Laura Concetta, Artisan Designer of Romantic Rainbow Clothing

By Gretchen Schields on Monday, July 10th, 2017 in The Artful Life. No Comments

TROPICAL BIRD OF PARADISE ON THE NORTH DAKOTA PRAIRIE

At a recent Costa Mesa Bead and Design Show where we show our own work, we came across Laura Concetta, an apparel designer whose vision was heart stopping in its originality, beauty and the coherency of the collection.  We wanted to get to know her and were invited into her booth, a fairy tale bower filled with jackets, dresses hats and accessories all in rainbow hues of her own hand-dyed textiles. It was a world of femininity in full flower!

Laura grew up in the warm climates of Hawaii and South Africa where she was born, and then attended the European School of Design in Johannesburg.  These tropical memories remain the inspiration for her clothing designs. It’s in the dye bath that Laura works the color magic and creates the ombre effects unique to her work. Pinks and greens and lavender and apricot all flow into one another in dreamy rainbows. Laura gives herself a free hand decorating her clothing with laces, pockets, ribbons and flowers. Not enough embellishment is unheard of for Laura Concetta. Ruffles and lace and hand painted swirls are everywhere! It is her signature style.

Laura and her mother, artist Eva Formanek, have lived in Moorhead, North Dakota for some years, exotic flowers unexpectedly blooming on the prairie. Their studios are mere doors apart, and each of these exquisite women is the artistic inspiration for the other. But Laura is planning to move her studio to Florida. “My work sells so well there” is her understatement. How could it not? It’s exactly what you want to wear when you are surrounded by lagoons and and palms and wearing a hibiscus bloom behind your ear. Of course I had to buy at least one frothy jacket…now I am looking for a hibiscus flower.
See more on Facebook LAURA CONCETTA CLOTHING AND JEWELRY


Coreen Cordova, artist and collector

By suzi click on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 in The Artful Life. 2 Comments

A SPRINGTIME VISIT TO COREEN CORDOVA IN SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

 by Tamara Hill

In early April I had the honor and pleasure of visiting Coreen, a friend and jewelry designer colleague who had recently relocated from Northern California to her dream home in Santa Fe.  With twice the amount of space than she’d had in her darling (but more compact) hillside California home, she has been able to spread out and more fully display her amazing collection of folk art, paintings, textiles, embroidered costumes, colorful pillows, wearable adornments and glassware, all in a more expansive and totally exuberant manner.  In every corner you can truly feel her distinct delight about inhabiting this new home, with her enthusiastic passion and joy for arranging these charming objects and accoutrements.  They all reflect the versatility and fanciful imagination that she also exhibits in her jewelry designs.

Inspired by her own heritage, Coreen embraces the vibrant colors and textures of Mexican and Latin American culture – painting several of the walls in unabashedly bold and dazzling bright hues, such as sunburst orange and hot pink —  yet while carefully infusing a sense of order into the densely packed, altar-lilke placements of various groupings, which are composed of painted folk figures, sculpted animals, Day of the Dead shrines and skulls, dolls, and other ethnic art treasures.  Only her sleeping area is kept a pure white overall in order to maintain a feeling of peaceful calm and quiet.

Light-filled views open towards several airy outdoor patio areas, and a large garden marked by two small ponds with flowing water “features” bring the outside in.

Take a look at these images and share in Coreen’s happy environment. ”

And to see more of her work go to http://www.coreencordova.com

This  article and photos were written and taken by our friend and fellow artist/collector Tamara Hill .  Tamara truly believes in living The Artful Life and you can see photos of her own great collection (click onThe Artful Life in the headings and scroll down – it is the one after Artful Collections. )  

 

 

 

 

 


Look Book Style File – ROMANTIC

By suzi click on Thursday, February 9th, 2017 in The Artful Life. No Comments

Continuing our series The Look Book Style File we are welcoming the New Year with a glance toward ROMANCE.

 

GRETCHEN’S LAVENDER OUTFIT

Romance is my cup of tea.

