Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Who Knew?

Did you know there's a Jeweler Badge available for Girl Scouts? In Atlanta, Fernbank Museum of Natural History offers free resources that enable Scouts to earn the badge, in part by learning how various cultures use personal adornment. The process includes understanding symbolism and a craft-specific vocabulary. (Jewelry making comes at the end.)

Looking at the large collection of adventurous spirit Dorothy Methvin McClatchey is a good way to start. The dramatic objects of personal ornamentation that she gathered on her travels around the world were donated to Fernbank and helped to form the museum's permanent exhibition, Reflections of Culture.

Fernbank also offers free materials for Cub Scouts along with scavenger hunts for all kids. Adults may be especially interested in an exhibition opening June 13 -- My Favorite Things. Staff representing each museum department, from finance to IT to the gift shop, had the chance to select a piece from Fernbank's highly secured storage area and they essentially guest curated the show. (Architecture buffs might want to explore the portfolio of the firm behind the museum's design -- Graham and Gund. )

Shown at top, Tory Burch's Venetian Glass Bracelet inspired by the glass artisans of Venice and arts patron, Peggy Guggenheim.

Second image, lemon/lime flat squares of Czech Glass from Artbeads. Picture ©

Third image above © SANTA BARBARA LIVING by Diane Dorrans Saeks and the editors of Santa Barbara Magazine, Rizzoli New York, 2008.

Last image via Anna DeeS.

BTW: In October, Maurice Prendergast in Italy is coming to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. This exhibition highlights more than sixty of the American artist's Italian watercolors, oils, and monotypes as well as other related media such as personal sketchbooks, and will run through January 2010. Before heading to Venice, the show will be on view this summer, July 18 - September 20, at the Williams College Museum of Art. Learn more here.

Shown above, Maurice Prendergast, Festa del Redentore, ca. 1899, watercolor and pencil on paper, Williams College Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast (91.18.5).


Seven More Days

In roughly seven days and nine hours, Monet Water Lilies opens to the general public at the High. I'm guessing photography won't be allowed up in the galleries, but just in case I'll be ready with Benjamin Moore's ben® Color Capture™, the soon-to-be-released app for iPhones. Ideally I might snap a quick detail from one of Monet's iconic paintings and the app could instantly tell me what shade of deep green in Benjamin Moore's collection best matches a green used by the artist.

The picture above is a bit blurry but it looks like David Brenneman, Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Curator of European Art, and the High's fearless leader, Michael Shapiro, are on hand for the installation. (All images belong to the museum; see more on the Flickr page.)

I'm also curious to see how the app works with pictures of pictures. Although we've seen a lot of blue-green walls in the past few years, I still like the paint color above. (The framed abstract is by American-in-Paris, Alfred Maurer, whose early-20th-century work is associated with the Fauve movement. Image is from Accents on Accessories.)

BTW: Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell remains on view at the High through August. Here's a related link.


Summer Reading (and an Art Project)

If reading Susan Sully's three wishes made you want to explore more of the books she has written, but you are trying to cut back on monthly spending, consider visiting your local public library this weekend. I was surprised to find many of her titles in the Atlanta system.

Wouldn't it be great to live within walking distance of a library as elegant as the Bull Street Branch, shown at top? It's one of the Live Oak Public Libraries in Savannah. Neoclassical in style, this branch was designed by architect H. W. Witcover and funded with a Carnegie grant. The doors opened to the public in 1916. (Photo via C. McGough on Flickr.)

Related reading: Carnegie Libraries. (Image above belongs to the Library of Congress, LC J694-353A.)

And a reminder for Atlanta residents: Just three days remain to donate gently used art supplies to Binders. The art supply store will distribute tubes of paint, canvas, paper, easels, brushes, pens, and frames to local charities. As a thank-you for dropping off supplies at the brick and mortar location, shoppers receive 50 percent off one new item. (Image above via Selvedge issue 28; a vignette shot at Charleston Farmhouse.)


Cover Art

Even though I download most of my music now, I do think album cover art somehow brings a soulful dimension to a house. I don't mean displaying it, but rather just knowing it's there. It doesn't really matter that it's typically only seen when we reach for it in a box or on a shelf. For their latest album, VeckatimestGrizzly Bear used drawings by William J. O'Brien who is represented at Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago. The art jumped out at me when I was visiting the iTunes store. Here is Margaret Wappler's review for the L.A. Times.

Three Wishes: Susan Sully

In April I asked the good people at Rizzoli for permission to share select images from Susan Sully's recently released title, The Southern Cosmopolitan, and crossed my fingers with hope that the photograph of Amelia Handegan's sea sculpture would get the green light. Happily it did. When I posted it along with a brief description of Susan's book, the reaction was very positive so I knew I wanted to include her voice in the "Three Wishes" series.

First, a little background: Susan is the author and, more recently, photographer of many books about Southern architecture and design (and a rogue one on the subject of Moroccan living), including The Southern Cosmopolitan, The Southern Cottage, Charleston Style, and Casa Florida. She says that her books are not just about what is in the house, but why it is there, and how it relates to personal histories and fantasies, as well as the collective memories of a region. I happen to keep her newest title very close at hand.

The wishes Susan shared with me follow below. Pay special attention to the last one.

... that everyone might have a home--and one that fills them with serenity and joy;

. . . that I could visit a house in every country so I might constantly broaden my view of what is good and beautiful in the home; and

. . . that my books might never incite a sense of inadequacy, but rather inspire readers to create surroundings that reflect who they are and what they cherish.

Image two above © Southern Cosmopolitan: Sophisticated Southern Style by Susan Sully, Rizzoli New York, 2009.

Related past post of interest: Sea Sculpture.

