Thursday, January 27, 2011

In the Gallery: Fancy Mud Pies

The Castle in the Air gallery kicks off 2011 with "Fancy Mud Pies," a collection of deliciously strange paintings by Cleo Papanikolas.

We're finishing the hanging of the exhibit now, and the paintin
gs are simply amazing. Cleo combines her twin loves of fauna and food in her compositions, which juxtapose birds, cake, deer, Jell-O, and soil in dessert-plate fantasy lands.

Join Cleo Papanikolas and all of us for an evening of art, wine,
and yes, dessert, the evening of Tuesday, February 8, as we celebrate the unveiling of "Fancy Mud Pies."

Fancy Mud Pies
The Paintings of Cleo Papanikolas
February 8 through March 25, 2011

Gallery open 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. every day

Opening Night Dessert Party
Tuesday, February 8, 6 - 9 p.m.

Castle in the Air
1805 Fourth Street Berkeley, Calif. 94710
(510) 204-9801

Read the full invitation and press release.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Heart from Sonia

Earlier this week we received an email from Sonia, who shared with us a picture of the sweetest linoleum print that she made using Dresden trim and medioevalis paper from Castle in the Air. Beautiful work, Sonia -- thanks for thinking of us!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Bit of Luck in Your Pocket

Belief in magic takes many forms, and perhaps the one we’re most familiar with is faith in superstitions. There are several such folk traditions happiness. Here is a selection of beliefs associated with several of them:
Acorns: A symbol of fertility and the promise of the future, acorns are often worn or carried by people to bring them good luck.
Calico Cats: The calico cat is a symbol of good luck in Western and Eastern cultures, most famously seen in Japanese symbology as the Maneki Neko or the waving “money cat.” Calicos are a type of tortoiseshell cat, and the tortoise itself is considered to be a lucky animal.
Chimney Sweeps: It’s thought lucky to meet a chimney sweep on New Year’s Day, particularly so if he hands you his card. There might be some real truth in this for families who still rely on wood-burning stoves for heat.
Four-Leafed Clovers: The four-leafed variety of clover is so rare that to find one, especially if by accident, is a sign that good luck is coming your way. Desirable attributes—such as love, hope, faith, and luck—are sometimes associated with the four leaves.
Horseshoes: Made of iron, which is supposedly a bane against malicious fairies, the horseshoe is a longstanding symbol of prosperity against the powers of darkness. If you find a horseshoe while out walking you will have good luck—the number of nails left in the horseshoe are a count of how many years the luck will last.
Ladybugs: The Turkish word for this red-and-black garden friend translates as “luck bug,” and in Turkey, Italy, Russia, and other countries people often make a wish when they spot (excuse me!) a ladybug.
Mushrooms: The famous white-speckled red mushroom, the Amanita muscaria is often found in the company of other good luck symbols on New Year’s greeting cards. Not so much a bringer of good luck as a preserver of it, the mushroom is beloved by the fairies and a person who destroys it (especially if it is in a fairy ring) will surely bring on their revenge.
Pigs: The white pig is a symbol of good fortune often pictured on postcards alongside clover. (And clover itself is surely considered lucky by pigs!) Of course, having a pig ensures a family will have enough to eat. There is even a German saying, “ich habe Schwein gehabt,” translated as “I have had a pig” and means they feel lucky.
Rabbit’s Foot: Some gamblers swear by their lucky rabbit’s foot, which is often made into a keychain. Interestingly (and ghoulishly) enough, the rabbit’s foot may be a hand-me-down from voodoo traditions involving the carrying around of preserved human remains. I’ve got to say I see this lucky charm as a questionable one, not least of all for the rabbit.
Spiders: Weavers and bankers alike believe spiders to be good luck. Many people avoid killing spiders found inside, lest the homeowners lose their money. A variation on this belief is that a spider killed in a new house means the house will never truly be clean.

There are so many more. Have you found any of these charms to be good at bringing you luck? Which others have you tried?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Make Room For Luck

The holidays are over, inventory is done. We have found a place for everything and put everything in its place, and Castle in the Air is fresh and new for 2011.

I think the Baby New Year display in the front window has been attracting visitors partly because it’s so simple, so compact, and such a surprising change from what they expect. At the shop we tend to create over-the-top installations that take up the entire window, or the whole floor as in the case of our paper theatres, masks, and puppets display upstairs. But with Baby New Year it’s just him in his top hat and tie, sitting on his lucky pedestal with an expectant look in his eye. He’s little, he’s ready, and he’s perfect.

We'll be back to our outrageous extravaganzas in no time, I'm sure. And so be it--it's part of the fantasy we encourage at Castle in the Air. But in the meantime, we're happy to put away our dusters, arrange the treasures we unearthed during inventory, and make room for all the good things in store for us this year.