Wednesday, April 28, 2010

100 Years of Barber Birthdays

There is a spate of Samuel Barber musical performances in town, to celebrate the 100 years since his birth March 9, 1910. It is difficult to imagine life without "Adagio for Strings", one of most beautiful pieces of music ever written. Barber began composing at the age of 7 and continued until he died, at the age of 70.

This was one of many recitals by two superlative musicians who happily give frequent performances in St. Louis: Peter Henderson and Bjorn Ranheim.

The Barber pieces were rich, tonal, and enormously complex tapestries of music. Bravo to Peter and Bjorn for their great generosity in sharing their time and talent with us! Happy Birthday Samuel! You live on through your music.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April Showers Bring More Flowers

Thunder, lightening, and a heavy spring downpour was the day's natural entertainment spectacle. As soon as the rain cleared and the drizzle seemed really over, I hitched up Chewy for his later afternoon-early evening walk. Lost in thought, I had my eyes cast to the ground. Lifting them and seeing a spectacular rainbow seemed a symbol of optimism that all could share.

The rainbow has never failed to put a smile on my face. I feel like a child, as if it is the first one I have ever seen. When I looked to the right, and realized it was a "double rainbow", with another outer colored band (which doesn't show in the photo), the day seemed suddenly auspicious.

I turned the corner briefly, and when I looked back, it was gone. My timing had been fortuitous for the rainbow viewing. With stormy clouds dissipating, a patch of blue sky peeked through. It reminded me of one of my recent finds in the alley: a small, flat chunk of concrete painted sky blue. I pocketed it as a "patch of blue sky". What magic, to have a piece of the sky in my possession! Now I have the power to see the sky anytime that I want!

I have plans of using that "patch of blue sky" concept in a painting. I'm hoping that the rainbow visual can be interpreted soon, as well. All in all, the season has seen a riot of colorful flowers, each one presenting themself in a precise procession of a perfect spring. Thank you, spring showers, for making this all possible!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Ubiquitous Panton Chair

Every magazine that I open lately seems to feature the classic Panton chair in residential and commercial applications alike. It is as fresh as the day it was born, in 1960, though due to production challenges, not available for purchase until 1967 (with the assistance of Vitra). The designer, Verner Panton (1926-1998), of Denmark, was unhindered in his creativity and imagination. He was the first to create inflatable furniture (remember that?), and the Panton chair was the first single, molded, plastic chair. It stacks, too!

Children have always responded positively to the S-shaped brightly colored chair. Verner Panton always wanted a child's version, but it took 35 years to turn the dream into reality. Panton Junior is a quarter smaller than the regular model and available in seven different colors. The chair is quite comfortable, thanks to the cantilever base, and is usable indoors and out. How many chairs can do that, and stack? It is beautiful on its own, as a single sculpture, or in a group.

I see the Panton chair as an organic shape, as graceful as water flowing over a waterfall, and a perfect foil to vertical and horizontal lines. Here the Panton chair is showcased in the kitchen of Bruno Reymond's Ibiza, Spain, home. The use of industrial concrete floors introduces textural interest and warmth. The chairs are comfortable, fun, and inviting! What a great room!

I think that everyone should have a Panton!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another Spring Concert

Recently I attended a recital of one of the great piano performers of all time - Claude Frank. It was a difficult and demanding program that he played with artistry and precise articulation. Mr. Frank is on the faculty at Curtis Institute of Music and Yale School of Music. Clearly he loves what he is doing and has no plans to retire. He is 85 years old.

Mr. Frank's fingers flew across the keyboard with an energetic, brisk pace that left regular mortals breathless. He presented the classical music with fresh interpretations, never mind how old he or the music is! For me, in particular, time stood still with the Schubert.

Claude Frank has dedicated his life to music and loves to teach and perform. He is an inspiration to all of us. It's never too late and we're never too old to do what you love! I was privileged to meet him afterwards and I look forward to his performance next year.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interior Landscape Design

While many of us are planning new landscape designs for our gardens, there may be opportunities to bring the outdoors inside, too! One of my recent projects included the installation of a new Chinese multi-color slate tile floor. Because of the wide variance in color, my clients and I hand-selected each tile. It was fun for them to be so involved in 400 sq. ft. of individual tiles. They were quite emphatic: some they loved and some they did not!

