A month in Italy to create art – a dreamy opportunity! How did this come about, you may ask. Here’s a quick art recap of how Steve’s Artist in Residence at La Fortezza came about and the fabulous results.
You may remember last fall, Steve taught a painting workshop at Annette Joseph’s 9th century villa, La Fortezza. It was full of creativity, laughs and exploration. That lead to this offer from Annette, be the first Artist in Residence, creating work inspired by the region. And he said YES! So, this past July, he did just that, creating a body of work that reflects the history, geography and beauty of the Lunigiana region. Truly a gift to focus on art for a full month.
If you haven’t been to this part of Italy, add it to your travel bucket list. Lunigiana is a historic region between Tuscany and Liguria, drenched in history, unique foods and breathtaking views.
Being familiar with the town and nearby art store, Steve knew what supplies he needed to take and what he could purchase there. So, with brushes and paint in hand, he spread out in the spacious studio, working on many canvases and paper pieces at once, as the inspiration moved him.
One of the benefits of being in one place for a longer period of time is you make friends with the locals. This was especially helpful as Steve wanted to make copies of historic rare books and ephemera at the local rare books archives, to incorporate into his paintings. With some patience and help with translating, he got more than he needed, including the Roman soldier seen above, an atlas of the region from 1785, and a lawyer’s goat skin bound book of contracts from 1635, all incorporated into various works of art.
It wasn’t all painting, there was cooking to be done, in Annette’s fabulous kitchen, plus visiting local museums, sites and an artists’ co-op. Check out Annette’s many workshops here.
One of the artists shared some scrap chunks of Carrara marble with Steve. What an amazing new conduit for his art, another blessing from travels and learning from new friends.
How does one end such a wonderful month of painting? With a show of course! A downpour didn’t dampen our spirits either. The food truck brought the food inside the studio where our friends, local and from afar, ate, drank and danced into the night.
The next day, we packed up the art, said ciao to La Fortezza, and headed to the iconic beach town, Forte Dei Marmi, the perfect way to cap off a jubilant July.
But it’s barely April you’re saying! Why should I look at summer camps near me now? Your kids will be home for the summer before you know it, asking what are we doing next? Do yourself and them a favor, flip to your family summer calendar, and plug your kids in a fun and innovative summer camp, thanks to MODA, Museum of Design Atlanta.
Always forward thinking, MODA believes kids make great designers! They see through fresh eyes, love wacky ideas and are brave enough to think anything in this world is possible. campMODA teaches kids to use design thinking in combination with STEAM (science, technology, engineering,art/design, and math) skills to solve problems and address real-world challenges. Believe me, these camps fill up quickly. You’ll learn so much from them too.
Do you have budding engineer or computer game coder? What about your teen activist? There’s a spot for everyone. Join one of MODA’s week-long full-day or half-day camps for kids and teens
(Pre-K through 11th grade) at one of four locations: MODA’s Midtown home,
Georgia Tech College of Design, First Presbyterian Preschool and The Lovett School
in Buckhead/Vinings. Full-day camps (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are $495 per week, and
half-day camps (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) are $250 per week. MODA members receive
10 percent discount.
Each campMODA 2018 session features one of these innovative themes: Designing
with LEGO Robotics; Adventures in Blockly; Designing and Coding with Minecraft;
Craftivism; LEGO Robotics for Filmmakers; Architectural Design with Minecraft;
Circuits and Robots; Playground Engineering and Career-Building Design Studio
Field Trips. Reserve your spot to ensure placement in the camps of your choice.
Registration for all camps is available at:
Have you looked at a family membership? Not only can you save on summer camp, you’ll have access to adult lectures, classes and exhibits, perfect for family field trips and date nights.
