Sunday, September 27, 2009

Part IV of IV...No make that part IV of VII: Sonoma Wine Country Tour

Part IV of VII: My Sonoma Wine Country Tour, without touring one vineyard or tasting a drop of wine—what a concept!

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 (, 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 ( 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 ( 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 (
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!
Okay now, I'm back on track. And, here we go:

Out front of the Opia Home shop were these great tables by Marin County steel artisan Wyatt Ellison ( 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.

Pictures Below:
Top: Mariners Bistro Table, 2009 ($1,300 base only); 30"Dia x 30"T
Center: Tusk Bistro Table, 2009 ($800 base only); 30"Dia x 28"T
Bottom: Rhombicub Containers, 2009 ($300-1,000); Size: 12"-24"w x 12"-24"d x 15"-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 (
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

Part III of IV: Sonoma Wine Country Tour

Part III of IV, of the series...Sonoma Wine Country Tour, without touring one vineyard or tasting a drop of wine—what a concept!


Next stop: TRANSLATIONS, a hip importer of reclaimed Elm, Rosewood, Teak and other hardwoods, "repurposed" (yes, another word for "Green") into modern furnishings and wares. They also import a line of contemporary style teak/stainless steel outdoor funiture (think Henry Hall designs without the price); imported carved stone troughs and sinks; and a well edited selection of wrought iron from Egypt.

This store is artful in every interpretation of repurposed materials.
We passed these great outdoor planters as we walked between Artefact's and Transaltions. Available from Translations. Made from repurposed propane tanks!

BOCABOLO, their contemporary Italian designed Garden Furniture - made with top grade Teak (or Rosewood) with powder-coated cast aluminum structures and legs, and stainless steel fittings.

Beautiful lines prevail in this Italain designed line of outdoor furniture.


FER FORGE' MEDITERANEEH (their words not mine), Forged Wrought Iron furniture in traditional European Designs - Tables and Consoles with Marble tops, Chairs, Settees, Benches, Consoles, Mirror frames, Wine Racks, Screens, Chandeliers and Sconces ready to be electrified, and Planters.


JATI, reclaimed Teak Tables, benches, stools, shelving, large planks and YOUR custom designs, made from teak reclaimed from demolished structures in Asia. They are resurfaced and sanded with finish in you choice of "natural organic”, "patina", or “custom finished” to your spec's.

The large Dining table (this one is 10 ft. long) pictured left, is suitable for outdoor use, and is available in multiple standard and custom lengths and shapes.

The small bench, pictured right is easily moveable and is available in multiple standard lengths.


Until tomorrow!

Good Night Moon

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No. 2 of 4: Sonoma Wine Country Tour Series

Part Two of Four:

A continuation...Sonoma Wine Country Tour, without touring one vineyard or tasting a drop of wine—what a concept!


- Next stop, ARTEFACT DESIGN & SALVAGE INC. ( , founded by Dave Allen a disenfranchised Silicone Valley refugee, opened in the Cornerstone Sonona garden /shopping center in 2003. His story is detailed on the Artefact web site and is worth the read. This store is truly a not to be missed!

Some of my favorite things at Artefact:


and shallow stone planters lavishly planted with succulents.


-A huge salvaged, louvered copper CUPOLA, resting on a large cut stone capitol from an old column. The condition of his salvaged product was overall in beautiful condition.

TABLES for display, and those that were more Dining table like were unique from the get-go. The table on the left was made from four salvaged carved stone brackets, turned on end, and then notched into a thick, smooth concrete top. Other tables were on reclaimned Teak or Elm bases topped with thick slabs of honed finished limestone.


I think Dave made the right move, with his eye for objects and his flair for displaying them, I found myself trying to figure out where to put a giant reel full of eight inch thick, vintage rope, and even considered a huge stack of blue chairs. I didn’t want the chairs for the chairs, I wanted the group of them as sculpture. This guy is good…really good.

-The giant spool of antique ROPE, probably 6-8 inches in diameter.


Left: A movable wall fashioned from fifty-plus blue-painted schoolhouse chairs lashed together with wire strands from floor to rafter.
Right: The chairs are stacked adjacent to this beautifully lighted religous artefact.

Old stone disc hung by heavy rope, juxtaposed with Artefacts custom tables and a vintage drawing of column capitals


SCULPTURE - Stainless steel spheres encased in a framework of knarled reclaimed wood.

Old globs of slag glass salvaged from former bottle manufacturers.

Huge spheres made from gnarled roots and limbs were arranged thought the courtyard and were balanced by adjacent stone planters.

Salvage yards are many in the San Francisco Bay area. Here is a list of some of our favorites:
Berkeley Architectural Salvage: 1167 65th St., Berkeley. 510.655.2270.
Beyond Waste: 607 W. Sierra, Cotati. 707.792.2555.
East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse: 6713 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. 510.547.6470.
Ohmega Salvage: 2407 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. 510.843.3636.
Recycletown: 500 Meacham Road, Petaluma. 707.795.3660.
Urban Ore: 1333 Sixth St., Berkeley. 510.559.4455.

Stay tuned for Parts III and IV of the Sonoma Wine Country Tour.
All for now.

Good night moon.