West Side – Strange Closets http://www.strangeclosets.com people, homes, travel and stuff Mon, 29 Apr 2013 17:29:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 What’s new at Daniels Antiques? http://www.strangeclosets.com/2010/06/whats-new-at-daniels-antiques/ http://www.strangeclosets.com/2010/06/whats-new-at-daniels-antiques/#comments Tue, 08 Jun 2010 18:30:35 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=24701

People are always asking me if I know where to find this or that rare furnishing, but the person they should be calling is Daniels Antiques owner Danny Popuch. An expert in the field, Danny maintains not only his fantastic Bucktown showroom but also a west side warehouse full of pieces waiting for their moment in the spotlight. In other words, he either has that certain piece you’ve been seeking or he knows who to call to get it. It’s called expertise, and I appreciate it quite a bit. While you’re in Bucktown, stop by neighboring stores like Pavilion Antiques, Michael Del Piero Good Design, Crossell & Co. and The Painted Lady. Then head over to Milwaukee afternoon for lunch at the always excellent Bongo Room and even more shopping.

Click here for a behind the scenes tour of owner Danny Popuch’s massive west side warehouse.

Daniels Antiques. 2062 N. Damen Ave., Chicago. 773.276.9600

I love sax.

I can’t even hold this book about Venice against him.

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This Weekend: Revision Home (20% discount for Strange Closets readers) http://www.strangeclosets.com/2010/05/this-weekend-revision-home-20-discount-for-strange-closets-readers/ Fri, 14 May 2010 20:12:43 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=24169

Revision Home founder Katie Ernst sells her vintage wares primarily online and by appointment, but she holds four big sale per year in her west side showroom, so stop by today or tomorrow (May 14th and 15th) between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. for an eclectic selection of products, which are priced to sell. Mention Strange Closets to receive an additional 20 percent discount. How about them apples? Have a great weekend!

Revision Home. 2132 W. Fulton, Chicago. 312.226.2221

Katie is also selling horse this weekend.

Hubba, hubba?

I want this bust for my new collection.

Also for sale are pottery pieces by the very talented Jay Strommen. Click here for Jay’s studio tour.

Jay’s use of glass is spectacular and unexpected.

Pretty with a capital P.

I adore this mirror.

How about them limes too?

This Week: Very Best Vintage http://www.strangeclosets.com/2010/05/this-week-very-best-vintage/ http://www.strangeclosets.com/2010/05/this-week-very-best-vintage/#comments Wed, 12 May 2010 14:07:34 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=24091

Tabletop contest winner Emily’s store Very Best Image is conveniently located near a house I photographed yesterday, so I decided to drop off her prize, Tereasa Surratt’s Country Living book A Very Modest Cottage. As evidenced by their shop, Emily (above left with book) and business partner Shanti (above right) have a knack for creating interesting vignettes. While they specialize in vintage clothing, they also carry art and other odds and ends for the home. Note: on-the-wagon Disney junkies might find Very Best Vintage to be torturously tempting. Like buying vintage home goods, dressing in vintage clothing takes a little more patience, but creating a distinct style is often worth the trouble, so stop by the next time you’re in the area.

Very Best Vintage. 1919 W. Chicago Avenue. Chicago, IL. 312.226.5330

Unfortunately this is not for sale, but I want it pretty bad.

Is that Jane Badler?

These I want too.

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Post regularity, airlines seats and Covers Unlimited (a ramble to be sure) http://www.strangeclosets.com/2010/03/airlines-seats-and-covers-unlimited/ http://www.strangeclosets.com/2010/03/airlines-seats-and-covers-unlimited/#comments Tue, 30 Mar 2010 19:55:44 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=22787

My apologies for posting so infrequently this past week. Some have suggested that I post anything – a photo, a link or a line or two – just to maintain my daily schedule. But I know myself too well, and if I let myself get away with that, it wouldn’t be too long before that’s all I’d be doing. While I’m not suggesting my work has any lasting importance, I believe that readers deserve more than a crappy piece that was clearly ‘phoned in’, so if I can’t muster a post because too much is going on, I’d rather let the ones in my head percolate.

