Japanese police end nuclear art stunt

TOKYO (AFP) – An anonymous painter in Japan at the weekend added an image of the stricken Fukushima atomic plant to a public mural about the horrors of a nuclear explosion by the late abstract master Taro Okamoto.

The clandestine add-on image – painted in a style mimicking that of Okamoto’s “Myth of Tomorrow” on display at a busy Tokyo train station – created a stir on Twitter before police took it down Sunday evening.

The small wooden panel – which shows black smoke billowing from reactor buildings resembling those at Fukushima – was attached to the wall without causing damage to the original 30-meter-long (100-foot-long) wall painting.

Okamoto, who was born 100 years ago and died in 1996, is one of Japan’s best-known modern artists. Strongly influenced by Pablo Picasso, he is known for his abstract paintings and sculptures, including his “Tower of the Sun” erected for the Osaka Expo in 1970.

“Myth of Tomorrow,” created in Mexico in 1968-69, went missing for years but was rediscovered in 2003, returned to Japan and finally installed at a pedestrian overpass at the capital’s busy Shibuya railway station in 2008.

The non-profit organisation that is the guardian of the painting was quoted as saying by local media: “It is an outrageous prank and we are troubled.”

An official with the group said “it is problematic to create a link when many people are suffering” between the horror of an atomic bomb explosion and the crisis at the tsunami-hit nuclear plant, the Tokyo Shimbun reported.

Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11 destroyed the cooling systems of the Fukushima plant, causing explosions and fires. The plant has since leaked radioactive substances into the air, ground and sea.

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Still frame depicting a caricature of Muammar Gaddafi from a YouTube video about the slain graffiti artist Qais Ahmed Al-Hilali. Courtesy Repubblica Radio TV, TM News and YouTube.

Street artists in Benghazi take aim at Gaddafi

Still frame depicting a caricature of Muammar Gaddafi from a YouTube video about the slain graffiti artist Qais Ahmed Al-Hilali. Courtesy Repubblica Radio TV, TM News and YouTube.

Still frame depicting a caricature of Muammar Gaddafi from a YouTube video about the slain graffiti artist Qais Ahmed Al-Hilali. Courtesy Repubblica Radio TV, TM News and YouTube.

BENGHAZI, Libya (AFP) – Muammar Gaddafi pumping petrol into a winged camel, Gaddafi with the tail of a snake and a forked tongue, Gaddafi as Dracula.

The flamboyant Libyan strongman is fueling a flourishing cartoon caricature scene in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Those are just a few of the themes produced by a group of young artists who reached not for their guns but for their colored pens and spray cans when Libya’s revolution kicked off in mid-February. One of them paid for it with his life, gunned down by secret police.

The group now goes by the name of their dead colleague, Qais al-Halali, and continues its work from a ramshackle office in a makeshift media centre next to the rebel headquarters on the city’s seafront.

“We draw caricatures here and then distribute them around the city. We give them to people to show at demonstrations or hang on walls,” said Akram al-Bruki, 32, who uses the moniker Kimo to sign his work.

Bruki took out two commemorative posters of Halali, one showing a picture of his fresh-faced late colleague, the other showing the bruised and bloodied head of a dead man.

“He got a message to stop,” delivered by Kadhafi’s forces before they were chased out of the eastern city. “But he didn’t stop. When we started doing this we swore that no-one would stop us.”

The secret police finally caught up with Halali in late March, shooting him dead as he drove up to a checkpoint, said Bruki.

Bruki and his three colleagues vowed afterwards to step up their production to play their part in trying to bring about the downfall of the man who had ruled their country since before they were born.

“We didn’t go to the front. We fight with pictures and words,” said Ahmed Ahreb, 33, who writes captions and speech bubbles for the cartoons his friends make.

The walls of their office and of the whole media centre were jammed with their pictures and nearby buildings are daubed with graffiti and grotesque depictions of Gaddafi.

On the wall behind Bruki was a picture of Hosni Mubarak, the ex-president of Egypt who was ousted in a popular uprising in February, presenting a tray of drinks to Gaddafi.

“Take some Red Bull to help you fly,” says the speech bubble above the Egyptian.

“I’m not the kind who flies. I’m going to stay,” replies the Libyan.

