Sunday, September 15, 2019

An Abundant Life - International Connections

The lovely Manesha Lakhiani invited me to an opening reception at Seizan Gallery in Chelsea recently. She had met the owner, Seiko Yamada, while she was traveling on business in the Philippines, right before the New York Gallery had opened, and when it was time for their one year anniversary celebration Manesha invited me to join her there. I have worked with Artists of all kinds for many years, and I have lived in New York City even longer, and I've attended so many gallery shows of different kinds that if I tried to count them all it would be impossible. But one thing that never changes is my love for beautiful spaces and beautiful work, and I've found over the years that the design of the spaces and the choices of work reflect the spirit of the Gallery Owners and Curators who inhabit them. I'm not in any way a snob about art or design - I can be inspired in an abandoned and crumbling pier as much as in a pristine penthouse loft, and I've discovered that it's the Owner, Director and Curator who can give the space a feeling that makes us want to stay and that opens the art up to a longer examination and reflection for the viewer.

Seizan Gallery is the kind of gallery that gives a visitor such a feeling of peace and beauty that it would be possible to stay there for hours. Even on the night of the opening party and celebration for the first year anniversary and expansion of the gallery space I had a glimpse of the feeling of what it must be like during an average day. I wanted to sit and contemplate the art, daydream and be inspired, and the feeling in the gallery is such a powerfully beautiful one that I could have done that even with all the ebb and flow of people coming and going and talking and walking throughout the rooms during the opening.

The gallery was started in Tokyo where there is still the first branch of it, at a time when it was very rare for a woman to own a gallery, never mind start one in her own home as Seiko Yamada did at the time. She has since moved it to Ginza, the most fashionable and integral area to view art in Tokyo, and over time decided to start a new location in New York. Her New York Director, Sayaka Toyoma, is as lovely and intelligent as she is, and both are well versed in the art world and market as well as having the aesthetic sensibility necessary to curate, choose and hang shows well. Together they work between the two worlds of Tokyo and New York, discussing and comparing and discerning the work that will be best suited to the art lovers, buyers and investors in each market.

When I sat down to talk with Sayaka Toyoma, we had such an interesting and inspiring conversation that I felt as if I'd taken a course in contemporary art. I learned so much from her in the time we shared together because her wealth of knowledge and interest in her subject is so detailed and important in her pursuit of excellence. It was refreshing to have a conversation like that, as refreshing as the chilled green tea that had been offered to me by the lovely and knowledgeable Gallery Assistant Hope Steiner on my arrival. And as the afternoon turned more golden and the light drifted through the windows from the street above, I found myself being immersed in the still and vibrant beauty of the work all around me. With the utilization of techniques speaking of years of diligent training and practice, each piece contains so much life and history. Over time the gallery will be offering classes and hands on learning experiences in the techniques that some of the Artists practice. This is a beautiful way that light and life is passed from one generation to the next and from one country to another. This is the way of progress, of finding the conversation between the art and the viewer, from one Artist to the next. It is the way of growing and learning that is most enjoyable and beneficial, because as we experience the joy of creativity our minds open up to new possibilities.

Seizan Gallery
521 West 26th Street
New York, New York

Owner Seiko Yamada
Photograph Courtesy Of Seizan Gallery
Photograph Credit Robert Wade

A Few Images From The Current Exhibition
Motohide Takami: Fires On Another Shore
Photographs Courtesy Of Seizan Gallery
Photograph Credit Adam Reich

A Lovely Floral Arrangement
Created By The Gallery Owner Seiko Yamada
Who Is Also A Practitioner Of The Art Of Ikebana


Jannie Susan

Sunday, September 8, 2019

An Abundant Life - Designers Dream

Robert Arpin is one of those designers whose work not only surprises and delights, but it makes you think, it brings you into another world and it gives you something deeper to think about somewhere between a vision and a dream. I met Robert at a gallery show of a friend in Manhattan, and when I was introduced to him, I told him I'd be happy to visit his studio for a possible blog post. The first time I saw his work was a few weeks later, and I knew that I would like what I saw because I had liked Robert when I met him, but I had thought his work would be more along the lines of something that was similar to things I had seen before. Instead I found myself excited and amazed by his originality and the artistic eye behind each piece. His work is exquisite and it tells stories. There are worlds within worlds and images layered over images, concentric lines and planes and geometry, a mathematician's dream and pure beauty for any eye that beholds it.

