Calendar Girls

By Clinton J. Holloway


In last month’s Design Elements, I explored collector and decorator items at the GasLamp Antiques and Decorator Malls that were based upon the old poem by Robert Southey, “What All the World is Made Of.”  Little girls are made of, we said, “sugar and spice and everything nice.”


Following in that same vein, this month’s articles take a look at a more grown-up version of these quatrains and we take our cues from the 2003 British comedy movie, “Calendar Girls.”  


In “Calendar Girls,” a group of matronly ladies, led by Helen Mirren and Julie Waters, raise funds for charity by celebrating the nearly-nude female body in a monthly calendar (much to the surprise of their neighbors). The movie, in a light-hearted way, testifies to the beauty in all bodies.


Likewise, we can find this same celebration of beauty in the female form in many of the antiques and decorator items of both GasLamp and GasLamp Too. In fact, GasLamp could probably do its own calendar just from the artwork found in the 50,000 square feet of retail and gallery space in its two locations.   


Though she has seen better days, an antique oil painting of a nude female depicted from the waist up, wrinkled and minus her original stretchers, has a certain charm and beauty (photo, above right; $125 at Booth T-108).


A modern rendition depicting a similar subject matter is found in Booth T-504 (photo, left; for $695). Shannon Anderson, an East Nashville artist, presents a monumental 2-by-4-foot oil painting, which recalls the silkscreens made popular by Andy Warhol. Both paintings, though depicting the same theme, and are in two vastly different styles, but are both great examples of the wonders of artistic interpretation.


On a lighter note, pop culture provides a foil to the serious business of art, and the GasLamp Antique and Decorating Malls are not short on pop culture. Take a walk through the showcases of Too and you will see a vintage handbag featuring a reproduction cover of the vintage men’s magazine Play Girls on Parade in Booth T-722 (photo, right). You can carry it off for a mere $12.  


In showcase T-144 another iconic pop culture image is found, a vintage double-sided silk pillow of actress Marilyn Monroe in the white cocktail dress worn in the 1955 movie “The Seven Year Itch” (photo, left). The actual dress (which cannot be purchased at Gas Lamp, wink wink) was sold by actress Debbie Reynolds in a 2011 auction for an astounding $5.6 million dollars! It is considered by as one of history’s most famous dresses. Considering the price of the original, we think the $350 price for the 1950s pillow is pretty sweet!


So be it a little sugar or a little spice, everything is nice at the Gas Lamp!

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