Tag Archives: Boston

Pioneer Goods Co.

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I haven’t done a Q&A in a while and I’m thrilled to be bringing it back with Pioneer Goods Co.’s owner Justin Power. Pioneer opened its doors in the South End this year to a very excited and welcoming community. And for good reason! The store immediately grabs your attention with its covetable corner spot on Tremont Street along with a well designed logo featured on the large windows. Once you step inside, the mood is set. The lights are dim, the hardwood floors are covered with oriental rugs, and the walls proudly display pennants, taxidermy, and antique artwork and mirrors. What Justin, and the store, really excels in is careful restraint. Nothing is overcrowded and you don’t get the feeling that you’ve just walked into a pack rat’s barn. Instead, each piece is carefully selected and comfortably arranged together. The effect? You’ve just walked into your New England grandpa’s study. Justin was kind enough to share how he manages to make so many great finds, come together into one great store.

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Q. What inspired you to open Pioneer Goods Co. and why open in the South End?

A. I had been preparing to open Pioneer Goods my entire life . . . I just didn’t know it. I’m the son of an interior designer and the grandson of an engineer who paid his way through college by working as a carpenter. When my grandfather built his house on the Vineyard, he designed and actually *built* his house, working as a carpenter alongside the crew he hired. I learned a lot more from them than I realized at the time. I was a kid who was always rearranging my room and making new vignettes. It was always important to me to enjoy my living space. The South End was a no-brainer. Though I’ve since moved, I lived here for five years and fell in love with the sense of community here. The best restaurants in the city are here, and the retail scene is becoming increasingly interesting and it’s almost entirely made up of independent businesses. It was important for me to be a part of that. It’s also not a tourist trap the way other retail areas of the city are. It’s hard to sell home goods to a wayfarer.

Q. The shop has really captured the feeling of New England comfort and nostalgia – without feeling musty or kitschy. That’s hard to achieve! What were some of the challenges in getting it just right?

A. Well thank you for saying that! My aesthetic is based on the places I’ve been throughout New England and the people behind those places that make them harmonious. It’s about authenticity and trying to recreate the retreats of the well-heeled and the well-travelled. The challenges come from not going exceedingly in one direction. A little bit of kitsch, when paired with something more elegant or stately, will add character and show that you don’t take yourself too seriously. There’s also the other end of the spectrum, where the shop could look like a museum, but I’m not on Beacon Hill, and I’m not interested in quintupling my prices.

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Q. Where are some of your favorite resources (if you dare share) for finding goods for the shop?

A. Without being too specific, I’ll say that it’s almost an embarrassment of riches, living in New England with the amount of history (and hoarding) we have in the Northeast. Whether it’s raiding your grandparents garage, checking out the myriad antique shops and fairs up and down the coast, or even checking out your local Goodwill, there is always something interesting and unique that you could find to add to your collection or make part of your home decor. My job is to curate from all of these resources and give you one place to find it all without leaving the city.

Q. You also provide design services, can you share a little bit more about that process and examples of custom work you’ve done?

A. While we do offer your customary design services, something a bit different that we offer is custom painting furniture services where you bring me your old, tired piece, and I give it a new life. Often times its an heirloom, a piece that has too much sentimental value to toss out, but the client just can’t stand the look of it. That’s where we come in and make it look exactly how they want it, or they give us complete artistic license to make it look how we see fit. I just did a really fun one where we painted South End landmarks on the dresser drawers (pictured below). I Obviously I like rustic, distressed furniture, stuff that looks a hundred years old, but we do all sorts of finishes, from a sleek modern look to gilded European finishes. Despite my best efforts, not everything has to be rustic. Nothing beats the look on a client’s face when they see their grandmother’s formerly dingy old server come back to life and become a dazzling addition to their current dining room.

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Q. Although you just opened this Spring, you’ve already hosted an evening with tintype photographer Giles Clement. Do have any other events planned for this year that we shouldn’t miss?

A. The Giles Clement event was great, but we still haven’t had a proper Grand Opening, so I should probably get busy putting one together. That will be more of an open house-cocktail party event for people just to hang out, see the shop and share laughs and conversation. We also have a pop-up event scheduled with Red Earth Trading Co. on Friday, October 17th. Red Earth is a truly amazing company that offers handmade goods from artisans around the world. Travis, the founder of the company, works with these artisans in helping them organize, manage, and finance their business, many in impoverished villages overseas. It is such a positive company, and I’m honored to be hosting them in the shop. I can’t wait.