You know we love art, and we want to share this annual Atlanta art event with you— Spotlight on Art is the premier art series in the Southeast for both avid art collectors and casual buyers. Since 1982, its exhibitions have showcased new, original works by well-known and emerging artists. Even more exciting, Steve McKenzie will exhibit in this venerable show! Over 350 artists will show in this 6,000 square foot gallery space – something for everyone. Original art adds so much to our lives! Buy what you love ~
Here are the dates so you can plan your visit…
January 29–February 3, 2018 Trinity School
4301 Northside Parkway NW Atlanta, Georgia
Free parking and admission
“…what began as a small school fundraiser has grown into one of the art world’s best-kept secrets.”
—Garden & Gun
You know we love art. Love art, think art, talk art, see art and make art. Last week we had the pleasure of experiencing an original exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta. Perfect date night on a cold evening.
Have you visited Atlanta’s Museum of Design Atlanta ? Yes? Great! Have you seen the current exhibit, Text Me: How We Live in Language? No? You need to experience it!
First, what is this museum? MODA believes that design is a creative process that can solve problems, transform lives, and make the world a better place. The museum’s exhibitions and programs exemplify this belief. Located within the Midtown Arts Corridor since 2011, MODA is the only museum in the Southeast devoted exclusively to the study and celebration of all things design.
Now, let’s get the details on Text Me: How We Live in Language which is an original exhibition curated by internationally renowned designer, writer, podcaster and brand strategist Debbie Millman. Over 60 designers and artists explore typography’s power and pervasiveness across every aspect of our lives. Through interactive, immersive experiences, Text Me showcases many of the ways we use typography to document every aspect of our existence.
There are site-unique murals, controversial pairings of words and things, all made to make us THINK.
You move from room to room in the house. Text is everywhere.
Date night solved! Take your honey to this thought-provoking exhibit soon as it ends on Feb. 4th. Get tickets here, and support this amazing Atlanta treasure of art and design.
Helpful Hint: Check out MODA’s kids and adult camps and classes too. It’s never too early to plan your spring break and summer family fun.
Last week, we shared “Part 1” of a post on Steve and Jill’s recent trip to New York, which focused on their time at the What’s New, What’s Next event. For part two, we’re talking ART and inspiration… One of our very favorite subjects!
First things first, Steve and Jill’s daughter, Molly, met up with the duo to become a trio on this art expedition… and they set off to MoMA – specifically to see the Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends exhibit. It is “the first 21st-century retrospective of the artist, presents over 250 works across mediums from his six-decade career.” And it was excellent!
While there, the trio caught a glimpse of the upcoming Louise Bourgeois exhibit and spotted this amazing spider – anyone up for another visit to MoMA?!?
Next up was the Donald Judd Home tour in the city, which offered an incomparable experience with his art and vision. The group was able to visit is formerly private living and working spaces, as well as enjoy Judd’s concept of permanent installation in downtown New York. Talk about inspiring – this is a not to miss portion of any minimalist appreciator’s visit to the city!
Together, Steve, Jill and Molly ventured to Bergdorfs, where even more inspiration was discovered, thanks to the Gucci home decor on view!
Can we please help to work this gorgeous pillow or this spectacular chair into someone’s home?!?
There was no lack of enthusiasm for color, texture or pattern matching here. Although you may know a Gucci piece when you see it, it’s truly the details which make these items so special.
Now, for a little Gucci motivation in interior design…
The new Jayson Home store in SOHO was practically calling out to Steve, who could just about move right in and feel at home. The art, natural elements and color palettes were awe inducing.
As a showroom retailer, it’s so much fun to visit other, inspirational showrooms and enjoy what they have to offer!
You may recall from a recent post, Steve was invited to moderate a panel on “Innovation in Kitchen Design” at What’s New, What’s Next (WNWN) in New York City. The panel was a success and the entire event truly delightful!
As an interior designer, staying abreast of the latest in design trends is paramount and events like WNWN make that possible. And fun to boot! By moderating this panel, Steve was able to learn even more about the newest trends in kitchen technology and looks forward to incorporating these trends into future client projects!
