Viewing Category: Art

A Few of our Favorite Things … Part 2

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Washington DC is a city full of extraordinary art galleries where, as you may have noticed, most of the work on display was done years ago by artists who are “no longer with us”, as they say. Reading their stories, you find that many were impoverished most of their lives. Few lived in luxury. Few even had the chance to live comfortably.

Courtney and I feel that art is an indispensable part of life. What a miserable place this world would be without it! So, many years ago we came up with our “Support a Living Artist” campaign. It’s great to buy the works of dead guys (and gals), but it’s the living artists who need our support.

All of the artwork we display at Embassy Circle Guest House and Woodley Park Guest House was purchased from living artists … almost all of whom have been our guests. We know and love the artists whose paintings we display. It’s definitely been a very satisfying way to fill the walls.

Shoshanna Ahart
Eichstatt, Germany

We met Shoshanna when she still lived in Washington, D.C., before she got married and moved to Germany. Actually, Courtney and Joe met her first. They purchased a lovely pastel at a local gallery and, noticing that Shoshanna loves to paint “portraits” of buildings, commissioned her to do a “portrait” of the Woodley Park Guest House as a surprise for one of my more significant birthdays.

Shoshanna is an ‘en plein air’ painter, so she set up her easel across the street from the Guest House and went to work. Of course, I noticed. I was delighted that someone was painting our Guest House and ran out the door and across the street to see … and perhaps to buy … the painting.

Well, my sister Courtney is a crafty sibling, and she had already instructed Shoshanna what to say when I showed up to buy the painting.

Summer at the Trout Stream by Shoshanna Ahart is on the way to DC from Eichstatt Germany for installation at Woodley.

“Oh, I don’t know what I would sell it for”, she said. “We can talk about that when I finish it.”

For weeks I kept track of Shoshanna’s progress on the painting, loving it more and more every time I saw it. Then, to my great dismay, she … and the painting … disappeared. I complained bitterly to Courtney and everyone else who would listen about this “flakey” artist who had done a beautiful pastel of the Guest House … and disappeared without selling it to me.

On my birthday, there was one very large box, about the size of a CPU, waiting for me. I had absolutely no idea what it could be. I opened the box and there, beautifully framed, was

Shoshanna Ahart's Gathering Storm is currently residing at Embassy Circle Guest House in Room 122 ... Rose Tabriz

Shoshanna’s “portrait” of the Guest House. I was speechless … a very rare occurrence … and absolutely delighted with the painting and with Courtney and Shoshanna’s hilarious stories of the effort it took to hide the surprise from me. You guessed it! It turns out that EVERYONE on my staff had known about this … except, of course, me!

Since that first painting, we have purchased many more beautiful architectural paintings and still lifes from Shoshanna. Room 122 … Rose Tabriz, at Embassy Circle Guest House, is a Shoshanna Ahart gallery, and we’re in the process of turning at least one of the rooms at the Woodley Park Guest House into a gallery of her work as well. In fact, a group of beautiful new paintings is on its way to Washington, DC from Germany right now!

Louise Link Rath

Tryptich by Louise Link Rath is currently in Room 108 at Woodley Park Guest House

We met Louise and her husband Dan when their daughter was attending American University here in Washington DC. We loved her work at first sight … large, vibrant, realistic blossoms; multi-hued leaves and golden grasses. Louise’s preferred subjects were all found in her own backyard … tulips, irises (iri), sunflowers and grasses. She loved all of these growing things in every stage of their lives … from bud to blossom to dead foliage.

4 Iri by Louise Link Rath hangs over the mantel in Room 124 ... Pearl Gazvin at Embassy Circle Guest House

When we were getting ready to open Embassy Circle Guest House, we needed a pair of beautiful paintings for the living room. We selected two paintings of tulips … Rejoice and Shadow Dance. Louise loved Rejoice so much that she didn’t want to sell it to us. I have to say that I will be forever grateful that she did. It’s a beautiful painting. The tulips truly look like they are rejoicing.

We somehow couldn’t stop at just two paintings however. Louise had a gorgeous painting of four purple irises (4 Iri) that we just had to have. We hung it in Room 124 … Pearl Gazvin.

