Wednesday, September 29, 2010

4th Annual "Mini" Watercolor Workshop

This Saturday & Sunday, October 2 & 3 we will be hosting our 4th "Mini" Watercolor Workshop with Vicki Barton. She'll be doing a demonstration each day starting at 11AM and then providing all the supplies FREE, with space limited to 10 people each day. At this point there are 7 spaces open for Saturday & 3 spaces open for Sunday. Vicki is an incredibly knowledgeable and patient teacher, every one of the students who have attended these workshops have walked away with their very own frame worthy piece of art. As for any supplies you'll need, you may want to pack a small lunch or snack, with a beverage.
Please Note: Although last year Vicki was kind enough to expand the workshop to accommodate extra people, we truly mean to keep the workshops to 10 people each day, remember this is a free event, which means this will fill up FAST.
to sign up please call Two Graces 575-758-4639 or email

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shopping at Two Graces Vol. 3

Here's the latest stuff from Two Graces, with a snake twist.

Using myself as a model may not be the best way to present these necklaces BUT...

Since I frequently wear my snake vertebrae necklace out & about and here at the shop, I'm asked quite frequently about it, maybe people are curious about what sort of person would actually wear such a thing. The story is that these were imported from Senegal (Africa) within the last 20-30 years. They were being sold at the Santa Fe Flea Market (the old Trader Jack's Flea) back then, people were told that they were Hopi Snake Dance Necklaces, and that they were very special, from a ceremony which years earlier had been closed to Whites/Belagana. So this was going to be as close as you were going to get to any Hopi Snake Dance. As I've researched this as much as anyone obsessed with this sort of thing could it turns out that there are many early photographs of Hopi Snake dance and that never in a million years would a Hopi priest wear such a thing, snakes are SACRED. You won't find these necklaces for sale anywhere, but here I have 3 of them. The truth is as I'd been asked over the years about them I found that a friend of mine now in his early 90's has a stash of them. It's taken over 3 years to convince him to sell me a few, and yesterday he brought a few in. In his words "they aren't cheap".

The 2 on each end which have smaller bones are $79.99 each, the one in the center is SOLD with larger bones (closer to the size I wear). I have restrung these myself with the help of Del Orr, and have added glass and tile beads to the back area, this keeps the very uncomfortable bones from laying directly on the back of your neck. They are all about 30" long, large enough to slip over the average person's head.

I include here these images of Rebecca Sievers' "Skeleton Sock Monkeys" these first 2 are "Scrappy" no tattoos on this guy, and "Punk Rock"

Last time Rebecca made a few of these for my Dia de los Muertos exhibit they sold out before the opening, for days on end people asked about them but they were all gone. These are once again all gone, approximately 9" long they are stuffed with organic stuffing, Fairfield brand Rayon Fiber made from Bamboo. Well, well, as predicted the sock monkey skeletons are selling before the Day of the Dead exhibit is even up and running, "Scrappy" the one without tattoos is still available, (he's the one to the far left).

These 2 are called "Bad Cat" and "Mom and Dad" Rebecca makes these from time to time for us, we are currently out of stock, but please call or email the store to check on availability.

Cut Metal Petroglyph Figure w/Snake 14" tall welded onto metal base w/copyright and DIY signature. SOLD This type of petroglyph are often pointed out as UFO figures. With a snake in his hand I am reminded of the Hopi Snake dance and of the guided tour hike I took with my Brother-in-Law & Sister 20 plus years ago into Canyon de Chelly with a Navajo guide. We asked him to show us Petroglyphs in particular ones of Kokopelli, well, we had the right guide that day he took us into cracks and crevices of the canyon hiking us as though we were a group of pack animals. When we came upon a live snake he became so excited explaining to us that this was the first time in over 25 years that he'd seen a snake in the canyon and that our presence must have something to do with this occurrence, making for an absolutely magical experience for all.

