Welcome to The Gilded Farmer's Blogspot!

Farming and Framing go well together, right? Same letters just a different arrangement. I use eggs from my hens for my egg tempera paintings, the feathers from my turkeys for some fine painted finishes, and the fruits and vegetables as a source of nourishment and inspiration (sometimes using them for still life paintings.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Never Let Your Mother Put Up the Blueberries" and other tales of August

Monday August 10, 2009: recuperating from a very busy week. From finishing and delivering orders to clients, to working the annual Barridoff Galleries Fine Art Auction, to helping my mother set up her booth at the Union Antiques Show, our week was full of activities. One of my mom's regular customers brings her blueberries every year. Usually she brings them back to the house, puts them in the fridge and tells me they are there---I always make a blueberry pancake breakfast with the fresh blueberries for the morning after the Union Antiques Show. For some reason, this year, she put the blueberries in the freezer. She told me where she put them Sunday evening, only through the haze of sleeplessness, I didn't get what she said until Monday morning when I went to make the pancakes to find they were in the freezer. In the cardboard boxes in the freezer. One frozen mass of blueberries (or two, in this case) I managed to hammer off enough berries for breakfast, they were delicious, and until she figures out that I have a weblog, she'll never know how funny the brick of blueberries was for me.

Scenes from the Union Antiques Show, Union, Maine
Saturday & Sunday, August 8, 9, 2009:

David and our dog Ben make the rounds visiting with the fairgoers

Bruce Weber of Josiah Smith Antiques, Hallowell, Maine, takes a break before the gates open Sunday

John Rice from the Historical Society for Early American Decoration shows his wares to a prospective new recruit for HSEAD!

David Keef, my partner and husband, chats with Jeff Wainoris of Josiah Smith Antiques, Hallowell, Maine

Neil Anderson and Michael Giberson's dog enjoys the sun and fun at the show

Scenes from the Barridoff Galleries Auction at the Holiday Inn, Portland, Maine August 7, 2009:

Lucretia Baskin hard at work registering prospective bidders

Annette Elowitch pointing artist George Lloyd in the right direction

Bill Milliken & Jay York take sustenance before embarking on the six hours of moving artwork onto the podium. (Jay is smiling because he just told me where I was going to be going in the afterlife...the prediction came shortly after I commented on his fresh facial hair-do)

over 300 lots were auctioned Friday evening to a full house. Each year the auction proves to feature some great examples of work from American and European collections. Even though I've worked the phone bids for the past 15 years and have only had the chance to purchase works on rare occasions, the event is a wonderful assembly of works that you won't see elsewhere as well as an opportunity to visit with clients and friends while discussing the merits of the works presented

Harvard Librarian Roger Stoddard examines the addenda to the catalog.

Left: a Stephen Etnier oil on canvas in its original frame

What's next for August? A trip to Deertrees in Harrison, Maine for starters. And maybe, if the sun keeps shining, I'll get some swimming in!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Raising Broilers!

I'm going to add to this blog post every week for the next 8 weeks. I'm raising a batch of broiler chicks to put into the freezer for the winter. These aren't any old breed of backyard or exhibition poultry, they are deluxe hybrids called Cornish-Rock crosses or broiler chickens. They have been cross-bred and selected over the past 60 years to produce the form of chicken we have all become familiar with. My father-in-law was a poultry farmer in the late 40s/early 50s. Back then the chickens looked different than they do today. Their breast shape was narrower, their legs were smaller, and they took 12-16 weeks to grow to maturity. These days the birds are ready to eat (Pret-a-Manger, for you foodies) in 6-8 weeks. I'm going to raise this batch for 8 weeks. Last year's batch went for 6 weeks, but they were on the small side, so I'm going to wait 2 more weeks. In the mean time.....I'm going to document and post their growth here for you to watch this marvel of genetics. Sometimes these birds grow so fast and so big, their legs can't support their weight and they have all they can do to waddle around the yard to eat. I'm raising a flock of turkeys too, and I'm documenting their growth---I'll post that phenomenon after the chickens are wrapped and frozen!

