Tuesday, April 26, 2016

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2016 Opens: An Exclusive Insider Preview

Villa de Martini, an elegant and historic Telegraph Hill residence, is the location of the 2016 San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which runs from April 30 – May 30, after a series of patron parties.

This week I’m taking you for a first look at the dramatic showcase, with new images of the high-concept living room by Antonio Martins, and a vibrant bedroom by Ann Lowengart.

Come with me for a preview. Inspiration for Antonio Martins was the dramatic Snøhetta architecture and re-invention of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which re-opens next month. Everyone in the art world is buzzing about it.

Antonio Martins

This is the third appearance of Antonio Martins, a great showcase favorite. His new superbly understated room is a bold pivot from his 2013 collection-filled study, and his artful Portuguese-inspired bedroom in 2014.

This year, Antonio’s concept is all about modernism, and moving decorating forward with a fresh approach to art collections and connoisseurship.

Antonio offers a definite ‘first’ in four decades of showcase, with his floor covered with sleek 4x8 sheets of hot rolled steel, inspired by sculptures of Richard Serra on the ground floor of SFMOMA.

White lacquered walls, hot rolled steel floors, and white linen curtains were used to create a gallery-like setting in the living room. Each piece of contemporary furniture and museum quality art was selected for its intrinsic artistic worth and forward-looking quality, with a view to creating a harmonious whole.

The framework of the project are glazed lacquered walls created by William Racké and his team. Willem Racké Studio painted the walls, and then glazed them in a soft horizontal strié in tones of grey, after which multiple coats of a clear lacquer were applied, and then hand buffed to achieve the high gloss sheen.

Homage to Vlad

The furniture selected was an homage to Vladimir Kagan (who died in April). A pair of his iconic 176SC floating curved sofas is used to add kinetic energy to the room. As a gilded counterpoint, Antonio selected a pair of 19th century stools at C. Mariani Antiques, now reupholstered in royal red.

Antonio’s Art

“Following my new passion for seventeenth and eighteenth- century portraiture, I wanted an important portrait in the room, but something modern and edgy and fun. Found at Catharine Clark Gallery, it's Diver 2015 by Deborah Oropallo. Deborah photographs classical portraits and then creates a photomontage. A Botticelli on LSD?” — Antonio Martins 

Seeking to See

“For the wall opposite the portrait, I was looking for something equally new and fresh. Independent curator Cory Jacobs put me in touch with Karine Laval, a French photographer working in the U.S.. Benrubi Gallery in New York City is mounting a solo exhibition of Laval's work this May. Additionally, Jacobs recently included Laval in an artist’s series she curates for Hermès. Karine and I chose this diptych from her series of poolscapes for their ethereal, yet decidedly modern aesthetic. — Antonio Martins

A House with History

Poised overlooking the bay at 298 Chestnut Street near Coit Tower, the 2016 Showcase features twenty-five transformed rooms and outdoor spaces along with dramatic views.

Villa de Martini offers panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge and Richmond Bridge.

Built in 1929, Villa de Martini was the first residence in San Francisco to be constructed with concrete. The 6,100 square-foot home is on a triple-wide lot, offering beautiful European-style gardens with olive trees, lemon trees, roses, and Travertine stone patios and walkways. Unique architectural details include stone columns, arched windows and doorways, a vaulted living room ceiling and hardwood floors. 

Credits for Antonio’s Living Room

For a touch of irreverence, there are neon sculptures from Anthony Discenza, and Nina Katchadourian’s Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style #20 and #21.

Both artists are represented by Catharine Clark Gallery. Nina’s portraits are all taken in airplane toilets using the only props available such as paper towels, toilet seat covers, etc. 

Additional art:

Mirror above fireplace
By Andy Diaz Hope
Centering Device #11, 2016
Custom made for Antonio Martins, 2016 showcase
Mirror, brass, solder
Represented by Catharine Clark Gallery

Stone sculpture on pedestal beside window

Artist: Jeff Metz
Title: Euclidean Variation No. 6
Edition: Unique
Year: 2013
Materials: Hand-carved Limestone

Antonio worked with Fuse lighting to create a custom Volar chandelier in pristine white with brass details. The chandelier was matched with Set sconces from Vibia Lighting that give a sculptural quality to the walls.

A Bedroom by Ann Lowengart

Designer Ann Lowengart makes her debut at showcase this year, designing a vivid bedroom for a young girl. 

