The experience of art with Mary Lytle

Mary's home is a sensory experience the moment you walk in. The art is interesting, the windows are open, candles are lit, music is playing. This is a women for whom living is an art, and I love that!! I always think, it does not take that much effort to have a space be delightful, and the rewards are so great. She says, "I like to create an environment for peace." It is obvious that Mary does not want to hit anyone over the head with her art or design choices, so the result is exactly what she's aiming for, peace and ease. It just feels good to be there. 


Mary has loved art from a young age. She grew up in Washington DC going to the National Gallery and Monticello with her montessori school. She would have emotional experiences to the art she saw even as a young girl. She has tried her hand at painting over the years, but ended up working in the fashion industry for 15 years. First as a model (yeah hello gorgeous no surprise there!) and then as an agent.


In her Seattle home she loves to support local artists and friends who make art. The painter Lakshmi Muirhead custom made the piece over the mantle. A friend of hers snapped photos of chickens for the kitchen nook. 


Muirhead shows up again in the dining room, as well as her favorite piece in the house, a mural by her son Jasper. When he was in kindergarten she gave hims some crayons and butcher paper to create something large for the big room and she absolutely loves what he made. Mary and I talked about how cool kid's art can be because they are so unselfconscious. They are not filtering anything. They just create. As Picasso said, "All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up." 


The chairs in the dining room are designed after chairs in her grandmother's house. 


Mary and her husband own a winery retreat in the Willamette Valley called At the Joy. So they turned their pantry into a floor to ceiling wine closet! I love that this not hidden in the basement, but right there where they can see it every day. It reminds me of the bookcases I see book lovers build in their homes turning their books into art. The Lytle's have turned their wine into art and it helps tell the story of them, which homes should do! Homes should tell the stories of the people who live there. 


In her reading room Mary has an Encaustic piece by the multi-media artist Judith Kindler. She took a photograph of Mary and Jasper, painted over it, then layered wax and carved the wax on top. 


Mary has an altar of personal mementos and photographs. Along with Jasper there are photos of her beloved aunt Sister Mary Paule Tacke. 

Mary is the owner of 2 barre3 studios in the Seattle area. A true artist and entrepreneur, she is always creating. One of her latest projects partners with Nube9 to make leggings from recycled plastic water bottles. A portion of the proceeds go to her aunt's orphanages in Africa. Mary's aunt Sister Mary Paule Tacke spent her life building schools and orphanages in Mthatha, South Africa. She passed away in 2014, but her work continues through 6 board members including Mary. You can learn more about this amazing group at Sister Mary's Children. 


She discovered barre3 living in Portland and felt a connection to the owner Sadie Lincoln and the wellness mission of the business. Her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in when she moved to Seattle and became the owner of the 2 studios there.  She loves every creative aspect of owning barre3 studios, from creating playlists to choosing merchandise. Just like in her home, Mary wants to create a full sensory experience in her studios. She loves creating an oasis in the heart of the urban city.

This is something Mary and I really bonded over. We all have our homes and/or work spaces, our little piece of this world that belong to us. What are we going to do with them? In this way we truly express ourselves. 

We also connected over our shared idea that every one of us has creative impulses. It could be anything from sewing to painting to gardening to writing to singing on and on. So often we don't give these impulses any time or validity. There is too much else to be done that makes money or fulfills obligation. But stifling our natural creative impulses robs us of joy. And what could be more important than joy? It makes for a more satisfying human existence, and that bleeds into the rest of our family and work lives.    


Speaking to Mary was a true joy. She is full of big ideas, creative and passionate. So full of life and optimism. I encourage anyone in the Seattle area to check out her barre3 studios, and to support her amazing collaboration with Nube9.

Thank you Mary!  

Jolie Goodson2 Comments