Bruki said that the eccentric Gaddafi, with his jowly face, bushy hair, colourful clothes and penchant for glamorous female bodyguards, was an easy target for satire.

He pointed to his own favourite caricature on a wall in the media center corridor.

“Gaddafi Cats” was the slogan above a drawing of the strongman snuggled up between two buxom women bodyguards in green army uniforms and red berets.

Bruki produced a folder with several drawings he had just finished, which he said were being sent to Egypt to figure in an exhibition there before going on to another show in Qatar.

He also proudly took out his mobile phone to display a photo of himself spray-painting a cartoon of the leader he hates on the wall of an army barracks in central Benghazi.

“It was really dangerous to do this at the time because the secret police were in the streets,” he said.

He said he was convinced his group’s work not only boosted morale in rebel-held areas but that it also unnerved Gaddafi, whose forces control the western half of the country.

“Gaddafi definitely sees them and they make him nervous. Many journalists have come here and filmed us or wrote articles about us, and he will see that on the television,” he said.

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Click here to view a YouTube video of a Repubblica Radio TV/TM News Italian-language news story about Qais al-Halali, a graffiti artist who was executed by Libya’s secret police for his unflattering portrayals of Muammar Gaddafi:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=doP81BDuDXg

 

A picturesque canal scene in Venice. Image courtesy of DanieleDF1995. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Venice turns to floating barriers to ward off flood threats

A picturesque canal scene in Venice. Image courtesy of DanieleDF1995. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A picturesque canal scene in Venice. Image courtesy of DanieleDF1995. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

VENICE (AFP) – Flood-prone Venice – home of the art world’s revered La Biennale di Venezia – has launched an ambitious plan to build mobile barriers at the mouth of its lagoon and protect the city from rising sea levels.

About 3,000 people are involved in the “Moses” project, which costs 5.4 billion euros ($7.9 billion), and is scheduled for completion in 2014.

“Once finished, the system will protect Venice from high water levels of up to three metres,” said architect Flavia Faccioli from the Venezia Nuova consortium, grouping some 50 companies involved in the project.

“We’re on schedule so far. We have already carried out three billion euros worth of works and will be carrying out the first test next July,” Faccioli told AFP.

The 78 giant box-shaped barriers will be divided into four sections at the head of the three inlets that link the lagoon with the Adriatic Sea. They will be inserted into immense tanks on the sea floor. Should high waters threaten the city, pressured air will be pumped into the barriers, raising them up on hinges to block the tidal flow. Once the danger has passed, the air will be expelled and the barriers would fill with water and sink back to the sea floor.

“We are building 11 crates at the same time,” Enrico Pellegrini, the head engineer at one of the building sites, told reporters as they inspected the ongoing works at the Malamocco inlet.

Special cement and non-oxidizing steel have been used for the 60-meter-wide girders which, at 27 metres high, are as tall as a seven-storey building.

“The biggest girders weigh 22,000 tons and will be transported, like the others, by wagons specially designed for the purpose by Norwegian company. Each can take up to 350 tons, the equivalent of a Boeing 747,” he said.

It will then take up to three days for a “syncrolift” system – usually used to help ships dock — to transfer the tanks to the sea bed.

“It’s a remarkable project, one of the most important in Italy and the world,” Venice’s mayor Giovanni Orsoni said.

Venice, which sank by 23 centimetres (nine inches) in the last century, is hoping that the “Moses” project will help it preserve its buildings and rid its majestic squares of floodwaters once and for all.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


A picturesque canal scene in Venice. Image courtesy of DanieleDF1995. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A picturesque canal scene in Venice. Image courtesy of DanieleDF1995. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Greater Dallas suburb of Irving, where the Dallas International Art, Antique Jewelry Show will be held. Image courtesy of RMJM Hillier Architecture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Change of dates for Dallas Int’l. Art, Antique Jewelry Show

Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Greater Dallas suburb of Irving, where the Dallas International Art, Antique Jewelry Show will be held. Image courtesy of RMJM Hillier Architecture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Greater Dallas suburb of Irving, where the Dallas International Art, Antique Jewelry Show will be held. Image courtesy of RMJM Hillier Architecture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

DALLAS – In response to numerous requests from dealers, the Palm Beach Show Group is changing the dates for its Dallas International Art, Antique Jewelry Show to Nov. 2-6, 2011. The original show dates, Oct. 27-31, 2011, presented a conflict with the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show and would have forced many dealers to make a choice of one or the other. Accordingly, the Dallas show was moved back by one week.