This first look is a medley of lavenders and a lot of Krista Larson, one of my favorite romantic-look designers.  Here I’m wearing a Krista Larson long ruffled slip dress in a silky claret.  Over that is a shorter ruched Krista slip in maroon-wine color and then a sheer gauze Krista jacket in a delicate taupe-lavender color.   The style here is in the layering of silk and gauze of different lengths. I’m always on the lookout on eBay for Krista Larson garments where a surprising number of little gems show up at much cheaper prices.

The shoes are old glories from times past, mules in lavender silk with fur trim and dangerously high heels. The hat is a confection from Louise Green, pale blue stiff stuff with flowers, all made with a milliner’s secret touches.

My jewelry is my own, chosen to complement the long drapey shape of my outfit.  I’ve made a long loop of semi-precious stones like amethyst, green garnets, chrysoprase and rose crystal, and another long necklace of small rubies with a little pendant on the bottom.  Lavender pearl earrings finish the look.

gretchen-romantic-lavendar

 

 

GRETCEHN’S WHITE OUTFIT

White is a perfect base for a romantic look, especially white with lace.  A ruffled silk skirt over lacy stockings and white lace-up boots is the start here and then a lace overblouse and lacy vest  to invoke the magic of Romance.  Add a wide brimmed floppy straw hat with a cluster of springtime flowers pinned to it and you’ll find yourself  ready for a Garden Party of unusual guests – small people with fluttery wings and cats that talk.

The skirt is a longtime personal garment that I wear all the time, and the lace tops came from Forever 21.  White lace-up boots are a little harder to find, but fabulous for the Romantic silhouette.

Again the jewelry is my own, a mass of white pearls in different shapes and sizes with the glorious white pearl earrings, my own design too.  How it helps to be able to make some of your own magical things!

I am now dressed in lacy springtime white, and ready join Titanea, Queen of the Faeries for high tea in a Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Ready for marvels of romance and spells and magic rings.  I just need a unicorn by my side.

gretchen-romantic-white

 

SUZI’S ROMANTIC LOOK

Although I usually do not dress in this style I can do it with jewel tones (forget pastels and off white for me – even my wedding dress was purple shibori dye silk chiffon – midi length in 1970).

I started with a jacket that is embroidered in Afghanistan which I bought in the 80’s -I added the vintage button clasp and mohair trim recently.

It is layered over a tiered ruffle linen Kenzo skirt that I bought at the Rose Bowl Flea Market for $20.  And an Elie Tahari satin blouse from a thrift store.

The hat is a wonderful creation by my friend Pattie Farber – Petroushka label.  The lace-up dusty pink boots are Betsey Johnson.

Necklace is vintage 1920’s Czech glass bought at a Vintage Expo and earrings from a Junior League thrift store in Longview, Texas that gets the Neiman-Marcus end of year discards.  Bracelets are beaded by Mayan women in Guatemala and I bought them there from them.  Eyeglasses by L.A. Eyeworks.

Embroidered Floral Jacket

 

ROMANTIC IN BLACK

Looking like I am going to a Victorian funeral but definitely romantic I am wearing a fabulous pleated coat by Mashiah Arrivee.

I  bought it in New York when we were both  showing at the Atelier Designers show about 8 years ago and remember walking down the street wearing it and getting some great compliments.  New Yorkers love black!!  The hat is from my dear neighbor Mrs. Larkin who is now very elderly and in assisted living so her daughter was selling her hats.  She was a grand church lady with great style and this is one of her dramatic hats  by Charo.  Lace up suede shoes by Kenneth Cole.

Suzi in Romantic Black

HOW DO YOU DRESS FOR ROMANCE???

Send us your photos and tell show you put your look together and we will post it on POWER OF ADORNMENT!

 


Ecuadorean artist Aida Lopez

By suzi click on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 in The Artful Life. No Comments

Although it has been almost a year since I was there I still remember fondly the day we spent at the home and gallery of Aida Lopez.  Her husband who had recently passed away was also an artist and together they really lived an artful life which she is graciously continuing.

They designed and built the adobe house near San Miguel de Salcedo and filled it with their artwork including stained glass windows and lamps, crochet window decor, paintings and drawings, a unique stair mural that on the other side is a wood burning oven and some great collections.

She showed us the home and collections and then made us a delicious meal!  We were honored!


