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Caro-Nan Handcrafted Basket Purses, and Angionette's Dress Shop, Bozeman

Every once in a while three different stories collide, from three different locations, and it becomes a serendipitous event.  To create this story, a northern Virginia thrift store, a former ladies dress shop in Bozeman, Montana and a purse company founded in Jackson, Mississippi, all converged.

Most of us have never lusted after a vintage woven basket purse.  Instead, it is not uncommon to see a Louis Vuitton handbag on New York's Fifth Avenue; a Kate Spade bag coming out of Neiman Marcus in Dallas; or at the worst case, a Coach clutch by Tapestry coming out of a store at the Tampa Premium Outlet Mall.   

This hand crafted purse came out of a thrift store adventure in northern Virginia.  It started out by being an unknown basket purse.  It was handcrafted and upon further inspection, it looked like it was made for someone in Bozeman, Montana. The hand-painted street scene had storefronts with "MSU" and "Bobcats" written in the store windows.  Anyone tracking …
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Vince Shaughnessy, b. 1959, Northwest Coast Kwakiutl Tribal Artist

Throughout history, man's imagination has populated the world with monstrous creations:  Satyrs, Cynocephali, Harpies, Centaurs, and today we look at Dzunukwa.

Shaughnessy was born into Kwakwaka'wakw royalty. His grandfather, Arthur Shaughnessy was the Chief of Kingcome Inlet, a principle fjord of the British Columbia coast.  He started his art carving apprentice under the coaching and mentoring of noted carvers, Kelvin Hunt and Jonathan Livingston at the Arts of the Raven Shop.

Cedar is plentiful along the northern Pacific Coast, and an excellent carving wood as it splits easily. Throughout his upbringing, he listened to the stories and myths of his people and developed the skills to portray these recited myths into Kwakiutl art, as in the cedar mask below.

Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl), British Columbia, c. 1978 Ceder, under Black and Red/Orange Pigment, Horse Hair  Alert Bay, Canadian Government Tag
Shaughnessy understood that Kwakiutl mythology is based on nature. During his…

Berndt Friberg (1899-1981) Sweden’s Most Noted Ceramicist

Berndt Friberg, in the world of Scandinavian ceramic design, he is just plain famous, there are no other words to describe this illustrious designer of the 20th century.  Perfection was in his blood and in his hands, creating delicate forms with magnificent glazes put him on the forefront of Swedish ceramic design. Friberg worked for Gustavsberg factory (a Swedish porcelain company) from 1934 until his death in 1981.

Friberg was born in 1899 into a family of noted potters in Höganäs, Sweden. He started as an apprentice in pottery at the age of 13 in Höganäs, and continued to work for various studios until he was 35, developing and perfecting his pottery skills. In 1934 he joined Gustavsberg working as a thrower and an apprentice to the famed art director, Wilhelm Kåge. In 1944, he started producing his own line of pottery at Gustavsberg.

Friberg’s technical perfection along with his simplicity of form and the use of glazes, plus his attention to detail was perfected during his endles…

Gerald L. Lubeck - Realist Painter and Printmaker

For nearly a lifetime, Lubeck has been creating bucolic pastoral scenes and the elements of country life.  Many have guessed that it is the Vermont countryside and lifestyle that provides inspiration.  He paints chickens in the farmyard, fresh new lambs in the pen, and dairy cows in the pasture.  His artwork is pleasant without being contrived and his brushstroke is intensely detailed.  It is this skill that allows me to share one example:  Lubeck was selected as the Judge for the International Miniature Art Show - Florida, 1984.  These artists frequently paint with one hair paint brushes, detailed, tedious and slow.

In the painting below, the location could be anywhere; eastern Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska or somewhere else in the heartland.  It speaks to the viewers who understand farming: It is the struggle of being too wet to plant in the spring and the desire to fill the grain-silos before the first major hail storm.  The farmer hopes for acceptable prices in the comm…

The Kennedy Center Years and Irene Ryan Evening of Scenes

As a college senior I spied a bulletin board notice: Kennedy Center Internships. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, send out the notices to over 300 colleges in 1979, including Montana State University. I put my entire effort into my application, now realizing that my childhood and background was lacking. They sent a nice letter back, saying that I was not selected but I had been a runner up and should someone drop out I would be contacted. It was like saying "thank you" but don't call.

I have always possessed tenacity, a sense of persistence that was beyond my control. I proceeded to write to both of my US Senators and Congressmen (at that time Montana had two Congressmen). I told them about the internship program and figured out how to visit the Kennedy Center offices that summer in Washington. My letters and visit caused a stir and even the Dean for the College of Arts and Architecture was wondering what I was up too. In the end, I think the…

The Nostalgic Art of Sascha Maurer

Sascha Maurer (1897-1961) could be described as a bipolar or maybe a tri-polar artist. He is now the famed poster illustrator-graphic designer, whose works are highly collectible and if original, very expensive. Likewise, he was a major contributor to the magazine: Ford Times. The Ford Times, was a free magazine to everyone that purchased a Ford and he handled that account from 1953-58. And his career as a watercolor artist, that created tightly illustrated rural and small town landscapes of New England.


Maurer's Background and Graphic Design:

Maurer was German-born, the son of an artist and it is said by some accounts that he descended from Russian royalty. He studied at the School of Applied Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts, both in Munich. Additionally, some report that he studied independently with noted designer Ludwig Hohlwein. Hohlwein created the German “plakatstil” (poster style) wherein he eliminated all the ornamentation and embellishments that had been part of the …

The Classified File Room for the Iran-Contra Affair

The Tower Commission Report on the Iran-Contra Affair for President Ronald Reagan
Around 1986 as a designer for the US General Services Administration, I had finished designing space for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). There new location was right on New York Avenue in Washington, DC, and the project was most interesting.  The Division was handling a large telecommunication concern. It was my job to create space where both sides of the legal case could not know what the other side was doing. The case was United States v. AT&T. The design project turned out successful, and in August of 1987, DOJ offered me a job.

I was attending a church retreat at the University of Maryland, staying in the dorms, when the phone rang out in the hallway. In those days, no one had a cell phone. I picked it up, and there was DOJ Personnel offering me a job. It was one of those moments that I knew that the Department could find you in the bottom of a haystack in the mid…