I recently spent a night at the SLS Hotel in Las Vegas. I was there in late August of 2014, just a week after it opened, and I promised myself that I’d return. It took me three years, but I made it.
I’d never seen the rooms before, only the lobby, which I loved!! To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Vegas, where every hotel is pumped up on steroids. So I instantly fell in love with the scale of the SLS, as well as how artfully the interiors were laid out. In fact, I previously wrote about the hotel in an earlier blog post, and I’m thrilled to be able to follow up that post with some images inside the hotel rooms.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of all things black and white. It’s such a strong design trend right now, and includes everything from luxury auto’s, to building exteriors, as well as commercial and residential interiors.
It took my eyes a moment to focus as I entered the hallway leading to my room. Yes, it was disorienting, but I loved it. I forced myself to move slowly so that I could absorb every detail: the chrome door handles, the textured carpet, the ah-mazing wall paper with the organic grass vibe… it was fantastic. And then I entered the room itself. What a great color pairing, palest pinky salmon, mixed with black and white. It felt oddly 1940’s, in a good way. I turned on every light in the room and marveled over how brilliant it was. Soft soft soft, setting the mood for a perfect selfie. And that really cool chrom-ish tree stump as end table has been on my must have list for ages. Yes I left it behind when I checked out, but I did wonder if they’d notice. And to make things even more perfect, they had a large scale piece of black and white art in the bathroom. Love it!!
I hope you’ll consider the SLS Hotel the next time you visit Vegas. It’s a little off the beaten path in the north end of town on the site of the former Sahara Hotel. They also have a dedicated stop for the hotel on the Las Vegas Monorail.
And lastly, while we’re talking about Artful Living, check out the sizzle reel for my new TV Pilot Artful Living with Romi Cortier, produced by Red Carpet Recio Productions. The full 22 minute pilot can be seen for free on Go Indie TV. It’s a celebration of Art, Architecture and Interior Design… all things that are very close to my heart.
There’s another hot Art Auction coming up at Los Angeles Modern Auctions on October 12, 2014. I’ve been shopping at art auctions for over a decade because they’re an amazing way to add to a collection, plus they’re also a great opportunity to find items that are rarely on the market. Yes, some items are rather pricey, but others can be a relative steal, especially when compared to gallery pricing. An educated eye can easily spot the good stuff, even if it’s not expensive. The more you look at art, the more refined your eye becomes. Line, shape, color, texture, nuances in the thickness of the paint, it all adds up. And if all else fails, then trust your curator. And in this case, your curator would be Peter Loughrey.
Peter Loughrey is the Director of Modern Design & Fine Art at LA Modern Auctions. As a prominent figure in the L A art and design community, he’s been responsible for curating several gallery shows and is a member of the Decorative Arts and Design Council and Contemporary Friends. Therefore, when it comes to Los Angeles Modern Auctions, you can have faith in the quality of their lots. They’re very careful about vetting their pieces… I know because they’ve even refused a few of my own items, items that I thought were worthy. Fortunately they have strict guidelines to protect their collectors. The price point of this upcoming auction ranges from $1,000 – $100,000. I’m sharing a few of my favorite pieces here, simply because they appeal to my eye. I haven’t seen them in person, nor do I have a vested interest in their sale. I hope to attend the preview which runs till October 11, 2014, from 10am – 6pm, at 16145 Hart Street, Van Nuys, Ca. 91406.
Lot 224, Vapor Drawing by Larry Bell, Estimate: $4,000 – $6,000. I love this image because it reminds me of the corrugated metal fence at my home in Palm Springs. I’ve always wanted to do an oil painting to capture the reflective nature of the metal, however, this remarkable image has already done that.
Lot 154, Cat Person #1 by Fritz Scholder, Estimate: $6,000 – $9,000. At first glance this image looks like an abstract, but then the ears come into view. Plus who doesn’t love the sumptuous use of red with the chartreuse green accents.
Lot 258, Phenomena Byron’s Hunch by Paul Jenkins, Estimate: $3,000 – $5,000. Cool amorphous tones in violet and blue, with hints of magenta, a green flame glowing in the center with a contrasting Yellow rising sun. Pure joy.
Lot 407, Untitled by Edmond Kohn, Estimate: $800 – $1200. I just love this little midcentury gem. The line work of the bodies, the muted palette of green and orange tones with hints of salmon and apricot, it practically leaps from the canvas.
Lot 374, Balloon Dog (Blue) by Jeff Koons, Estimate $10,000 – $15,000. #1965 of 2300 MOCA Editions. I simply love any of Koons Cast Porcelain pieces with their lush reflective finishes, and if it comes in blue, even better.
