Thursday, October 18, 2012

Appetite for Destruction

Love at first sight -- it is indeed a rare and special thing. I was lucky (unlucky?) enough to fall prey to it recently...On a leisurely weekend walk with a friend, I was inexplicably drawn to see what lived around the corner from the public beach we strolled past. I spotted a hint of a dock, and thanks to a few pre-walk cocktails (I know, I know), my accomplice -- I mean, friend -- and I waded through the water, around the bend...and I was instantly a goner.

There, before my eyes, was the most perfect house I had ever seen. Granted, all of its doors and windows were covered in cobwebs. And the stagnant pool water was the oddest shade of blue-green I had ever seen. And peering into the windows, I saw disarray and rubbish everywhere. But it was still like nothing I had ever seen in Seattle -- a Hollywood Regency diamond in the rough, made for Slim Aarons-esque pool parties and Black and White Balls.... I could see it all, even through the dirt and cobwebs.

I decided then and there that someday I would live in this house. I felt it to my core. After snapping some photos and committing the address to memory, I raced home to research the history of the home, its current ownership, etc., only to learn it had sold a few years earlier for more than $6 million. But I didn't let this deter me -- true love conquers all, right?

Here's what hooked me:

The front entrance. Really.

The fence separating me from my destiny...the fence and $6 million.

The kidney-shaped pool on the banks of Lake Washington

The world's most perfect pool house

The dock


Detail of windows and brass hardware covering the entire back of the home
Listing photo of the home when it sold several years ago

A few weeks ago I stopped by for a quick check-in with my future home, to spot a crew of roofers hard at work...on a Sunday morning. A bit troubling, but I clung to my belief in fate and wrote it off to a minor interruption in the process of me and my house finding each other -- after all, it would take me some time (ahem) to raise the necessary $6 million to reclaim my house destiny.

So imagine my sadness when on a recent visit, instead of my dream home, I saw this in its place:

The house was....gone. As if it had never existed. Although sad to realize I would have to find a new home to be my star-crossed lover, more than anything, I mourned that no one else would ever be able to experience that same delight I felt when I discovered the house so unlike any other in Seattle, imagining what it had been like in its day -- what it could be like again. I am guessing a year from now, in its place will stand some sort of spartan modernist box, which seems to be the trend these days. Sigh.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Go to Elles

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at an amazing new exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum a few days ago, Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Because I couldn't phrase it any better, here's a description from SAM's site about the exhibition:

Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris is a landmark exhibition of more than 130 works of art made by 75 women artists from 1907 to 2007. Organized by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, home to the Musée National d'Art Moderne—the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe—this exhibition is an unforgettable visual experience that will challenge visitors' assumptions about art of the past century. This survey of daring painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video and installation by pioneering women artists offers a fresh perspective on a history of modern and contemporary art. With humor, disdain, sensuality and ambiguity, these women represent the major movements in modern art—from abstraction to contemporary concerns.
Artists include Sonia Delaunay, Frida Kahlo, Dora Maar, Diane Arbus, Marina Abramovic, Louise Bourgeois, Atsuko Tanaka, Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle, Hannah Wilke, Nan Goldin and Tania Bruguera, among others.
An exhilarating exhibition that has already become a milestone in the history of exhibitions, Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris will excite the casual viewer as much as the hardboiled expert.

– Marisa C. Sánchez, Associate Curator, Modern & Contemporary Art

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the show...

Helen Frankenthaler, one of my favorite artists--male or female--of all time:

Jenny Holzer:

I love these. Not part of the show but one of my favorite of her pieces from this series is this guy:


A huge installation covering multiple walls, with multiple copies of the following texts:

Sonia Delauney, who I recently raved about:

Artist unknown -- but it was one of my favorites:

"Hilton Head Island, S.C., USA" by Rineke DijekstraHer work is amazing:

Cindy Sherman, who I think is pure genius:

Guerrilla Girls:

I love "Not having to undergo the embarrassment of being called a genius."

