I collect vintage radios, phonographs, and jukeboxes, so I go to O.B.’s antique stores a few times a year. A few weeks ago, in the early afternoon, I went down to Newport Avenue for an anniversary event at Vignettes. I had been in the antique shop only a few times because they specialize in French items.
The place was packed with people walking around, looking at the deco pieces, brooches and charms, and everything French. I overheard one guy say to his wife, “The French liked their birdcages big, huh?”
I later heard him attempt some humor with lines about his wife buying French lingerie and something about French perfume bottles being so fancy, yet the French smell like bad B.O.
A friend I brought with me liked the framed maps. I liked the first-edition books.
I was embarrassed when I almost ran into a boy in a wheelchair. What happened was...they had cupcakes, brownies, and other pastries set out. And once I saw the sweets, I didn’t see anything else in my path.
I apologized to the boy before snatching up some goodies and moving over to the guy serving French champagne.
Things got a little more crowded an hour later, when a “Baroque Gypsy Couture Trunk Show” took place. Models walked around with various pieces: jewelry boxes, musical instruments, parasols... If you want a parasol — seriously — this is the shop for you.
I talked to owner Lori Chandler, who, between dealing with lots of customers, quickly said, “I’ve always had a passion for fashion, and this seemed the perfect time to combine the over-the-top vintage glamour and props.”
A sign on the wall near the cash register read, “For French lessons and sending me to Paris — merci beaucoup to Mary L. Chandler — my inspiration and extraordinary mother.” I thought that was sweet. If I had a shop, I’m guessing I wouldn’t have anything about my mom in there. I’d probably tell customers how my mom always complains about my shop when she comes in.
I overheard two women complaining about something and went over to eavesdrop. One was mad she didn’t bring more money. The other was complaining about her friend’s purchases. She said, “You have enough antiques in your house. You buy these French things every time you see ’em. Then it seems you’re having a garage sale once a month. How about you stop buying stuff and then you can stop selling your stuff? It’s a never-ending cycle with you.”
The cycle for me seems to be leaving one event to quickly head off to another. And I did that, to hit an event that started early in the evening in Solana Beach.
The event was a second-annual art show held at city hall, the only party I’ve ever been to at a city hall building. I talked to Diane Welch, one of the people involved. She came up with the theme — “Spark.” She told me the artwork would be on display here until late in November.
She showed me some art she did that included photographs of her sisters combined with flowers and other things surrounding it. She also talked about a book she’s writing on local architect Lillian Rice, who designed some interesting buildings in San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe back in the ’20s.
An artist named Carol Beth Rodriguez showed me some abstract paintings she did that were inspired by a trip she’d made to Japan. One was called Nightfall in Kaito. It was interesting to listen to her tell me how it was inspired by geishas going into a restaurant and how mysterious it was. I looked at the painting and couldn’t make out a single geisha. But it was fascinating, nonetheless.
She told me her son is fluent in Japanese and was there in school when she went to visit.
When I asked the artists if nudes weren’t allowed on the walls because it was city hall, Yanina Adler pointed out her Mother Earth painting. The Earth had breasts, although I’m guessing most children wouldn’t even notice. The painting reminded me of a Yes album cover with a splash of Salvador Dalí.
I asked her if her house is filled with her art, and she said, “I have some of my pieces up. I also like to collect local artists. Sometimes I do a piece and my kids fall in love with it and don’t want me to sell it.”
An artist named Christie Beniston showed me a door she created that’s hanging in the airport. It has lots of colors, and she explained it was a world time-zone clock. She had to have electricians put lights inside of it. I felt like an artist myself when I suggested a window that uses the different positions of the sun shining through. She seemed to like the idea, but who knows... Maybe she just acted as if she did, hoping I’d commission her to do one in the Reader offices.
Amber Irwin had my favorite pieces. They were mosaics that hung in the window by the main door. As she talked about making them, it seemed to me the hardest part would be properly hanging them from the ceilings.
When I walked to the end of a hallway, I saw paintings by Gregory Balogh. He told me he had a gallery on Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach, but because of the bad economy he had to close it.
He has a koi fish series and talked about how he started painting those. He said, “I love painting koi, but I don’t want to be known as ‘The Koi Guy.’ “
I told him he could be known as “The Wild and Crazy Guy” because he looked just like Steve Martin. He laughed and said one guy who came into his gallery always said that and called him Steve every time he saw him.
I noticed he had a painting called The Necklace, which is a nude. I said, “Uh…she wouldn’t happen to be here, would she?”
As he laughed, another woman looked at me as if I was an immature guy who doesn’t appreciate fine art.
She might be right. As great as all these paintings were, I was more excited by the three different kinds of cookies and wines I saw on one table.