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SoWa Sunday is Back!!

 

We are so pleased to welcome back the warm weather, and SoWa Sunday with it. Open market season brings a wonderful, bustling energy to our neighborhood, as well as visitors from all over. If you are not familiar with this event, SoWa Sunday is a huge, mostly outdoor marketplace in Boston’s South End. It occurs every Sunday from May through October, and consists of three separate and unique markets, each with their own focus, as well as a diverse pack of local food trucks. It is open from 10am to 4pm.

 

Farmer’s Market

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The farmer’s market includes over 60 local farm stands, selling the freshest possible produce, herbs, and dairy products. This market also houses vendors selling unusual and gourmet specialty foods, including the best brownies you’ve ever had. The Farmer’s market is located in the parking lot at 500 Harrison Ave, right next to Mohr & McPherson. Buying fresh food from the people who grew and made it themselves is such a treat these days-well worth breaking your grocery store routine for.

 

Arts Market

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The Arts Market is located behind Mohr & McPherson, in the Albany St. Parking lot. The parking lot is filled with tents, run by individuals or teams of artisans who have come from all over New England and beyond to sell their handmade products. Here you can find arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing, apothecary goods-especially hard to find products made from all natural ingredients, and an assortment of other unique and creative wares. This is a great place to shop for quality items while supporting local artists and small business owners.  

 

Vintage Market

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The Vintage Market is an indoor space, filled with the ultimate vendors of Vintage fashion, jewelry, art, furniture, and objects, providing fresh finds every week. This place is massive, and truly magical.

TAKE NOTE: The Vintage market has MOVED to 450 Harrison Avenue.

 

Food Truck Court

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The Food Truck Court is made up of 25 rotating trucks, all serving different types of food. This is the largest food truck gathering in New England. Choose from pizza, gourmet grilled Cheese, specialty panini’s, Asian cuisine, falafel, stir fry, French fries-whatever you want.The food court is located in front of the old power station building at 540 Harrison Ave.

 

Mohr & McPherson

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SoWa Sunday is also a perfect excuse to stroll through Boston’s beautiful South End, and explore the multitude of art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Stop by the Mohr & McPherson Cafe to a grab an iced coffee, tea or lemonade. We are also a good alternative to the Food trucks if you are looking for someplace to take a break from walking around. This season, our cafe will be featuring a limited menu on Sunday, so we can provide faster, more efficient service, and reduce wait time.
The cafe is open from 9am to 6pm on Sunday. Our showroom is also open, regular hours of 11-7, as well as our rug gallery. This year we will be filling the gallery with home and gift items, and beautiful accessories like silk scarves, purses and handbags, and handmade jewelry. The rug gallery is also home to much of our live edge collection.

 

PARKING:
GPS address 324 Albany St for SoWa event parking under I-93 Overpass.
Parking is also available in the Boston Sports Club Lot near 540 Harrison Ave.
Street parking is also available, but requires patience, vigilance, and possibly a lot of walking-Be warned.

 

Food and Furniture: Coconut and Mango

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Mango Wood Bookcase, Mid Century Modern

Though there are many reasons for the recent popularity of mango and Palm wood, the most important reason is their sustainability as sources for building material. When it comes to products being “green”, “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, and made from “responsibly sourced materials”, the lumber trade, and in particular the furniture industry, have been under a microscope. Mango and Coconut trees are a perfect solution to this problem, because they are already grown in high numbers to support the fruit trade, which is not going anywhere.

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Mango trees reach maturity within 15 to 20 years. At this time they stop bearing fruit and are designated to be cut down. In the past, these trees were used as fuel or left to rot. However, these days they are being used for construction, most commonly in the furniture industry.

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Mango wood works well for building framed items that are meant to endure weight, like chairs, because it is a densely grained hardwood with a strong structure. At the same time it is soft compared to other hardwoods, so it is easy to work with and does not require special tools, meaning production is less expensive. Mango wood also does not require much waxing or staining, because it has an unusual , “close knit” grain texture, and a natural pattern. When mango wood is stained or finished, it responds quite well to the processes because the natural patterning is enhanced.

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This wood  varies widely in color, and can range from deep browns, to pinks and even greens. This is due to fungus in the tree, which creates beautiful color patterns but does not harm or compromise the woods structure. However it is common for manufacturers to stain mango wood to resemble oak or teak wood. They can then produce furniture than looks like oak or teak but is less expensive, faster to grow, and sourced responsibly.

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 Above: Mango wood stained in “Vintage Oak” style.

 

Palm trees are one of the most widely used trees on the planet, with each part of the tree used to produce a variety of products. However like mango trees, coconut palm trees are initially intended to produce coconuts, not wood. There comes a point in the tree’s life where it grows too tall for nutrients to reach it’s canopy. Because of this, the tree produces less and less coconuts and it becomes non profitable to keep the tree alive. In addition to producing less, the trunks of the trees become more woody with age, which is bad for coconuts but good for lumber.

 

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In the past, coconut trees that were used for their wood were sold to local businesses that milled them into low-grade lumber. However craftsman and companies in search of sustainable materials (that were also luxurious) discovered that if the Palm wood is milled and finished properly and with more care, the wood is actually fine, with unique grain patterns and a rich, dark, brown color. Once it is cured or dried, palm wood is very hard, more so than many other common woods such as oak. It is commonly used to make flooring and siding.