“After careful consideration, and since a vast majority of exhibitors currently committed to the Dallas Show liked the change, we have made the decision to move the dates…” said Scott Diament, president and CEO of the Palm Beach Group.

The Dallas International Art, Antique Jewelry Show will be held at the new, state-of-the-art Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas and will feature more than 100 top-tier international exhibitors. More than 100 categories will be on view, including fine art, antique and estate jewelry, furniture, porcelain, Asian antiquities, American and European silver, glass, textiles, sculpture, contemporary art and more.

The show will take place Nov. 2-6, 2011. Show hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6. Tickets are $15 daily and $25 for a 4-day pass. For more information about the show, visit www.dallasfallshow.com or call 561-822-5440.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Greater Dallas suburb of Irving, where the Dallas International Art, Antique Jewelry Show will be held. Image courtesy of RMJM Hillier Architecture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Greater Dallas suburb of Irving, where the Dallas International Art, Antique Jewelry Show will be held. Image courtesy of RMJM Hillier Architecture. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

The frog from the book ‘Wind in the Willows’ probably inspired the look of this carved wooden carousel animal. It may be the only figure on an old carousel dressed in human clothes. It sold in February 2011 at a James D. Julia auction (JamesDJulia.com) in Fairfield, Maine, for $11,900.

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of May 2, 2011

The frog from the book ‘Wind in the Willows’ probably inspired the look of this carved wooden carousel animal. It may be the only figure on an old carousel dressed in human clothes. It sold in February 2011 at a James D. Julia auction (JamesDJulia.com) in Fairfield, Maine, for $11,900.

The frog from the book ‘Wind in the Willows’ probably inspired the look of this carved wooden carousel animal. It may be the only figure on an old carousel dressed in human clothes. It sold in February 2011 at a James D. Julia auction (JamesDJulia.com) in Fairfield, Maine, for $11,900.

Carousel figures, made mostly in the early 1900s, sell for high prices today. Carousels probably were first made in the 1700s to train spear-throwers, not as enjoyable rides for children. A horseback rider would ride toward a hanging ring and try to put the spear through it. By the late 1700s in Europe, there were small, light, moveable carousels that traveled from city to city. The modern carousel was introduced in the United States in the 1860s. Gustav Dentzel started a company that made carousel figures and parts. Some of the company’s carvers were trained in art; some were European immigrants who had carved tombstones and woodwork in their home countries. At least 13 U.S. companies were making carved carousel figures by 1915. American carousels were more imaginative, more elaborate and more beautiful than those made in Europe. Another famous carousel maker was Herschell Spillman Co., founded in North Tonawanda, N.Y., in 1900. The company made horses and at least 18 other animals for carousels in the “old” style. Each animal was carved with special features, flowers, saddles and masks, and was painted in bright colors. A rare frog figure made about 1910-’15 by Spillman sold recently at a James Julia auction in Fairfield, Maine, for more than $10,000. The frog was wearing shorts, vest, a white collar and bowtie, and sported a perfect coat of paint. Today, carousel figures that are not part of a working carousel are collected as folk art. Other animals were made in smaller numbers than horses and sell for higher prices. There are 100 vintage working carousels in the United States today. If there is one near where you live, take a ride, admire the hand-carved horses and bring back memories of your childhood.

Q: Was there such a thing as a dunce chair? I have read about them in books and seen some in TV movies, but was there really a chair in the corner for a dunce in school?

A: Educational ideas have changed throughout the centuries. In the 19th century and perhaps earlier, a child who misbehaved or did not study or do homework often was shamed in front of classmates. A seat in the corner and a pointed dunce cap were really used. The dunce chair could be a high stool or chair. It was made so that the child could not put his or her feet down on the floor. Perhaps that was to make the chair seem more confining. We have seen old wooden chairs with long legs as well as high stools sold as “dunce chairs.” The name and the idea seem to make buyers more interested.

Q: I inherited a metal sculpture that has been in my family since the 1930s. Counting the wooden base, it’s 26 1/4 inches high. The sculpture is of a man carrying fishing gear. It’s titled “God Fishing” and is signed “Mestais.” What can you tell me about it?