On the Wall (a Reader Request)

Can you tell immediately if the framed picture above is an artfully enlarged family photo or a fine art photograph purchased at a gallery? Does it make a difference?

In his living room Rayman Boozer has hanging works by Karl Blossfeldt and Bruce Weber, plus a personal picture close by on a desk. When it comes to mixing fine art with personal photographs on the same wall, designers can be pretty polarized. Some prefer not to see a family photo hanging at all; for them bookshelves and side tables are the only acceptable spots. But others seem to be able to break the rules with great flair.

A reader asked me to explore the subject further. While I search for some images that haven't already been seen a hundred times, I thought I'd put the topic out there and share a few examples from past posts.

Amanda Peet mixes candid family shots with art. Coliena Rentmeester photographed the dense grouping for Domino. (Must click to enlarge this one!)

Did Schuyler Samperton chose to combine a personal picture with fine art in her vestibule? Photo by Paul Costello for Domino.

The most famous rule breaking example, in my mind, is India Hicks' dining room. Her dad, David Hicks, didn't like to see photographs hung on a wall, so India installed shelves to display a large collection of personal pictures. Arthur Elgort photographed the room for Vogue, 1998.

BTW: Boozer's blue living room made the May 2006 cover of Elle Decor. As Domino reported in April 2008, Peter Dunham uses art and family pictures for a story-rich interior (images four and five above). His family pictures below are on a desk, not a wall, but I had to share since they are so authentic in contrast with overly styled black-and-whites favored in recent years.

[Image cropped from Hollywood Style, photography © Tim Street-Porter, Rizzoli New York, 2004.]


Catch the Title?

I'm concerned that the title of Alma Thomas' painting, Red Azaleas Singing and Dancing Rock and Roll Music, got buried in a previous post, so I'm highlighting it here. Pretty cool, no? I love how Thomas imagined flowers dancing or trees playing music. Visit the Smithsonian to learn more. Shown above is just a detail view of the large acrylic on canvas which belongs to the museum. In case you missed it, a different work from Thomas was recently loaned to the White House.

Surfer Chic (and More Paper to Love)

When I think of surfer chic, Tim Clarke always comes to mind. He often designs rooms with a foundation of crisp neutrals livened up by earthier textiles. And a surf board looks right at home, almost like a piece of sculpture against his walls.

Seeking seasonal inspiration, I was glancing back at past magazine stories -- one photographed by Lisa Romerein for Coastal Living, March 2009, and another written by the wonderful Elizabeth Jenkins for InStyle, May 2008. Elizabeth reported that Tim favors rustic artisan notecards from Soolip.

Now I can't end the day without sharing a bit of the current Soolip-designed tree-free silkscreened paper made with recycled cotton rag. It costs about $12 per set of three sheets, and I see potential here for all sorts of summer crafts, handmade stationery, and gift wrap for small packages. (Check out Soolip's blog for more ideas. Looks like we are all loving the new "Love" stamp!) The envelopes shown here are waxed banana leaf paper. Some of the collection is obviously Indian-inspired, though I'm also feeling Gauguin in the tropics.

Image three via Coastal Living; image four via InStyle.

Summer Mail

First, full disclosure: I'm not one who thinks email is necessarily so cold and dreadfully impersonal. It's really only offensive when people use it in a thoughtless way. That said, nothing beats an old fashioned letter sent via snail mail. And I don't just mean short obligatory notes -- thank-you notes and the ones described by the editors of Vogue's Book of Etiquette as "bread-and-butter" letters written after spending a night or more in someone's house. But longer, newsy letters that "come alive with feeling and invention."

According to the Vogue book, "a good, interesting letter is filled with the news, ideas, and opinions of the writer."

Today most people aren't used to receiving longer letters; some might even panic at the sight of three pages of script, assuming they are about to read bad news! On Paper Source's site, in one of the how-to video guides, there is a good tip for setting the tone. Include a long lost picture and start by saying something like, "Dear Uncle Lawson, I recently found this photo in a drawer. Remember that summer when..."

It might surprise you to learn that even in the 60s forward thinking Vogue editors said typed letters were indeed acceptable for informal letters to close friends. "If your handwritng is difficult to read or if you have a great deal to say, typing can be a saving grace." They did not, however, mean thank-you notes and they cautioned against attempting to make type face look like script by using swirly "affected" fonts. Everyone seems to agree that handwriting is always preferable. It's simply more personal.
One of my uncles was very skilled at the art of social letter writing. It didn't matter if his letters were typed or handwritten -- the content was the star. Even as a young student at Hampden-Sydney, and later when he was in the Navy, he wrote meaningful letters to his parents and grandfather. The papers were saved, so now younger relatives who never had a chance to meet him can read them. When my sister and I were very young he sent us long, funny, fanciful letters filled with stories that incorporated my imaginary friend.

If you're going to the beach this summer, consider saving a few shells and maybe a pinch of sand to send with a letter in one of these pretty convenient mailers available at Paper Source.

An elderly person who spends most of her time at home or a very small child would appreciate being remembered. I wouldn't send a 12-year old camper any pictures that might embarrass him, but mail is usually appreciated by older kids, too. With letter writing it is acceptable to treat yourself before you begin the challenge. So plan to indulge in your favorite cold summer drink while you put pen to paper.

If letter writing doesn't light your fire today, check out this audio slide show about Virginia Johnson via Toronto Life.

All of the stamps shown here are via the United States Postal Service. Inspired by 18th Century French playing cards, the "Love" stamp (King and Queen of Hearts) was designed by Derry Noyes and artist Jeanne Greco. The flag stamps were designed by Phil Jordan using paintings by Laura Stutzman. Designed by Ethel Kessler, the tropical fruit stamps incorporate work by illustrator Sergio Baradat. Images seven through eleven feature Virginia Johnson's work as seen over at Toronto Life.