the front door, we realized that maybe the seasons ARE out of order in houston…


menil collection / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

this one looks silly because you can’t tell what it is at the scale lonny chose to print.  on the right is a piece called ‘long distance lover’ by senam okudzeto, which is a mass of human figures stamped in paint in various states of wrestling on old telephone bills.


menil collection / lonny magazine / jan-feb 2013

squint at this image i pulled from lonny’s website.  what the piece lacks in subtlety, it gains in hilarity.  not all modern art borders on obtuse.

two things:

1.  become dominique de menil when i grow up.

2.  figure out how to end this lonnymag-sponsored episode of the twilight zone.

hillbilly art

i am at newport news, stuffing face with beef brisket as these two kindly gentlemen stand watch.


the expressiveness made with a few knife slashes of the wood is magic. i can’t pull my eyes away.

a coworker calls them ‘hillbilly art’ and i’m taken aback because i never knew myself to love folk artwork, what with its garish colors and weird animal motifs.

time to rewire some neurons.