Sunday, December 12, 2010

Religious Art & Antiques

18th century nativity figures of Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus.

Kansas City Star, 12.12.10
Words by Steve Rogers
Photo by Roy Inman

So it began more than two millennia ago with the arrival of a man known to many as Jesus of Nazareth. Endeared as the Messiah and God’s chosen one to more than 2 billion Christians worldwide, his legacy is celebrated in pageantry, annual holidays and art.

Various forms of art ranging from sculpture to paintings to architecture and metalwork capture moments during his 33 years of life on Earth. From his birth in a stable to gatherings with disciples and even his violent death on a wooden cross, artists have captured the essence of Jesus in daily life.

Although religious art and antiques are not limited to Christianity, they are highly sought after for personal collections as well as displays in museums. Having toured many beautiful churches and cathedrals, I am always struck by the wonderful carvings and artwork that are on display and placed into service. Though the art itself is not the object of worship for Christians, is does create a mood of reverence for gathering worshippers, helping them to focus on the narrative of the message.

Although Protestant, I grew up with a strong heritage of Catholic observers on my mom’s side of the family. I attended many Masses and was intrigued with the beautiful icons and religious reliquaries in my grandparents’ church. At home they had wonderful statues of the Madonna, the Christ child and various saints. I still cherish a carved rosary they purchased for me on a trip to Ireland.

And though I’m no religious scholar or critic of art, I do have a great appreciation for the emotions artwork can deliver.

Santos, Spanish for “saints,” are figural carvings that depicted angels, saints and religious figures like Jesus. Often found in wooden form, these religious images were a product of the Catholic Church and were used to convert indigenous peoples to Catholicism. They were popular items used in both home altars and churches. Such high demand for them was placed on the Vatican by church parishes that unauthorized versions came into play. But they in no way diminish their value or collectability.

Rosaries, Latin for “garlands of roses,” are prayer beads used to count the succession of prayers that make up the rosary. A traditional Catholic practice, the prayers are sequenced and followed by a meditation recalling the life of Jesus Christ. Rosary beads are specific in number but come in various materials ranging from wood to glass. A favorite in my personal collection is an oversized rosary made of hand-formed copper beads.

The Crucifix is arguably the most universal symbol in all of Christianity. It is a four-point cross and represents the sacrificial hanging and death of Jesus Christ for which his body of believers are redeemed for eternal life. The Crucifix may appear with or without the representation of Jesus’ body — without symbolizes his resurrection over death, an important doctrine in Christianity. Crucifixes are often a central visual reference point in church buildings.

Paintings are the most common form of religious art today. From the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo depicted the hand of God bringing life to Adam, to Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” which portrays Jesus Christ in a final meal with his disciples before his death, canvases of art hang in galleries and museums in addition to personal collections all over the world.

Here is a trivial tidbit you can even take with you to your next holiday mixer. One of the 10 most expensive paintings ever sold on the market was Peter Paul Rubens’ religious work “Massacre of the Innocents.” It sold for $76 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2002.

This brings us to the end of our history lesson and the year 2010. Here is to wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bring The Outdoor Into The Indoors This Holiday

Had some fun with Loren Halifax on Kansas City's FOX 4 Morning Show. So get out there and haul in some evergreen and berries straight from nature! It's easy, cheap and looks great.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tune In....

Tomorrow morning I will be sharing decorating ideas for the holidays. If you are local, tune in at 8:20a to Kansas City's FOX 4 Morning Show. It will be a fun take on bringing the outdoors into the indoors for the season. Hope you will join me!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Humbled Beginnings

Kansas City Star, 11.14.10
Words by Steve Rogers
Photo by Roy Inman

With the passing of one season into another, I become reflective and think about all the things that I have to be grateful for. My family and friends, solid health, a good job, a warm meal….you know the list and these things are certainly not trivial in the least.