Robert has been designing for twenty years, and he has won the acclaim of people within the design world and outside of it, being awarded and lauded and published and having been given the encouragement of some very well known people in the industry. And he is always creating and thinking, revising and refurbishing, coming up with new designs and better ways of creating the pieces, different types of materials and upholstery, and new stories to tell. These are pieces that work as three dimensional art, on their own individually, and in groups and installations that have a conversation and enliven a space with their stories.

A strong part of Robert's design aesthetic has to do with using sustainable materials that are easy to locally source and that could also be reclaimed, recycled or made out of inexpensive and durable wood such as plywood. He has been using Marimekko fabric in his renditions because he loves the juxtaposition of the fabric with his designs, and the designs of those fabrics compliment his work perfectly. But he is also open to using other fabrics and we have even discussed the possibility of his working with Artists whose work could be transferred onto fabric. Robert's creativity and vision are always moving in new directions, refining and adding to the experience of his work so that the viewer and the maker become a part of the story he is telling.

Robert's work is so extraordinary that it evokes archetypal myths and legends while being comfortable and functional as well as having the integrity of a museum piece. It is remarkable to find someone whose designs are so inspired while also being well thought out and planned. There are designers and pieces that fit into one or the other of the many categories but it is extremely rare to find someone who is able to cross through and encompass every aspect of great design. His work is functional, beautiful, sustainable, logical, inspiring and worthy of standing alone as an art piece or group installation. Visiting Robert's world is pure joy, and his pieces can transform a space and a home, and in the process begin to help us tell new stories.

The Extraordinary World
Of Robert Arpin
Photographs Courtesy Of The Artist's Website


Jannie Susan

Sunday, September 1, 2019

An Abundant Life - Flowers Of Inspiration

I first met Jaume at a group show at Montserrat Contemporary Art when I saw some of the most beautiful floral watercolors I had ever seen and I asked who the Artist was who had created them. Jaume was standing near his work and he very softly said that he was the Artist, and I think I must have startled him with my exuberance when I said they were absolutely gorgeous because he is a very quiet and soft spoken, humble person who I don't think even remotely understands how talented and gifted an Artist he is. I took a photo of him that day along with some of the paintings and prints that were hanging in the Salon, and I asked if I could come back to meet with him at some point and write about him and his work. He said I could in his very soft spoken and humble, sweet way, but because of his own travels and I think a good part of his own very humble not understanding what on earth I would want to meet with him to write about, it took until now for me to have an opportunity to meet with him again. We had seen each other a few times in between, and I had seen more of his work, including some of his oil paintings and larger pieces, but it was only a few days ago when I was able to share some time with him and talk about his history and his work and how much his beautiful paintings meant to me as inspiration and as pieces to bring beauty and peace into the world.

At the time when I first met him I had taken a few photographs which I posted on Instagram, and the reaction of my followers and other people who happened to see the post was just as positive as my own. As I have met with him over time I have tried to explain the feelings his work evokes in people, and I have also heard from his sister, who is the Owner of Montserrat Contemporary Art, that there are many other people who respond with such a strong positive feeling to his work. I have a theory that has developed over time as I have continued to work with Artists and Designers and other Creative Entrepreneurs that the best of the best are usually the ones who don't understand how great they are. When I tell someone they are wonderful and that their work is the best I have seen, I mean it - I don't just say that to encourage people. If I say it's stunning, if I say it's the best, I mean what I say and I have a history of working with Artists and Creatives to prove it. In this crazy world we live in, there are people who will say they are great or that they have experience when they don't, and I've begun to realize that in some cases people who say they know something or are something can somehow find a way to succeed, because by the time people figure out that they don't have the experience or expertise they've claimed, they've either figured out how to at least fake it well or they've moved on to something or somewhere else. But it's those people who have integrity, who work hard, who have singular and exciting vision, who are truly craftspeople and Artists at heart, it's those people who sometimes can go by the wayside while others are recognized, sometimes for work that someone else did. And in the process, the true greats can sometimes get discouraged, can stop doing their life's passionate work, or can decide that they are just not good enough to promote themselves into the spotlight. And so it is with great pleasure that I learned that though Jaume had stopped painting for a while, he has started again and is now planning a solo show for early next year.

