Have you ever found yourself compelled to buy something while traveling, or at a flea market or estate sale, only to wonder why the piece was so important to nab at the time? Of course you have! I like to call these impulse purchases “found objects,” which is one nice way of rationalizing things…whether a bit of memorabilia, unremarkable junk, or genuine treasure, we buy on!
In the last few years I can count a small, brightly painted wooden bird whistle from Costa Rica, cerulean Foo dogs from a favorite designer’s shop (HOME in Altadena), and nearly 27 pristine Hermes boxes in various shapes and sizes from my Vogue days, as some of my favorite things. “Organized clutter” it may be, but like trophy antlers on the wall, these beauties accent my bookshelves and tabletops with aplomb.
However, not all found objects are impulse buys, or knick-knacks we acquire mindlessly, some are keepsakes that are truly irreplaceable. One such piece is a 6″ high x 4″ wide vase that once belonged to my parents. It sat in the hallway in between the kitchen and living room, and over the years it became a small token of home for me. It now sits handsomely on our mantelpiece to the side of a beautiful oil painting by Nell Brooker Mayhew. I like it there…
Nell Brooker Mayhew was a pioneer of an artist in many ways; she was born in the latter part of the 19th century, and became one of the few female artists to make her living painting, while working and raising two children on her own in Southern California. Unusual for the day, she was trained at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her signature paintings and prints demonstrate a talent for not only absorbing influences of the day, but for creating a new style in the process. Specifically, she explored with Japanese wood blocks (Japonisme), Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Symbolism to create stunning landscapes and depictions of cotton fields (yes, cotton fields in California), and other bucolic scenes. She was also a speaker and teacher at the University of Southern California’s School of Fine Arts.
What I didn’t mention is that I was with my mother when she found the vase that is now mine, and sits so sweetly to the side of Nell’s painting. The vase and painting inspire me daily; filling my heart and pleasing my eye with the merest glance. Go ahead, treat yourself to the unnecessary! One day it may mean so much more.
Welcome to Sujac Studios – enjoy the view!