Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


First Look

Yuken Teruya Notice-Forest (Bon Marche), cut paper. Image courtesy of the artist.]

[Photo (detail) Janus van Helfteren ©Classic-Porsches: Generations of Genius by Brian-Laban, Artabras Publishers, 1993.]

[Interior design by Sara Tuttle. Photography by Lissa Gotwals.]

Sometimes I wonder if my affinity for painted lampshades, glossy ceramics and paper in saturated hues has any connection to the colorful vintage cars I was around as a child. Maybe it comes from a very early memory of shiny leather boots.


In his online bio, photographer Squire Fox says he was initially inspired by the famous picture of Peter Beard writing in a journal while lodged in the mouth of an alligator. Reading that, I became curious about the images that most impacted other creative people.

[Alexander Calder, Elephant, 1936, Sheet metal and paint ©Calder Foundation.]

With an architect dad and an artist mother, designer Megan Arquette learned to look at shape and color before she could speak. She told me, "I had a Calder mobile over my crib, so maybe that's where it began!" At the market, in the garden, and pretty much everywhere, Megan remembers her mother always commenting on an object's aesthetic qualities. "She'd pick up a tomato or eggplant and start waxing about its [form]. She taught me that nature actually creates the perfect color combinations."

Painter Amanda Talley was stimulated by the festive color pairings at her grandparents' get-away known as The Pink Elephant.


She recalls, "It was magical. It had a pink bar with pink bar stools, pink wicker, pink elephants everywhere, and green shag carpeting. My mother grew up going there, so I could dig through drawers and closets and find things from her childhood. I loved everything about it: card games, fishing, and building driftwood houses on the beach." Amanda is pictured above atop one of the card tables (the men and women each had their own).

[ Notice-Forest, 2005, cuts on paper (Tiffany & Co.), 5 x 6 x 8 inches. Image courtesy of Yuken Teruya and Josee Bienvenu Gallery.]

As a child, Shannon Morris, museum curator at Georgia College and Amanda's former roommate, was mesmerized by her grandmother's shopping bags.

"I grew up in the small town of Fairhope, Alabama." explains Shannon, "It is now known for its posh boutiques, quaint eateries and art galleries. When I was a child, however, it was much less glamorous and a lot less exciting."

[Tory Burch (Pink), 2010, cuts on paper, glue, 6 x 16 x 12 inches (detail). Image courtesy of Yuken Teruya and Josee Bienvenu Gallery.]

She continues, "I was lucky enough to have my grandparents nearby. Many of my childhood memories involve my grandmother who loved to travel and shop, and I [remember being] very drawn to the shopping bags that she brought home from her journeys. I loved everything about them -- their shiny surfaces, bright colors, stylized fonts and matching silk cord handles. One day, when she was placing her shoes on the shelf, I spotted a 'collection' of shopping bags in the closet and asked her if I could have them. I was elated when she gave them to me!

Afterward, she would procure extras just for me from boutiques and fine department stores. For me, the bags also represented the places where the stores were located. The prize of my collection was a Saks Fifth Avenue bag from New York City! I can remember sitting in front of it and running my fingers across its glossy surface. It was a classic black Saks bag with a red script font and a red silk cord. I imagined the elaborate displays that the store must have contained and the excitement of New York."

[Dior, cuts on paper. Image courtesy of the artist, Yuken Teruya.]

And she adds, "As a graduate student at SCAD, my thesis topic explored artists whose works dealt with the ecological consequences of consumerism. It may seem an odd choice for a girl who once coveted shopping bags, that is, until you see the works of Yuken Teruya, and then it makes perfect sense. Teruya's Notice-Forest series was a major part of my paper. Teruya uses the Japanese technique of kirigami- cutting and folding, to create these exquisite portraits of trees from shopping bags."

[©Patrick Cline, Lonny issue three.]

Next up: youthful memories from Max Humphrey of Burnham Design.

Since the previous post touched on leaf obsession, I also want to draw attention to the art direction of Anthropologie's March catalog -- a leaf lover's paradise with a hint of Mrs. Delany and Her Circle  -- and to a new small work from Richard Kooyman.

[Richard Kooyman, Look Up, Oil on mylar, 10 x 12 inches, courtesy Emily Amy Gallery.]

Related past post: Icing on the Cake.


Karena said...

Courtney, thank for featuring artists and designers that I love and enjoy so much!! To hear about their inspirations is very exciting.
Amanda & Megan have been so supportive!


Shannon Morris (Georgia College Curator) said...

This is such a fun and interesting inquiry. Thanks for including me in it,

Ryan said...

Where was "The Pink Elephant"? I am 99% sure I can remember always driving past a beach house of that same name in South Carolina as a child.

Style Court said...

Hi Ryan,

Amanda says on Grand Isle.

Style Court said...

Karena, yes Amanda and Megan were generous with their time. I appreciated it.

And Shannon, thanks so much for sharing a personal memory. Fascinating how it came full circle. Yuken's work is really multi-layered.

beachbungalow8 said...

such great company. thank you, courtney, for thinking to include me. I'm flattered.

Mrs. Blandings said...

A gem of a post.

Ragland Hill Social by Gwen Driscoll said...


Just love these posts you do. Amanda looks so cute! She is a doll and Megan too. Hope you are well.


Emile de Bruijn said...

Yuken's carrier bag sculptures are so poetic, he is like a Japanese Joseph Cornell. Of course packaging is a major thing in Japanese culture, and they have taken to western-style smart branded carrier bags in a big way.

Angie Muresan said...

I am fascinated by the story of Shannon Morris.
Lovely post.

Lacquered Life said...

Pink Elephant is such a great name for a beach house. It's interesting thinking about one's roots and figuring out what influenced you early on in your life. I wonder what made me fall in love with old buildings?

Shani said...

What a fascinating post. We should all take a look at what surrounded us as children and how it affects us now... I'll bet we would all find a few surprises!

Style Court said...

Gwen, Patricia -- thanks so much. Well, thanks I should say to Megan, Amanda, Shannon and everyone for sharing such interesting memories.

Style Court said...

Emile, for my first qualifying tour at the High I was assigned a work by Cornell :)

Style Court said...

Angie, Shani, LL --

Thanks for looking!

annechovie said...

What a great concept for a post, Courtney. I really enjoyed hearing about early influences - they have such an impact!

pve design said...

I do love images associated with one's desire or intrigue - I think each of us here, have a certain fondness or draw to pretty things, and to those that make our heart beat a bit faster.
Love the stylish associations.

Monica said...

When I was a young girl we went to Grand Isle every summer. My sisters and I always kept an eye peeled for The Pink Elephant. Our aunt and uncle's camp was only a block or so away. Amanda's grandparent's camp was always a welcome sight after a long ride.