A: Mestais is a listed sculptor who worked in France around the turn of the 20th century. Not much else is known about him. Your sculpture is made of spelter, an inexpensive zinc alloy. And you’re reading the title wrong. It’s called “Cod Fishing,” not “God Fishing.” An identical sculpture sold at auction in England last year for $32. That seems less than you should expect if you sold it here.

Q: My husband has eight Bond Bread labels picturing Hopalong Cassidy that his mother saved for him. They are more than 58 years old. Each one is numbered. Can you give us any information about them?

A: Hopalong Cassidy first appeared in stories written by Clarence E. Mulford in 1904. Since then, he has been featured in novels, radio shows, movies, television and comic strips. More than 60 movies featuring actor William Boyd as Cassidy were made from 1935 to 1948. Boyd bought the rights to the Hopalong Cassidy name from Mulford in the 1940s, and later bought the rights to the movies. In 1949, the old movies, edited for television, became the first network Westerns. The Hopalong Cassidy TV show ran from June 1949 to December 1951. His radio show was broadcast from 1950 to 1952. Bond Bread was one of Hoppy’s sponsors. A series of bread labels that could be collected and pasted into an album was offered as a premium in the early 1950s. Three series of 16 labels each were made, as well as a “Hang-Up Album” for each series. Single labels sell for about $10-$12.

Q: A friend gave me an old sterlingsilver filigree pin. The interesting thing about it is that on the back, it reads “Made in Palestine.” Is that a clue to its age?

A: Since your pin is marked in English, it’s likely that it dates from the years when much of the geographic region historically referred to as Palestine was under British Mandate. That means your pin was made between 1923 and 1948 – most likely in the 1930s or ’40s. Some artists who live in today’s Palestinian territories mark their pieces the same way, but filigree work in silver was more popular 60 or 70 years ago than it is now.

Q: My old Homer Laughlin platter is marked “H32N” on the bottom. How much is it worth?

A: The Homer Laughlin China Co., still in business in Newell, W.Va., dates to 1873 but was incorporated in 1896. The “H32N” mark is a date and plant code. Your platter was made in August (designated by the “H”) 1932 at Homer Laughlin’s Plant “N.” Most early 1930s Homer Laughlin dishes sell individually for prices ranging from $1 to $50, depending on rarity and condition. The company’s most popular dinnerware, the solid-color Fiesta, sells for more.

Tip: Lusterware requires special handling because it can wear away if it is improperly washed. The ware should be washed in warm water with a mild soap or detergent. Do not rub too hard, or you will remove the luster glaze.

Need prices for collectibles? Find them at Kovels.com, our website for collectors. More than 84,000 prices and 5,000 color pictures have just been added. Now you can find more than 900,000 prices that can help you determine the value of your collectibles. Access to the prices is free at Kovels.com/priceguide.

Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

  • Prom dress, off-the-shoulder short sleeves, sweetheart neckline, black-velvet bodice, two tiers of ruffles, short skirt, black, white and gold gingham check, 1980s, $40.
  • Suzy Smart doll, plaid skirt, nylon socks, rubber shoes, hair band, with desk, Deluxe Reading Co., Newark, N.J., 1960s, 25 inches, $200.
  • Staffordshire plate, dark-blue transfer, Commodore MacDonnough’s victory, grotto shell border, impressed mark, circa 1815, 9 inches, $235.
  • Eagle, pine, spread wing, root perch, “Live and Let Live” banner, carved, W.C. Bohley, mid 1900s, 17 x 48 inches, $320.
  • Squirrel cage, tin, house shape, sliding door, large wheel, red paint, 1890s, 13 x 26 inches, $560.
  • Custard glass dolphin candlesticks, opalescent, petal sockets, circa 1850s, 9 1/2 inches, pair, $585.
  • Tiger maple daybed, scrolled arms, turned legs, beehive finials and arm supports, 1800s, 23 x 68 x 24 inches, $690.
  • Pieced and appliqued quilt, hand-stitched, 16 squares in “Whigs Defeat” pattern, paisley design in multiple borders, circa 1880s, 98 x 97 inches, $805.
  • George III silver salver, oval, engraved band of fruit, acorns, flowers and wheat, scroll feet, marked, 1799, 12 x 9 inches, $805.
  • Bennington pottery poodle, holding fruit basket, flint enamel, coleslaw fur, circa 1850, 8 1/2 inches, $3,290.

