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Art Is at the Heart of This Modern Iceland Home – The Wall Street Journal



Entrepreneur and art patron Oliver Luckett moved to Iceland with his partner Scott Guinn in 2015, intending to take a break from working in California and perhaps work on a second book.

Instead, the couple went on to organize music festivals, establish multiple companies and transform their home there—one of Reykjavík’s most iconic properties—into a community arts hub.

“Iceland has such a humanistic side. We had a vision of creating a door for people,” says Mr. Luckett, 45, who bought the five-bedroom, three-bathroom, 4,760-square-foot house at Sæbraut 1, on the island’s seafront Seltjarnarnes location, in January 2016 for $1.34 million.

The home of Messrs. Luckett and Guinn is located on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula on Faxafloi Bay. It was built as a gift for one of Iceland’s most famous artists, Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval.


Bodvar Sigurbjornsson/ Borg

Facing the steely gray Atlantic, the austere, brutalist exterior of the four-level home belies its vibrant interiors. Its star is a cavernous glass-fronted living room, where walls are covered, floor to 16-foot-high ceiling, in artwork.

There is a life-size mirrored wolf sculpture by Arran Gregory, an acrylic on canvas titled Warhol, by ThankYouX, and a work by London-based artist and designer Daniel Lismore. The piece combines clothing, fabrics, jewelry and curiosities taken from the 38 full-size “sculptural warriors” Lismore made for his show “Be Yourself Everyone Else is Taken,” which Messrs. Luckett and Guinn produced at Reykjavík’s Harpa music hall as part of the June 2018 Reykjavík Arts Festival. Every piece of art faces a window.

“Scott and I love transforming spaces like this. There are all these cool moments,” says Mr. Luckett. As part of the remodel, the couple invested 12 months and $700,000 modernizing the 1969 house, removing eight rooms to make the interior layout more open and creating an entranceway with a clear line of sight to the main level and views beyond.

Mr. Luckett wears a sweater by Icelandic artist Shoplifter, who also made the rugs.


Axel Sigurdharson

Mr. Luckett is an author and entrepreneur who started and sold several companies, including a social media management company he co-founded with Ari Emanuel of William Morris Endeavor and Napster co-founder Sean Parker. Mr. Guinn, 31, is a music supervisor. Mr. Luckett has been collecting art for over 30 years, and it filled his California, Chicago and London offices, as well as the couple’s former Malibu home. The couple considers their collection the scrapbook to their lives.

The couple’s first visit to Iceland was in 2011 to work with the Icelandic musician Bjork on her album Biophilia. They kept coming back, and after touring the house, decided to stay. “Iceland values nature and creativity for the most part. It was exactly what we needed at the time, and opposite to L.A. in many, many ways,” says Mr. Guinn.

The couple opened up the kitchen to overlook the living room and ocean views.


Bodvar Sigurbjornsson/ Borg

Entrance to the “furry room,” filled with artificial hair, an installation by Shoplifter.


Bodvar Sigurbjornsson/ Borg

Their home has always been a space intended for art. It was built in the 1960s as a gift from the Icelandic people to prolific Bohemian painter Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval (1885-1972), but the artist had always maintained he would never move in, denouncing the atelier-cum-house when it was presented to him, fleeing the scene by taxi.

“He was already over 80 years old, and also quite unpredictable,” recalls the home’s architect Þorvaldur S. Þorvaldsson, now 87, who designed it as a place where international artists could live and work in the central sunlit space.

Other than two small arts events, including an exhibition of Kjarval’s work after his death in 1972, the house—Kjarvalhús, as it is known locally—wasn’t the home for art that Þorvaldsson envisioned until Messrs. Luckett and Guinn moved in.

In 2016, after packing 1,700 pieces of art into four shipping containers, Messrs. Guinn and Luckett used the nine months it took for their collection to arrive to host art events in the empty home.

This sitting room features a life-size “warrior” by Daniel Lismore and an original Kjarval purchased by Mr. Luckett for Mr. Guinn’s birthday.


Bodvar Sigurbjornsson/ Borg

The atelier’s huge sliding wooden window panels—installed by Þorvaldsson so artists could control the Nordic light—were transformed into artworks by Devin Liston, an artist who was staying with the couple. He was inspired by the work of contemporary artist Birgir Andrésson, known for his “word portraits” on top of Pantone colors that resembled the colors he saw in Iceland.

Messrs. Luckett and Guinn have painted every wall in the house from Andrésson’s Icelandic palette, the steely gray of the living room perfectly matched to disappear into the ocean beyond.


Sanna Mander

At its peak, the couple’s art collection in the house grew to 2,000 pieces. New additions included a room covered entirely in kaleidoscopic artificial fur by artist Hrafnhildur Arnardottir (AKA Shoplifter), who stops by to groom it whenever she’s in town, occasionally adding weaves or braids.

There is even an original Kjarval, which Mr. Luckett purchased for Mr. Guinn’s 30th birthday.

