Art

Design Inspirers // Tribute Art: David Bowie, George Michael & Prince

Last time I talked about some of the special design inspiration I found recently at QuiltCon 2016 – a quilting convention in Pasadena. In addition to the events and products a quilter would get excited about, there was plenty there for art-lovers like me. And what is a more unifying form of art than music? Musicians are the artists we most often feel connected to and claim as our own. These tributes to David Bowie, George Michael and Prince blew me away.
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David Bowie quilt by Holly Hickman with Moda Fabrics

 

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Every Little Hungry Schoolgirl’s Pride & Joy by Rebecca Burnett

 

IMG_6803 IMG_6805Young Prince (Charming) by Stacie Dolin

I thought of this quilter when I heard Prince passed away last week. I remember studying the detail when I was standing in front of it a few weeks ago, and thinking I could see her love for the Purple One in every stitch.

 

Design Inspirers // QuiltCon West

Though I have never quilted anything, in the last few years I have often admired quilts as spectacular pieces of art. Alissa Haight Carlton is a fabulously creative lady I know, and she’s the one who told me about The Modern Quilt Guild. It’s a huge organization, and among its members are some seriously talented artists who are passionate about this medium. Alissa is the MQG’s executive director, and they mounted QuiltCon West 16 in Pasadena last month. Along I went for some general visual inspiration, and I was not disappointed.

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Big Love by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill

Not your grandma’s quilt, right?  I am so inspired to put some of these kinds of modern quilts into some fresh interior spaces.

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Let’s Connect by Christopher Thompson

When I think of elements you would find in my favorite kind of interior designs, I think of engaging art…interesting fabrics…tactility…warmth…pattern…geometry – all things that are inherently a part of many a modern quilt! 

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Central Pivot by Kim Eichler-Messmer

I would love to design a quilt for a project – as a wall-hanging, or something to cover a bed. Given my enduring obsession with textiles, I imagine that choosing the colors and prints of the fabrics and arranging them into a pattern would just be a slice of heaven.

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The Big Swirl  by Betsy Vinegrad

My all-around crafts-iest friend is Scott, and he has actually been part of a quilting circle for years. He made a very fine QuiltCon companion, and I think we have found a new tradition.  Scott is a big fan of Hillz, so this was obviously his favorite.
IMG_6717 Hillary Quilton by Diana Vandeyar

Something I did not expect to find at QuiltCon (although it totally makes sense) was the most glorious array of cotton fabrics I have ever seen in one place.

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So many of them spoke to me, and I had to completely restrain myself from snapping up bolts of the stuff for pillows. (As a matter of fact, now that I look at these pictures, I’m having a lot of remorse about that restraint!)

How sweet would all these pink prints be in a soft nursery? The mama cats carrying their kittens in their mouths is everything.

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Another fantastic find at QuiltCon West was the work of Aussie textile design goddess, Kim Andersson. Check out her website to see all the wonderful prints she has designed.

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I wish I knew where to buy these Good Hair Day pillows readymade!  At least you can find the fabrics and the patterns to quilt them yourself on Anderrson’s site.

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Speaking of hair, I did buy just a few yards of some gorgeous textiles at QuiltCon. I had them made into pillows immediately.

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The indigo print can work in so many styles, and how about these ladies for some special design magic?

Design Inspirer // Mark Khaisman

Mark Khaisman is a Ukrainian artist whose work delights me.

Khaisman 1His medium is packing tape and plexiglass!  And he bends it all to the light in such a nuanced and brilliant way.

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The effect is mesmerizing and beautiful, and I am hooked by the subjects of his portraits – often my favorite classic movie stars. It makes Khaismain’s art feel soothingly familiar, yet totally innovative.

Sean Connery… swoon!Mark Khaisman Sean

“Mark Khaisman treasures the alchemy whereby a commonplace material is transformed into a fine art medium because he sees it as enabling him to deconstruct the hierarchy of culture by filtering it through association with mundane material.”  (via Wikipedia)

This installation reminds me of Versailles, Grey Gardens…and every time in my grown-up life that I have packed up and moved!Mark Khaisman installation

Artists like Khaisman inspire me to explore my crazier design ideas.

mark Khaisman phone I would design a room around any of these pieces in a heartbeat.

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 Images sourced here.

