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Art and Architecture, Inspiring Tidbits

Just Because

"The best thing to hold onto in life is each other." -Audrey Hepburn

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” -Audrey Hepburn

Who doesn’t love a little street art to brighten the day? These murals sure put a smile on my face when I spotted them recently on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, so I figured I’d share…

American Spirit Street Art

Waifish girl smoking American Spirits

"People like pretty things they think are deep."

“People like pretty things they think are deep.” Yup, guilty.

Audrey and a glimpse of the Sunset Boulevard sign

Audrey and a glimpse of the Sunset Boulevard sign

Psst: I’ve mostly been plugging away at work over the past few months, so little splashes of paint on the side of the road like this always feel like breaths of fresh air…Any particular sightings or happenings that have been making you smile or breathe easier lately? Leave a comment.

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Art and Architecture

Street Femme

Street art by Becca in Beverly Hills, CA

Street art by Becca in Beverly Hills, CA

Paint-spattered lady on the side of a building

Paint-spattered lady on the side of a building

Love, kittens, and hair bows - can you get more feminine than this?

Love, kittens, and hair bows – can you get more feminine than this?

Street art tends to be a very masculine medium. Is this because women don’t like sneaking around in the dead of night with spray cans, because they prefer rebelling against the traditional art world in other ways, or because stuccoed walls and grimy lampposts simply lend themselves best to stark lines and male subject matter? I’m not sure what the answer is, and I had honestly never put much thought into this phenomenon until yesterday, when I spotted these ladies on the side of a building in Beverly Hills. I had been passing through an alleyway in the famous Rodeo Drive shopping district, and something about seeing these two paintings in the dumpster-filled underbelly of one of the most iconically female realms of our planet seemed so perfect and unique. There was dirty sewer water trickling down the concrete drive and the smell of chicken grease in the air, and I had a hunch that the scent of garbage and the fresh memory of Chanel shop windows were all a part of what the artist hoped people would experience when viewing her very feminine work. Although I cannot recreate the smells and sounds of that alleyway, I just couldn’t resist sharing these paintings with you. What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Art and Architecture, Inspiring Tidbits

Detailed by Design

Paint-splattered Eames chairs at Metropolis Nick in Los Angeles, CA

“The details are not the details. They make the design.”

– Charles Eames

Since almost all my free hours have been spent working on house renovations of late, it should come as no shocker that I’ve had design on the brain. As such, I had the delightful experience of meandering across this Charles Eames quote a few days ago and the sentiment really stuck with me. I feel like this mid-century-modern furniture designer’s insight actually applies to any kind of creative endeavor: “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Perhaps I’m a tad biased because I’m such a detail-oriented person by nature, but I truly think the strength of any project (be it a house, a book, or a Power Point presentation) rests in the details. What details have been on your mind or made a difference in your life lately? Leave a comment.

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Art and Architecture, Inspiring Tidbits

Childless Creators

Frida Kahlo and one of her many inspiring self portraits

In preparation for a big post I’ve been working on, here are several inspiring images of some of the most amazing people I’ve ever laid eyes on. They have each brought many wonderful things into this world that bespeak something undeniable about the human experience, and yet none of these creative souls were ever parents. This just reminds me that there are so many different ways to breathe life into our world. Stay tuned for more on this topic…

Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss), who educates and entertains generation after generation of children with his 54 books

Katherine Hepburn played strong female characters in more than 40 major motion pictures

Oprah Winfrey has inspired the world to read, while founding a media empire and opening a leadership school for girls in South Africa

Julia Child is an icon of good housekeeping, yet her home never had children in it

Dolly Parton has written more than 350 songs that have touched people's lives through their emotional poignancy

Psst: Sources for these lovely images are as follows…Frida Kahlo, Dr. Seuss, Katherine Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Child, and Dolly Parton. Are there any other role models you can think of who never had children? Leave a comment.

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Art and Architecture, Travel

Flanders Flashback

Me on Saint Michael's Bridge in Ghent, Belgium

I can’t believe it’s been nearly two weeks since I was in the magical city of Ghent. I’d wanted to write up several elaborate travel posts to somehow help you vicariously journey there with me, but the time just escaped me. Don’t you hate it when time does that? (When one minute you’re in Europe, the next you’re home celebrating Valentine’s Day, then your husband’s birthday, and suddenly the bris of the child you’d forgotten you were even pregnant with. Don’t worry, mum, the last bit is in no way based on reality, but I think everyone gets the gist of what I mean.)

