Fall is Time for Decorating!

I know it’s been a while since my last post. Apologies to my loyal readers and design fans! Things have been moving and shaking furiously; new teaching position, new classes, new students, upcoming art show and two design projects. The elusive vacation never materialized this past summer so I’ll just have to be content with working hard.

As the seasons change from summer to fall tomorrow, it seems the perfect time to hang up the grill and garden tools and look towards the inside for things to pass the hours. This means, it’s time to redecorate! There are so many places to look for ideas, but we tend to forget our past too quickly. I’d like to bring back some old school, circa 1965 lessons from our friends at McCall’s. They’ve been helping America sew and decorate for well over a 125 years.  And it only makes sense to revisit the fashions in the year I was born, particularly since design is now my chosen profession.

So I present to you selections from McCall’s Home Fashion SEW-IT BOOK, the Home Decorator’s Guide for Creative Sewing (how to make curtains, draperies, pillows, slipcovers, spreads, and table covers). But first, thank you to my mom. She was inspired to make our home a lovely place with the assistance of this book that still graces her bookshelf.

Let’s start with the snappy cover: notice the beautiful patterned upholstered wall surrounding the couch and coincidentally also on the couch. However, what I enjoy most is the yellow rug which is a color so hard to find nowadays for flooring.  

For my second image of inspiration I present: An imaginative use of color and fabric adds charm to a room. One can’t help but wonder what the girl in the window seat is thinking about. Is she appreciating the pink shag rug? Or does she adore the well-coordinated flower pattern on the bed?  I kind of think she’s mesmerized at the spot light aimed at her from behind the bed and casting shadows. She’s probably thinking how hard it is to read with the light shining in her eyes.

For my next image, I present: For elegance, add embroidery and fringe to a simple cover. Now I probably wouldn’t have thought of this myself and am thankful that this resource is still available to remind me of the possibilities. This image also makes me miss the wood paneling of the Brady Bunch era and again, here’s another shade of carpeting that will be almost impossible to find. I do know where I can find purple felt for my dining table though.

Now the kitchen, in addition to the bathroom, is the most expensive room in the house to decorate. So when you choose your inspiration you want to make sure that you decorate right the first time. In this image: Fringed cafes are a gay and easy treatment for the kitchen.  Who can argue with that? I find it ever so hard nowadays to find gay and easy treatments for the kitchens I design; particularly with the ability to throw in patriotic flairs like the carved eagle and repeated eagle motif in the chair backs.  What is most impressive though is how the designer thought to mirror the parquet flooring look in the caned seats. I’m still not sold on the pompom fringe on the curtains though. That’s just a bit too much for such a small space.

 Now we all know that throw pillows are always a fashionable way to accessorize a seat. And sometimes variety is the spice of life as shown in the image below: A variety of pillows create drama in a room setting.  That is quite dramatic, although I’d probably create more drama trying to find a place to comfortably sit. Much like the over-pillowed hotel bed, I’d be inclined to throw half on the floor in order to access the beautiful blue velour couch, so I could sink my bare feet into the classic two tone shag carpet.

Now who wouldn’t feel like a king in their own castle (or queen for my more feminine readers) in this bedroom? Slip covered headboard and pillows transform a plain bed. Yes they certainly do! Love the red, the stripes and the accessories, but I really don’t get the blue apple and dish. Really? In a room this well decorated, they couldn’t find a red apple anywhere to show? But otherwise, the peek-a-boo curtains are a great way to showcase your needlepoint.  Notice the box of spares on the bed to allow you to change them seasonally.

Now one way to redecorate without spending money on new furniture is to use: slip covers, through practical, can be the center of interest.  Who would deny that the couch is not the center of interest? Although the more I look at it, there is plenty to keep the eye occupied here; great accessories, great curtains and the coordinated red flowers pop along with the red seat on the bamboo chair in the foreground.  Again, it will be hard to find that exact shade of green shag to duplicate this look. But thankfully the couch style is still available.


And finally my last gift of inspiration to you: Trimming gives an important custom-look to home fashions. I mean this is so true. No one wants to walk into your home thinking you just got back from buying out IKEA. Add a bit of trim to anything to customize it for that expensive flair. Now don’t go out and buy your own BeDazzler, just judiciously add a bit of interest here and there with some simple trim and notions you pick up at your nearby JoAnn Fabrics. Also notice how inviting the space is for a child with the sailor doll on the nightstand?


So I hope this gives you the courage and inspiration to tackle your own design projects this weekend. Don’t be scared of color or patterns and definitely don’t forget to accessorize! 

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On the Pursuit of Perfection

Yesterday evening I watched a film called ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’. It’s a documentary film about a Japanese man named Jiro Ono, who is celebrated as one of the most talented sushi chefs in the world. For those who might doubt this distinction, his restaurant has earned three Michelin stars, requires reservations months in advance and for about fifteen to twenty morsels over as many minutes, you’d pay almost $400 for the experience.

Gorgeous photography and score aside, as I watched the movie I was reminded of the lessons learned when I lived in Japan. As a young and ambitious expatriate, time was my enemy when solving problems or making things happen. I was usually impatient, but for good reason. Both of the times I lived there, I was sent there to perform and produce.