It also gets me to thinking about the beginnings of our ancestors, their basic needs and how items were pressed into service for their function versus their form. When the first Thanksgiving table was set, I can only imagine that the items were simple, hand-crafted and created for utilitarian purpose and daily use.

As generations began to hand things down to the next an appreciation began to occur. It just so happens that some of my favorite items are the essence of humbled beginnings. Once a thing of basics, now items that are treasured.

There is something so humbling and basic about folk art - art that is often created by indigenous cultures or laboring tradesman. The primary function often serves as utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic and in many ways the forms are simple and not overly-adorned. Today these items are best classified as old trade signs, tramp art, portraits and carved figures. Tramp art is especially beautiful as layers of wood are carved upon layers of wood creating very graphic and textural art. Often found as frames and boxes, sailors would return home from time at sea with these items as gifts for their loved ones.

Silvered glass, also known as mercury glass, was a trade of the Victorians in mid-1800’s in addition to production in Germany and the Czech Republic. Glass was blown by hand, silvered with a solution, heated and then closed. They are often found as bowls, goblets, vases and candlesticks and while highly decorative, it once was considered “poor man’s” silver for those classes that could not afford proper silver for the table. Today it is collected for its inherent artistic value rather than for utilitarian use.

The early days of accounting and record keeping were done not on the latest software package, but in over-sized, leather bound books. Substantial in size, they could hold a year’s worth of accounts received and paid. While the binding and color of these books are beautiful on the outside, the penmanship on the inside of these century old record logs are beautiful to the eye. I often find volumes that are on hard times and will use the pages as a stunning backdrop for artwork or as lining for the back of a bookcase.

Gunny sacks are as humble as they come. Inexpensive and often made of linen, flax and burlap they were traditionally used for transporting grains and agricultural products to market. These bags often have various stripes, colors and writing to determine which family it belonged to. Beloved for their natural fibers they now serve as table covers, decorative pillows and window covers.

Whether glamorous or humble, in solitude or in the company of others, at home or on the road – here is to wishing you peace, health and love for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Reach Steve Rogers, co-developer of Prize + Peruvian Connection on the Country Club Plaza, at or

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Just In....

With the opening of our new retail location on the Country Club Plaza, I've had a moment to find, reset and place some new goodies into inventory at the West Bottoms showroom.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Be Our Guest!

You are invited to be our guest as we celebrate the the launch of an exciting collaboration with Peruvian Connection. Eat, drink and feast your eyes on an irresistible array of artisan-made apparel and extraordinary found objects.

Thursday, November 11th
5 to 8 pm
4725 Wyandotte
Kansas City Country Club Plaza
Country Club Plaza • 4725 Wyandotte • Kansas City, Missouri

*10% of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to the Women’s Employment Network

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Peruvian Connection + Prize

Peruvian Connection + Prize
Kansas City Country Club Plaza
4725 Wyandotte
Kansas City, MO

I may have hinted earlier that a really amazing collaboration is taking place. Prize is partnering with Peruvian Connection for the holiday's with a new store on Kansas City's Country Club Plaza...opening November 1.

Peruvian Connection's stunning artisan-made apparel will mix with extraordinary found objects from Prize...we think you will be pleased. Here is a very quick peek at some of the merchandise that is rolling in....

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finds From Around The Globe - In Texas

The Round Top Antiques Fair in Texas influences America’s tastemakers. These were some of Steve Rogers’ recent finds. He makes the trip each year. "

Kansas City Star Design Notebook: 10.17.10
Words by: Steve Rogers
Photo by: Roy Inman
There are things you must experience for yourself: an espresso at a Parisian cafe, strolling through the Victoria & Albert museum in London, college football between two big rivals, making waffles with your kids — and shopping at the famous Original Round Top Antiques Fair.

I’m like a giddy child on Christmas Eve while anticipating this shopping adventure in Round Top, Texas.

