Thursday, August 20, 2009

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein, Etta Cone, 1903

I'm taking a few days off from work & decided to spend yesterday afternoon at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Since I'm a decorative arts fan, I wandered around the Dorothy McIlvain Scott wing & period rooms for quite a while, but I also had to visit the Cone collection, which is my favorite part of the museum.

Baltimore sisters Dr. Claribel Cone & Etta Cone came from a well-to-do Jewish family & lived lives that would be considered somewhat unusual even now, but were quite shocking back then. Neither ever married or had children, & they befriended & supported some of the most Bohemian artists of their time. Claribel became a doctor at a time when many considered such a course of study unnatural in a female. Even many physicians of the era, such as Dr. Edward Clark, thought that excessive education caused women's brains to use up blood that was needed for menstruation. Etta greatly admired her sister's medical career, although she had no such ambitions herself. She tended the family home on Eutaw Place & seemed to have no great passions until her brother gave her $300 to decorate the family home. The "Impressionistic" Theodore Robinson paintings she purchased with the money scandalized her family. For Etta, a lifetime of collecting had begun.

I've long been curious to know more about the Cone sisters, so after yesterday's visit to their collection, I stopped in the BMA Shop & bought "The Art of Acquiring" by Mary Gabriel. Ms. Gabriel is a journalist who also attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, right here in town, & her knowledge of & connection to Baltimore really come through in her writing. Since they collected jewelry, textiles, & many other objects in addition to fine art, it seems that some have, unfortunately, come to see denigrate the Cone sisters as mere "shoppers". Ms. Gabriel asserts that, had the sisters been men, they would not have received such a label, & I think she makes an excellent point. I've never heard William or Henry Walters referred to in such terms. At any rate, I'm very much enjoying Ms. Gabriel's book & highly recommend it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

50's rose skirt from NY

50's rose skirt from NY, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

Again, making up for promised posts. So here I am in the fabulous 50's skirt I bought at the Chelsea flea market back in June. Bit of a splurge, but how often does one find little-worn vintage skirts with attached crinolines? This was purchased from Helen, who sets up on the first floor of the market and sells the most amazing vintage clothing and accessories. Her stuff isn't cheap, but it is gorgeous and in great shape (and, I must admit, very reasonable by NY standards.)

Yellow Rose Cake

Yellow rose cake, originally uploaded by retrogemkitty7.

I promised cake pictures a while ago, didn't I? Okay, here goes. This was my final cake for Course One. I think the roses and leaves turned out quite well, given that it is summer in the Mid-Atlantic and it's a miracle the icing wasn't completely liquid by the time it came out of the pastry bag. I was very pleased with the color palette for this cake - so Wayne Thiebaud, no? - and my husband's co-workers said it was delicious. The cake was vanilla spice (Trader Joe's mix jazzed up with Penzey's Cake Spice) with lemon curd filling; the icing was classic buttercream.

Kate Spade "Off to the Opera" outfit

Long time, no see, or rather, no post. My apologies. Have been reading a lot, practicing for my upcoming cabaret performance, & trying not to wilt in Baltimore's infamous summer humidity, which arrived late this year but is making up for lost time. And what always accompanies the steamiest August days? Why, pictures of fall clothes, of course! This outfit, from the Kate Spade website, has me longing for lower temperatures. Besides the fact that it's named "Off to the Opera", I adore this look for its tailored lines and sense of fun. I'd wear this in a heartbeat and am already trying to figure out how to re-create it with pieces from my closet.