Bowood Garden & Home celebrated its 10th Anniversary last Saturday. It seems hard to believe it's been in existence for that long, and at the same time hard to imagine the location has ever been anything other than the most elegant urban garden center anywhere. If all you know of this corner of the Central West End is what it is now, you would be surprised to learn that at one time a graveyard of abandoned cars occupied the corner property at Olive and Walton. The main building to the east was in such a derelict state that, shortly after John McPheeters purchased the property, the back wall fell into the alley.
The building that now houses The Studio, entry shown above, is accessible from the annual and perennial garden, shown through the windows below. The building, which was originally a residence fronting on Washington Avenue, has been completely renovated and re-imagined as an elegant light-filled meeting spot for classes, workshops, lectures and events. The bones of the structure remain, as evidenced in the original fireplace and beautiful staircase.
During Saturday afternoon's event, an instructor from Perennial St. Louis showed children how to make bog boxes called "pollinator palaces," above and below, and seed papers (not photographed).
A variety of cupcakes was provided by South City's Sweet Art Bakery.
Floral arrangements, above and in the following photographs, were created by Christine O'Brien, who plants all the seedlings at Bowood's farm in Clarksville.
Patrick O'Brien, Christine's husband, is a potter who also works at the farm. He created the beautiful pots above which are available at Bowood Garden & Home.
Olive, resting on counter left above, wandered in just after Bowood opened and found a permanent home as resident kitty and chief observer.
Bowood's events coordinator, CWEnder Elizabeth Barnes, is shown outside the entry to The Studio last January, as renovation of the space was nearing completion.
Elizabeth has put together a variety of interesting classes scheduled from now through the end of May (see schedule and sign up here).
Bowood Farms, 4605 Olive Street, (314) 454-6868.
Earlier this month Forest Park was named Best City Park by USA Today's 10 Best Readers Choice Poll. My guess is that most visitors to the park last Saturday evening were unaware of this honor, but would have readily added their "yes" vote in the poll. That #1 ranking seems to be shared by many, judging by how frequently our 1,400 acre park is visited by residents from throughout the region.
Government Hill, above, was a study in contrasts last Saturday. While some frolicked in the fountain, Webster Groves High School students used the setting as a backdrop for photos before heading to their prom at the St. Louis Science Center.
On a related note: A neighbor mentioned that he and his wife attended last Tuesday's Under the Clock Tower: 2016 State of Forest Park Community Gathering, at the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center. He reported that there were so many people, it was standing room only. Here is more information about the event from Forest Park Forever's website.
Photos courtesy of Dan Landiss
Dan Landiss, a resident of the 5000-5100 block of Westminister Place, recently sent photos from 2016's Easter celebration on the street. Shown in the photograph above are Theodore Johnson and his parents, Jessica Pittman and Ben Johnson.
There are approximately 60 children who reside on those two blocks. Those that would stop the fun to pose for a group photo are captured above. 2014's Easter celebration was featured in a post here; at that time there were 53 children on the street.
These blocks represent what seems to be increasingly apparent, that more young families are choosing to live in the Central West End and in other parts of the City of St. Louis as well.
More photos of the March 26 event are shown above and below, including Twinkies re-imagined.
While I am on the subject, I want to give a "Shrout-out" to Debra and Tom Shrout, 25-year residents of Westminster Place who are moving to L.A. Tom and Debra could often be seen walking along Euclid on their way to the MetroLink or other neighborhood destinations. Tom, former Executive Director of Citizens for Modern Transit, and Debra, an educator, recently formed Avvantt Partners LLC, which you can learn more about on their website.
For the past 15 years Tom has served on the Central West End Association's Planning & Development Committee championing alternate forms of transportation. "I was asked by Mary Bartley, who was president at the time, to lend a voice for transit, bicycling and pedestrian issues as well as to be the occasional curmudgeon about a project that was too auto-oriented for the CWE," he said. Thank you to the Shrouts for their many contributions to St. Louis and the neighborhood, you will be dearly missed.
And thank you to Dan Landiss for sending the great photographs my way.
When I stopped by Amy Johnson's pop-up yesterday afternoon she was hurriedly putting finishing touches on the shop space at 387 N. Euclid, next Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. Amy's 2016 Spring Collection, "Bursting into Life," will debut this afternoon, starting at 4 p.m., and remain at this location until May 31.
As I was snapping Amy's photo, she said, "I feel like we've been here before." Indeed we have, in various neighborhood locations over the past 8 years. We first met when Chris Lanter, proprietor of 10denza, 44 Maryland Plaza, carried a few of her designs. Curious about a local designer, whom I learned had taken a hiatus from her profession as an engineer to fly off for a fashion design course in Florence, Italy, I set up an interview in her CWE studio in 2008. You can read the resulting post here.
Before Amy completed the design course, which curiously did not include learning how to sew, the students were required to choose a name for their dream business. Amy settled on KayOss, based on the engineering principle that out of chaos comes order. In the post referred to above, she explains how she eventually learned to sew,through another serendipitous CWE connection.
Amy is shown holding a skirt made from a fabric of woven metal, $229, left, and another featuring a dramatic blue flower, $159.
The newest designs feature reversible dresses, example above, $179, and tops, $129, so essentially you are purchasing 2 for 1, great for traveling.
Amy finds her colorful fabrics on shopping trips to New York and Los Angeles. Most of her designs can be made to order by her local seamstresses - this fabric (depending on availability), that dress, your size.
A Grecian-themed skirt, $129, above.
The designer was especially pleased with her unusual strapless tiered dress, $149, which can also be worn cinched at the waist. View the dress on a live model on the website.
