In Memorium: Ethel Sweet (neé Weitz) 1911-2008

I suffered a personal loss today. And the world suffered the loss of one more artist.

My grandmother, Ethel, was an artist.
She wasn’t a Georgia O’Keefe or a Grandma Moses. She merely painted for herself, her friends and local art shows her whole life. She garnered several first place and honorable mentions at local shows and growing up, my parents’ home was filled with her artwork.

She spent countless hours sitting with me as a child teaching me how to ‘draw’ and always had fresh pencils, paints and paper ready and waiting upon our visits for me, my sisters and my cousins to play with. I couldn’t wait to visit her, spend time with her and draw and paint to my hearts’ content.

She never stopped painting until she simply couldn’t do it anymore… and that was just a year ago at age 96. Just this year, 2008, her work was included in the Hyatt Classic Residence Artist Series.

She was married to my grandfather, Sol Sweet for over 60 years (he passed away in 1990 at age 85) and she was very close to her two sons, my uncle Bob and my father Larry, as well as her daughters-in-law and her 5 granddaughters and her great grandchildren.

She was Yoda-like in her wisdom. She spoke gently, but deliberately, and never judged people or was even the slightest bit catty. I don’t think she ever once uttered anything remotely close to sarcasm. She often referred to her five granddaughters as ‘cookie’ or ‘dolly’.

Always patient and kind, she made killer brownies and potato salad. She was the grandma who snuck me to the mall at age 13 to get my ears pierced, despite my dad’s insistence that I not ‘put holes in my ears.’

Despite being financially comfortable, she was never showy. She was modest in her dress and jewelry and didn’t believe in spending money recklessly. She could have worn designer clothes and drove fancy cars, but she wasn’t comfortable with that.

She liked beer, sourdough and candied ginger. She didn’t like pictures of herself and bizarrely, never had any photos of herself in her homes.

Of all my family, she was the animal lover, the one who thoughtfully always asked about my dog (being her only granddaughter who didn’t have children).

Being an ‘artist’ for a living made me feel a special kinship with her. But she was the type of woman who made each of her children and grandchildren feel that way. As if they each had a unique personal bond with her.

Her life in pictures:


She had a wonderful marriage to my grandfather Sol, for over 60 years:

Below: with my father, the eldest of her two boys

And in recent years:

above: July 2004

above: last summer, June, 2007

As an artist, she actually began her career doing advertising illustrations for department stores that ran in newspapers, so you could say she was the first ‘art director’ I ever knew.
She painted with oils and acrylics as well and in her later years became an adept water colorist.

Some of her early work:

Golden Gate Bridge, 1967

Honorable Mention winner, 1967

As she aged, she continued to send me handmade cards for my birthday and the holidays. Even last year, I received a handmade hand painted birthday card:

Incredibly talented until her final days, my gran even taught watercolor at her Senior Living home until her early 90s. And her work, shown below, was used on holiday cards printed by Hyatt Senior Residence at La Jolla.

I will forever have a hole in my heart now.
She will be greatly missed. And the world will be a little less colorful.

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Lavazza Continues Their Tradition Of Stunning Calendars With Annie Leibovitz for 2009

The 2009 Lavazza Calendar is here. I’m a huge fan of Lavazza products, the company and their corporate culture. Each year I look forward to their new calendar, which is unparalleled in its quality and production. Read more

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Pumpkin Carving Continues To Grow Even Geekier

geeky pumpkinsabove, clockwise from upper left: nerd pumpkins include a nod to Mac OS, Mario of Mario Brothers video games, The Pi symbol, and a Space Invader from the video game of the same name.

All Hallow’s Eve (aka Halloween) always brings out the geek in everyone, especially when it comes to carving pumpkins. Being a geek myself, I carve my pumpkins each year in the shape of my dog (without a stencil), and turn them into Halloween cards, two of which are shown later in this post. Read more

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Modern Mosaic Art For Interiors, Tubs, Lamps & Rugs: SICIS – The Art Factory

With showrooms in Milan and New York, SICIS The Art Factory does things with mosiacs for both residential and commercial spaces that are contemporary, fun, elegant, functional and frankly, unmatched.

A huge selection of everything from rugs (which are backed and ready to put on the floor) to wall tiles, lamps, mirrors, mannequins, sculptures and bathtubs, SICIS has taken the ancient art of mosaic and translated it to modern and contemporary interiors.

