Be Your Own Curator…

One of the biggest challenges my clients face is adding art and accessories to their interiors.  Of course, I’m happy to act as curator and pull pieces together for them in a flash but often I find myself working with what they have and advising them to be patient and wait for pieces that speak to them.  I feel that the art and accessories are often the most personal component to an interior and those items tell so much about the inhabitant.  I’ll start by raiding the client’s collections or even family/travel photos for inspiration.

This got me thinking about my own collection.  It truly started in a modest way and has grown tremendously over the past 12 years.  A favorite habit was to purchase art whenever I traveled to a new country as a memento.  It was easy to do and often inexpensive.  I started to look out for street vendors and purchased pieces that I could roll up to be framed once I came home.


My first such examples were sepia tone photographs from Prague.  I fell in love with the mystery of the St. Charles Bridge.  I purchased these two moody portraits from a street vendor on the bridge.  I don’t remember what I paid for them but it couldn’t have been much.  It was 1997 and I just graduated college with no employment in sight…They originally hung above my sofa but now are featured in my master bathroom.  I think they really set a tone of mystery and intrigue…

Having enjoyed the St. Charles Bridge photos so much, on my next big trip to Europe in 2002 I picked up this poster from the Lorenzo Cascio Studio in Portofino.  I absolutely fell in love with the bronze relief doors that Lorenzo Cascio created for churches in Portofino and Santa Margherita on that trip.  I certainly couldn’t afford an original but when I stumbled into his studio and realized that he sold a few prints…I had to have this print of a horse for my collection.  There was something about that wild stallion, the colors, and the graphic bits that really spoke to me.  Again, I brought it home rolled up and had it framed stateside…

Jackpot!  During a trip to France in 2007 I found what I consider to be the bargain of the century.  Inside a typical souvenir store in the medieval town of Eze, France I found a pile of original illustrations from the 40’s or 50’s?  This was in the midst of my interior design education.  I was learning to draw perspective, rapid sketching techniques, and watercolor, pencil, and marker rendering skills.  That is probably why I was so drawn to these illustrations.  The detail, style, and loose charm radiates from each and every one of them.  Priced each under 10 Euros…I picked out the illustrations that demonstrated a place I had visited on this trip.  They were framed upon my return.  There are 11 in all and they now sit above my sofa…


Up close detail of the illustration that depicts the Moulin Rouge…such lovely colors and I love the “entourage” of people of the era in front…


Detail of another favorite spot in Paris…Plaza Vendome.  Again, love the people walking by for context, the automobiles, the reflection of the water from a rainy day…


Detail of the illustration that depicts the medieval town of Eze, in the South of France, where I found these loose illustrations…


During my 2007 trip to Buenos Aires I noticed a plethora of street artists and decided this would be an excellent memory of my trip.  While touring La Boca in Buenos Aires, which is known for being particularly touristy…likened to Pier 29 in San Francisco, I honed in on the best quality artwork that I could find.  This engraved piece by Dora Garraffo was much more expensive than my earlier purchases…around $100…but I felt it was worth it.  Only piece 8 of 10 it was more original and something about the relaxed nature of this curvy woman with great hair and fabulous shoes sitting on her red chair…I just couldn’t resist it.  Again, brought it home for framing with a silk border.


Also a part of the La Boca, Buenos Aires, Dora Garraffo acquisition was this charming little engraving depicting a couple tango dancing.  If you have been to Buenos Aires, you know that tango is everywhere and at around $40, I couldn’t let this piece go.  I intended to give it as a gift for Christmas that year but loved it so much that I kept it for my collection.  Framed here in California…


On my most recent adventure to Thailand in 2008, found this little treasure.  I actually found it in a tabletop and linen store in Chiang Mai referred from the Luxe Guide (I adore the Luxe Guides).  It is an original one of a kind piece by the store manager.  For about $100 I purchased this piece on canvas, already framed in wood.  The elephants spoke to me as we visited an elephant camp in the Golden Triangle.  I love elephants, but it made me a bit sad how they worked hard for tourists to ride on.  That is why I particularly love the elephants depicted here with wings flying above…

So, be your own curator.  Over time you can collect pieces that speak to you.  They might be prints, originals, textiles, folk art, etc, etc.  They might be from trips afar, trips closer to home, or by artists in your own city or home for that matter.  All that is important is that they mean something to you.

I had fun looking back down memory lane.  Thanks for letting me share my travel treasures with you.

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4 Comments

Filed under Inspiration all around, My Style, Travel treasures

4 responses to “Be Your Own Curator…

  1. Kari, I am a huge artlover myself! Thank you for the lovely art tour! You now inspired me to write about my own art pieces. Happy rest of the week!, xx Mon

  2. Matt

    Great post! I love seeing other people’s art and hearing the stories behind the pieces they’ve collected. I especially love the tango dancers engraving!

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