Chihuly Glass lifts my spirits after the election

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa. Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa. Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa, Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa, Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier

This is my second post about Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum which I had the pleasure of visiting in February of this year. Bright colors like this make me happy and help to transport my spirit to a better place. The metaphor of a boat filled with Chihuly glass couldn’t be more poignant at this time. The word Chihuly starts with chi, which in Chinese culture can be interpreted to mean ‘life force’. Therefore, I’m hopping aboard this little boat full of life force that’s traversing a black sea, taking me to places unknown with a whole lotta faith. And faith is what is needed in light of the recent presidential election here in the states. It left half our country feeling completely  devastated, as well as some countries abroad. We’re in a time of transition and it’s anyones guess where we’ll end up.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent ten years living in the downtown area of Seattle, moving to L A in the mid 90’s. Chihuly has always been part of the local vernacular there. I had clients who owned pieces of his work, and  downtown office buildings have permanent  installations of his blown glass in their lobbies, such as the one below. Plus, there were always frequent gallery openings or museum shows that anyone could attend. It was just one of those things you sorta took for granted. But now that I live in earthquake country, I appreciate his work even more. My own small blown glass collection made from Seattle glass blowers, which I love tremendously,  remains in storage for safety reasons.

Chihuly Glass Installation, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier
Chihuly Glass Installation, Seattle, Wa., Photo Romi Cortier

The other thing that I’m reminded of when I think of my time in Seattle, is how I was perceived as ‘other’.  With my black hair and olive skin, I was constantly asked my ethnicity. Are you Egyptian, Mexican, Persian… I was oddly exotic in those days. Then I moved to Los Angeles and all of that changed. I was stunned and excited at how remarkably diverse the culture here was. It was rather mind blowing to me that people came to this little plot of land from all over the world, to share in the California dream.  At that point, I became much more aware of how white I actually was, and that I was also a minority here in a completely different way. If I were living on the westside, say Santa Monica or Brentwood, then I may have blended in more.  I never gave it much thought, it was just the way LA was… a melting pot of really interesting cultures from all over the world. And now, with my silvery white hair and paler skin,  I  feel like the old  waspy white guy. Wow, how did I get here in 25 quick years.

Romi Cortier with sisters Tami & Tina
Romi Cortier with sisters Tami & Tina

The reason that I bring this up is because most of us in white america never know what it means to be ‘the other’.  For a period of time, I did. I  think that is why so many of my friends here in Los Angeles, as well as my clients at the salon,  feel completely devastated by this election. Some of them truly fear for their safety when they travel outside of our diverse little L A bubble.  Honestly I’d never given white privilege much thought, until I discovered that I’m actually pretty white.  My very handsome fiance is black, which also helped shifted my point of view, opening my eyes to the challenges he and his family have  faced over the years.   For me,  people are people. Color has never been an issue. In fact, I’ve always thought people with darker skin than me were much better looking… maybe it’s the artist in me.  And at my salon,  I’m hearing interesting points of view from my clients who’ve immigrated  from Ireland, England, Iran, Paris  and Armenia. Even though most of them pass for ‘white’,  they’re still concerned at what all of this rhetoric from our new president elect may mean for them.

As a progressive guy, I was very excited about the possibility of a female president, regardless of her baggage. To me, she was the most prepared for the position. I’ve since learned that over half of our country doesn’t feel included in the current american dream, and was willing to shake things up in an unprecedented way.  Since the Donald is a complete wildcard, it’s anyones guess what the next four years will bring.  This forced me to look deep into myself and ask myself what was important for me. It helped me to get clear on my soul purpose once again. Below is what I shared on my facebook page the day after the election.

Today I am a citizen of the world. I renew my commitment to focus on what is beautiful and right in this world, and will do my best not to go down the rabbit hole of fear, hatred and anger. I will continue to celebrate that beautiful piece of art, or a glorious piece of architecture that came from our higher source. I will celebrate man made elements that reflect our better selves, holding us to higher standards born out of our infinite source of creativity. To me, that is being godly, while staying connected to this world in a way that serves us all. #LoveWins

Thank you again for joining me on  this journey of art, architecture, interior design, and anything else I find worthy of sharing with you.  I really appreciate having a forum to think out loud, hopefully bringing a new perspective to things. Besides, beautiful things never go out of style.

