Sunday, March 31, 2019

An Abundant Life - Freedom To Fly

Time that is shared with the amazing Artist Bryant Small is time that is filled with wonder. I had met him at various times in various places, at galleries and art shows, artist talks and art events all around Jersey City, and each time felt embraced with the warmth of his spirit and his natural excitement for creativity and life. The work that I had seen on his Instagram page was riveting, full of color and texture, and presented in the fullness of its resonance, and Bryant shared it in photographs and time lapse videos showing his creative process and the myriad of details that were brought together over time to create each unique vision filled with layers of design and richly colored life.

Bryant is an Award Winning Alcohol Ink Artist, who began his journey with this medium through a fun afternoon project with his mother, the Artist Diane Small-English. In his Artist Statement, his very words seem to echo the feeling that his gorgeous paintings evoke, and he shares, "I am inspired by intense color contrasts, movement and the need to make the mind spin through abstraction. 'Art is Life . . . Artist Life.'" He goes on to describe the experience of working with the alcohol ink to be one of constant flux and motion: "My work is freeflowing and unpredictable by nature of the medium. Alcohol Inks are highly pigmented, fast drying dyes that are activated to move, bloom and blend when they interact with 91% rubbing alcohol. Because of the unpredictable nature of the liquid medium, when painting, I'm not very aware of what the outcome of the work will be. I am creating and managing the inks to create images that resonate and strike the imaginations of the viewer. I am driven by color concepts and sparkle, and live by the words, 'Broken Crayons Still Color . . . and a little Glitter and Sparkle Never Hurt Anyone!'"

A week ago I went on a journey across Jersey City to visit with Bryant in his studio, and in some ways I felt very much like Dorothy going over the rainbow. Jersey City is a very large and sprawling place, with long stretches of road that lead over highways and byways. Many people choose to drive because it's much simpler and quicker that way, but I love to walk when I can because it helps me understand the lay of the land and I discover hidden treasures along the way. When I arrived at Bryant's studio, I realized that my journey, though interesting in itself because it was through a part of a neighborhood I don't often visit, was really a journey to visit Bryant, and that the treasure was in the person I was visiting and the works of art that he unfolded and shared with me that afternoon.

We started our visit with a conversation about his creative history, and then he took me to his work space and began to describe the process of his art while he created a new piece. It is such an interactive process and such a highly concentrated one that I enjoyed every minute of his demonstration as he poured the inks and used a variety of tools and sprays and pouring techniques to share with me the variety of possibilities inherent in working with this type of ink. He primarily uses Yupo Paper, but he also experiments on other surfaces such as metal, and it is in the experimentation that the fascination lives because there are an infinite number of ways the Alcohol Ink and alcohol can react and be combined and moved around the paper with the different tools and methods he uses. The result is always a one of a kind piece that cannot be recreated, and it is also very much alive because if the paints are touched with 91% alcohol even after they are dry, they can begin to move and bloom and reshape and restructure again. Each piece is also very much a part of Bryant, because it is his decision when the piece feels finished, and he stops the process when he knows it's the right time, and after allowing it to dry, seals the image. And the wonder of this medium is that even in that time when he is waiting for it to dry, he can leave it and come back to find that it has shifted and changed again. It is a fascinating process and one that creates vivid and memorable images that are unique and personal and yet universal in their resonance with the viewer.

When I photographed a piece of Bryant's titled "Brilliance" that I brought home with me, I was reminded of a poem by Wallace Stevens that has long been a favorite, "Of Mere Being" from "The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play" Copyright 1967:

Of Mere Being
By Wallace Stevens

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

* * * * * * *

Over the course of the afternoon of my visit with Bryant, we had spoken about his painting "Free To Fly" and the exhibit he had given the same name. There was so much gorgeous work to see in his studio, but there was something very special to me about "Free To Fly" that for some reason made it stand out to me as being even more extraordinary among the other extraordinary work. While we looked at some of his larger works I had commented on one that I felt was really special, and he told me that it was "Free To Fly". As we continued our conversation, about art, the creative life, and so many of the intricate parts of what it means to be an artist, we began to talk about the feeling of being a bird that in some circumstances feels bound. It is in that moment when the wings are again free, when the brilliance of the artist can shine and be truly alive, that we are like the bird in that poem, singing a song that may be foreign to everyone else but that in its uniqueness creates a space for each one to just be, and to be filled with that radiance and live.

