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THE SCOUT: URBAN OUTDOORS | THE SCOUT: URBAN OUTDOORS

Backyards in the forefront

June 16, 2005|David A. Keeps | Special to The Times

"You've heard of interior decorators?" Annette Gutierrez asks rhetorically. "Well, we consider ourselves exterior decorators." It's a fitting label for the owners of the new garden furnishings shop Pot-ted. Gutierrez (below, right), a former screenwriter, and Mary Gray, a set designer, have filled their Atwater Village store with glazed pottery, rustic wood picture frames, handcrafted mirrors and other accessories. Though other artisans supply much of the merchandise, Gutierrez and Gray do big business with their original designs. Shoppers snap up their cement pavers, inset with antique tile, Chinese coins and other tchotchkes (including a Chevrolet nameplate). Their unique tile tables with vibrant mosaics or subdued geometrics designs have iron or steel bases that have been powder-coated or oil-rubbed. Prices run from $199 for a planter stand to $798 for the table above, which has an antique base. 3158 Los Feliz Blvd., (323) 665-3801, www.pot-ted.com.

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ENTERTAINING

Beehive of activity

To add a little buzz to your backyard, consider the Beehive oven. Home gourmets can bring wood-fired flavor to meat, fish, veggies -- pretty much anything. "Medium-size, thin-crust pizzas do really well," says Fiona Hughes, president of Al Fresco Imports, the Bay Area-based company selling the Beehive. Her favorite: veggies caramelized in oven temperatures that reach 700 degrees. The $1,100 price includes the terra-cotta dome, actually two domes with a layer of rock insulation sandwiched in between; an oven door; a cooking rack; and an iron stand, powder-coated matte black and equipped with wheels. Ready to roll? (866) 305-2675, www.alfrescoimports.com.

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FINDS

Message in a bottle

Not all glass belongs in a curbside blue barrel. At Dan Marty Design in Santa Monica, (310) 576-6008, old bottles get a new lease on life as decorative objects. Nate Ricketts, a Newport Beach artisan known for his shell-studded boxes and mirrors, covered a basic bottle, center, $175, in tiny iridescent sea shells and a nautilus stopper, creating a decanter that appears to have been made in Atlantis. Marty also stocks antique glass perfume, medicine and condiment bottles, $40 to $260, crowned with rosary beads, chandelier crystals, sea shells and coral branches that look like they washed up from the sea.

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SEEN

Open-air concert of water and light

If Frank Gehry designed for Raging Waters, the result might look like Housi Knecht's fantasy fountains. The Swiss sculptor makes "bulky and unwieldy material submit to his sweeping forms," says art historian Kristina Piwecki. Having created monumental steel sculptures for captains of industry and kings of the Middle East as well as smaller works -- a cat for Bill Clinton and a bear for McDonald's in Switzerland -- Knecht, 54, has spent the last decade integrating light and water into his constructions. Angelenos now can view Knecht's fountains, including "The Water Harp," the geometric abstraction shown here in which thin streams of illuminated water form the strings of the musical instrument. Along with three equally impressive Knecht compositions, "The Water Harp" is part of a sculpture walk through the historic Hotel Bel-Air's formal lawns and flower beds. Nestled in the romantic greenery, Knecht's works add an otherworldly modernity to the gardens, while the organic surroundings soften the imposing corporate-campus vibe that's intrinsic to some public sculpture. Knecht's Water Light sculptures take the concept of the backyard water feature to new artistic heights, with price tags (from $25,000) to match. But for guests of the hotel and its restaurant, the cost of viewing the works is priceless.

Additional reporting by Times staff writer Craig Nakano; styling by Adamo DiGregorio

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