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Alejandro Diaz’s Make Tacos Not War, 2010, and boxing gloves by Austin sculptor Margaret Meehan duke it out in the foyer, which functions as a micro gallery. The Mediterranean-motif doorway leads to five steps down into the living room, one of the inventive multiple levels of the 1,200-square-foot space.
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A nook on the way to the living room doubles as an upstairs office; its shelves are lined with Shelton’s collection of go-to art volumes, including old issues of Art Lies and New American Painting and books on favorite artists including Joseph Beuys, Tony Feher and Michael Velliquette. Lacquered Parsons table desk from West Elm. Chair from Chiasso.
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The Moorish-style cutout doorways and windows at the entrance foyer, original to Isabella Court, are a hallmark of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. The woolen rug, on wall, hand-woven in Mexico, is Alejandro Diaz’s Make Tacos Not War, 2010. Foreground, colored pencil on two sheets of drafting paper by San Antonio-based artist (and 2012 Hunting Prize winner) Leigh Anne Lester.
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In the intimate 10-by-15-foot kitchen/dining nook on the lower level of the apartment, Alejandro Diaz’s sculptures Plastered in Mexico, 2007, and MexiCans, 2010, reference the artist’s oversized can sculptures commissioned by the Public Art Fund, NY, and the City of San Antonio for the San Antonio International Airport. The chrome-and-Lucite dining table is vintage 1970s from Reeves Antiques in Houston, paired with chairs from Troy, NYC. Chain pull for a ceiling fan. Original wooden windows open onto the common patio, the site of decades of parties and much revelry.
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Cocktails and collage: Kelly O’Connor’s Never Fail, 2012, hovers over the bar cart in the dining nook. O’Connor, whom Shelton recently exhibited at the Texas Contemporary Fair and the Miami Project Fair, is the it-girl of his lineup. Ceramic dish by Alex Marshall from Barneys New York.
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A lightbeam falls across the original stucco interior and exteriors; the 1920s-era window opens onto the two-story skylighted patio. Original sink and faucet, still in working order.
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Skin and Bones, a cut-paper collage by Wisconsin-based Michael Velliquette (represented by Shelton), dialogues with Margaret Meehan’s cast-aluminum boxing gloves. One of Isabella’s original wrought-iron Spanish-style chandeliers is original to the house.
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In the almost monastic bedroom, the bed is an in-house design from Portico, New York. To the right, Margaret Meehan’s branch wrapped in hand-stitched leather salvaged from vintage ladies’ gloves. Chest to right is from Crate & Barrel.
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David Shelton in his bedroom with San Antonio-based mega-watt Vincent Valdez’s V-Day, 2012, an exquisitely detailed ink on paper. The gallerist’s big sale of Valdez’s suite of works on paper (reportedly six figures) at the 2011 Texas Contemporary Fair affirmed his decision to move to Houston.
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The shuttered mini-window is original to the apartment. Vincent Valdez’s pastel on paper Two-Ten, 2012, makes a major impact in the living room. (In 2004, Valdez became the youngest artist to have a one-person show at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio; his second McNay solo, “America’s Finest,” was on view this past fall.) Magis chairs from Kuhl-Linscomb flank an African stool from the Chelsea Flea Market in NYC. Standing lighting fixture from Apartment Zero in Washington, D.C. Crate & Barrel silver table holds a faux-coffee sculpture by Whitney Biennial talent Franco Mondini-Ruiz. The narrow-plank oak floors are original to the space.
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In a corner of the living room, San Antonio-based Sara Frantz’s graphite drawing Covered Wagon, 2012, is juxtaposed with former San Antonio/now NYC artist Alejandro Diaz’s white neon wall sculpture Dan Flavin, 2012. To the right, the wall curves to form the side of the Taos-style gas fireplace, one of the unique stylistic touches in many of the units at Isabella.
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The ornate stairway into the living room, cutaway window and curvaceous wrought-iron railing — all original architectural details — show off the flourishes of the Spanish Colonial Revival. Above a cabinet by Molteni & C from Format in NYC is Kelly O’Connor’s vibrant collage Launch Pad, 2011; (O’Connor, one of the rising stars of Shelton’s talent pool, will next be seen at Women & Their Work in Austin next month.) Orange vase from Found shop. Cassina Nest Collection sofa designed by Pierro Lissoni from Limn in San Francisco, upholstered in Cassina wool fabric. On the wall, works on paper by Sara Frantz of San Antonio and Austin-based former MFAH Glassell Core Fellow Jessica Halonen.
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“The apogee of Main Street’s Spanish episode occurred at the Isabella Court,” writes Stephen Fox in AIA Houston’s Architectural Guide. Painted Behr Ultra Pure White (as is his gallery), Shelton’s three-level, 1,200 square-foot space is a receptacle for clean-lined design in dialogue with cutting-edge art. In his living-room aerie, the art dealer keeps it simple. Magis chairs from Kuhl-Linscomb. Stainless-and-chrome coffee table from Cassina in New York holds art books and a hand-painted ceramic from Salerno, Italy, scored from a mid-century dealer at the Chelsea Flea Market in NYC about 10 years ago. Chaise longue, covered in Cassina fabric, from Cassina NYC. Foreground, Cassina sofa from Limn in San Francisco. Original iron casement windows open onto Main Street. Other circa-1920s touches of Old Spain: stucco walls, wrought-iron stairwells and a Taos-style stove resembling a Native American kiva oven (originally gas, for heat — hence, the window between rooms to enhance air flow).
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