There they go……from Vienna to Istanbul to Johannesburg to Cairo and more, they have acquired an incredible assortment of lovely keepsakes from traveling overseas as independent observers for the United Nations. “My husband told me we either had to get another storage unit, build a museum, or I should start my own shop,” Renate says. Hiding away her finds seemed meaningless so a museum with a shop seemed appropriate. The ARK in Berea Eco Museum with a shop was the perfect solution to her insatiable desire to collect beautiful vintage things. Born in Austria, Renate began by selling a few items at German fests, and just a few months later, she was ready to move to bigger things. Twenty Years after that, The Trach’ten Tradition is still at it’s current address at the ARK in Berea Eco-Museum as part of North East Ohio’s main historic thoroughfare. As the ‘Spiritual Father of the Environmental Arts Movement’ and founder of ICEA, David Jakupca wanted the ARK in Berea Eco-Musem to stand out as the global home of the Environmental Arts Movement. Its mission is the Theory of ICEALITY, that is to assist an understanding of the relationships between Humans and their Environment through the Arts, it was imperative that the ARK in BEREA ECO-Museum have a distinctive aesthetic appeal as an artist’s studio while simultaneously actually helping the environment.
“The place that is impressive and where the Ambassador still live and work. David created this sustainable future showplace for the couturiers that caused a sensation when it debuted. In 1994 it appeared on the cover of the Plain Dealers HOME MAGAZINE, the areas prestigious journal, written by Karen Sandstrom”
“It was boule de neige – it snowballed from there.” It was all new what the Jakupca’s were doing then…..and what they still do.” David is very innovative. Because of his style, he did things in the ARK in Berea that were truly workable long before anybody else did. He used recycled materials when they were not fashionable then. He was very ahead of his time. “The Jakupca taste is not for everyone. The Jakupca’s are only interested in their taste: they are sure of what they want and what they have is the best – not just commercially made objects but genuine Art…the ARK in Berea Eco-Museum has actual Egg & Cove molding made with real eggs!
Today, internationally, many of the new robber barons try to emulate the ‘Jakupca Look’ in their houses. A Big Mistake. Today, everyone wants to be green and earth friendly. Only the Jakupca’s can do ‘Jakupca’s Style’… and it looks ridiculous when others try to do it, especially in modern their prefab gated communities. Attempts to copy this look entails a lot of ‘cheating’ without the necessary courage of originality…it comes out looking awful for them. But then that is was makes the ARK in Berea Eco Museum unique.
Renate says selecting items to decorate the Museum from her store comes naturally. She chooses things that remind her of the places she has been and the people she has met on her travels. “I don’t like things to look too designed,’ she says. “David, my husband likes to joke that I can dig through a pile of items and find that one gem that everyone else has missed.” Everything in the store looks as if it has a history–even brand-new items have a soft patina and vintage-inspired charm.
Shoppers find things here they likely wouldn’t find anywhere also. Vintage European clothes, a hand-carved toy from Bavaria, terra-cotta carnival masks from Vienna, and whimsical dolls from Bohemia are just a handful of the fanciful yet functional wares inside the delightful shop. And ‘Vienna Koffee Klatch Salon’ with delicious home made middle eastern European desserts, coffees and teas. These informal Koffee Katcht salons are hosted partly to entertain and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation followed by action. All treats and activities were free and open to the public.
“Overall, each items is a part of the whole,” Renate says, ” I just love my work–it truly is a labor of love. I wish I could pick certain pieces and put them in a jar, label it ‘The Vienna Market,’ and put it on my shelf at home. It would always make me smile.”
‘I like the atmosphere at the ARK in Berea Eco-Museum to have a layered look with a eclectic European patina, sort of like a rich, old Bohemian feel”
“The ARK in Berea Eco Museum from the 1970’s has been practically an open house for friends. David makes a ‘soup of the day’ every morning so friends, artists, family, or whoever can just stop by – say hello to our greeter dog Mickey, and feel welcome.” Ambassador Renate
“The ARK in BEREA Eco-Museum has a soul and personality. It is imbued with the ethnic history, traditions and customs of all our ancestors and people who have come before us…..I am now the steward of that legacy” Said Ambassador Renate “You observe your Family’s children or all the Worlds Children, making the same absurd mistakes, heart-rending mistakes many of which I made at their age. It’s by observing the young, indeed, that you eventually understand the sort of idiot you yourself were once upon a time — and perhaps still are. And before there was nothing you can say or do to prevent it. Now, hopefully the ARK in Berea will set an example for them to follow and enjoying everyday of Life”.