Contemporary Art

Trenton Doyle Hancock

(above) 'Smoked,' 2010
(above) ‘Smoked,’ 2010

Work while it is day… For when night cometh no man can work. If you can find the quality time, run over to Dunn and Brown Contemporary to see Trenton’s latest chapter of his ongoing saga about devious Vegans and harmless Mounds in an ambitious installation. This coming week is your final chance, because Saturday, October 23, is the last day of this exhibit.

I first encountered Trenton at his very first solo exhibit, Off Colored, at Gerald Peters Gallery here in Dallas back in 1998. This exhibit had been a collection of about 20 of Mr. Hancock’s most recent autobiographical works, what he called “regurgitations of the things that I have seen and heard” as a black male. And it was from this show that I purchased one of his works on paper which I will be showing you later on in this post. It will show you how far he’s evolved it the last twelve years. My piece is very simple compared to what he’s creating now.

But first let me show you a sampling of his current show.

Interior Design

The Fabric Holdup


Curtain rods. I have never been a big fan of the overly duded up rods that I see everywhere. Most are massive with thick diameters, flirty finials, and demand too much attention, thus detracting from the curtain fabric and the room’s overall design. In my two small bedrooms, the curtain rods needed to be functional and discreet. My architect and designer, Charley McKenney, came up with the perfect solution, unfinished 1-3/8 inch diameter wooden poles with radiused corner returns. The poles were then painted to match the wall color. In some cases, when the light is reflecting off the poles, they will also blend and match the ceiling color. As a rule when painting the rooms in my house, the wall color was 100 percent of the chosen color, and the ceilings were usually 75 percent of the wall color. I will be covering the paint variations in another post. The curtains were then slipped on before installing the rods just shy of the ceiling. Having the curtains fall from ceiling to the floor gives my small rooms a more spacious appearance. Pretty decent kind of holdup. Yes?

Travel: Culture & Architecture

Small Spaces and Spiritual Intimacy


Chiesa di San Remigio. This tiny ancient church is located next to the splendid gardens of Villa San Remigio (previously mentioned in a past post) on Lake Maggiore, one of the famous Northern Italian Lakes. This Romanesque oratory dates from the eleventh to twelfth centuries. Inside, the church is divided into two asymmetric naves, an unusual feature, which is probably the result of the difficulty of building on the rock of the promontory. Other interior details include a groin-vaulted ceiling and semi-capitals decorated with medieval frescoes.

Interior Design

Glass, Brass and Class


Door knobs and escutcheon plates. When I moved into this house in 1985, all the interior doors still had their original hardware with the exception of the brass knobs which had been replaced during the late 1950s or early 1960s with a style that only George Jetson would have understood. Whether it was the budget or just a preference, the choice and placement of the metal and glass knobs was a puzzler. Inside all closets the escutcheon plates were stamped nickel plated brass and the knobs were glass with nickel plated workings. On the exterior side of the closets and on both sides of all the doors to all rooms, there were stamped brass escutcheon plates and brass knobs. The one exception to this setup was the bathroom, which had nickel plated escutcheon plates with glass knobs on both sides.

Interior Design

The Hanging Gizmo


Nickel-plated-solid-brass knob. I’ve always enjoyed having a hanging calendar in my kitchen with all the dogs’ treatment dates marked out. And since the kitchen is kind of retro (actually it honors the retro look without being a total slave to it) and completely brand new, the last thing I wanted to do was to use a thumbtack which could badly damage the wall over a period of time. So my solution was to purchase a drawer knob in the same finish as the rest of the kitchen hardware. Satin/brushed finish nickel plated solid brass. I went to Elliott’s Hardware, picked out the knob, then trudged over to the screw department and asked for a double threaded screw that could replace the knob’s screw, and the other end of this screw could be used with a plastic sleeve drywall anchor. Et voilà! I do believe this is a brilliant solution. I wonder if Martha Stewart has already thought of this trick. Probably.


Pilates + Architecture


Julie Harrison Studio. In 2008, architect Susan Appleton, AIA, LEED AP, was honored with an AIA Dallas Merit Award for her design of this pilates studio. From the home’s garage, she was able to create an elegant and simple space on a very tight budget. The original garage door wall was replaced with a very cool steel framing system. And insulated glass was inserted into this frame to brighten the studio and maximize the natural northern light while at the same time avoiding the harsh Texas sun during its peak hours. And then a shed roof tops it all. A new carport was constructed next to the space using a steel framing system and 5-foot-by-10-foot cement board. The framing apertures measure 5 feet wide and were designed to hold these panels creating a sense of privacy. The carport’s roofing system is a combination of corrugated metal and a hog wire trellis on which greenery can grow adding even more protection and privacy.

Film: Design & Architecture

Sugar, Almond Paste, Fruit and Flowers


Can blown sugar be a lost art? There are certain historical films that no matter how many times I view them, I will always notice something about the past that I hadn’t been aware of before. This happened to me while viewing Vatel. In two scenes, Gérard Depardieu, as François Vatel, creates two sugar arrangements as gifts for Uma Thurman, who plays the love interest of several men (Louis XIV being one of them). These works of art were so mesmerizing that I had to find out more about this process. Maybe I don’t read enough lifestyle magazines to know if this art form is still in existence today. All I had to go on in my search was Tim Roth’s line describing the process as “spun” sugar. But the images that Google returned were the crazy strings of caramelized sugar that’s often seen on fancy deserts at fancy restaurants. After multiple google searches and relying on the resulting images, I found the right term, “blown sugar”. Unfortunately, there’s zero information on its history, but it’s definitely not a lost art and is still taught in culinary schools. To illustrate and share this technique with you, I have captured some stills from the film.

Landscape & Gardening

From Flower to Fruit


Flowering Quince. Just because the fruit looks like a green apple does not mean it can be eaten like one, as in raw. Even the birds and other critters don’t seem to like it. After counting a grand total of twelve on my two shrubs, I searched the internet for some recipe options. Only jellies and quince butter were recommended. Because of the twelve hour minimum cooking time needed to soften them, this project just would not be worthwhile for me. So once they ripen and drop, they’ll be added to my compost heap.

Travel: Culture & Architecture

Recycling a Sarcophagus


Should you come upon an empty sarcophagus, consider placing it in your grand garden and planting it with seasonal color. This photo was taken September 2007 in the gardens of Villa Carlotta on Lake Como. I think. I’m not sure, but I am pretty sure. If the date and time on my digital camera can be relied upon, then this was taken in the gardens of Villa Carlotta.

Interior Design

It’s a Keeper


Above is the original dining room light fixture. And now, that the room serves a dual purpose as a library and dining room, this fixture can’t be more perfect. When I first moved into the house in 1985, this light fixture was a three-way. See the brass knob ball at the base of the light fixture? Turning it allowed me to alternate between having just the top five on, or just the bottom bowl on, or have all six illuminated (which was way too bright). But, all good things must come to an end, and the internal stem (or whatever it’s called) finally broke. Some day I plan on taking the whole thing down and locating someone who could fix it. In the meantime, a dimmer switch has been installed and works just as well as the three way if not better. But still… It would be cool to have it working in its original condition.