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Palm wood is being called “ the new bamboo” because it is similar in many ways, but is greener . Palm wood has Forest Stewardship Council approval because it is a by-product of coconut production. Because of this it is harvested on plantations that already exist rather than requiring additional plantations. Unlike bamboo, it is not grown on land where nothing else is grown. Palm wood, palm leaves and coconut shell are also used to create decorative detailing and embellishment on furniture. coconut shell is commonly used for inlay, in place of more traditional materials like glass or bone.

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 Inlay Console TableInlay Cube Stool

 

 

Recipe From Our Kitchen

Mango Coconut Curry Chicken (serves 1-2)

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1. Marinate 2 Chicken breasts  in salt, lemon juice, and olive oil for a minimum of 30 minutes or a max of overnight.

2. Heat up about 1 Tsp. Canola oil in a pan. Keep on Med/High.

3.  Make a “Curry Slurry”. Mix together 4 Tbsp. curry powder and a small amount of water-just enough to make a paste in a bowl.

4. Fry Curry Slurry in the pan you heated up for approximately. 10 minutes.

5. Add 1/2 of a sliced, white onion to the Curry Slurry, and heat for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

6. Add in two thinly sliced chicken breasts.

7. When the chicken has some color but is not cooked all the way, add 1 thumb of finely sliced ginger, 1 diced red pepper, 1 head box choi minced and sliced.

8.Saute for 3 minutes, then turn down heat.

9.Stir in 1 can of coconut milk.

10. Top with diced mango and cilantro and serve over rice.

Trend Alert 2015

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 This year in the design world, it’s all about keeping it real. Whats out? Inauthenticity. That includes chalk board paint, faux fur, and Instant Vintage-something new that’s made to look old. Lucky for us(and you), we have the real deal when it comes to old furniture, rustic, textured surfaces, raw materials, and layers upon layers of ethnic prints and influences. Read on to learn more about what is trending  in 2015.

Top Looks

Eco Friendly-Inspired by Nature
This look is just what it sounds like. It’s clean, soft, neutral, and inspired by all things organic. The focus is on natural imperfection-if its lopsided, uneven or unfinished it works. Relevent materials include Copper, glass, stone, burlap, rope, linen, bone, horn, fur, and raw wood. More often than not this look incorporates raw wood in the form of Live Edge, which is a huge trend in its own right and is being used within many other decor styles as well.

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ScreenDaybedTribeca LoveseatMango Table Lamp,  Banyan Vine Sculpture,

 

Incorporated Trends:
Live edge, Cowhide, Mixed Materials, Painted wood, Textured surfaces, Nature Inspired Neutrals.

 

Ethnic Mix
This look is a large scale representation of the mixed materials trend. It’s all about the fusion and of different and often contrasting cultures, styles and textures. Getting away from the minimalism craze, this look emphasizes that more is more. Layered textiles and patterns is key, and finding complimenting qualities in seemingly contrasting items makes it all come together, often through color.  An easy way to experiment with this look is by adding bold, ethnic accents to your space, instead of starting out with loud basics.


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Chandelier, Blue Cabinet, Laughing Buddha, Folding Screen, Mirrors, Cupboard

Incoporated Trends: Textured Surfaces, Painted Wood/Pop of Color, Kilim Rugs, Mixed Materials, Cow Hide, Wire Accents, Marble.

 Industrial Chic
Once again, the merging of different aesthetics comes into play. The difference between Industrial and Industrial Chic is softness. Lighten up an Industrial decor and add soft, plush blankets and rugs in neutral tones. Incorporate raw materials and nods to nature such as live edge, petrified stumps and  plants. Or, take a soft, neutral space and add in the industrial accents such as leather, wire furniture, Edison lamps, and Industrial themed wall hangings.

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Bird Cage Lamp, Glass Coffee Table, Edith Sofa, Bookshelf

Incorporated Trends:
Mixed Materials,especially metal and wood and Mixed Metals, Wire Accents, Rose Gold.

 

 

Specific Trends

Mixed Materials
This trend is all about the clashing and merging of different cultures, attitudes and qualities, which is an overall theme in the design world this year. Wood and Metal are a common example of this trend, representing the coming together of nature and science.

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(Triple Threat Trend: Mixed Materials, Nature Inspired, Industrial Chic)

 

Rose Gold
This trend started in fashion and has spread to home design. It was once primarily popular in copper light fixtures but is now also commonly found in plumbing fixtures, hardware and flatware.

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Wire Accents
This trend is biggest in the form of lighting and side tables . It is incorporated heavily into both the Industrial Chic and Geometry looks, but can also be spotted hanging out in ethnic mix and nature inspired decors.

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(Triple Threat Trend: Wire Accents, Industrial Chic, Geometry)

 

Marble-Solid and Print
Although Marble surfaces are common in bathrooms and kitchens, marble is making its way into the rest of the home in the form of solid, marble furniture. It is also a popular print for pillows, blankets, and wall pieces.

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Live Edge

Live edge is a style of wood furniture where the natural edge of the wood is used in the design of the piece. Gnarly wood and salvaged wood which could not be used in conventional woodworking are often used in the production of Live edge.Live edge is a mix of “Western” and rustic furniture styles. It was made famous in the middle of the 20th century by George Nakashima, who was the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement.