A highlight of this year’s WNWN for both Steve and Jill was the Grange suite, where the brand’s latest designs, finishes and inspirations abounded. As you probably know, Grange is a favorite line of ours, and is often times one of the first things guests to the steve mckenzie’s showroom take note of. The way Grange combines textures, finishes and styles – in addition to all of their customization options is seriously awe-inspiring. And the functionality is abundant.
Having NYC as a backdrop to WNWN is absolutely exciting, but some of our most memorable moments was visiting with some of our Atlanta design friends – Barbara Westbrook and Beth Lacefield in particular – while there!
A visit to Chelsea Frames/Gallerie Protege (the locale of Steve’s 2012 NYC art show) reminded us of the importance of not only art in a space, but beautiful, quality custom framed art in a space. It’s these details which elevate a space from fine to fabulous!
As always, our time in NYC always seems to move past with great speed. But, this time, Steve and Jill were able to take a few days to enjoy much art and inspiration both within and outside the NYC limits… Which we’ll share in Part 2 of this post :-))
For now, we’ll end thanking all of those who made our time at WNWN truly memorable – especially the Grange and Viking teams who invited Steve to moderate the panel. This was an event that will not be soon forgotten!
And please keep an eye out for Part 2, which will highlight some unforgettable art and sweet family time for the McKenzie’s…
We’re looking forward to a fabulous fall working with the equally fabulous duo behind the magic that is Madcap Cottage – Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke! Keep an eye out for some exciting happenings between steve mckenzie’s and Madcap Cottage, taking place soon. In the meantime, enjoy getting to know one of the madcaps, Jason Oliver Nixon in our latest “Who you NEED to Meet” installment…
John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon are the dynamic duo behind North Carolina- and New York-based interior design firm, Madcap Cottage. Known for their whimsical use of color and pattern, the Madcap gents—along with their pound-rescue posse, Jasper, Weenie, and Amy Petunia—scour the world for eclectic finds that capture their unique and gimlet-eyed viewpoint. Imagine a British country house that pairs Granny’s antiques and a spirited dash of Chinoiserie chic with a dash of Morocco-meets-India élan. Shake, stir, then pour.
steve mckenzie’s: Will you please share a bit about your background/how you and John started Madcap Cottage and how you gained the courage to break out on your own?
Jason Nixon: John and I both come from backgrounds as magazine editors and television producers, we really see ourselves as storytellers. In our previous lives, we produced, styled, and wrote stories, and at a certain point we asked, Why are we writing about everyone else? We started the design business and the first project we crafted was snapped up by a magazine, and the phone started ringing and we were off and running. We kept the day job as long as we could, and then took the plunge. We are thrilled to have 4-5 interior design projects each year and to have moved into the realm of product development–from fabric and bedding to window treatments, wallpaper, and wall art.
sm’s: What inspires you and John/your work?
JN: Travel is a huge part of our world, and we carry sketch books and diaries when we travel and document our adventures. We find inspiration everywhere we go–from Iowa to India. We also lap up great homes and gardens as well as vintage movies and design books. The legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland once said, “The eye has to travel,” and we couldn’t agree more.
sm’s: What is your vision, not only for the Madcap Cottage brand, but also the individual designs/products you create??
JN: We want to create designs that make you dream–but that are also attainable and affordable. We believe that good design should be available to all. Everything that we do is hand touched, sketched, and painted, whether that is a 40,000-square-foot home or a bedding collection for Home Shopping Network. Our goal is to be a lifestyle destination such as Laura Ashley back in the day.
sm’s: Do you have any “mainstays” in your work – is there something you’re always drawn to?
JN: Of course, we are smitten with prints and patterns and offer opportunities for consumers to bring florals, graphics, stripes, and more into their lives–from baby steps to all-in. Think a classic, relaxed American sensibility paired with an English vibe, and that’s our vibe. Timeless. Sophisticated. And fun. We always have vintage and antique pieces in our design projects and offer surprise-and-delight details such as contrast welting and buttons, unexpected matting and frame treatments, and more.
sm’s: What are the differences in your collections – i.e. how do you create such unique pieces that remain a part of the Madcap Cottage family?
