My Essentials: Luis Mortera

Photographer, artist, and curator Luis Mortera and his dog, Scotch. Photo by Corie English

Luis Mortera gravitates toward beautiful things. Working as a collector and curator of midcentury furniture at Populuxe, his keen eye sees past the imperfections to find fabulous and fascinating pieces. “In an age when you can buy anything and everything online, a great store has to be more than a place to spend money,” Mortera says. “It’s got to be a place to spend time.” 

A lifelong photographer, Mortera graduated from the Fine Arts School in Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico, and often collaborates with local businesses and artists today, shooting at area fashion shows and art salons. Mortera values the passion and support locals have for our small businesses and entrepreneurs. “We have the best team in the country—the Chiefs—amazing collections of art, and our museums are free. You don’t have to pay to get in and admire Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio,” he says. And the changing seasons are a bonus for Mortera, who used to live in Florida. When the snow comes, he’ll be by the fireplace with his partner, Roger Bryant and their puppy, Scotch.

You can find Mortera on the weekends at Populuxe, surrounded by all his curated treasures. And good news—Populuxe is expanding just in time for their fifth anniversary!

Luis’s essentials...

Making Music: The Ship is a venue for diverse live music: honky-tonk, jazz, salsa, and disco with dope DJs. My favorite artists are Calvin Arsenia and Mike Dillon.

KC Scent: I always get compliments and people asking me what I’m wearing—my secret is Saint Rita Parlor Parfüm from Finefolk. It smells amazing. You can never go wrong with a mix of tobacco, leather, sandalwood, and musk.      

Cool Cocktails: I go to Bijou for cocktails and order the Lion d’Argleterre every time. It’s so refreshing and can be your drink till the fall.

Buying Boutique: The best lingerie shop in America can be found at Birdies—they also carry men’s underwear and pajamas. It’s that time of the year!   

Day Trip: We like to go to Weston and Parkville in the fall, charming historic towns that have everything for a perfect getaway. The weather is perfect and the tree colors are changing. In Parkville, we like to go to antique and design stores like Samsara Home for holiday decorations. In Weston, we taste all the local wines.

Foodie Find: The pasta dishes at Novel are so delicious. The Ship for lunch for the Shrimp Poboy. Little secret—they make the best Caesar salad.

Meet the Makers: I’ve got two favorite KC makers. Convivial in the West Bottoms—each of the wares is designed and handmade. I bought a beautiful vase and the salad plates we use every day at home. Hammerpress makes cards for every special occasion. I always find lots of perfect little holiday gifts there.    

Café Stop: I really like the vibe of the West Bottoms for coffee. I go to Blip and order iced lattes! I also recommend the seasonal drinks on tap.