We can’t really say enough about Live edge. We love it, and so does the design world. It is being incorporated in a variety of decor styles, and is  moving quickly from a trend to a basic.

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(Triple Threat Trend:Live Edge, Textured Surfaces, Nature Inspired)

Cow Hide
Nature inspired for sure, cow hide is a bold and glamorous statement piece while it also remains neutral with its organic colors and feel.

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Textured Surfaces
This trend encompasses many other trends, such as live edge. It works with the Ethnic Mix look and is definitely part of the Nature inspired attitude. Textured surfaces are multi-versitile and easy to work into many different looks, from shabby chic to Industrial.

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Painted Wood-Pop of Color
Painting a wooden piece of furniture is an easy and understated way to add color to a room. Although this specific piece is dipping into the textured surface trend, the painted wood look can also be sleek and smooth, almost glossy.

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(Triple Threat: Textured Surface, Painted wood-pop of color, Cobalt blue)

 

Colors

Marsala
Pantone color of the year- The spring/summer version of this trend is called “the in-harmony trend”. It is a much softer version of Marsala and mixes deep mauve and apricot shades.

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Cobalt Blue-Greek  Blue

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Natural colors
Inspired by natural landscapes like mountains and forests, this palette is all about toned down neutrals like inky blues and beige-grey. These colors Pair well with the raw materials found in the Nature Inspired look.

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 Rugs

Painterly
Rugs that look like paintings are huge right now. Think florals, swoopy designs, and uneven shapes.

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Tile Inspired
Rugs that look like a tile floor or mosaic.

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Kilim
Persian Flatweave

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Self Love-5 Ways to Recover from the Holiday Season

The Holiday Season is all about excess. From Thanksgiving to New Years, celebration can take the form of a whirlwind, sweeping Americans into an exhausting funnel of food, alcohol and spending. Although it can be a joyous time, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Between trying to find and afford the perfect gifts, fighting through crowds of shoppers, and socializing at numerous holiday parties, finding time for your health and peace of mind are often last on the list. Unfortunately, stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet are some of the top enemies of the immune system. To stay centered, it is so important to take a little time for yourself. If you are finding yourself depleted, exhausted, or just a little off in the wake of celebration, read on. Here are some easy ways to boost your immune system, relax your mind and body, detox from too many treats, and find some of that “peace on earth”.

 

1.Yoga

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Though historians are unsure exactly when Yoga originated, they know that it started in India, at least 5,000 years ago. It is now considered a form of alternative medicine and consists of stretching, meditation, balanced poses, and breathing excersizes. The goal of Yoga is to bring peace to your mind and body, helping to manage  stress and anxiety. The practice is all about the link between mind and body, and how the state of one affects the other. The key is balance. Yoga varies in style and intensity. Certain Yoga practices facilitate extreme flexibility and physical strength. Beginners will likely benefit from Hatha Yoga, which is one of the most common forms. This form has a slower pace and gentler movements.

A study published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback found yoga helped relieve chronic insomnia
“A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.” From the Mayo Clinic.

Benefits
-Reduces depression
-Increases emotional positivity and enhances mood
-Increases ability to handle stress and unexpected problems
-Promotes mindfulness

 

 

2.Meditation-

meditating novice or trainee Buddhist monk by MattRavel on Flickr

There is a vast amount of research on the benefits of meditation when it comes to mental health. It is a common misinterpretation that meditation is simply relaxation. While mediation does involve ceasing to exert unnecessary effort, it is also about mindfulness.  The goal is to empty the mind, and by doing so, you let go of stress and become more aware of reality, truth, and your own existence.

“Mindfulness helps the stress-sufferer to recognize unhelpful patterns of thought that give rise to the stress response, and also involves the active cultivation of positive mental states such as kindness, compassion, patience, and energy.  “Wild Mind Buddhist Mediation

Benefits
-Reduces depression
-Reduces Insomnia
-Increases emotional positivity and enhances mood
-Increases ability to handle stress and unexpected problems
-Promotes mindfulness

 

 

3.Sleep

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Studies have shown that lack of sleep will affect your immune system. People are more likely to get sick when exposed to a virus when they don’t get enough sleep. Recovering from sickness also takes longer.  Lack of sleep spikes your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisone, which can lead to weight gain. Another study found that moderate sleep deprivation impairs your cognitive performance to the same level as being intoxicated.

“During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. ”  Mayo Clinic

 

 

4.Tea

Black and Green teas both contain L-theanine, an amino acid which strengthens gamma delta T cells and increases those cells ability to fight infection. L-theanine also promotes relaxation and well-being by increasing the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Tea also helps fight free radicals because it is high in ORAC ( oxygen absorbance capacity). Damage from free radicals can result in cancer, heart disease and neurological degeneration.

White Sage, Red Raspberry, Mugwort, Echinacea are all known for their healing properties and have been used for centuries to fight illness.

Here is an excellent recipe for an immune boosting tea you can make at home.  This drink is also great for alkalizing the body with lemon, and boosting metabolism with turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne.