A couple of the tiles stood out distinctively as visual landscapes. I suggested that since we needed some artwork, that we hang them on the wall.

I think that they are wonderful buttressing the TV; the juxtaposition is sort of like a caveman version of TV.

It's not really a new idea; Chinese artisans have long searched for landscape visuals in stone and carefully carved and polished them. They are usually mounted on wood bases. This idea, however, is fresh, immediate, and inexpensive! It also is something that the clients had a hand in and will always be a treasured memory for them of happily designing their home! See another view of the room on my website. It is the Creve Coeur Project "Solarium".

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Colorful Conversation

It would be difficult to have a dull conversation in this grouping of cheerfully painted Adirondack chairs amidst the bright saturated colors of our spring flowers. These chairs bloomed right when the flowers did and the timing is perfect for enjoying a beverage with buddies in lovely 70 - 80 degree temperatures.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Appealing Petals

It seemed like we only just had beautiful Magnolia trees in blossom, and then with a heavy spring downpour, sadly the petals were on the ground.

The ground texture created by the petals was like a spring version of fall leaves. However, the petals were still tantalizingly redolent.

If you want your petals year round, you may decorate with Gretchen Bellinger's 100% silk fabric "Bloom with a View". These are separate cut petals sewn on silk organza custom, woven in India. This color way is called "fresh as a daisy".

Thursday, April 8, 2010

15 Minutes of Fame

For those of you who may not have been able to find the St. Louis Homes & Lifestyle magazine with the wonderful article featuring yours truly, here is the link for immediate gratification!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Melt Down

Happy Easter every one and all! I gorged on a buffet with far too many selections and will suffer the consequences soon enough when my clothes are a bit too tight! I do like the ice sculptures...they are zero calories to look at. As you can see, this bunny is dripping off his left paw and will soon be naught but a puddle of water.

This reminded my of a favorite table that will allow you the effect of melting year-round. These are heat-formed drapes of clear acrylic. Shown is "The Drape Side Table" by Spectrum West Collection.

Here is a square shape and low cocktail height, in opaque acrylic, by o8o Studio. Each piece is unique. For added drama, add a floor lamp to internally illuminate the table form.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt

Here we go, can't help at the day before Easter, to not notice brightly colored, circular shapes on the ground. The gas company is consistent in painting their line caps in bright yellow.

I recently read of an Easter Egg Hunt for adults in a nearby park. How wonderful is that? There are a lot of so-called childhood activities that I think one never really outgrows. Who doesn't delight in scavenger hunts or finding something special under ordinary circumstances?

While walking around the neighborhood with Chewy, my eye caught these inscrutable painted circles on the sewer covers. One might expect the water and sewer district to select a basic primary color, but hot hibiscus? It's a little unexpected, I think. And the question nags: why are these sewer covers marked?

Finding that Easter-egg-like-motif urged me to look for other pastel circles. Here's a nice round drain with the interior painted an appropriate aqua. Did they just stick the brush in a few inches so that it would show up better?

And last, but not least, an ambiguous orange circle. I saw several of these and have no idea what they mean. However, I am in complete support of the water and sewer district using pastel spray paint colors; it was a fun to have my own urban version of an Easter egg hunt!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's!

On a visit to Home Depot, I was wowed by a floral display of blooms so perfect that it was hard to believe that they were real. I sniffed these candy-colored hyacinths and the sweet scent of authenticity was there.

Easter really is almost here, with Easter lilies a-blooming, again not fake! This explosion of concentrated color was quite striking in the aisles of products where colors blend together. Arranging these pretty potted plants in rows with nary a stray decayed leaf only added to their visual impact.

Plastic can imitate the real McCoy to a certain extent, and so I apply the touch test...even if the eye is deceived, the touch is the immediate giveaway. There is a coolness and a certain vibrancy to a living plant when you touch it.

Silk can be deceptive, too, when used to imitate flowers. As a general rule, I never use plastic or silk flowers, only real, fresh ones, or dried. Like art, why use copies or imitations when you can have the real thing?