Sunday, June 30, 2019

An Abundant Life - Art History

A few weeks ago I went to a birthday party for Todd Monaghan, a wonderful Artist who I have written about in these pages before. It was an evening with rain on and off, but when I first arrived it was clear enough that we were able to sit out on Todd's rooftop, and there were some people around the table who I had met at other times and places, though in some cases I couldn't remember exactly when or where. As the group of us sat and talked and enjoyed the freedom of the feeling of being outside on a New York City roof, one of the best feelings for those of us who live in this beautiful but very populated place, I started talking to an Artist who I knew that I knew from somewhere, and as he began to describe his art and his life, I realized that not only had I met him years ago at a party at a space he had created for Artists on Manhattan's Lower East Side, but I had seen his art all over New York City and had always wondered who had created the amazing and unique pieces that adorned sign posts, fences and gardens. It's a strange and wonderful thing when I have those experiences, when the past of my life meets the present in a glorious richness of harmony and weaving together of the strands of people and places where I have lived out so many different parts of my life. To hear someone describe a place where I once went, people I knew or things that I used to do on a regular basis has almost the feeling of being miraculous because somehow those things and people and places, though at times many years in the past, seem to breathe their life into the present. The space that this Artist had created was called The Gas Station, and the Artist was Linus Coraggio, and because I am always interested in going to the studios of wonderful Artists who I am blessed to meet, and because Linus has such a rich history that in some ways overlaps with my own, I asked him if I could visit his studio and we made an appointment for the following week.

Before my studio visit with Linus, he sent me a link to a video that a Filmmaker friend had made about him and his love of creating motorcycle art out of found objects, and the night before I went to see him he told me that he might need to move our meeting an hour forward because he was going out to Brooklyn to chain one of his other found object sculptures to a fence during the Brooklyn Street Art Show "Beyond The Streets" as a Guerilla Art contribution to the event. Between the video and the description of his planned journey out to Brooklyn, I got an idea of some of the things that he did, but it wasn't until I walked in the door to his studio that I began to see a more full picture of all of the ways that he creates. His studio is an adventure for the senses, with carefully placed sketches, paintings, welded metal sculpture, motorcycle art created from found objects including Barbie dolls, intricate ink drawings, uniquely sculpted and welded chairs and other useful items for the home and garden such as mirrors and credenzas that have been found and modified with the addition of pieces of metal and machine parts that have been welded and arranged with a beautiful order. Nothing is wasted in his creations and everything has its own rhyme and reason that through his careful placement reaches its own golden mean. And just when I thought I'd begun to get a grasp of the scope of his work, he began showing me the history of the furniture he'd made, with photographs of some pieces that had been placed in public spaces and private collections, and others that were placed throughout the studio, in the room with his sculptures and paintings and in other areas of the space.

At one point he mentioned that he had made wood cut prints of his renderings of his sculptural pieces, and in many ways those to my eye were in their own special category. I loved everything that I was seeing, but when he opened the hand made box where the book of his woodcuts was kept I was captivated by the beauty of the pieces. The wood blocks themselves are works of art and each one of the prints he's created has been designed according to the Artist's interpretation and vision he had of each sculptural piece that he included in the book, and his translation from three dimensional sculpture to a one dimensional print has resulted in a gorgeous collection because of his own unique way of seeing color, texture and space. His inventive use of ink to create textures and gradations within each piece adds to the unique and beautiful mastery of this form. Twenty-two pages in all, each one is a stand-alone masterpiece, and together they create a work of art of the caliber I have rarely seen. There is something extraordinary in the art and vision of Linus Coraggio, and the fact that I had seen his work so many times over the years, chained to fences, perched high atop street signs and in his fabled but not forgotten Gas Station art space brought my own New York City history to the forefront and made the memories of so many long ago years become etched in stark relief. Linus Corragio is a treasure. An Artist who has been creating unique and visionary pieces since he was a child, he is an integral part of the history and vibrant creativity of  New York Art from years ago through the present, and his unique vision and history of making art is something that needs to be shared and celebrated as an encouragement to other creative spirits to help keep their spark alive.

