Artist Spotlight – Lauren Marx

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Marx at work in her Cherokee Street studio.

Lauren Marx grew up wanting to be a zoologist. When she realized that profession also came with a lot of biology labs and science classes, admittedly not her strong suit, she had to regroup. Which is how she ended up with a B.F.A. from Webster University. This fine arts background, coupled with her love of animals, are partially responsible for her successful career as an artist, one who specializes in self-described “gory animal prettiness” to be exact.

The other part responsible for this burgeoning art career? Her family. For one, Marx comes from a long line of artists, a great-grandfather who was a painter, a grandfather who was a printmaker, a mother who was an artist. Said grandfather not only gave Marx the artistic gene, he also influenced Marx’s subject matter – whether he knew it or not- because his dining room was adorned in the work of John James Audubon. Marx would stare at these prints as a child and file them away for future use.

Audubon, in case you aren’t familiar, was an American naturalist and painter and the first person to create an illustrated natural history book, specifically known for it’s detailed illustrations of birds in their natural habitat. This gained him fame and notoriety in the late 19th century and is why his is the name behind the Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to wildlife conservation that was incorporated in 1905.

Audubon’s work still plays a role in Marx’s art. Some vintage Audubon prints that she found in an antique store on Cherokee Street are stacked neatly on her desk, serving as inspiration. Evidence of his style is apparent in the composition, details and color palette of Marx’s work too. Like Audubon, her work is very intricate and anatomically accurate, but instead of birds being perched on a branch somewhat wholesomely, as Audubon painted them, Marx depicts her animal subjects eating their prey, blood and guts also shown in all their natural glory.

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Inspiration abounds on Marx’s desk.

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Get the Look – Sketch

I came across this chair for sale at Urban Outfitters the other day and thought, “Not sure I’d put that in my house, but it sure does remind me of Sketch.” You might not know it by name, but you do by sight:

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It’s London’s most photogenic restaurant, whose pink interior, plush seating and minimalist art make it a treat for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. Conceived by a Parisian Chef and an English restauranteur in 2002,  Sketch is actually five restaurants and bars that are spread across two floors of a converted 18-th century building in London’s Mayfair. The pink one above, that is the darling of Instagram, is technically called “The Gallery.”

Apparently the food is good, but to me, the interior design is where it’s at. India Mahdavi is the decorator and her love of color and whimsical furnishings are apparent everywhere throughout this destination for food, music, and art.  Some of her other projects are here:

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Home sweet sale

Who says after Christmas sales have to be limited to clothing? Yes, there are a ton of great clothes on sale after the holiday, but I’ve been loving all the home stuff that is, too. Specifically, (and the impetus for this post) I came across that Ro Sham Beaux Malibu chandelier on sale (30% off!) and could hardly believe my eyes. Then I saw that gold flatware, Lulu and Georgia rug, little brass planter, record player …. and well, you get the picture. All on sale! So, without further adieu, a look into my virtual shopping cart.

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Chandelier // Side Table // Mirror // Bowl

Rug // Planter // Record Player

Flatware // Art // Bench // Pillow

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A Bit-O-Local Flare

The latest subscription box to hit the Midwest market is close to my heart…literally! Because it’s based in St. Louis and each quarter sends a box of goods curated from local makers in the St. Louis area. It’s called Bit-O-Local. And really, what better way to get to know new products, handmade in our hometown?

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I just received my first subscription box and it was filled with fun Fall surprises: tassel earrings by CR Jewels,  a bar of (all natural pet) soap by sammysoap, stationary and pencils from the Curio Press and a Cinnamon Sticks candle from Wash Ave. Candle.   I am ashamed and a little embarassed to say that I had never heard of any of the companies represented in this box. One highlight, sammysoap, is an all-natural skin care and home goods company based in Kirkwood, MO that also creates jobs for adults with disabilities.

The founders of Bit-O-Local, Jen Singleton, Carmen Ramirez and Alicia Underwood, have backgrounds in PR and Marketing, so often crossed paths with these local artisans and craftsman. They see the local subscription box as a way to spread the word on St. Louis brands and help increase awareness for their handmade products.

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You can subscribe to the box for $25/quarter (a ~$25 value as opposed to buying the items separately) or buy the items individually. All are available thru their website, www.bitolocal.com.

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define art

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A vintage desk littered with a sticker book and keys- what looks random and haphazard is really carefully thought out art in Fort Gondo.

On the Westernmost section of Cherokee Street, between Michigan and Compton, sits a very tiny and very unassuming gallery called Fort Gondo. It’s right next to its sister space, Beverly Gallery. Open since the early 2000’s, both are original fixtures on the street and somewhat responsible for the movement of the art scene to Cherokee, as we know it today. When I stopped in last Thursday (you have to plan your visit strategically, as they are only open Thursdays and Saturdays from 12-4) I found the most unusual exhibit that is most definitely worth sharing.