It is hard to describe the feeling that Jaume's work evokes. When I first saw it I was reminded of some of my favorite country homes, a beautiful summer seaside town where I spent many happy days as a child, a walk in the country, my favorite English novels, Louisa May Alcott and Emily Dickinson and some of their Boston and New England stories and poems, and something even more delicate that whispered to me of the innocence of new love, of times gone by when I was young, and of another way of life that was more peaceful and tranquil than the fast-paced life of today. When I look at Jaume's work I also see the intense skill and dedication that it takes to bring life to a page of paper with watercolor or oil paints, and the care that he takes with each brush stroke to make a flower appear in a way that you can feel and smell it. His work takes you into a world as well as into a sensory experience, and you find yourself breathing deeper, listening better and seeing colors in a new way. The artwork of Jaume is a truly special way to view the world, and by experiencing it we are able to see our own lives in a new way.

At Montserrat Contemporary Art
547 West 27th Street
New York City


Jannie Susan

Sunday, August 25, 2019

An Abundant Life - Living In Style

A few weeks ago I attended an Art Event at Contra Galleries in Manhattan. I have attended events there before and I always enjoy discovering what this group of Entrepreneurs is up to, but though I was prepared for a very fun evening of Art and conversation, I was pleasantly surprised that it was even more than I expected. With the gorgeous work of the amazing Artists Alex Smetsky who is known by his signature last name Smetsky and Josh Leidolf AKA TRAN$PARENT, beats and ambiance from the marvelous DJ Tekila NYC, a performance with dance and music by the phenomenally talented Nik Hartfield and delicious beverages from her company Nik Rosé and Blanc Productions, the friendly and joyous presence of her Manager Stuart "Mookie" Sanders the CEO and Partner of MookaMilli Entertainment & The White Guys Music, LLC, and sweet and savory hors d'oeuvres created by Aleks Veyg, Founder of The Boulder Beverage Company who is also a Chef with a degree in culinary arts and a resume from some of the finest corporate and fine dining destination kitchens, there was a feast for the senses. The evening was produced by The Boulder Beverage Company under the banner of its subsidiary BolderArts, and in addition to putting together fabulous art events I discovered that there is a whole lifestyle brand that falls under the name of The Boulder Beverage Company that includes nutritional snacks and beverages, art events, and all of the accoutrements of a high end and very high quality lifestyle.

After the event I had the opportunity to meet with the Founder of The Boulder Beverage Company, Aleks Veyg, and took a lovely summer day trip out to Brighton Beach for a walk and conversation that spanned the length of the boardwalk down to Coney Island and back again and covered all kinds of important topics. We spoke about his passion for creating a brand and putting together events that are memorable, and we also spoke about hard work, integrity, community and sustainability. As he described more about his vision with The Boulder Beverage Company, I found I had a kindred spirit because Aleks is working to create products that are not only appealing to a market looking for nutritious alternatives, but he has done and continues to do the research needed create products that truly are healthy and delicious, and that make the highest nutritional impact possible by making the nutritional value of the beverages and foods more easily accessible to the body by using research based nutritional science. The Boulder Beverage Company line of products was originally created for children, and has since branched out to include adults. There are products that exist and that are in development for individuals from all walks of life and from every health and wellness standpoint.

