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Don't Decorate Your Home Like Your Neighbor's

Feb 25, 2008
When I was a kid growing up in San Francisco I used to walk with my little friends from where we lived in the Richmond District to Lincoln Park where the Palace of the Legion of Honor, an art gallery, was located. The art
gallery was situated just a few yards from the magnificent view of the Golden Gate, entrance to San Francisco Bay, and the beautiful bridge which only a few years earlier had joined San Francisco and Marin counties. In front of the art museum was the prized casting of 'The Thinker', one of only six made of the original by its great sculptor, Auguste Rodin. As a kid I was really impressed to see this muscular guy who thought! I was used only to muscular guys who lifted weights at a gym.

My grandmother, who had seen the original statue in Paris in the years between World Wars I and II, tried to explain to me why it represented so much more than a thinking weight lifter. I preferred looking out over the Golden Gate than listening to my grandmother's art lectures or those inside the gallery for that matter. We were at war and my imagination was filled

with action pictures of the ships sailing out of sight to the horizon of the Pacific Ocean bound for Asian theaters of war.

Many years later I have found myself in places all over the world where I wished to know someone who could tell me why this Persian carpet was such a better buy than that one, why I might prefer a Capodimonte fruit centerpiece

to a floral centerpiece. And when choosing a figurine would I be better off with one designed by Sabadin or A. Santini? I may know that I want something in porcelain or ceramic but what if I don't know the difference between Capodimonte, Sabadin, or A. Santini? Each offers figurines capturing the carefree and casual to the reverent and ethereal. Each may be lumpish and humorous or roaring and serene. The range of pricing for these
masterpieces is as broad as the selection from these Italian masters.

And if you should happen to be thinking of a vase for your favorite niece's wedding present, what prompts you to go from Wal-Mart to, say, Neiman Marcus knowing you're likely to find something special there? A connoisseur might
direct you to Cevik, a brand of glassware rarely seen in the United States But you want something special, right? Well, Cevik is so special that it's hard to find in North America. A novice can look at Cevik vases and plates and not be hard-pressed to see uniqueness, originality, and incomparable beauty. Cevik glass flows in a style all its own then crowned with a ceramic Capodimonte ceramic that complements the utter magnificence of the vase.

Similarly, if you're conjuring with what stemware to buy, are you better off with the six for $9.95 special next to the Jack Daniels at the liquor store, or are you better off at the $9.95 per stem sale at one of the shopping mall
outlets. Here, please take notice, I'm assuming we're not talking about a couple of friends who drag themselves tired into the house and want to have a glass of white wine or a beer before one of them heads out to his/her abode across the street. I'm talking about someone who is deciding that she/he needs new stemware to please a new boss, a new client, a new neighbor, or whomever at lunch or dinner - formal, casual, impromptu, even a Halloween

Maybe you want your guests to look around a room in your house and be impressed by what they see. When I look at the art of Laura Mostaghel I am again reminded of fidgeting through art lectures at the Legion of Honor when
I was a boy in San Francisco. It's at moments like these - looking at Laura's or some other master's original paintings and artwork - that I wish I'd paid more attention. I know that I'm in the presence of great art but I have trouble explaining why I know that.

Laura's work fills my wife and me with joy. Some combination of her style, her subjects, her colors, her juxtapositions make us wish we could fill our house with her paintings, giclees, hand painted ceramic boxes and pins. If I had to talk about the general subject matter it would be best simply to say that she is very "today", yet with overtones of the 20's and 30's. She is universal but her work is always bright and uplifting. Maybe her paintings especially capture the open, outdoor quality of places like Florida and California before all the development began eating away at Nature' masterpieces. They suggest so many things - the French and Italian Rivieras, the Mediterranean, Paris, a salon in the 19th century, art deco, reading, or simply having coffee with friends. Her work in oils, acrylics, and watercolors capture life at its vibrant, exciting best.

You'll notice that I've stayed away from the word "taste" in this article.

To be honest I have come to dislike the word "taste." Why? Because we live in a super relativistic and egalitarian society that declares everyone's taste to be equal. My preference for Big Mac's is equal to yours for a Whopper - someone will insist. That each is equally inferior to the real thing at a great burger joint is beside the point. What matters is that someone will assert his or her taste for this or that burger. In short I still hope that while we may praise egalitarian taste, we secretly recognize bad taste for what it is.

So an online merchant may fall into line with those who truly believe in a relativistic, egalitarian society, learn to market his junk well, and make a ton of money. The rest of us believe there are some buyers in the world at large who want their home decorations - in whatever form these may take - to represent them in ways different from the instantly recognizable, one-size-fits-all, blandness of their neighbors. These people do not need to assert
better taste - just a different taste that leads them in directions not followed by the world's millions. They are not afraid to let a connoisseur guide them to the unique in order to enjoy the diversity of their selections for years to come.
About the Author
Robert Forst has lived the world over acquiring
tastes in art, crystal, and paintings to help him
avoid blandness. See for yourself and seek the
bestSee for yourself and seek the best at
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