PaperCity Magazine

September 2014 - Houston

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Page 55 of 87

SEPTEMBER | PAGE 56 | 2 014 A pedigreed 1917 bungalow, refreshed for the 21st century, is filled with reclaimed treasures (including the owner's own art), all imbued with the perfume of the past. Around every airy corner is a sculpture, a painting, an assemblage or furnishings that represent a delightful moment of sleuthing. Assiduously and lovingly culled from locales as far-flung as Paris, Rio, West Texas and, closer to home, Montrose and Heights antique and junk shops, this dwelling serves as a testament to the talismanic power carried by objects across time, and the exquisite mystery that a piece of art can hold. Cue Claire Cusack, a well-regarded Houston artist who has been honing her minimal craft of assemblage for more than 20 years. She's one of the stalwarts and stars of gallerist Franny Koelsch's stable. The pair met years ago when Koelsch was a high school student and worked part-time at Cotton Club, which Cusack helped CASA B Y C A T H E R I N E D. A N S P O N . P H O T O G R A P H Y J E N N Y A N T I L L . The front-of-the-house sitting room mixes decades and attitude in a polite, polished design dialogue. Holding pride of place: a languid mid-century modern sofa by Folke Ohlsson for Dux, a find from Reeves Antiques. Flanking the sofa, graceful European chairs from Antiques and Interiors on Dunlavy (now at the Pavilion). Slate-and-chrome coffee table and a mod stool, both from Metro Retro. Cowhide rug Heights Antiques on Yale. Frank Hettig CLAIRE manage. Cusack first became known for her sculptures of crosses that combined the sublime and polished with the rustic and authentic. Crystal shards encircled by rough-hewn bundles of barbed wire and charred chunks of campfire wood pierced by a perfect bolt of glass are among the memorable combinations. Prior to becoming an artist, Cusack worked in the fashionable ranks of some of Houston's most forward retailers. Besides the aforementioned Cotton Club, she also did stints in buying and management for Tootsies (her expertise: women's European sportswear) and for Barneys New York, where she managed and also merchandised the former Houston Galleria store. While the art world won out, her foray into fashion is reflected in her enduring, iconoclastic style, which may find her switching out an impeccable pair of Prada sandals for striking Rocketbuster boots from one of the collections she lovingly tends and often wears. Then there's her lineage. Mom, Barbara Hill, is a Houston-based designer, protégé of Dominique de Menil, and early art dealer who championed talents ranging from Donald Judd to Sol LeWitt; Hill was known for cutting-edge installations. Segueing into the design world, her celebrated projects included The ethereal Three Wishes, 2013 combines an antique christening dress with a diminutive hanger from Hôtel Lotti, Paris. It was exhibited last fall in "3" at Cusack's long-time hometown dealer, Koelsch Gallery.

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