The best book to own if you want to buy, sell or collect. Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, 2011, 43rd edition, is your most accurate source for current prices. This large-size paperback has more than 2,600 color photographs and 42,000 up-to-date prices for more than 775 categories of antiques and collectibles. You’ll also find hundreds of factory histories and marks, and a report on the record prices of the year, plus helpful sidebars and tips about buying, selling, collecting and preserving your treasures. Available online at Kovelsonlinestore.com, by phone at 800-303-1996, at your bookstore or send $27.95 plus $4.95 postage to Price Book, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2011 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

 

Edgar Allan Poe’s room is one of the most visited sites at the University of Virginia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Edgar Allan Poe’s dorm room due for renovation

Edgar Allan Poe’s room is one of the most visited sites at the University of Virginia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Edgar Allan Poe’s room is one of the most visited sites at the University of Virginia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – An honor society that bears the name of one of Edgar Allan Poe’s major works is planning to renovate the room where the renowned poet and mystery writer lived during his short stint as a student at the University of Virginia.

The Raven Society won a $15,500 grant from an endowment established by the University of Virginia Alumni Association to refurbish Poe’s room at 13 West Range. Work is to begin this summer as part of a broader renovation of a handful of nearby student rooms at the Charlottesville school.

Clark Herndon, who just ended his term as the society president, said the project includes refinishing the room’s wood floor, painting, upgrading the lighting, installing a small mantel around the fireplace and replacing a decades-old sound system that plays a recording for visitors about Poe’s 10-month stay at the university in 1826.

After the renovation is complete, Raven Society members will work with U.Va.’s preservation experts to determine the historical accuracy of the room’s furnishings, which include a bed, a small writing desk, a washbasin and a bust of Pallas – a reference to where Poe’s talking bird perches in The Raven.

“The leatherbound foot locker, for example, may be replaced with a wooden chest,” said James Zehmer, U.Va.’s historic preservation project manager. “And there’s a chair or two that might not be quite accurate.”

The Raven Society was founded in 1904 by 12 original members. After the election of new members each semester, the society conducts a ceremony in Poe’s room that includes the reading of a stanza of The Raven, Herndon said. It’s the only time people are allowed in 13 West Range – visitors typically must view the room through a glass door.

The honor society acquired the duty of maintaining 13 West Range in 1907, and the room has undergone changes over the years to make it resemble student rooms when Poe lived there. The room was renovated again in the 1950s to remove a mantel and closets that were added after 1826.

Poe enrolled at U.Va. in February 1826, not long after Thomas Jefferson founded the school, and professors quickly recognized his academic excellence. At the time, there were 177 students, and their rooms all lined the university’s Lawn and Range, U.Va. officials said.

The 17-year-old student became active in university life, including becoming a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, and entertaining friends in his room with dramatic readings of short stories that bore the hallmarks of his later writings. But his time in Charlottesville didn’t last, as he was plagued with financial difficulties caused in part by his foster father’s refusal to cover all his expenses, and in part by heavy gambling. He withdrew permanently from the school that December.

He published his first works, Tamerlane and Other Poems, in 1827.

Poe is credited with writing the first modern detective story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which appeared in 1841 in Graham’s Magazine, where Poe worked as an editor. It became the template for other writers’ mystery stories, including the Sherlock Holmes works.

Other Poe works include The Tell-Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum, which have frightened generations of readers and reflected his struggles with depression, difficulties with drinking and the loss of key figures in his life. Those struggles worsened, and he died at the age of 40.

Today, the Poe room joins the Rotunda as one of the University of Virginia’s most-visited sites.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-28-11 1925GMT

 

 

 


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Edgar Allan Poe’s room is one of the most visited sites at the University of Virginia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Edgar Allan Poe’s room is one of the most visited sites at the University of Virginia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Elmer E. Ellsworth, the first Union officer killed in the Civil War, was an associate and friend of Abraham Lincoln. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

National Portrait Gallery opens series of Civil War exhibits

Elmer E. Ellsworth, the first Union officer killed in the Civil War, was an associate and friend of Abraham Lincoln. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Elmer E. Ellsworth, the first Union officer killed in the Civil War, was an associate and friend of Abraham Lincoln. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington is opening the first of seven exhibits to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

On Friday, the museum opened “The Death of Ellsworth.” It features a historic painting of Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, who was the first Union officer to be killed in the Civil War. Ellsworth commanded a volunteer regiment that invaded northern Virginia in 1861.

