Thursday, February 21, 2013

An evening at architect Norman Askins' Italian Villa

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The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA) Southeast and Joane and Norman Askins hosted a wonderful evening last fall to celebrate the publication of architect Gil Schafer’s new book, The Great American House

In addition to the wide array of lectures and educational opportunities that the ICAA-SE offers to its members, the ICAA-SE will be hosting members only events at notable houses around Atlanta.  This clearly has great appeal to members like me, who are architecture, art, and design aficionados and enjoy seeing first hand some of the privately owned architectural gems in this city. 

Last year was the beginning of this quarterly series, and there were several amazing events – the cocktail reception for Gil Schafer at Norman Askins’ house (featured in this post), a Bobby McAlpine lecture at a house he designed, a cocktail party at a magnificent and historic 1920s estate in Buckhead (with comments by the architect and landscape designer who worked on the renovation).  More ICAA-SE members only events are planned for this year – later in the post I will link to the membership page of the ICAA-SE for those who are interested in joining.

But first, a glimpse into the wonderful event last fall at Norman Askins’ house.

On a beautiful fall evening, Joane and Norman Askins’ lovely Italian style villa was the setting for an ICAA-SE sponsored cocktail party celebrating architect Gil Schafer’s new book, The Great American House.  Mr. Askins (pictured above, greeting guests as they arrived) is one of Atlanta’s most treasured architects, and continues the great architectural legacy of the most revered classicist architects from Atlanta’s past.  His own house is exquisite, and the perfect setting for an event that featured another architect (Gil Schafer) who continues the tradition of classical architecture in America.  

Norman Askins house on Things That Inspire blog
The Askins’ villa is beautifully placed in its environs, rising on a crest above the street.  Although the house is only 10 years old, it is so perfectly at home in its surroundings that it appears to have been there for generations. 

A picture from Norman Davenport Askins Architect website shows another view of the house, perhaps when it was only a few years old – the creeping fig and the landscape design had just started to take root.

The evening began with a cocktail hour in the Askins’ charming walled garden in the back.  When you are in the garden, it is truly easy to forget that you are in Atlanta!  Although it is hard to see in this picture, there is a beautiful fountain in the center of the garden.

A view of the garden from above – as the sun set, the twinkling white lights in the trees looked beautiful.

Chairs were set along the edge and in the loggia, ready for the presentation by architect Gil Schafer.

Mr. Schafer signed copies of his new book The Great American House before he spoke to the group.

The sun had set by the time Mr. Schafer spoke.  It was not a prepared lecture, but rather an informal question and answer time with the rapt audience.  Mr. Schafer spoke of his childhood influences (which include his grandparents pink plantation in South Georgia), and what inspired him to write the book.

There was an elegant buffet set up in the dining room.  The table was covered with a beautiful tapestry, and candles lit the room from all around.

A picture of the Askins’ dining room from Norman Davenport Askins Architect website shows the other side of the room, and the items collected from a lifetime of travels.

The passageway between the dining room and the living room features an interesting antique – I can’t remember what it is, although I know someone told me! Note the groin vault ceiling and the gorgeous lantern. Photo from Norman Davenport Askins website.

The living room was soon full of people, but this is as it appeared before the party got started.

A professional picture of the same room.  The rich colors and beautiful textiles make the room very warm and welcoming. Photo from Norman Davenport Askins website.

The seating area near the fireplace, on the other side of the room. Photo from Norman Davenport Askins website.

I couldn’t resist including a picture of the kitchen. As the room is separately defined from the main rooms of the house, it was not on the path of the party (the caterers were set up in here), but it is so charming and European that I thought my readers would enjoy seeing it.   I always love seeing a narrow European style kitchen table in the heart of a kitchen.  Photo from Norman Davenport Askins website.

The breakfast room/sunroom. Photo from Norman Davenport Askins website.

The powder room is very special. Photo from Norman Davenport Askins website.

Many thanks to the wonderful hosts of the evening, Joane and Norman Askins.  Norman’s firm’s website can be seen here - – it is full of many beautiful and inspiring projects that his firm has completed over the years.