Bryant Small
In His Studio
Jersey City, New Jersey
Instagram/Facebook/Twitter @BFLY777

An Inspiring And Stunning Addition
To My Home

Photographs Of The Artist And Selected Works
Photographs Courtesy Of Bryant Small

Level Up

Tunnel Vision

Manifest Wildest Dreams


People Places And Dreams


Wild And Free


Jannie Susan

Sunday, March 24, 2019

An Abundant Life - New Horizons

Earlier this year I received an invitation from the Partnership for After School Education, which is also known as PASE, to apply for a Women's Executive Career Pathing and Leadership Development Program that was available through a partnership they have developed with a company called Landit. I have a long history of great experiences with PASE and the programs and projects they connect Educators and Entrepreneurs and Not-For Profit Organizations with, and though I'm in a very busy time of growth and change in my own business I thought it was important to apply. For those people who know me well, I pray about everything, and I have a strong faith that if an opportunity is available and I apply for it, if I'm supposed to be a part of it, I will be. A few days after applying I received a welcome message to the Landit program from PASE, and because I know that PASE only connects with excellent resources I knew that I would be part of something very special. But although my expectations were high, I wasn't prepared for the beautiful and amazing gift I was being given. Landit, quite simply, is the best online platform for personal and business career pathing development and growth that I have ever experienced.

Founded in 2015 by Lisa Skeete Tatum, Landit is a personalized career pathing technology platform that works with companies and individuals to help empower and support career development, identify and strengthen talents and skills, and give insight and enlightenment to create and motivate healthy career path growth. Through a series of monthly group meetings that introduce and explain the online platform content, private and confidential coaching sessions, and regular check-ins from the Landit team and concierge regarding suggestions for online courses, skill building exercises and easily accessible question and answer model tasks that help to do things like write a personal statement, identify your core team of advisors or identify personal skills or goals, Landit has created a method for the individual to be attended to in a personalized way through the use of a highly specialized technological platform that opens up these very special tools to everyone who signs into their website. For individuals who are not part of a company that has gotten on board with Landit, there is a pay per use option for courses and support such as reviews for online presence or bios, making access to these very high level services more easily available and affordable and possible to engage in. Because my own connection with the program is being facilitated through PASE, I have access to the whole program, and as each week passes I find myself sharing information with friends and colleagues about insights I have gained, discussing ideas and opportunities in different ways, and feeling that wonderful feeling of empowered growth that only happens when there is a strong and very real support system around us. My coaching sessions have been phenomenal as well, and I felt jump-started from day one. Areas in my business and career and personal growth where I have felt questions or blocks have been brought to the forefront to be addressed with compassion and care, and I'm finding that there are so many reflections throughout my days and weeks that are bringing new insights on a regular basis.

As the Founder Lisa Skeete Tatum said in our first meeting, she created the platform because of her love for technology and her desire to help empower others for their own personal business and career growth. Having experienced Landit first hand, I can attest to the fact that she has integrated technology with the personal in a way that is not only empowering for the moment that we read a great quote or have an online experience but that carries the growth and empowerment into real time with real people we interact with every day. Recently Landit made its Series A Funding Round goal a reality by raising $13 Million in a funding round led by WeWork and backed by investors including NEA, Valo Ventures, Workday Ventures, Gingerbread Capital and current venture and seed funders. This round included early seed investors Cue Ball Capital, XFund, Female Founders Fund, Morgan Stanley, Uprising Investor Fund, Costanoa Ventures, Yard Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, Connectivity Partners, Sofia Fund, and angel investors.

In the words of Founder and CEO Lisa Skeete Tatum, "The future of work is focusing on unlocking the potential of each individual by investing in their personal success. We partner with companies around the globe to offer a turnkey solution at scale that enables organizations to better democratize access and success with a clear and measurable ROI. When you have what you need when you need it, in a way that is relevant and actionable, that's how you land it. Our members are more engaged, and as a result, companies see the increase in retention and mobility." It is no wonder that Landit is making waves this big in the world of business, because the foundation it's built on is one of pure gold.

