Unearthing beauty, the lower rungs of the art patron’s ladder, and a newfound appreciation of time.

Let’s do mostly footnotes herebelow, just for fun!

After more than half-a-decade of intensive decluttering, simplifying, trimming, minimising, economising, filing down, honing, and pruningi most every aspect of my life with engineered efficiency, much of it in the name of security in an ever-shifting world, it feels time to recapture life’s neglected beauty once more – to unearth the shimmerous splendour and glimmers of optimism from beneath the crumbling, often colourless edges of the WannabeSoviet Empire.

My roadmarkers in this effort – my latest talismen against a world that so easily seems like it’s going to hell in a handbasket (even if said-same world is more productivelyii viewed with bemused detachment than soul-wrenching spite for all the impact it really has on the life of an independent man) – are the basic trappings and joys of fuck you money, namely a bit of hanging wall art,iii quelques meubles “mid-century modern” de plus,iv and some luxury timepieces.v

This latter category of artisinal wares is a somewhat ironic fixation given that arguably the finest piece ever penned on these pages was my critique of Chris Ballas’ seminal panning of haute horlogerie advertisements.vi Go figure that scarcely two years later I’m eyeing chrono24 classifieds with more than a passing interest and that I’ve just come home with an IWC Portofino in Rose Gold…vii my first toe into the deeply beautiful waters of fine timepieces (ie. portable art) ; a step onto the lowest rungs of the art patron’s ladder.viii The movement isn’t the most impressive technically, but having already scoped out Spring Drives while in Montreal this summer and discovering that they were about as sumptuous as a samurai sword, which I already have enough of that sort of functional Japanese brutality in my life thank you very much, I wanted something warmer. But really, Pete, a Swiss timepiece ?ix Have you lost my goddamned mind ? Yes, apparently so.

Apparently you have to be just a little looney tunesx to unearth beauty in this frequently overcast world. I’m coming to realise that art isn’t to be optimised or rationalised ; it’s the idealised product that emerges when we’ve been fortunate enough to do all that stolid business very, very well.

The weeks and months are whizzing by faster and faster now, and it’s all we can do to find a little more time for art.

___ ___ ___

  1. Maybe not those prunes, but you know what I mean.
  2. I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of the first couple of lines from Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer :

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

  3. This latest acquirement reminds me eversomuch of the Prairies my paternal ancestors called first their Land Of Opportunity, and then simply Home.


    I just love that there are no paved roads in view in this piece. This frosty winter scene – painted by Jim Stokes – could represent the 2010s just as well as the 1950s, but it also evokes a merely semi-mechanised era like the one my father grew up in – one in which a large family could and did still work the land themselves. Only the electric utility poles – gently enhanced by the slender wooden picture frame – place this painting in the 20th or 21st centuries and it’s this lack of newer technological timestamps that so effectively connects the upbringing of my father with my own… and that of my son (and future sons?).

    It’s very personal, this art business, isn’t it ? I guess that’s why it’s at once a manifestation of power to the outsider and a manifestation of meaning to the insider. That the outsider attempts to divine meaning must be a secondary consideration to the patron, and distantly so. If the outsider’s interpretation isn’t meaningless – if it’s indeed relevant – then “art” is more properly termed “propaganda.”

    Now I’m still on the hunt for an evocative Alberta / Saskatchewan harvest season landscape complete with rolled hay bales of wheat (or canola), so if you know an artist looking for commissions and one with something in this vein already in his oeuvre, do pass him my contact info

  4. A sunny trio of Eames Molded Fibreglass Stools are on order. After the charmant Eames Lounge, I really couldn’t help myself.
  5. Watches are, of course, the only piece of jewelry that men in North American are generally socially permitted to wear aside from their wedding rings. Younger boys get away with more – from earings to necklaces and dog tags – but men are pretty limited to rings and watches. 
  6. Further research into Patek Philippe has since revealed to me why they’re marketed as heirlooms much to Ballas’ misguided consternation. They are! Pateks are absolutely heirlooms. No other timepieces hold their value better (at least in fiat terms, obviously nothing holds its value in bitcoin terms, as evidence by the recent auction of Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona for 17.8x the pre-auction estimate of a measly million… dat bezzle préshaaaah…), fewer are more carefully nor more scarcely crafted, and arguably no other watchmaker can rival Patek’s depth of history, exclusivity, and technical achievement. As far as production figures go, Patek currently sells only about 50k units annually compared to a million Rolexes and who the hell even knows how many Seikos.

    These basic economics of pricing, engineering quality, scarcity, and publicness should also further cement the logic behind the fact that there’s no Bugatti comp for pretty good peacocking reasons.