Hopi Kachina Haaniiya Katsinam Ogre with base 12"tall, mounted onto a base not original to the carving, but cleverly done to keep from glueing or nailing it onto the base, I've left it attached because it's an amazing way to display this doll. This was acquired at the Grand Canyon ca. 1950's/60's the head of the smnake is carved cottonwood body is some sort of papier mache or twisted paper onto a wire(?) I include him here because of the "snake dance" kilt he is wearing which is made of canvas. An amazing doll at an incredibly affordable price SOLD.

Hopi Horned Ogre Route 66 Kachina Doll ca. 1930's/40's height 5" (larger than usual) priced at $199.99, with original price in pencil written on bottom of ($2.). Route 66 dolls were made by the same carvers that create traditional dolls, the difference being that these dolls have a base and not legs and feet. They stand better than traditional dolls, and are made for the tourists of the 20's to present, the great Pooley Family still makes these through to this day. Easy to display in a curio cabinet. A traditional doll is given out to a Hopi Girl at a Kachina Dance Ceremony of which there are many during the yearly Hopi Calendar. This style of doll is meant for the tourist industry.

Butterfly Maiden Girl, signed (illegible) with original price tag of $250 on bottom Two Graces price SOLD height 9" with base. The carving and painting on this doll is very beautiful one of the best contemporary carvings I've seen, and with "Princess Leia" doughnut hair style! This is not a "true" Kachina doll but a social dancer doll. Social dances are meant to be a form of "high School" dance is the best way I can describe it, a way for boys and girls of the villages to get together and meet one another. Probably carved within the last 10 years, this was acquired from a Taos Pueblo woman. Taos Pueblo & Hopi-Land have extremely strong ties. When I visit the Hopi villages about every other year, when asked where I'm from I say Taos, and I'm always being asked to say hello to so and so back in Taos. Well, Taos is a small town, but I really don't know everyone!

I'd like to share something very nice with you which happened today. Of late I'm mostly worried about the fate of my little shop here in Ranchos, business has not been all that great and the landlord who has been very patient is now looking at reconsidering my lease, or not.
So, we are still hopeful to catch up with the rent and all the other bills and perhaps have that great customer (or many) come by and make it alright. Today a French woman came in with her husband, as she was leaving she stopped to say "This is one of the Loveliest shops we've seen since we arrived". After a while she came back and purchased the pair of vintage standing picture frames that are on the blog in Shopping Volume one. I could keep going on about how we have WONDERFUL customers, (and some not so much), but that would all be endless. One last thing...

Another rather nice thing that happened is this Hopi Koshare Bowl was given to me by one of the local "Pickers" I know. He told me as he was buying it the woman dropped it and it crashed to the floor, she took the time to glue it back together for him, but of course now it's a broken bowl. Still it has great beauty to me and very special. On September 30 Taos Pueblo will have San Geronimo Day complete with Koshare "Clowns". Warning if you go: STAY AWAY from the "CLOWNS"!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shopping at Two Graces Vol. 2

Inside doorway entrance to Two Graces, with our very heartfelt ThankYou and array of Holy Cards over the Taos blue door.

Hopi Matchstick Cross, typically Matchstick crosses aren't made by Native Americans, they were made in the Bible Summer Camps. WHY someone would have an Arts & Crafts project of burning boxes of matches with children is beyond me. When I was teaching at an arts oriented Summer Camp for a few years this sort of thing would have surely gotten me fired. Well, maybe they're trying to teach about "Fire & Brimstone" or something of that nature???
This one with the Hopi Sunface carved and painted original to the piece matches glued onto an old cardboard poster ca. 1960's is 7 1/2" wide and tall is SOLD

A signed Ford Ruthling Metal Cut-out Indian Headband with blue paint. This piece was nailed onto Mr. Ruthling's Garden door. He is a well known Santa Fe artist at times leaning towards Folk Art. The garden was featured in the book Behind Adobe Walls the Hidden Homes and Gardens of Santa Fe and Taos a great example 17 1/2" x 6" priced at SOLD

A TRUE New Mexico Retablo of The Virgin of Guadalupe, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe 1820-1850's by the "Quill Pen Santero" so called for his little scribbles along the sides of most of his paintings and the black outlines, with illegible stickers on the back, from an old Taos collection. True Quill Pen Retablos are always rather "Chipped" this also lends credence to this unique piece of Taos Santero artistry. This is very reminiscent of an Aragon painting but is not, on a 1/4" wooden board, size 5 1/2" x 8 1/4" priced at $2,800.

