THE ART OF SHOP WINDOWS:
Spellbound Boutique: PART I"
Those curious eyes seem to watch as we veer, first to the left, then to the right. They always make me smile—the wide-opened, lash-fringed eyes of the whimsical, painted owl greeting visitors approaching the door of Spellbound Boutique on the corner at 401 South Main Street in our beloved hometown of Carthage, Missouri.
We always enjoy pausing before entering. We like to take in the variety and quirkiness of each window installation as they rotate through the seasons filled with custom made clothing and hand-crafted objects d’art. I think to myself, “These window decorations are delightfully eclectic, just like this enchanting shop.” When I ask David to describe his take on the windows and the shop he quickly responds, “Really eclectic—in the best kinds of ways”.
As you weekly readers know, in the last few weeks while David and I have been making our puppy-training walks around our historic Carthage square, I’ve been writing my newspaper columns and blog posts around the art of the shop windows and the businesses we find behind them. I’ve wanted to tell the story of Spellbound for quite a while.
We go inside and I ask shop owner, Sarah Manzer, “Will you sit with me for an interview, so I can feature Spellbound in my Art Notes from Hyde House?” “Oh, Yes!” comes her smiling, enthusiastic response.
When I arrive for our appointed hour, we walk past the racks of clothing—new and custom-made and vintage—as we navigate an array of display cases and wardrobes overflowing with a plethora of curiosities both decorative and useful. At the back of the shop, we ease ourselves down and settle at either end of a comfy, stuffed sofa. Both of us being of diminutive stature, we each sit with our feet dangling above the floor. I delightedly take note of our unspoken, physical alliance as among “the small people” on this good earth.
My first question to Sarah creates a bond of artistic kinship, too. I ask, “How do you succinctly describe the aesthetic of Spellbound?” After some thoughtful pondering, she answers me simply with one word—“Eclectic”. We’re agreed!
The “eclectic” ambiance reflected in Sarah’s shop surroundings seems to be her approach to life, as well. Married to the physician, Jon Manzer, she tells me their home is a mish-mash of the orderly and the disarrayed. While their shared living spaces are more conventionally tidy, Jon doesn’t mind the chaotic dishevelment of her studio and those spaces she claims as her own.
Sarah seems to thrive on variety in relationships and the mysterious beauty that comes out of collaboration. Throughout our conversation, she often answers my questions speaking in the vernacular “we”, referring to her team of diverse artistic souls involved in the creation and day-to-day workings of Spellbound. Though she is Spellbound’s sole proprietor, she’s pleased to have gathered a team that works together. In many ways Sarah’s Spellbound is like the artist-cooperatives so familiar to me from my New York City days, where artists with similar inclinations coalesced to create vibrant shared venues.
Sarah knows of these NYC settings for her eclectic travels have taken her from coast to coast. Born in Barry County, Missouri, while she grew up in Neosho her mother brought her to Carthage for cultural events. From a very young age, Sarah knew she wanted to go see and experience a larger world, but she also always knew she’d one day return to Carthage.
For five years she traveled and played fiddle and sang and wrote songs as a performing member of her Sarah Dunn Band. They primarily did radio tours going from town to town and from station to station promoting their music and recordings.
Sarah says, “Being out pursuing my passions was top notch. I love traveling. But the music business is so hectic. I got homesick. I wanted to be somewhere and do something that makes me feel calm and connected to a home community.”
These days Carthage is Sarah’s home community. You can hear her with her parents, Max and Deborah Barnett, and their Catalyst Band performing 70’s and Classics at the upcoming Concert in the Park presented by the Carthage Council on the Arts on Saturday, August 18th, 7 to 9 p.m. Take your chair, family, friends and a basket dinner, then read Art Notes next week to learn more about the eclectic, magical addition of Spellbound to the historic square of Sarah’s hometown.