Hills – DeCaro House, Oak Park Illinois

Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills - DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
HillsDeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills - DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills - DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills-DeCaro House pergola,, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills - DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier
Hills-DeCaro House, Oak Park, Illinois, Photo Romi Cortier

The Hills-DeCaro House, located at 313 Forest Avenue in Oak Park,  has an extraordinary history.  This house is part of the self guided Frank Lloyd Wright walking tour that can be seen while visiting Oak Park, Illinois.

The original structure, seen below, was built by architect Charles C. Miller for William Cunningham Gray in 1883.  After changing ownership in 1900, the home was moved south of its original location, and rotated counterclockwise… who knew they could do that in 1906. Frank Lloyd Wright was then commissioned to redesign the home, thus creating the Prairie Style home seen above. This was achieved by entirely engulfing the original building, creating a more horizontal vibe, versus the vertical look of the original home.

The Gray House by Charles C. Miller, Photo courtesy of the Northwest Architect Archives at the University of Minnesota Libraries in Minneapolis.
The Gray House by Charles C. Miller, Photo courtesy of the Northwest Architect Archives at the University of Minnesota Libraries in Minneapolis.

Completed around 1907, the home was a wedding gift from Nathan Moore, to his daughter Mary Hills . Not fond of the homes ‘stern and austere’ look, she hired a new architect to make alterations, such as extending the kitchen wing to include a pantry and breakfast room, enclosing the rear porch, and adding a children’s playroom under the rear porch.

In 1975 Tom and Irene DeCaro purchased the home and began a diligent restoration with the aid of architect John Tilton. But a fire in 1976 devastated much of the structure, including the entire second and third floors.  Following a neighborhood fundraiser, construction resumed, returning the front elevation to its original 1906 design.  For their part in the restoration, the Oak Park Landmarks Commission voted to rename the completed structure as the Hills-DeCaro House in 1977.

In 2009, the Smylies, who bought the home in 2001, decided to recreate a portion of the original pergola that had once existed. Subsequent digging uncovered the limestone foundation for the pavilion, while Roman bricks were matched to remnants found near the buried foundations.

I had no knowledge of any of these facts until I did research for this article. All I can tell you is how much I loved the grand, yet elegant proportions of this home when I stood in front of it. I also loved the color palette of the home, which seems to reflect todays current trend of of highly  contrasting  black and white exteriors. Little did I know when I walked through the alley behind the home, that the gorgeous pergola was fairly recent and a recreation of the original lost many years ago. This kind of love for architecture gives me faith in humanity on the eve of this very nerve racking election.

Photographer Michael Sanville is simply superb

Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville

Michael Sanville is without a doubt one of the finest photographers I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting with.

I first met Michael in the mid 1990’s after moving to Los Angeles. He was part of a larger circle of friends that included actors, artists,  writers and producers. If I recall correctly it was my acting teacher Leigh Kilton- Smith, part of the hill posse, who referred me to him. This cast of successful people lived on a hill overlooking Laurel Canyon, which is where Michael still resides to this day.

I’d had several head shots taken while pursuing acting in the 90’s, but the one taken below by Michael, was always my favorite from that period of my life. I’ll never forget showing it to a friend in Seattle who said  wow… that’s a very flattering photo. Hmmm, I thought to myself, are you trying to tell me I don’t look that good in person?  Who cares if I really look that good in person, or not.  It’s all about finding someone who sees us the way we want to be seen, or who can help us see ourselves in a more flattering light. One of the things I’ve come to love about this photo is the smattering of gray  that’s just starting to creep into my hair…  and maybe I also love my slightly lower hairline.

Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville
Romi Cortier, Photo Michael Sanville

About a year and a half ago, I decided I needed some new upscale photos of myself to use for press and other projects that I had in the works. I knew Mr. Sanville was the man to make it happen. It seems our world is increasingly image oriented thanks to social media, so if you’re gonna do it, you might as well  do it right. You can only do so much with an iphone and silly selfies. It takes a seasoned photographer to know which lense to use,  how far away to stand, where to position the lights, and most importantly, the story you’re trying to tell. Additionally,  It’s always a treat to visit Michaels hillside home. The environment is peaceful and quiet in a way that’s becoming increasingly hard to find in LA. Taking photos in the studio is such a pleasure as you gaze out at the Hollywood sign in the far off distance, or catch a glimpse of the hawks and ravens as they glide by the balcony at eye level.