Ann Lowengart

Intricate in detail and bold in hue and conception, the bedroom includes subtle woodgrain patterns across the wallpaper, and classic trim on the curtains. A white hide bench stands at the end of each bed. A Madeline Weinrib pink rug is beneath the beds.

On the wall opposite the beds hangs Jeremy Holmes' sculpture, under which stands the Quintus dresser. A painted vintage chair, side table and Hewn lamp are positioned to the right of the dresser. The walls are wallpapered in Nobilis orange faux bois wallpaper with trim painted hot pink. The ceiling is wallpapered in Flavor Paper's Cuben wallpaper. 

Annie’s Concept

Inspired by her sister’s childhood bedroom it presents her new take on a fresh and lively color combination.

The room was re-imagined into a somewhat bohemian space, in pink and orange to captures the joy of girlhood. Playful patterns, organic artwork, and accent colors honor Annie’s sister’s joie de vivre. 

Anthem - Hide Benches
Chairish - Chair, nightstand, side table, headboard
Dian Jones - Wallcovering installation
Flavor Paper - Wallpaper (used on ceiling)
Floortex Design - Floor refinishing
Hewn - Floor Lamp from Aesthetic Décor
Kneedler-Fauchère - Wallpaper from Nobilis
Madeline Weinrib - Carpet
Osborne & Little - Wallcovering (used on nightstand)
Pottery Barn - Bedshams
Quintus - Table lamp, dresser
Revitaliste - Drapery, upholstery, bed skirt, furniture lacquer
Robert Allen Design - Fabric
Serena & Lily - Bedding
Simon Breitbard Fine Arts - Artwork by Jeremy Holmes and Terry Romero Paul 

Illustration of Villa de Martini by San Francisco University High School student Jan W, class of '18.

About the San Francisco Decorator Showcase

For the past 38 years, the annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase has benefited San Francisco University High School's financial aid program, raising over $14 million and benefiting thousands of students. Thanks to the generosity of generous sponsors, the participation of hundreds of accomplished designers, the school's trustees, parents, faculty, alumni, students, friends, and the thousands of Showcase visitors each year, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase allows San Francisco University High School to offer financial aid to its students. For more information, DecoratorShowcase.org or (415) 447-5830. Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@SFShowcase).

2016 San Francisco Decorator Showcase Details:
The 2016 Decorator Showcase will be held on Telegraph Hill at 298 Chestnut Street (near Grant Street) from April 30 – May 30, 2016. 

Showcase is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays, except for Memorial Day. Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (last entry); Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (last entry); Sunday and Memorial Day: 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (last entry). 

To purchase advance tickets online, go to http://decoratorshowcase.org/tickets/ or you may purchase tickets at the door. For more information call (415) 447-5830. 

Due to limited street parking, it is highly recommend that visitors take public transportation.

2016 Designers
Noted international auction house Bonham’s is presenting a selection of contemporary California paintings in the foyer gallery.

Designers include Diane Rosenblum, Antonio Martins, Heather Hilliard, Martin Kobus, Cynthia Spence, Martin Group, Stephan Jones, Living Green, Ba Design, Tineke Triggs, Ann Lowengart, Katie Raffetto, Ian Stallings, Sullivan Design Studio, SWA Group, Evars + Anderson, Shelley & Company, Lola Home Design, Nest Design Group, Nanette Design, Gloria Marth, and Megan van Linda Design.


Photography of Antonio Martins' Living Room by Drew Kelly and 
David Duncan Livingston; photography of Ann Lowengart Bedroom by David  Duncan Livingston.


Antonio Martins Interior Design Inc.

550 15th Street, Suite 32
San Francisco CA 94103

Rua Dr. Alfredo da Costa 17, 7a
Lisboa, Miraflores, Portugal 1495/130


Ann Lowengart Interiors, LLC
223 San Anselmo Avenue, Suite 7
San Anselmo, CA 94960


Monday, April 18, 2016

Glass Art: A Special Visit to Artist Cassandria Blackmore’s Vivid Studio and Family Residence in Historic Santa Barbara

Come with me to meet Cassandria, see her at work on new verre églomisé paintings, and learn about the history of her studio, where Diego Rivera once worked.

The newly issued Santa Barbara Home & Garden magazine features the wonderful historic studio and home of Cassandria Blackmore, her husband, Jon, a musician, and their two children Orion and Leona.

I was fortunate to be introduced to Cassandria some years go by interior designer, Brian Dittmar, the art director of THE STYLE SALONISTE. Her abstract work is powerful, emotive, and engaging and her figurative paintings are wonderfully daring and witty.

