Of movies, books, and art

I had fun last night watching a terrific one hour documentary on the iconic London Department store, Selfridge’s. What an amazing man Harry Gordon Selfridge was! (1858-1947). He was an American, which I did not know, self-made from dire poverty and a single family home (dad deserted, mom brought him up.) He or Marshall Field invented the phrase “The Customer is always right” but nonetheless Selfridge used it so incessantly in his advertising and in training his clerks and so it is often attributed to Selfridge.

He focused heavily on customer service, was the first to use advertising and promotion so well. He was the first to use mass electricity (he kept the window display lights on after closing). Selfridge was the first to bring makeup from the dim recesses of the back of the store to the front, pairing it with perfumes to create a department store template used by every department store today. He dispensed with class distinction within the store. He invented browsing. He was the first to use and make acceptable the concept of publicity stunts. He created a safe place for Edwardian women to be in public without a chaperone. And to go to the bathroom while they were out. All that and more. It is a great little documentary and I loved all the vintage still photos from the Edwardian era and the early movies too. It is called Secrets of Selfridge’s and it’s on Netflix and Youtube

While I was watching I crafted. A colleague had given me some vintage Christmas wrapping paper from the 1940s and ’50s. I decided to do a little painting and a collage. The painted papers were drying and I turned to the collage and here is the result. I am not being disingenuous when I say that I’m not good at it. I can write and take photos but making something with my hands is a desire is never well executed. I yearn to make pretty things but my compositions are usually clumsy and unpretty. Still, I had fun.

Final product

Final product scanned and digitally added-to

The reason I think that the above is just OK is because there’s no theme, no statement, no cohesive thought. Aside from the fact that I love paper and digital art of clocks with no faces, there isn’t a unifying interest. Just some pretty things glued on a paper.

These next two are collages I made that have a theme, so they make sense.

It references Revelation 20:1-3,

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Interestingly, I made this collage before I was saved or knew the bible.

Or this one,

That one I did make after salvation. It references the fact that the lost look for God but cannot see Him despite creation being in front of their face. (Romans 1:21-22; Ephesians 4:18) For the saved person, we can see Him but he is so holy that often we can’t even look, (Exodus 34:30, 2 Cor 3:7-8) we must look away and bow in humility. Third, I long for the day when we can look Him full in the face and understand Him more, with our glorified mind.

The problem is, I have lots of stuff to make collages and art, but not the thought. It has all leaked away. Maybe if I pray about it, my mojo will come back.

Meanwhile here is some real art to look at. I enjoy art. The art I have is mostly good, of quality if not extremely valuable. I have two Fratelli Brothers Alinari with sticker on the back indicating its origins, Via Condotti Rome. A Fred Thompson hand coloured turn of the last century photo. As this website reports, a Thompson recently sold for $3500, though the one I have is much more common and is worth perhaps $50-100.

Who in the world is “Fred Thompson”? Fred Thompson was a photographer from Portland ME who, like his contemporary Wallace Nutting , sold hand-colored photos during the early 20th century. As a matter of fact, Thompson even visited Nutting’s Southbury CT home around 1905 and collaborated with the much better- known Wallace Nutting.

Here is a bit more on Fred Thompson from an article titled Rare items not necessarily valuable:

Answer: Fred Thompson was the signature used by Frederick H. Thompson (1844-1909) and his son, Frederick M. Thompson (circa 1876-1923). The older Fred founded the Thompson Art Co. in Portland, Maine, about 1908. His son joined the company shortly before his father died. The Thompsons knew Nutting, and they produced hand-colored photographs similar to Nutting’s. The most popular Thompson photos are of Maine outdoor scenes.

So what I have is not at the Monet level. I have a signed lithograph of a limited edition from American painter Edward Ripley (b. 1929). I believe its title is “A Farmhouse” at least that is what a copy on another website said. It’s not worth a huge amount, but the Tate Gallery in London holds another of Ripley’s landscapes. So apparently I’m not the only one who likes looking at his work. Currently it hangs by my couch, where I look at it when I lay down.

I’ve got some other stuff, and one is really intriguing. I’ve mentioned it before, it is an oil painting from an Italian in the late 1950s early 1960s of Naples Bay. My landlord gave it to me. He said he’d gotten to know the painter who was part of a family that ran a trattoria by the Bay when my landlord was in the Army. When he was re-deployed the painter gave it to my former landlord as a memento. I really wish I knew the artist. If my landlord told me the name I have forgotten.

I’ve also got some Winslow Homer watercolor reprints. I love Homer. One is of a storm at Nassau, palm trees bent over rooftops from the strong wind. One is a small but bright print of the Adirondack series. A third is a seascape of surf and rocks.

Well it’s past noon. I better get a move on. Vacuuming awaits. Then books!

And maybe a nap.

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4 thoughts on “Of movies, books, and art

  1. That's funny! It's not a typo but one of those superscript reference letters within the verse, a, b, c etc, but when I copy and past onto the page the superscript goes away and it just looks like a regular letter. How I WISH it was bottomless pita. I could go for some falafel about now. I'll fix it

  2. I will look for that documentary. I really have loved the “Selfridges” series on Masterpiece theater. I can't wait for the new season. It should start sometime after Downton. Thanks for posting about this.

  3. I like that show, couse he cheated on jis wife though so he wasn't perfect. the actress that plays his wife remindsme of sally fields.. hope I am not leaving these comments twice. it is hard to tell if it worked so we do it again.

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