  7. IW356504 for the anoraks in the audience.
  8. Hey, not like gold’s useful for much else ; might as well make sweet jewelry out of the shit.


    It’s absolutely gorgeous and it really is striking how rich and lustrous real 18k gold is on your wrist. It’s pretty damn mesmerising in a way that I never would’ve appreciated previously. I can see why golden toilets are a thing. More everyday objects should be made out of gold!

    (And save your comments, the porthole belongs to a Bombardier Q400 and I know I’m a hairy jew… but can you guess where I’m going ? Hint : North of 60!)

  9. And a luxury Swiss timepiece costing “five figures” no less. A princely sum! Or is it ? Back in the day I bought a paltry six bottles of merely decent wine from Rollingdale Winery in Kelowna* for the same number of bitcoins, which they accepted at prevailing market rates, so am I really being reckless or imprudent today ? Or have I simply delayed gratification long enough to enjoy the golden fruits of my labour ? Another three hundred thousand blocks will surely see the a bitcoin or two buy a fine Italian boulevardier of the rosso corsa variety, even if by then I’ll quite possibly prefer to sport a Richard Mille 067-01 as I mill about private racetracks. Or maybe there’s room in the future stable for all that and more. Can one ever have too much art ?

    ___ ___
    *Pete buys Rollingdale wine 2013

  10. And/or increasingly, if perhaps temporarily, disgusted with the incessant regulatory burdens placed on the automotive sector, not to mention the ever-increasingly tech-shittery wedged into the latest models of cars. Horology, by comparison, is gleefully free of such restrictions on its art,* and its storage and maintenance costs are a mere fraction of what car owners put up with. Hell, around town, in the urban jungle, taking cabs and sporting fine watches makes at least as much sense as driving your own supercars between stop lights while catching glimpses of the ungodly ugliness of your G-Shock. How that sounds like a better deal than looking out the back window of a cab while catching glimpses of my Vacheron Constantin Historiques American isn’t at all obvious.

    Which is more looney tunes ? Which more comical ?

    ___ ___
    *And yet designer of the Royal Oak, Nautilus, and many more classics Gerald Genta is quoted as having said :

    Les montres pour moi, c’est l’anti-liberté ! Je suis un artiste, un peintre, je déteste avoir à faire à une contrainte de l’heure. Ça m’énerve.

    Clearly never having designed a car in his life.  

14 thoughts on “Unearthing beauty, the lower rungs of the art patron’s ladder, and a newfound appreciation of time.

  1. You going to Iqaluit, brah? :)

  2. BingoBoingo says:

    Isn’t IWC a rather “hiphop” urban brand nowadays in the Wu Tang and Biggie “east side” sense of things. I hope they at least threw in the complementary magazine subscription.

    • Pete D. says:

      Maybe ? I’m not really up on my celebrity endorsements, though I do seem to recall Bahamas sporting a Rolex Cellini at one point (and if that isn’t enough to turn anyone with taste away from the entire brand, I don’t know what is).

      No ‘zine subby from IWC but I was treated to an ill-fitting baseball cap.

  3. […] books, locally made soaps, and this whimsical white marble Dancing Bear by Billy Merkosak. The art patron strikes again! I grant that it’s not the whitest of white marbles but apparently the marble […]

  4. […] playing architectural tourist in between bursts of shopping for fine furniture, art, and maaaaybe another timepiece, at least not anytime before my 50th birthday. A grateful young man is me to be in these shoes, in […]

  5. […] both Patek-based designs ? Because they’re utterly gorgeous and really nail dat heirloom quality. […]

  6. […] are necessarily – for the good of humanity – aimed not at the less fortunate but at artists deemed worthy of a voice. […]

  7. […] note that the sunny trio has arrived! More fun furniture is now on order but it’ll be four more months of a six-month lead time to […]

  8. […] that the averages of their stuffed ballot boxes are the tastemakers. It ain’t so. Art is a manifestation of meaning and power, and Kanye is now in a unique position where he’s both creator and patron. So ya, he can […]

  9. […] all bulky beasts. But that only makes the used market that much more attractive! And thankfully, unlike most Pateks or RMs, URWERKs don’t hold their value terribly […]

  10. […] myself special enough in certain domains, I’ve never maintained any delusions about being Paul Newman and having the power to imbue inert objects with hereto unprecedented quantities of value, for […]

  11. […] garage-cum-art-gallery, but the personal manifestation of meaning that is this artwork – and all art patronage – is simply […]

  12. […] thus far, I have to say that I’m thus far thoroughly unimpressed with their ruggedness. My IWC Portofino, at least, is as fragile as a osteoporotic femur. But Pete, you say, it’s a “dress […]

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