Weeks of orchestrated planning go into this trip: booking rooms and transportation, contacting dealers and ensuring that my bank account is ready for action. Just as Objet de Maison is the event in Europe for setting the latest trends in home fashion, you will spot the who’s who of American design in Texas. From Ralph Lauren’s and Tommy Hilfiger’s designers to Rachel Ashwell and Mark Sage (a force and influence behind the new look at Restoration Hardware), this town of 77 swells to thousands who converge to buy, trade, sell and define the next trends for American home fashion.

Designing is a combinations game and is really about the infusion of varying looks to create a style. Style comes from influences found across the globe, and personally, I like a little bit of everything. So when more than 5,000 antique dealers from all over the world descend, something good is sure to happen. It’s best described as hitting almost every continent in a 20-square-mile radius — without a passport.

Antiques week happens twice a year and is actually a two-week stretch of shows during the spring and fall. Some are in barn-like structures and air-conditioned tents and others are in open fields and rolling meadows. It may rain or it may be hot, but these are only minor concerns. If you were to classify shoppers on a sliding scale of casual to hard-core, I’d fall in the latter. I don’t meander from place to place but run with all the gumption I have. I’m up and at it by 6 a.m. and can be found shopping by flashlight at 8 p.m.

I travel light and always have a cup of coffee. My other trappings include a BlackBerry, handy to record notes such as where I’ve purchased and left items. I use its camera to snap and send photos to clients, and the BlackBerry is a place to keep measurements for special pieces I need to find. Many dealers will take checks and credit cards, but I find that cash can always sweeten the deal.

The fall show proved to be everything I anticipated. I found amazing artifacts and religious icons from a dealer in Madrid, wonderful French apothecary bottles from a dealer in Brussels, a 19th century pastry table and an early American trade sign with patina and paint that no one could ever reproduce. And I found it all in Texas.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

French Country Reinvented

This blog is a must time you are in France you should also pop by! The shopkeepers were featured in French Country Style at Home. This is truly where life meets lifestyle.

A tout à l'heure!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Dose Of Parisian Market In Texas....

Okay, so here is what I have learned. You really no longer need a passport to shop for wonderful continental antiques and art...just go to Texas. And, not only for antiques but great inspiration too and you will meet some wonderful people along the way.

I set out at the break of dawn on Thursday and by Saturday I had filled a large truck to the brim...literally (pics of that soon). So here are some atmosphere shots for now:

More tomorrow as I begin unloading the truck! Come visit next weekend at Bottoms Up as we will be open from from 10-5 on Friday & Saturday. Also opening on the KC Country Club Plaza on November 1 and will be holding some amazing stuff back...there is plenty to go around! ;-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gone To Texas....

Well, my bags are packed and I'm off for antique week in Texas. Check in for pics and postings!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Create Uncommon Beauty From Common Things

The Victorians loved domes and used them as encasements to protect items that were cherished and of sentimental value.
[Photo: Roy Inman]

Sometimes it’s the common objects that turn my head. Not because they are common, but because of how they are presented. Think about the last time you were tooling around a gallery or museum. Lighting, placement, groupings and context are the essence of grabbing your attention.

On the other side are curators who have been deliberate about the artwork and objects they have selected for your viewing pleasure. This is not an uncommon approach in retail, either. Shop owners and merchants alike have narrowed in on a story they want to tell you — it’s called merchandising. Some do it well, some do it even better. The best merchandising practices are now carried into the home.

I am a fan of fewer and more meaningful things in my life. I like order, balance and cohesion. Here are some ways I accomplish the effect.

Glass domes have been around for centuries. The Victorians loved them and used them as encasements to protect items that were cherished and of sentimental value. Everything from locks of hair to a child’s christening gown.

Today these antique domes are being repurposed with new content. They become fascinating with almost any arrangement: books, religious relics, medical implements or sea life.

Another element that brings visual interest to collections is the use of stands. The key to execution is to do groupings; I prefer odd numbers. Stands can be repurposed from architectural elements like finials and decorative orbs from the tops of old iron fence posts.