The couple is now selling the property, which is listed by Reykjavík real-estate company BORG for approximately $2.48 million. The couple say their move to Iceland and evolution of the house is part of a saga that is still unfolding. Messrs. Guinn and Luckett have relocated to Denver where they have started a company that sells Icelandic seafood.

“We love the house. And we love Iceland. But it deserves someone who’s going to be there more than half the year,” says Mr. Guinn. He describes living in their neighborhood and their daily strolls to nearby hot-spring-fed swimming pool Sundlaug Seltjarnarness like being at a resort.

The Luckett-Guinn home.


Bodvar Sigurbjornsson/ Borg

The high ceilings created a display space for the couple’s extensive art collection. It includes a blown glass octopus chandelier by Adam Wallacavage; Pixelated Woman by Brandon Blatt; dual-headed gold deer by Joshua Levine; a pink-hued panoramic featuring monkeys and cherry blossoms by kozyndan; and the work CHAOS/ORDER by CYRCLE.


Bodvar Sigurbjornsson/Borg

The couple want Kjarvalhús to continue to be a hub for art and artists who have a deep respect for Icelandic culture and art. The couple is even open to leaving the artwork in place as a loan. They are not sure whether the “furry room” will stay permanently, or whether they’ll re-create the installation elsewhere.

For the moment, the home is being used for its intended purpose for the first time. Surrounded by the couple’s art, local artist Gabriella Fridriksdottir, from whom they have bought pieces that fill one of the home’s guest rooms, is working on four new pieces, which Messrs. Guinn and Luckett can see developing live on their Nest Cam from their Denver home.

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Online Indigenous art auction opens to support Soap For Hope – CTV News VI



Soap for Hope Canada launched an Indigenous online art auction this past weekend – which features close to 100 donated pieces of artwork from B.C. and Alberta artists – to help raise funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The non-profit organization, which has facilities in Victoria and Calgary, provides personal hygiene products like soap and shampoo to people in need across this province and Alberta.

Partnering with local hotels and using volunteers, Soap for Hope diverts and recycles gently used amenities that would otherwise be thrown out. The organization then reprocesses the personal hygiene products into useable personal care items.

The new hygiene products are then sent to remote Indigenous communities and to marginalized groups that need it most, such as homeless shelters, transition houses and food banks.

The program strives to eliminate as much waste from landfills as possible, while also providing an essential service to community facilities and marginalized groups.

However, due to COVID-19, many hotel donations of used soap and shampoo have plummeted, forcing Soap for Hope to buy new product to keep up with demand.

The newly launched online art auction is the organization’s way of raising funds to offset the drop in donations so that Soap for Hope’s work with close to 250 community facilities and Indigenous communities can continue.

“So, 100 per cent of the proceeds raised from this online art auction will stay within the community,” said Danijela Brkovic, Indigenous relations coordinator for Soap For Hope.

“It will help us grow our circle of giving so we can actually reach out into more nations and more communities and help them out in their time of need.”

Hygiene products are essential to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 and are not always accessible for the most vulnerable, or for those living in remote communities.

“By ensuring nobody ever has to hope for soap, we empower individuals to achieve everything they are capable of,” reads the Soap for Hope website.

“Through hygiene, we build communities, support each other and bring together individuals.”

Soap For Hope Canada also provides gently used bed linens, duvets, pillows, robes and slippers to those in need. The household items are largely donated to the organization through hotel partners.

The Soap For Hope online Indigenous art auction can be found here and runs from Aug. 1 to Aug 15.

“Not only is it an opportunity for us to raise funds to continue to offer our support, it’s an opportunity for artists to offer their craft,” said Kara Udell, Victoria-area program coordinator for Soap For Hope.

“Their art is powerful and can speak volumes and can raise awareness about the beauty that is in our neighbourhood.”

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Calgary community ups its art game with powerful youth murals –



What does 2020 mean to you? 

That was the seed planted in three young Calgary artists and it grew into huge, colourful, thought-provoking murals now on display in the northwest community of Sunnyside.

“This is the first mural I have ever done,” Daniel Volante told CBC News.

“I have never used spray paint before and I have never done anything this big before, so it’s been quite the process. I am learning a lot.”

Daniel Volante, 17, is calling his mural Dreamer. It’s about wanting to do a lot but having COVID-19 restrictions put everything on hold. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

The 17-year-old’s mural, Dreamer, is bookended by the art of two other teens on shipping containers at a Sunnyside park just southeast of the Kensington Safeway.

Volante says he’s spent several hours a day for three weeks putting together his contribution to containR, a pop up arts and culture hub organized by Springboard Performance.

“I wanted it to look dream like. A lot of the colours are vibrant. I used a blue to outline everything,” he explained.

This is Jaxson Naugler’s mural. He wanted to show a connection between humans and nature. (Mary Annan)

“I found this piece in myself. It’s a pretty personal piece. I was inspired by how I felt during the last four months. I’ve been dreaming and thinking a lot. I want to do everything but in the last four months stuck at home, it’s just not coming out. That’s what this piece means to me.”

And that’s exactly what Springboard was looking for, the artistic director says.