I can hardly show you all of their pieces , so I’ll share with you some of my favorite collections of theirs.

Their Pin-Up collection is a series of mosaics that are either mounted as individual cut out wall pieces or as part of a wall mural:





Their bathtubs are available in traditional or modern silhouettes with several designs:






They also have several mosaic rug collections:


Their Pix All collection is a stunning alternative to wallpaper:

They create unusual wall tiles with inlaid mosaics too:

They have a stunning and varied selection of mirrors:

The Tip Toe Lamp comes in varied mosaic patterns and your choice of three different lampshades:

And even sell mosaic sculptures and mannequins:

The Hedonism collection is a series of black and white nudes for the wall:


There’s much more to look at on their site.


Contact info:
Showroom Milano
48100 Ravenna, Italy
Ph +39 0544 469711

North America, Inc
470 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
Ph 212 965 4100

See the recently updated post that includes their newest high-heeled bathtubs, The Audrey and their new Atmosphera lighting collection here.

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Dré Wapenaar’s Unusual Tents: Artful Environments Cloaked In Canvas

Dré Wapenaar is a Rotterdam-based artist whose primary medium is tents – environments designed to shape encounters, whether between individuals or for large groups. Dre’s portfolio includes a tent for reading newspapers, a birthing tent, “Deathbivouac,” the “Pavilion of Loneliness,” “Tree Tents” and “4GPP” – a pavilion for the performance of Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt’s “Concerto for Four Grand Pianos.”


Above: Artist Dre Wapenaar

Most of his tents are art pieces or sculptures and are not sold for commercial use. In the blogosphere, he’s best known for his unusual looking tree tents, first created in 1998:

Here’s a little background. The first 3 Treetents were produced for Campsite De Hertshoorn in Garderen in 1998. They were built by brothers Gertjan and Dré Wapenaar, as well as the steel frame as the manufacturing of the canvas.


In 2005 they built a new edition of the Treetent or Boomtent (this one can be loaned out and used for shows directly from Studio Dré Wapenaar).

TREETENT 2005 EDITION/ BOOMTENT EDITIE 2005




Only ten were produced of the 2005 edition in the following colors:
– forest-green
– dark-grey
– dark-beige
– bright-white

Engineer: Technisch Buro Cor de Heer


Steel Frame: Constructor Dick van Campenhout, Waalhaven Rotterdam.
Canvas: Ten Cate Technical Fabrics

And I bet you didn’t know that he actually has little ones for birds as well! Birdtent orders can be made directly via the studio.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, he’s created a lot more than just the Treetents or BoomTents (as they are called in the Netherlands). Below are a few from his portfolio.

Tent Village, begun in 2001 and revisted in 2007:




A Shower Tent, 1997:

A BBQ Tent, 1997:

A Birthing Tent, 2003:

The Four Grand Piano Pavilion, 2004:


Camp Tent, 2008:


The Recital Pavilion, 2008:


More tents to see at his site.

Studio Dré Wapenaar
Vaandrigstraat 10,
3034 PX Rotterdam
The Netherlands

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It’s A Jungle In There: Ceramica Cielo’s Animal Skin Collection For The Bathroom

Ceramica Cielo Jungle Collection

Ceramica Cielo of Italy’s Jungle Collection has finally hit the market. I saw it a year ago at a trade show and have since seen some of the pieces on various blogs. Now the haute couture collection of crocodile, snakeskin and other reptilian textured wash basins, bidets, toilets and shower trays are available for purchase. Read more

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Pinc House: Scandinavian Modern Housing & Prefab Developments

Pinc House prefabs

Pinc House is all about bringing life into style. An Ittur Group owned company in Sweden, they conceive of, create, develop and build housing developments, prefab homes and projects that are modern, sustainable and great-looking. Here are a few of their impressive accomplishments and projects. Read more

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Nobody’s Sweetheart, Dyna Moe, Captures TV’s Mad Men In Illustrations Befitting The Genre


AMC’s Mad Men is the hot tv show du jour. With multiple Emmy nominations (two wins, including one for Best Drama) and a rapidly growing cult following, it’s been the subject of many a water cooler conversation. Read more

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2008 Chanel Sports Gear For Fashionista Athletes

2008 chanel sports gear

Everyone knows Chanel for their purses, make-up, fragrances, skin care and couture, but what you may not know is that famous french fashion house also makes some very luxe sporting equipment and work out gear. Read more

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