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.
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…
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!!
On our trip to Jackson, Mississippi to visit Kristen Ley and Thimbelpress to learn how to letterpress, we also had the opportunity to learn about Cathead Vodka. Steve loves a nice vodka, and to learn about a small maker was exciting; we couldn’t pass it up!
As you’re well aware by now, we love all things southern, and a southern-made vodka is no exception. Located on the edge of downtown Jackson, near the Mississippi Museum of Art, Cathead distillery was fantastic!
Mississippi ushered in prohibition in 1907 and it was not repealed until 1966. Fast forward to 2011, when Austin Evans and Richard Patrick first opened as Cathead. These boys not only love their vodka, but they love the delta blues of the region. In fact, the distillery is named after the legend, Son Thomas, known for his cathead sculptures he sold at his blues performances.
Because of their love of Delta Blues, Cathead’s founders incorporated a fantastic philanthropic element to their business, which makes the story even stronger. They support many foundations by giving a portion of their sales to different organizations, which support preservation of the blues heritage. In fact, on the Cathead website, you can view some of the amazing blues videos and see great commercials featuring legends of the Delta region.
Some of the southern flavors being produced by Cathead are Pecan and Honeysuckle. They’re absolutely delicious, and over the next few weeks Steve will be sharing some new recipes he developed using their vodkas. In the meantime if you are in a hurry, you can check out other recipes here.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Jackson, take a tour of Cathead and try a tasting Thursday – Saturday. Until you can visit, here is a photo-tour of the distillery…
We’ve also sampled their Gin and it makes the perfect Summertime Gin and Tonic! Next up is the Hoodoo Chickory Liqueur (barrel pictured above). We are excited to see where this spirit will take us.
Please enjoy responsibly.
Distillary photos by Richard Patrick
You may remember we introduced the founders of The Southern Coterie in this blog post last year, after returning from presenting at the Charleston Southern C Summit. Well, we had the opportunity to attend the most recent summit, just last month at The Cloister on Sea Island… The location alone had us swooning. Add in some top notch online personalities, business owners and all around creative entrepreneurs and we knew we were in for a treat!
The summit was absolutely jam-packed and the amount of inspiration we’re feeling = unparalleled. We were thrilled by others who are following their passion and shared a bit about their journey with us – including Gray Malin, Lizzie Fortunato, Libbie Summers, Darcy Miller and many more.
Here are our top five takeaways from what was an unforgettable event:
- Tell your story. We all have a story. Listen to another’s story. That’s what connects us as neighbors, people, shop owners, entrepreneurs, etc.
- “Community over competition,” says Darcy Miller (from Martha Stewart Weddings) – value your industry relationships and be open to new ones. (Watch for some new steve mckenzie’s collaborations!)
- Shoppers want experiences – the smells, tastes, textures, and learning opportunities they encounter all build the greater picture of what our brand means.
- Think outside the box. This may sound obvious to some of us creative types, but what’s considered “out of the box” in our industry changes often and this bears repeating.
- Follow the Golden Rule. Sounds simple, right? In our everyday hustle and bustle, the golden rule may not be top of mind. But, if we can always remember to treat others as we’d like to be treated, a positive influence we will be.
We’re so honored to have been a part of this fantastic summit, along with so many inspiring individuals. We cannot wait to begin putting all our takeaways to good use, so be prepared for some pretty exciting things happening in the near future for steve mckenzie’s.
If you weren’t able to attend The Southern C. Summit at Sea Island, we hope our top highlights aid you in your journey. And, we highly recommend you make plans to attend the next Summit; they’re not to be missed!
WalletHub recently shared a listing of 2016’s best and worst cities for staycations… And Atlanta came in as the 6th best city for a staycation!
Now, we know Atlanta is pretty fabulous – there’s lots to do, a deep sense of history, fantastic restaurants and shopping – the list could go on and on. Obviously, the folks at WalletHub agree. Their number crunchers compared the 150 largest cities across 28 key metrics. WalletHub’s data set includes such metrics as movie and bowling costs, golf courses, frozen-yogurt shops and spas per capita. Pretty neat Atlanta earned the spot as the 6th best staycation city on the list!
And we couldn’t agree more… Here are our thoughts of the top places to stay and things to do as you plan your in-town staycation:
The Mandarin Oriental Atlanta promises luxurious, fabulous accommodations and is currently in the #1 spot on TripAdvisor’s top Atlanta hotels list. The rooms are sumptuous and the attention to detail is stellar.
Now, if you’re searching for a cozier place to stay, look no further than the Stonehurst Place bed and breakfast. This hidden gem is located in Midtown and it will truly serve as your home away from home. The rooms there feature stunning furnishings and museum-worthy original works of art! Bonus – you don’t have to make the bed.
In addition to shopping at steve mckenzie’s and exploring all Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood has to offer, there are tons of amazing tourist attractions our team recommends…
And there you have it, a quick rundown of where we’d stay and what we’d do on our Atlanta staycation! Thanks to WalletHub’s listing of best/worst staycation cities for inspiring this post… We hope we’ve inspired some of our local readers to become tourists in our own city – or if you’re from out of town, we hope to have sparked some interest in planning a visit to Atlanta. Remember to stop by steve mckenzie’s while enjoying Atlanta. We promise the tea here is cool, as is our current selection of unique, authentic souvenir options!
Building on his WCAF Bloggers Tour success, Steve is joining acclaimed stylist and entertaining expert, Annette Joseph on a once-in-a-lifetime photographer’s retreat to Berlin as the tour’s Branding Expert!
With over 20 years experience, her expertise includes photo styling for interiors, food propping and special production projects. Check out Annette’s fabulous book, “Picture Perfect Parties,” to gain a sense of Annette’s signature style.
Throughout Annette’s Berlin photography workshop, guests will be immersed in one of the hippest urban landscapes in the world. They’ll mingle with other creatives, relax and enjoy an educational photo styling experience.
Also joining Annette and Steve will be Christina Wedge, an amazing lifestyle and interiors photographer.
Home base for the group will be the stylish Honigmond Garden Hotel.
The workshop is for all levels of photographers, as long as they have a basic knowledge of how to operate their camera and place it on a manual setting.
Steve is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide social media and branding tips to such a creative group, and you can be a part of it… Please join us and be a groovy Berliner – there’s a great team in place to show you the ropes!
Next week, Steve and Jill will be hosting an extremely talented group of design industry insiders at the West Coast Art & Frame expo in Las Vegas!
This “bloggers tour” is comprised of four design tastemakers who all understand the importance of art in a home, and who are looking to learn more about what’s new in the world of art and framing, as well as share a bit about their unique perspectives on art and framing…
We are absolutely thrilled about this lineup and encourage you to follow everyone here on social media, so you may be a part of this event, and take advantage of all we see and learn along the way!
In addition to hosting this fabulous crew of bloggers, Steve will also be an educator at the expo. As a longtime member of the art and framing industry – his former gig was serving as Chief Designer for Larson-Juhl for the last 20 years, and as CEO for the past decade – he’s looking forward to sharing his thoughts on small business success and his favorite, mid-century modern design during two sessions at the expo.
If you’ll be at the WCAF expo, consider attending one of Steve’s classes. And if not, please keep an eye out for a recap of this exciting trip! Viva Last Vegas!!