Sunday, September 26, 2010

Egypt Through the Eyes of a Brit via Italy!

I recently took in a production of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi at the San Francisco Opera, which was designedby thebrilliant Zandra Rhodes.

Ms. Rhodes, who is a notably eccentric fashion designer by trade, has become known for her trademark bright pink hair and a generally non-traditional demeanor. Ms. Rhodes also designed a production of Les Pêcheurs de Perles by Bizet for the San FranciscoOpera in 2005.

Ms. Rhodes first established her own retail outlet in London in 1969, when her textile designs were considered too outrageous. She has since had an illustrious career designing for the likes of Princess Diana, Helen Mirren and Sarah Jessica Parker. Queen Elizabeth II named her a Commander of the British Empire in 1997.

The designer’s vision for the production of Aida is rooted in quintessentially Egyptian colors likeTurquoise,Citrine and Ultramarine. The fantastic colors are teamed with a dynamic graphic quality plucked right from Ms. Rhode’s own fashion moments (she designed an Egyptian inspired collection in conjunction with her first designs for Aida). The effect is dynamicand exciting. Rhode’s designs manage to lighten the production without dismissing the seriousness of the story or compromise Mr. Verdi’s monumental score.

The English National Opera and the Houston Grand Opera have shared in the production, which was originally commissioned by Opera Pacific, which subsequently folded.

Like most live performances, this production is at it’s most dazzling when seen live (photos truly do not do it justice), so I highly recommend it for a truly artistic experience.

Brava to Ms. Rhodes!

David Hansen

Photos Credits from top:

1) SF Sentinel: Photo, Tristam Kenton.

2) SF Sentinel

3) SF Sentinel: Photo, Tristam Kenton.

4) Opera program cover designed by Zandra Rhodes. photo, David Hansen.

5) Aida set courtesy of the Academy of Art fashion blog.

6) SF Opera web site: photo, Cory Weaver

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Lost Art Salon in San Francisco is a haven of vintage, antique and modernist paintings dating from the late 1800s to the 1960s, all found in a retro chic space at the crossroads of South Van Ness and Division streets in San Francisco. Arriving a little early for my four o’clock appointment with one of the owners, I soon realized that I had been there before as a guest at a cocktail reception during Market Week in 2009. I also recalled having been previously impressed with the overall cache of great pieces, not to mention the incredibly inviting ambience reminiscent of another era. My visit this day was made altogether even more delightful as my host offered me a seat on the sofa and a cup of tea and so began our conversation..

The Collection, assembled by owners Rob Delamater and Gaétan Caron, encompasses work by artists whose names have been forgotten or “lost in time”, hence, the name, Lost Art Salon. Delamater relayed that he feels people are very afraid to combine periods and mediums and their hope is that for individuals interested in purchasing art will try blending, thus allowing them to be in the “atmosphere” of what art should be; personal. Work is presented in a “salon” environment, with comfortable seating and lighting enhancing the overall experience of enjoying art. Specifically, “…the fine art collection at Lost Art Salon is comprised of over 4,000 works of rediscovered and historically significant artists. It reflects the major styles and movements of the 20th Century (1900-1960s). Sourced at art auctions, estate sales and flea markets, every piece is researched, reconditioned and catalogued for art historical records at Lost Art Salon. They use restored period frames combined with archival framing techniques.

Delamater and Caron own the entire collection and they do not accept any pieces on consignment. The focus is to buy entire collections when found, and each partner selects one piece from each buying spree. Each partner selects pieces for their private collections first – with Delamater’s favorites being self-portraits of artists and Caron collecting abstract impressionist works. All of the works are original period artwork with the average price range in the $350 to $750 neighborhood, with 10% of the collection coming in at prices greater than $1000. Art is reframed on site and that is art in and of itself. Delamater claims that new frames bring artistic power to once lost pieces, giving “wallpower” to many of the works found. The enormous collection of period art frames is amazing however such frames are sold only with pieces purchased.

Lost Art Salon has a significant online presence selling online at and often rents out pieces to stylists and designer showhouses. I say Bravo!

Barbara Ashfield

*Photo courtesy of Lost Art Salon