Ellsworth was killed by a local innkeeper in Alexandria, Va. The death made national headlines, and Ellsworth was made a martyr to inspire the North during the war.

Objects on view include the painting, Death of Ellsworth, by Alonzo Chappel, as well as memorial lithographs produced in Ellsworth’s honor.

The museum will mark each year of the war with rotating exhibits.

Copyright 2011. Associated Press. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-29-11 1203GMT

 

Nostalgia for antique clocks keeps skilled repairmen busy. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

Old-time occupations provide livelihoods in 21st century

Nostalgia for antique clocks keeps skilled repairmen busy. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

Nostalgia for antique clocks keeps skilled repairmen busy. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – In a high-tech world, some of the old ways persist.

Jobs like clock repairman and farrier still require a personal touch, as well as steady hands and eyes. Mostly, they require a love of the work.

The “tick-tock” is constant in Mike McCord’s backyard clock shop, punctuated by the occasional “cuckoo!” Clocks of all types line the walls of the Clock Boutique in Hope Mills, in various stages of repair and disrepair.

Repairing clocks has been McCord’s vocation for more than a dozen years, not long after he retired from a 26-year career in the Army.

“It’s just a constant flow of clocks that come in here all the time,” McCord said. That includes everything from towering grandfather clocks to the fireplace mantel variety.

In 1997, McCord bought a clock repair business in Westwood Shopping Center. He later moved the business to Hope Mills. McCord said he picked up mechanical skills from his father. He learned a lot of what he knows about clock repair from the late David Horne of Stedman.

McCord, 65, works closely with Glenn and Erika Stockwell, owners of The Mill antiques and collectibles in Hope Mills. When a customer brings in an old clock in need of repair, they call McCord.

In an age when most people can tell the time by glancing at their cell phone or their car dashboard, McCord said old clocks are still special to people.

“Most of them are sentimental – it was momma’s clock, or what have you,” McCord said. “It’s amazing how many clocks come out of attics, barns and cellars.”

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When Pam Kelly lost her job as a computer programmer after almost 20 years, she turned to her first love. That was spinning, knitting and basically anything to do with turning raw wool into clothing and decorative items.

Today, Kelly creates her works out of a small storefront on Anderson Street in downtown Fayetteville. She opened Sunflower Fibers there last August. Kelly, 59, said she discovered knitting when she was 12. She remembers taking her allowance to the five-and-dime in her hometown of Aurora, Ill., and buying a starter kit.

Kelly spun and knit as a hobby while she pursued a career in computers. Her job brought her to Fayetteville a couple of years ago, but she was let go last year, she said. “I didn’t know what to do,” Kelly said. “Somebody said, why not do what you love?”

Kelly sells her creations as well as fabric and other items in her store. She also teaches classes in spinning and knitting and attends shows and workshops. Kelly’s husband, Jim, also weaves fabric and makes some of the looms and other tools Kelly uses in her work.

It’s a far cry from the corporate career Kelly once pursued, but she said she wouldn’t change a thing.

“It’s a passion,” Kelly said, “and I’m living it.”

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Woodworking is a family tradition for Antonio Gonzalez. Both his father and grandfather plied the trade in Gonzalez’ native Dominican Republic. Now, Gonzalez creates custom cabinets, doors, tables and other furniture from his workshop in downtown Fayetteville. “I love my work,” Gonzalez said. “I try to do it the best I can.”

Gonzalez came to the United States in 1990, first moving to New York. He found a job making picture frames, but it wasn’t his true calling. In 1998, Gonzalez came to Fayetteville and found work driving a forklift. It wasn’t long before he got back in the woodworking game.

Gonzalez walked into Zimmerman Millwork and Cabinets looking for a job. Bill Zimmerman, who has run the shop for more than 25 years, said he wasn’t looking for help at the time.

“He kept coming back. He couldn’t speak very good English,” Zimmerman remembers. “He said, ‘I want to work here.’ He finally wore me down.”

Today, Zimmerman calls Gonzalez his protege and praises his woodworking skills.

