By Karen Parr-Moody
Art is an experience, just like travel. When you add a one-of-a-kind artwork to your décor, you will understand this. Art will carry you beyond your day-to-day troubles. It will carry your thoughts far away, even as you stand still. Over the years, this art will morph before your very eyes, because art is alive.
As a small-time art collector of 30 years, I know this to be true: I’ve experienced and re-experienced my small collection. One of my favorite artworks is an English oil painting of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that I bought at GasLamp, where such pieces abound and can be had for an unbelievably small investment. Every day I admire the delicious tones of ivory and chocolate seen in the dogs’ fur and am grateful that a past owner housed this artwork in an impeccably carved gilt frame.
This painting of the St. Louis Cathedral of New Orleans is one of many fine artworks at GasLamp. It is currently available for a mere $125 at Booth 206 and is signed “J. Pittman, ’71.” Impressionistic in its style, this painting captures the hubbub of New Orleans’ Vieux Carré, where sharp-dressed women wearing high heels and hats stride toward the St. Louis Cathedral. In the painting’s bottom right corner, a lone painter stands at his easel, capturing the Catholic landmark with his brush.
For New Orleans fans who don’t recognize the façade featured in this painting of the St. Louis Cathedral, the reason seems to go beyond the painter’s decision to interpret it loosely. It appears he is time traveling to the period before 1854, when the cathedral was largely rebuilt, and painting the original Spanish Colonial structure of 1789, whose spires were more rounded than those of the current façade. (What visitors see today is the cathedral built in the early 1850s based on a design by French architect J. N. B. de Pouilly, who was influenced by French and Greek Revival architecture.)
Currently at the original GasLamp, there is an unsigned piece of portraiture that is arresting in its quiet beauty ($195, Booth 206). The sitter is a mustached gentleman attired in a red shirt; his high forehead is crowned by wavy black hair. The impressionistic brushstrokes capture his gaze in a manner reminiscent of Fayum mummy portraits, those paintings from antiquity that reflect a multicultural Egyptian society.
A ballet fan would love this color print that features the greatest ballerina of the 1800s, Marie Taglioni ($28, Booth 115 at the original GasLamp). Taglioni wears the winged costume of her supernatural character, a sylphide, from the ballet La Sylphide. Originally choreographed in 1832 by Filippo Taglioni, her father and trainer, La Sylphide was the first ballet where dancing “en pointe” was not an awkward acrobatic stunt, but rather an aesthetic move. The shortened skirt of Taglioni’s costume, designed to show off her pointe work, was considered scandalous in 1832.
It’s perpetually wintertime in this landscape painting by Vermont artist Shane Harris entitled “Dawn” ($640, Booth 230). Known for his ability to capture the New England Landscape in oil, Harris paints in the style of “en plein air,” which is the French expression for “in the open air.” The style was popularized by the French Impressionists, who painted outdoors to channel the ever-changing qualities of light on the landscape. Of en plein air, Harris says, “From the subtleties of morning light falling across new snow to the harshness of a shadow that can define a rock, I am drawn to the beauty of nature’s light.”
If art invigorates your spirit, peruse the original GasLamp and GasLamp Too to discover exquisite finds. You will be enriching your life, as well as joining in a process by which art is supported. As artist Rebekah Joy Plett says, “When you buy something from an artist you are buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul … a piece of someone else’s life.”