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My own Private Grand Budapest Hotel

7 Mar
2-(13 unread) - vardisellistm - Yahoo Mail - Google Chrome 372014 72605 AM

My own Budapest..The Painted Lady

It seems all the buzz this morning is about the Grand Budapest Hotel. Well let me tell you about my own hotel. I am obsessed with miniatures, can’t explain why I just am, models fascinate me. Ever since I was a child I have been building models you name it I’ve built it. I had every building set available as a child, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Erector Sets, Girder and Panels, AMT 3 in 1 car models, Lionel trains everything! I am fortunate that my parents recognized my passion early on, despite their worry about my somewhat anti social attitude. I simply preferred to be alone living in a fantasy world of architecture and auto engineering, in retrospect, playing out “The Fountain Head” scenarios where I was in control.

I’m no different now, in fact I’m more like the I was as a child than ever, due to age as Picasso so wisely understood, It takes a long time to become young. Back about 30 years ago I ran across a miniature kit that captured my imagination in a big way. A house kit, little did I understand where it would lead me. The “Painted Lady” has grown continuously ever since. The perfect winter project every February and March she gets an update. This year was ideal for nesting, its been a long hard winter so the Lady is getting an overhaul. Bare in mind she’s old and [just like me] in need of maintenance. The electric system was failing and she was really dusty. Over the last week I tore into a revamp, re-wiring, replacing bulbs, restoring pieces that have fallen off and making a few decor changes.

There is nothing that I savor more than rising very early and throwing myself wholly into a creative pursuit. As we grow older it becomes harder to find time to do anything creative due to this crazy world we live in where distraction has become a constant companion. I will say that advanced age has its advantages, I no longer allow myself to be pulled down by the daily stream of problems, I now make room for that “oneness” that can be found in doing exactly what you do best, they are precious moments and time has a way of growing short. The Painted Lady and I are the best of friends she is the embodiment of all things I am now and those things I have always been.

A bit of everything I am

A bit of everything I am

The Grand Budapest Hotel speaks volumes to me, especially the model making aspects of the film. Messy Nessy, Wes Anderson and I are kindred spirits. Take a look at the latest post from my favorite blogger Messy Nessy,

I am so down with this its hard to express.

I am so down with this its hard to express.

Now take a look at my own Budapest Hotel “The Painted Lady”


An Ironic twist of Fate

12 Jan
I was born in Cleveland,Ohio. Attended school there through high school. I decided to leave for college. I attended the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) During the 30 years I’ve resided in Philadelphia as Cleveland declined due to the exit of its major industrial base. Sharing some of the troubles Detroit is experiencing. The once bustling retail district disappeared. No reason to return I thought, Cleveland is dead.

Downtown Cleveland 10 years ago

Philadelphia’s lowest point.

Philadelphia has suffered as well, once the workshop of the United States much of its manufacturing has disappeared. The density of Phillies population has kept it safe from the fate of Cleveland and Detroit, it has survived and is now seeing a renaissance, due to a new generation seeking an urban lifestyle and the artistic population fleeing from New York.

Decay replaced by Gentry

Chic beer garden two blocks from my home

Ironically Cleveland is booming due to very abandonment that killed it in the 70’s. New Yorkers are now seeing Cleveland and Philadelphia as an alternative to the Disneyfication of New York. High rents make it impossible for the creative class to survive. The trend spells a disaster for New York, once the creative heartbeat of the world, the incubator of all that is new (and profitable) This has always been an issue that the creative class has faced. The exploitation of those who move culture and the arts forward are those who receive the least for their contributions. The gentrification cycle punishes those who create it.

The creative crowd

As a younger man I toyed with the thought of moving to New York at a time when Phillie was the step child of New York, but the expense kept me from doing so. I now am fortunate that I remained. I live in the “ground zero” of creative class here and New York is moving to me, real estate values are increasing, but gentrification is now making it difficult for me, rising taxes and the city’s greed for more taxable income have changed the ease of living here, as the once working class neighborhoods are invaded, due to still being a bargain compared to New York.

Cleveland today,

The last irony in my story is that Cleveland is looking good to me. The efforts of a tenacious group of Clevelanders is transforming the city into a creative Mecca. They are offering affordable incentives to lure artists into its core. An attempt to encourage the growth of a creative population. Looks like I may end up where I started from, Cleveland is no longer the “The mistake on the lake”  again its the “Best location in the nation”
The following article relates the very issues that I have experienced in my life.