Gonzalez, too, is proud of his work, much of which can be seen at various businesses and homes in downtown Fayetteville. Some customers bring in pictures of what they want and ask Gonzalez to recreate it.

“I don’t advertise,” he said. “People just know me.”

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“HOOFWORK” reads the license plate on farrier Jackie Blackman’s truck. That neatly sums up Blackman’s job. He spends his days shoeing horses and trimming their overgrown hooves.

Blackman, 55, has worked as a farrier for 23 years. For 17 years, he shoed the horses for the Fayetteville Police Department until it eliminated its mounted patrol. Now, Blackman travels throughout eight counties caring for horses’ hooves.

“Some of them are boarding barns, some are training barns,” Blackman said. “Some are people who just have horses they ride.”

Blackman carries the tools of his trade in his white Ford truck: an anvil, drill press, band saw, gas-powered kiln and more.

On a recent afternoon, he was at North Star Veterinary Hospital in Parkton, trimming the hooves of a quarter paint pony named Haley.

North Star employee Jessica Fair held the horse’s reins while Blackman filed down the hooves. “Just like trimming your fingernails,” he said.

Haley was calm throughout the procedure, but Blackman said some steeds get antsy. One time, a police horse stepped down so hard on Blackman’s foot that it broke two of his toes. Injuries, Blackman said, “happen to every farrier. It doesn’t happen too often.”

Copyright 2011. Associated Press. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-04-30-11 0914GMT

 


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Nostalgia for antique clocks keeps skilled repairmen busy. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

Nostalgia for antique clocks keeps skilled repairmen busy. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

Downtown Boonsboro, Md., will be losing its oldest store this summer. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Oldest store in Boonsboro, Md., closing after 174 years

Downtown Boonsboro, Md., will be losing its oldest store this summer. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Downtown Boonsboro, Md., will be losing its oldest store this summer. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

BOONSBORO, Md. (AP) – Inside the old brick building on Boonsboro’s Main Street where generations of local families have gone for furniture, for friendly conversation, and, in the old days, even for funerals, employees have been quietly informing customers of a difficult decision.

This summer, after celebrating its 174th anniversary, Bast of Boonsboro, believed by the proprietor to be the oldest continually operating furniture store in Maryland, will close.

“Mr. Bast has operated the store for a long period of time, and has been considering retiring, and the economy has just helped to make that decision a little easier,” store manager Kim Teska said.

For owner Douglas G. Bast, 74, who also operates a neighboring history museum, a passion for preserving heritage has made the decision all the more harrowing.

“I just hate to see something like this close, but you have to face up to it: It just doesn’t work out anymore,” Bast said during a recent interview in the store’s showroom.

The store has survived hard times before, but a combination of a poor economy and changing culture have convinced Bast there is no way forward from here.

“The younger set, when they are interested in furniture, they go to the computer and they, you know, find out who has what,” Bast said. “They don’t really look for furniture that’s going to last a long time. They say, ‘Well, gee, if it only lasts three or four years, I’ll be interested in something new by that time, anyway.’”

Bast of Boonsboro began a going-out-of-business sale last month but, will accept special orders through the third week of May, and has set July 1 as its anticipated closing date, Teska said.

“Most often when businesses are closing, it’s usually on a poor note, and they’re not in a position with their vendors or whomever to continue business,” she said. “We are not in that position … and we want to have the opportunity to allow our customers to get the merchandise, the traditional, quality furnishings that they would like to have, before we close.”

John Christian Brining started the business in 1837 as a cabinetmaker’s shop that also sold coffins.

“Before the Civil War people frowned upon embalming bodies, and so when somebody would die you would go to the cabinet shop and they would simply make you a coffin,” Bast said.

After the Civil War, there was a surge in undertaking and embalming because soldiers did not want to be buried in what they considered a foreign land and wished to have their bodies shipped home, he said.

And so, when Confederate Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland Jr. was killed during the Battle of South Mountain in 1862, cabinetmaker Brining went to the battlefield, made the general a coffin, embalmed his body, and arranged to ship him home, Bast said.

Brining, a Confederate sympathizer, headed the militia in Boonsboro before the war, but had to leave it when the war started because of his Southern sympathies, Bast said.

“Over in the museum I have his original Confederate flag,” he said.

