Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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HOLDING COURT

Gallerist David Shelton moved to Houston from San Antonio two years ago, packing up both his gallery and his home for a new life in Isabella Court, one of Houston’s most colorful artists’ havens. Artists, architects, designers, and performers have called the circa-1929 complex home over the years, and not much has changed in this Moorish-style building that used to house Evelyn Wilson Interiors and Paul Gittings’ photography studio (you might recognize the picturesque stairways that he sometimes used as a backdrop). Isabella Court was built by Houston developer Pierre Michael, who hired Miami architect William D. Bordeaux to design the Spanish Colonial Revival-style mixed-use building that has been a landmark on South Main Street ever since.

In the foyer: Alejandro Diaz’s Make Tacos Not War and boxing gloves by Austin sculptor Margaret Meehan. The Moorish-motif doorway opens to the living room.

The foyer’s cutout doorways and windows are original to Isabella Court and a hallmark of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. At the right, a colored pencil drawing on two sheets of drafting paper by San Antonio-based artist Leigh Anne Lester.

“Skin and Bones,” a cut-paper collage by Wisconsin-based Michael Velliquette hangs above Margaret Meehan’s cast-aluminum boxing gloves. The wrought-iron Spanish-style chandelier is original to the house.

Next to the stairs, a cabinet by Molteni & C—above it, Kelly O’Connor’s vibrant collage “Launch Pad.” The orange vase is from Found. 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 Jessica Halonen.

Shelton’s three-level, 1,200 square-foot space is painted Behr’s “Ultra Pure White” to show off his cutting-edge art. The Magis chairs are from Kuhl-Linscomb; a stainless-and-chrome Cassina coffee table holds art books and a hand-painted ceramic from a mid-century dealer at New York’s Chelsea Flea Market about 10 years ago. The chaise is covered in Cassina fabric, from Cassina NYC. In the foreground, the Cassina sofa is from Limn in San Francisco. Original iron casement windows open onto Main Street. Stucco walls, wrought-iron stairwells, and a Taos-style stove are 1920’s tributes to Moorish style.

In the living room to the side of the fireplace, San Antonio-based Sara Frantz’s graphite drawing “Covered Wagon” is juxtaposed with Alejandro Diaz’s white neon wall sculpture “Dan Flavin.”

The high shuttered window is original to the apartment. Vincent Valdez’s pastel on paper “Two-Ten” holds forth above Magis chairs from Kuhl-Linscomb that flank an African stool from New York’s Chelsea Flea Market. The standing lighting fixture is from Apartment Zero in Washington, D.C. Crate & Barrel silver table holds a spilled coffee cup sculpture by Franco Mondini-Ruiz.

A niche on the way to the living room doubles as an upstairs office; its shelves are lined with Shelton’s collection of favorite art books, including old issues of “Art Lies” and “New American Painting” magazines, as well as books on artists including Joseph Beuys, Tony Feher, and Michael Velliquette. The lacquered Parsons table is from West Elm. Chair from Chiasso.

In the 10-by-15-foot kitchen/dining nook on the lower level of the apartment, another high window looks out onto a patio. The chrome-and-Lucite dining table is vintage 1970s from Reeves Antiques in Houston. Original wooden windows open onto the common patio.

Kelly O’Connor’s “Never Fail” hangs over the bar cart in the dining nook. Ceramic dish by Alex Marshall from Barneys New York.

A beam of light falls across the original stucco interior and exteriors; the 1920s-era window opens onto the two-story skylighted patio. The sink and faucet are original and work just fine.

The bed is an in-house design from Portico. To the right of the headboard, Margaret Meehan’s branch is wrapped in hand-stitched leather salvaged from vintage ladies’ gloves. Chest to right is from Crate & Barrel.

David Shelton sits on the sofa in his bedroom under Vincent Valdez’s ink on paper “V-Day.”

 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JACK THOMPSON

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