Thursday, April 9, 2015

What To Collect: Paint By Number Paintings!!!

Vintage Paint By Number paintings are an ironic - and iconic - Mid-century modern art form.  They are really “low brow” - anyone can do one… But, they also fascinate us - there is something “elemental” about their beauty and “democratic” about the fact they even exist.  Simple, graphic, and rendered by a normal person, like us!, back in the day when mass prosperity was emerging across America.  They were… lovingly crafted… and as a result, they are easy to love, 50 years later.  Over the past several years, I’ve seen vintage PBNs become more and more collectible.  And on occasion, we see folks get epic with the art form and create their own Paint By Number murals, which are pretty darn groovy.  For this story, I found several great resources detailing the history of Paint By Number paintings - including important social history… and we’ll talk about how best to display paint by number art.  Actually, display tip #1 and as an avid collector has done with a collection of DOG PBNs (above) - group your PBNs for maximum impact.

The History Of Paint By Number Kits:
Paint By Number kits were so common, so popular, such a part of the American decorating scheme, that the Smithsonian created a whole exhibit around them in 2001.  Their accompanying educational website, still online today, is an awesome resource for Paint By Number history.  Their introduction gets right to the point and says that, while Americans loved their PBNs, critics had a snit fit:

Paint by Number: Accounting for Taste in the 1950s revisits the hobby from the vantage point of the artists and entrepreneurs who created the popular paint kits, the cultural critics who reviled them, and the hobbyists who happily completed them and hung them in their homes.  Although many critics saw “number painting” as a symbol of the mindless conformity gripping 1950s America, paint by number had a peculiarly American virtue.  It invited people who had never before held a paintbrush to enter a world of art and creativity.

The Smithsonian explains who invented the kits - go, Detroit! - and how quickly the phenomenon took hold:

The making of the fad is attributed to Max S. Klein, owner of the Palmer Paint Company of Detroit, Michigan, and to artist Dan Robbins, who conceived the idea and created many of the initial paintings.  Palmer Paint began distributing paint-by-number kits under the Craft Master label in 1951.  By 1954, Palmer had sold some twelve million kits.  Popular subjects ranged from landscapes, seascapes, and pets to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.  Paint-kit box tops proclaimed, “Every man a Rembrandt!”

Interestingly - and not surprising to me, at all - the Smithsonian says that Dan Robbins wanted the first kits to be exploration of modern art, cubism and the like.  No way, said America!  Folks wanted cozy landscapes and such.  Yes: Colonial and Early American, not those hi-falutin modernist things.

The Smithsonian exhibit also explored the growth of leisure and how that helped fuel pursuits like PBN painting.  Paint By Number gets “deep” when considered in the context of the continuing growth of democracy and meritocracy in America.  I love this aspect of American culture.  Love love love it.  The Smithsonian says:

Writing in Life magazine in the late 1950s, cultural critic Russell Lynes set out to describe the popular pastimes of the “new leisure.”  He observed that the usual markers of class-education, wealth, and breeding-no longer applied.  The one thing that mattered was something that everyone had.  That something, Lynes explained, was free time.  In postwar America, class had become a matter of how one spent his or her free time.

Over the decades, the Smithsonian curators say, the Paint By Number aesthetic became so ingrained in our culture that other artists began to use it as a political launching point for their work.  Kind of Andy Warhol-esque stuff.  By around the year 2000, vintage PBNs started become collectible.  Today in 2015, I’d say they are super collectible - although prices are still “affordable”, especially if you find these at estate sales where I live, because everyone did PBNs!...REMEMBER, there are 12 million Craft Master PBNs out there!

Following the death of Max Klein in 1993, his daughter, Jacquelyn Schiffman, donated the Palmer Paint Co. archives to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.  The Palmer Paint Co. is still in business, and in 2011, they introduced two, 60th anniversary prints, which are still available for sale today. You can buy them here.

Read the entire Smithsonian history here. It’s a quick read, very entertaining, and lots of photos you can click on and see bigger.

Article Excerpt From: Retro Renovation

Nate Berkus Renovates His NYC Home!!!

 Interior designer Nate Berkus shares how he renovated his dream home in New York City in a mere 4 months!...waxing poetic musings about the true meaning of "Home".

Nate's approach to interiors and the introduction of his book "The Things That Matter".

Vintage Vignette ~ A Convo With Janice Cordis Of Daisy's Antiques!!!

Welcome Gin'Gilli's FANS & DEDICATED CUSTOMERS!!!  Richert here...This posting is the SECOND INSTALLMENT of a NEW Face-To-Face series we are calling "Vintage Vignettes"!!!  In these posts we are shining a SPOTLIGHT on one of the many talented VENDORS that sell in our beloved shop.  In these in-depth interviews we will discuss each merchant's Aesthetic, their Inspiration, their personal lives, and much much more!!!

The next vendor we are shining a spotlight on is JANICE CORDIS who runs her shop known by all as DAISY'S ANTIQUES.  The following interview divulges what we recently learned about this World Traveler & Superstar Merchant - ENJOY!!!:

~ Janice Of Daisy's Antiques ~

Richert: "I am so glad we finally have a chance to sit down and do this exchange has been too long since we have had a heart-to-heart like this!  Let's start off by you telling us how you landed in the business of selling vintage?"

