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Opening Reception: Vanessa German- The Ordinary Sacred 2015

Yesterday was the opening of Vanessa German’s exhibition, The Ordinary Sacred. Through mixed media sculpture and works on paper, German has created a body of work that represents her experiences grieving the loss of her mother from cancer. The show embodies her struggle, sorrow, power, strength, and celebration of the African American female body. Uniquely arranged found objects, glitter, and painted Black Madonnas are all part of telling her story. During the opening, German captivated the audience with soulful and powerful impromptu poem performances directed towards specific viewers. With a strong body of work and German’s free flowing performances, the evening was a powerful experience to behold.

We were honored to host The Ordinary Sacred opening at Concept Art Gallery and the turn out couldn’t have been better. We thank everyone that was able to attend. If you missed the opening you still have a chance to view the exhibition, it will be on display until February 28th. More upcoming events:

February 7th:

2pm: An Ordinary Sacred Happening in Homewood. Meet us behind the New Arthouse, 7701 Hamilton Ave, and bring a bottle with a sacred or healing word, phrase, name, or poem inside, or an old pair of shoes, to make an interactive ordinary sacred space.

February 26:

6-8pm: Closing Reception at Concept Art Gallery with performance, Q&A, and a poetry booklet signing.

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 Photography by Kaela Speicher

Downsizing: Selling Brown Furniture

One of the appraiser’s newsletters we read recently posted a very timely article from the Wall Street Journal about downsizing and trying to sell second-hand furniture.  We specialize in selling antique furniture and mid-century modern design through our auctions, but there is a very limited market for so-called “Brown Furniture” and anything big, heavy or clunky!  Sometimes, when downsizing, it’s best to think about clearing out the space efficiently rather than maximizing value, which can be a very long-term and expensive option.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

After his son went off to college in August, Craig Norberg-Bohm was ready to downsize. In less than two weeks, he sold his five-bedroom home and bought a three-bedroom. But almost a year later, he is still trying to get rid of his extra furniture.

Friends have been through to cherry-pick the contents of the 62-year-old’s Arlington, Mass., home. He put shelves, a childhood dresser and other furniture in storage. Now, with his moving date approaching fast, he is still looking for a home for four bookshelves, two bedroom sets, two desks and a dining room set.

“Nobody wants a pingpong table,” says Mr. Norberg-Bohm, a community educator for a Boston nonprofit.

Whether moving to a smaller abode or simply cleaning out, many people are making an unwelcome discovery: Their prized family heirlooms have turned into junk. Upholstered sofas, formal dining tables and hutches, Victorian-style mahogany and oak furniture, entertainment units, bulky television sets, pianos—all have become almost impossible to sell or, in some cases, give away.

The furnishings industry has a name for the big, dated wood-finished and upholstered pieces that no one wants anymore—”brown furniture.” Stockpiles of “brown leather and brown Ultrasuede couches have nowhere to go,” says Jeffrey Brooks, a Long Valley, N.J., interior designer.

What happened to the market for secondhand furniture? Those consumers are shopping at Ikea, Wal-Mart and Target, says Jerry Epperson, a partner at Mann, Armistead and Epperson, a Richmond, Va., investment bank specializing in the home-furnishings sector. The cost of furniture, in constant dollars, has fallen on average about 50% over the past 30 years, he says, the result of the availability of cheaper imports.

Even the Salvation Army, known for making furniture pickups, has become pickier in recent years, says Major Greg Davis, a general secretary at the nonprofit. Delivery-truck drivers began carrying Internet-enabled tablets about two years ago. When in doubt, they take a quick photo of a piece and send it ahead to the local store to make sure it will be accepted. Many shelving units are turned away, he says, as are pianos and badly torn or stained upholstered furniture. Still, the volume of furniture delivered at Salvation Army centers is growing by about 4% a year, Major Davis says.

When locating from full-size suburban houses to townhomes, many people realize too late that their old furniture will be an awkward fit, says Mr. Brooks, the interior designer. Design elements in new construction, including kitchen islands, built-in shelves and the lack of formal dining rooms help make older furniture feel dated. The sizes are all wrong, he says. “Everything had been scaled for bigger spaces.”

Many homeowners moving to smaller abodes with new dimensions and built-in features find they have no use for prized pieces—including, clockwise from upper left, home-workout equipment, dining room sets, armoires, pianos, media and home-entertainment units and wood-finished dressers—and neither does anyone else.
For homeowners in a rush, Kate Grondin, who owns Home Transition Resource, of Andover, Mass., has a procedure. First, she advises homeowners to use email and social media to put out the word to friends and family that they have stuff they want to sell or give away. Then, she invites in antiques dealers to pick through the most valuable items. Next she brings in local consignment-store owners to assess other salable items, such as mid-century and industrial-style furniture, Oriental rugs, informal kitchen tables, art, side tables and yard equipment.

