Visit Gallerie Des Artes for a treat: original oil paintings by local artist Ted Sizemore, who spent 50 years creating beautiful oil paintings to illustrate book covers.
Gallery director Wilder Rich is especially fond of a series of 12 paintings Sizemore created to illustrate romance book covers. "These are instantly collectible: The Minx of Mayfair, Lady Hilary's Halloween and more," an enthusiastic Rich says.
What is especially poignant is that such original, laborious work is almost extinct. Rich says publishing houses now use Photoshop and computer-generated images for book covers; the one-of-a-kind oil paintings are a thing of the past.
Rich has other offerings at the gallery in the same vein. In September, she showcased artist illustrators, organizing an afternoon ladies' tea around the theme.
Rugs to Revel In
There's something luxurious underfoot at Suncoast Rugs.
Owner Edie Bustle just got back from another summer spent shopping for handmade rugs in Turkey, and has an extensive new collection of Persian and Oriental rugs and kilims. Some are more than 80 years old, but the newer ones in modern styles are eye-popping. "As weavers become more acquainted with the rest of the world (especially through the Internet), they've started to experiment more with designs and use colors that sell better in the West, resulting in daring patterns," Bustle says.
Bustle says all the rugs are hardy, insurable and wear well. And you can keep them looking gorgeous the old-fashioned way: "There's nothing like taking them outside and beating them like our grandmothers used to," Bustle says.
Asian style is in at Living Walls, where owner and buyer Alison Bishop sees customers make a beeline for her new imported Chinese accessory collection. High-gloss lacquer tables, wedge-shaped tables, bowls and other accessories in simple geometric forms and bright, bold colors-white, orange, purple and yellow-are proving popular with modern buyers, Bishop says.
For those who want more muted colors, Bishop also just got in Asian hand-woven reed boxes in berry reds, browns and blues. These come in a variety of sizes-handy for storing magazines, CDs and even jewelry, Bishop says.
The Fifth Wall
People will shell out thousands for new floor and wall treatments, but they've often forgotten to look upward and think about their ceilings, says Bob Miano, president of DeGeorge Ceilings & Floors.
But that's changing. Over the past year, Miano says the popularity of pressed tin ceilings and wood-grained planking for the ceiling has shot through the roof. Pressed tin ceilings-copper, gold and hammered silver-help create an art deco look, Miano says. Wood-grained planking is cozier and comes in a variety of woods: warm cherry, maple, beach and whitewashed pecky cypress.
And people aren't just choosing one room as a ceiling showcase, either; some are opting to revamp every ceiling in the house. "People used to take everything to the nines and then settle for some plain old builder's ceiling," Miano says. "Not any more. Today, people are finishing the fifth wall."
Browsing for art is always a pleasure, but not everyone is looking to purchase big pieces.
To taste some lovely "small bites" of art, stop by the new gallery shop at Sonnet Gallery. Ramses Serrano of Sonnet says the shop is situated off the gallery, and buyers can peruse exquisite accessories made by some of the same artists who show in the larger space.
Look for bold colors and delicate shapes from glassblower Kellmis Fernandez, whose statues adorn Sonnet. Some of Fernandez's small bowls are also available in the shop. There's also glass by Schlanser, limited edition prints by Ivan Rojas and stunning sterling silver jewelry inlaid with Columbian emeralds handmade by Columbian artist Quijano.
Grass Roots Success
Grass Roots Gallery co-owners John and Angie Radkins are excited to be heading into their second season. "As our reputation in the artistic community grows, we are attracting extremely high caliber work," John Radkins says.
New artists for this season include award-winning local stone sculptor Ruth Joffa, Venice Art Center president Walter Yovaish's ceramics and the work of Lois Bartlett Tracy, whose paintings are on permanent display at The Smithsonian and MOMA in New York.
Angie Radkins has noticed a definite trend towards combining two- and three-dimensional work: "We are seeing more collectors and designers grouping sculpture with paintings or photography to create a museum-like feel in the home."