Christmas Display

25 Nov
Everyone has memories lingering of the small details of Christmas past. My obsession with miniature architecture is rooted in the traditions of my paternal grandmother. She was a master of display. Every Christmas Eve after we were sent to bed [the tree never went up until Christmas eve] she would set up her Christmas village under her tree. A veritable extravaganza of her wonderful lit cardboard houses ( putz as they are refered to) and a beautiful 20’s vintage German dollhouse that belonged to my father. She also owned a model of a Russian Orthodox church, crafted by a cousin, complete with its “onion dome” a tribute to her Slovak  roots in the rural Pennsylvania coal mining regions.
My Granny had great Christmas decor, in her window she would display a home-made wooden electrified cross, a rarity these days, but for her Christ was the reason for the season, and of course us, her grand children. Christmas morning was always a thrill at my Granny’s due to she celebrated Russian Christmas [the Epiphany] on January 6th. We were excused from school to celebrate a second Christmas, an event much envied by my schoolmates.
Christmas the way it used to feel
All the wonderful little houses
All her Christmas suburban sprawl surrounded “the big show” the nativity, a stable brightly lit by a bulb surrounded with a tin star, she would place the figures, pre war hand-painted paper mache effigies all staring lovingly at the baby Jesus, including the livestock, a cow, a donkey a few sheep. The stable is lost, but I still have the figures which I rescued years ago, after her passing [a good move on my part] I have set up the nativity every year since, to continue her tradition and remember my Granny, the woman who passed her talents for display on to me.
Go to Papa’s site for a look at Christmas past. good stuff


Knit bombing for Knit Wits

30 Oct

I just don’t understand where this strange craze came from…Knit Bombing has been surfacing here and there for a couple of years. The first I saw was on tree trunks, now it’s spreading to cash machines and parking meters…you name’s been bombed.

knit bombing - Google Search - Google Chrome 10302013 45424 AM

I must admit its a more entertaining than spray paint graffiti, and it takes more talent to apply


Can you believe this bus? How long did it take to pull this off, pretty amazing.

yarn-bomb.jpg (570×383) - Google Chrome 10302013 45213 AM

Even Rocky has been Bombed, although I’m sure its not the first time.


We’re Bullish on knitting, certainly a refreshing alternative to corrupt investment practices. Was only a matter of time before a savvy retailer grabbed on to the idea.

fashion and mash  Where designer meets digital - Google Chrome 10302013 50359 AM

Warehouse a British retailer did just that. They launched a campaign encouraging the public to snap photos of their attempts at bombing, with a tag of course.

Bombed and tagged, I like’s the link fashion and mash

Punk is Building Up Steam

13 Oct

swords  Book 3 and thats all I am saying for now - Google Chrome 10132013 61118 AM


In case you haven’t noticed there is a renewed interest in the late 19th century. I think that the cultural pendulum swings to the extremes of the present and the past. On one hand we have the minimal futurists living in a white Utopia furnished with retro 60’s and on the other end we have the cult of “steampunk” An adulation of the romance,craftsmanship and technology of the Industrial age. The latest Sherlock Holmes films are stunning examples of the the “New Old”


The wardrobe - Costume Rental - cinema - theater - events - Vertugadins - costume designers - Google Chrome 10132013 62124 AMThe Studio Vertugadins is a French costume house. Thier designs are “extrodinaire” Offering a huge selection of attire to fit your every period whim.


The wardrobe - Costume Rental - cinema - theater - events - Vertugadins - costume designers - Google Chrome 10132013 62058 AM


The wardrobe - Costume Rental - cinema - theater - events - Vertugadins - costume designers - Google Chrome 10132013 61918 AM


The wardrobe - Costume Rental - cinema - theater - events - Vertugadins - costume designers - Google Chrome 10132013 61641 AM


The wardrobe - Costume Rental - cinema - theater - events - Vertugadins - costume designers - Google Chrome 10132013 61513 AM


The wardrobe - Costume Rental - cinema - theater - events - Vertugadins - costume designers - Google Chrome 10132013 61235 AM


La penderie - Location de costume - cinéma - théâtre - événementiel - Vertugadins - Costumières - Google Chrome 10132013 64754 AM


La penderie - Location de costume - cinéma - théâtre - événementiel - Vertugadins - Costumières - Google Chrome 10132013 64943 AM


La penderie - Location de costume - cinéma - théâtre - événementiel - Vertugadins - Costumières - Google Chrome 10132013 65303 AM


The site is a treat to explore, Lift your Halloween costume ideas to new heights, take a look….    It offers translation if you don’t parle Francais




Urban Outfitters brings Lifestyle Concept to the Burbs

3 Oct

This is huge! URBN Inc. (Urban Outfitters) will unveil a “lifestyle experience” development in the Main Line town of Devon. According to Main Line Media News, the development will comprise a boutique hotel, two restaurants, a specialty foods market, a health/spa facility and/or a boutique fitness studio, a Terrain garden center, and an Anthropologie store. “When you see a lifestyle center you often see a Chico’s, a J. Crew, a Cheesecake Factory. That’s not what we’re about,” explained Dave Ziel, the chief development officer for Urban Outfitters, at a township meeting Tuesday night.

