Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Haunting!

Wonderful Wishes for a Spooky and Fun Halloween!

Mr. Marsh Speaks!

My family is taking a brief Halloween holiday to go to New York City, where we'll be checking out the fall leaves and, as fate would have it, cheering on our own Mr. Marsh at his first author appearance!

Mr. Marsh will be discussing The Mentalist's Handbook at Observatory in Brooklyn the evening of Thursday, October 29. I couldn't miss this chance to visit Observatory, especially as it is the gallery space for one of my favorite weblogs, Morbid Anatomy.

To learn more about Mr. Marsh's appearance, visit the Observatory website. Maybe we'll see you there!

Coven Gone Wild!

Yesterday John McRae and three crafty spirits convened for a witches meeting. The results? These devilishly delightful spellcasters! The Masked Ball Witch comes apart at the waist to hold candies, spell components, or whatever treats or tricks you might have picked up during your witches night out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We've been planning an expansion of our bookcase at Castle in the Air for a while, and this month seemed like the right time to bring in the books. Rainy days are perfect for curling up with some hot tea and a good story.

When choosing the books for our shelf, we thought back to the writers and artists that inspired and thrilled us as children, so we've got selections from the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard
Kipling, Charles Dickens, T.H. White, Nick Bantock, Lisbeth Zwerger, and many more. And of course my favorite, Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and Arnold Lobel. (110 five-star reviews on Amazon!) One very special book that I hadn't seen anywhere for many years was The Neverending Story by Michael Ende printed in red and greed ink. It's storytime!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mist, Snow, Feather & Thorn

Thank you to everyone who came out to last night's reception for Picturing Childhood. Amid all the people enjoying the photographs and chatting, it truly felt as though Castle in the Air had changed into something greater than before. If you haven't seen the show and are in the area, please try to make it out before it closes November 18.

Speaking of gallery receptions, our friend Bella Bigsby has one coming up this Friday. Bella's wistful landscapes and nature studies, like Thistle, shown here, are perfect for fall.

mist, snow, feather & thorn
paintings by Bella Bigsby


H Julien Designs
1798 Shattuck Avenue @ Delaware
Berkeley, Calif. 94709
(510) 548-7400

Studio hours: Tues.-Sat. 10am-6pm
Artist Reception:
Friday, Oct. 23

Exhibit continues through Nov. 28

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Week of Kindness

Things are a bit surreal around the store today as we spend time in the gallery preparing for tonight's reception of Picturing Childhood. But the children in the antique photographs aren't the only ones living in a sepia-toned fantasy land. The hawkish gentleman and his catty companion in our window display stepped straight out of such a world.

Here are the cards that inspired our window. They were printed by Charles Overbeck at Eberhardt Press in Portland, Oregon, and they depict scenes from Max Ernst's Une Semaine de Bonte, or A Week of Kindness. Ernst created the scenes by collaging together Victorian illustrations from novels and encyclopedias, issuing the results in a series of self-published pamphlets in 1934.

Many thanks to Charles for reviving Une Semaine as a series of cards. You can visit the Online Shoppe to see all eight images.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Animal Spirits

If you venture past Castle in the Air this week, you'll notice that a pair of odd animals have set up a little bar in the front window. It seems that they slipped out from the pictures on the new Max Ernst greeting cards we're carrying. (More on Max soon.) A feline femme fatale? And who is her dapper companion? They must be close, because they're sharing the most intriguing drinks. Maybe they'll offer you a sip!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Picturing Childhood

Portraits from the Masters of Early Photography (1850–1930)
October 10 through November 18, 2009

Join Castle in the Air as we celebrate the launch of our new art gallery with an extraordinary exhibit. Picturing Childhood presents more than forty portraits of children, many of them from early photography’s undisputed masters.

This striking assemblage of works features masterpieces by Julia Margaret Cameron and Felix Nadar alongside selected
photographs by Lewis Carroll, Edweard Muybridge, Edward S. Curtis, Carl Moon, Alfred Stieglitz, Clarence White, and others. Drawn from a collection never before displayed publicly, Picturing Childhood offers visitors a rare opportunity to view and acquire these important photographs.

Lewis Carroll, Study of Xie Kitchin (1873)

Gallery open 12–6 Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday
Reception with light refreshments
Tuesday, October 20, 6–8 p.m.

Castle in the Air

1805 Fourth Street, Berkeley, Calif. 94710
(510) 204-9801,

“I longed to arrest all beauty that came before me, and at length the longing has been satisfied.” —Julia Margaret Cameron

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Years ago one of the crew here at Castle in the Air gave me the book Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, as a gift. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. It had young love, sword-fighting, botany, witchcraft, Scotland, and a wacked out cast of characters...there were so many similarities between the story and my own life. It's even got a John McRae! So when I heard there was a sequel I ran to the bookstore to buy it. I was surprised not to see it on the fiction or fantasy shelves, and when I found it in the romance section I was a little embarrassed!

Of course while I don't honestly think Diana Gabaldon had me in mind when writing the book, today it really does seem like I'm living a story out of a romance novel, as my husband is taking me to Gabaldon's signing at Books Inc. in Mountain View! I'll pick up the seventh book in the Outlander series and say hello to a writer whose work has given me so much satisfaction over the years.

Speaking of Books Inc., not only are they the oldest West Coast independent bookseller, but they've also just opened a new store across the street from Castle in the Air!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beyond the Clouded Mirror

Today John McRae and I are swimming in picture frames in the gallery at Castle in the Air, trying to find just the right place for each of the photographs that are part of the gallery's first show. I'll post more on that once we're through, but in the meantime, you can take a peek at another fantastic frame.

John brought this in this morning -- it's the sample for his "Haunted Mirror" class, coming up this Saturday. The frame is constructed from an assortment of Dresden Trim, the mirror is a specially coated two-way wonder, and what's behind the glass... Well, let's just hope it stays there!

For more about John's "Haunted Mirror" class, visit the Castle in the Air Online Shoppe.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dream a Little Dream

Did you ever have one of those days? This has been a crazy one, even for a Monday, but when I saw this picture I felt a little better. It's my dream to live long enough to develop into a character like the woman in this photo. They say adversity builds character - after a day like today I'm that much closer!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Looking and Looking Back

We spent time this week preparing some postcards for our upcoming exhibit of children's portraits from the 19th and early 20th century. We're also finalizing our plans for the dates of the show and a reception, so check back soon for that.

What's most striking about looking at these prints, aside from the fact that they were produced by early photography's best-known artists, is the character in the faces of the children pictured. Here's the Portrait of Paul Nadar, Enfant, an 1865 collotype from Felix Nadar.

Some pictures have a bit of legend handed down through the decades. This 1910 gelatin silver print is by Jessie Tarbox Beals a
nd is called Physically Defective Children, an amusing title once you realize that the youngsters' "defect" was that they had tonsilitis!

Other legends are more serious. I love this Julia Margaret Cameron albumin print of The Clogstoun Sisters, from around 1868. But I can't stop thinking about how one of the sisters died a few years after the photograph was taken.

Another Cameron albumin print, from 1872, has got to be my favorite. Portrait of Florence Fisher just returns my gaze every time, and reminds me of the portraits I take of my own girls.