Lot 524, Untitled (Boat) Raimonds Straprans, Estimate: $8,000 – $12,000. I love the use of black in this 1963 beauty, with accents of blue and orange. There’s such a graphic quality to the image that it reminds of Francoise Gilot.
Lot 362, #7 by Karl Benjamin, Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000. I’ve been a fan of Karl Benjamin since I discovered his work at ‘Birth of the Cool’ in Orange County about a decade ago. I’d love nothing more than to add one of his paintings to my collection, but they’re a bit out of my reach.
Lot 377, Platter by Takashi Murakami, Estimate $800 -$1200. Made on the occasion of the artist’s gala opening at MOCA in 2007, which was an amazing show and my first exposure to his work.
Lot 364, #18 by Karl Benjamin, Estimate: $12,000 – $15,000. I love how Benjamin has juxtaposed these bold geometric shapes in bold colors, married together with such a warm gray. I think I see the word LOVE being repeated…
Lot 75, Double Standard by Ed Ruscha, Estimate $50,000 – $70,000. It’s hard to imagine a screen print being valued at this price point, however, this is no ordinary screen print. It’s an 11-color screenprint on paper. I’ll presume that the white is the paper, plus there are 2 shades of blue for the sign. That leaves about 9 shades of orange, brown and black to create the gradation of tone in the sky.
Los Angeles’s best kept secret for buying Art… Auction houses! I know this goes against everything I should be about, which is selling my own art, but hey – I can’t be all things to all people. With the amount of affordable art that’s available, there’s no excuse for having crappy Made in China ‘art’ hanging on your walls, even if you’re only renting an apartment (which is most of us here in LA). For as little as $100, you can end up buying a beautiful lithograph or oil painting already framed. Most art needs a frame, and if it’s included in your purchase price, you’re ahead of the game. I know it’s possible, because I’ve done it more than once.
I’m sharing one of my favorite auction houses with you, truly one of LA’s best kept secrets. A client of mine who’s a top notch art appraiser here in town told me about this place over a decade ago. His famous line, ‘you can often buy art there for .10 cents on the dollar‘ which is so true. A few years ago I bought a painting there with a retail value of $18,000 for about $2,000. I did my research ahead of time to see if what I saw hanging on the wall was as great as I thought it was, then set up a phone bidding appointment with the auction house because I was going to be out of town during the actual auction. They called me 2 lots ahead of time, I waited for my lot number to come up… and placed the opening bid. Fortunately for me, no one bid against me. I screamed with joy and jumped up and down because the painting was now mine!
If you’ve never been to an art auction, then let me share with you the process. This particular auction house works as follows: There will be an estimated value, lets say it’s $500-$1000. The bidding will start at half of the estimate, in this case it would be $250. It will go up in small increments, determined by the house. You might be bidding with others in the room, on the phone, or online. If no one bids against you, then the piece is yours, provided the reserve that the seller might have pre-set, has been met. Once the hammer is dropped, the winning bid will have a 20% buyers premium added, plus applicable sales tax. Therefore, when you’re bidding in the heat of the moment, keep that in mind. The best way to keep yourself from loosing control is to set a mental limit on the piece you’re intending to bid on, knowing that it will be roughly 25% higher if you have the winning bid. This will come in handy if you’re bidding on multiple pieces.
And what’s the name of this auction house…. you’ll have to email me to find out. Kidding! Clark Cierlak Fine Arts Estate Auction Service. All of the images I’ve loaded above, which are some of my favorites for this event, are from the up coming auction on Saturday July 26th at noon. A word to the wise, if you’re serious about buying art this way, then go to the preview or the actual auction. Never buy it sight unseen, digital photos can be deceptive and pick up more detail than your eye might see in person. By the way, if you do make it to this auction, tell Ellen Romi sent you!
Peter Max, Lot 161, With Out Borders, 1991, color lithograph, signed in white pencil, from the numbered edition 300, image 40 x 32″, full margins, artist’s blindstamp lower left, framed. $500/1000
Alfred Defossez, Lot 59, Various, five color lithographs (only one shown here) each signed in pencil, from the numbered edition 200, 150 and an artist’s proof, sheets from 22 x 17 1/2 to 15 x 18″, Together with two color exhibition posters, for a total of 7 items. $300/500
Fernand Leger, Lot 141, Untitled Figures on Yellow Background, color lithograph, signed in ink (faded), image 16 1/4 x 13″, full margins, framed. $1000/2000
Alexander Chistov, Lot 42 A, Still Lifes, two oil paintings on panel (only one shown here) one signed lower right, one initialed upper right, both 8 x 10″, both framed. $500/800
Sam Francis, Lot 86,Untitled, (SFS.132: S.3) color screenprint, signed in pencil, from the numbered edition 100, sheet 30 x 22 1/4, published and printed by Gemini G.E.L, with their blindstamp lower right. $2000/3000
Pablo Picasso, Lot 182,Jeune Homme Au Masque Taureau, faune Et Profile De Femme (B.279), 1936, etching, stamp signed, from the numbered edition 50, published in 1961, plate 8 1/2 x 12″. $3000/4000
Norman Lundin, Lot 146,Study of Jar, 1989, gouache and water-soluable crayon on paper, signed lower right, 9 x 15 1/2″, framed. $300/600
Unless you’ve been living on another planet, it’s been hard to miss The Changing Face of North La Brea. After a torturous year or two of lane closures and nonstop construction, things are really starting to come together, and fortunately in a good way. As you know, not all facelifts are for the better, especially in this town.