A garden center concept, Terrain (which has existing locations in Glen Mills, PA, and Westport, CT) will be especially fitting for the site, as the development —whose working title is Devon Yard—will be built upon the 6.5-acre site that formerly hosted Waterloo Gardens, an indoor/outdoor home decor and garden nursery store.

2013-10-waterloo-rendering.jpgImage credit: Main Line Media News/Devon Yard

Keeping with URBN Inc.’s Pinterest-worthy aesthetic, construction for Devon Yard will make use of reclaimed materials and found objects. What’s more, Terrain’s Devon store will house an in-store cafe, so you won’t have to drive to Glen Mills to Instagram your breakfast. The project is still in its infancy, but construction is slated to finish by April 2016.
· Urban Outfitters unveils ‘lifestyle experience’ development at site of former Waterloo Gardens [MLMN]

My own Constantinople

29 Sep

The mystic East, the land of legends,Theodora, the Byzantines, the seat of Holy Roman Empire, Sulieman the Magnificent, Saint Sophia the heart of eastern Orthodoxy. I am inescapably drawn to all things related to the Golden Horn where Western Europe and Orient meet.

I was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith, the most distant memories as a child are those of dark incense laden rituals spoken in ancient Greek, they made quite an impression on a child’s mind. My grandmothers absolute adherence to the faith are the basis of my continuing fascination. My Yaiya ( Greek for grandmother) kept her home shrine Icons lit with an oil lamp that she would relight once a year with the flame she very carefully carried home from Easter services, it was essential that that flame was not extinguished before her relighting ritual. I remember well she would burn incense to make sure her prayers were carried skyward. Ask any Greek, the influence our Yaiya’s exerted over us as children, its something you never forget, ever.

Byzantine Icons and a few others

Although my adult religious practices are less than devout, I still carry the memories of my yaiya’s beliefs and practices. In my own way I have carried on the traditions. Over the years I’ve collected pieces that reinforce my memories and the beliefs I experienced as a child. The atmosphere of my yaiya’s house.

I didn’t exclude the Turkish influence,, the Incense burner is Greek.

My candelie is electric not oil

I was lucky to find a huge Saracenic latern.

A few wooden Mexican saints.

A plaster carnival prize from the 1920’s stares into her incense burner.

I have a number of Eastern dresser scarves and piano shawls.

I love it dark..and slightly scary, like religion.

Gold leaf is an essential

A salvaged kneeling rail. A gothic touch.

These embroideries were in every Greek home a few generations ago. A happy greeting for all occasions .

The Future,The Past,The Present

26 Sep

No matter how hard we try, predicting the future is difficult. Too often futurists ignore the economic and political issues that really shape our future. The results are often comical and naive, especially when viewed in the future. This video illustrates perfectly. The future from the past, 1930's

Futurists from our life time have become quaint as well. Buck Rogers in the 25th century. At times producers and designers just can't break away from the styles and conventions of thier present.

Somehow the fast food uniform doesn't fit my concept of the future, Would you like fries with that?

Occasionally due to huge budgets and unlimited talent producers get it right, or least right for a decade or so. The future is the only judge of the success of any future depictions.

A submerged Manhattan is likely at some point, but I will be in the past by then.

The best dipiction of sex droids ever…My only regret living here in the present.

I only have eyes for you, The audio lover. What a great scene.


Bergdorf Goodman and Jason Hackenwerth

21 Sep

The first time I saw Jason’s work was here in Philadelphia. He installed in a very large factory space. I was very impressed, I had never seen balloons used with such artistic sensibility. The ironic juxtaposition of his huge imposing pieces is their fragility, an ephemeral event, lasting only a few days.

As I was browsing the Internet this morning, I came across a set of windows installed at Bergdorfs, guess who provided the theme, Jason. I knew back when I first saw his work that it would make for striking window display. Sure enough it did…take a look,

Take a look at his Blog…

Balloon Dresses

19 Sep
Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Rie Hosokai is a world renown balloon artist. Her sense of fashion and  her amazing technique has made her a much sought after performance art practitioner. I’m sure she captivates every audience she appears for. Truly exceptional.

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai


Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai now Thats a Wedding gown

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai Even deflated its extrodinary

Balloon art by Rie Hosokai Even deflated its extraordinary.

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