It’s too bad I can’t think a post (although it’s only a matter of time before technology enables such a thing), because some of my best writing occurs while I’m out seeing new places and taking photos. I’m actually writing this piece while en route from Rome to Chicago on Alitalia, but there’s no WIFI, so I’ll finish and post later.* As it turns out, the airplane seat is quite a comfortable place to work (or it was until just this very second when, as if on cue, the person in front of me reclined their seat as far back as possible, shoving my Powerbook into my stomach)(oh well), so perhaps I’ll buy an airline seat for my house. Which reminds me: did you see the Newsweek piece about the airline suites now being offered by upscale carriers? The idea of replacing my bedroom with a little pod, which offers a flat screen TV, WIFI, a comfy fold-out bed and a seat with tray sounds surprisingly blissful. What do you think?

In any event, whether I buy and refurbish an old airline seat or build a pod-like suite of my own, I’ll upholster the seats with the vintage American Airlines fabric by Covers Unlimited, which I discovered last year while visiting the ultra-cool Chicago showroom Post 27. If vintage airline fabric’s not your thing, Covers Unlimited offers a wide variety of fabrics. Check them out.

Photo: Newsweek

* Much later as it turns out. I’ve been home a few days.

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Agent Gallery storefront opens on Damen Avenue http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/10/agent-gallery-storefront-opens-on-damen-avenue-and-revamps-website/ http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/10/agent-gallery-storefront-opens-on-damen-avenue-and-revamps-website/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2009 06:01:11 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=15783 4035910751_20b002c2b0

Agent Gallery owner Mariano Chavez looks a little bored when I arrive to see his new storefront on a stretch of Damen Avenue near the border of Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park.  Home to a diverse population of yuppies, bobos, immigrants and hipsters, the neighborhood seems tailor-made for Mariano’s merchandise, which includes unusual pieces (Catholic clergy garments, explosion-proof phones, glass artificial eyes) alongside more standard salvage fare (industrial lighting, school lockers, doll molds).

But when I arrive near 3 p.m., Mariano tells me the only passer-by to drop in for a visit was a possibly schizophrenic older man who was paranoid about the cloaked specters of death flanking the front window display, which Mariano, who’s also an artist with a degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, added to the consternation of close friends who feared this kind of thing might happen (although perhaps not on the first day).

Continued . . .


1890's skull and crossbones ceremonial robe ($85)

But Mariano does a brisk business online, so he’s not worried about the slow start.  In fact, opening a bricks and mortar store is more of a nice-to-have, a base of operations that doubles as storage and gives Mariano the opportunity to meet his customers face-to-face.

As I wander around taking photos, one of Mariano’s buddies stops by to check out the store.  The man’s husky, a little swarthy even, and it seems like he doesn’t really get what Agent Gallery’s all about.  “People pay for this stuff?” he asks clearly astonished.  But Mariano’s affirmation gets him thinking, and it’s not long before the man starts asking whether Agent Gallery can sell the miscellaneous things he may still have lying somewhere around the house.  Mariano listens intently before respectfully tabling the topic for another day.  Which may be a bad idea.  It’s Agent Gallery’s first day, so while the new shopkeep might have plenty of free time now, something tells me he’s going to be busier than he can handle when the neighbors discover Agent Gallery in their midst with its cool owner, interesting merchandise and great prices.  If you have a chance this weekend, stop in to say hi.

Agent Gallery.  916 N. Damen Avenue.  312.498.6818












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This Week: Careful Peach Boutique (Oak Park, IL) http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/10/this-week-careful-peach-boutique-oak-park-il/ http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/10/this-week-careful-peach-boutique-oak-park-il/#comments Tue, 13 Oct 2009 05:20:58 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=15250 3859999257_941cba2335

I met Karen Morava last summer at former Open House stars Rick and Rachel‘s Oak Park bungalow, and I made it a point to visit her Oak Park business Careful Peach Boutique straightaway.

