Vintage Vignette - July 2015
Six Degrees of Spratling
Local antiques expert Martha Whitney Butler shares her knowledge of all things old, collectible and bizarre in this column. This month, a look at how Bay St. Louis figured into one of the most exciting art colonies in history, with connects to Frida Kahlo!
William Faulkner fled from his demons to Waveland for two months, only to be greeted with a jug of whiskey from his sweet neighbors (click here for article about Faulkner's short sojourn in Waveland).
A.B. Dinwiddie, the president of Tulane University, has deep roots in the Coast having several relatives whom he frequently visited. Also, John Dinwiddie, president of the Tulane School of Architecture haunted the area and his descendants still live here today - one of whom co-owns Smith & Lens Gallery (photographer Ann Dinwiddie Madden).
Among these great innovators and artists was William Spratling, the architect who all but created a design movement in Mexico and popularized the Taxco silver style in the U.S. and in Mexico.
I've always been amazed at how many pieces of Taxco I see in this area, and now I know why. Spratling was part of a group of Tulane architecture students who left the field to become artists. Almost all of them became renowned designers and artists, starting movements right out of the French Quarter.
Several people on the coast own Spratling pieces. This lucky writer happened to pull a stunning pair of Spratling Starfish earrings out of her pile of neglected jewelry. Don't worry - they were promptly shined and adorned the minute the mark was discernible through the loop!
Not to dig too deep into Spratling (we'll save that for another column) but let's go back to Frida's connection...
Spratling was very good friends with both Faulkner and Bein. Spratling often visited Bein's Bay home when he returned to the States during his twelve year sojourn in Mexico.
While he was in Mexico, Spratling surrounded himself with the artistic cream of the crop- one of those being Diego Rivera. Rivera acquired several pieces of Spratling silver for his lovely wife, Frida Kahlo.
So therein lies our connection, albeit very far-fetched, to the talented Mexican artist. She and her husband rubbed elbows with some of our people and because of that we feel like we're basically BFFs.
Learn more about Spratling Silver in my upcoming August article!
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