Tuesday, April 5, 2011

... then the burlington rooms

the stewart gallery is jammed to the brim with every imaginable, nostalgic item on the planet....plus art. a tired, old dropped ceiling stretches over a 1960's striped use-to-be-shag old carpet, and several pieces of goodwill furniture line the room on the main floor. smells emanate from another time - retired & distant. florals mix with plaids, mix with more florals plus faux leather and folding chairs. npr drifts out from some piece of radio art - dozens of battered discarded boom boxes & radios of every size are creeping out of a silver trash can. dave's uber cool shadow boxes are everywhere : bits of church alter paired with camel cigarette boxes, and cut-outs of 1940's pin-up girls,used cigars. brilliant landscape photo's of nebraska are interspersed with bold primary oils of 
- women. 
women on the street, women at bars & coffee shops, women mingling together.
women in various shades of undress. short black & blond hair mostly, and short skirts revealing pastel panties. nipples peak out from open neck lines and occasionally a small jack russell pokes about in them somewhere. 
you see, dave's speciality, dave's love - is women.
it becomes more apparent as we travel thru the gallery. this was my 5th time at dave's i think. it's not always open, nor are the upstairs rooms always ready for guests, but tonight the red light is on. 
you angle up the building in a series of stairs & landings. the carpet underfoot, old & well-trodden - constantly changing from one color to another. all the while - art.
massive oils depicting a buxom women lounging on a black sofa with a cat crawling across her hefty thigh, across from a huge paghan canvas upon which various symbols weave together, the walls covered. it's almost to much to take in.
on the first landing - a surprise. a chair of mine sits next to a table with vintage playboys. this chair was supposed to be a project of angela's & mine, but we lost interest and i told her to find it a good home. here is resides.
i got in trouble for carving the name "wood" in that chair when i was 16. funny.
i am slightly honored that the chair lives here. cool.
2 more flights of stairs take us thru dave's actual office where cigar smoke lies thick & lovely like a favorite quilt. some of my favorite art is in this room, beautiful art boxes with windows to other worlds, tribal masks, a new large oil of a naked women in a sweeping red hat adorns an entire wall.
we walk outside- crossing a small black railed bridge to an open door - 1940's jazz emanates from within & low lights beckon .... 
walking into the first room, there is small black bar on your left with tiny lights lining the top, behind which a lacily dressed mannequin offers her hand .... various bottles of booze & wine litter the end of the bar. illumination from numerous glowing art pieces pop about this diminutive room. some quite odd & nonsensical, others bawdy. ... along the right wall is this fantastic surreal canvas, 4' by 4' - a recreation Dave has done of Pieter Brugel's Dutch Proverbs ... a village of naked women reside here in gold & brown. dave painted this years ago, and somewhere in this metamorphosis of a home, there is list of them all. 
( if your very drunk, if is is riotous fun to see how many you can find...)
you step into a parlor on your right and lights are a bit brighter here, where some 60 black & white nudes adorn the walls. again various unmatched pieces of furniture . above the door is a small sign - serving those who serve those who serve.....
next to each sofa are dave's notebooks, where he has taken vintage penthouse & playboys and re-assembled them into political-comments & commercial parodies : cutting & pasting, - collaging volumes. 
the room is relaxing, again one smells cigar lingering here, and impatience.
an ashtray you would find in your grandpa's house, sits there on the broken wooden coffee table with a cigarette just lying there anticipating the unknown...
across the room from the old brocade sofa, is a sink. for washing prior to one's visit i suppose. the entrance to the rooms lies straight ahead - and it appears as a tunnel of scarlet, softly glowing as if it's has a beating heart - a slow, beating heart.
you walk thru the narrow door-frame into a branched hallway - small & tight, you have 4 directions to explore. then you stop, realizing the hallway itself is a room. painted a deep red, it is shrouded portraits of women: gorgeous & enchanting - some pastel with air-brushed perfection, some in harsh detail yet winsome & bewitching. never will i convey the sheer extent of the art itself. staggering. 
you take a sharp right into the bathroom - a naked mannequin stands behind the beige & pink shower curtain, holding out her red lace panties to you. rubber wellingtons stand at the sink, as if some soldier just vaporized back to normandy,leaving a sprig of daisies poking out the top.... there are remnants of life everywhere : tooth paste, again from another time, glasses .... various sundries. 
art conceals the wall - oils & charcoals predominately. most of the women are complacent & poised, some a hint of sadness lingers.... all lending to such an aesthetic of allure & forgotten glamour.
heading out of the bathroom, straight ahead is a dressing room, or undressing room a small dangling sign reads.... a clothing rack hold numerous vintage clothing options for your standard lady of the night, gowns, robes, dresses with a dresser holding powder puffs and jewelry scattered about with some small measure of organization....
stepping out of that space - there are two bedrooms before you ...
the one on the left ..... an ugly table lamp blazes red from below the street window - edith piaf plays from the antique record player. a small half-made twin bed cuddles into the corner, bedding turned down .... around the room lies neglected treasures from a life: purse's, cigarette cases, jewelry and makeup - lots of makeup.
open and used - that's what it smells like in this room - makeup ... a past.
there is old floral wallpaper drifting from the chunks of plaster, enabling again, the art to rule the room. it's more of the same, by this time - overwhelming.
women posed on concrete pillars, women laying on beds - the colors, though all different, astoundingly blend and swirl together it seems, creating a feeling of warmth & entombed desire.
the last bedroom is distinguished by the raggedy ann doll on the full sized bed. a clean quilt covers the bed, over which women look down from their various frames, some gilt, some bleached wood, scratched & re-used .... re-invented to create this life-sized shadow box of a brothel. browns dominate this room, shades, tints and textures in the canvases. the smooth floral carpet underfoot has an almost hollywood elegance to it, and then you notice how worn it is - how thin & delicate.
it's hard to leave. withdrawing, one just keeps contemplating & observing - almost expecting one of these masterly created women of pencil & oil to turn her chic expression and watch you. 
... trying to entice you back,
to linger & admire once again - these goddesses from another time.
thin, thick, bold or faded - they seem to celebrate companionship.
...and take delight in your gaze....
anticipating the next visit to the burlington rooms.

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