I’ve even seen a set of vintage marble ink wells that were used as the base for antique gilded architectural fragments from Italy. These would have been tossed in yesterday’s garbage but now have become an instant collection of art. Fabricated bases also can be custom-built, and I recommend using a professional installer, as weight and scale are important to the overall support of the object.

Framing artwork is really meant to set off the art, but often the frames become the art, too. I never hesitate to buy an empty frame because I know it will soon serve its purpose. I love the idea of framing something completely ordinary with an over-the-top frame.

Let’s take my children’s artwork for example, which quickly piles up. I’ve taken an assortment of drawings, paintings and works in various mediums (like construction paper) and have created a wall of outsider art with multiple individual frames that are easy to swap out.

Nothing creates focus like lighting, and there are many options when it comes to using illumination on art and objects. Gallery lighting and ceiling cans are particularly good, but there are other solutions to consider where the lighting becomes art itself.

I like to use antique apothecary lamps and vintage task lamps to call attention to an arrangement of objects. Using a low-watt bulb, such as 15 or 25, creates a glow and brings visual attention to an object.

Read more in the Kansas City Star.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Anticipation...It's The Best!

Okay...go with with me here. Think about what makes you so excited that you lose sleep. Remember the night before Christmas? The morning before you pulled out of your driveway with your family for vacation? The first day before a new school year. Well, for me it's antique week in Texas! I'm headed there in just two short weeks and ready to make a haul for Prize! Last year was amazing and I can only expect that it will be another treasure hunt.

I have many favorite people and places and can't wait to meet up again. Those open fields, over-flowing tents and decked-out barns with their treasures-in-waiting.

               White Ironstone photo source:  Country Garden Antiques

There are the common things I'll be looking for (white ironstone among them), but it's the unknown that awaits...the great hunt.

I'll be posting pics as I go and the 20ft truck will return to Kansas City on September 29!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Getting To Know You....

Thank you to Cisley Thummel and the good folks at 435 South Magazine for including me in your September issue! What didn't make it in this issue is the breaking news that Prize will be opening a holiday location and a whole new concept on the Kansas City Country Club Plaza. More on that later!

Words By: Cisley Thummel
Local interior design devotees who’ve decided there’s nothing new under the sun might want to take a second look, just over the Kansas City skyline and a bit to the west.

The creative stars have aligned, and finally they’re not just twinkling over L.A. or New York City. Beauty and sophistication are shining a bright, new light over our beloved not-so-cow town. Leading the way is Steve Rogers, owner of Prize Antiques, co-developer of the new monthly Bottoms Up Antiques event and procurer of darn good stuff for house and home.

Although he’d tell you he’s simply a shopkeeper, Rogers has been shaking up the Kansas City interior design scene for several years now. Sprint marketing guru by day, collector of vintage treasures by nights and weekends, Rogers’ polite Midwestern sensibility might lead him to downplay the fact that he’s beginning to draw attention from design lovers on both coasts. His signature style is impossible to miss yet delightfully difficult to pigeonhole; walk through his new 3,000-square-foot showroom in the West Bottoms and you’ll feel transported through time and place, transformed by seeing old things used in newly exquisite ways.

“I’ve always been moved by things that are old—especially handmade things that haven’t been retouched since they were created,” says Rogers, who revels most in objects that connect us to history and each other. “I love taking things that were created for one purpose long ago and using them for an entirely different one that fits our lifestyle today.”

Perpetually stocked with a juxtaposition of pieces mixing European with primitive and refined with industrial, Prize Antiques seems simultaneously to set and transcend trend.

Long before Restoration Hardware was mass-producing coffee tables from reclaimed wood, Rogers was fashioning lamps from vintage French bottles paired with concrete finials and creating framed art from collages of mid-19th century ledgers and bank notes. He imports antique lecterns with school-worn patina from Scandinavia to use as desks or display pieces, and he retrofits scrolling ironwork from European churches with wall mirrors. He upholsters furniture and creates table runners with the natural fibers from old Belgian grain sacks.