Bigger and Brighter
Art deco jewelry is as popular as-and pricier than-ever, but here's what's different: Bruce Crissy of Crissy Galleries, who recently added a jewelry line to his antique business, is seeing a shift to brighter colors and bolder shapes. Subtle white gold and pearls are making way for bright semi-precious colored stones like aquamarines, amethysts and garnets, Crissy says. Even those favoring diamonds opt for cognac-hued, black or yellow stones rather than the traditional white twinklers. Shapes are bold and geometrical, and Crissy says that even yellow gold is making a comeback, with white gold waning in favor of platinum. This year, Crissy has also noticed that people are more apt to go big, and are buying larger, more significant pieces.
Realtors who sold a Beau Ciel condominium recently received more than just a commission. U.S. Assets Group and Beau Ciel, L.L.L.P rewarded two top realtors with $10,000 each.
Brokers were told they would get their choice of the cash or a shopping spree of equivalent value at Saks Fifth Avenue for each condominium sold between April 15 and June 30.
The lucky winners were JoAnn Thorpe from Michael Saunders & Company and Joseph Boguszewski of Coldwell Banker. With his reward, Boguszewski took a trip to Greece. Because that promotion was so successful, another promotion kicked off, offering realtors a choice of $10,000 or a trip to Paris.
Located at Boulevard of the Arts, Beau Ciel's unique circular design offers condominiums with through-view floorplans. The 17-floor tower will contain 44 residences and the Plaza Club, with offerings including a private dining room, catering kitchen and service bar, state-of-the-art media center, and private fitness club and spa.
As the season kicks in to high gear, realtors normally rev up for an annual arrival of prospective overseas buyers. This year, however, realtors are studying the proposed changes to immigration requirements.
Realtor Klaus Lang of Michael Saunders & Company says he's fielded numerous phone calls from concerned international property owners confused about new visa regulations. "There has been talk of requirements that might cut down customary five-month stays to 30-day visits, affecting many foreigners who own homes here," Lang says.
"As long as it's not clarified, people feel very unsure about what they should do."
He has been advising overseas clients to bring proof that they own real estate when they reach immigration here this fall, but the lack of clarity in regulations has left many European clients-and many prospective buyers-in a let's-wait-and-see limbo, according to Lang. "This uncertainty creates an uncertainty in real estate," he says.
Interest Rate Heaven
With interest rates at a comfortable low, more people-even the cash-only, high-end buyer-are opting to take out short-term, adjustable mortgages on pricey properties, says Penny Hill, senior loan officer for Chase Manhattan Mortgage. Over the past three to six months, Hill says she has arranged mortgages on properties valued at $1 million plus.
How strong is this high-end market? Not very, according to Erick Shumway of Shumway Commercial Realty. Shumway says the market for the $800,000-to-$1-million-plus properties seems to be slowing down. Still, Shumway is seeing fewer fire sales than during previous times when the economy was at a low ebb. Less expensive homes in the $300,000 to half-million-dollar range are selling quickly. The commercial market also remains strong, he adds.
We may have seen plenty of rain this summer, but don't get carried away, warns Theresa Artuso, owner and president of Burner & Company, Landscape Architects/Land Planners. She encourages people to remember the X-word-xeriscaping-and to plan gardens around the concept.
"Long before the word 'xeriscape' came into vogue, horticulturally correct landscape design included selection of drought-tolerant species, limited use of turf areas and grouping of plants with similar water requirements into 'hydrozones' to reduce irrigation demands," Artuso says.
Artuso has seen an increase in people looking for native plants like cabbage palm, saw palmetto, oaks and pines, which not only best suit the land here, but also help create a historic, old-Florida ambience. When planning your garden, Artuso advises, think about salt spray levels, soil conditions, solar orientation and shade patterns of the land. When picking out plants, study the species' shade tolerance and adaptability to wet conditions, and think about what kinds of birds or butterflies you want to attract.
An evening dinner party in a room that faces the Gulf of Mexico or the twinkling lights of downtown Sarasota sounds picturesque, but chances are, your guest is either baking in the heat from the setting sun or just seeing his or her own reflection once the sun goes down. Well, eating dinner with the curtains open just got easier. Hurricane Glass Shield, Inc. will soon be featuring a brand-new product from Minnesota-based 3M Company called NV (night vision) film.
Co-owner Pat Millard explains that the night vision film has very low reflection, which cuts down on glare and heat. "It's a bronze, low reflective sun-control film," Millard says. It's especially nice for those facing west who might have to draw their curtains at sunset to block out the heat and glare. The surfaces also help prevent distracting reflections at night, says Millard.