Speaking of peaches, my fraternity hell week nick name was Peaches, mostly because my best high school buddy and I pledged together, and they called him Cream.  It was pretty clever.  Peaches was supposed to be derogatory but I didn’t mind it all that much (it reminded me of summer), and my attitude took all the fun out of it for my would-be elder fraternity brothers.  In fact, hell week’s hyper hazing was not only my favorite fraternity experience, it was also my favorite college experience, probably because I just went with the flow.  I wonder what happened to that Peaches kid?

What Peaches had yet to realize is that choosing to not fight is often (but not always) the best way to deal with the bullies we encounter at some point  in our lives.  The cessation of struggle, Buddhists believe, is one of the keys to achieving nirvana, and I think they’re onto something.  As regular readers may suspect, this aside has nothing to do with Oak Park’s Careful Peach Boutique.

Or does it?

It does and continue reading to find out why . . .


These are awesome, and plaid is hot, hot, hot!

Owner Karen Morava travels the world in search of quality, unique merchandise for her smart little shop, and she offers something for everybody (even the guys): soaps and candles, tableware and linens, jewelry and more (much more).  I bought a scented candle (although no bubble baths for me yet), and Karen gave me a block of olive oil soap.  “Just try it,” she said.  “And if you like it, write about it.”  She didn’t try to convince me; she just wanted to see how I liked it.  Karen, I love it, so I’m writing about it.  And that block of soap (which is now smaller with smooth rounded corners that feel nice, real nice, on my body when I wash with it in the shower) makes me wonder why we purchase all these soaps with chemicals and plastic containers when we have the ingredients for the stuff in our kitchen cabinets.  Why I ask?

During my visit, a man and his teenage son wandered in looking for a gift for mom.  Karen introduced herself and asked a number of questions about the recipient, a sales approach that should be elementary; fulfilling needs rather than manufacturing needs is the most ethical form of selling and the most basic rule followed by successful sales people.  That’s Buddhist too; one of Buddhism’s steps on the path to nirvana is to respect our jobs and to pay attention to detail; another is to practice simplicity, to give up unnecessary complications that cloud our relationships with people, our work and our home.  I don’t know if Karen’s a Buddhist or not, but visiting Careful Peach Boutique sure feels a lot like nirvana.  Please drop by for a visit the next time you’re in the area.

Careful Beach Boutique.  128 Harrison Street, Oak Park, IL.  708.383.3066.  carefulpeach@sbcglobal.net














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This Week: Urban Remains http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/08/this-week-urban-remains/ http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/08/this-week-urban-remains/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2009 04:50:05 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=13229 3849418090_20f1b90725

A few words before this post begins.  I apologize in advance for mentioning 80’s pop star and former Go Go Belinda Carlisle in the same post as this very cool salvage shop.  Also, if you’d like to send me $450, please email me.  Finally, be sure to check out the post-post-text photos where you’ll see possibly the most amazing, awesome, crazy, killer robot lamp ever.

Belinda Carlisle was right; heaven is a place on Earth, a place where Bertoia wire chairs hang from the ceiling next to anatomy charts and industrial lighting features.  Heaven is a place called Urban Remains, an afterlife of sorts for pretty much everything and anything from doorknobs to Eames chairs.

Vintage science and medical junkies take note, Urban Remains specializes in hospital castoffs, including inventory from Grant and Michael Reese Hospitals, much of which I’m dying to reincarnate in my house.  I could have easily spent eternity looking at knick-knacks, but the oversized medical lighting options really lit up my tarnished halo.  So now I’ve been to heaven and back.  It’s a start.

Urban Remains. 410 N. Paulina St. Chicago. 312-492-6254.


If you read last week’s Tuesday Ramble, you may recall that I’m really nuts about Restoration Hardware’s heat lamps because they resemble killer robots.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see a far scarier, deadlier looking lamp for myself when I visited Urban Remains last week.  Check it out:


Issssssn't this the scariesssssst thing you've ever ssssssseen?




Sometimes things are not what they seem. And sometimes they are.


A gift from me to M . . . well, you know who you are.



Let's face it, this T, which is exactly like mine, looks fairly exhaulted, does it not? Almost like it's floating in a golden light, a beacon for design-o-philes everywhere.



