A map of the Sonoma Valley and the location of Cornerstone Sonoma, pictured left, highlighted with "HA"
This series was going to be a IV part series but I just can't get it all in...there were so many great stores in the Sonoma Valley, and Cornerstone Sonoma was just the first place I stopped! Here's to covering it all in VII parts (subject to change!).
And, just so you know, that is not my ride, pictured at right, but one of what seemed like a hundred limo's that we saw that day chauffeuring the glitterati and oenophiles around the Sonoma Valley.
Can't say that I minded as it probably kept a lot of over served
patrons off the roads!
Next stop: OPIA HOME (http://www.opiahome.com/), actually I only spotted this shop as I was walking back to the car.
Can't give you a ton of info on this shop as I didn't walk through it, but I did look in the windows after spotting the great tables by Wyatt Ellison, pictured far below.
I checked out the Opia Home web site and it confirmed what I had seen through the windows, Asian antiques and reproduction furniture, stone carved figurines on stands, and framed art. Turns out the art is actually Giclee prints (French; pronounced zhee-klay; see definition below) by Jie Wei Zhou (b. 1962), whom their web site refers to as "A Chinese Master".
I first saw original Zhou paintings several years ago back in Santa Fe at the Manitou Galleries (http://www.manitougalleries.com/). The artists bathes his subjects in an almost mystical light from an unseen source. The Asian subjects themselves seem to have lost most of their native facial features and are portrayed as more cosmopolitan than the typical Asian genre paintings.
The 16" x 20" Zhou oil painting, Peaches and Roses, 2003 (shown below left) is offered for sale by Manitou Galleries on the Ask Art web site (http://www.askart.com/) for $4,500. At Opia Home, the Giclee print, Ming Jar (shown below, right), also 16" x 20", sells for $600.
There is never a substitute for doing your own research on an art object or artists prior to purchasing. The exercise can be gratifying, or a nightmare averted, and through research you can glean a sense of the works approx. value.
Here's a brief crash course on Giclee Prints:
Giclee Prints (taken and summarized without permission from the Gilcee Print web site (http://www.gicleeprint.net/):
Images that are printed from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto canvas, fine art, and photo-base paper. The process provides color accuracy and the Giclee prints are typically printed with professional 8 to 12-Color ink-jet printers.
The Advantages: To the artists when it's not feasible to mass produce their work, but they want to reproduce their art as needed, or on-demand. Once an image is digital archived, additional reproductions can be made with minimal effort and reasonable cost.
The Quality: Giclee print quality rivals that of traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums, art galleries, and photographic galleries.
The Market: Giclee prints can be found at the Metropolitan Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Recent auctions of giclee prints have fetched $10,800 for an Annie Leibovitz, $9,600 for a Chuck Close, and $22,800 for a Wolfgang Tillmans (Source: Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, Photographs Sale, April 23/24 2004.
What in the world am I doing? The thing that I most wanted to talk about from this shop has been pushed to the end of this article. Crazy me!
Out front of the Opia Home shop were these great tables by Marin County steel artisan Wyatt Ellison (http://www.sculpturesforliving.com/). Ellison calls his work "Elemental Art".
I was drawn to the balance of the design aesthetics and physical elements of the tables, their unique steel bases and their organic wood tops; and the great looking steel containers (pots), below.
I thought his prices were reasonably priced, and had they been in some tony New York boutique and not sitting in the dirt in the Sonoma Valley, I suspect they would have been two to three times their asking price.
Pictured below is the table that grabbed my attention, the Fisherman Table by Ellison. Eucalyptus wood top, on a rusted steel base; 30"Dia x 30"T; $990.
Top: Mariners Bistro Table, 2009 ($1,300 base only); 30"Dia x 30"T
Whew! Now, for the last stop before leaving the town of Sonoma, and after a late decision to make a quick right turn into the driveway of sculptor Hossain Amjadi (http://www.ha-artforms.com/).
Michael our able business partner from the Cabana Home Mill Valley Store, and the days driver, risked our lives to make the turn-in because he was listening to his passenger, rapt at the site of an immense sculpture garden.
The narrow dirt driveway led us over a culvert, through a pair of artful gates, past a house on the left, and finally to an empty graveled parking area next to what looked like a small office in a painted white out-building.
Initially, no one came out to greet us so it was kind of creepy.
I clasped my hands around my eyes and peered into the window of the small office which was filled with a number of small indoor-sized sculpture on pedestals, and some smaller pieces which were probably macquettes for larger work, but no one was there.
A maquette (French word for scale model) is a small scale model or rough draft of an unfinished architectural work or a sculpture.
We looked around the building and still no one, so we ventured into the field to get a closer look at the sculptures.
A few steps in that direction and we were suddenly met by the artist himself, Mr. Amjadi, a well preserved man of about 60 years. I introduced us and asked if we could look around, and he politely gestured towards the sculptures.
He walked along with us telling about his work, largely executed in thick rusted steel. He extolling his techniques and philosophy, me eating up every last word.
Overall I thought there were some very strong pieces in his collection. Considering the quality of the work, scale, execution, and materials, the pieces were fairly priced, most between $8k-$15K.
Sure, I saw some historical reference to some of the art worlds icons, Calder, Mark di Suvero , Jim Dine, Matisse, and Miro. But isn't all art a reference to life, past present or future?
All for now, I've got to get in bed!
Good Night Moon