After that, she tries to donate items to local nonprofits. Finally, she posts pieces on Craigslist, offering them at no charge—as long as the taker comes to get them.

While clients may get anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars for their belongings, the cash isn’t the most important thing, she says. “Just having it gone is worth a lot,” says Ms. Grondin who charges hourly and often gets $3,000 to $4,000 for the average home. She often warns clients to expect their children to have little-to-no interest in the stuff.

Janet Sharp Kershaw, 55, has spent two years downsizing in hopes of moving from her three-bedroom Winchester, Mass., home to an apartment in Boston or New York this year. “It was very tedious,” she says. At one point, she dialed a junk-removal service, and two delivery men helped her fill a dumpster with unwanted items. They charged $800.

Looking back, she says she regrets throwing away several decorative doors and three rugs. “It made me feel terrible,” she says. “I should have been able to give them away to someone who needs them.” Since then, she has learned about Freecycle.org, where users unload unwanted things to others at no charge.

Three months ago, Ms. Grondin helped Ms. Sharp Kershaw contact specialty dealers to pare down her collections of china and silver, antique furniture, artwork and outdoor accessories. She sold an antique dining hutch purchased 15 years ago for $5,000 to an antiques dealer for $3,500. A local secondhand furniture shop gave her $500 for a bulky horizontal dresser she bought 10 years ago for $2,500. After two months of trying to sell an antique sleigh bed she bought five years ago for $3,000, she gave it away to a nonprofit.

Maureen Spriggs cleared out a 20-year stockpile of furniture from her Wilmette, Ill., home. It saved time to hire a third party for the sorting. Otherwise, she says, the tendency would have been to “build a three-act play” around each item. The company she hired was an “eco-cleanout” specialist, meaning they sell or recycle but don’t throw things away.

Ms. Spriggs agreed to donate holiday decorations to a nonprofit. “You can’t imagine how wonderful it is that I don’t have 87 pieces of Christmas decorations stuffing up my garage,” she says. She gave a rarely used sage-green sleeper sofa, Prairie-style end tables, an ottoman and two lamps to her administrative assistant at the real-estate office where she works. The co-worker sent her a photo of her new living-room setup and a handwritten thank-you note.

An efficient secondhand-furniture market would actually help new-furniture sales, some retailers say. Doug Wolf, co-owner of Wolf Furniture in Altoona, Penn., started Allegheny Consignment, a consignment-shop chain where shoppers are encouraged to consign old pieces after purchasing new ones at Wolf. “We get two sales from the same customer,” says Mr. Wolf. He has two Allegheny stores open and plans for a third in fall. Allegheny gets 50% of the secondhand sales. Consignors earn an average of $200 per sale, he says.

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Vanessa German: Citizen Artist, Opening Thursday, January 9th!

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CONCEPT ART GALLERY PRESENTS

Vanessa German: Citizen Artist

January 9 – February 8, 2014

Exhibition Opening: Thursday January 9, 6-8PM
Procession from Homewood to Concept Gallery: Saturday January 11, 2PM
Performance: Thursday January 30, 6:30PM

Concept Gallery welcomes award winning mixed media sculptor, photographer and nationally recognized performance poet, Vanessa German. The exhibition features Ms. German’s iconic mixed media sculptures. Additionally, Concept will participate in a procession from Homewood to the Regent Square gallery, as well as presenting a live poetry performance later in the month. German may be best known in Pittsburgh for her spoken-word performances, which often extol the African-American female experience. Her sculptural figures continue this theme. She uses found objects such as cast-off baby dolls, old furniture, seashells, fabric, paint, tar, slogans and old signage that speak to history; of African American experience, of woman, of stereotype and race. She says “As a sculptor, I always work on the things that I love, create things that rise out of that place of ethnic clarity for me.”
Vanessa German was born in Wisconsin, raised in Los Angeles, California, and Loveland, Ohio. She received performance training at the Los Angeles Conservatory of the Performing Arts, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, South West College, University of Cincinnati, and the Los Angeles Theater Academy.
Vanessa is winner of the 2007 Duquesne Light Leadership Award Winner for contributions to Arts and Culture. German’s work has been featured in the 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial at the Andy Warhol Museum. She received a grant from the August Wilson Center to create and perform “Root,” an original spoken word opera. She has also exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland and was named Emerging Artist of the Year by Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in 2012. She currently shows with Paul Zoubok Gallery in New York, and her work is in public and private collections nationwide, including the new Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas and The Museum of Visionary Art in Baltimore.

images here: http://conceptgallery.com/gallery-exhibitions/vanessa-german-citizen-artist-2014/#1

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10AM – 5:30PM
Thursday until 8PM
Contact: info@conceptgallery.com , 412-242-9200
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