While this post contains a number of salvaged letters, there are an inordinately large number of S's, don't you think?



Dapper huh?


Another S. I'm known for my informative captions, which not only describe the photo but also provide interesting ancillary information.


The Libra in me really wants this massive scale. Actually, the rest of me wants it too. Also, if it wouldn't be so revealing, I'd say that the T symbol with the scales might be the perfect tattoo for what was formerly my upper arm muscle.


No thanks. Can't do it. But it's cool.

I realize you’re just looking at the photos in order to read the captions, so I wanted to let you know this is the last caption.




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This Week: Andrew Hollingsworth, Danish Modern Masters 1930 – 1970 http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/07/this-week-andrew-hollingsworth-danish-modern-masters-1930-1970/ Tue, 28 Jul 2009 18:00:06 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=10580 3529553953_86e6e7d045

Scarcity makes people act in often irrational ways.  People are more likely to order an item that’s on sale, especially when they believe the sale’s temporary.  And because of restrictive government arms bans, difficult-to-procure suitcase nukes fetch a mint on the black market.  By the same token, it’s a rare treat to peruse furniture as sophisticated and sexy as the Danish Modern pieces at Andrew Hollingsworth’s. Limit the hours for added scarcity (AH is open by appointment only), and the next thing you know I’m getting Hollingsworth’s visage tattooed on my shoulder.  Sigh.

Andrew Hollingsworth also carries a spectacular collection of accessories and lighting, much of which is on sale.  Just the other day I purchased several lamps, an unbelievable deal that completely transformed my living room, specifically the east flank by the fireplace.  As my wise friend, a design expert, said about my decision to buy the illuminated treasures, “you’re a man now.”

Andrew Hollingsworth’s inventory is available online, and if you see something you like, the showroom is open by appointment.  Be sure to check out his clearance items.

Andrew Hollingsworth.  320 N Damen Street, Chicago.  info@andrewhollingsworth.com.  312.440.9554












That spectacular lamp now graces my sun porch.




Interview: Peter Mars & team on Pop Art and the King http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/02/interview-peter-mars-team-on-pop-art-and-the-king/ http://www.strangeclosets.com/2009/02/interview-peter-mars-team-on-pop-art-and-the-king/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2009 07:12:15 +0000 http://www.strangeclosets.com/?p=2866 3258472383_3bd1f9d182

At the urging of friend and designer Phil Bernal, I recently made an appointment to see the Elvis exhibit at the Mars Gallery, which will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary in the former home of the Empire Butter and Egg Company on Fulton in the West Loop.  Located on what parapsychologists call “energy vortex circles”, the building is considered hallowed ground by artists and their creative ilk.  Click here to read more of the building’s fascinating history. 

Owner Peter Mars, Gallery Director Barb Gazdik and Assistant Sarah Hale spent a few minutes showing me around the space and Mars’ basement studio, a shrine to ephemera where large beauty shop posters share wall space with Mars’ silk screens of Elvis, Spiderman and yes, Jesus too.

TV producers take note; the Mars’ team’s refreshing attitude about art, playful banter and quirkly cool personalities brought to mind the best reality TV shows.  Enjoy!

So you grew up in Portland?  Did you study art in school?

Peter:  I grew up in Portland and I was a chem major, but I never worked as a chemist.

Why not?

Peter:  I liked science; I still do.  I liked all that sci-fi daydreaming and stuff . . . robots and chemistry sets and futuristic things we were going to do in the future.  We were going to have things around the house to do the dishes and walk the dog.

So how did you get into art?

Peter:  I’m not a chemistry person inside.  Once I saw art, I got it.  Whereas I always had trouble with calculus; I always had trouble with physics.  It was hard.  But art speaks my language.  Art is not taught in schools as a subject like it should be.  It’s kind of treated like recess instead of a serious thing.   The world changes based on ideas and those ideas come from art.  It should be an important class.


How did you learn your technique?

Peter:  I taught myself.  I worked for a guy who did silk screening, so I learned.  I love print making; it’s like instant gratification.