However as I got to know my Japanese colleagues and studied more about the art and design of Japan, I realized that their culture appreciates not only the result, but the process as well. Learning an artisan skill can take decades, even a lifetime and that timeframe was not only OK, but expected. There was no rush, no sense of loss if time came to pass as long as the skill improved and you moved closer to perfection. In fact the pursuit of perfection was to some degree, more important than actually achieving it, if it could ever be achieved at all.

In today’s fast paced world of fleeting attention spans, almost no one has the time, focus or energy to pursue perfection, even for most Japanese. It is the unfortunate result of our sound bite society where ideas are distilled down 140 characters or less; when our fascination with celebrities and pop culture trumps our desire for value and longevity.

However, in the world of art and design there are still the few who pursue their craft with passion and dedication. But with mass production and worldwide availability diluting design, they’re fewer and farther between. When we do encounter them, we should celebrate them and remind ourselves the value in pursuing perfection even if we ourselves might choose not to.

I know for myself, the world offers too many fascinating diversions for me to settle on one singular pursuit. As a result, I continue to try a variety of careers and crafts. For each one, I try to master it as best I can and when I feel satisfied that I’ve done well, I move on to the next. Design and photography though, have been the two enduring passions for which I continue to pursue a semblance of perfection. Perhaps in the end though, the true pursuit of perfection is all about creating something beautiful.  

From a different perspective to describe geniuses like Jiro…

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”  Arthur Schopenhauer

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The End of a Great Show

Today’s the last day of my successful solo show in downtown San Francisco. I can’t thank my supporters enough for their help in making it happen. They include: Image Wizards Inc. for their beautiful prints on aluminum, the gallery coordinators and program director, my friends who helped with install and teardown and all the admirers of my work who desire and purchase pieces for their home, office and friends.

I truly enjoyed seeing and talking to everyone who visited the gallery when I was able to stop in. All were quick to share their favorite piece and they always asked me which one was mine. Hard to choose and lucky I don’t have to.

For those who missed the show, all the images that were on display and all my new work for 2012 is now available at www.davidpolifko.com

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San Francisco Open Studios – Fall 2012!

SF Open Studios is the oldest and largest open studios program in the country, featuring an annual, month-long art event in October that showcases over 900 emerging and established San Francisco artists in their studios. Each weekend, art patrons, admirers, and collectors venture out on self-guided tours to see as many SF Open Studios artists and their artworks as possible, in the hopes of finding their next true art love. The event connects collectors with artists for engaging dialogue and a glimpse into the life of the working artist; SF Open Studios simultaneously helps artists build their mailing lists, gain new admirers, and ultimately sustain a living making art.’

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be participating once again this year and sharing gallery space with fellow artist Jose Anselmo (click for his website). This year’s dates will be October 13 & 14 from 11 to 6pm. For those in the San Francisco area today is the last day for registration and inclusion in the published directory.

See you all in the fall –

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SF – Getting Greener with the SFPUC!

Last week I was fortunate to have been on the very first tour of the new San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters. Along with two of my friends, we were hoping to see the location of where two of my purchased prints were installed. Unfortunately, only the lobby and one representative floor were open on the tour, as they were still busy installing furniture and finishing touches throughout.  (There should however, be an artist’s reception in July!)

The new building is quite spectacular not only in its visible design, artwork and views, but also in the hidden technologies that make it a LEED-platinum qualifying building. Some of the features include on site storage for 68 bikes, shower facilities, a child care center for up to 60 children, a public lobby café, automated interior lighting and window drapes that adjust to available sunlight, well over 50% reduced water usage per person, 32% less energy use than comparable buildings, smart elevators and several million dollars’ worth of art and art installations. Here are photographs taken during the tour: 

Art Installation: Firefly – 24,000 5 inch plastic squares each with its own LED that in total uses less than 75 watts of energy. They move in response to the air flow on the exterior.

Light reflectors:

Front of building with view of wind turbines:

Close up view of wind turbines:

Digital Arts Wall – person sensing wall displays information based on your proximity.

View of the light reflectors and a spectacular view of the SF Capitol:

Art Installation: Rain Portal

Reflecting ceiling panels to bring light further into the core of the building:

Transparent barriers allow light to flow through:

Smart elevators which take you directly to your destination – no stops:

Some of the representative artwork (David Polifko, Monterey #24):

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Show Installation Complete!

Yesterday was installation day. A lot of hard work and preparation and the assistance of some good friends made the morning a success. I’ve been doing art installations for the last 10 years and it is always amazing how much time it takes to prepare not only the artwork, but the layout, signage, show theme and the venue itself. This show is perhaps the best so far and I hope everyone local can stop by and enjoy the exhibit over the next five weeks.

The gallery is open Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm. The gallery is also open on most weekday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays when classes are in session. However if you get there after hours, take a look through the windows!

95 Third St., SF CA – a half block north of  SFMoMA.

Here are a few teaser shots:

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Invitation to My Upcoming Gallery Show in Downtown SF

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been invited to show my latest work in the UCBE Gallery on 3rd St., in downtown San Francisco from June 17th through July 19th. I’m honored to be given the opportunity to display my photographs in such a prestigious location. I’ll have a large selection of nature and architectural imagery, all printed on high-gloss aluminum. In this selection I explore the idea of patterns, both natural and manmade.

The gallery is open Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm in addition to weekday evenings and Saturdays and Sundays when classes are in session. However if you get there after hours – take a look through the windows!

Many thanks to Rachael Hagner, Program Director for Interior Design and Interior Architecture at UCBE for her generous support.

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