And although his style is green-friendly, the end products of Rogers’ work seem too aesthetically pleasing to be called recycling. His attitude about buying and selling his goods is too joyful to call it business.

It’s no wonder that Rogers sees himself as more of a “curator” than collector. Rogers seems to personify the word derived from the Latin “to care,” feeling a responsibility to select items that speak into the lives of his customers rather than just adorn their homes.

“In the end, it’s not just about the possessions,” he says. “It’s about how they help you live your life and share it with others.”

Steve Rogers, owner of Prize Antiques, in his own words:

About his background and inspirations: I grew up in the small town of Sallisaw, Okla., near Tulsa. We had a close family but my upbringing was hardly global. So when I travelled to Paris and London in my early 20s, I was moved by what I saw: objects that were old, unique and made by hand.

But sometimes what people don’t realize is that you don’t have to travel to Europe to find inspiration—it can be anywhere, in shops and even on blogs. My wife and I were just on a trip and stopped at a schoolyard in Bella Vista, Ark., to let our kids play. The architecture on the school building was amazing—what’s fun is finding that unexpected beauty.

His hard-to-describe style: I would say “eclectic,” but it’s a term that’s so overused that it’s lost some of its meaning. I’m not a purist because I love so many different periods—for instance I’ll mix mid-century with refined country. For me it’s about how everything lives together and how handmade objects tell their own stories. Right now I’ve got a strong Belgian influence, but my style is always growing and changing.

What people don’t understand about decorating: I think some people just use their homes to impress others without really giving any thought to what inspires them personally. Think about what moves you: is it a piece of art, a style of furniture, a certain period of time? Don’t just buy anything and then have it end up in next year’s garage sale.

Misconceptions about antiques: They’re not supposed to be stuffy or boring. Antiques really are there to give us a unique point of view. To borrow a phrase from Traditional Home magazine, you can have classic taste with modern living. Antiques aren’t just about your grandma’s Victorian sofa anymore.

Speaking of grandma’s Victorian sofa: I’m not a big believer in what I call “sacred furniture.” Sure, you can pick and choose a few pieces of furniture from a family collection, but be judicious and don’t take it unless you love it. You don’t want to get weighed down by someone else’s life.

Favorite objects right now: I’ve got this old stage light that was used in Hollywood productions. You couldn’t make a knock-off of it even if you wanted to . . . it’s got this great riveted brass and I shine it on artwork. My favorite things at Prize right now are Santos pieces. They’re 18th-century hand-carved Jesus figures made of polychrome wood, and they look great under glass domes. I think a lot of us connect to religious imagery.

Inside his own house: My kids are one, three, and five years old, so it’s not overly-styled. It’s a clean, neutral interior—and no, it’s not just beige—with white slipcovers, plus a lot of sisal and other natural fibers around. I’ve put in custom bookcases and chosen a few big, over-sized pieces instead of a lot of small things.

His customers: I think the folks who are ready for what I offer are the ones who’ve decided they want to curate their homes. You’ve got to really know yourself and what you want out of your lifestyle. In the midst of your busy life, it’s great to invest with purpose in your home. A good way to get there is to look around your house and ask yourself, “If I had to [decorate] over again, what would I really choose?”

What people say about Prize: Some of the adjectives people have used to describe the store are calming, curated and well edited. My favorite comment is “I could move in here.”

Motto: It’s the two-phrase criteria I use for everything I buy and sell: Pleasing to the eye. Joyful to the heart.

Steve Rogers on entertaining:

Think simple: There’s nothing worse than a stressed-out host or hostess who doesn’t get to enjoy their own gathering, so keep it simple. With three children five years old and younger, my wife and I have to do this! We put the kids to bed, invite a few neighbors over, and then do what’s easy: buy some nice cheeses and bread, throw a flank steak on the grill and mix a fallback signature cocktail.

Think fresh: Use whatever foods are in season and you’re sure to please. In the summer we grow a salsa garden with tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro always on hand to make fresh salsa, along with fresh mint for mojitos.

