Sunday, December 29, 2019

An Abundant Life - Dream Weaver

I met the Artist John Fathom in 2016 at the Cast Iron Lofts in Jersey City where he had curated a show for that year's Jersey City Art and Studio Tour. Another Artist friend had invited me to see her work there, and though I was expecting it to be a lovely afternoon, I was so thoroughly amazed by the space and the way the show had been curated in it that I asked who I could talk to so that I could find out more and write about it. I was introduced to John, and as we talked I found out that he was the Art Director of 660 Studios, an Artist collaborative space that he had started more than ten years before. When I visited him there, I was not prepared for the scope and vision of what he had created, and since that time I have been an avid fan of his work, writing and posting about him whenever I have the opportunity.

John is an Artist and a Designer with a background in industrial design, but he is more than that. He's a visionary with the courage to continue to do the work of creating a habitable and inspiring environment in places that other people don't understand or see the possibilities of. He has the ability to not only envision what can be, but to install and curate and build, using recycled and reclaimed materials and bringing out the beauty and structural integrity of a building or any indoor or outdoor space. I wrote about him at the end of 2016 and again in early 2017 when he had another show, and visited with him at 660 Studios for events, performance art, music and spoken word evenings he created and performed in. When I met him my own creative life was inspired and began to grow in so many ways. For a number of years I had been focused on youth and community development work and the creative work that I had done in the past was channeled into that area. After meeting John it was as if something that had been lying dormant awoke, and I was reminded of why I was drawn to a life of art and creativity in the first place. What he had created at 660 Studios, and what he creates in every space he works in, is something that is rarely done. He creates with a vision for making a universe in a space while still honoring the space or place and its own intrinsic beauty and form, and when we visit we are inspired by what we experience above our own imaginings. There have been so many people he has inspired and encouraged and given space and a creative home to, and he continues to inspire me and so many others with his talent, craftmanship and passion for creative life.

Over the past year, his space at 660 has been undergoing renovations, and though he has not had that space to work in, true to his never ending creative spirit he has been working on a project in another location to build a backyard garden and sacred space at a friend's home in Asbury Park. Beginning as a plan to build a deck, with his ever creative spirit that embraces the beauty and art within the environments he inhabits he began to do other work in the house itself to bring to life the inherent artistic sensibilities there and to give new life and inspiration to other areas. It is one of the admirable qualities that he has that he does not impose structural ideas into spaces or create without an eye for being serviceable and practical. The beauty he creates can be lived in and used, is comfortable and sustainable, bringing something of a feeling of having been there always while being entirely something new of his own design. I've been watching his progress through his posts on Instagram, and I visited with him there on Saturday. It seems perfect timing to have seen him in this new place, surrounded by the world he is creating, on one of the last days of not only this year but this decade, for it was in this past decade that I found my focus shifting for a time away from my own creative life and it was through the inspiration of meeting John Fathom that it began to shift back again. When I met him I had not thought that anyone like him still existed in this world that has at times seemed to completely commodify art. John Fathom is one of a kind, a master craftsman, a visionary, and a pure creative force who through his own constant seeking of new ways to give voice to the universe inside him gives life to everyone and every place around him.

John Fathom
In 2016
At Cast Iron Lofts
837 Jersey Avenue

The Bar He Designed And Built
For The Opening And Closing Celebrations
Using Some Of His Signature Pieces
Lightboxes And Sustainably Sourced And Recycled Materials

The Artist Collective Space He Created
At 660 Studios
660 Grand Street
Jersey City, New Jersey

In Asbury Park With His Beautiful Dog Bulleit
Where He Is Creating
A New Sacred Space

His Visionary Moon Gate
With Solar Powered Lights


Jannie Susan

Sunday, December 22, 2019

An Abundant Life - Fresh Sustainability

At the Boutique Design Show at the Javits Center this year there was a booth that stood out from the crowd of beautiful displays because there were so many lush and luscious looking greens all around it. I am a gardener and a plant lover, and so I naturally gravitated toward the growing plants, and what I saw not only delighted me, but also amazed me and kept me talking to the company's Sales & Development Representative, Patrick Trevor, for quite some time. Farmshelf is not only a place that can help restaurants and school cafeterias, stores and other hospitality businesses have fresh greens and herbs year round, they also have a product that is attractive, streamlined and beautiful, and their growing containers are pleasant to look at while making eating healthy look fun and sleekly glamorous.

