Category Archives: A Closer Look Series

A Closer Look Series: Ben Ham Photography

I was first introduced to Ben Ham’s work after my aunt bought a piece of his work to go above her sofa inside her beach condo. I immediately fell in love with the black and white photographs and Ben’s ability to capture the soul of the low country  in and around Charleston. As a young child growing up vacationing on Kiawah Island, South Carolina my childhood memories are filled with angel oak trees and sweet grass blowing in the wind.

Using a wooden camera he is able to use sheet film to capture his photographs of natural landscapes not just from the low country but also out West. Ben has an amazing talent that is worth checking out!


image: 1. Google 2. Ben Ham’s Facebook Page

A Closer Look: The Architect and the Painter

The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames are widely regarded as America’s most important designers.

By now you must have seen seen their bent plywood and fiberglass furniture, designs which have become synonymous with the Mid-Century Modern Style.

But you might not know that this design duo was prolific in many other ways as well, and had a broad influence on significant events in American life – from modernism to the dawn of the computer age.

Their creative output included everything from splints for the wounded of World War II, to photography, multi-media exhibitions, graphics, games, films, toys, and sculpture:

My personal favorite is “Tops,” an elegant short film that simply observes the classic toy in action.

A new film, The Painter and the Architect, sheds light on their multi-faceted creative and personal lives.  Find out more about the film here.


image 1: herman miller

image 2:  blogspot

image 3: SFBlog

image 4: thefoxisblack






A Closer Look: Spoonflower DIY Fabric

Where can you find the largest online community of fabric designers in the world?  At Spoonflower, a Durham, NC-based business specializing in digitally-printed fabrics.

You can pick from a huge selection of fabrics on the Spoonflower website, or you can create your own design and have it printed by one of their high-tech machines in a matter of days.  And the best part?  There’s no minimum to order.

See what you can create at





A Closer Look: Betty Anglin Smith


One of Judy’s all time favorite artists is Betty Anglin Smith, which she discovered many years ago while on a family vacation in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Back Island” – Oil on Linen

An artist for over 25 years Betty Anglin Smith uses the lowcountry landscape, which surrounds her in Charleston, as inspiration for many of her pieces.

“Colorado Rockies” – Oil on Linen

Today her pieces can be found in well-known corporate collections and galleries across the nation.

“Southern Summer Marshlands” – Oil on Linen

Judy likes Betty’s pieces because of her use of color and light and her depiction of the low country. Below Judy’s very own Betty Anglin Smith piece hanging in her dining room.

images 1-3: Smith Killian Fine Art Gallery 4. DLL

A Closer Look: Vincent Fecteau

With their incongruous forms, unnerving color schemes and various other unsettling elements, Vincent Fecteau’s meticulously made sculptures belie the many formal decisions made by the artist in completing each work.

He has said of his working process, “I like to work on a group of pieces all at the same time, spending long periods just staring at things and trying to activate or access a feeling that somehow relates to what I’m trying to make. …When I’m open to things but not fixed on an objective is when I’m most likely to discover a connection that helps a piece feel more resolved.”


Source: Matthew Marks Gallery


A Closer Look: Top Picks at the American Dance Festival

Have you heard of the American Dance Festival?  It’s one of the leading dance events in the United States, and it happens every summer in nearby Durham, NC.  The prescursor to today’s festival began in 1934 as a summer program at Bennington College, Vermont with modern dance pioneers Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and Martha Graham (below).

With great shows by famous modern Dance Companies scheduled throughout June and July, it’s an event you won’t want to miss.  Here are my Top Picks for this year:

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

1. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago: As a repertory company with unparalleled versatility, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago remains one of the most original and forward-thinking contemporary dance companies. They continue to present the works of numerous choreographers and styles, including this summer’s presentation of Twyla Tharp’s new piece, Scarlatti (2011).

June 29th and 30th, 8pm at Durham Performing Arts Center


Paul Taylor Dance Company

2. Paul Taylor Dance Company: As an artist whose career has spanned over five decades, Paul Taylor continues to challenge and mystify audiences with new repertory while his classic works remain just as powerful and relevant. In a program slated with classics, the Paul Taylor Dance Company will present one of his most famous works,Aureole, originally commissioned by the ADF and now celebrating its 50th anniversary.

July 21st & 22nd, 8pm at Durham Performing Arts Center.

3. Shen Wei Dance Arts: A cross between performance art and a ballet, this is going to be an event worth remembering.  The Shen Wei dancers will perform at the new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Art.  During the 45 minute site-specific piece, traditional performer-viewer relationships will be reconfigured as viewers are invited to stroll amongst moving “displays” of painted dancers and interactive installations.

July 18th and 19th at 9pm, North Carolina Museum of Art


You can see the complete schedule of events on the ADF website.  Tickets are on-sale now.

See you there!



image 1: Sophia Walker

other images and text: American Dance Festival

A Closer Look: Whistler, B.C. Canada Art

Recently, Hilaire traveled to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada (home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games) and fell in love with not only the landscape but the art as well. For Hilaire the art within her home speaks to her travels and  life experiences.


After an afternoon strolling the Whistler galleries, below are some of Hilaire’s favorites.


“Whistler Vacation”

“Winter’s End” – Oil on Silver Leafed Canvas

“WV-V-o” Made of Serpentine and hand quarried in British Columbia


“Killerwhale” Panel – Carved on Red Cedar – Northwest Coast Native Artists

“Fall in Whistler Village”

images/Artists 1. Rick Bond 2. Hamilton Aguiar 3. Cathryn Jenkins 4. Moy Sutherland 5. Mark Richards

A Closer Look: Historic Inspiration from the Met

One of my favorite places to look for inspiration is the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  They have much of their collection online, including everything from modern photographs to historic drawings.  I like to browse the historic drawings to inspire my own projects.  Take a look:

Design for Painted Ceiling Decoration

Design for a Room in the Etruscan or Pompeian style (Elevation)

Architectural Drawing for a Chapel

Framed Design for an Architectural Interior: Coffered Ceiling with Central Hexagonal Cartouche and Walls with Floral Ornament and Drapery.

Design for a Ceiling in Pompeian Style


Get some inspiration of your own at the Met Website.

– Robert



A Closer Look: Elizabeth Matheson

Elizabeth Matheson is one of North Carolina’s most important photographers.  Her work is subtle and quiet, taking as its subject the old homes and landscapes of the South.

In her interior shots, Matheson masterfully captures images that seem frozen in time.

Born in Hillsborough, North Carolina in 1943,  she studied with John Menapace at the Penland School over 30 years ago, and has had solo shows at numerous venues including the North Carolina Museum of art and the Gregg Musuem at NCState.

We featured Matheson in our previous post about the art collection at the NCState Chancellor’s House. Four of Matheson’s photographs grace that home’s stair hall and dining room (below).

To take a closer look, check out her upcoming show at the Horace Williams House in Chapel Hill on May 6th.  More information can be found at the Chapel Hill Preservation Society.


image 1: design lines

image 2, 3, 4, 5: flickr