I have to admit that, from an early age, I have had more than a slight interest in the retail world and shopping in general. I used to have a fantasy of being accidentally locked in a department store overnight, free to roam with the place all to myself. I am not sure, but perhaps that dream was fueled by the children's book,"Corduroy" (ever read it?)
I grew up mostly in Detroit, famous for some pretty phenomenally large and varied department stores at one time, before the town hit the skids and turned into not such a pretty place. Those stores moved into the burbs and so did I and some very happy times were spent on trips to department stores for things like school clothes and general entertainment. The good old department store, replete with multiple restaurants and extensive home furnishing departments is an endangered, if not extinct, specie. Nowadays, "proper" department stores are a dying breed and so the long-lived and celebrated ones remain cultural icons.
This new release by Vendome covers this amazing world and catalogs its history with fascinating historical photos and text, accompanied by up-to-date looks at both the interiors and exteriors of these amazing places. Author Jan Whitaker has done a masterful job of drawing you in while she presents an educational and enthralling look into this wonder of the urban culture.
the men's shop at Bergdorf Goodman in New York
Harrod's butcher shop in 1920's London (not exactly understocked!)
My all-time favorite store, Printemps, Paris in earlier days
The famous facades of Harrods, London and Galeries LaFayette, Paris
The book department at Bon Marche, Paris
Obika Bar in Selfridges, London
You can find more on World of Department Stores here.
I hope that you had a good weekend! I cannot believe it's already the middle of January.
I finished my taxes (hurray! and phew!) and caught a few cheering rays in the sun as well.
I couldn't resist sharing a few photos taken by my very talented brother, Jeremy Harwell, of a beautiful wedding at Middleton Plantation in Charleston, SC. Jeremy has an eye for capturing all of the gorgeous details and piecing them together in his own trademark photo journalistic style. This wedding was published in Southern Living Weddings and you can view more of it on his blog here.
Eat this! (I eat a few teaspoons at a time - deluxe and delish, trust me)
At the risk of sounding cynical, I just wondered if anyone else gets a little weary of hearing about goals and self-help books? What would you think if someone started out their new year by declaring that they really weren't going to try and follow any New Years resolutions? That they were just going to be a realist after years of living and recognize that, despite the best laid plans, life happens and there's a certain wisdom AND SMUG SATISFACTION in ignoring self-help books and resigning one's self to making the best of actuality and being thankful for what IS, at the present. You can shoot for the stars, but much more is at stake in life than living the American dream, reaching all of your goals or doing it "for me". Somehow all of that "me" ambition is sounding more and more hollow as I witness people running around like chickens with their heads cut off, pumping themselves up by repeating pep talks to themselves in the mirror and telling themselves that whatever they dream, they can make happen, while they get more miserable and frustrated by the day. I've seen some of the most ambitious and ruthless people who have striven night and day, to the point of being sick, to realize their ambitions. They actually sold their souls to make their dreams happen and are now sitting atop a heap of ashes compiled of their incinerated relationships, demolished careers, decayed reputations and shipwrecked integrity.
Now, I am certainly NOT espousing the virtues of stagnation, laziness or being undisciplined, but what ever happened to contentment, peace, self-sacrifice and living for a cause greater than yourself? I am not sure, but I definitely know I don't want to make 2012 a "ME" year. I want to make it a be thankful, be kind, don't whine and don't obsess year. I want to enjoy loving and serving the people God has placed in my life, doing everything to the best of my ability and enjoying all that I DO have, instead of comparing myself to others or striving for a pot of gold somewhere.
This includes savoring all of the small pleasures in life and eating a little high-fat ice cream here and there. Here are just a few of the little everyday, seemingly insignificant things that have really been making my life easier lately.
What are some of the little things that make your everyday life a little better, easier or more enjoyable?
This stuff is amazing.....I was visiting my boyfriend in Chicago and my wimpy Florida girl-who-lives-in-a-perpetual-humid-cloud lips were majorly chapped, peeling and tight. My problems were totally solved within 1 day of applying this!