Many thanks to architect Gil Schafer, for writing such an inspirational book and giving his rapt audience an insider’s look into the process of writing the book and some of the houses featured in the book.

And finally, thank you to the ICAA-SE and the sponsors of the evening, who made the event possible: Design Lighting Group, Soiree Catering, Parc Monceau, Ludowici Roof Tile, Vintage Lumber, and Custom Artisan Group.

To purchase Gil Schafer’s new book, please visit the Amazon page.  It is a wonderful book (Bunny Williams wrote the foreword), and is full of incredible pictures of many of Mr. Schafer’s projects, and details the thought behind the design or restoration of the houses, the landscape, and their interiors.  The book is divided into two parts – the first part covering the philosophy of Mr. Schafer’s approach to architecture, landscape, and interiors, and the second part covering four specific houses (including their floor plans and a detailed story of each house).  

As an added bonus, many of the houses are decorated by some of the most well known interior designers in the industry (Miles Redd, Michael Smith, David Netto to mention a few), as well as nationally recognized landscape architects.  Each project is different, and the book beautifully discusses the unique process that makes each house a home. I particularly appreciate the floorplans of the houses, which helps me fully understand how the houses flow.

I purchased the book as soon as it was published last fall, and read it cover to cover the day I received it. I highly, highly recommend it. When writing this post, I pulled it out and read it again – it is an exceptional architecture and design book. Click here to see on Amazon, and read some of the reviews (I loved Penelope Bianchi’s review).

To join the ICAA-Southeast, please visit  To see the chapters all over the country, please visit   Individual membership is $75 a year, and is fully tax deductible. 

Party photos by Tom Carpenter, used with persmission.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spotlight on Art: 2013 Artists Market

My favorite Atlanta art event began yesterday, and continues through this week (February 5-9, 2013).  The 'Spotlight on Art' Artists Market is my ideal kind of place- thousands of paintings and works from hundreds of artists, all under one roof, in a very relaxed atmosphere. Virtually every genre is represented - contemporary art, pop art, impressionism, realism, sculpture, folk art, whimsical art, children's art. This year, over 350 artists are participating; there are many established gallery quality artists, as well as up and coming emerging artists. Plus, there is a wonderful jewelry area featuring unique pieces from some of the most talented jewelry designers in the Southeast.

I was able to get a sneak peek while the Artists Market was being set up, and saw so many incredible pieces of art. 

I love the ‘Whimsical’ section – there are so many great paintings in this section every year!

Another section of Whimsical art.

The Contemporary art section is always a favorite.

A few panels in the Contemporary section.

Realism/Impressionism was still setting up, but I managed to get a few shots.

Realism/Impressionism in the foreground, Folk Art in the background.


The Sculpture/Pottery section is fun to explore.

The Children’s and Youth section.

A view down the Folk Art section.

More Folk Art.

The Home and Garden area.

This sketch of Beethoven caught my eye.

A beautiful wood sculpture makes a wonderful centerpiece on this table.

A new artist in the Contemporary area – this painting caught my eye.

These map sculptures are incredible. The top right is Miami, bottom right is NYC, and I believe the left one is St. Simons.

The paintings of this artist caught my eye – they are highly textured and full of life.  The bicycle is my favorite!

New art comes out throughout the day, as the art on the walls sells. This sweet little painting was in the inventory area, ready to come out once there is a spot on the wall.  I visit the Artists Market every day, as there are so many new things to see every time I visit.

Looking through my house, so many of my treasured paintings are from the Artists Market. After getting a special preview of the market, I pulled out one of my favorite purchases from the past and placed it in a new location – and I definitely have my eye on a few pieces at the Artists Market to fill in some of the empty walls that I have in my house! 

The jewelry section was not yet set up when I got a preview of the market, but it is always amazing so be sure to check it out when you visit the market. It is located up on the stage in its own area.
The Artists Market is open daily through Saturday, February 9th.  There are so many wonderful artists, so many great pieces of art and jewelry; it is possibly the most inspirational place in town right now!  Everything seen in this post is available for sale (of course,  unless it has already sold), and more art is brought out every day.  

Questions? Please visit the Spotlight on Art website,

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To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.