Brooke Adams & Tony Shalhoub in Happy Days, at the Flea Theater

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I always like going to the Flea Theater, since they bring to fruition off beat, experimental and genius pieces such as Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, directed by Andrei Belgrader and playing now to packed audiences with Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub. An oddly timeless work written in 1960; to the naked eye it seems like it is an aged piece of cheese, but only if you have never read a book or are part of the generation that needs everything spelled out and explained in 60 seconds, as patience is short these days and Becket requires mature thinking, tempered with intellectual curiosity. It requires a willingness to see that whether the rituals in life move fast or slow, we all most likely, find ourselves in a routine for better or worse. And though the main character Winnie, is a throwback to Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker) days of yore, is she really that far away in her symbolic matrix from contemporary life?

Even if society has changed drastically in 55 years, we are human and do get older and we do begin to bury ourselves in sand, piling up the emblematic experience of a lifetime around us, until we are gone and buried. The metaphor is still as fresh as ever, though the conditions have changed and even then, if one searches their mind they will have an “Aha” moment of truth, recognizing familiar faces in their lives, even if it’s at the next table while dining at the Starbucks.

Winnie is a woman somewhere in her 50s, trying very hard to stay sane, alive and happy, as she is buried in earth so packed, she cannot or will not move, while her husband Willie moves in and out of day-light from his hole somewhere below the mound, where she presides. She will often call out to him, asking for his love and to affirm her life. He is wordless and with his head turned mostly away from the audience and Winnie, he spends most of his time reading an old paper, looking at porn, and grunting out a few things here and there of little consequence.

Ms. Adams makes a compelling Winnie, with a look of an aged beauty who might have been in a pageant in her youth. She refuses to be unhappy, even though you know by the strain of her smile that she is staving off the inevitability of death and is quite lonely to the very bottom of her soul.

The monumental task of carrying a full two hours of monologue is herculean, but Ms. Adams did it in a smooth and meticulous way; capturing Winnie’s dilemma of impending death, loneliness, and the steady nothingness that her relationship with her husband, who seems to be disappearing at will and with him her romantic memories. Ms. Adams has a distinctive quality of being uncommonness, which sometimes gets in the way of Winnie’s ordinary life history. We cannot help but notice her sparkle, she is not a warn piece of jewelry that has been dulled by time or become eccentric from a ritualized life forced into a mound of earth, maybe Ms. Adams is too charming. That hint of frustration, of utter eccentricity brought about by monotony fails to shine through, which seems to me missing from the steadiness of her performance.

Scarcely existent Willie, Mr. Shalhoub used his brief words wisely and was no less charming than he is in everything he does. However, I have to say, to be Willie successfully, one must be slightly more than catatonic and slightly less than dead. His final moment with his wife requires something deeper than the surprise vertical entrance of Willie wearing fancy attire. It requires mercy, love and something as unseemly as maybe a little hatred.

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Arts – The Huffington Post
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eBook Garage Sale & Flea Market Annual Seventeenth Edition

eBook Garage Sale & Flea Market Annual Seventeenth Edition


Garage Sale & Flea Market Annual is bursting on the collectibles scene in an exciting new format. For the first time ever it will be presented as a paperback book. Think of how much easier that will be to carry along on your flea market and garage sale trips. And if that isn’t enough (and it isn t), the seventeenth edition is in full color! Who says you can’t take the best and make it better? We have kept your favorite parts of the book: the editors tips on successful bargain hunting and holding your own garage sales; hundreds of categories, including many brand new ones, with new listings and updated prices; and the directories of contributors, auction houses, and clubs and newsletters. Be sure to check out our new style. Electronic Book (e-Book) Policy: Purchaser of this e-Book may not sell, rent, lease, transfer, lend or share the e-Book. Digital download of this e-book is offered in a PDF format and is best viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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Woman Who Says She Bought Renoir At Flea Market For $7 Challenged In Court

The question of who owns a tiny Renoir landscape of the River Seine may rest on a four-page handwritten letter penned 78 years ago by a middle-aged woman in a bad mood.

The letter, by the Baltimore art collector Saidie A. May, is reprinted verbatim as part of a 154-page motion for summary judgment filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia by attorney Marla Diaz on behalf of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

In effect, the motion asks federal Judge Leonie M. Brinkema to determine that the 1879 oil painting “Paysage Bords de Seine” belongs to the Baltimore museum and not to the 51-year-old Virginia woman who says she bought it at a flea market in 2009 for $ 7 as part of a box of odds and ends.

The letter by the then-56-year-old May is dated Oct. 14, 1935. It’s key to the case because it indicates that the heiress owns the tiny painting (framed, it is about the size of a piece of notebook paper) and planned to lend it to her hometown museum. May later bequeathed her art collection — including the Renoir painting — to the Baltimore museum, according to the motion.

May’s missive, replete with underlinings and multiple exclamation points, was written to Roland McKinney, who at the time was the museum’s director. The heiress — one of the art institution’s major benefactors — seems primarily interested in scolding McKinney about the sorry condition of a religious painting in the museum’s possession. (“It was never in such a bad shape and I’m sick about it,” she writes.)