Janice: "I started thrift shopping out of economic necessity and now it is a lifestyle."

Richert: "Necessity is the mother of invention" is one of my favorite proverbs...I personally have learned, that sometimes in life, you don't realize how certain actions you take today, ultimately shape your behavior in the future!  On that note, if you had to paint a picture of what you want shoppers to experience in your space, how would you explain Daisy's Antiques?"

Janice: "I want people to slow down and enjoy my space.  The feeling I have created is relaxed and contemplative."

 Richert: "Whenever I come in and browse your shop, I can't help but feel Romanticism & Nostalgia with the objects you have curated.  It's as if you happened on a beautiful home from a bygone era, yet the people who live there have gone away for the afternoon, and you have an "imaginary chance" to enjoy and peruse their cherished belongings in there absence!"

Richert: "So I ask this question of everyone...What was the best vintage find you have ever found?  Do you still own it?"

Janice: "That's easy, Richert!  It is a large Native American basket wrapped bottle that I admire daily!"

Richert: "It sounds LOVELY - I would love to see it one day!  I really believe that if we surround ourselves with beautiful things, we truly live more enriched and happier lives."  So now that we have discussed beautiful things, let's talk about beautiful people...Who inspires you?  Who are your muses?  What designers do you admire?  Do you have a "go to" design resource?"

Janice: "Carol Hicks Bolton, Magnolia Pearl (Robin Brown), & Ralph Lauren."

Richert: "I love all those designers too!  I love knowing about who influences our style, what inspires us.  Right now I have a few creators that I am SMITTEN with as have to check these guys out: Ken Fulk, Tracy Porter, & Kris Kuksi!"

~ A Selection Of Janice's Pristine White Linens Embroidered With Red Floss

Richert: "With the arrival of Spring & Summer fast approaching, what do you expect to be interior design trends to watch out for just on the horizon?"

Janice: "I shy away from "trends" but what comes to mind is a gathering of shells, rocks or natural things from a walk outdoors.  Place them where you can appreciate them & enjoy them."

 Richert: "I too believe in using nature as inspiration - Mother Nature, to me, is really where all good and sound design truly originates."

Richert: "Okay, another pop quiz - What 3 things (design components or decor items) should be present in every room in your house?"

Janice: "Hahaha only 3?  I LOVE stuff and if I had to say only 3 it would be: old books, old mirrors, and a container for flowers."

Richert: "As an experienced merchant, and savvy business woman, what is the best business advice you can give or was ever given by someone else?"

Janice: "Don't doubt yourself!  Don't overthink, trust your personal style."

Richert: "If you wrote an autobiography what would you proudly title your book?"

Janice: "The Gathering Lady."

Richert: "What was your proudest design "moment" or accomplishment?"

Janice: "When I realized my granddaughter "got" what I do in the antique space."

Richert: "How about telling us your favorite band or musician of all time?

Janice: "The Beatles."

Richert: "If you could be an overnight virtuoso at any musical instrument, what would it be?"

Janice: "The Piano."

Richert: "QUICK!!!  Grab your iPod and tell me the top 5 songs currently on your favorite playlist."

Janice: "Thinking Out Loud" - By Ed Sheeran, "Imagine" - By John Lennon,
"Crazy" - By: Knarles Barkley, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" - By: Gerry & The Pacemakers, & "Stay With Me" - By: Sam Smith."

Richert: "I am a HUGE foodie and I am constantly criticized, by my friends, for posting all of my delicious meals on Facebook...What is your favorite food indulgence?

Janice: "Please don't tell my husband - Breakfast Pizza!!!"

Richert: "If you could have a one-on-one intimate dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?"

Janice: "My Grandmother."

Richert: "Kittens OR Puppies?"

Janice: "Do I have to choose?  Love them both!  Kittens."

Richert: "On a more serious note, I also love seeking advice from my peers.  Are there any Pearls Of Wisdom you would like to share with our readers?"

Janice: "Realizing that Today IS Someday!"

Richert: "Last year you were fortunate to travel afar on a dream holiday.  Please tell us about your fabulous trip to FRANCE...describe your best experiences there."

Janice: "It was so wonderful to see how the pros shopped in French Flea Markets and how regardless of language that "Kindness Matters".  Also, in some of the French Flea Market Venues they actually have champagne bars.  Just like we have soda pop for refreshment, they had the GOOD stuff to quench thirst!"

~ (Left) The Very Last French Grain Sack Messenger Bag - Fashioned From Reclaimed French Grain / Flour Sacks, Vintage Cotton Textiles, & Old Leather Belts - Janice Brought Back So Many Different Varieties To Sell In Her Shop, & They Were An Instant HIT...Almost SOLD OUT Immediately! ~

Richert: "Okay, One last question.  What are you most excited about in your life RIGHT NOW???"

Janice: "The answer is simple...Just how HAPPY I  am!"

A HUGE Thank You to Janice Cordis for sharing with us some very intimate details.  It really gives us insight to your creative soul & quiet intellect!  Next time you visit, please make a point to check out DAISY'S ANTIQUES located near the front of our store.  Rumor has it that Janice is already plotting a new theme for her display!!!  Word is it will be inspired by the sweeping epic, period movie "Out Of Africa"!!!  Richert will be back again in the near future, as we plan on featuring yet another talented vendor in a future installment of Vintage Vignette!!!