 

Design Details // Vintage Travel Poster Art – Aloha Hawaii

I have a special affinity for vintage poster art. Old movies, concerts, advertising images, political propaganda – I love what graphic artists do. And I love the way this kind of art can easily give a space a point of view. Vintage poster art is usually graphic and vividly colorful. It also frequently captures the nostalgia of a bygone era, so it can bring immediate warmth and charm to a room.

I love the color combination and ruggedly adventurous feeling of this one!

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When I am helping my clients find art that is meaningful to them and gives me an exciting design direction, I often like to find out about their heritage, and the stand-out places in their memories.Then I see if I can find a vintage travel poster that reflects it. An actual vintage one is great if they are looking at it is a collectible piece, but a well-framed quality reproduction will also work. For some current clients who have just doubled their square footage and are in need of a lot of new art, Hawaii is the place. I hope they can choose just ONE of these images. We want the overall vibe to be eclectic, not “Tiki Ti!”!

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The image above is my favorite candidate. The bright colors and optimistic spirit of it would make it a great focal point in the Playroom that a little boy and girl will share. This blue and red one below could also work well to energize white walls.

Hawaii 3 This next image with the hula dancer is a bit more expected. The iconic symbol of Hawaii makes it a bit less interesting to me than the other choices, but I was drawn to this one by the color. We have a lot of blue in the house, and the orange would complement a couple of our areas beautifully.Hawaii 4All images are posters that can be found at All Posters. To personalize a search on the site, type in “vintage travel” and add the location that may evoke some good memories of your own.

 

Take Me Away // Bemelmans Bar, NYC

This weekend I attended a charming baby shower with a “classic children’s books” theme. It got me thinking about one of my very favorite places to have a drink!  Bemelmans Bar is at the Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side. It is named after Louis Bemelmans, creator of the Madeline series of books. His murals cover the walls of the bar, making it a most unusual and delightful place to throw one back.

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Bemelmans’ characters even adorn the lampshades on the tables! I love all the detail – there is so much to take in, but it all feels very warm and soothing.

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This bar is the only place where Bemelmans’ work is on display to the public. The space has a dark, clubby feeling at all times of the day, but the whimsical scenes the artist painted on the walls make it an uplifting place to drink. BB7Sitting in this bar for a little while, as I often do when I am in New York, puts me in touch with that part of my childhood self that wanted to jump into the books I read.  Sipping an Old Cuban at the same time makes me very glad to be a grown-up! This place is a treasure.

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Design Inspirer // Jess Black

These beautiful abstract paintings by my friend, Los Angeles artist Jess Black, are the kinds of artworks that bring a point of view to a space. I would use one of these pieces in a range of interior styles, but always where the art could be a focal point.

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Jess works in a large scale, so it’s hard to convey the presence of his paintings in a blog post. The detail of Warrior (below) makes it kind of mesmerizing in person.

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Jess has been named the official artist of the Special Olympics World Games, taking place here in L.A. next month. He produced this painting, inspired by the organization’s Circle of Inclusion, which represents the acceptance and inclusion of all people with intellectual disabilities. (My daughter, Saskia, has Down syndrome, and Jess’ friendship with her is what moved him to donate his time and talent to the cause. Thanks, Jess!)

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The painting has been sold, but affordable prints of The Circle of Inclusion are available through Saatchi Art. With a simple form but such a variety of colors to draw from, I can see this one looking amazing in a gallery wall collage-type arrangement, mixed in with other prints and paintings and photographs of different sizes.

 

Design Inspirer // Claude Cormier

I’m so inspired by the work of Canadian conceptual landscape architect Claude Cormier. He started out as a botanist with an ambition to create a new kind of flower through cross-breeding. Rather than making flowers though, he has ended up creating art on a grand scale with his arresting landscape designs. “Instead of borrowing and copying from nature,” he says, “I prefer to cross-breed it with culture”.

Blue Tree, a past installation at Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, is a perfect example  of what Cormier and his firm does. This once quietly majestic tree was afflicted with a terrible tree-killing disease and on its way to being chopped down.  In its final act, along came the landscape architect to give it the grandest send-off a tree has ever had by adorning it with 75,000 plastic Christmas ornaments!

 

This was executed by two men in a cherry-picker and one man on a step-ladder over 9 days.

