Sunday, February 24, 2019

An Abundant Life - Illuminating Art

Dana Gambale is one of the most luminous and lovely young women I know. Her art is in some ways on the darker side, but because she is so full of light, even the darker pieces feel somehow effervescent. There is a natural humor in her work, and a love for making statements that are full of sweetness to help us accept the very real and meaningful commentary she is making on society, on personalities, on the internet and on popular culture. In a way you could call her work "Pop Art" and it is to a certain extent, but in a way it is also more than that, bringing reminders of history, relevant statements about the world we live in, and echoing back to some of the Fluxus artists and the early days of Marcel DuChamp and the simplicity of pieces being displayed as they are and as they exist in real life, being hung on the wall and therefore becoming art.

A graduate of Brooklyn College with a degree in studio art, Dana had originally wanted to be a fashion designer, something that I'm sure she'd be wonderful at, but there is so much more to her creative mind and heart that delves deeply into the vast and various mediums she explores and discovers. She enjoys learning about new methods and working with media she has never worked with before, and though she does find inspiration in popular culture, movies and television, she also creates original pieces that have no reference and in her words, "is usually something that has randomly popped into my brain and I decided to make it." Most recently she has been working with plexiglass and has begun to learn wood turning from her father. As she describes it, "I love the challenge of figuring out something new to use in a piece." Her pieces and the materials she uses are inventive, as are the clever titles and names she christens them with. The entire experience of Dana Gambale's art is immersive, a place for the viewer and the creator to have a meeting of the minds and senses.

I met Dana one afternoon a few years ago when she was having a Labor Day weekend yard sale outside of her apartment building with her husband Eric Sanchez. I had met Eric almost exactly a year before, and he had introduced me to a wonderful thrift and vintage store across the city where I had gone on an adventure at his recommendation. After meeting Dana and finding out that she was an artist, I continued to connect with this lovely couple, learning more about Eric in the process and eventually writing about him in this blog. I had been wanting to write about Dana for the longest time, and last fall when she was part of an event in Hoboken for Halloween I got the chance to take some photos of her work. I was also able to photograph her in her Halloween costume - when I first walked in the room and saw her I knew immediately that she was a bat when I saw her black wings, but she made such a lovely and luminous bat that it almost seemed that she was some other kind of more friendly and sweet-natured creature all together. Bats actually get an undeserved bad rap - they're quite useful in the scheme of ecology and they are not at all harmful. They are actually rather sweet natured and peaceful, so perhaps Dana's costume really was suited to her personality. In any case, she was lovely in her bat costume, which is not something that I could ever imagine saying about anyone, but with Dana I don't think it's possible for her not to be lovely - there's something inside of her that just simply is beautiful.

And it's that beauty that shines through her work, as funny and full of social commentary as it may be. Something about the way her mind thinks brings the messages she shares into another realm altogether, and as we watch and interact with her art, we find ourselves smiling, recognizing important truths and being able to take part in a journey to self examination that leads to an understanding of how to impact the world around us with words and images that can promote change for the good.

Dana Gambale
And Eric Sanchez
At The Kolo Klub
1422 Grand Street
Hoboken, New Jersey

Art Prints Of "A Clown's Butcher"
Original Piece Made Of
Liquid Latex, Plaster, Wood, String, Fake Blood

Art Print Of "John In Space"
Original Art Piece
Made Of Plexiglass, Mirrors, Acrylic Paint, Wood Base

Art Print Of An Original Piece
Based On The Movie "The Professional"
"Professional Lovers"
Original Piece Made Of
Light, Paper, Felt, Plastic, Acrylic Paint, Carboard, Wood

"Bat Country"
Birch And Balsa Wood, Acrylic, Tissue Paper, Mylar, Battery Operated Lights

An Art Print Of An Original Yarn Sculpture
"Ball O' Cat"

"The Last Temptation Of Marge"
Foam, Foam Board, Felt, Wood, Recording System

The Art Of Dana Gambale
Photographs Courtesy Of Dana Gambale

"Fish Lamp"
Glass Fish Lamp, Multiple Fabrics

"Ball O' Cat"
Yarn, Balsa Wood, Styrofoam, Acrylic Paint, Fabric

Styrofoam, Plaster, Polyurethane, Wire, Ceramic Tile

"What About Phil?"
Woodcut Print

 "Gambale Machine"
Wood, Pompoms, 25 Cent Machine, Plastic, Aluminum

"I Am The Bat"
Acrylic On Canvas

"Mr. Roofus Woofus The Hot Dog, Hot Dog"
Paint, Plaster, Styrofoam, Polyurethane

"Til Death Do Us Part"
Fabric, Dried Flower, Wallpaper, Mixed Media

 "When Hell Is Full"
Acrylic On Stretched Canvas, Masonite Board Spray Painted Black


