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