Art encourages thought, especially when it’s with a quirky attitude and tour de force eccentric treasures from faraway places. Krista Harris and Scott Engel’s Virginia Highland bungalow is a workshop for creativity: hers and his.
There aren’t many rules in this informed exuberance of whacky sophistication. There are fascinating birds, an aerial massage studio, and a top-notch frame shop. Master framer Scott said, “I see my framing as a form of art integrating art into the frame but stopping short of detracting from the art itself.”
Krista is a licensed massage therapist, yoga and certified therapeutic sound practitioner who specializes in various techniques, including suspended yoga and massage – her creation – therapeutic sound, and Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy.
Tour their idiosyncratic wonderland.
Marcia: How did you evolve into framing as art?
Scott: I grew up in Las Vegas where my father was a CPA. I always get asked, “Was your dad in the Mafia?” No, he was not, but many Jewish accountants there in the early days did have some clients who were “not of the highest repute.”
As a young man, I was a carpenter in California and moved to Atlanta in 1988. I always had a love of the arts. While on a visit to a gallery in Sonoma County, I had an epiphany that picture framing would be a combination of both. When I returned to Atlanta, I trained in framing at the Larson-Juhl framing school in Norcross, the largest in the U.S. I set up my empty basement as a frame shop and was busy very quickly framing for some of the city’s top designers and collectors. My first clients were with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Marcia: What’s happening in the lower level?
Scott: I have over 3,000 moulding samples here that range from high-end to budget. The finest mouldings in the world are still hand-made in Italy and constitute a large part of my collection. … I have a huge range, including handmade Italian marquetry, for every kind of project. I have 22-karat gold mouldings for $120 a foot as well as budget moulding starting at $4 a foot.
My framing is all custom hand done and archival quality, … nothing from chain stores is found here. My niche is taking framing “to the edge.” The art throughout the house is what I personally liked, then framed. I have framed many ketubot, including my daughter’s. See samples at www.framewise.com.
Marcia: Describe your fascination with Tibetan art.
Scott: I constructed the showcase front entrance based on my photos of monasteries in Tibet and Nepal. The art and icons I brought back from there, others were shipped. My mother was co-owner of a trekking agency that pioneered exotic adventure travel. I acquired collections from different cultures. The statues and images are from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, also known as Tantric Buddhism, not to be confused with the newer Western sexualized form of “tantra.” I have Mongolian pieces which are quite different. I was involved in the first showing of contemporary Mongolian art, which is heavily influenced by Tibetan art. Note that thangkas were not intended to be art but used in meditation. They just happen to also be beautiful.
I was the official framer for many years for the Oglethorpe University Museum, which started during the 1996 Olympics when the museum brought in “Sacred Objects of the Dalai Lamas” exhibit. Interestingly, the museum showed “The Art of Dachau.” Prior to the Holocaust, it was one of the most important art colonies in Europe, but this legacy was practically erased due to its association with the death camp.
Marcia: Describe your photography collection.
Scott: These are real silver-gelatin photos dating back long before the digital age. Many were shot with Hasselblad equipment. I lean towards classic rock like Baron Wolman’s shot of Jim Morrison. Wolman was the first photographer for Rolling Stone magazine. This 1987 photo of the Grateful Dead (Herb Greene) captures an iconic moment uniting the San Francisco scene with Bob Dylan. Greene was known for his intimate portraits of luminaries like Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana.
Here’s a print by Flournoy Holmes, who did the “Eat a Peach” album cover for the Allman Brothers.
I treasure this shot of Dylan’s old-fashioned typewriter showing his original lyrics.
Marcia: What are some of your most unusual pieces?
Scott: I collect Aboriginal art. … This pointillist serpent has a wild history created in an Australian prison by an Aborigine with art supplies donated by a Georgia drug runner who was also serving time. Aboriginal art is shamanistic and relates preliterate ancient tribes’ stories and creation.
I have a triptych of Aboriginal art done on pressed bark. It is my job to enhance art with the frame. In this case I used burlap mats combined with a moulding that brings out the tribal or ethnic elements.
We have a collage of French wine foils by Persian artist Gerard Purvis.
Marcia: What transpires in your studio?
Krista: Personalized sessions designed to reduce stress and anxiety. I teach therapeutic aerial yoga, sound meditation and neuromuscular massage. I developed a sensory experience like no other where clients are safely supported amid this inspiring and spiritual art in our urban retreat. I have six aerial hammocks suspended from steel beams tucked behind the ceilings. My cocooning sound massage is popular, www.kristah.com.
Marcia: What’s with the birds?
Krista: I rescued both: Buddy, umbrella cockatoo, and macaw, Ziggy. Sadly, Buddy was captured in the wild. Importing of birds is banned in the U.S. Though they are different species, they are “flock” animals, and we are their flock. Our lifestyle affords them much attention. They are highly complex and can live 90-plus years. We edutain (The Atlanta Parrot Encounter), www.BuddyandZiggy.com and Airbnb experience, www.airbnb.com/experiences/263569.
They can be rowdy. When we clap and tell jokes, they get the punch line (even before the punch line) and let out shrieks of laughter.
Amazingly at night they are quiet.