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Benefits
-Tea can boost exercise endurance. antioxidants in green tea extract increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel.
-Fights free radicals and reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, parkinson’s disease
-Hydrates the body
-Strengthens the immune system

 

5.Green Smoothies

Green Smoothies are trendy, but their positive impact on health and easy, D.I.Y. nature have caused them to spread from the world of “hippie stuff” and into the focus of mainstream health, where they have stayed for well over a decade. Smoothies are a quick way to get in all your fruits and veggie servings at once, and they pack a powerful punch of nutrition. Regular consumption of green smoothies will make your body and mind feel better in no time.

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Benefits
-Clean, glowing skin
-Decreased inflammation (which can be  helpful in alleviating joint pain and stiffness
-Improved energy and mood
-A healthy immune system that will keep you from getting sick
-Increased Focus and mental clarity

 

Recipe:

  • 3 T Hemp Seeds
  • 2 cups mixed Greens (I’m using Swiss Chard and Green Leafy Kale)
  • 1 stalk Celery
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Parsley
  • 4 sprigs fresh peppermint
  • 1 apple
  • 1 kiwi
  • water – amount varies. Start with enough to go about halfway up your ingredients. Try blending it. Add more if it’s not smooth enough.

 

 

Helpful Hint

Immune Boosting Foods

Garlic
Yogurt
Fish
Oregano Oil
Japanese Mushrooms
Cruciferous vegetables-kale, broccoli, lettuce and cabbage
Avocado
Ginger
Oatmeal
Black Currents
pomegranate Juice
Pumpkin Seeds
Sage
Graviola
Larch Supplement

 

All About Khotan Carpets

History

Khotan was a town in what is historically known as East Turkestan now the Chinese province, of Xingjian. This remote region is larger than all of Western Europe, and is located in the center of Asia. It is one of the most Isolated places in the world, but it holds a carpet weaving tradition that is at least 1000 years old.

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East Turkestan is difficult to access. The heartland known as the Tarim Basin-is surrounded on three sides by mountains, which serve as walls against Tibet, Central Asia and Pakistan. The fourth side is cut off by vast desert. Maybe this is one reason why East Turkistan became a destination hot spot for settlers, coming from all directions. The Tarim Basin was also a significant stop on the Silk Roads. The routes south to India, north to Central Asia, west to Persia, Anatolia and Europe, all branched out from here. The melting pot of cultures in this place is represented in the “Khotan” rugs that came from here, which is what makes them so beautiful and interesting. In just one rug you can often see signs of Islamic, Chinese and Indian design/culture.

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Portrait of a king of Khotan, Dunhuang Mogao Caves, 10th century

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It is believed by historians that between 1,500 and 1,000 BC is when the first (Indo European) settlers began coming to this region, which was then inhabited by Turkic nomads. These settlers lived in Khotan and other oasis towns, and were influenced by India, becoming Buddhists. The Turkic nomads continued to stay in the mountains.

It was not until the 9th and 10th centuries the Turkic tribes adopted Islam, and forced the conversion of the Buddhist Oasis, the adoption of their language and changed the culture of the place, creating Eastern Turkestan as it is today. However, Buddhist and other cultural influences never disappeared from the carpets.

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Rug Expert Hans Bidder wrote in his book “Carpets from Eastern Turkestan (1964)

iconoclastic Islam which spread into the oases from middle of the 10th century was indeed able to subdue the religious art of Buddhism, but the new faith proved incapable of gaining any hold upon individual arts and crafts which had their roots in the traditional customs and economic existence of the oases.”

Characteristics 

These unique works of art are characterized by stylized geometric patterns, and long, narrow designs. They are meticulously detailed. Arrangements of Persian motifs that also incorporate elements of Chinese designs are common, and the central Composition is usually Chinese in style. Colors range from rich to pale pastels. Typical hues include red, yellow, brown, gold and green. The pomegranate is often celebrated in Khotan rugs, shown as a shrub with symmetric branches, or as a fruit. This was an iconic regional symbol. Local symbols like this one are combined with Buddhist and Islamic symbols, influenced by the varying residents of Khotan.

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Khotans are well suited for modern contemporary decor due to their geometric and strongly abstract nature. In the last decade, these rugs have been frequently featured in high-end design publications and are coveted by top designers.

Here are some more of the Khotan rugs we have in our rug gallery. These are examples of some more contemporary versions, with a darker color palette than the traditional

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Check back in soon to learn more about the exciting Silk Roads and the adventures had by their explorers.

Sowa-Neighborhood News

 Whats New? 

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With all the hustle and bustle that Sowa Sundays cause around here, it can be easy to forget about the piles of other fun stuff to do in the sowa neighborhood. Although Sowa Sundays have ended for the season, the Sowa Vintage Market is open every Sunday, all year round. Located at 356 Albany Street, the Vintage Market offers 3 rooms of vintage Fashion, Jewelry and home furnishings. This place is seriously awesome. Another year-round event is Sowa’s Monthly First Friday’s, when you get to check out all the new area gallery exhibits and see what local artists are working on in their open studios. What could make these two events even better? Joining Forces of course. Starting in November, Sowa Vintage Market has opened during every First Friday from 6-9 pm. There will be treats provided by vendors, and special installations by South End designer Randy Kaufman.

 

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Husband and wife Stephanie Pernice and John Warren are the founders and co-creators of the Vintage market. They are excited for this season’s holiday theme of “rustic luxe mod”, and all the talented vendors filling the market.