These 2 retablos are great examples. Each quite different, either of which will add a wonderful Spirituality to your home whether a Religious person or not.

Santo Nino the seated Christ Child, is known to wander at night looking for your lost articles, he will find them for you but when he does you must present him with a new pair of shoes left at his altar.
Santo Nino de Atoche Tin Retablo from Mexico mid 1900's, from an old Taos family collection
10" x 7" Two Graces price at $350.

Angel Wall Shelf Wood Carved, 11" wide. Probably from Mexico. Painted to look like Terra Cotta, but surprisingly wooden $25.

Wood Carved Golden Angel wall hanging with hand facing up for good fortune holding a bundled child, probably from Guatemala, possibly Mexico 10" wide SOLD

Two Sided Carved Wooden Angel Gabriel with gray wash paint on blue & white base, probably made in Guatemala 16" x 8" priced at $49.99

A collection of 3 vintage Ice Cream Molds ca. 1918-1930
I thought these were chocolate molds when I first saw them, then I found an antiques shop on Canyon Road in santa Fe with a whole case display of them where they were for sale at $200-$350., needless to say Two graces prices are considerably better the Cupid & Heart 3" wide
E & Co, New York marking with patent mark worn is priced at $99.99 great detail

Victorian era 3 part shoe (or is it Edwardian) 6 1/2" wide patent No. 899A E & Co. for the top piece which is separate and looks like a hat to still be with this makes it extremely rare priced at $79.99

Which came first the chicken or the egg?
This Hen Ice Cream Mold 3 1/2" wide is marked S & Co. Patent No. 173 is priced at $79.99

We Thank You Very Much for taking the time to shop at Two Graces, with a big happy wave of the paw from our collection of Lucky Cats, (NFS).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taos Mushroom Soup

Here's the recipe that may or may not be for everyone, I learned this soup recipe from Carlo Gislimberti working in the kitchen for him at Villa Fontana 8 years ago. Carlo also took me to a couple of his favorite mushroom hunting areas, I've been to these a couple of times and have encountered bears each time, so now I leave my mushroom hunting to purchasing them at the Taos Farmer's Market. Although he adds cream to his soup I add potatoes for the thickening agent instead, you may substitute cream if you prefer a little will go a long way so use around 1/3 cup cream or less if you desire. This serves 2 and you'll want seconds, even if you aren't all that crazy about mushrooms
Ingredients are fresh 3 medium sized Bolito or Porcini Mushrooms, or about 1/2 cup of dried, a small palmful of Chanterelle Mushrooms
1 can of Chicken broth or Vegetable broth, 1 small onion, 2 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, a small Green Chile Hatch style or Poblano mild Pepper, Rosemary, Bayleaf, Sage, Salt & Pepper, Tblsp Olive Oil & Tblsp Butter.
Slice the onion thinly and add to a saute/soup pot with less than a tablespoon of Olive Oil, cook this until translucent, add your diced pepper (not very much if it's hot, or add at the very end), add the large diced fresh or dried Bolitos and small diced Potatoes, saute a bit and add the stock with the Bayleaf, pinch of Sage, and sprig of Rosemary, add an extra 1 1/2 cups of water. When the potatoes are done in 30-40 minutes, with the back of a spoon smush them against the side of the pot, the starch from these will thicken the soup, don't worry about smushing the mushrooms they will maintain their integrity. If you prefer to add cream rather than potatoes do that when the soup is almost done. My trick with soup is to add a potato to it, when the tater is cooked the soup is ready. I add the chopped up Chanterelles and a Tablespoon of Butter to the soup and serve it once this has melted and been stirred in. If you are using dried mushrooms the cooking time will be about 45-60 minutes, otherwise the soup should be done in about 45 minutes. Remove the Bayleaf and Rosemary sprig. Serve in big soup bowls grind some pepper on top, along with a plate of nice fresh crusty bread to dip into this wonderful meal, try to stay away from putting butter on that bread or dipping it into olive oil, this is already a mighty tasty soup.
Here's the paw print of that pesky bear guarding those delicious Taos Mountain Bolito Mushrooms!
As a youngster my Mom's Aunties would take all the women out mushroom picking on Cape Cod, they'd come back with bags full, chop them all up and throw them into a big soup pot sauteed with olive oil, garlic and broth. As a child I had no idea the treat they were enjoying, ooh yuck mushrooms from the woods, what a fool I was, well I was just a kid, now I know better, so please give this recipe a try, even those of you who still react with, ooh yuck, I think you'll be converted, otherwise I'll eat your share!