As someone who has taught nutrition to youth and adults of all backgrounds, I know the challenges that exist to helping people find food that is healthy for them to eat as well as encouraging them to eat the healthy choices that are available. But with a product like Farmshelf, eating healthy looks like something anyone would want to do. The greens are so fresh and inviting and the herbs have such a refreshing and flavorfully rich palate that it's exciting to think about introducing the company to so many people, as along with the work I have done in nutrition and wellness I also know Chefs and Designers and others in the Hospitality Industry who would enjoy knowing about a company as forward thinking as Farmshelf.

With engineering and design qualities that are top of the line, Farmshelf could easily fit into any decor. Personally I'd love to have one in my own vintage and retro style kitchen because classic design can always find a home anywhere. In addition to the excellent design, the output of each unit makes the possibilities for inspiration nearly endless with each unit yielding approximately 4-5 pounds of produce per week and more than fifty different leafy greens, herbs and edible flowers available for growing. For year round sustainable fresh-picked and healthy produce, there's a perfect fit for every need at Farmshelf.

At The Boutique Design Show
At The Javits Center

And On-Site At Different Locations
Photographs Courtesy Of The Farmshelf PR Team
ICR Strategic Communications & Advisory


Jannie Susan

Sunday, December 15, 2019

An Abundant Life - Dream Big

About a year and a half ago the Artist Joel Liscio invited me to a group show that he was part of at 313 Gallery in Jersey City. I had been to 313 once before, for another group show, and I liked the way it felt there, more of a party than traditional openings usually are, with lots of people spilling out onto the sidewalk and lots of conversations happening all around the platters of food on the tables and coolers filled with beer and wine and juice and seltzer. Joel is a good friend and a wonderful Artist, and so I made a point of going and looked forward to seeing the other work that was part of the show.

On that particular day Joel had told me that Jamie who was the Curator of the show would also be having a pig roast, and as I remembered only slightly where the gallery was, as I walked along the sidewalk I looked for the familiar plume of smoke. When I was near the gallery I saw it, and also an even larger group of people than before, because as I soon found out when I walked inside, some of the group of Artists showing that day had traveled long distances to be there. I began looking at the work and started talking with some of the Artists, and then at one point after taking photographs of Joel and his pieces that were on a wall close to the entrance, I turned around and saw the paintings of another Artist diagonally across the room. I don't remember if I walked toward it first or if Joel was leading the way, but I do remember him saying, "Now this guy is amazing." And he was right because in front of me was a wonderland of color and imagery, very intricately created designs that were painted with broad strokes and powerful colors that also showed an intensely focused attention to detail. It was astonishing work, like nothing I'd ever seen but reminiscent of some of the most beautiful figurative work imaginable. It was also playful and it had a dreamlike quality, with the kind of images that I remembered from some of my brother's lavishly illustrated comic books and his own drawings that told stories from his own inspiration. There was also a sense of graffiti art and mural art, but this was something altogether different and unique because the art that I was looking at was painted on surf boards, worlds within worlds on a very specifically shaped non-traditional canvas.

That afternoon I stayed quite a while to talk to the Artist who had created these masterpieces, CW Waddell. I had been planning on staying only a short time and leaving with my friend Joel, but when I found out that CW was not from Jersey City and that he'd be going back home to Virginia Beach after the opening, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to find out more about him. His work was so beautiful and the vision so authentically his own, and as we talked and I told him that I worked with Artists and that I'd like to try to help him find a space to come back for another show, we exchanged information through Instagram, and continued to keep in touch.

CW told me that he had started painting to focus on something positive after a breakup. In his own words he explained, "I've been around art/tattoos my whole life. Just got into doing it myself a few years back. One of my first tattoos my buddy did and I tried to create it as a painting! I started on surfboards because I liked how smooth the fiberglass was. I had a lot of trial and error, other artist friends saying my procedure probably wouldn't work!! I had a vision and made it work. I'm a firm believer in karma, faith and everything happens for a reason!! And here I am."