Buying the equal of a propane tank of tropical smelling and silkiness-producing shampoo/conditioner from Costco (this should last me until I check into a retirement home!)
Wet Ones wipes with the NEW citrus scent
(smells just like Tommy Bahama's tropical candles! Keeps this germaphobe happy and healthy when coming in contact with gas pumps, door handles and anything nasty)
Yes, this is a scrunchie and a neon version at that. What can I say? Growing up in the 80's and 90's
didn't leave me entirely unscathed fashion-wise and these make pulling my wet hair back so simple and damage free. American Apparel makes the best versions, I think. Enough gripping power to hold my thick hair taut.
**P.S. I have not been compensated in ANY way for mentioning these products in my rant, but I am not above accepting gifts from any of the makers, should you feel so inclined.
I am completely hooked on this stuff! A great winter comfort food. The best part is that it's so good for you - low calorie and tastier than just about anything. This is a photo I took of my version, made from this recipe and then topped with some goat cheese and walnuts (or almond slices, your choice). I also add some lemon juice and substitute old bay seasoning for crushed red pepper flakes while sauteing.
If you make it, please let me know what you think - I'd love your feedback!
I hope that your 2012 is off to a great start so far!
January is always a month for me to get caught up and started on new projects after the holidays.
I am now taking orders for home portraits again and wanted to share this charming Georgetown home I recently completed for a client as a Christmas gift for her husband. Home portraits make a great keepsake or gift for any occasion and are available in a variety of sizes and mediums to fit your budget and needs.
I'd like to introduce you to Manhattan based artist Kerry Irvine. I first discovered her colorful work via my exposure to decorator Eileen Kathryn Boyd. She has graciously agreed to share more about herself here.
Where were you born?
I was born in Huntington, Long Island and at 23 years old I moved to Manhattan where I currently live.
What would you take if your house was burning down?
Logically, my Mac would be the smartest thing to grab as I made my quick escape. It contains all of my cherished pictures of family and friends as well as a record of all the art I have created in the last ten years or so. It would be the easiest thing for me to carry as I maneuvered my way down the fire escape from my second floor apartment. Additionally, I would probably receive minimal eye rolling from my local fire fighting friends as I emerged with fairly light hands.
I do have a " fantasy escape" too. In it, the fire would be of very little danger, small and slow burning. I would have enough time to toss all of my canvases, art supplies and heaps of clothing and shoes into the open arms of the fire fighters below. One might scream up to me "Don't forget the vintage leopard coat we all love so much!" I'd put on all my good jewelry, a brave smile and gallantly climb down into the cheering crowds who were still holding all of my belongings. Then a moving truck would whisk me off to some church basement or school gym which I would promptly re decorate for them as I waited for some gorgeous new apartment to materialize. Your favorite book?
When I am blocked or need an escape, I find solace in books of all genres. Often I will follow an author through every book they have ever written. Here are a few of my favorites :
I love the dry, sardonic humor of Davis Sedaris,the soulfulness of C.S. Lewis.and the wit and the weirdness of Chuck Palahniuk . I find Tennessee Wiliams to be deeply thought provoking and often tragically autobiographical. Joan Juliet Buck is someone I discovered when I was eighteen, I was fascinated to learn she had also been the Editor in Chief at French Vogue. I get lost in biographies and autobiographies of all kinds ("Life" by Keith Richards is fantastically entertaining and irreverent all the way through) I love the the stacks of art,music and photography books I have collected over the years and use them for reference constantly. I will also admit to sitting on the beach and escaping into the world of "Twilight" .....Yes, I know what you're thinking, but maybe I'll call that "research" .....
If you could have only 1 last meal, what would you want on the menu?