Lisa Skeete Tatum
Landit Founder And CEO
Photograph Courtesy Of Lisa Skeete Tatum
And Skai Blue Media

A Few Views From The Landit Website



Jannie Susan   

Sunday, March 17, 2019

An Abundant Life - True Vision

I've known Eugene Galles for many years, and a few nights ago when I was at an event and someone took a group photo, I started talking about the amazing photographs Eugene takes. The host for the evening had said that she didn't like to let people take her picture at events like that because sometimes they were all right, but sometimes they were so terrible she couldn't believe they'd ever want to show them to anyone. I've had the same experience many times, and so I laughed in agreement and said that for years I had thought I was either extremely unattractive or extremely unphotogenic or both, until I had met the photographer Eugene Galles who began taking photographs of me for the first time when he took over my point and shoot camera at one of my birthday parties, and continued more professionally when he introduced me to the Belgian Couture Clothing Designer Jean Paul Knott. Over the years ever since, he has photographed me several times in many different places, and each group of photos is memorable and treasured for the way they uplifted me and the world around me, creating an aura that is both avant garde and classical, timeless and completely of the time and place where they were taken. The event where this conversation about Eugene and his work took place was centered around a discussion about the poet Walt Whitman, and in a very interesting way we had just been speaking about how Whitman was able to uplift and beautify and find the deep humanity and uniqueness of the people and places he immortalized with the portraits he created with his words, and as I think about what it is that Eugene Galles creates in his various works of art, I think somehow that he has that same romantic vision that finds the truth beautiful and is able to fully and honestly recognize what is beautiful in the truth.   

After I spoke with the host of the event about the amazing work that Eugene does, she asked if the next time he was in town I could introduce them so that she could meet with him and see if he could do a photo session with her for professional portraits or headshots for her business. The next morning I contacted Eugene to let him know, and in the process I realized that I had never written about him as an Artist and Photographer. I've written about him in these pages before as a Designer and Artist who has been a constant inspiration to me, but I had never written a post focusing on his work as a Photographer, and I had not written at all about his work as an Artist and Sculptor. So to remedy that I'll try to write something here and now, though I must admit it's very hard to write about someone with such diverse talents. The truth of it is that Eugene can and does do everything he sets his mind to with such skill that it can be daunting for the rest of us because he makes things look easy that are not easy at all. He works so hard when he sets his mind to learn something new, and his drive and due diligence insure that whatever he touches and turns his hands to prospers. I've know him as an Interior Designer who time and time again created the most stunning homes, a Mentor who introduces people to others who can help further their artistic vision and who helps to guide that vision forward, and a friend whose advice I've treasured and who has helped me grow creatively and personally over the years. I have also known him as a Photographer who has created some of the most beautiful photographs that I have ever seen, and who because of his creative vision has taken some photographs of me that will forever be favorites and that gave me a new way of seeing myself that no one had ever done before. For years the headshots I have used and my personal author photos have been photographs that he has taken, including the profile photo I use for this blog. And over the years I have seen his sketches, his paintings and his sculptures, each time being impressed with the beauty, unique vision, and skill that went into their creation.

When I asked him about his inspirations, he said that as a photographer some influences were Helmut Newton and Cecil Beaton, and that his sculptural influences are Cubism, Brutalism, and Cycladic Art. He has a history of more than 15 years of working as a photographer and he has worked with nearly every modeling agency, developing new talent and working within the fashion industry. In his own words, his approach is "paired down, minimalist and more about the model" with the standard model uniform being jeans and a white t-shirt, and his process is to "shoot very fast," to maintain spontaneity because he "doesn’t like long drawn out shoots where everyone gets tired and the concept gets 'overworked'." He describes how he is always "searching for light and texture," and that he has a "preference for black and white and 'sculpting the frame' with the subject." For his sculptures, in an echo of his description of his photographic work, he says that it's a "fast process, again do not 'overwork'. Life is full of faults, having them in your art is only natural," and he adds that he has "always been obsessed with the concept of Pareidolia," a scientific phenomenon that can often cause people to see faces in objects or to assign human characteristics to everyday objects, and "that's why faces tend to emerge from the sculptures." To my own mind, I feel again that this is the deep sensitivity of the Artist who can see into the spirit of not only the people he works with but also their surroundings, as well as divining the essence of the wood and water and trees and stones of our every day life.

