Our Wandering Eye blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his husband, architect Hermes Mallea, are principals in the Manhattan based design firm M (Group). He signed on with Rural Intelligence four years ago to document the restoration of their neighbor’s historic manse, but over time his mind and his eye have wandered to topics further afield. Carey returns to his blog after just having released his first book, "Stuff: The M(Group) Interactive Guide to Collecting, Decorating with, and Learning about, Wonderful and Unusual Things." "Stuff" has garnered coverage in The New York Times Magazine, TIME.com, and Veranda, and is the Book of the Month in the March 2013 House Beautiful.
Chinese white-painted pottery horse and archer, possibly Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 20 CE): Lot 107 from Stair Galleries auction, January 19-20
Hudson, although small, is a truly global city. Since the Mahicans sold the land to the Dutch in exchange for some unknown moolah (leftover tulips bulbs?) the town has been a crossroads for cultures. Today, the antiques dealers and the auction house, Stair Galleries, continue to bring the world to Columbia County.
We had planned an exotic far eastern holiday for New Year’s but trashed that plan in October (“What are we thinking?!?”). Our buddies are in Laos now and sending photos that torment me...
Yum! Fresh frogs on sticks. I’m rethinking my disappointment...
So last weekend we took a Staycation and ran up to Hudson seeking exotic stuff. We weren’t disappointed. First stop was our new favorite dealer, Michael Davis’ 3FortySeven
in one of my all time favorite Warren Street spaces — an old garage. In December, we had a client hike up from town for a shopping afternoon. There was a large (read: Huge) Tibetan cabinet I thought would work in her bedroom. Gilded, painted inside and out, and with enough presence to hold its own in a room with 15’ ceilings. A 19th century Tibetan cupboard, deep enough to allow for hanging clothes. The cabinet passed muster ( Note to client: Uncontained glee (shrieks and “OMG”’s) pretty much precludes beating the price down.... ) and then she turned around and saw this....
The entire façade of a 19th century Rajastani house with stone bases supporting wooden columns and arches with wrought iron railings. Now, most people would maybe ohhh and ahhh — and mutter sotto voce
“How fun.” But only a few brave types would make the leap, with barely a pause, to “What about putting it in the Living Room?”
“Huh!?” (a linguistic holdover from my Texas roots.)
Within minutes, we were all on board. Big chunks of turquoise blue and pale green painted Indian façade would be cleverly injected into a Manhattan parlor — with painted Fine French Furniture and red silk carpeting. “Neat but not gaudy” — another Texas-ism...That client is thinking global — and channeling the specter of Doris Duke.
So now we begin to figure out how to get it down, have some new bits made to complete it, and get it into a New York apartment.
And then we checked out the viewing at Stair Galleries for auction on January 19/20 of 20th century, Asian and Ethnographic Art. The cultures of the world are represented, from ancient Middle Eastern bronze bits (that are actually horse bits) to 20th century American art. There are lots of African pieces, some Oceanic art, Persian antiquities, and ancient Chinese pieces. Some of the things come with some pretty excellent provenances — the dealers noted in the catalog are some of the best (i.e. most expensive) in their fields. Very useful information when deciding on your top bids.
Here are a few other cool lots:
Lot 409 – A CARVED WOOD AND SHELL MASK from New Guinea
Lot 419 – A LURISTAN BRONZE Horse bit (Persia)
Lot 384 – YAKA MASK, CONGO
This winter, take a mini world tour in Hudson and bring something from your ‘trip’ home. Your 19th-century American farmhouse will thank you. Think global, act local.