Javanese Puppet Troupe Reunites

By Gretchen Schields on Friday, January 29th, 2016 in The Artful Life. No Comments

Muddling around through the dusty market place, I suddenly felt I was being watched. Looking over my shoulder I saw a bright little eye. I shouldered aside a wedding cabinet, two man-sized cloisonné vases and an abacus and came upon the owner of the eye. She was a bright blue bird who perched on the headdress of a Javanese stick puppet, also pretty and blue but with long fangs that suggested her character was rather fierce.
Thrilled, I grabbed the puppet and her bird up and tried to back out of the alley I had carved for myself. I saw another puppet actress, Arjuna, with her shrimp tail headress and then the red face and intricately carved headress of the Lord of Troublemaking and over there was Hanuman, the Monkey God with his tail like a fourth appendage… I searched among the incense scented merchandise finding one puppet after another until no more could be found.

These rod puppets are carved by the Javanese master carver who puts his artistic soul into rendering the soft wood head and their fabulous headdresses of the god or lord he is depicting- Rama, Lakshmana, Sinta. The head is mounted on the long, rod-based bodies so it can swivel, and their bodies are handed over to younger members of the family to carve and to attach the arms and legs with their string joints. The family joins in dressing them in the Indonesian batik sarongs and gilt-trmmed collars. Puppet making is a family business, handed down for generations.

The puppet master, the dalang, now gets the beautiful troupe and can stage the epic tales, the Ramayana, the Islamic Menack Cycle and other Persian stories. Performances involve great puppeteering skills and a range voices to suit the characters. It is a revered Indonesisan artform, and I wonder how these carved thespians came to be discarded. Perhaps the allure of watching movies on a iPhone replaced the enticement of a puppet show but I am glad to have all these has-beens of the Wayang Galek theater in my home, where I swear they perform a bit of the Ramayana nightly to the soft drums and little bells of Gamelan music.


Artful Collections

By suzi click on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 in The Artful Life. No Comments

Living the artful life involves surrounding yourself with things of beauty.  Collections can be simple inexpensive things that catch your eye because of color , texture, pattern or end use.  They often start with finding one wonderful item that inspires you to find more.

I began my collection of Tuareg bags in the early 70’s when friends gave me one and I had no idea what it was but I loved the geometric pattern and color of the leather and it could be hung on the wall like a piece of art.

Gretchen began collecting Mexican folk art then she decided to renovate her kitchen including a new color scheme.  And her love of Asian decor began a collection of Chinese porcelain  vases to go with the Chinese cabinet. Here is just a sampling of some of our collections.

Feel free to send us photos of yours!


Tamara Hill -Creative Collector

By suzi click on Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 in The Artful Life. No Comments

Our dear friend, TAMARA  HILL, who introduced us to each other years ago is a jewelry designer and professional photographer who has had a varied career as a teacher and lecturer, art critic, curator of costume and textile exhibitions, collector of handicrafts and folk art and author of three published books and many magazine articles (including the one in Ornament about Suzi).

Her one of a kind jewelry designs have been featured at the Asian Art Museum Store in San Francisco, the Rubin Museum of Tibetan Art in New York, and at fine galleries in San Francisco, Carmel and Santa Fe.  For more about Tamara’s many accomplishments and to see her wonderful designs click here.  She is also one of the featured artists on the Inspired Luxe website here

In this section we focus on Tamara’s incredible collections in her wonderful 1895-built Queen Anne style Victorian home which she has spent 30 years restoring.

She calls her entire house one big art-and-display/collage box/project inspired by Joseph Cornell and other collage artists. As a Taurus she has always been acquisitive of many small objects – even as a child she was fascinated by shells, minerals, beads and buttons, which she collected. Antiques were also a fascination, as well as symbols and motifs in hand woven textiles and jewelry from many ethnic and tribal cultures. Certain patterns have drawn her to study and focus – mandalas, spiral or circular forms, checkerboards, stepped motifs and all kinds of iridescence, especially that seen in butterflies and shells.