The Bast of Boonsboro showroom still displays an ornate walnut hall piece – a mirrored stand for umbrellas, hats and coats – crafted by Brining the same year he embalmed Garland.

John Christian Brining died in 1881 and passed the business down to his son, John Calhoun Brining.

About seven years later, Bast’s grandfather, William F. Bast, came from Frederick County, Md., to apprentice under Brining for three years.

“He received $100 and free food and lodging for that period,” Bast said.

After his apprenticeship ended, William Bast returned to Frederick County, but the Brinings, who had taken him under their wing, invited him back to work in Boonsboro.

Bast went on to become a partner in the business. A sign from that era, bearing the name Brining & Bast Furniture and Undertaking is on display in Douglas Bast’s Boonsborough Museum of History along with many of the shop’s early woodworking tools.

In 1908, William Bast bought out the other half of the partnership. When he died, he passed the business down to his sons, John H. Bast and Gerald D. Bast.

Douglas, Gerald’s son, apprenticed as a mortician in the 1950s, but both he and his father preferred working with furniture to embalming bodies.

“So it worked out that he and I took the furniture business,” while John and his son took the funeral home when they decided to divide the two in 1964, Bast said.

That funeral home became Bast-Stouffer Funeral Home when Douglas Stouffer and his family acquired it after the 2007 death of John H. Bast Jr.

The site where Bast of Boonsboro stands today is the same spot the business has always occupied, but the original building was replaced in the 1920s, Bast said.

Bast’s grandfather collected used bricks, piled them outside the store, and, when business was slow, the store’s employees went to work cleaning the bricks and, eventually, constructing a new brick store closer to the road than the original, he said.

“And when business was off again, he never laid anybody off; he built houses,” Bast said.

Another side venture for the business occurred in the 1960s, when Douglas Bast decided to open a gift store in the shop and, driven by his love for unusual things, stocked it with exotic items he ordered from a company in India.

Those shipments included small pipes that proved especially popular, and when customers began asking for screens for the pipes, Bast realized they weren’t being purchased as knickknacks.

“I learned then that the gift shop had really turned into a head shop,” he said.

In the early 1980s, when the business hit another rough spot, Bast thought the end of the furniture business was in sight.

At various times, Bast sold antiques in the store and it housed an art gallery where original works were sold.

Bast went to auctioneering school with the intention of turning the store into an auction house. “Then things kind of increased and improved, and I didn’t have to do that,” said Bast.

This time around, Bast is not expecting a recovery. He said he is no longer up for running an auction house, but has considered moving his museum into the Bast of Boonsboro building.

For employees and customers alike, adjusting to the idea of Boonsboro without Bast furniture has been difficult.

“I cried,” said bookkeeper Conda Slick, who has worked at the store for 22 years. “I still cry, because it’s like it’s a part of the town, and so many businesses that are unique have gone by the wayside.”

Bast of Boonsboro has five full-time and five part-time employees, some of whom have been with the store more than 30 years, Teska said.

“This is a family business, and even for those that work here that are not truly blood family, they are considered family,” she said.

The Bast furniture tradition is generational for customers as well as owners.

“They lived in a household that was full of Bast furniture, and they come here because, hey, Mom did it, Grandma did it, and it’s like, ‘That’s what I’d like to do,’” Slick said.

One couple, longtime Bast customers, upon hearing that the business was closing, came in a few days later to buy a dining room suite for their son and several pieces of furniture for their daughter, Teska said.

“They wanted them to have furniture from Bast, which I thought was pretty kind,” she said. “That speaks volumes to me, actually.”

Another cherished customer Teska called to notify was the author Nora Roberts, who furnished about 90 percent of her literary-romance-themed bed and breakfast, Inn Boonsboro, with items from Bast of Boonsboro.

Roberts said she is always impressed with the store’s variety and selection and staff’s willingness to go to great lengths to help her find the custom pieces she envisions.

“We’ve had such a good relationship,” Roberts said. “Everyone in the business has been amazing to work with.”

Roberts said she planned to order bedroom furniture for her grandchildren before the store closes.

“My heart is broken,” she said.

Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., www.herald-mail.com

Copyright 2011. Associated Press. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-01-11 0414GMT

 


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Downtown Boonsboro, Md., will be losing its oldest store this summer. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Downtown Boonsboro, Md., will be losing its oldest store this summer. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.