Jannie Susan

Sunday, February 17, 2019

An Abundant Life - A Flower Blooms In Winter

I met the entrepreneur and author Alexandra Amarotico last spring on one of those last of the cold days that made us all wonder whether or not spring would actually ever arrive. There was an art event at Modrn Sanctuary, a spa that is no ordinary spa, with a Pink Himalayan salt room where you can sit and have refreshing breaths of air and run your fingers and your toes through the pink pebbly ground. The group hosting the art show were some very awesome young men I'd recently met at Contra Galleries, their artists collective and gallery space where they show art and host an amazing variety of events. This particular event in the spa was near their own space, and they explained that it was just another way they'd thought of to go out in the community and connect with other like-minded people doing interesting and wonderful things. This is the way I have run my own business for years, connecting with people I like and seeing where and how we can collaborate on out-of-the-box types of projects, and so I was prepared to meet more wonderful people that night because those are the types of people that this group of young men gather around them. When Alexandra arrived, we started talking about the work she was doing in the fashion and lifestyle industries as a Social Media and Marketing Consultant and her fashion and lifestyle blog She Is Red, and I suggested that there might be some areas that we could talk about a blog post for, either about Alexandra herself or some of the projects she was working on. We kept in touch through Instagram, and then one day recently I saw that she had written a book that was about to be launched at an event at the LIVELY Experience Store in Manhattan, and I sent her a quick message to say that maybe now was the time to get together for a blog post because surely with this new book there was something wonderful, new and exciting to write about. I went to the event fully expecting a lovely evening, and it was. And though I'd already thought Alexandra was a lovely young woman, there was something about that evening, perhaps the experience of writing the book, that had brought out a certain something in her that seemed even lovelier. She was radiant in fact, glowing with warmth on a cold February night, and as the book was about Hygge, it seemed that she was a reflection of it along with something more. The title of the book is "The Secret Joy of Hygge," with the subtitle of, "A Practical Guide to Cultivating Happiness In The Everyday," and she was the perfect picture of that description. She is a walking example that practices what she is preaching, and that night she seemed to be glowing from within.

The LIVELY Experience store is a lovely one, with lingerie, swim suits and undergarments made with the idea of comfort and self care, and on the night of the book launch it was filled with flowers from BW&P Floral, sparkling Ramona, light Hygge bites from Ole & Steen and lots of good cheer. As we sat and listened to the lovely entrepreneur Alex Michael May discuss the book with Alexandra, we learned not only a bit about Hygge, but also were inspired and encouraged to find our own path to accomplishing goals and dreams. The first thing we learned is how to pronounce this Danish word - "hoo-gah" with a little curving of the double o's as only the true Danes can do, but there is so much more than just a word. It is a way of life, of finding the specialness of the little every day things and making every day moments special. Some examples that Alexandra spoke of - lighting candles rather than saving them for special occasions, having that bottle of champagne instead of saving it, wearing a special dress just because you want to wear it - began to remind me of some very special memories of my childhood that have continued to influence my life today. Drifting through my memory banks came a long ago vision of a trip to Bennington Potters with my mother, buying some cups that she said were perfect for cocoa because of their curved-in rims that would keep the hot chocolate hot, and then using them all winter for fresh whipped cream topped Droste cocoa made carefully on our antique stove top by whisking the ground cocoa from its colorful tin into carefully heated milk with just the right amount of sugar. To this day I still make cocoa that way, and each time is as special as the first.

Alexandra's book is delightfully written - it feels like a perfect cup of cocoa that has somehow found its way onto the page, and in addition to personal anecdotes and explanations of terms, there are practical suggestions of how to bring the joy of hygge into every part of your life. Yes, you can have hygge moments at your office, and yes, hygge can accompany you on your daily walks, your commute to work, and around your city or town and community. There is a gentle kind of mindfulness that reminds us to take a moment to enjoy the moment, to take time to see and feel the things that give us glimpses of happiness that can then fill our vision with light. The more I began to think about this lovely message, it began to seem that the secret joy of hygge might actually be found in ourselves all along, and if we on our journey are like Dorothy who clicked her heels together, Alexandra is the sweet presence who touches us with her fairy wand and helps us find our way home.

Alexandra Amarotico
And "The Secret Joy Of Hygge"
At The LIVELY Experience Store
242 Lafayette Street
New York City

Entrepreneur Alex Michael May
In Conversation With
Author and Entrepreneur Alexandra Amarotico

Flowers By The Lovely BW&P Floral

Sparkling Sips From Ramona

Hygge Bites
From Ole & Steen


Jannie Susan