It’s logical to conclude that a creative professional — interior designer, architect, artist — doesn’t confine their talent to the pursuit by which they make a living. Give them time away from pressing needs, or in this case, just a whole lot more time at home, and see what they’ll do!
Ankie Barnes, BarnesVanze Architects
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ankie and the BarnesVanze team for several years now, and I get to brag about the firm’s stunning work on a regular basis. Luckily, they’ve stayed as busy as ever during the pandemic, but Ankie, who regularly travels to exotic locales in this country and abroad, has had to stay home in DC like the rest of us. That’s how the Sunday-afternoon Whisky Watercolor Club was born: Ankie and four other prominent architects around the country get together with a glass of whiskey, their watercolors and their Zoom account each week to interpret a mutually agreed-upon subject, whether it’s the Namibian desert, the Venice canals or a harbor in Maine. They’ve gained quite a following — so much so that Architectural Digest wrote a story about it.
Closer to home, Ankie’s been taking his bike to the shores of the Potomac River to go fly fishing for shad — and also to paint its scenery and wildlife from the pictures he takes while he’s there.
Here’s what these outings produce:
Architect/Interior Designer Ernesto Santalla
I’ve know Ernesto for 30 years — I was answering phones at the architecture firm in Georgetown where he started out. I was barely out of college and he was working on getting registered as an architect. Over the years, I’ve watched him go out on his own as an architect and interior designer, and then he went into graphic design, and now — well, the shutdown has given him yet another outlet. He’s been studying fashion design at Marymount University, and the pandemic gave him the time to work on his new craft:
I’ve been interested in fashion all my life. Societal norms of what’s acceptable were in the way until I gave myself permission to design women’s apparel several years ago. I made lots of sketches and once I realized I had no idea how to execute them, I decided to seek formal instruction. Then I found out Marymount has a degree program in Fashion Design, where I began studying in January 2019. My career in architecture and interior design has been instrumental to my approach to designing garments. Every piece is a sculpture and a structure. Attention to detail and execution is essential to the success of a project. I’m excited with this new avenue of self-expression. I am inspired primarily by Christian Dior.— Ernesto Santalla
Ernesto had hoped to show his creations at Marymount’s annual fashion show this year, but it was canceled. Hopefully he can show them next year, he tells me, but they also might turn up at some other local fashion shows. We’ll stay tuned!
Artist Martha Spak
DC artist Martha Spak is most at home using oil on canvas, but she’s used time during the pandemic to try a new medium: sculpture.
Creating with a new medium and learning the process took me in different directions and the result was female figures. My medium is gypsum and the outcome isn’t always planned. This trial and error learning curve was both fun and frustrating. Fun because it was all new and frustrating because I didn’t know what I was doing and required patience.Martha Spak
Martha just opened a show at the private Gibson Island Gallery in Maryland, where she’s had a chance to show off both her paintings and her new sculpture. Those of us who don’t belong to the club can connect via Martha’s website (linked above), but here are some images from the installation:
Glass artist Anjali Sunderam
I first wrote about Anjali a few years ago after I went to Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam’s home to interview him, and discovered his wife’s beautiful glass art, which I later blogged about. She wrote in to tell me that the shutdown has given her time to be even more productive with her work than she normally is, and sent me tons of images. Here are just a few:
For Your Viewing Pleasure
And in case you missed it, two of my favorite local designers gave us house tours through House Beautiful’s Open House Instagram stories this spring. It was fun to be transported away from these same walls I’ve been staring at for so long and step inside these beautiful homes! Here they are:
AND, while I was over browsing through House Beautiful’s YouTube channel, I discovered that DC architect Donald Lococo was giving viewers a tour of this DROP DEAD kitchen he designed. Enjoy!