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Vancouver Artist Martha Sturdy

fall_artistVancouver, British Columbia is Canada’s West Coast metropolis, filling the broad Fraser River Valley between the North Shore Mountains and the U.S. border. It’s a beautiful city with a downtown forest of glass high-rises and a thousand acre virgin forest next door. Whistler, home to the 2010 Winter Olympics is a few hours north and Seattle is a few hours south.

fall12-chair-litThe city itself is a multicultural wonder. English is a second language for more than half of the population. Though it never seems “foreign”, Vancouver will surprise you with its mix of British, North American and Asian sensibility. Like San Francisco, the city lingers in your heart when you leave.

fall12-bowlI love Vancouver. I go there whenever I can to visit friends, enjoy the Canadian experience, and check out new art.

fall12-chair-litWhen I was attending the Art Institute of Seattle many years ago, I was intrigued with Canadian artist and interior designer Martha Sturdy. After school, I worked at a high-end furniture store in the Seattle Design Center that featured her art and home collection.

fall12-benchI admire Martha’s brilliance in a broad range of forms: tables, chairs, pedestals, paintings, objects and installations. Hers is a unique talent.

fall12-plateMy favorite is her collection of metal works, each striking and original. Many of them are wall hangings that have simple, clean lines with an Asian accent. Her resin designs in distinctive colors are also spectacular, particularly the molded resin furniture pieces. Check out her website at www.marthasturdy.com or stop by her showroom and gallery the next time you’re in Vancouver.

Twelve Things I Can't Live Without (right now)

  1. Jeff Koons " Balloon Dog" Book Ends. (www.jeffkoons.com)
  2. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige Sparkling Wine. (www.mummnapa.com)
  3. Lacoste Bath Towels. (www.lacoste.com)
  4. Prada Fragrance - Amber. (www.prada.com)
  5. PleyBen Biscuits (French Butter Cookies) (www.melandrose.com)
  6. Louis Vuitton Men's Wallet. (www.louisvuitton.com)
  7. Moleskine Notebooks. (www.moleskineus.com)
  8. Potted Fresh Lavender ( I love cooking with it poultry, casseroles and stews) also it smells great on your kitchen counter.
  9. Rhodia, Pads and Note books (www.europeanpaper.com)
  10. Brazil French Press. (Red) I gave my coffee maker away after using this press. (www.target.com
  11. Orange Zest. It's delicious on salads,poultry,fish most anything you cook.
  12. My Family and Friends who support me in most of my crazy endeavors.


Icelandic Artist Karl Kvaran

There was no ice in Iceland when I stopped in Reykjavik, even though it was January. The warm Atlantic current rolls by just south of the island, and the mountains to the north block the arctic winds. “Lunar landscape” came to mind when I rode the 50km (31 miles) from the airport to the city. Just two degrees of latitude from the Arctic Circle, Reykjavik (which means Smoking Bay in Icelandic) is the northernmost capital city in the world. The language is old and consonant-laden, but it seems everyone speaks English.

The town itself is small, the shops along the narrow, picturesque main streets painted in bright colors against the grayness, and the downtown itself looks clean and prosperous. There seemed an unusually large number of well-stocked bookstores for so small a place. There were also a number of art galleries and public art installations. Light arrived about 10 and faded after 3:00.

There are no trees. Or if there were I didn’t notice them. There were, however, swans and puffins in the pond by the National Gallery when I visited. The building is modernist and functional. The entrance fee was 1000 Krones, which can take you aback until you remember the exchange rate is about 114-1. I arrived about two hours before closing time and had to choose quickly what I would see.

I discovered the work of Iceland artist Karl Kvaran, on special exhibition. I had never heard of him before. His bio says his paintings in the 1950s and early 60s melded abstraction with Pop Art, which was then just taking off. There were two rooms of his work. The first surprised me with bold, colorful, whimsical, impressionism, and the second, featuring larger, more startling, more dominating works, sent me running to the museum shop to buy a book of his works before the museum closed.

It was already dark when I left the building and headed back to my hotel. I tried to imagine what Reykjavik would look like in 21 hours of sunshine in the summer months, when temperatures soar into the sixties, and I made a mental note that I must return.

I took a dip in the Blue Lagoon before I left. The Lagoon was as advertised, steaming 100-degree hot-springs water on a zero wind-chill day, as surreal an experience as the island itself.

Recommended Reading

Yves Saint Laurent by Jeromine Savignon, 2010

The Barefoot Contessa Fool Proof Receipts you can Trust by Ina Garten 2012