Anthony Schmitt is known worldwide for his artistic creation and annual installation of the Shopping Cart Christmas tree. Schmitt conceived the idea 14 years ago at the request of Abby Sher, former owner and developer of the Frank O. Gehry designed Edgemar. Schmitt envisioned a geometric object, something modern and shiny. “I was inspired by memories of a 1960’s aluminum tree and a friend’s mom who boldly wore platinum hair” shares Schmitt. The Colwell and Belden families have continued the annual tradition of commissioning the tree since buying Edgemar in 2007.
“The shopping cart tree symbolizes both generosity and abundance, as
well as acknowledging those less fortunate where their whole world may be
housed in a cart. We see shopping
carts everyday and take them for granted.
Individually the beauty of an everyday object may become invisible, but
in quantity you can’t miss it”, remarks Schmitt.
The 2009 Shopping Cart Tree is built with 84 carts, mostly full size with a few smaller versions at the top, to create a forced perspective of height. The internal structure, engineered for stability and invisibility, allows the branch-like quality of the carts to appear self-supporting and remind us that imagination can always be applied to the season. The Shopping Cart Tree is not only covered by the local papers every holiday season, but also mentioned in several international travel guides for Santa Monica, used as a backdrop for The Off Their Jingle Bell Rockers holiday YouTube videos and featured in a half-hour special in China.
Schmitt grew up spending summers in New York, regularly visiting the Guggenheim and Met. But it was both grandmothers who bestowed Schmitt with inspiration; one with a fascination for simplicity and elegance through the display of collectibles in a formal living space and the other with an eye for mixed media before it’s time using torn pages of literacy magazines and found objects in collage.
However, his artistic career took early root when in 3rd grade Schmitt’s teacher showed his artwork around, allowing him an invitation to attend a gifted art program at Arizona State University. He’s never looked back. In 1975, Schmitt graduated high school with “Artist of the Year” and was awarded a scholarship to Brigham Young University. Majoring in Fine Art at BYU sounds admirable, but his father, a corporate man to the bone, felt a “real job” was in order.
Choosing display and taking a position with Weinstocks Department Store, Schmitt fine-tuned his skills in creating looks, telling stories, interpreting style and installing vitrines and windows. His talents were quickly recognized and he was transferred to the sister company, The Broadway. Five years and the regularly top-selling cosmetics department led to one of the highly sought after positions of Display Manager at Barney’s NY. For the next five years, Schmitt traveled around the world opening stores for Barney’s, including their top selling stores on Madison Avenue in New York, in Beverly Hills, California and their store in Yokohama and Tokyo Japan.
“I thought going to Yokohama was a once in a lifetime opportunity. What I didn’t realize was I would be invited back again and again.” That first trip to Japan with Barney’s led to an introduction to the Isetan Family and an invitation to design and layout the merchandising for the Harbor Circus Mall in Kobe, Japan. Immediately following, Schmitt designed the B-2 at Pasaona Restaurant in Tokyo for Yoshimi Kono, Kono Design. And, in turn, came another introduction to Nozomi Tearo, who asked Schmitt to be an art director for her authentic American-style summer camp, Msterio. Schmitt is on his eighth year with Msterio.
In 1994, as a favor to a friend and looking for a much-needed rest, Schmitt arrived in Santa Monica, California to design and manage the first satellite museum store for MOCA. The original idea was for a temporary, neighborhood, holiday boutique, which would relocate every year. The store was a huge success and became a permanent location for five years at the Frank O. Gehry designed Edgemar. Schmitt became acquainted with several of the merchants on Main Street in Santa Monica. Word spread of his talents in boutique store design and creative window displays. Schmitt has since designed two stores for Highlights, a contemporary lighting showroom chain, Sara Jo, an accessories boutique in Pacific Palisades, Gaia, a women’s apparel shop in Brentwood and B.N.Y., a men’s and women’s clothing boutique on Main Street, Santa Monica. His award winning display windows at B.N.Y. make you look twice with their innovative and enticing use of found objects. Schmitt’s most recent work, Kyss, a woman’s clothing and accessories store, is scheduled to open Winter 2009 in Santa Monica. Schmitt currently holds the position of Chairman of the Board for the Main Street Business Improvement Association.
Shopping Cart Tree:
- The Off Their Jingle Bell Rockers sing in front of the Shopping Cart Christmas Tree on December 6, 2008
Msterio Summer Camp:
For more information or to schedule an interview with Anthony Schmitt, please contact Lori Rose at 310-463-8420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.