Linus Coraggio
In New York City

A Few Woodcut Prints
From A Book Of 22 Masterpieces

A Motorcycle Drawing From Childhood
Reworked And Revisioned


Jannie Susan

Sunday, June 23, 2019

An Abundant Life - Setting The Trend

I met Jon Harari because he throws the best parties. As part of my work in public relations and marketing I am on many mailing lists and I am invited to lots of events. I try to go to as many as I can because I genuinely like to meet people and support the great work they are doing but there are only so many hours in a day and only one of me, and because that is only one part of the multi-faceted work that I do that ranges through the worlds of nutrtion and wellness and community and youth development, public relations and marketing and work with artists and designers on collaborative projects and events, I sometimes have to say no to things that I otherwise would like to do. One night about two years ago I was invited to a summer party that Jon was throwing, and because I had received a very personalized invitation and it was on my way from one event to another, I decided to stop in and say hello. When I got there I was early and there already was a line down the block, and that alone was enough to impress me because I've been throwing parties for years and I know how much work it takes to throw a great one. And when I got inside and saw Jon personally greeting people in the charming and relaxed but professional way that he has, I knew that I had stumbled onto someone and something very special. The party itself was alot of fun, and I kept in touch with Jon through email and his blog and other social media, and over time as I began to learn more about him, the more impressed I became.

Originally from the world of leading edge finance and technology, Jon teamed up with two partners Michael Niemtzow and Raul Tovar in 2012 to start a new company that no one had the insight, prescience or vision to dream up before. WindowsWear is the largest existing database of visual merchandising, marketing and trends for retail and e-commerce, and is a treasure trove of information for and about anyone who is creating pop-ups, displays, launches or special events as well as regular every day store windows and retail advertising both large and small throughout the world. I say both large and small because Jon and his Partners are very supportive of everyone in the retail industry, including emerging brands, talent and students, however they also work with some of the largest and most prestigious clients in existence. WindowsWear is a tool and an insider's key, a way to watch trends and get ideas, and includes an archive of the history of displays and retail that dates back to 1931. In a way it's a Pinterest for displays and marketing and advertising, but to my mind much more fun. If you love fashion and design and art and retail and commerce you can enjoy looking through the pages of WindowsWear, and of course if your business is a part of those industries it's a must. Add into the mix a meeting with Jon Harari for one of his legendary parties and you'll find another dimension that will take you to places you've always wanted to go.

Jon Harari
CEO And Co-Founder Of WindowsWear

At Kevin Shahroozi's Entrepreneur Panel
And Networking Evening
With Milene Jardine, Chocolatier

With Jannie Wolff

And On The Entrepreneur Panel

With Partners Michael Niemtzow and Raul Tovar
Photograph Courtesy Of Jon Harari 


Jannie Susan

Sunday, June 16, 2019

An Abundant Life - Mysterious Landscapes

The first time I saw Gene Kiegel's work, I was at Mana Contemporary for an Open House. Those days are always great days - it's a wonderful experience to wander through the different floors and explore different studios. There's so much that is interesting and beautiful, and over time as I have met more Artists who are part of the community, I run into people I know and visit their studios and those of friends. But the first time I saw Gene Kiegel's work I was awe struck. I didn't know him personally, and now that I have met him and shared time with him I was able to tell him that I was extremely impressed not only with the beauty and high quality of the work he was doing, but with the way his studio looked - it was like a museum or a gallery more than an Artist's studio, though there were areas where you could see some of the tools of the Artist's process, but that only made it all the more impressive because the tools Gene Kiegel is using are not the types of tools you usually see. Gene is working primarily with beeswax, melting and layering it, applying different temperatures and incorporating other substances such as resin and pigments and burnt paper and graphite, creating textures through a process that creates a living sculpture. His work will have the possibility of changing somewhat over time because of the medium - it is nature in its purest form, and the dialogue between art and nature that a viewer can find in his work is truly beautiful and astonishing.