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Thanks again for sharing with us Justin! All photo credits go to Henry + Mac

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Washington St. Originals

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I’m a sucker for great vintage, especially when it’s local. Sam and Will introduced me to their vintage shop Washington St. Originals a few days back. Their brick and mortar shop is based in Lynn, MA (a short jaunt out of Boston) in a vintage clothing warehouse. Their current online selection includes some real keepers like a Champion Yankee Trails sweatshirt, Nike 1980 all court canvas sneakers, and a Brooks Brothers leather bike jacket. Be prepared to enhance your wardrobe with these finds.

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Patriots Day

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Today was a horrific day for Boston. Thankfully all those near and dear to me are safe, but there were several instances of very close calls. Many are not so lucky, with the number of injuries continuing to rise and the death toll now at 3. It has been incredible to see the amount of strength this city has demonstrated in the face of this incident, and the amount of support and aid that individuals have been giving each other. Friends of ours and the fine folks of Old Try have designed this print as their small token of appreciation for their adopted city of Boston. All proceeds will go to the families affected by today’s tragedy. The design is based on the first flag of New England and will be hand-pressed by fellow Bostonian Union Press.

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Winslow Homer

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In celebration of Winslow Homer’s birthday (February 24, 1836) I wanted to put together a post about this important New England artist. His work is iconic because of his depictions of New England and epic seascapes, like Northeaster, 1895 seen below. The etching above of Eight Bells, is my personal favorite (as well as the 1886 oil painting). And his career as an illustrator has always inspired me in my own work (although my qualities pale in comparison).

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Born in Boston into an old New England family, Homer began his art career at a young age. His mother was an amateur watercolorist and taught him. He and his mother remained very close throughout his life, while his relationship with his volatile father was always strained. When Homer reached 19, his father got him an apprenticeship with commercial lithographer J.H. Bufford in Boston. After two years working there (and turning down a position as an illustrator at Harper’s Bazaar) Homer went on to be a freelance illustrator for almost twenty years, creating illustrations of Boston and New England life. He vowed to never have a master/boss again after Bufford. And he was successful in this.

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In 1859 Homer opened a studio in New York City and attended classes at the National Academy of Design. There he studied briefly with artist Frédéric Rondel who taught him the basics of oil painting. His mother had hopes of sending him on to Europe to continue his studies but Harper’s sent him to the front lines of the Civil War to illustrate depictions of the war, from the battles to the camps. When he returned back to his studio, he refocused on painting and began a series based on some of his war sketches. He then switched to subjects with women and children while reminiscing of simpler times.

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Homer did make it to France, where he stayed in Paris for a year continuing his studies of oil painting. His preferred depicting peasant life and similarly simple subjects. in 1875 he quit his illustration career and moved forward thriving solely (albeit precariously) on his paintings. Critics were opinionated, but supportive of his ability to make unappealing subjects rather pictorial in their own way.

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When he returned to the USA, Homer switched to watercolor while spending a summer in Gloucester. These sold much more readily and significantly eased his financial burden. Due to some emotional turmoil, or his consistent shyness, Homer became somewhat of a recluse in the late 1870s and moved out of the city to Gloucester, at times living in the lighthouse. He went on to spend to two years in England in a couple coastal villages where his style became increasingly more constrained and deliberate, and his palate more sober.

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Upon his return to the states, Homer showed his new work in New York City and was received as being an all together “new Homer”. His subjects were no longer whimsical, but hard and real. In 1883 he moved to Prouts Neck, Maine and lived in his family estate’s carriage house. Here he began to concentrate on monumental seascapes and nautical themes. Although he was now revered as one of America’s greatest painters, his work was not as popular as say the flattering portraits of John Singer Sargent, and his seascapes sometimes took years to sell. Homer began to take mini trips to the Florida and the Bahamas to break up the long Maine winters. His watercolor works there were again praised for their freshness, but also struggled to be sold.

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In 1893, Homer painted The Fox Hunt, his largest painting to date. It was immediately procured by the Pennsylvania Museum of Art making it his first work in a major museum collection. Over the ten years following this momentous occasion, Homer’s paintings began to sell more frequently and he gained the financial stability that he would have for the rest of his life. In 1910, Homer passed away in Prouts Neck at the age of 74. He is buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA and his studio in Prouts Neck was sold to the Portland Museum of Art. In September 2012, the museum completed a thorough renovation of the studio and reopened it for visitors.

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American Field

Amazing roster of brands, great people, lots of food. See you all there!

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