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The space reads very much like a residence: exposed brick, small rooms, a bathroom visible from the entry.  The exhibit is called Time and Fragments and is on display until October 1st. It showcases new sculptures by Chris Thorson surrounded by the handwritten poems of Joanna Mc Clure.  Inspired by McClure’s poetry, Thorson created a space full of common place objects, strategically arranged and organized. I think the gallery brochure says it best, in describing the exhibit as “poetic jottings and uncanny replicas of ordinary stuff.”

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worth the wait

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On New Year’s Eve, I had this great idea to buy Chinese wishing lanterns and release them on the beach in a peaceful, beautiful ceremony to ring in 2016. It turned out to be (thanks to a very windy evening) a chaotic, unsuccessful attempt at serenity that left my brother with a few less eyebrow hairs and nearly set the northern half of Miami Beach on fire. We walked back to our house physically defeated, my children screaming “are we going to be sent to jail?!” and with a pack of unused lanterns in tow.

Which is exactly why, when I saw that there was a Lantern Fest coming to St. Louis, I knew I had to check it out. I envision it being like our New Years eve jaunt, but only successful and stress free because someone else is doing the dirty work (i.e. ensuring the surroundings are safe for flaming, flying objects…)

The festival is Nov. 5th in Eureka. Come and enjoy food, live music, a stage show, familiar princesses, face painters, s’mores, balloon artists and more. Then, at dusk, every adult sets off a lantern and boundless photo opps and ooo-ahh moments begin (as is evidence from these photos from Lantern Fest events around the country). Buy your tickets HERE and use code CARADISEFOUND at checkout to recieve 20% off your purchase. See you there!

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like chan luu, but cheaper

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen me wearing my Boho Betty wrap bracelet. I like to think of these guys as Chan Luu at a price. Most are under $50 but look like their more pricey competitor. I wear mine like a watch – meaning always. They are having a great sale so thought I’d share. Shop thru THIS link and get 30% off and free shipping with code LOVE30. Above is the one I currently own and below are some that I have in my bag. Happy Monday!

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a little dabble do ya

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Last Tuesday night me and 8 other people met in a small record shop on Cherokee Street with a common mission: to learn how to cross-stitch. And we were brought together by Dabble. Dabble, founded in 2011, is an online marketplace for DIY classes that teaches everything from soap making, to beer brewing, to how to install wainscoting. Classes are a few hours in length and cost about 40 dollars, with the idea that you get everything you need to know in just one class. One and done. Sign me up.

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The inside of Kismet Records – a record store and gallery space that also hosts concerts (and is it me or does it look like the set of High Fidelity?)

And so that’s just what I did. I learned the basics of cross-stitching in person by Sonia, creative director of Kismet Creative Center and also an avid cross-stitcher. Sure I could have gone about learning this skill via You Tube video or found a book at the library, but there was something about trekking to this new space and meeting these new folks to simultaneously learn this new skill that was cool and communal. It’s also part of Dabble’s mission: to help raise awareness of local vendors and venues while creating community involvement. Sonia feels it too, saying a huge reason she teaches these classes is to see the community come together for the sake of art. It was a real kumbaya moment.

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Fiddle Leaf: The sequel

If you’ve been with me since the beginning, you know my love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with the fiddle leaf fig tree that resides in the southeast corner of my living room (the saga is here). These trees are gorgeous when they come off the delivery truck, then within weeks in my care, turn to this.

If you’re counting, I’m on my second tree in less than two years and it’s recently hit rock bottom. When we came back from vacation, there were 12 (exactly one dozen) leaves scattered on the ground around my tree. I unlocked the door and screamed so loud upon seeing the carnage that my husband thought we’d been robbed. And as such, said tree currently stands in my living room. A brown, twig-like form that is definitely bringing down the mojo of my entire first floor. It’s got to go.

But as this buy/kill/buy/kill routine is getting to be a very expensive habit, I’m rethinking getting another live tree and instead considering a faux option. Tacky I know, but I really need something green in my house, this corner in particular. Below you have the best options I’ve found. They are not the cheapest, but the most attractive and real-looking in my mind (plus, I’d have spent this anyway in roughly 36 months given the current pace at which I’m killing the live ones). The second option below is a bar cart I’ll top with vase and fiddle leaf limbs that I think could serve the same purpose and also add some utilitarian value. Whatdayathink? I suppose I could also crowdsource and try to muster up funds to replace a new, live one every 9 months. Are you feeling generous?

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Clockwise from top:

1 // 2 (cart  ($239!), vase, leaves) // 3 // 4

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Illuminating the Night

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We stumbled upon the St. Louis Artists’ Guild this winter when I read that they offered free art projects for kids the first Saturday of every month. In need of a cold weather weekend activity, we became regulars at the Guild (which is somewhat of a hidden gem in town, and has been cultivating the arts and artists for over 125 years). Last week, the Guild had an opening for their new photography exhibit: Illuminating the Night. The idea: how photographers use natural and/or artificial light to take pictures after the sun goes down. The concept especially resonated with me, as taking pictures for this blog has taught me the importance that light plays in making or breaking a photo. Taking a good picture at night is particularly difficult.

The artists in the show were from all over the country and their photographs ranged from sunsets in St. Louis to the people at Mardi Gras illuminating by the street’s artificial neon lights.

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