A few weeks ago I was at an event at Guy Regal's design showroom at 200 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. It was a designer's discussion that was part of NYC X Design, and when I went to take my seat and looked around the room, I saw to the left of me some paintings that I thought I recognized. The showroom was full of vintage pieces and antiques, and so at first I thought it must be the work of an Artist from another time, but when I looked at the name cards beneath the pieces I saw the name Gene Kiegel. The work looked so perfect in the showroom, and it was definitely inspiring as an addition to a room full of stunning interior design pieces, and so I took a photograph and posted it on Instagram. When Gene saw the tag and thanked me for posting it, I responded about how much I enjoyed seeing his work there and that I would love to come for a visit for a blog post. He replied with a yes and made time for us to meet, and so I found myself in his studio on a lovely spring afternoon, sipping a glass of freshly brewed turmeric chai, and learning more about the process that had so taken my breath away the first time I saw it.

Over time Gene has continued to explore the possible worlds that can be created through the use of beeswax, creating sub-series of his "Another World" series with the descriptive titles Landscapes, Igneous Matter, Fossils, Origins and Shelters, and he has begun to work with the beeswax in sculptural form off of the canvas. There is a power to Gene's work that is almost indescribable - it would seem with the fragility of the beeswax and it's malleability and changeability that it would be a simply beautiful but very delicate presence, but instead something happens in the hands of the Artist that creates something that has a life force and secret language all its own. The canvases seem to speak to us in some way that is understood on a very deep level, and Gene describes how he wants to find a universal language in the work and pieces he creates that will cross boundaries of understanding and bring us back to our origins. Some of the pieces have somewhat identifiable shapes and textures reminiscent of things such as coral or lava, but others have only their own life and form as a point of reference. But it is that life and form that flows through them that speak to us all so clearly and reminds us of hidden codes locked in our memory banks that have been waiting to be allowed to be free to roam.

As I began to take photographs, Gene, who is also a professional photographer, took my camera and pressed it closely against one of his larger sculptural installations. A glass top covered over the landscape that in this piece was horizontal in the way that a table top would be positioned. I told Gene that if I had that piece in my own home I would use it as a table, protecting the glass top carefully while enjoying the opportunity to sit and study the shapes that rise from the landscape below. As he showed me the way the landscape reflected off the glass, I had been trying to photographs it, and when he took the camera and pressed it against the side, I could see the dramatic view come to life that he had been trying to help me find a way to photograph. It was as if I had somehow entered another world, one that was partly made up of things that are of this one, but partly all of its own. I thought of underwater worlds, of stalactites and stalagmites in underground caves, and of landscapes in space, on other planets and in the cosmos. As I looked at the reflection through and into the glass and beyond to the piece on the other side of it, I also thought of the worlds within worlds that are found in tiny cells, things the naked eye cannot comprehend but that are all around us adding their beauty and energy to all that we are able to see.

My afternoon with Gene Kiegel was an inspiring one - as I walked out of his studio I felt energized in a way that comes from a truly joyful experience. Originally from Odessa, Ukraine, he received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Environmental Design from UC Berkeley, and has received awards and exhibited his work in Palm Beach, Miami, Fisher Island, New York , Beverly Hills, Dallas, Houston, London, and St. Petersburg, Russia. But somehow on that afternoon in his studio it was as if we had walked together into a new world, and experienced a new landscape, and that now that we had seen it together we had a language to share with the world around us. It is in that language and in that connection to those hidden worlds that we can find our place in our own.

Gene Kiegel
In His Studio At Mana Contemporary
888 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey

A Much Closer View
Of The Reflected Landscape
With The Help Of The Artist
Who Is Also A Photographer

A Few Pieces Made With Salts
That Bloom And Change Over Time

Sculptures Of Beeswax

A Glass Of Turmeric Chai Tea
Freshly Brewed


Jannie Susan