Some of her many treasures include an authentic Louis Comfort Tiffany-made small purple glass vase, a large pale blue Amazonian Morpho butterfly that she was inspired to put under a glass dome when she saw a similar one at the Hudson River School artist Frederick Church’s home, a Victorian inlaid game table, a Kashmiri paisley shawl that was a bequest from the collection of a dear friend, a lacquer and cloisonné enamel coffee table from the estate of comedian Jack Benny, Mamounia style kilim rugs from Afghanistan , a Tibetan silk temple ceiling canopy, Venetian millefiore glass lamps, Kina shell crescent pectoral ornaments from Papua, New Guinea; and a rare beaded dowry/wedding box from Sumatra.

Look at the photos below and see which ones you can spot. Click on each photo to enlarge then click the back button to see the selection again.

This is an ongoing series of Creating an Artful Life -creative people and their collections.  Also see recent posts on The Creative Couple -Barbara and Wayne Chapman, Audrey Stein-the Passionate Traveler and The Antique Artistry of Kathleen Caid (in the March 2015 archives)

 


the Creative Couple

By suzi click on Friday, August 28th, 2015 in Featured, The Artful Life. No Comments

It was with great excitement that we went to interview Barbara and Wayne Chapman. Barbara has been one of the most iconic “adorned” women we have ever known and we were very curious about her environment. When we saw her home our breath was taken away at the fairy tale world she and her husband Wayne had created.

Their house in Solana Beach was originally a rectangular stucco box bought in 1957. In 1970 they hired architect Kendrick Bang Kellogg (recently featured in Three On The Edge at the Mingei Museum) to give them a very modern look.

They spent years filling it with wonderful treasures from all over the world. Among their favorites was their collection of Ikebana Japanese baskets.

A raging fire in 2001 destroyed much of the house and the contents – all their treasures up in smoke,the baskets tinder in the flames. But the Chapmans were undaunted and rebuilt the house with the help of the same architect. Being born collectors they ransacked importers, antiques shops and warehouses finding new arcana, while they painted the walls mad and improbable colors, filling the rooms with their own art.

For many years they have given tours of their home in conjunction with a boutique sale of artful clothing and jewelry and some of their own designs – Barbara’s extravagant jewelry and dolls and pottery by Wayne.

Both were members of the San Diego Allied Craftsmen, a small prestigious group of artists and crafts people very active in the 50’s and 60’s and recently featured in an exhibit at the Mingei Museum.

They met each other in that group. Barbara was working as a sales girl and would spend her lunch breaks shopping. One day she came upon a beautiful weaving in the San Deigo Allied Craftsmen gallery and that led her to meet Wayne.

On the first date they went to see the movie Camelot and she fell in love with the beautiful fabrics in the costumes. She met the woman who designed the costumes in Hollywood and who gave her scraps of some of those gorgeous fabrics – the beginning of an inspiration of lush style that characterizes all of her art. Today Barbara combines gorgeous fabrics and trims into imaginative dolls and accessories to wear. For years she taught doll making but recently retired from teaching giving herself the freedom to create her multi-layered and mysterious designs.

As she showed us her magical house she remarked on the disorganization especially in her studio but quoted A.A. Milne who said “one of the advantages of being disorganized is one is always making exciting discoveries”. She also lives by the adage that “never do when you can over-do”.

Wayne, one of the youngest marines in WWII was only 15 when he enlisted. He spent much of his duty in Japan. Wayne studied ceramics in his first year of college and became hooked. All during his long career in law enforcement he was making ceramics, and now his fancy has shifted to dichroic glass beads.

The Chapmans are such warm and gracious people, as well as being great artists, that our interview felt like a visit with old fiends.


Tziporah Salamon’s Art of Dressing

By suzi click on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 in Events, The Artful Life, The Look. No Comments

The daughter of a tailor and a costume designer Tziporah Salamon was born into the world of fashion. This legacy has given her a sense of style that is both unique and playful which she shares in her ART of DRESSING seminars.

You may recognize her as one of the women Ari Seth Cohen features in his book and documentary ADVANCED STYLE in which she is famous for her zany hats and bicycle riding in the streets of New York City.