This way time has of moving in leaps and bounds is ironically something Ghent seemed immune to. When my husband and I walked around this Belgian city, it felt like we were immersed in the stuff my childhood story books were made of – as though every piece of architecture should have been prefaced with “Once upon a time.” There was a medieval castle, cobblestone streets for days, and an air of quaintness to everything that bespoke fairies, spells, and dragons. No matter the constant snowfalls and freezing temperatures, the air felt crisper and cleaner than anything I had breathed in ages, and – standing still in time amidst the town squares of this Flemish city – my mind felt clearer, too. I felt so aware of the genuine slices of life that are really important – the stories I have to tell, the art I am fortunate enough to make, and the man who’s hand I’m oh-so eager to hold throughout all my timeless travels yet to come. I feel so much overwhelming gratitude that I was able to experience this awe and perspective, and – before even more time escapes me – I just want to share a bit more of Ghent’s timelessness with you in picture form…

View of the snowy canal at night...

And by day...

Walk down any given street in Ghent and it looks like this

Majestic piece of architecture nestled amidst quiet cafes

Close up of a window that looks reminiscent of a spider web or plant roots

Who can help taking long coffee breaks when you're near architecture like this?

Ghent inspires many handmade-chocolate breaks as well...

Chocolates had a warming effect when eaten on these cobblestone streets at night

Would you ever guess that I spotted this Madonna and child statue above a prosciutto maker's of all places?

Saint Bavo Cathedral

Marble sculpture inside the cathedral

This stained-glass window inside the cathedral felt so warm despite how cold it was outside

Ghent's medieval castle nestled behind modern trolly wires

View of Ghent from the castle

Arched ceilings of the castle - can you believe how well the craftsmanship's held up?

Psst: Has time been flying for you? If so, I hope it is flapping its wings in the direction of your dreams. Wishing you a lovely weekend, dear readers! (It is that time already, isn’t it?) Leave a comment.

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Art and Architecture, Inspiring Tidbits

Artists, Artists Everywhere

My wedding bouquet designed by Alena Jean, who captured the exact mix of whimsy and tradition that defines my style (this is referring to my good days, of course)

As I plot out a series of wedding posts to share with you over the coming weeks, one thing striking me about that happy blur of a day is the number of creative souls it gave me the pleasure of interacting with. You see, even though my love and I are a DIY couple through and through, we decided to splurge and entrust a few things to the experts (such as, photography, hair, makeup and flowers). While this achieved the intended effect of letting us relax a bit on our wedding day, it also had the unintentional result of truly inspiring me. The reason? Every single expert/vendor was a real artist – someone who approaches her/his craft with passion and works daily to make a living as a creative professional…

Continue Reading

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Art and Architecture, Sweet Nothings

Accidental Art

Red wooden hearts and rings of excess paint creating a beautiful mess beneath them on a paper plate

My sweet and I spent this weekend doing lots of errands and little craft projects for our upcoming nuptials, so our apartment eventually felt a bit overrun with rubber cement and empty shopping bags. On the surface this was quite a mess, but when I took a step back and surveyed the staging areas for our arts-and-craft hours some of our messes actually looked quite pretty. Take these hearts for instance: although my nostrils were filled with polyurethane fumes, and my fingers were smudged in red paint and aching from the prospect of scrubbing down the counters, these wooden beauts and their mess ended up yielding a cool photo opp. This made me think about how sometimes the best parts of my writing also happen accidentally. For example, sometimes I write filler scenes that I tell myself are purely temporary and yet I end up solving huge story problems within their confines. Other times, I might be writing a simple journal entry and I realize I’ve stumbled upon a feature-length-movie premise or novel idea amidst my scribbles. Do you ever find this kind of accidental beauty within your own writing or other forms of work? I realize it’s hard to consider anything an accident when it results from countless hours of very intentional work, but aren’t artistic gems and fixes the best no matter whether you meant for them to happen or not?

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Art and Architecture, Inspiring Tidbits

Constant Creation

Andy Warhol with a Polaroid, photographed by Anton Perich

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done.

Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.

While they are deciding, make even more art.”