Do you like Warhol?

Peter:  I do, but that’s not why I do pop art.  The motivation for pop art is everyday life. The motivation doesn’t come from other art, it comes from day-to-day life.  I don’t make this art because I saw other pop art; I did it because I saw Scoobie Doo.  I can’t understand why there are even art other kinds of art.  That’s what we see.  I don’t see pastures with peasants; I see walls with advertisements.  I’m a product of my environment.

It’s the still life of today, right?

Peter:  It totally is.  The Warhol soup can is a still life of a lunch.  In the old days it would have been fruit, now it’s a can of soup.  I love colors from the 30’s and 40’s a lot.  Each era has its own color scheme, but I tend to go back to those old-fashioned color schemes.  If you look at the color schemes in the comic posters up front, that’s a perfect example.  They’re so wonderful.


You’ve been here for 20 years.  What was your goal when you opened the Mars Gallery?

Peter:  We started out with our philosophy as being a step back or reaction to the white cube concept.  We wanted something more relaxing and welcoming, where you can come in and ask questions about art and not feel stupid.  We have a lot of regular people who collect art and enjoy it.

Barb:  Sometimes our stuff is a little bit kitsch, sometimes a little bit humorous, but it’s always nice.   I’d say it’s definitely a little more light-hearted.  It’s angst free.

Sarah:  Angst free.  It’s angst free . . . unless you have something against Elvis.

Barb:  I sent the Elvis show to my entire email list and I thought people would be rolling their eyes and picturing Elvis shot glasses, but of all the things I’ve sent out in 20 years, this is the best response.  People instantly wrote back to me asking about the show.


Have you always focused on pop art?

Peter: We started with pop and outsider art.  We’ve always had a pop art bent.  As a pop artist it really doesn’t get any better than Elvis.

Group laughs (unfortunately no group hug follows).

Barb:  It really doesn’t.  I mean, Elvis is huge.  People aren’t fully aware of how huge Elvis still is.  It’s unbelievable.

It seems like it’s time for an Elvis comeback.

Sarah (in the background):  Well he’s still alive . . .

Barb:  If you’re not keeping pulse, you’ll think he’s gone, but he’s not gone.

Sarah:  (even quieter in the background) Some people really think he’s alive.

Someday Madonna will be huge again . . . long after she’s dead . . . but now nobody cares.

Barb:  Elvis always had a lot more class than Madonna.


Barb and Sarah at the Mars Gallery

So what do you want people to know about the Mars Gallery?

Sarah:  We do custom framing, we also do installations or if our client’s are undecided, Barb will take a few pieces over to their homes.  We also do a gallery rental, so we do everything from birthday parties to wedding receptions.  It’s a really fun space.  (Click here to read more about their custom services)

Thanks!!  I’ll be there.  Many thanks for your time and hospitality.  You guys are fun!

1139 W. Fulton.  312.226.7808.  marsgallery@aol.com








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This Week: RR #1 http://www.strangeclosets.com/2008/07/this-week-at-rr-1/ Tue, 29 Jul 2008 19:00:00 +0000 http://www.tategunnerson.com/?p=432

If Decoratus Absurdum is your drug, RR #1 is the friendly neighborhood dealer, which is appropriate because the store inhabits a large space that began life as an old school pharmacy (think leaches and other treatments Medicina Absurdum), complete with vintage tin ceiling, tile floor and the original built-in cabinets and drawers.

If you’re sick of sanity, normalcy and the unrelenting ubiquity present in many stores, RR #1 offers the D.A. cure in all its forms: Grannie Chic, Taxidermy (mostly faux; how apropos!), Skulls, Religious Kitsch and more.

But even if D.A. isn’t your thing (why not?), RR #1 carries a little something for everybody – vintage lighting, John Darien-style dishes, soaps, teas, clothing, jewelry and on and on. I stopped in on a lark but left with a much lighter wallet, a bag of goodies and a goofy grin. Medicine never tasted so good.

So here’s your prescription; proceed quickly to RR #1, which is is located at 814 N. Ashland Avenue. For questions, visit their website or call 312-421-9079.