Cassandria’s new studio and digs are inspiring. Let’s pay a visit to see her smashing art, and meet her beautiful family.

The studio is part of Santa Barbara’s legacy and history, and there’s more about that.

Come with me for a fast-paced visit.

I loved the Blackmore feature in the new special issue of Santa Barbara Home & Garden so much that I contacted my friend and colleague, Gina Tolleson, the magazine's longtime executive editor. Jennifer Smith Hale is the editorial director. I asked Gina’s permission to publish the photos of the Blackmore story—and to let my readers know that the brilliant Santa Barbara Home & Garden is back after a brief break.

The new issue is a fantastic mix of Mission-style houses, talented designers such as Christina Rottman, vibrant shopping (Ellen is a neighbor), and local knowledge. To subscribe: sbrcs@magserv.com or visit sbmag.com

Cassandria's Story

Cassandria Blackmore studied art and glass-making in Seattle and grew up in San Francisco and Portland. It was in Seattle that she first experimented with painting on glass, also known as reverse painting, or verre églomisé. Painting figurative or abstract images on glass has a long tradition—and it’s revered in the French art world and has a long history in Chinese portraiture.

50" x 65"

40" x 40"

"Asimi Krema VII"
40" x 61"

"Nerissa Amphitrite"
40" x 40"

"Blue Kapnos L II"
40" x 56"

15" x  68"

Cassandria works both in pure bursts of color, and in charming and witty and highly detailed figurative images. Her method: she paints on the back of a sheet of glass, then places the glass on the floor and artfully shatters it. She then brings the shards back into the frame, affixes them securely, and creates a solid frame for the completed piece. The shimmering glass gives her pieces a vibrant appeal and a very dimensional and dramatic look.

"Day Dreamer"
40" x 40"

"Midnight Dip"
48" x 32"

"Miso Hungry"
48" x 48"

"Polka Dot Bikini"
48" x 35"

"Queen Bee"
48" x 31"

"Phoebe The Lettuce Queen"
(Portrait of the artist's grandmother)
48" x 32"

The art of verre églomisé is a fascinating one. Cassandria ‘reverse paints’ her images, painting highlights and up-close details on the sheet of sturdy glass first, and then filling in background details and scenes last. The work is exacting and requires focus and fine artistry.

The Historic Santa Barbara Studio

The studio and building have a vivid artistic history that goes back to 1907. It was built by photographers Carolyn and Edwin Gledhill. 

The Gledhills photographed notable artists and writers and philanthropists, some of whom were guests who stayed at the historic Potter Hotel that once was across the street. Among the portraits shot in this building were Upton Sinclair, Phoebe Hearst, William Boeing, Condé Nast, Thomas Moran, shown here.

Later Edwin Gledhill along with Pearl Chase became very instrumental in creating the look and feel of Santa Barbara today. They even named the historical society library after Edwin Gledhill.

Many notable artists had studios in the building over the years. Diego Rivera and Francis Rich worked together in the studio below the upstairs living quarters, now the Blackmore family residence.

Diego was asked to come to Santa Barbara by actress Irene Rich to paint a portrait of her daughter sculptor Francis Rich. He loved Santa Barbara so much that he asked to stay in the building and used it as his studio while finishing commissions.

Diego Rivera and Francis Rich working together in the Santa Barbara studio.

Brian Dittmar: At Home with Cassandria’s Art

Brian Dittmar, a noted interior designer in San Francisco, has been the art director of THE STYLE SALONISTE since Day One—almost seven years ago. Brian introduced me to his dear friend Cassandria Blackmore about five years ago when he was scouting for and decorating her chic new studio in Pacific Heights, San Francisco.

Brian has acquired many of Cassandria’s paintings for his clients — and he prizes the Cassandria painting that has pride of place in his living room, above. That’s his beloved pug, Freddie, stealing the limelight.

I talked to Brian about Cassandria recently:

DDS: Hi, Brian, how did you and Cassandria meet?
Cassandria called me in 2006 as many artists do who want to work with interior designers. As it so happened, I had a project at the St Regis Residences and we were looking for unique artwork. Her reverse painted shattered glass was a perfect fit for this project and we commissioned her to do a piece for my clients. Through this process, she and I became good friends.

