Unicorn As Gallery

Long before we even started the actual plans for the Unicorn Kitchen, before we’d even closed on Maple Hoo, we started collecting artwork for the kitchen walls. Our seminal inspiration kitchen is our Aunt Cindy’s in Manhattan Beach, where she has two tiny canvases on her wide windowsill. One is of an intricate, elegant blossoming branch and the other is a painterly representation of a pear. Ever since we first saw those two canvases (before we moved back east), we’ve wanted to have something like that in our own kitchen. And, as we tend to, once we start to think about having one painting in our kitchen, we start thinking about having all kinds of art pieces in the kitchen. So here’s a closer look at the cohesive, visionary elements hanging on the Unicorn Kitchen’s walls.

First and perhaps most cherished is the set of apples our friend Paul painted for us:

applessmall.jpg

For our last kitchen remodel, we commissioned a pear painting from him, in honor of our aunt’s pear canvas, and he surprised us with a series of three. We knew Paul is a fantastic artist, but these paintings just took our breath away:

pearssmall.jpg

Here’s a closer look at one of them:

peardetailsmall.jpg

These paintings make me so incredibly happy — I just love how the colors and textures look, how warm and homey they are while still having a stylish modernity. But when we moved into Maple Hoo there was nowhere to put them in the kitchen, and we ended up falling in love when them where we hung them in the dining room. Thus the commission of the apples for the new space.

appledetailsmall.jpg

The two sets are clearly complimentary, but Paul decided to have fun with more dramatic lighting and contrast in the apple set, a choice that turned out wonderfully. I adore how they have an almost Northern Renaissance feel with the stark light. I think he outdid himself with these six canvases, and aside from having such beautiful paintings in our favorite rooms, they’re made that much more special that they were made for us by a friend.

Our next most special, beloved piece that hangs in the kitchen is a souvenir from our travels (doesn’t that make us sound super-sophisticated?). While we were in the process of closing on Maple Hoo, we took a vacation to London, the first time Boomer had been out of the country. We went there without much of a plan of what we wanted to see or do, so upon arrival we flipped through a few guidebooks and read about the Chelsea Physic Garden. Tucked away behind high walls in Chelsea, open only a few days of the week, this was, per everything we read, a hidden gem that draws few tourists but offers one of the most magical experiences a person can find in London. It just so happened that it was open that day, so off we went in search of it. The garden was, as advertised, not easy to find, but once we did, we weren’t sorry. It was like an enchanted spot — we weren’t garden people then, and we didn’t really care about plants, but it didn’t matter. After spending an afternoon inside the garden walls, wandering through the centuries-old landscaping, feeling a lifetime away from the outside world, we agreed it was the single most wonderful spot we’d ever been. So when we poked into the tea room before leaving, we were delighted to discover they were selling reproduction prints of an 18th-century survey of the garden. We plunked down a few pounds for one, and then waited two years before framing it and finally getting to hang it:

physickgardensmall.jpg

And in other “souvenirs of England” artwork, Kate the Great absolutely amazed us with the most exquisite gift from one of her business trips to Europe, a reproduction of an architectural detail at St. Martin in the Fields. It is, simply put, perfect:

stmartinsnailsidesmall.jpg

Of course, not everything in our Unicorn gallery is a souvenir of fun. Some of it is a souvenir of work. Take, for example, the page Pookie found in a book she was throwing out at her library. The picture delighted all of us, and then, after waiting for months and months for the kitchen walls to be complete, an ornate framing job made it even better:

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We’ve got the “Giant Bug” piece hanging on our telephone wall with a couple of other elements we love:

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Above it is the “Cherry Thief” I stitched:

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And to the side is a little enameled tile Boomer and I found at an art fair in Arizona shortly after we moved there. It’s San Pasquale, the patron saint of the kitchen:

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Going around the horn, then, is the little metal wreath we found for Boomer last Christmas — we love how it looks on the back door, where it casts ornate shadows on the floor:

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It’s a very unified look, we know. And if you’re wondering about the tin “Peanuts” sign hanging among the apple paintings in that first picture, that’s in honor of Rollie the cat, whose face is shaped like a peanut. Of course.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Unicorn As Gallery

  1. Of course. Oh Rollie… hee hee. I love the art. Guess what I have up on my ghetto walls? Not much. Most notably though (and it’s hung in every place I’ve lived) is my giant King Creole poster that is an old window blind. I don’t know how to describe the blind. Anyway, I love it. I worked my way down to $10 for it at a garage sale.

  2. That poster is AWESOME! I would hang that up everywhere I lived, too! Nice! (I am intrigued by the “window blind” aspect of it… :P)

    We actually called Rollie “Peanut-Face” for quite a while after first bringing her home. We couldn’t resist the peanut sign.

  3. That poster is so cool, HG!

    By the way, my favorite thing about that bug picture is that the framer was like, “Wow, who painted this?” I was like, “Uh… I don’t know… I threw out that page… Heh heh heh.” (I’m know at my library as being the person most willing to throw out any and all books.)

  4. We actually called Rollie “Peanut-Face” for quite a while after first bringing her home. We couldn’t resist the peanut sign.

    I seem to remember you telling me that before during a conversation about peanuts in your garden. If memory serves correct, that conversation turned quite wacky.

    (I’m know at my library as being the person most willing to throw out any and all books.)

    Um… Why do you want to throw out books?

  5. Um… Why do you want to throw out books?

    We have very limited space. New books coming in means old books have to go out. No one wants old books that are falling apart or worse, are out of date. (I don’t want our patrons checking out medical books that are not current — like, say, ones about HRT from four years ago. That’s just irresponsible!)

  6. Okay. I was a bit worried about you working in a library if you just wanted to throw out books. :D

    Here’s a library related question, or book related: How do I find a book that I read when I was 5 in my local library? I’ve searched online but no one has heard of it. Am I out of luck?

  7. HG, you could try searching for the book on World Cat which is an online catalog for, well, zillions and zillions of libraries. Or search out-of-print booksellers like Abe Books.

  8. Cool! I’ll go check those out. I’ve always wanted to find it since it was the first book I remember taking out and I must have taken it out over and over again.

  9. Hi -ookies,

    I am touched and flattered by your appraisal of my paintings. And, as I don’t see them that often, I have to say that your arrangement and placing with the walls of Maple Hoo make them even more spectacular. Thank you.

  10. Hey hgee,

    What’s the book? You’ve piqued my curiosity.

  11. Sarah

    I love the giant bug picture! We are about to frame some pictures taken from a picture book (but alas, we’re buying it new, but still $14.95 for 4 gorgeous illustrations) to hang in Tabitha’s room (the book is A Good Day by Kevin Henkes). I love the cherry thief stitching too, I don’t think I’ve seen it before. I love that your house is like a gallery.

  12. Paul, we’re lucky to have so talented a friend! You’re the best!

    And I TOTALLY can’t wait to see these pictures for Tabitha. I just looked at “A Good Day” on amazon, and it looks fantastic! $14.95 is definitely a good price for four gorgeous pictures, too. Well played! :D

  13. Paul, my memory seems to think it was called, “The Littlest Bridesmaid.” The more I search that title though, the more I think maybe I’m not remembering it correctly. Mind you, it was over 20 years ago.

    I’ve seen other books of that title but they are not the right one. I can see the illustrations as clear as day in my mind and I can remember the story.

  14. Pingback: #34 A Pear | A Daily Doodle

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