It is a rare individual who can do so many things and do them all so well, and it is equally rare to find someone who is driven by a sense of artistic creation and not by personal gain or fame. As he describes his work as a Photographer and Sculptor, "both art forms are more about the expression of an emotion or an idea rather than an expression of commerce," and in all of the years I have known him, I can say that this is true. His vision is one of searching for light and beauty, for finding the unique character within the faces of the people and the spaces and places he photographs, and for discovering the humanity within them and uncovering and reflecting that humanity and character into and out of the sculptures and works of art he creates.

The Photography and Sculpture
Of Eugene Galles
Photographs Courtesy Of Eugene Galles


Jannie Susan

Sunday, March 10, 2019

An Abundant Life - The Art Of Life

Shane Townley is an Artist with a creative passion and love of humanity and the earth that invests all he does with beauty, energy and life. I met him the first time at Urban Consign & Design, the store that Paul Fitzgerald owned in Hoboken that I have written about in these pages before. Shane had walked into Paul's store one day and suggested that he could start a gallery there, and when Paul was agreeable to the idea, Shane transformed the space and installed a gallery and filled it with his gorgeous art for a show. I'd heard about Shane from Paul, and when I was visiting one day and he walked in, we started talking about the work that was there and also his larger vision and the scope of his work that it turns out is all over the world. When I went home to do my research as I always do when I meet someone who says everything I like to hear, I found out that not only was he being modest, but that his experience and pedigree as an Artist and his passion for helping others, encouraging the creative life of other artists and the positive growth of children through art education and the donation of materials by The Townley Foundation, combined with his passion for bringing awareness to social justice and ecological issues make him a creative force in his own right that seems completely unstoppable. The Townley Foundation was started by Shane and his lovely wife Adela who is also so full of life and beauty and love that her energy creates its own momentum to inspire and give encouragement wherever she goes. I'm sure their life can't be easy with all of the wonderful work that they do, but whenever I see them they're smiling and energetic, taking time to talk to everyone with the same cordial grace. I wouldn't have believed it was possible to do as much as they do and to do it so well except that I've seen them time and time again talking about a project they're working on that when delivered exceeds all expectations.

The latest project, NYA Gallery at 7 Franklin Place in New York City is no exception to Shane's golden rule. I'd heard about the idea from him when I'd attended an opening at his studio space around the corner in TriBeCa a little over a year ago, but I'd had no idea of the magnitude of what he was going to create. He'd said at the time that he was looking into the possibility of taking over more space to help create artist studios and a larger gallery space, but to my mind that is long used to smaller New York City spaces and the relative compactness of even some of the most well respected galleries, the vision I had was at most a few thousand square feet. But when I walked into NYA Gallery for the opening last Thursday night and Shane took me on a tour of the building with some VIP guests who had arrived at the time time, I was astounded by the sheer volume and expanse of the art center he has created - over 9,000 square feet of exhibition space, with three levels including a gorgeous private entry from one of Manhattan's only remaining private streets and a dry climate controlled basement for safe storage. Shane's energy and passion in sharing the vision for the future of the space was infectious, and I was excited just by seeing and experiencing what he had already created there and more than uplifted by the beautiful art and the scope of the plan he'd put into motion.

NYA Gallery is the physical realization of, a phone app and website Shane had started several years ago to help connect artists with opportunities within the art market. Irrix Screen, one of the Artists who I have written about in these pages before was a part of the opening show and is a member of He had sent me the invitation for this opening, and because I think Irrix is amazing I would have gone anyway, but then when I saw that this was Shane's project, I contacted the gallery to see if I could write a blog post about the event, the space, and their future plans. I can honestly say that in all my years of living in New York City I haven't seen a space for art like it. People have tried, and there have been some successes that have given me hope that it was possible to create something truly special, but NYA Gallery with the vision of Shane Townley behind it promises to bring us into a new age of sharing and creating and making art that will add a life giving mark on this great city.

Shane Townley
At The Opening Celebration
For NYA Gallery
7 Franklin Place
New York City

Irrix Screen
With His Lovely Wife
And His Double Sided Painting


Jannie Susan