I am not much of a foodie and I can barely make toast. My small Manhattan kitchen has become my art studio and my unused stove, a work table. Sounds hazardous but if I were to attempt to cook for you, there would be real danger. Obviously, I eat out a a lot. If possible, I would do a tasting menu made up of all of my favorite restaurants. I would start with The West Coast Gigi salad from The Palm. Then I would dig into their Surf 'n' Turf where they do all the lobster cracking for you. Next, I would inhale the Cavatelli Pugliesi from Grano in the West Village and a few bites of delicious turkey burger from Tavern on Jane. Hopefully an Ilegal Mezcal Margarita would be delivered to me along the way. Dessert would be the decadent chocolate bread pudding from my friend Janet French's Preston Street Gourmet. My night cap would be at another neighborhood favorite,Highlands in the West Village. While sipping a Jameson with friends, I would have to wonder "Why was that was my last meal ?"...…
Do you prefer hot weather or cold?
I find inspiration for my paintings in all seasons and weather conditions. A warm summer day at the beach would be a more preferable place to set up and paint, but a snowstorm can be just as beautiful to watch unfold.
I am and continue to be so inspired by so many different artists. It is so important to always be looking at other peoples art and to continue to feed your eyes. Some of my favorite painters are: De Kooning, both Willem and Elaine. Rothko, Arthur Dove, Matisse, Kahlo, Modigliani,Van Gogh Kandinsky, O'Keeffe, Botticelli,Klimt, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner and the list goes on.....Living artists would be Helen Frankenthaler, Emily Mason, Jennifer Bartlett, Wolf Kahn, Kara Walker, my sister Michelle Irvine Schleider and two of my mentors Stan Brodsky and Catherine P Mac Donald.
Most importantly, my biggest influence and favorite artist is my late mother, Toni Wagner Irvine. She lovingly showed me how to open my eyes and use the world around me as my palette. I see her love of life and color in every brush stroke I make.
I am infuriated by closed minded individuals who are unwilling to evolve emotionally, morally and intellectually. Change is hard, but necessary for growth.
I also get a little upset by dried up paint I forgot to store correctly.
Best childhood memory? I have an excellent memory, often remembering moments my sisters have long forgotten. One of my favorites is the summer days we spent painting on long sheets of unrolled butchers paper, spread across the backyard lawn by my mom. My four sisters and I would spend hours painting away and without a care in the world. Some of us took it more seriously than others, who seemed to paint on everything but the paper ; i.e., the lawn, each other, the dog.
No matter what, she would always gush over our creations and crown us "creative geniuses".
Then she would thoroughly hose us down.
Favorite travel destination?
I am a big fan of long sandy beaches with warm turquoise colored water. Hawaii is a favorite place I am lucky to have visited many times. Bali, a little more difficult to get to, but equally as beautiful.
For art supplies: Guerra Paint and Pigment in East Village, NYC, Pearl Paint and Utrecht (available on line).I also love a good tag sale. You can sometimes find canvases that are still in amazing shape. Cover them up with a few coats of gesso and you have an "almost new" canvas to work on.
For clothing : For amazing and original pieces I shop at a home town favorite, Rexer Parkes in Huntington, Long Island. When I've got some cash or they are having one of their awesome sales, Barneys on Madison Avenue in NYC is wonderful. The windows are the most creative windows you will ever see. They are like miniature theaters and art galleries. For a deal I love Century 21 and Loehmann's and Uniqlo. With so many endless possibilities behind their doors, vintage clothing stores hold a special place in my heart. You never know what you will find until you step inside.
www.googleartproject.com is a great way to visit museums around the world you may never get the chance to step foot in. You can zoom in so close to the paintings that you can actually see the brush strokes.
What is, to you, the best thing about being an artist?
As an artist, I have discovered the freedom to express my thoughts and feelings without having to give a direct narrative. I can divulge or keep as much of myself as I wish. I allow viewers to fill in the blanks and come up with their own stories. Surprisingly, they will sometimes put as much of themselves into my paintings as I do.
Thank you, Kerry!
Have a great weekend, everyone and don't forget to check out Kerry's site here
My name is Anne Harwell and this is my online journal sharing my work and life, as well as profiles on interesting, creative people and products. I also welcome commissions, so please contact me if you have a favorite room, pet or piece you want painted! All of my work is protected by International Copyright law and no copies or reproduction of any kind are permitted without my express, written permission. All rights reserved.