Michael was recently written up in VoyageLa.com, which was a great read. His oeuvre has grown from head shots, to include portraiture and fashion photography. If you’re in the market to have superb photos taken I’d highly recommend checking out Michael, he’s one of my favorite people in tinsel town.

VoyageLa Article

www.michaelsanvilleheadshots.com

www.michaelsanville.com

Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier
Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, Photo Romi Cortier

Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain is breathtakingly beautiful. To stand in front of it, is to be enveloped by the truest essence of beauty. The sound of splashing water. The waters mist surrounding you. The sumptuous warmth of the pink Georgia marble. Bronze sculptures that immediately remind you of Versailles. The view of the ocean behind it. It’s truly a feast for all of your senses and should be at the top of your to do list while visiting Chicago.

I was lucky to arrive just as the sun was beginning to set, and I felt like I was witnessing the creation of an 18th-Century Italian painting. The rolling clouds changed color before my eyes, with shades of pale pink and baby blue. The spectacular ‘soft moonlight’ lighting on the fountain revealed itself as the sun continued to set. The warm tones of the marble against the backdrop of cool tones in the sky could not have been anymore perfect. I circled the fountain to experience it from every vantage point. I wanted to linger and spend hours by the fountains edge, but there were still so many things to see along Michigan Avenue.

Kate Sturges Buckingham (1858 – 1937) bestowed this remarkable gift to the city in 1927, as a memorial to her late brother Clarence Buckingham. To this day, it is one of the largest fountains of it’s type in the world.  Architect Edward H. Bennett designed the fountain, and French artist Marcel Loyau produced the sculptural elements, inspired by the Latona Fountain at Versailles.  Located at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway in Grant Park, the fountains runs from 8 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, from early April through mid-October, depending on the weather.  I can’t wait to return to this glorious  Chicago landmark.

 

Artful Living with Romi Cortier

Before Photo, Artful Living with Romi Cortier
 Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Before photo
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, After photo
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, After photo
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Photo Recio Young
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Photo Recio Young
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Photo Recio Young
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Photo Recio Young
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Romi Cortier, Coco aka Malibu Pom, and Recio Young
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Romi, Coco aka Malibu Pom, and Recio Young
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Romi & Coco, aka Malibu Pom
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Romi & Coco, aka Malibu Pom
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Coco aka Malibu Pom, Photo Romi Cortier
Artful Living with Romi Cortier, Coco aka Malibu Pom, Photo Romi Cortier

Artful Living with Romi Cortier is a new hybrid reality show that I’m currently working on with my fiance Recio Young. The show will be co-created with Red Carpet Recio Productions, Recio’s newly launched production company. Initially it will be viewable on my  YouTube Channel Romi Cortier, and our longterm goal is to sell it to a network.

The concept for the show is an upscale reality show that’s hopefully drama free, with a focus on the arts and  interior design. Imagine Huell Howser’s California gold combined with Paris Hilton and her cute little dog.  Cue Romi and Coco walking into Lalique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills having a conversation with their manager about what it took to bring one of their finer pieces to market. Or having a private tour at LACMA or MOCA, discussing the latest acquisition to their collection. Or better yet, how about a trip to a thrift store looking for a few lost gems to add to a newly styled room.  I want to help my viewers develop their eye to better appreciate the beautiful things around us.

One of my passions when it comes to interior design is how we curate our spaces, adding in family heirlooms with new modern pieces. It’s about mixing the old with the new, creating an environment that’s not full of disposable goods from China. I’d rather have fewer but finer things… they always last much longer. Take for example the blue rug seen above. I purchase it over 20 years ago for about $1500 from the now defunct Dialogica furniture store. It’s made of wool and features 5 different shades of blue. It’s still stunning after all of these years, with an average cost of $75 per year.  On the other hand, I’ve got beautiful paintings in my personal art collection that I paid as little as $50 for at auction, and I love them just as much as my expensive pieces. It’s all about how we mix and match.

The educated eye is a marvelous thing, and it doesn’t happen by accident. Hours spent window shopping or going to art openings, ultimately pays off. I want to share that journey with you.  Stay tuned for our sizzle reel coming soon. In the mean time,  show a little love to my co-star Coco by following her on Instagram at MalibuPom.

A Design Diary by Romi Cortier