Lightweight kimono-style cardigans in dreamy patterns, above, are $129.
KayOss, 387 N. Euclid. Grand opening is today, Friday, April 8 from 4 to 7 p.m. Be aware that Left Bank Books is hosting a sold-out event for NPR's Krista Tippet this evening at 7 p.m., so you may want to walk over. After today, shop hours are 11 to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information visit the KayOss Designs website.
Retail in the CWE got a youthful boost when entrepreneur Katy Noonan decided to put down semi-permanent roots following a successful debut as a pop-up at The Vino Gallery last holiday season.
Last December, when I first stepped into Bea and Wade Crowders' annual pop-up sample sale at The Vino Gallery, I was immediately drawn to the display of the beautiful bags shown above. The $150 + price tags were not quite what one would expect to find mixed in with the usual $5 gloves and $15 scarves.
Wade introduced me to Katy Noonan, shown below, whose collection, Living Collective, was sharing the space as a pop-up within the pop-up. Katy said the bags were made by Future Glory, a small socially-conscious company based in San Francisco. Her collection is named after the different roles women play in their lives "from working woman to adventurer, dreamer, mother, to party animal." (I'm all in, until this last - was I ever?)
For someone as young as she is, Katy has an impressive resume beginning with her first job in retail working at a Pier 1 in Florida at age 16. At 21 she was living in Chicago, and helped open a Marc Jacobs store. Four months later, the president of the company, an admirer of Katy's work ethic, passion and dedication, asked her to run a Marc Jacobs shop in Provincetown, MA. In retrospect, she said, "that assignment was a do-or-die situation, as it was high season on Cape Cod." She proved herself more than capable in spite of the long hours and tiny staff, and was promoted to manage the 2-story, multi-million dollar Marc Jacobs store on Newbury Street in Boston, which she described as a phenomenal experience.
On to New York where Katy helped grow the Little Marc Jacobs boutique. As the only store of its kind in the company, Katy was able to try her hand at different responsibilities, including putting on events and community outreach.
Growing tired of the challenges of living in New York, and ready to package what she had learned for the midwest market, Katy moved back to St. Louis, where she had lived as a child (her mother lives here too). Her game plan was to introduce clothing brands and designers that aren't widely represented here through a series of pop-ups around St. Louis and in surrounding cities. Following a successful debut at Loufest last September, and at The Vino Gallery last December, she and The Vino Gallery's proprietor Alex Head reached an agreement to extend Living Collective's run in that space indefinitely.
Shown in a sunny window at Living Collective, Katy is holding NY-based designer Rachel Antonoff's printed denim skirt, $194. Antonoff's embroidered blouse, $168, is shown below.
A striped knit romper from Motel is $50.
Striking glass earrings from Finland's R/H Studio are $40 for the mini-mountain style, top shelf, $48 for the larger version, lower shelf.
The shop also features an assortment of gifts including home goods, scarves, patches and nail decals.
Cami sneakers from Vis-a-Vis, $72.
Katy dreams of opening a permanent retail location in the CWE in the not too distant future. "The neighborhood has been so welcoming to me. The creativity and energy in the area cultivates such a vibrant and exciting atmosphere that I can't imagine being anywhere else." For now, she's happy to remain at The Vino Gallery where Alex Head "has been wonderful, we've had a lot of fun together, and have become good friends."
Stop in to meet Katy and see much more (she has been to market since this interview) of Living Collective at The Vino Gallery, 4701 McPherson Avenue. Shop hours are 11 to 7 Tuesday through Saturday. While you're perusing her eclectic merchandise, you can enjoy a glass of wine, or ask Alex or Matt Pruyn, the gallery director, to get the red espresso machine going. I still miss stopping by when the wine bar was, for a time, an early morning coffee bar.
In the closing days of 2015, Left Bank Books entered the surprise gift box arena with This Just In, a monthly book subscription with titles chosen by the bookstore staff. The first gift boxes were sent out to 30+ subscribers in mid-January, see above. I hesitated to sign up at first - I usually sift through book suggestions offered by my sisters and friends, or the handwritten notes LBB staffers leave in their favorite books. But the thought of receiving a surprise book was intriguing, especially when you consider the source: people who are surrounded by books, who love to make suggestions, and who know which authors are being gushed over in publishing circles.
Each month's gift box contains a "carefully chosen first edition of a new book that may not have caught your eye otherwise," plus a little something extra. January's selection was a signed edition of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout's My Name is Lucy Barton, accompanied by a LBB notebook, above. I wouldn't have gravitated toward this book on my own, as I am one of the few who didn't love Strout's Olive Kitteridge. As it turns out, that would have been my loss, as this is a beautifully written novel.
When I opened February's package my first reaction was lukewarm. The Big Green Tent is a thick Russian novel, which I envisioned I would be slogging through long after March's gift box arrived. But once again, the staff made a great choice and I am delighted to have been exposed to this author and this fascinating story, which I am stealing away to read at every opportunity. To accompany February's selection was a package of Traveling Tea's Russian Caravan and Alfred DePew's Wedding Song for Poorer People.
I understand that March's gift box was shipped on Friday and should be delivered to subscribers early this week. I can't wait to see what's inside.
This Just In would be a wonderful gift for a former St. Louisan who misses the independent bookstore, someone who is home bound, or just a treat for yourself. A 3-month subscription is $100. A one month subscription is $34. For more information, contact co-proprietor Jarek Steele at 314-367-6731 or email, email@example.com.
Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid, (314) 367-6731.