Monday, June 16, 2008

Vintage California

This weekend I went to the 8th Annual Antique and Contemporary Tile Sale at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica.

I learned about it from the City of Santa Monica's Cultural newsletter, The Palette. If you live on the West Side, it's worth subscribing to. Announcing arts and cultural events weekly, it reads like an email from a good buddy. I might not have cared about the Tile Sale if The Palette hadn't made it sound so interesting - and I'm so glad I did.

The museum is located in an old house in Ocean Park, surrounded by a nice open space that hosts the Farmer's Market on Sunday mornings, and that was where the vendors were set up for the sale. There were modern art tiles and tile artisans as well as dealers of antique tiles - but all of the tiles hearkened back to the craftsman era at the beginning of the 20th Century, and particularly to the great potteries that thrived here in California during that era. In addition to the tiles, 20th Century California and Mexican antiques and crafts were displayed and sold.

The antique tiles are treasures - with prices to match. But the pieces on display were amazing - beautiful and...well...also unusual. Here's an antique tile mural with a theme you don't see everywhere:

It's great to see that this art is still being continued by artists today - and many of them are working right here in Southern California. I'm giving links to them here, since they were kind enough to let me take photos. Do go visit Malibu Tile Works, Laird Plumleigh, Lorna Auerbach and Native Tiles & Ceramics. Sherry Stevens doesn't have a website, but you can email her to find out about her tiles, which feature mermaids. She's at ssmermania(at)verizon(dot)net.

What I really enjoyed were the antiques. The items on display reflected the theme of early 20th Century California, so there were vases and bowls from California potteries like Bauer and Catalina. I yearned for this incredible Catalina stepped vase:

But its price was higher than my monthly car payment, so all I can do is dream. There were lots of kitschy Mexican tourist souvenirs from the 30s and 40s - carved and painted wooden sombrero-wearing siesta-nappers, prints and oil paintings of bullfighters, senoritas with swirling skirts, and saddle-blanketed burros. There was furniture painted with polychrome flowers, pony-skin rugs, wrought-iron lamp-bases, and tooled leather barrel chairs. Some pieces were fine art, others were thrift-store treasures. But all of it was wonderful to look at.

Isn't this great? These are menu covers and advertising prints for cruise ship lines in the 30s.

If you like this kind of thing, sign up for The Palette, and I'm sure there will be a notice next year. Or, if you can't wait until next year, check out the Golden California Antiques Show this october in Glendale. Disclaimer: I've never been there. But if the offerings are like they were here, I think I might just check it out. Contact me if you want to go with!


KathyR said...

Oh, my. I love that vase, too. Don't tell me how much they wanted. I can't stand it.

October is a long way away, but if I don't have to go to some teenage sports thing, it could be fun!

SUEB0B said...

Ooh, that vase. Mmmmmm.

Uniflite38 said...

Purchased Sherry Stevens aquagreen Mermaid tile at the museum on Catalina deco at it's finest! Now, if I can just find some more 1929 Catalina Pottery!!