Georgia O'Keeffe Books

Here I am in the Stairwell of the Art Institute of Chicago with O'Keeffe's painting of her birds-eye view of clouds behind me. Below is my photograph from the window of an American Airlines flight I was on recently. I thought about this painting when I took this photograph, and then there was the painting right there above me, well naturally. This leads me to say that a lot of what I'm thinking of visually has a synchronisity to it leading me to explore an idea for a visual book of my time here in Taos and my travels, to compare some of my artwork with some of the visual imagery that fills my head on a daily basis.
For now though here is a short list of books on O'Keeffe and other women artists that I have for sale in the shop. These are all Out of Print books, paperback unless otherwise stated.
Georgia O'Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz in box w/dustjacket $399.99, Maria Chabot-Georgia O'Keeffe Correspondence $29.99 hardcover w/dustjacket, Women, Creativity, and the Arts Cappodonna & Ebersole $9.99, Georgia O'Keeffe Selected Paintings & Works on Paper $19.99, Miss O'Keeffe Patten & Hine $24.99 Hardcover w/dustjacket, Georgia O'Keeffe at Ghost Ranch Loengard $59.99 hardcover w/imagery printed onto it, The Desert is No Lady Southwest landscapes in Women's Writing and Art $39.99 Hardcover w/dustjacket, Georgia O'Keeffe Exhibition Japanese Catalogue $29.99, Georgia O'Keeffe LM Messinger $21.99, Elizabeth Murray: Paintings and Drawings $29.99, Georgia O'Keeffe Gerald Peters catalogue 1990 $49.99, Georgia O'Keeffe and her Contemporaries $12.99 (water damage to cover only), Zink the Language of Enchantment $159.99 hardcover signed by Melissa Zink & Hollis Walker from the estate of Vincent Price, O'Keeffe on Paper National Gallery of Art $19.99, Full Bloom the Art & Life of Georgia O'Keeffe $34.99 first edition second print hardcover w/dustjacket, Judy Chicago an American Vision $39.99 signed by Judy Chicago hardcover w/dustjacket, Georgia O'Keeffe Art & Letters $49.99, Agnes Martin by Barbara Haskell $2,500.00 signed by Agnes Martin hardcover w/dustjacket. If I ever stumble upon an O'Keeffe book signed by her, well you can imagine the value, it would have to go into an auction house!

Shopping at Two Graces Volume 1

Perhaps if I added items from the shop every day to this blog I might finish before the end of the year, we'll see what happens. At some point I'll have to start listing things on the dreaded auction site, but for now readers of this blog will have a chance to shop Two Graces without having to physically be here. Descriptions, sizes and pricing will be below or between the items.

5 1/2" & 4 3/4" silver plated standing frames with deep blue velvet backings with original glass, as you can see falling out of the floral design at the top are a pair of falling Ank symbols placing these ca. 1920's SOLD

Architectural or Furniture detail moldings, resin cast,
Floral 3 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Traditional Scallop Shell 2" x 2 3/4"
There are approximately 200 pcs. total of these and are priced at 3 for $2.00
Material for art projects or for glueing them onto furniture and even an entire wall!

9 Taos Ceramic Crosses each 2 1/2" - 3 1/2" tall
The lady I purchased these from needs some sincere encouragement, I hope to do that by selling out of them ASAP! (currently 3 of these are left, 1/13/11) Sorry Sold Out.