 

Magnificent, she was! What could be better than a big open sky and the rolling hills of  Sonoma as a backdrop for this work of art?

 

Over time, the tree succumbed to its disease. Au Revoir, Blue Tree!

The Blue Tree existed between 2004 and 2007 at the Cornerstone Gardens  in Sonoma, right where that Valley meets the Napa Valley, and not too far from San Francisco.  Even though this installation is no longer there, I highly recommend a visit to Cornerstone if you like this kind of conceptual design.

Design Inspirers // Lulu DK

I am glad I have this forum to fan out on artists that I have long admired, such as textile designer Lulu DK. The sigh of her exuberant fabrics always puts a smile on my face, and makes me want to start designing rooms around them on the spot.

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The vivacious birds in Dancers make it my favorite, but choosing my preferred colorway would be like having to choose a favorite child.

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Lulu DK fabric and wallpaper is available to the trade through high-end showrooms, but there is plenty of her color and pattern available to everyone in her Lifestyle store. It is a site I shop for accessories like pillows, bedding, and these ottomans. Instant fun!

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I also have a thing for Lulu DK’s art – lots of colorful prints that could stand alone, or lend themselves beautifully to a gallery wall arrangement.

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There are even some of Lulu DK’s original paintings for sale on the site.

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These decals could be a great (and temporary) design statement for a nursery.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 6.43.20 PM Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 6.43.40 PMAnd these temporary tattoos could be a design statement for your bod!

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So much design inspiration from one super-creative and talented person! Most of what you see here is available on Lulu DK’s site, and she is fun to follow on Instagram.

Design Inspirer // Patrick Dougherty

Patrick Dougherty is an American sculptor whose medium is saplings! My obsession with his work began back in 2007, when he did an installation on the facade of the former Max Azria store on Melrose, titled “Just for Looks”.

 Daugherty’s installation made me imagine a landscape of neatly rolled-up hay bales, let loose by a crazy windstorm! And like a lot of people, I looked at the swirling movement he gave the saplings and thought of the clouds in Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

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Although this gorgeous sheathing of willow branches is no longer there, in my memory this remains the most fantastic storefront of all time. Thankfully, Daugherty is always hard at work, installing huge, elaborate sculptures made out of sticks all over the world.

 

Call of the Wild at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, 2002-2003

Each work takes about three weeks to install, and involves a whole team of local volunteers, who all seem to have an incredible experience working quietly alongside the artist.

Running In Circles at the TICKON Sculpture Park in Denmark, 1996-1998

One of the things I love about Patrick Dougherty’s story is that although he had a life-long love of nature and building things, it wasn’t until he was a grad student in his late thirties that he started sculpting out of saplings. In the thirty or so years since, he has completed over 200 installations. How is that for inspiration?

Paradise Gate at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, 2001

  The installations are sturdy, but being organic, they might change with the seasons and are ultimately ephemeral.

Holy Rope  at the Rinjyo-in Temple in Chiba,  Japan, 1992-1994

Fascinating, right? If you would like to know more about Patrick Dougherty and his work, visit his web-sitebuy his monograph, Stickwork, and read this wonderful 2010 profile of him from the New York Times.  Bending Sticks is a recent feature-length documentary about the artist that I can’t wait to see for more inspiration.

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Take Me Away // Norton Simon Museum

 The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena is an overlooked L.A. treasure.  It is large enough to have some really varied and impressive collections, and small enough to be a low-key outing. Admittedly, the architecture is a bit on the Brutal side for my taste.

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But there is magic within these walls!

2011-07-26-basel_muralAbove: Basel Mural I, 1956-58 by Sam Francis

I always feel inspired by a wander through the Modern and Contemporary Art gallery, ending in a stroll through the peaceful sculpture garden, designed by Nancy Goslee Powers .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis Maillol lady, La Montagne, is an old friend.

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I love to get a little lost in a piece of art, so my favorite spot is a bench in front of this huge painting called Autumn: The Chestnut Gatherers by Georges Lacombe. The scale of the piece and its depth of color make me feel like I’m watching a play. It is mesmerizing.

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Photos: NortonSimon.org and Fififlowers.com

Catch Natasha Jansz on HGTV's "HOUSE HUNTER'S RENOVATION" October 28th 10pm/9c