“What does 2020 mean to you? That was the starting point,” Nicole Mion said.

“The best art comes with what is most meaningful to you. That’s a great place to always start.”

The murals will be at the Sunnyside location, just southeast of the Kensington Safeway, for a few more weeks. (Mary Annan)

The containR program started in 2009, perhaps ironically, as a way to combat vandalism.

“While it started as a way of deterring tagging, it became a way of sharing incredible art,” Mion said.

Springboard had a call out for artists. A jury narrowed the applications to three.

Daniel Volante calls his piece Dreamer. This is near the start of his mural. (Rich-Belle Banasen)

Their canvas is a shipping container about nine feet by 40 feet (roughly three by 12 metres).

“The point of containR is to connect communities with art,” Mion said.

“You can see performances, you can play music, you can see family theatre, you can see a whole series of murals. Like any park, you go to play, you go to connect in the way you feel comfortable.”

Kate MacLean wanted to make a statement about equality and beauty in her mural, called Eclipse. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Another artist, 15-year-old Kate MacLean, was uncomfortable with some of what she sees as media representation of people of colour.

“The Black woman on the left depicts the sun. The Asian woman on the right depicts the moon,” MacLean explained.

In an eclipse, they are together. So that’s what MacLean has named her piece.

“I wanted the opportunity to paint people of different ethnicities. Different kinds of people are equally beautiful.”

Kate MacLean works on her mural, called Eclipse, which shows two woman of different ethnicities side-by-side. Her message is everyone is beautiful. (Rich-Belle Banasen)

Jaxson Naugler wanted to make a point about interconnectivity in his art.

“A human and a tree. The person’s face turns into a tree. That’s the most important connection,” the 17-year-old said.

“I also added some trippy, colourful stuff on the other side to show that, yes, these two things are connected, but also everything in the universe is connected.”

Jaxson Naugler, 17, is a Calgary-based visual artist. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Naugler says it’s reaction to his work that he most enjoys.

“My favourite part is just hearing what people think it means,” he said.

“Everybody thinks it means something else. It could mean a thousand different things. People’s interpretation is my favourite part.”

The murals will be on display for a few more weeks.

Teen artist Jaxson Naugler works on his mural, which depicts the connection between people and nature. (Rich-Belle Banasen)

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Art meets recreation – Smithers Interior News



The Bulkley Valley Pool and Recreation Centre has been splashed with some colour.

The outside wall facing the highway is now home to a new mural done by Raven-Tacuara Professional Arts Collective. It is now halfway complete.

Raven-Tucuara is a First Nations art group based in northwest B.C. They say their name is humble nod to the Eagle-Condor prophecy of a united First Nations peoples across the Americas.

Facility Manager Tamara Gillis said this mural project has been in the works for a number of years now and they have been seeking grant funding to make it happen.

“This year we supported an application of the BV Community Arts Council to Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation grant program for this project,” she said. “We are very pleased that the grant funding was awarded.”

The art piece does have First Nations influence and Gillis said the artists ensured that protocols for image design were followed.

“Public art has many benefits and is an excellent way to bring joy and pride to the community,” Gillis added. “We are pleased that our building will be showcased with this large scale mural and enhance the highway corridor through the Town of Smithers. This mural will benefit both locals and those travelling though. This is especially true during this strange time of COVID-19.”

One of the five artists working on the mural is Facundo Gastiazoro. He’s an Argentinian born with a Wichi/Lebanese background. Wichi are First Nations peoples of South America. He currently lives in Smithers.

He said the inspiration for the piece came from children playing.

“Water and the joy when you dive in,” he said. “That moment of being in the air and being super happy, that is the inspiration. I remember being a kid and knowing that I’m going to splash everyone and it is fun and lovely and everything is OK and beautiful.”

Stephanie Anderson is also part of the collective working on the mural and is from the Laksilyu (small frog) Clan. Her family is from Witset and she currently lives in Terrace. Her artwork has won regional and national awards and has been shown across B.C. including at the Vancouver (YVR) airport.

She said there is something special about working close to home.

“I find Smithers to be an awesome, colourful, friendly community,” she added. “I like having my artwork closer to home and also I like putting up some work in Wet’suwet’en territory. I find the community work to be a big draw.”

The one wall is done and the team is waiting for the stucco on the wall facing the arena to be fixed before adding more artwork there.

“It is really awesome, I like how our design has come to life. It is vibrant and really fun,” Anderson said. “We tried a new technique and overlaid the design over the base colours and are happy with the results.”

The other two artists in the collective working on the mural are Amanda Dionne Hugon and Travis Hebert. The collective also hired a student, Robyn Lough, to join them on this project.

There is currently no completion date at this time as the collective is waiting for the repairs to be done on the wall and their canvas first.

Raven-Tacuara are also commissioned to do a mural honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on the sides of the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre building later this summer (See article Page A12).

Bulkley-Nechako Regional DistrictSmithers

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Raven-Tacuara Professional Arts Collective working on the mural. (BV Regional Pool and Recreation Centre Facebook photo)

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