Vintage Tin Nicho Boxes, painted yellow ages ago by their former Taos owner, although traditional to have pictures of Saints in them these images have been replaced, the one on the right is missing it's top, probably a cross cut off out of frustration with a prayer not coming to fruition. Very typical, years ago my Mom threw a Saint Statue down the cellar steps smashing it to bits in a moment of anger over the passing of her Mom. These may or may not be from New Mexico, but were in a Taos home for many years, the one on the left w/Santo Nino is priced at SOLD and the one missing the top piece with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Miracle is SOLD
The following assortment of Tin Frames are made in Mexico, and had been designed, created and imported by a Taos resident who had a business 20 years ago here selling these to shops in Taos & Santa Fe. I've bought out his stock on these so they are very limited availability. Although not quite Vintage they are unique and have a better quality to them than what is found today.
Small modern Patina Tin Frames with glass and stands, 3 3/4" tall can also be converted to hang nice variety, (above) Sorry Sold Out
Medium size Nicho Box Tin Frame with patina & swinging Glass Door and locking mechanism
6 1/4" x 3 3/4" image size 4" x 2 1/2" fits traditional Holy Card price $18.99 each ready to hang 6 designs there are some duplicates of these, limited stock. (above) Very Few Left...
Large Tin Nicho Box Frame, shiny (these can be distressed) with swinging glass door and locking mechanism 9" x 5 1/4" image size 5 1/4" x 3 1/2" price $24.99 each ready to hang
6 designs there are some duplicates of these, limited stock (above & below) Very Few Left

Oversized Tin Nicho Box Frame, standing or to hang, shiny or slightly distressed with swinging glass door and locking mechanism 11" x 8 1/4" enclosure area 6 3/4" height x 2 3/4" deep x 5 1/2" wide price SOLD OUT each 2 designs as seen
Thus begins the sampling of items from the shop Two Graces, although this sampling is tending to lean towards religious oriented items we carry a wide variety of items reflecting the curios of Taos & the Southwest. Shipping fees will always be minimal we do not intend to make a profit on shipping, of course with shipping there is then no Tax charged unless you are within the state of New Mexico in which case please come by and visit soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

American Pickers Antique Archeology

We went to Iowa for my Father-in-Law's 80th Birthday Party on September 11th!
My in-laws live in LeClaire, Iowa,
home also to the History Channel program "American Pickers"
Mike Wolfe
& Frank Fritz
If you've never heard of American Pickers, check out the History Channel website and check out Mike & Frank's websites also, just copy and paste them into your browser. People I've mentioned this to think the show must be about banjo players, but it's a couple of guys out on the road looking for antiques, mostly bicycle and motorcycle stuff but also toys and signage and a whole lot of other stuff in between.
Mr. Wolfe runs an eclectic antique store in downtown LeClaire named "Antique Archeology" the shop is well hidden behind the BP Gas Station on the main drag, to find it most people ask some of the other shop owners for directions, after the 100th time they've been asked this same question they're all pretty much ready to tear their hair out. Nowadays the local businesses are mostly resigned to the question, and pretty good spirited about it, but perhaps Mike should have a sign on the main road pointing out where he is located. Now of course when you have family living there, they're going to bring you the back way and take you right to the place. It's a wide open garage space complete with a front parking area and small office room. There is an upstairs balcony which I headed for until I noticed the sign spelling out No Admittance, the balcony is full of old bicycles of every era. These guys have a waiting audience of collectors to purchase their finds, some of it winds up in the shop, some they sell on Ebay and some they hang onto, (don't we all). Below at the end of this column, you'll find my "picks" from the guys, which are now for sale at Two Graces or just email me

Here are Holly & I in the main room, as you can see there's stuff on the shelves, but much of it isn't for sale and not actually priced. Some folks get turned off by stuff that isn't priced, the thought being that they feel the sellers are summing you up and pricing accordingly, if you look wealthy you'll pay more, if you look like a dealer, maybe you'll get a deal. What happens now is that the 2 women who actually work in the shop take pictures of what you're interested in and email them to the guys, usually this means Mike, then he emails back to say what he wants for it, sometimes this works, and sometimes you'll have to check back. It seems Danielle refuses to price items because Mike gave her a hard time for underselling something, (this happens to all of us).