Get creative with décor: I love using old breadboards in place of serving dishes or even as chargers underneath dinner plates. Don’t be afraid to bring ‘inside’ furniture outside—I used a pole to hang an antique chandelier over our eating area.

Lowlight: Use only 25 watt light bulbs; candles or votives can you give all the ambiance you need.

Shop at Bottoms Up

The brainchild of Steve Rogers and Gwen McClure, the monthly Bottoms Up Antique Market offers antique and vintage finds from some of Kansas City’s best dealers.

What: Shop furniture, home décor, jewelry and more in more than 15,000 square feet of warehouse in Kansas City’s historic West Bottoms. Enjoy coffee and goodies from Natasha’s Mulberry & Mott.

When: The first Friday and Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: 1200 West 12th Street in Kansas City. From downtown Kansas City, it’s just over the 12th Street Bridge.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Design Principles To Make Your Home Feel More Like Home

Cohesion, order and balance are the three design principles I strive to live by. However, I have to say with three kids younger than 5 running through our home, this has not recently been the case. We’ve been pummeled by toys and lots of molded plastic and have neglected the aesthetic and harmony of our interior.

So after a recent intervention, I emptied almost every room in our home to the shell in order to rethink and re-establish style for our family.

We had a lot of good things, but they weren’t necessarily in the optimal place, or they weren’t being placed into service correctly.

Before the redesign, we took an inventory of how we lived as a family, where we spent time and how we entertained in our space. Having a method to the madness has helped deliver my design principles.

An antique Italian chest and custom French bottle lamp mix among the casual elements of sisal, wicker and linen in Steve Rogers’ Overland Park home.
Photo Credit Roy Inman Kansas City Star

Cohesion comes first in the pecking order. When we first moved into our home, we undertook serious remodeling to bring the house up-to-date. We replaced the kitchen, bathrooms and interior doors and refinished all the hardwoods.

I have to say, though, I got a little crazy with paint, and after all the good renovation work, there was just too much happening with wall color. My new rule, one color on the walls and one color on the trim, allows artwork and decor to take center stage and do the visual heavy-lifting.

This rule also applies to flooring because too many surface changes can break up the visual flow. We use lots of sisal and layer with interesting rugs, but the hardwoods anchor everything.

Lighting is also a design basic. I use dimmers and varying wattage bulbs to create lighting moods. My favorite is evening ambience; 25 watt bulbs in lamps bring calm to the kids and slow us down at the end of the day.

When it comes to furniture, the design principle is different: I like to mix wood tones, finishes, textures and patterns to make a room come to life. I will never buy a furniture “set,” since there is little appeal in living in a furniture showroom.

This is where antiques and found objects play a vital role and create context for the room, helping to bring things into balance. I also caution on over-filling a room with furniture because it should always have a purpose (yes, even those family heirlooms).

We are a society of material possessions, and things can quickly overtake surfaces, shelves and walls. To combat the plethora of toys and books, I use large antique French market baskets to keep rooms picked up and looking pristine.

And while layering is interesting, I always resist the urge to over-layer a room and instead make large and impactful decor the focus. This design principle works well in both small and large interiors.

A good litmus test is to look at your interiors each season. How do they feel and function in the cold winter or hot, humid summer? I use natural fabrics and finishes that work in all seasons, and even take a nod from nature by using décor that connects the indoors with outdoors.

This also applies to seasonal decorating by using fresh greens and winter berries for holiday decorating or fresh cut tulips from the spring garden — easy and affordable. Balance means we are enjoying what we have, spending less time with clutter and distractions and more time with family and friends.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010


I've been away for a bit....necessary so as to spend some time with three small children who are taking in the final days of summer before swimming pools close and text books open.

It's fun to watch my kid's - the wonderful transformation that is made as they discover, change and grow.

At 1, 3 and 6 they are in different places, doing different things.

They make me very happy and I love them...all 3.