When he sent me a message a few weeks ago that he was going to be back at 313 Gallery, I scheduled myself to make sure to be there for his opening. In the time since we met, his work has grown, and though I'm still partial to the surfboards there were other newly inspiring pieces that were created from other shapes of wood that he cuts and designs himself before painting. CW Waddell is one of those rare people who continues to astonish. While we spoke he described how he is always learning new things from other Artists and that for him one of the most exciting and enjoyable experiences is to be able to share time with Artists and learn and be inspired. As I've written in these pages before, there is so much beautiful and inspiring public art in Jersey City, and visiting with CW was a reminder of how much of an adventure it is to walk and see the beautiful murals that are part of the fabric of the walls all around because of his own excitement at describing what he had been seeing. And CW himself is a part of it, though he calls another city his home. It's as if the dreams that he dreams have woven themselves into the fabric and have made dreams that are larger than life come alive.

CW Waddell
At 313 Gallery
313 Third Street
Jersey City, New Jersey


Jannie Susan

Sunday, December 8, 2019

An Abundant Life - Hand Crafted

The first time I tasted one of the craft brews from Departed Soles, I was at Antique Bar & Bakery in Hoboken for Thanksgiving. At the time I was writing a blog about the restaurant, and when I arrived to take photographs of Executive Chef Paul Gerard preparing the meal with his staff, he had one of the waitresses bring me a beer in a perfect glass. As I've written in these pages before, Chef Paul Gerard is the art of perfection himself in everything he creates, including the design in his restaurant and everything served in it. But at the time I was just getting to know him, and though I knew that if he had something in his restaurant it would be very good, I didn't yet fully understand that in order for it to be there it had to be extraordinary. I'm not much of a beer drinker when it comes to my own choice - I tend to like things with flavor and richness and depth, and many times the average beer that's available at bars and restaurants and events is just not that exciting to me, and so I opt for wine or even just water if average beer is all there is. But of course this was Antique Bar & Bakery where nothing is average and everything is outstanding, and part of the meal that day involved the carefully selected craft brews from Departed Soles. I don't know what I had that day because it was brought to me at my table, but it was one of the most delicious beers I've had and it was memorable. The meal itself was exquisite and the best Thanksgiving dinner I've ever had, my own favorites made with the skill and perfection that Chef Paul Gerard always exhibits. I wrote about that meal in my blog, and afterward had it in my mind that I wanted to find Departed Soles, and then one day when I was planning to pick up some craft beer to share with a craft brew aficionado friend who was coming to town, I stopped by Bucket & Bay at 150 Bay Street in Jersey City for a scoop of gelato, and noticed the sign for Departed Soles next door and the rest as they say is history.

Departed Soles beer is beyond any that I've ever tried, and because of my aficionado friend I've had access to some exceptional craft and local brews from many different areas over the years. The Brewmaster Brian Kulbacki is always busy dreaming up and creating fun, inventive and superbly delicious blends of ingredients and flavors, and he has also created the first New Jersey Craft Beer with 100% Gluten free ingredients. On a daily basis they have so many different varieties, and though I have my favorites I'm always trying and discovering something new. Every batch they make is able to please the most discerning palates, and they also make sure that they're creating richly flavorful brews that anyone could love. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and with the help of Brant who I met on that first day and have relied on the advice of ever after, I was able to find several brews that my friend enjoyed so much that when she came back to town for another visit she asked if we could go there. Having such an amazing place as part of the regular every day life of Jersey City has added to what I already have seen and experienced before - Jersey City Rocks and the people and places there add up to a culinary and creative adventure like no other.

Departed Soles Brewing Company
150 Bay Street
Jersey City, New Jersey

Artwork By New Jersey Artist MustArt

 A Taste Of Departed Soles At Home

And Away From Home
Paired With Misunderstood Whiskey


Perfect In Any Season


Jannie Susan