 I was unfamiliar with Guerrilla Girls prior to this exhibit, but they are spectacular. In their own words:

"We're a bunch of anonymous females who take the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms and appear in public wearing gorilla masks. We have produced posters, stickers, books, printed projects, and actions that expose sexism and racism in politics, the art world, film and the culture at large. We use humor to convey information, provoke discussion, and show that feminists can be funny. We wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than our personalities."

I can't say enough good things about the show, not to mention the opportunity it has given me to begin a dialogue with my two daughters, ages 6 and 4, about why women have their own exhibition -- why women are underrepresented in museum collections, in art history, and in all sorts of other places. You simply must go to Elles!

Monday, October 8, 2012

We Are Family

So there's the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon theory, right? I think we all have some version of that game we apply to our own lives; the more connected our world becomes, the shorter the distance between any of us. And that theory feels even more true in the design world -- it seems those of us operating within it are only one layer away from someone we admire....or, as I like to call it, one of our "design crushes."

Because I am a woman, a decorator, and, well, human, I love Nate Berkus...not only is he ridiculously talented and charming, but he is so darn cute. (Yeah, I said it.) You can imagine how excited I was when packing a One Kings Lane shipment to see the shipping address reading "Nate Berkus Associates." Aaack!

Nate (or, more likely, someone working for Nate) purchased one of my favorite items, a pair of wall panels I had made from a roll of vintage wallpaper I purchased from the etsy shop of one of my favorite bloggers, Erin Gates of Elements of Style.

And today a client alerted me to a recent EOS post about Nate's new book, illustrating the panels...featured in the book! Erin wrote that the paper is identical to that she has for sale, not knowing it is actually HER PAPER I bought years ago.

A photo from Nate's new book (courtesy of EOS) showing the panels in their new home.

A shot from the old store, showing the panels in their original home.

The way I see it, Nate, Erin and I are now practically related.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Adult Education

I have long considered myself an art lover, beginning in college with coursework in art history and time volunteering in my university's wonderful on-campus museum, the Georgia Museum of Art. Despite majoring in journalism, I briefly toyed with the idea of attending the Sotheby's Institute of Art after graduation to build upon my developing passion. (Sometimes I still fantasize about enrolling!)

And of course now, as an interior designer, I am fortunate to work with art in varying capacities -- selecting for clients and building on and around existing pieces in their collections -- so I like to think I am fairly knowledgeable about "mainstream" artwork.

Imagine my surprise and delight when volunteering last week in my daughter's first-grade art class to discover an artist who, by all accounts, I should have been familiar with: Sonia Delaunay. The teacher posted images of her work as part of the class's ongoing study of jazz and art's relation to it (!), and many of the pieces felt as if they could have been pulled directly from a contemporary gallery. The colors and shapes are bold and energetic, yet there is also a wonderful sense of whimsy about them that I find so compelling.

Much of her work focuses on the exploration of pattern and color and clearly predicts her later foray into textile design:

A contemporary of Picasso and Braque, Delaunay was married to the better-known painter Robert Delaunay (though I prefer Mme. Delaunay's work, myself). I find the story of her life to be fascinating and would encourage you to read more about it; her husband and collaborator, by all accounts her great love, died more than 38 years before Sonia, and she went on to reinvent herself many times over -- as a textile and costume designer, car decorator (!), and clothing-design collaborator with the likes of Coco Chanel and Lanvin.
An example of her fabric design...don't you love it?

Delaunay designed for the wives of celebrated architects and designers Gropius, Breuer and Mendelsohn.

Delaunay with the Citroen she decorated. I want one!

Of her life Delaunay said the following: "I have led three lives: one for Robert [her husband], one for my son and grandsons, a shorter one for myself. I don't regret not having given myself more attention. I really did not have the time."

I love that my first-grade daughter's art teacher inspired this art-history lesson for me. A great reminder of how much there will always be to learn, no matter how old we get.

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