This Skookum advertising head was carved and beautiful, and on the shelf of stuff not for sale, argh, I really wanted it! This is a version that you would have seen used as a label on an apple crate box. If the picker folks ever read this please let me know if you'd want to sell it!

These are the Laurel & Hardy heads the guys picked up on last week's show, then they gave Danielle her evaluation for her raise wearing these heads, eek, not the best way for the boss to treat you, rather disrespectful, she did get the raise. Now here's the thing, Danielle is basically finding places for these 2 guys to go to and buy stuff, pick & 'Pop on', (sounds like a Dr. Seuss tale), she runs the shop AND now answers questions from the public that visit the shop AND signs autographs AND has her picture taken with people, When Does She Have Time to Do Anything Else? You would not believe the lines of people waiting to see her! If the guys were at the shop at all it would be the same thing autographs, pictures, and questions all day long, with nothing else being done. Picture takers don't spend any money, again I can attest to this with my store Two Graces Plaza Gallery being by this big beautiful picture takers dream of a Church. They do sell a variety of T-Shirts, which you can order online, but they're out of Fat Guy sizes for guys like me.

A group shot of a bunch of Vintage Automobiles just across the alley from Antique Archeology.
As I'm not a Car, Bicycle or Motorcycle guy, what's the point of visiting this place???
Well, check this out, my best Picker here in Taos recently scored a set of these 2 vintage Currier & Ives prints in great condition "High Water in the Mississippi" and it's companion piece "Low Water in the Mississippi".
They are too big to carry out to Iowa.
Instead I'll send Danielle some pictures of them and see what they think.
(I never heard back & never checked back with them about this)
Did I mention LeClaire is smack in the middle of the Mississippi, I mean to say, not at the delta and not at the beginning, and no not in the river, but towards where the river is wide and beautiful with nesting Bald Eagles and lots of fishing.
Back to the story, just one of these prints turned up on the PBS program Antiques Roadshow a few years ago and was appraised for... ...wait for it... ...$15,000-18,000 thousands of dollars.
Check it out at this web address
Yes, the market flows and changes like that great river, but you never know if some collector may want this tribute to this river, and especially someone who lives near it! Perhaps Mike & Frank will find it worth their while, perhaps they'll know of just that right collector, and perhaps we can do some business.

Here are my "picks" for sale as of today at Two Graces.
Not quite thousands of dollars worth but as many of you know, we sell a lot of 'smalls'
5 Vintage Tintypes (sepia toned), the one on the bottom center is a portrait of a lady which the scarf she is wearing has been hand colored. "American Pickers" provenance at $18.99 each.

14 Sacred Heart of Mary, sculpted 3-dimensional metal figures, they are hollow on the backside which allow them to lay flat, 5 inches tall. Great detail, could probably be used for molds, the detail on the underside is very nice. Otherwise for a shrine or for an art project. Some are shiny and some have slight patina to them, these are AMAZING, and are certain to be scooped up fast. Mother Mary will come to you for $10.99 each.

This New Mexico pennant was in a big stack of pennants, and sorry will not be for sale, it will become part of my collection hanging in my shop.

Next we have 6 matching Sacred Heart of Jesus, same size as the Mother Mary's, with or without patina, BUT there are only 6 of these, so if you are wanting a matched set of Jesus and his Mother act FAST. These Jesus figures are $10.99 each.

Thank you Danielle and the people at "Antique Archeology" and all the shop owners in LeClaire, say hello to Pat & Jack for me when they visit your shops.
Postscript: Thanks to the popularity of "American Pickers" this particular story on my blog has continued to be the most popular, thank you for reading. I hope it gives you some idea of  the actual Antique Archeology storefront. If anyone has written a story about visiting the new store in Nashville, I'd love to read about it. OR, if you've written a story about Two Graces Plaza Gallery I'd REALLY LOVE TO READ THAT!
My mother & father in law have always enjoyed running into Mike & Frank, they always take the time to say hello and chat. Congratulations to Mike and his partner & new baby.