One of Tziporah’s fashion hallmarks is her joyful combination of different patterns so it is no surprise that the French Impressionist painter Matisse, whose paintings vibrate with colorful patterns and details, is her inspiration. After lengthy and careful study of his paintings in her youth she remarked – “Matisse has turned my eyes into diamonds.”

Using design principles of color, texture, proportion and silhouette she assembled a variety of different looks in her animated presentation and gave us some guidelines to follow
“Know your body” (hers is petite and boyish so she prefers pants)
“Always buy quality over quantity” (especially for the classic pieces that are the base for layering)
“Vintage gives you more for your money” (her favorite LA vintage store is Golyester)
“Don’t scrimp on shoes” (she prefers feminine styles that are easy to wear – she showed kitten heels, espadrilles and 40’s style platforms)
“Pay attention to details” (make it pleasing to the eye)
“Don’t wear obvious labels or logos” (especially the double C earrings)
“Always shop the end of season sales for best prices”
and our FAVORITE
“When adding accessories always go up a notch – go where you are comfortable and then add one more” (be brave and challenge yourself)

Here are a few of the looks that she put together for us and some variations of those.
(for more go to www.tziporahsalamon.com)


ADVANCED STYLE in LA

By suzi click on Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 in Events, The Artful Life. No Comments

Ari Seth Cohen of Advanced Style (Click here) has made his reputation photographing the fashionable women of a certain age on the streets of New York and featured them in his blog, book and documentary film. We met him a year ago when he came to LA to do book signing at Koi in South Pasadena. He photographed us and put us on the blog. During the year we met several times for more photos. When he told us he was moving to LA we threw a party to welcome him and introduce him to some of our LA Style women. Now he photographs women all over the world and has a new book coming out in 2016.

 


Audrey Stein – the Passionate Traveler

By suzi click on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 in The Artful Life. No Comments

The first thing you notice about Audrey is her striking beauty and style. We met her at Ethnic Arts Council- a wonderful group that we belong to full of interesting people who love to travel and collect treasures from around the world. When we visited her we fell in love with her fabulous jewelry and clothing collection which she showed us, enthusiastically pulling things out of drawers. Her other ethnic pieces that adorn the walls and shelves of her light filled space are museum quality with evocative stories she delights in telling.


She’s been from Katmandu to Timbuktu, fulfilling a childhood dream, but the remote places, especially the Himalayas, hold the greatest enchantment for her. Photographing what she sees on her travels is her passion, and appropriately the name of the website featuring her photography, www.passionate-traveler.com.

Her “Mongolian Horseman II” was a first place winner in the 2007 Los Angeles Digital Images Photo Contest. Her photography has appeared in Southern California area shows since 2005 and is in private, corporate and university collections. click here for more


Elizabeth’s Makeover

By Gretchen Schields on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 in The Artful Life. No Comments

When we heard Elizabeth McGee, the  young, celebrated Laguna Beach painter, was to be honored at a major Fine Art event we were thrilled for her. When we heard she had nothing to wear – she’s a jean and T-shirt girl – we were also thrilled because Gretchen had something for her to wear! She had just done a major overhaul of her overstuffed closet.
We had the idea of not just dressing her for the event but doing a Power of Adornment makeover with all those great clothes, and Elizabeth was enthusiastic. We sorted through bags of loot- basic black came first – a great cocktail dress and a stretch wool turtleneck dress, basic black pumps. We found some things to layer over those blacks – a really beautiful mauve filmy jacket and coordinating scarf – breathtaking – a fairy tale queen. Now with one of Gretchen’s necklaces she was dressed for the big Art event.
For a casual wardrobe now we added jackets and skirts over the black turtleneck neck dress and and showed her how to power these up in layers by adorning herself with a scarf or two, hats, crazy socks and some of Gretchen’s outrageous jewelry.
A great time was had by all, Elizabeth has a new makeover wardrobe and fancy outfit, and Gretchen has fewer bags extra clothes. Whose next?????

Elizabeth McGhee is a native of southern California, from a family of artists from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Scotland, as well as the local Laguna Beach art scene.  She graduated from Laguna College of Art and Design in 2009  and has been an exhibitor at the Festival of Arts/ Pageant of the Masters since 2010. Some of her signature portraits & toy paintings are shown below. A comprehensive collection of her works can be viewed at www.elizabethmcghee.com

 

 

 
 

the ANTIQUE ARTISTRY of KATHLEEN CAID

By suzi click on Thursday, March 12th, 2015 in The Artful Life. No Comments

KATHLEEN CAID is the embodiment of adornment’s power to create an artful life.

