For Michael Anthony, perfection is always just out of reach
He’s got a unicycle, a Harley Softail FXD and a tightwire in his Sebastopol workshop, along with a guitar, a couple of longbows and a makeshift archery range—the target is in a back closet.
So when Michael Anthony needs a brief break from bootmaking, he’s got a reasonable range of options without leaving work. But when does he have time to leave?
He’s got actors and TV personalities, famous millionaires and just plain folks who are willing to pay $2,000 and up for a lifetime pair of handmade cowboy boots.
And then there are the interruptions. A woman heading to Europe drops in with a new pair of walking shoes that are too tight on her feet. She wants Michael to modify them. He listens patiently and then pulls out the insoles. Voilà. She leaves happy, grateful. He’s saved her trip.
The shop itself is tiny. You’ve seen bathrooms that are bigger. But it serves him in his solitude, a man, a boot last, a hammer and a needle and thread. A craft. There is something serene about that scene, something almost achingly poignant, because Michael Anthony is an artisan, and artisan’s are harder and harder to find.
He makes custom shoes and boots, the waiting list is long, the price can hit $10,000, and one customer has more than 30 pairs. But he knows times have been tough—catch him at the right time with the right design and he might make you a pair for $1,200. Whatever the cost, he will never be satisfied with his own work. For the true artisan, perfection is always just out of reach.
Custom Boots by Michael Anthony,
227 North Main Street,
Sebstopol, CA 95472.
Hossain Amjadi’s front yard is an outdoor art gallery
You’ve already been to his gallery and you’ve already seen his work, the titanic metal fish, tail-walking across the gravel yard, the steel horse with a red-brown coat of rust, the geometric shapes like industrial origami spread over the horizon.
You’ve been there, and you’ve seen the work, unless you’ve never taken Arnold Drive south toward Sears Point and San Francisco.
Because, most of Hossain Amjadi’s art is right there, a half-mile from Cornerstone Gardens, on display in his front yard, big pieces of carefully crafted metal scattered like playthings around the home of a giant.
The fish is an object of wonder, its body an assemblage of gears and rods and springs and hooks and plates and bolts and pipes and pumps and other mechanical detritus, with a glowing glass eye that looks positively alive. A tube carries water through the metal maze to produce a fountain emerging from the trout’s tongue.
Nearby, staring sightlessly at the pale sky, is an immense cement head, the expression on its face inscrutable and serene, its skin burnished to a gunmetal sheen.
Hossain Amjadi has been creating and displaying beside the highway for more than 20 years. He’s a graduate of San Francisco’s Academy of Art University and has a significant national following. Peggy Fleming owns one of his works, and Xerox has seven pieces on display in Virginia.
And while he does works on commission, it’s the stream of passing humanity that may bring him the most business.
The fish can be yours for about $300,000, a price he calculates would translate into about $15 an hour. Or maybe he’ll make you a smaller one at half the price.
Ha Art Forms,
23150 Arnold Drive,
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
It is at once an eclectic, enticing, exotic and—sometimes—erotic collection of contemporary fine art sculpture, representing close to a hundred artists, with exhibitions that change with the seasons like Edward Steichen’s shadblow tree. The work is arranged inside a gallery at Cornerstone Gardens, and scattered along a sculptureWALK outside. Scrolling through the work of represented artists on the Web site is a lengthy adventure. Those works include:
A “In Search of Freedom,” by Cary Weigand. Porcelain glaze, wood, acrylic, enamel, oil paint. $3,500.
B “Joe,” by Tony Natsoulas. Ceramic. $800.
C “Mailbu,” by Carole Feuerman. Resin and oil paint. $48,000.
D “Onda Illuminato,” by Deanne Sabeck. Dichroic glass and steel. $12,500
E “Chain Ice Tong,” by Mary Schaffer. Glass and metal. $9,800.
From the 2012 Fall issue of SONOMA