And then there was another beautiful painting of iri with huge drooping heads. I tried to keep that one at Embassy too, but Courtney insisted, rather forcefully as I remember, that Woodley needed one of Louise’s paintings also. It currently hangs there in Room 108.

Every few months I look at Louise’s website to see her new work. Recently, she has been doing beautiful portraits. I’ve never wanted a portrait of me … but if she could make me look really good ………

A Few of our Favorite Things

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

We have a few more walls that need adornment, so we’ve been looking at new pieces of artwork again. It’s truly one of our favorite things to do.

Beto Rossi's Still Life in Blue hangs in the living room at Embassy Circle.

Beto Rossi's Still Life in Blue hangs in the living room at Embassy Circle.

When we opened the Guest Houses … Woodley Park Guest House in 2000 and Embassy Circle Guest House in 2007, we had a lot of empty walls. People suggested all sorts of corporate art … meaningless, repetitive, vaguely attractive “filler”. Quite frankly, that just didn’t appeal to us. We have always felt that corporate art was sort of like SPAM in your inbox. You just want to hit the “delete” button and make it go away.

So, we not only chose original works of art, but we purchased them primarily from guests who have stayed with us. It’s a great feeling! Each time we walk past a painting by Maria Consoli Ianzito, Louise Link Rath, Beto Rossi, Justina Selinger or Shoshanna Ahart, we remember these “artist friends” and the joy that knowing them has brought to our lives, as well as the beauty their paintings have brought to our rooms.

Over the next couple of posts we’ll introduce you to some of our Guest House artists, starting with Beto Rossi and Justina Selinger.

Beto Rossi

Beto's Still Life with Black Flowers hangs in Room 111 at Embassy Circle

Sao Paulo, Brazil

We met Beto Rossi when he came to Washington DC in 2000 for his first U.S. solo exhibition. He stayed with us at the Woodley Park Guest House right after we purchased the property, and before we closed it down for renovation. The house was definitely NOT luxurious at that point … we referred to it as “shabby but habitable” … but Beto didn’t seem to mind. He was the epitome of graciousness.

We will never forget the night Beto’s exhibit opened. He wanted to cook Brazilian paella and make his own homemade Sangria for all of his guests … and all of ours. So, what’s an innkeeper to do? We spent the day shopping and cooking with him, went to the gallery opening, and then entertained a happy crowd of art buyers and guests at our home. It was a great evening.

Beto stayed with us a second time, and during some of his free afternoons, he made beautiful multimedia collages for us, and for all of the guests who were staying at Woodley. Is it any wonder we love this man?

Needless to say, we have purchased some incredible paintings from Beto over the years. We love his style. It is so vibrant and joyful. Very Brazilian, in fact! Right now, we’re trying to talk him into coming back to Washington DC to see our newest Beto Rossi paintings, which adorn the walls of the Embassy Circle Guest House.

Justina Selinger’s Red Barn hangs in the dining room and has become a trademark of Embassy Circle.

Justina Selinger

Justina Selinger's Red Barn hangs in the dining room and has become a trademark of Embassy Circle.

Occidental, CA

We met Justina Selinger through her husband Howard, who became one of our all-time favorite guests the minute he walked in the door. Howard was traveling with colleagues, and we had such fun together that he decided to come the following spring and bring Justina with him. We had lots in common with Howard and Justina, who are the original owners of The Inn at Occidental in Occidental, CA. We went to dinner together (there always seems to be food in these stories), and laughed for hours about our experiences as innkeepers.

Almost as an afterthought, at breakfast the next morning we asked Justina what she was doing now that she had retired from innkeeping. “Painting”, she replied. We asked if she had a website, which she does, and we spent the next few hours admiring her paintings and making wish lists.

We were nearing the end of the renovations here at Embassy Circle Guest House, so we brought Howard and Justina over to see the progress and all the empty walls. Howard immediately decided that we absolutely had to have Red Barn, a stunning new painting which, unfortunately, wasn’t pictured on the website. No problem! Right before we opened Embassy we hopped a flight to San Francisco and spent a couple of wonderful days with Howard and Justina, eating great food, touring Russian River, Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries, and buying paintings!

It’s become a habit!