Squishy Kuma

If Hello Kitty and Boho Chic had a love child


Barbara Lekes -- Artist’s Biography

Ms. Lekes graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a BA in Studio Art. She has sold her oil paintings and prints through Ward-Nasse Gallery in New York City. Her work has also exhibited in Southern California and Florence, Italy. Her last series of paintings, addressing her overcoming cervical cancer, were exhibited at her alma mater in Fall 2009. After returning to her hometown of San Diego, Ms. Lekes starting working in theatre, first at the San Diego REP and later stage managing productions for La Jolla Stage Co. and Sixth and Penn Theatre. She is currently in patron services at the Old Globe Theatre. This move home also allowed her to pursue teaching. She taught art to elementary students at Discovery Charter School in Chula Vista and worked with the other arts teachers to form an after-school drama club. She designed sets, props and costumes for several productions. It was this opportunity in costume design that led her in a new direction. After five years of teaching, Ms. Lekes returned to school herself to learn fashion design. She started Squishy Kuma, her fashion business, in August 2011. In Spring 2012, Ms. Lekes was invited to join the Fashion Advisory Board for the Mesa College Fashion Department. Squishy Kuma is one of the first merchants to sell at Simply Local at the Headquarters in downtown San Diego, opened late 2013.

Artist's Statement -- me⋅di⋅e⋅val modern

The inspiration for my collection, me⋅di⋅e⋅val modern, comes from the illuminated manuscripts of the middle ages. Since my art student days, I’ve been fascinated with these illustrations. The artists worked so hard on these paintings, grinding minerals by hand and mixing them with oil to make paint. My favorite is The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry, by the Limbourg Brothers, 13th century France. This is a very small, personal, prayer book commissioned by the Duke. There is a separate illustration for each month. What I like most about the work is the astrological signs depicted on the top of each page. I just love the rich colors and textures. The artists show the court in all their finery and fancy dress. I have updated the silhouettes for a more modern time and used fake fur in place of ermine.