Third Thursdays are a new version of First Fridays, started by the artists at 46 Waltham Street. On the third Thursday of each month, the artists will be opening their studios to the public. This mid month treat is a great way to get out on a weeknight, sip wine, and view some art

  

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Last month Lanoue Gallery of Newbury Street made the move to Harrison ave, and we are thrilled they have joined the neighborhood. Lanoue’s new gallery is four times the size of their Newbury St. space, and filled with exciting new exhibits. Lanoue is currently exhibiting works by Laura Schiff Bean until December 6th.

 

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You may have noticed something new outside of 500 Harrison Avenue. This looming, 13 feet tall sculpture is officially entitled “The monument to the First Female President of the USA” and also referred to as “The Mighty Lioness”.

This monument is dedicated to the artists dream that every little girl can one day become president of the United States. It is also an homage to the great American Sculptor Daniel Chester French, who created the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Appropriately, in May 2015 the Lioness will be transported to Chester wood, the historic home of Daniel Chester French in Stockbridge, Ma. So make sure to check out this lady before she leaves us.

The artist of this piece is Donna Dodson. She is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery, located at 486 Harrison Ave. Donna has been carving images from wood for nearly 20 years. Her work deals with the relation of animals to the human spirit and explores feminine beauty with a style based in playfulness and also power and grace.

 

The artist of this piece is Donna Dodson. She is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery, located at 486 Harrison Ave. Donna has been carving images from wood for nearly 20 years. Her work deals with the relation of animals to the human spirit and explores feminine beauty with a style based in playfulness and also power and grace.

 

 Review

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Illuminus, was the name of Boston’s first “Nuit Blanche” or “White Night”, an arts festival that began in Europe around 30 years ago. Illuminus happened on October 25th this year, spreading along Harrison Avenue, mainly in and around the brick barn usually used for parking. It was a celebration of digital, video, performance and public art, focusing on large scale light installations.

A highlight event was “Your Big Face” by New American Public Art. The piece was interactive and allowed viewers faces to be picked up by a camera and projected onto an eighteen foot screen, which hung ten feet off the ground on the side of a building.

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“Digital art offers unprecedented opportunities to push the possible in the name of delight.” Franklin Einspruch.

Illuminus was absolutely a success, and an exciting event for the Sowa neighborhood, as well as Boston at large.

Click For more images from Illuminus click here

 

 

Whats Coming?

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Since the end of Sowa Sunday’s, we are hurting for a good craft fair. This one comes right in time for your holiday shopping, and what a great excuse to spend some time in the city with friends and family.
“This year’s Holiday Market will feature the very best of New England’s independent designers, artists and crafters. From the fashionably chic to the hip and cutting edge, shoppers are sure to find an original gift for everyone on their list. Expect to find an exceptional array of indie goods, including: handbags, jewelry, pottery, letterpress stationery, silk-screened t-shirts, baby clothes, re-purposed wool accessories and more! This handmade holiday spectacular will be held in the spacious and historic main building of the Benjamin Franklin Institute, located in the heart of Boston’s South End. Within walking distance to Boston’s best galleries, boutiques and international cuisine, the SoWa Holiday Market is at the center of Boston’s most diverse and exciting neighborhoods!”

Newenglandopenmarkets.com

Dates: Saturday and Sunday, December 13 and 14, 2014
Hours: Saturday 11AM-6PM, Sunday 11AM-5PM
Address: 41 Berkeley Street, Boston MA
Admission: $5, children under 12 free

 

 

 

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Building on History Ink Block” is the name of the project being developed on Harrison Avenue. Ink Block is expected to be a new hub of energy in the SOWA neighborhood, drawing street traffic with its shops and restaurants, including a flagship Whole Foods Market. Ink Block will also reinvent residential housing in this area of the south end, which was largely eliminated in 1959 to build the Boston Herald Traveler building.

Located above the street level retail and restaurant spaces will be 475 luxury residential units, spread across four buildings. The housing will be split into three sections: Ink 1, Ink 2 and Ink 3. Each section features a different point of view regarding style, layout, and amenities. The Project features private parking, a fitness center, multiple rooftop lounging areas, and a swimming pool.

For those of us already living or working in the neighborhood, the most exciting aspect of Ink Block is definitely the Whole foods. This whole Foods will be 50,000 square feet and will offer a larger than typical variety of prepared foods. The market will also undoubtedly draw shoppers who may not otherwise frequent the neighborhood. It is a welcome addition to the community and is expected to be opened before the opening of the living spaces, in early 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faig Ahmed: Tradition Meets Progress with Azerbaijan Carpets

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Faig Ahmed is an artist based in Baku, Azerbaijan. Using a mixed media approach and knowledge of traditional carpet weaving, he reworks the conventional structure of the rug by disassembling the threads and rearranging them. Ahmed superimposes digital imagery into the rug design which often creates optical illusion. He also uses geometric forms to transform the carpets into chic sculptures. Ahmed is not only creating new boundaries with his modern transformation of traditional art, he is creating a visual marriage of past, present and future, where contrasting aesthetics are crashed together and harmonize boldly, making something new. Many people view Ahmed’s work as a representation of the social and political change occurring throughout the East.