At the end of our afternoon together I felt invigorated, as much for our walk on the beach as for the experience of discussing the vision and passion of an Entrepreneur who not only wants to create lasting and innovative brands and help promote excellence and collaborate with others, but also someone who in his own way wants to change the world for the better. The mission behind The Boulder Beverage Company is to make products that in their words are "safe and respectful to all ages, and preferences, and markets." There's a saying we used to use at one of the organizations where I taught community nutrition and health workshops, "Each One Teach One," and the saying went hand in hand with something known as The Starfish Story. In short, the story is about a man who sees someone walking along the beach doing something he can't quite figure out until he gets closer, and when he finally sees what the other person is doing, he is astonished because the person is walking along and throwing starfish that have washed up at low tide back into the water. The man stops and asks why the other person is doing that, and the reply is simply because otherwise they will die. The first man says that there are miles of beach and so many starfish and there is no way to save every one and that there is no way to make a difference. And the other person calmly continues throwing starfish into the water and says, "It made a difference for that one." As we walked along the beach, I was rejuvenated by our conversation as much as having my feet in the surf and sand. It made a difference for this starfish, and I can only imagine what this wonderful Entrepreneur will do for others.

At Contra Galleries
An Evening Of Art, Entertainment, And Lifestyle
Produced By The Boulder Beverage Company

With Gorgeous Artwork By Smetsky

And The Stunning TRAN$PARENT

A Performance By The Beautiful Nik Hartfield
Shown Here With Her Manager
Stuart "Mookie" Sanders

Tastes Of Her Signature Sparkling Rosé "Nik"

Illustrious Guests From The Arts Community

Beats By DJ Tekila NYC

Aleks Veyg On Brighton Beach
For A Conversation
With Jannie Wolff


Jannie Susan

Sunday, August 18, 2019

An Abundant Life - Seeing Is Believing

Robert Streicher has a history of excellence. Earlier in his career he was a dancer and choreographer, he has been an actor and a playwright and producer and an entrepreneur. But of all of the gifts and talents that he has, I believe that the greatest one is his work as a visual artist. I don't say this lightly, because he does everything that he does with passion and attention to detail, with a sense of the permanence of the often thought of as ephemeral arts. Although the work that performers do on stage is fleeting and passing and never can be replicated exactly, with Robert there is a precision and focus that makes it so that each performance is memorable. With his intensely critical eye, he knows what he knows, and sees beyond the present moment to what is hidden behind the facade, in the distance or near to the surface. But there is something that happens when he begins to paint that opens up new vistas and possibilities, and it is in that space of creativity that I believe his art truly and most powerfully comes alive.

I met Robert when he was giving an Artist talk at Novado Gallery in Jersey City, and later went to visit him in his studio. We share a history of knowing some of the great people who have populated the New York City Art, Dance and Theater worlds over the years, and when I am visiting with him I am reminded of some of the most memorable days and times I experienced in what I believe is the greatest city in the world. And it is not just Art, Dance and Theater that span his consciousness and fall into the conversation like a heathly rain, he is an avid movie watcher and reader and is knowledgeable about the history of culture and art in many forms. A conversation with Robert is one that is eye opening and inspiring, and one that brings back memories of people and places and brings them into a new light.

As an Artist, his work spans so many different categories that there is no way to really place him except to say that he is always exploring form and line and color. There is an intense quality to his pieces that is at the same time full of light and life, though some of them are darker in tone and color palette. I could spend hours talking with him and looking at his work, and I have on occasion had the opportunity to do that. It's a rare experience to find someone who knows so much and is so discerning, to find a creative spirit with strong opinions and vision who is always trying something new. It's refreshing to meet someone like Robert Streicher, whose vision helps us see in a new way, and whose beliefs and experience are so powerful that we begin to understand a new story.

A Glimpse Into The World
Of The Art Of Robert Streicher
In His Studio
Jersey City, New Jersey


Jannie Susan