JN: John and I craft colors and patterns that run between our various fabric collections to give tools that allow designers and consumers to connect the dots easily. We layer-in new colors in each collection that adds a further storyline and moves the adventure forward. Each collection takes you on a new journey: We think of each collection as a chapter in a book that moves the story along.
sm’s: What do people need to consider when looking to purchase a Madcap Cottage design?
JN: Nothing! Dive in. We give you the tools to bring the adventure home.
sm’s: What’s on the horizon for you and John/Madcap Cottage?
JN: Lighting! Rugs! Fashion accessories! Paper products! And maybe a TV presence. And we would love to start another book project.
sm’s: As artists/business people how do you recharge?
JN: We love hanging out with our three pound-rescue pups and lounge about with them and read books on the weekend. We also love having friends over for long, boozy dinner parties. And gardening is our favorite hobby
sm’s: Anything else you can think our readers would enjoy learning about you and John/your business/designs?
JN: We believe that design should be fun and put a smile upon your face.
Smiles and fun are absolutely what design should be about. Cheers to the men of Madcap and all the fun and smiles we have planned in the upcoming months! And a big thank you to Jason Oliver Nixon for participating in our “Who you NEED to meet” feature!
Last month, Steve and Jill had the pleasure of hosting a painting workshop at a location of great inspiration and even more wonderful people – The Vine, a combination landscape design, event design and garden market located on St. Simons Island.
The team behind The Vine, Bryce Vann Brock and Kelly Revels, welcomed Steve and Jill to their beautiful showroom and workspace, along with a slew of vibrant and talented artists-to-be to enjoy an evening of fun and painting!
This fantastic group of women not only created some pretty fantastic artworks, they really made the event at The Vine a truly memorable evening for Steve and Jill.
Lite bites and abundant cocktails aided in our painting and these adorable cocktail napkins by Dot and Army were a sweet addition to The Vine’s lovely setup!
Check out the artists at work…
Creating art can be a messy process!
Steve guiding guests through their creation process. He is a wonderful instructor!
And has fun doing it :-))
Thank you to Bryce, Kelly and everyone at The Vine for making this painting workshop possible. We love sharing the creative process with others and we especially LOVED creating art with all of you!
Now, Steve and Jill couldn’t visit St. Simons Island without enjoying a bit of the beautiful scenery. It’s a fantastic place to garner inspiration – especially for Steve who’s always thinking about his next work…
They enjoyed a visit to Christ Church and Cemetery, which is the second oldest in Georgia!
A Patriot grave marker…
Our duo also checked out Wesley Memorial and Gardens, which were lush and beautiful.
St. Simons Island provided a wonderful working vacation and Steve and Jill were tickled to make so many new friends and enjoy the island together! Thanks to all who made it such a wonderful trip!!
Folks frequently ask about Steve’s studio – and lucky for us, he loves sharing his happy place with others! It’s perfectly situated to fuel his creativity. Back in April, Paige Minear shared a visit to Steve’s studio on her blog, The Pink Clutch.
We thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of the same tour and offer a behind the scenes look of where the magic that is Steve’s art happens…
Steve’s studio is located in the loft above the steve mckenzie’s showroom. He can be a bit messy, so it’s smart to contain the work in a space that can be somewhat hidden. Up in the loft, he has various areas set up for working. A large easel is built on the wall and is the spot where Steve works on his larger pieces.
Commercial, stainless kitchen carts easily roll with Steve as he works.
An antique drafting table serves as his workspace for ink and watercolor drawings. This is also the place where Steve’s fabric patterns are created.
The curated objects in Steve’s studio are what inspire him most to create… Here are a few. Note the Illy coffee – nothing like an Italian espresso to keep you going!
Lately, Steve has been spending a lot of time in the studio, creating works for some upcoming shows, fabric lines and more!
Come visit the steve mckenzie’s showroom and experience the art of Steve McKenzie for yourself; and stay tuned for some exciting things coming up for Steve’s art!
*All photos by Marc Mauldin Photography