“Tradition is the main factor creating the society as a self-regulated system. Changes in the non-written rule happen under influence of global modern culture.” Faig Ahmed.

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About Faig Ahmed
– Ahmed graduated from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku in 2004 and works with various media including painting, video and installation.
– Most recently, he has been studying the history and aesthetic of traditional Azerbaijani carpets so he may reinterpret this cultural symbol with contemporary relevance.
– Ahmed superimposes digital patterns onto traditional compositions to create works with bold optical illusions and he applies these forms to sculptures and 2-dimensional works.

– He has been included in exhibitions at Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury in London, the 52nd Venice Biennale Pavilion representing Azerbaijan and The Islamic Art Festival in Sharjah, UAE.

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Sculpture

“His works take what has traditionally been a two-dimensional craft and gives it new life in the third-dimension – stretching elements of his fiber based work into space, and transforming it into far more than a floor covering. Even though they are real, and made with traditional techniques, other examples of his work stretch traditional patterns horizontally, giving his flat pieces the look of digital reworking.” From Faig Ahmed’s Website

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“The eastern culture is so very rich and saccharine. Putting the pieces of the carpet into the smooth as if a part of a car or of a glamorous and functional shape, I’m fashioning the carpet into a different meaning, a secondary one. It as if starts being an inner part of this minimalist form, gaining volume at the same time. As if all of the ornaments of the carpet acquire a prolongation inside the carpet.” Faig Ahmed

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“The carpet is a symbol of invincible tradition of the East, it’s a visualization of an undestroyable icon. In my art I see the culture differently. This is more of expectation of a reaction because it’s exactly the change of the points of view that changes the world.” Faig Ahmed

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History of Azerbaijan Carpet Weaving
Azerbaijan has been well-known as an authority and center for arts and crafts since Ancient times. Archeological digs of this territory have discovered signs of highly developed agriculture, stock raising, metal working and ceramics, as well as carpet-weaving that date as far back as the 2nd millennium BC. Carpet weaving tools from the 4th and 3rd millenniums BC were discovered during the Gultapin excavations. Herodotus, Claudius Elian, Xenophont and other ancient historians all mentioned Azerbaijan carpets having spread by the time of the Bronze Age. During the Sassanid Dynasty (3rd-7th centuries) carpets made from gold, silver and silk threads and decorated with jewels began to appear and were greatly celebrated. In the 13th-14th centuries, Azerbaijan exported huge numbers of carpets to other countries.
Different occasions call for different carpets; Wedding ceremonies, birthing, medical treatment, mourning rituals, and prayer. Girls sit on special carpets to tell fortunes and sing traditional songs during the New Year Celebration. Carpet weaving in Southern and Northern Azerbaijan has been influenced by the many changes the territory has undergone, such as changes in religions, tribal cultures, and political states. The designs used in the carpets and the way they are applied reflect the daily life and customs of the communities who produce them. This is fitting because the carpet weaving originated in rural huts. Over time, the tradition and craft came to be amongst the most celebrated and important of the arts. The heads of state gave high value to the art of carpet weaving, and glorified the most talented weavers, as did the great poets. The carpet history is typically divided into the following four main periods:

• I – the early stage of the carpet development. The carpet ware is very simple, without any motifs and patterns. The first palas and djedjims appear.
• II – introduction of the kilim weaving practice by the intricate threading technique.
• III – weaving of shadda, verni, sumakh, zili. The period of simple and complex whipping techniques.
• IV – introduction of the knotted pile weaving. Both from the technical and artistic standpoints this stage can be considered the acme of the carpet making.

Azerbaijani carpets are divided into two general groups: pile and pileless. Within each group there are subdivisions and different styles of rug. The pileless category is associated with the early period of weaving and there are 8 main types: Palas, Dzhejim, lady, kilim, shedde, verni, zili, sumakh. These rugs are classified based on color, richness, composite structure and weaving style. Quba School, Baku or Absheron School, Shirvan School, Ganja School, Gazakh School, Karabakh School. These are the 7 different weaving schools is Azerbaijan. They are separated based on patterns, composition and technique.

Feng Shui Decorating Steps for Beginners

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Feng Shui translates to “wind and water” which equals health, peace and prosperity in the Chinese philosophy. It is an ancient art form and science which is believed to balance both emotional and physical energy. The goal of Feng Shui within interior design is to balance the positive and negative energies within your space as well as within yourself. This will bring harmony of the senses, tranquility and well-being.

It is a common misconception that Feng Shui decorating means creating a completely “Zen” environment. Decorating with Feng Shui actually means that you are catering your decor to support the best energy for whatever activities are intended to occur in a specific room or area. Following basic Feng Shui principles will help you to achieve a desired energy.

Chi means energy. In order to have good energy or “Seng chi”, the energy needs to flow through the home freely without being blocked. If the energy is stagnant or blocked it is bad, or “Si& Sha Chi”.

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Feng Shui looks at a house as one, complete being. You may have some rooms that have great energy, but other rooms that are out of control, or just confused and stuck. Many people tend to ignore these disaster areas by shutting the door, or they purposefully put things in the messy room when they don’t know what else to do with it, in order to keep the nice rooms clean. These spaces are like when children are told to clean their rooms and instead of actually cleaning they just shove all their belongings under the bed or into a closet. From a Feng Shui perspective, the messy room being ignored is affecting the energy of the entire house, and therefore the energy of the good rooms.