-Andy Warhol

Since I’ve had Warhol on the brain of late (as evidenced here), I figured I’d share these inspiring words of Andy’s with you on this lovely Tuesday. This sentiment is one of those phrases I’ve got scribbled onto sticky notes all over my notebooks and fridge, and it has helped empower me to keep up a constant work flow this past year. I think it is so important to create with abandon (whether you’re editing a Power Point presentation, designing tube socks or writing a novel), and Mr. Warhol is so right that you should never care too much about how your work will be received. As he says, the important thing is that you keep creating. So, here’s to having dozens of creative projects on the back burner and refusing to wait for a verdict of critical praise or panning. Some of your work will be great and some will be atrocious, but you are always a success when you’re constantly creating new things…What will you create next?

Anton Perich’s “Andy Warhol” photo from Flavorwire via Pinterest.

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Art and Architecture, Kitsch Fixes

Kitsch Fix #41: M’m, M’m Art

Andy Warhol's "Campbell's Soup Can" (1962)

After a lot of jostling through time zones and international airports over the past few days, I find myself feeling particularly worn down, sick and in need of several bottomless bowls of soup, so I figured I’d serve up some kitsch along this theme today. When I write this column each week I’m constantly redefining what the words ‘kitsch’ and ‘art’ mean to me, and I imagine my interior dialogue isn’t that different from the mutterings in the art world when Andy Warhol’s paintings first showed in galleries. Some found his work groundbreaking, but others questioned whether it was art or mere imitation. These questions eventually subsided and Warhol prints are widely considered high art now, the true sign of this being the way his work is copied onto t-shirts, mugs, wind-up toys and every other possible gift-shop item. What fascinates me from a kitschaholic’s perspective is how this abundance of Warhol chotchkies (particularly of the Campbell’s Soup can) at some point gave way to artists reclaiming the image once again and making their own fine-art pieces based on the iconic cylinder of Campbell’s Soup.

Seeing as Warhol took a pop-culture image and made it high art, you could almost consider this reverse kitschification. But, there’s no denying that Warhol chotchkies are kitsch, and – if you define kitsch as art that appeals to sentimentality and popular tastes – isn’t any artistic depiction of a well-known soup can thereby kitsch as well? What do you think? How do you define high vs. low art, and what are the things you commonly refer to as kitschy? I only hope I haven’t made your thoughts swirl out of control like the letter noodles in the alphabet soup I’m about to curl up with right now…

Warhol-esque embroidery by Steve McDonald

Campbell's can lights via Pinterest

Photos in order of appearance are from: Pinterest, Printeresting, and once again Pinterest.

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Art and Architecture, Travel

Something Old, Something New

1914 structure of the Royal Ontario Mueseum and Daniel Libeskind's 2007 addition known as the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal

We traveled to Toronto for a wedding this weekend, which was my first time in this bustling Canadian metropolis. I got to enjoy some of the things I expected there, like sipping coffee in outdoor cafes and staring up at road signs that bore equal parts French and English, but the most delightfully unexpected part of our trip was the architecture. Toronto is a big city as well as an old one, which means it is constantly supplementing it’s 18th century architecture with modern structures to accommodate its population of approximately 2.5 million. This means the streets are packed with a blend of Gothic and Victorian brick buildings as well as new glass towers that crop up every day. My favorite such blending is the Royal Ontario Museum which features several brick-and-terracotta galleries built in the early 1900s and a recent addition designed by celebrated modern architect, Daniel Libeskind.

Using aluminum and glass, Libeskind created a structure that leaves the facades of the original galleries completely intact aside from where bridges link the old and new buildings, and I love both this preservation of historical architecture and the way Libeskind’s structure dares to contrast with the old galleries so boldly. While it might have been many architects’ instinct to design an extension that imitates the styles of the original museum buildings, it seems to me that this angular glass structure looks far more intentional than any throwback design ever could. I adore this mix of completely different architectural styles, and I think it works exceptionally well in both commercial and residential contexts. Can you think of building additions you’ve seen that contrast boldly with their original structures? How about any examples from other art forms where two contrasting styles and/or time periods come together to create something beautiful?

Stone clock tower and modern skyscraper near Toronto's business district

Old statue and modern building of curved glass

View of the Royal Ontario Museum from our hotel room - don't you love this mix of old and new structures?

Psst: My love and I arrived home mid-afternoon yesterday and spent our holiday eating tuna melts in a greasy-spoon diner then curling up on the sofa for a TV marathon. Did you only see lights on your TV screen like us, or were there some impressive fireworks dotting the horizon on your Fourth of July?

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