Widowed as a very young woman with two small sons Kathleen suddenly had to earn a living. She followed her awakening creativity and began crafting hippie luxe hats. These became 1970’s trend setters.

One day Kathleen got a call from a Bel-Air doyenne. “I would like to discuss a special project” the mysterious woman intoned. She summoned Kathleen to her mansion and took her to a closet filled with antique laces and beads, vintage flowers, embroideries and ribbons. Could Kathleen adapt her artistic vision to create lampshade for the woman’s mansion? Absolutely!

Hand crafted hats, lampshades, hand-painted pillows and murals – Kathleen segued from one aspect of her artistry to another. Business skills learned along the way propelled her lampshades to stratospheric success. Her company, ANTIQUE ARTISTRY, today showcases her latest love- intricately beaded jewelry.

Kathleen’s home shown here is the ultimate work of art. She and her husband Tim, with their shared passion for antiques, have fashioned this flight of fantasy. It is appropriately the residence and studio of this brilliant woman.


Marston House & Gardens in San Diego

By suzi click on Sunday, November 30th, 2014 in On the Road, The Artful Life. No Comments

 

 

 

I recently went on a tour of this Arts & Crafts Style house built in 1905. One of the architects was Irving Gill who went on to become well known for his mid-century modern style. It was built for George Marston who founded the famous Marston Department stores in San Diego.  He was an important contributor to the development of San Diego and quite an important philanthropist to the city’s cultural heritage.  That earned him the title of “San Diego’s First Citizen”. His daughters (he had 5) lived in the house until their death at which time it would become owned by the city.  The oldest lived to 108.  I love the arts & crafts style, especially the pottery and furniture, and the house has many modern features that were ahead of its time.  You can go on tours and find it at the northern end of Balboa Park.

 

 


Balinese art of presentation

By suzi click on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 in The Artful Life. No Comments

 

In Bali the act of presentation is very important. In the daily offerings to the gods and spirits as well as food, drinks and architectural decor.   Here are a few examples.


Creating an Artful Life is the Essence of Balinese Culture

By suzi click on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 in On the Road, The Artful Life. No Comments

-Bali and Java were on the ancient trade routes between Europe, the Middle East, India and China. They have absorbed influences from all these civilizations. It is reflected in their art.

-Everyday they make offerings to their HIndu gods of good and evil. These gifts are made from palm leaves with fruits, flowers, incense and assorted sweets.

-Elaborate ceremonial decorations grace the temples and religious processions that take place every month.

-Food and drink is artfully presented using flowers, fruit, wood, and stones.

-Both ancient and modern interior spaces use wood, stone, painting and floral arrangements. Multiple living levels in their homes reflect the beauty of the terraced rice fields.

-Men and women wear beautiful batik and ikat sarongs. These weavings are a traditional art form.

-All Balinese are artists. Even farmers and bankers are part time musicians, dancers, wood carvers and weavers.They live with a sense of joy and pride in their world of The Artful Life.

IN FOLLOWING POSTS WE WILL HIGHLIGHT DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF THE CULTURE AND CRAFTS OF THESE INDONESIAN ISLANDS.


Visiting an Artful Habitat

By suzi click on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 in The Artful Life. 2 Comments

 

We explore the collection filled home of designer Suzi Click.  On the door is hanging  a Cambodian weaving,  a Burmese bamboo umbrella and hand painted Moroccan table are in the background. Colorful walls and doors by painter husband David Barry Lewis. The photo was  taken by our good friend Ari Seth Cohen of Advanced Style and featured on Vogue digital magazine as one of the instagram photos of the week. Suzi is wearing a jacket and hat that she designed, Gretchen Schields necklaces, Sally Bass Earrings, vintage Kenzo skirt from the Rose Bowl flea market, Suzani boots made in Turkey (if you go to Ebay and look for suzani boots you can find some!)