Though the principles of Feng Shui are extensive and complex, there are simple ways beginners can approach living in a more Feng Shui environment. Start by identifying problem areas, and make a plan for your house. Figure out what needs to change, and define the steps necessary for those changes to happen. Then just be persistent.

6 Feng Shui Decorating Steps

Step 1.Clear Clutter

In order to create good chi, you first must get rid of the old energy.If an area of your home has stuck energy, an area of your life will eventually become stuck. Clean out your garage, reorganize your storage areas. You want the goal to always be free-flowing space.

Step 2. Good quality air and light

A clutter free space with tons of natural light and clean air is like the canvas on which you will paint your Feng Shui masterpiece. These basics are necessary and without them, Feng Shui will only go so far.Lighting can also be used to alter the mood of any space. Light is the strongest manifestation of energy and as humans it is our number one nutrient. The harmful effects of fluorescent lighting on human behavior and the deficiency of sunlight or “Malillumination” according to light researcher Dr. John Ott, are widely documented. Lack of quality light can decrease your overall health, ability to learn and effect your behavior. Try to have at least three separate sources of light in every room.

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Step 3. Define your Bagua

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The Bagua is the energy map of your space that determines which areas of your home are connected to specific areas of your life. Bagua translates to “8 areas” because in ancient times people deemed that there are 8 areas of  life that are important for well being and health. Each area of your home is connected to a specific area of your life. Therefore by changing your home you can change your life.

You can use the bagua as a guide to tell you everything from how to arrange furniture to how to choose colors.

There is the Classical or Traditional Feng Shui school Bagua, and there is the BTB Western school Bagua. It is best to not use both in the same home.

Step 4. Choose Colors

Every color fits into one of the 5 Feng Shui elements.

Fire-Passion and High Energy
Colors-Red, Orange, Purple, Pink, Strong Yellow
Fire is the strongest Feng Shui element in South Bagua of your home. It can also be used in Northeast and Southwest Feng Shui areas.

Earth–Nourishment and Stability
Colors- Light Yellow, Beige/taupe, Earthy/sandy colors
This element is needed to promote inner balance and health, as well as protection of relationships.

Water-Ease and Abundance
Colors-Blue, Black
Water is the ancient symbol for abundance and a Fung Shui cure for wealth. This element brings energy of freshness, purity, and calm.
The north, east and south east bagua areas benefit from a strong water element.

Wood-Vitality and Growth
Colors-Brown, Green
This element is healing and promotes vibrancy, strong growth, as well as abundance. Wood is the main element ion south and southeast Bagua areas.

Metal-Preciseness and Clarity
Colors Gray, White
Metal is the dominant Feng Shui element of west and northwest bagua areas, and the north bagua also benefits. This presence promotes calm, precise, light and focused energy.

Step 5. Choose items

Define specific items that will add to the  Chi of your home. Feng Shui holds to the belief that energy is improved when living things are present. An easy way to achieve this is by incorporating plants, bonsai trees, flowers, fish and of course pets. A fountain is a great way to add water, a symbol of abundance. Selecting natural materials such as wood, stone and metals is another way to stick to the organic nature of Feng Shui.

Some examples of classic Feng Shui items are:
Fountains, Mirrors, Lucky Bamboo as a health cure, Images or statues of Buddha for harmony and spiritual growth.

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Step 6.Positioning

Understand how and where to position your decorating items and furniture to create the best energy for the space. Focus on the big picture, but also be able to zoom in on each specific area.Match elements to your map, or Bagua. If you want to put a fountain in your home, which is a water element, you need to put it in the Bagua areas that benefit from water, such as North, East and Southeast areas of your home.

Fun Fact: Elephants are part of Feng Shui!

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The elephant is associated with Buddha and Ganesh, who is an Indian deity. The elephant symbolizes Power, wisdom, strength, protection of the home, fertility and good luck and because of this elephants are often used in Feng Shui. Here are some of the areas an elephant symbol can be useful in.

Protection– To prevent the loss of Chi from the home, place an elephant facing outward.

Bringing Good luck– Place an elephant facing inwards, to draw good luck and blessings into the home.

Love and Fidelity– Place a pair of elephants in the bedroom to promote love within a relationship.

Fertility-Place an elephant beside the bed, or one elephant on each side of the bed.

Mother and Child-Place a statue of a mother and baby elephant in your living area or children’s room to strengthen the bond with your children.

Work- Place an elephant near the front door to attract power and protect the office from bad energy.

Management– Place an elephant on your work desk facing out. This represents caution, poise and strong leadership.

Good thing we have so many elephants around here!

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Beni Ourain Rugs: Tribal Tradition, Mid Century Modern

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These incredibly soft and luxurious rugs are all the rage right now in modern design. In fact, they are in higher demand than ever due to a variety of different cultural factors. Beni Ourains are admired and sought after by designers and the masses alike. So what’s all the fuss about? What is a Beni Ourain rug, and what makes it so special?