I’d been avoiding going anywhere near La Brea, regardless of the time of day or night for ages. And then, one evening without thinking, I drove north from the 10, yes the 10, not the I-10. I felt disoriented as I crossed over Wilshire Blvd into a whole new world. It was as if La Brea had become the new Sunset Strip, the Sunset Strip minus the star seeking tourists and double parked limo’s. It was bustling in a new fun way, a way that made me feel old and out of the loop. It was time to get my groove on and start spending some time there.
I love the Streamline Deco inspired 636 N. La Brea with it’s porthole windows and saturated pastel tones. The tropical tones remind me of South Palm Beach in Florida. Happy. Playful. Spirited. I just hope the graffiti ‘artists’ leave it alone. This is also the kind of Art Deco inspired building that we should be seeing in the Miracle Mile, not the crap we’ve been getting sold as Deco that’s nothing more than communal architecture trying to please everyone. (do I dare name names?) My research shows that this may be the new residence of the Olympic Rehabilitation Center (please correct me if I’m wrong). It would make sense, as there’s a large parking lot in the back with a private walled off entrance. Additionally, their web site uses the same tones as this particular building, so they’re branding seems to be intact.
As for 1145 N. La Brea, It’s quite cool. Initially when I drove by I thought it looked like a dilapidated Guggenheim Museum. Then I realized the facade is just that, a facade, completely non structural. I also love the laser cut metal skin with the aqua walls behind it. They’ve also done a spectacular job of incorporating vertical florescent lights that seems to be a nod to the work of Dan Flavin. I remember seeing his Retrospective at LACMA in 2007 and loving the high impact of his work made from commercial lighting materials. According to wehoville.com this is a five-story 32-unit building of affordable housing, paid for through federal HUD funds and the City of West Hollywood’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Bravo for affordable, yet chic, housing.
And that interesting building on the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica… I was calling it the ‘eyelash‘ building until I snapped a couple of photos. Then I thought hmmm, looks a bit more like, well… like a Vajayjay to quote Opera. Wehoville.com reports this as a six-story, mixed use project with 12,800 square-feet of retail space and 184 apartments, 36 of which will be affordable housing units as well. (I’m curious to know what qualifies as ‘affordable’ in the city of LA and West Hollywood).
Lastly, I have to say that I love the use of Yellow on these commercial projects, its a nod to happier times and is a great color for sunny southern California.
Photographing Gates in the Hollywood Hills was a passion of mine in the mid 1990’s. I lived in the Los Feliz section of the Hollywood Hills when I first moved to Los Angeles. I was so enamored by the gorgeous gates I’d see on my evening walks, that I thought I’d try photographing them with an old canon camera I got from my sister. One after another, my collection grew. Then I thought, why not publish a book?
As I talked to people about my idea, the reasons for NOT publishing a book were many: you need the home owners permission, you need the architects permission, you need the designers permission, coffee table books don’t make money anymore, they no longer make black and white film, everything is digital now. The list goes on, and the photographs get older. But what I find fascinating is that every time I pull these images out and look at them, they’re still exciting. There’s also something very refreshing about seeing these images in Black and White. It reminds me of Hollywoods Golden Era when things were more glamorous and less pedestrian.
I’ve heard rumors over the years about what celebrity might live behind which gate, but that’s irrelevant to me. What’s more interesting is Los Angeles’s culture of the gate. It’s like a calling card for the home, possibly indicating what you might find on the inside. Yet they always achieve the same thing, keeping unwanted guests out and giving homes perched on the edge of a cliff a modicum of privacy. I’ve shared a few of my favorites here, and I hope you enjoy them. If by chance you’re reading this, and one of these belongs to you and I’ve broken some law or crossed the line, please let me know. Otherwise I invite you to enjoy the beauty of these ‘total works of art’. Bravo to these amazing designers and architects.