One thing that drew David and me to live in Litchfield County full time five years ago—besides the oft-lauded landscape—is the rich community of artists, designers, and craftspeople, and the unique shops and galleries that help share their work. As an artist and designer whose work combines practices from multiple disciplines, including the decorative arts and architecture, I’m always on the lookout for interesting things with stories to tell. These objects not only delight aesthetically, they reveal something of those who’ve created them. Their histories comprised of struggles and successes are often conveyed in the work through materials, composition, and ornament. I find this silent exchange between maker and viewer, endlessly enriching to my practice.
In no particular order, here are some objects and places that I’m obsessed with this season. D.K. Schulman always has an eclectic collection of custom-designed wrapping papers that also double duty as drawer liners, and fall/winter shop owner Dana Schulman has selected some brilliant tartans. I’m personally fond of these richly-hued patterns because they remind me, simultaneously, not only of my surname’s Scottish origin but also plaid’s African roots. D.K. Schulman also provides gift-wrapping services that will level up your gifting game. Two other New Preston faves can be found on either side of D.K. Schulman—Privet House and Plain Goods. Suzanne Cassano and Richard Lambertson’s Privet House has everything you need for a well-dressed table. Suzanne’s curated a collection of beautiful terra cotta pottery by fellow Midwesterner and ceramicist, Ervin Dixon. The glazes and finishes are sublime. Be prepared though, it will be challenging to leave with only one piece. Of the several that David and I own, each one is a masterful study in contrasting cultural and period influences: a little Baroque, a little Asian, and a few vaguely tribal marks all come together to make for fascinating works of functional art. Fashion-wise, season after season Michael DePerno and Andrew Fry’s Plain Goods continues to deliver impeccably made classics with a distinctly sophisticated edge. A rabbit fur velour hat in a deep olive tone is a recent addition to my wardrobe and is already an instant favorite. I’m also mad for their unisex heavyweight cashmere turtlenecks.
Just in time for holiday gift-giving, Gray Antiques, whose founder Carol Vargo is a Lakeville resident, is introducing one-of-a-kind antique vessels with hand-poured, beautifully scented soy candles that will delight the discerning collector d’objets in your life. One of my faves is a woodland garden scented candle in an engraved glass vintage flask with a wicker holder from one of the renowned spas in Vichy France. In Sharon, Theo Columbe’s Standard Space art gallery offers thoughtfully curated exhibitions of compelling art and photography. If you love contemporary art, especially that by emerging and/or regional artists, this gallery does not disappoint. Every visit there leaves me inspired in nuanced ways.