Commission for Brian Dittmar's client at the St Regis Residences

DDS: What do you especially love about her work?
Her process of making her art is original and fascinating. Cassandria loves imperfection and that led her to this medium of back-painted shattered glass — or 
verre églomisé. She began many years ago when feeling low during an endless, grey winter in Seattle and painted a self-portrait on the glass of a photo frame which she then suddenly decided to smash on the floor. Afterwards, she decided to reassemble the broken painting and glued it back together. The result — and the process of putting the art back together after shattering it — took on an intensity that spoke to her. Ironically, she is also dyslexic — so the concept of reverse painting on the glass also struck a chord with her personal life.

DDS: As a designer who is obsessed with craft, you are drawn to her craft and art.
Yes, Cassandria has perfected her technique, back-painting small and large abstract works that evoke landscapes and skyscapes. After the paintings dry, they are glued to plywood held in custom aluminum frames; she then shatters or fragments the glass with a hammer or cutter. The joints are carefully grouted and custom cast hooks are used to wall-mount the finished artwork in such venues as the Bellagio, Cosmopolitan and Aria Hotels in Las Vegas, the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, the collections of the Peninsula Hotel group, Ritz Carlton Hotels, and other private collections including the Bill and Melinda Gates Collection.

Brian with the Blackmores on a recent visit to Santa Barbara.

DDS: You worked with Cassandria on her Fillmore Street Studio in San Francisco.
Yes, in 2010, while she was still living in Seattle, Cassandria decided she should open a storefront studio in San Francisco. I helped her scout locations. A small space on the once-shabby end of Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights suited her needs and the lease was signed. Cassandria and I then began transforming the downtrodden space into a clean and crisp white box in which to display her vibrantly colored shattered glass pieces. The walls and ceiling were painted as white as white can be (a custom mix by Benjamin Moore) and the existing concrete floors (exposed once the ugly laminate flooring had been removed) were stained a rich gray. The store front was painted with a special zinc-based paint that weathers to a rich deep bronze. Since opening her studio, that block of Fillmore Street has been energized with quite a few new stores and restaurants.

DDS: Brian, thank you. So inspiring.

The Cassandria Blackmore studio in San Francisco.

A view of Cassandria's studio before she acquired and transformed the space in 2010.

The Cassandria Blackmore studio, above, is at 1906 Fillmore Street (at Bush Street), San Francisco. The studio, a showcase of Cassandria’s most recent work, is on a very lively block of Fillmore Street, opposite Invision Optometry, across from Florio restaurant, and around the corner from Out the Door (OTD), by chef Charles Phan who founded the great Slanted Door restaurant in the city. 

A Walk in San Francisco's Pacific Heights

For a very pleasant ramble, a starting point could be Cassandria’s studio (for window shopping if it is not open), then to Fraiche almost next door for frozen yoghurt with housemade mochi. Continue then a block up to NARS for great makeup. Keep walking up the hill—to Mudpie for children’s apparel, and to Browser Books for fantastic reading. There’s the Clay cinema, and at the corner of Clay Street stands the great Nest design and style shop. Wander further up the hill, to Margaret O’Leary, Jambo, Freda Salvador shoes, Aesop, and at Jackson and Fillmore is Mayflower Market. Hop in there for a fantastic made-to-order sandwich where you’ll join the lunch line of on-duty police officers, doctors from nearby hospitals, and construction workers. Head west a block along Jackson Street, and take your sandwich up to Alta Plaza Park to enjoy the sunshine and bay view.

Let me know what you think of my tour, please.

Some of Cassandria's most recent work hangs in her Santa Barbara studio.

The work of Stephen Edwards is also displayed in the light-filled gallery space adjacent to Cassandria's studio.

Cassandria Blackmore has studios in Seattle, Carmel, San Francisco (by appointment only) and Santa Barbara. For more information and commissions: www.cassandriablackmore.com

Santa Barbara Studio and Mailing Address:
(Private Gallery — By Appointment Only)
112 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
 tel: 415 . 944 . 0057

Carmel by the Sea Studio:
On 6th between Dolores and Lincoln 
tel: 415 . 944 . 0057 

Seattle Studio: 
1115 East Pike Street 
tel: 206 . 860 . 3544 

San Francisco Studio: 
1906 Fillmore Street 
tel: 415 . 944 . 0057

Photography of the Blackmore family and residence by Nancy Neil, used with express permission.

Cassandria Blackmore with daughter, Leona.

The Blackmore family in their vintage Ambassador convertible. 

Historic images used with permission.

Photograph of Brian Dittmar's living room by Brian Dittmar. www.briandittmardesign.com

SANTA BARBARA MAGAZINE, and the newly issued Santa Barbara Home & Garden: To subscribe: sbrcs@magserv.com or visit sbmag.com.