Origins
The Beni Ourain are a group of Berber people from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco that is actually made up of 17 different tribes. They are traditionally shepherds and goat herders who move their herds from one grazing land to the next, high within the mountains. Although these tribes all produce rugs which are similar and known as Beni Ourains, there are subtle differences in design elements and colors – all natural dyes or no dye at all. A big factor when it comes to the quality of these rugs is the superior wool produced by the sheep in this region.

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The Beni Ourain rugs are hand-woven by women and the skill and knowledge is passed from mother to daughter. The design elements used in the rugs are reflective of the weavers real life. Traditionally, the rugs record regular life events and represent major themes such as birth, fertility, nature, femininity, rural life and religious beliefs. Some people who weave the rugs believe the rugs themselves are barriers against evil spirits so they purposefully include lucky charm symbolism and tribal ceremonial symbolism. The detail and design of the rug is also used to tell the story of tribal ancestors or the life of the weaver combined with tribe superstitions which are a strong aspect of culture in these rural regions.

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6.9″ x 9.7″ Moroccan style


Patterns
Patterns usually consist of brown and black lines or abstract shapes against a white or cream background. Other designs are the Ancient Berber alphabet, geometric designs similar to Navajo-Native American patterns. Most do not have a border. Some have fringe and others not, some have fringe on one side only. The rugs tend to last a lifetime or more.

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Production
Though they are typically used as and known to be rugs, Beni Ourains were traditionally produced to be blankets or bedspreads and not floor coverings. Their loose structure is meant to conform to the body. They have thick, soft pile which is deep or shallow according to the purpose. Knots are tied in a very specific way. The rugs are woven without any pattern or diagram to follow, which is why they are all unique.

The originals were not mass-produced and no two are alike. Many of the new Beni Ourain rugs are not made in Morocco but they are referred to as “Moroccan style” rugs because they were created to mimic the original Beni Ourains. The older carpets however are softer and more detailed and varied in design. The “real” beni ourains were never made larger than 7 feet. A Beni Ourain larger than 7′ is most likely a reproduction, not made in Morocco and not old.

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Rise to fame
The Beni Ourain rugs were used by the most renowned mid-century modern designers such as Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ame Jacobsen, Alvar Allto, Marcel Breuer, Charles and Ray Eames. Shag carpets were extremely popular during this time, and the Beni Ourains were a step up from the average shag because of their sophisticated nature. History and cultural developments have made Beni Ourains so popular.

“It is a fascinating set of historical and cultural developments that have made Moroccan rugs as popular as they are today. The Beni Ourain – with a penchant for abstract symbolism and geometry as well as a steady supply of fine grade wool – happened to be weaving rugs and carpets that would be perfectly suited to the design aesthetics of the Western World in the decades following the end of the Second World War. Moroccan rugs by the Beni Ourain remain among the most desirable pieces today, and are sought after the world over, both by experts in antique Oriental rugs and everyday people who appreciate the lasting artistic value of such rugs.” Ubrandsbag

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A photo of an authentic Beni Ourain in the home of Frank Lloyd Wright

Songkran: Family, Renewal and Water Fights for the Thai New Year

tumblr_n3zfa0nWpP1sxb3k2o1_1280-2Sawadee Pee Mai! – That’s Thai for Happy New Year! In Thailand, the beginning of the New Year is celebrated in April, the hottest month of the year. The New Years celebration is called “Songkran festival”. The word Songkran means “to pass” or “to move into”. It is derived from the Sanskrit language and in the context of Thai New Year it refers to the passing and moving of the sun, moon, and other planets. The celebration typically lasts for three days, and consists most famously of people partying in the streets and throwing water at each other. Sounds like fun! This year, Songkran was celebrated From April 13 through 15.

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Renewal

The festival taking place in the spring is significant as it represents the renewal of the earth after winter, as well as the beginning of the new year. To go along with this theme, people in Thailand clean their homes from top to bottom for the beginning of Sonkran.

Water

Water is representative of cleansing and purifying the self for the new year. Water is the trademark of the Sonkran celebrations, as it is known as “The Water Festival”. Basically, people walk around with water guns and buckets of water, splashing and soaking everyone around.

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While the water symbolizes a cleansing & rejuvenation for the new year, it is certainly nice to cool off! 

Buddha

Buddhists visit temples and water is poured onto images and statues of Buddha, and over the hands of monks to show respect.

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Family and Community 

Many Thai people travel to spend time with family during Songkran. The festivities of Songkran bring together all the different members of the family and society, and unite their relationships with each other, as well as with nature.

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 Even the Elephants get in on the fun!  

Events and Traditions

The first day of the festival is called “Songkran Day”. All over the country there are parades and processions featuring images of Buddha. The water throwing also begins on this day.

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 The Songkran Queen

The second day of Songkran is called “Wan Nao”. This is the celebration of the old Thai New Years Eve. It takes place on the day when the sun travels between Pisces and Aires. Many Buddhists go to their homes this day to build Sand Chedis, which is a sand castle that looks like a Buddhist Temple.

The third day of Songkran is New Years Day. Offerings are left at temples this day, amongst other festivities.

Visiting

Many tourists plan their trips to Thailand around Songkran, as visitors are welcome to join in the festivities. In fact, if you are walking around during this time, it will be difficult to avoid getting soaked.

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In some cities, this centuries-old tradition includes a good smearing on passersby of colored talc as a symbol of good luck.