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

Sunday, August 11, 2019

An Abundant Life - Right At Home

Korai Kitchen is a very special place. With a feeling of home that is even more special than home because everything you might want or need is shared with you freely in a way that even the most lovely homes cannot always do when they're your own. When you stop by on any given day, Nur-E Farhana Rahman's mother Nur-E Gulshan Rahman will greet you if Nur-E is not there herself to do it, and you feel as if you've stopped by to see an old friend, someone who you've known your whole life who loves and cares about you. And it doesn't matter if it's your first time there, Nur-E's mother will greet you like you're that someone special she's been waiting for, and if Nur-E is there herself, she'll sit you down at a table and feed you the most delicious food you've ever had. And don't worry if you're in a hurry, there are to-go containers that she can pack full of the ambrosial flavors from her mother's kitchen. You won't go away hungry if anyone there can help it.

I met Nur-E Farhana Rahman at an event at the Jersey City Tech Meetup on one of the coldest days of the year last winter. She had been part of a panel of Chefs and people who own restaurants or are in some way part of the food industry in the area, and when she began to describe her restaurant I knew I wanted to visit. And it was not just because it sounded delicious and like a one of a kind experience because of the Bangladeshi home cooking of her mother - there was something about Nur-E herself that made me want to find out more about this entrepreneur who decided to drop everything to help her mother realize her dream of having a restaurant. As the story goes, Nur-E had thought that she would just help her mother get started, but she was enjoying herself so much in the neighborhood, getting to know people who stopped in and sharing the traditions of her family meals, that she stayed, and then she stayed a little longer, and now she is a part of the place as if she had always wanted to own a restaurant and as if she always has.

When I stopped by recently to set up an appointment with her, she was so busy with customers that she didn't have much time to talk, but she threw her arms around me to say hello and then packed me a delicious curry chicken to take home. We set up an appointment for the following week, and I had a chance to try the lunch buffet. I wanted to try a little of everything because it is food that I have rarely had before, only a few times over the years when friends of friends or family would share meals from their native Bangladesh. And there is such an array of delicious food here, curry and chicken and fish and rice and lentils, vegetables and meats seasoned with coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, and the smell of each is so enticing. Nothing is heavy and everything so flavorful, and the variety on my plate was so beautiful and so delicious that I can't wait to go back for more. I think if Nur-E had more time that day I would still be there, enjoying the sights and sounds of this lovely oasis, this place of peace in one of the most bustling areas of a busy city. But she was off to the  market and I was off to an event at the nearby Mana Contemporary, and so after a lovely conversation we went on our separate ways. I'll be back again soon, though, that's for certain. Korai Kitchen is a special place, and one that feels very much like home.

Korai Kitchen
576 Summit Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey


Jannie Susan

Sunday, August 4, 2019

An Abundant Life - Room With A View

I met the Artist Marco Luccio when I attended the opening of his solo show at Paul Calendrillo Gallery in Chelsea a few months ago. Marco is from Australia, and he visits New York City every year for a few months to work on the iconic images he paints and creates prints of through the very painstaking process of drypoint etching, a form of intaglio that he he has become a master of. Marco is what is referred to as a fine artist, not just because of the quality of his work but also because of the detail and skill and precision that go into each piece. He has collectors all over the world, and when I first walked into Paul Calendrillo's gallery, I knew immediately that this was a very special show because I was drawn into the pieces in a way that is not always the case. Quite simply his creations are masterworks, individual prints and etchings carefully made from scenes that he has engraved by hand live outside of some of the most iconic buildings and works of architecture as well as from sculptures within galleries, and for the purposes of this show they were printed on old vintage and antique postcards he has collected over the years.

After seeing his work and beginning to discuss it with him, he invited me to visit his studio where he works when he is in New York. He said it was in the Chrysler Building, and I had some vague idea that it must have a lovely view in some part of it because I had seen some of his posts on Instagram, but I had thought that perhaps he had a studio in a different area and that the photos were from one off moments when he was working on a specific piece. I wasn't prepared for being escorted into the elevator and walking out of it into a stunning space with gorgeous windows and views on every side of what is to my mind one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I have had a love affair with New York City since I was a child - one school vacation when I was nine, my mother asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I wanted to go to New York City, ride a train from Grand Central, climb the Statue of Liberty and go to Wall Street. Though I was born in New England, New York City is in my blood. My family for generations was born and raised in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and their history includes coming through Ellis Island, walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, and in later years taking the Westchester County and Long Island trains to and from work and college and play. There's something about Marco Luccio's work that brings back what is deeply imprinted in my DNA, as well as reminding me of all of the wonderful things I've loved about New York as I read about it and finally moved to my earliest apartments and lived the life I'd always dreamed of living and that so many other people dream of world over.

There is an old ad campaign that uses the song "New York State Of Mind," and though the rest of the state is a large focus in the photographs and videos for it, New York City is always the place where I feel the message is about. All I need is to see the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building on any given day in any weather and I feel like something special is about to happen. If we can make it here we can make it anywhere to paraphrase the often heard Frank Sinatra song, and yes, the sight of the New York City skyline makes us feel that way. Daunting and exciting, it calls to us, luring us in and promising that we can and will achieve our wildest dreams. And Marco's pieces have that same draw - I was reminded during the show of Andy Warhol's images and slide shows, the long film that showed only the Empire State Building without any other motion, the camera trained on a face or place in time. There are so many levels and layers in Marco's work because of the love he has for the city and for its history, for the art and Artists who have gone before and whose work still astonishes and inspires us today.

Marco is a painter as well as a photographer in addition to the drypoint etchings he creates, and during my visit he took some photographs of me that remain some of the most lovely memories I have. The natural architecture of the Chrysler Building is astonishingly gorgeous inside as well as outside, and the variety of shaped windows create views that are one of a kind every day because of the changing light and landscape. Marco himself has created work in different media in that space as well as traveling to others to get different perspectives, and the result is that his work is as varied as the ever changing views surrounding him. A visit with Marco Luccio is not only inspiring, but it results in a deep sense of wonder and the beauty of life as each piece begins to speak and tell its own story and reminds us of the stories we have always known.

Marco Luccio
In His Studio At The Chrysler Building

A Gift Of An Impromptu Photo Shoot
With A Master In His Field
Photograph Credit Marco Luccio

A Feeling Of Being On Top Of The World
Photograph Credit Marco Luccio


Surrounded By Beauty
Photograph Credit Marco Luccio

Breathtaking Light

Revealing Breathtaking Work

A Photographer Photographed
Photograph Credit Marco Luccio


Room With A Glorious View
Photograph Credit Next Three Photos Marco Luccio


At Paul Calendrillo Gallery
New York City
Photograph Credit Next Four Photos
Journalist And Broadcaster Patricia Herrera


Jannie Susan