It isn’t until the very bottom of the third page that May gets to the matter that has attracted interest throughout the art world for the past 15 months:

“The Modern Art Museum will be sending you very soon some small paintings of mine which I am willing to loan the Museum indefinitely if you insure them!!”

The second painting she lists as “Au Bord de la Seine” by Renoir next to this price: $ 1,010.

The peacefulness of the Seine scene, depicted on a linen napkin, belies its tumultuous recent history.

The artwork by the French Impressionist master surfaced publicly in September 2012 when Marcia Fuqua, 51, of Lovettsville, Va., who is also known as Martha, said that she bought the artwork from the Harpers Ferry Flea Market in 2009 without being aware that it was an original Renoir.

She said it was her mother, who went by the names Marcia Mae Fuqua and Marcia Fouquet and who had a fine-art background, who urged her to have the painting appraised. Fouqet died Sept. 9 of this year.

The painting was authenticated by The Potomack Company, a Virginia auction house, which estimated the artwork’s value at between $ 75,000 and $ 100,000. An auction was scheduled for two weeks later, and the inquiries began pouring in from potential buyers internationally.

But the day before the painting was to be sold, the Baltimore Museum of Art produced documents indicating that the work had been stolen from what was then known as the Polk Gallery after the museum closed at 6 p.m. Nov. 16, 1951, and before 1 p.m. the following day.

The auction was called off. The FBI seized the painting and has been holding it in secure storage in Manassas, Va., until Judge Brinkema can resolve the ownership question.

For a time, it appeared that the painting’s rightful owner might have been the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., which paid the BMA’s $ 2,500 theft claim. However, last month, the insurance company transferred its rights to the artwork to the museum.

Diaz’s motion doesn’t dispute Fuqua’s account of how she came to acquire the oil painting. Or, if any doubt is expressed, it is delicately worded.

“Notwithstanding the ‘Renoir’ plate on the frame of the painting and the paper on the back indicating that it was by Renoir and entitled ‘Paysage Bords de Seine,’ Fuqua did not realize that the painting was an original Renoir at the time of her purchase or in the following years,” the motion reads.

“Even if she did purchase the painting at a flea market without knowledge of its authorship and/or title, her claim must still fail as a matter of law because the painting was stolen from the BMA.”

In Diaz’s motion, she provides documents indicating that the Renoir landscape was exhibited at the Baltimore museum at least twice: in March 1950 as part of an exhibit of the May Collection, and again in November 1951, when it was included in a show titled “From Ingres to Gauguin.”

It was during that show that the painting disappeared.

To bolster her argument, Diaz cites the example of a Tiffany sword dating back to the Civil War that vanished from Brown University sometime between 1974 and 1977. The sword was purchased in 1992 from an Illinois antiques dealer by a couple named Donald and Toni Tharpe.

After Brown discovered the whereabouts of the missing weapon, university officials sued to have the sword returned. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia — the same district where the Renoir case is pending. Though the Tharpes argued that they had purchased the artifact in good faith, earlier this summer, Magistrate Judge Douglas Miller ruled that the sword belongs to the university and ordered it returned.

In her motion, Diaz argues that the case for the museum’s ownership of the Renoir is even stronger than the winning case presented by Brown University.

Unlike the theft of the sword, which was never fully documented, the Renoir painting was reported to have been stolen within hours after the theft was discovered. Diaz’s motion includes four separate documents alluding to the theft.

She argues that under “well-settled Virginia law” good-faith purchasers of stolen goods are out of luck.

“Ms. Fuqua could not have purchased good title to the painting and does not, therefore, have a valid claim to possession and ownership of the painting,” Diaz’s motion argues. “Her claim to possession and ownership of the painting must be dismissed.”

Fuqua’s attorney, T. Wayne Biggs, declined to comment Tuesday, though he is expected to file a formal response to the motion for summary judgment this month.

A motion for a summary judgment can be granted only if the germane facts in the case aren’t in dispute, if they are so clear-cut that a jury could reach just one possible verdict under the law.

That’s a steep bar for any attorney to surmount — and Fuqua’s attorney has yet to make his client’s case.

But, at a pretrial conference last week, Judge Brinkema might have given a hint as to her thinking. She told the attorneys: “This is a relatively straightforward, simple case. It shouldn’t take much time.”

She will hear oral arguments in the motion on Jan. 10.

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com ___


Arts – The Huffington Post
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Flea Market Baby

Flea Market Baby


Learn how to make a one-of-a-kind nursery for baby by decorating with antiques and vintage finds. Discover alternative uses for traditional items while adding a stylish twist to baby’s new room. Best friends and coauthors Barri Leiner and Marie Moss reveal that even a few well-chosen items can provide enough inspiration for an entire nursery. Useful information about where to seek out unique items for baby is also included. Leiner and Moss also take us along for a whirlwind tour of their favorite flea market and junk shops to unearth hidden treasures that are perfect for baby. While some finds are fun and whimsical, others are sure become treasured heirlooms. Sterling silver spoons, vintage birth announcements, handmade quilts all appear in full color and provide inspiration for both the novice and experienced collector. Flea market finds also make the perfect gift for new parents and can be used as decorations or favors for a special baby shower or birthday party.

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