Art Appreciation

Decorator Andrea Stratton not only guided a Germantown couple to grace their home with eclectic furnishings. She also introduced Jennifer and Oscar Edmonds III to the pleasures of original art.

"With Andrea's help we've learned to see beyond what I call your typical pictures," says Jennifer, "such as the framed pieces you see in a furniture store. And we've come to appreciate many artists. Friends have heard me say that I could live without the furniture as long as I had something beautiful to put on the wall."

In fact, local gallery owner David Lusk says of the Edmondses' home, "You walk into their house, and it's all about art."

The couple's collection started, says decorator Stratton, with an original silk screen color print by San Francisco artist Gary Bukovnik.. "I wanted to bring in pieces that had no glass over them, and the process just evolved," she says "The problem now," laughs Jennifer, "is we don't have a spot for everything I like."

The Edmondses' gallery, so to speak, begins in the foyer, with a wall painting by local artist Jimpsie Ayers that features vines, flowers, and wildlife. Other art yields evidence of the homeowners' love of nature, music, and travel. Over the den fireplace is a low-country porch scene rendered in oil that reminds the couple of their trips to Charleston. Nearby, trees lean into the wind in a Hermine Salky watercolor. A collection of photographic negatives showcase calla lilies, and a couple of works illustrate quirky piano-bar scenes.

Most often, Jennifer has found now-cherished pieces by chance. One is a Brad Durham bird painting that hangs above an antique chest. "I went into Lisa Kurts Gallery and it was just sitting on a ledge in the back room," says Jennifer. Another accidental discovery is a work in bright reds and yellows by the late local artist Mary Sims. "I was returning a painting that didn't fit, and the Sims piece was leaning against the wall in the very back of David Lusk Gallery," she recalls.

More than once, Jennifer has managed to snag an already "sold" or "on-hold" painting, including Sunlight by Memphian Carol Sams that hangs in the Edmondses' dining room. This glowing work of oil on muslin was also at Lusk's gallery and, as Jennifer tells it, "I asked David, 'Could you check and see if the people really want that painting?' Turns out, they weren't sure about it, so we tried it, and it was ours."

All pieces work together, and for that Jennifer credits her decorator and learning to trust her own taste. "I have not studied art and am still no art connoisseur," says Jennifer. "But I'm drawn by color, texture, and light." And she appreciates art for its own sake, not so much for how it will look in a room. "Few times have I gone looking for a piece to fill a specific spot," she says. "More often it's like, 'I love it, where will we put it?'"

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