Enjoy! And please e-mail me questions and/or comments!
Less than a week old: 5'' tall and 6 ounces

Week 2: 18 ounces (picture will be inserted here, can't locate it at this moment)
Week 3: 10" tall and 24 ounces
I have lost only 2 chicks to date. The first one within the first week. The last one was just the other day and probably died when they crowded together at night to sleep. I secured their pen so that there are no drafts and put deep bedding in to keep them warm and dry. I'll have to keep an eye on them at nightfall to be sure they aren't piling onto one another. I just put them out to range on one of the gardens that was overtaken by weeds. They will be able to stay clean and take dirt baths and eat weed seeds and grass in addition to the broiler rations I'm giving them. And fertilize the garden for next year! Now that the daily temperatures are getting hotter, they are consuming a lot of water. I have to make sure the 5 gallon waterer is always filled with clean, fresh, water. I could easily lose more chicks if I forget to keep an eye on the water. We enclosed them into the garden with electrified poultry netting, the best invention since the sheetrock screw! It keeps them in and undesirable critters out!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Once Upon a Time there was a Sunny Day....the opening of the Library and Gardens at Maine Historical Society

For nearly two decades we operated our frame shop and gallery on Congress Square in Portland. During that time, we were so tied to being in the shop that we rarely were able to participate in any of the events in town. Since moving our shop to Topsham nearly two years ago, we have gained more freedom to attend the meetings, openings, and festivities put on by so many of the groups we have held memberships with.

Without exception is the Maine Historical Society. We have matted, framed, restored and replicated frames for so many of their projects over the years yet we rarely have been able to attend any of their events. So when they announced the grand re-opening and dedication of their library and garden, I knew I couldn't miss out.

I saw a lot of familiar faces at the Annual meeting which was held before the opening ceremonies. And I made a lot of new acquaintances too. After the meeting, curator Laura Sprague gave us a tour of the exhibit. "Re-Collected." It was a great assembly of items from the collection dating from the 17th c. to the 1970s: my favorites were the 17th c. Trelawny ledger, Benedict Arnold's journal, the plaster life mask of Abraham Lincoln by Wendell Volk, the daguerrotype portrait of the sculptor Paul Akers as a youth, and the unused tickets from Elvis Presley's August 16, 1977 Portland concert.

We have been inundated with rain here in Maine over the past month. So when the skies parted as the band played the Pennsylvania Polka, the Opening and Dedication of the renovated Alida Carroll and John Marshall Brown Library and Longfellow gardens became very festive! It was standing room only under the tent where the speeches were delivered about the long history of the Maine Historical Society. Even the Brown's granddaughter was in attendance. It was great to participate in this event along with the rest of the Maine community, and to see the fruition of so many years of planning...we now have a state-of-the-art library and the restoration of the beautiful Longfellow Gardens.

Now that I've gotten a taste of getting out of the shop, and socializing with so many friends and clients, I look forward to seeing everyone at more public events!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Found Art: Look What the Wind Blew

I couldn't believe my eyes when I spied this in my driveway this morning. This bizarre and perfect pine needle sculpture was formed by the wind during the storm we had these past few days. I saw a pile of pine needles on the back of the garage roof yesterday and made a mental note that I should get them off before they build up and cause problems down the road. Mother Nature did the work for me: The Nor'east wind blew the needles into a sweet ball and plopped it in my path. I couldn't help but swoop the sculpture up, photograph it, and find a fine pedastal to set it onto to admire as long as it stays together.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Presenting Maine's Frame Making History

Tuesday May 12, 2009 I presented to an audience at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine, an abridged introduction to the history of picture frames in America using reference images drawn from local museums and historical societies. I paid special attention to frame makers in Maine from the 19th through 20th centuries. I decided to draw upon images from local sources because I wanted the audience to be able to see these images for themselves and I wanted to promote Maine's wealth of artwork to be seen.

I've always called Bowdoin College Museum of Art "Maine's Mini-Metropolitain without the Crowds." There you can see ancient mirrors made of bronze or a portrait of King David by Berrugoete, court painter to Ferdinand and Isabella. Bowdoin's collection of works on paper are extraordinary. There is always a great display in the Becker Room at the Museum.

Colby College recently received the tremendous gift of a collection of James Abbott McNeil Whistler etchings. Match this visual opportunity with their collection of works on paper by John Marin as well as the historic works of art in their permanent collection and a visit to this Museum in Waterville must be on your agenda. (Afterward, go downtown and eat at one of Waterville's Lebanese restaurants)

(Victoria Mansion, Portland, below)

I am surprised to meet so many artists who live and work in the state of Maine who have never been to many of the small museums and historical societies in the state. Maine has provided inspiration to artists since the Europeans first arrived over half of a millenium ago. The passion for these works and the devotion to Maine of so many collectors has provided we the viewers with seemingly endless opportunities to revel in these works and to learn from our past. To paraphrase Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:"He who doesn't learn their art history, knows nothing of themselves." (My version of his quote: "Wer ein Fremdsprache nicht lernt, lernt nicht von seine eigene."

Your local Historical Society volunteers are the bearer's of your history. Stop in and visit one today! And stay tuned for future appearances by this author---you'll come away from my talk never to view a painting the same way again!