Starting the Year & Ending it With Hope

HOPE sculpture in Manhattan by Robert Indiana

At the start of 2021, I shared art from a visit to the MOMA in “Sorbet for the Soul Series,” and I’m ending the year with a similar feeling of contemplation. Hon, here are three masterpieces that invited me to stop and study, think and feel, and to hope.

This is the last of the “Sorbet for the Soul Series,” at least for now. I hope to get back to the MOMA, the MET or any other place where creativity, inspiration and peace of mind resides. Shout out to Lyn Sirota who shared a September 13, 2019 program on TED Radio Hour NPR called “How Art Changes Us.”

Marc Chagall, The Lovers, Oil on canvas.

Gustav Klimt, Hope II, Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas.

Pablo Picasso, Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece, Oil, sand, and paper on canvas.


9/11 Who Can Forget?

Image source, Louie Lighting

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11,

Who Can Forget?

Our nation’s loss of innocence,

a class parents’ meeting at elementary school,

the nurse whispering in the principal’s ear,

one mom fleeing upon hearing the news

implementing the emergency call system,

watching annihilation in real time,

screaming and crying at the t.v.,

clinging to my three-month old baby,

rushing my triplet seven year olds home,

my son vowing to become a soldier,

praying for my husband who worked in Manhattan,

fielding concerned calls from across the country,

learning that a friend ran to the city to canvas hospitals

while her children stayed at a neighbor’s

for days,

hugging my husband when he walked in the door,

witnessing smoke curling into the heavens

from an altered skyline,

passing empty cars in parking lots,

working at a childrens boutique,

crying with customers who were dressing their children

for parents’ funerals,

learning whose spouses came home

and whose didn’t,

attending the funeral for my friend’s husband,

and recognizing how unspeakable horror

wreaks everlasting destruction

on hearts, minds and lives.

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit, Part 2

At the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit New York on Pier 36, when you exit the rooms with videos, you come across the quote, “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” This quote, and the fact that Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime, spoke to me and my writing journey. Thank you, Vincent, I am brave!

I recently Tweeted a comment from a friend. Upon hearing how hard it is to break into Kidlit, she said, “A lot of people get famous after they die.” Ummm…WHAT?! First of all, I don’t write Kidlit to become famous and, secondly, WHAT?! Was that meant as encouragement? Was she volunteering to be my “manuscript historian” and, once I depart this Earth, make sure my stories and characters see the light of day and laps of children?

Back to Vincent. Turn the corner from his quote and you see mannequins adorned in interpretive fashion. I disagree with Jason Farago, whose review “Submerged in van Gogh: Would Absinthe Make the Art Grow Fonder? in The New York Times said that the mannequins were wearing “shockingly tacky van Gogh-inspired clothing. (Where might these dresses festooned with wheat and sunflowers be appropriate? The Miss Provence pageant? Is there a Saint-Rémy drag night I don’t know about?)” Funny, but as a former student of fashion history, I enjoy seeing how designers create clothes, even if they’re made from unwearable material. A fashion exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art comes to mind; dresses made of blue and white Chinoiserie were extraordinary.

One more thing to try before you leave the exhibit is a booth where you can “hear” color. I didn’t know Van Gogh experienced chromesthesia, a condition where sound evokes different colors.

Hon, still thinking about the “better off dead” comment? Me, too. And still shaking my head.

Sorbet for the Soul, Hope

HOPE sculpture in Manhattan by Robert Indiana

This is the last of the “Sorbet for the Soul Series,” at least for now. I hope to get back to the MOMA, the MET or any other place where creativity, inspiration and peace of mind resides. Shout out to Lyn Sirota who shared a September 13, 2019 program on TED Radio Hour NPR called “How Art Changes Us.”

Marc Chagall, The Lovers, Oil on canvas.

Gustav Klimt, Hope II, Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas.

Pablo Picasso, Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece, Oil, sand, and paper on canvas.

On the Edge

Images source:

While the nation’s been on edge during this tense presidential election, Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary by visiting the actual Edge. Suspended in mid-air 100 stories up, Edge is an “outdoor sky deck” offering 360-degree views around Manhattan. Looking straight down from the indoor windows is dizzying, but amazing. Taking in the panoramic view once outside is breathtaking!

Edge is located in Hudson Yards, a new neighborhood built on top of what used to be open air over train tracks. We didn’t ascend the Vessel, interactive artwork in the form of a spiral staircase, but we walked through Hudson Yards, past The Shed towards the High Line and down to the Meatpacking District for dinner. By the time we returned to mid-town, The Empire State Building was lit up in my favorite color. Exploring a new site and walking in the city was a great distraction and a fun date!

RIP RBG, Tribute/Hallelujah, Central Synagogue

Image source: BTF Design.

Central Synagogue of Manhattan created a beautiful tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg  with the singing of Hallelujah by Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl. Her rendition is worth listening to even if you just need a few minutes to clear your mind and raise your spirits. Shout out to my dad who shared the video with me.


RIP RBG, “Brooklyn Lost a Native Daughter”

Image source: Voices of Labor on Etsy

The New York Times’ Metro reporter, John Leland wrote about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s ties to her hometown in:

The Nation Lost a Titan. Brooklyn Lost a Native Daughter.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — “Kiki” to her Brooklyn family — was a product of the borough’s public schools and synagogues. She is revered on her home ground.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a child of Brooklyn long before she was Notorious — daughter of Jewish immigrants, graduate of P.S. 238 and James Madison High School (class of 1950), cheerleader known as Kiki Bader, member of the East Midwood Jewish Center.

She lived on the first floor of a two-story house on East Ninth Street in the multiethnic Midwood neighborhood and fed her mind at the local public library branch, upstairs from a Chinese restaurant and a beauty parlor.

“She’s part of the folklore of the community,” said Joseph Dorinson, who lives in the neighborhood and has taught at James Madison. “My neighbor’s brother dated her.”

Howard Teich, founding chairman of the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative, said Justice Ginsburg resonated so profoundly with Brooklynites — the elders who followed her judicial career and the young people who loved the pop icon — because she represented the values of her block.

“It’s a place that lends itself to the values of modesty and people living with each other, and that has lasted her through her lifetime,” he said. As an emblem of pride, he added, “She’s singular in terms of who she was.”

Over the weekend, as news spread of Justice Ginsburg’s death on Friday, makeshift memorials of candles, signs, flowers and even an R.B.G. action figure went up outside James Madison High School and her childhood home. Hundreds gathered Saturday night outside the courthouse in Foley Square in Manhattan, holding candles and singing the civil rights anthem “Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed on Freedom,” and a vigil was also held outside Kings County Supreme Court. Handwritten signs in different parts of Brooklyn urged neighbors to honor her legacy by voting.

“They’ve been coming and going all weekend to pay their respects,” said Diana Brenneisen, who has lived in the justice’s old house since 1969. “They’re outside now.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state would erect a statue in her honor in Brooklyn. It will be only the fifth statue Mr. Cuomo’s administration has created since he took office in 2011.

“NY’s heart breaks with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Mr. Cuomo said on Twitter.

Over the weekend, state monuments were bathed in blue light, her favorite color.

Enterprising New Yorkers altered a subway mosaic at 50th Street to read “RUth St.” and added her initials to a street sign commemorating the rapper Notorious B.I.G.

At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the display board posted her encouragement: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

As national politicians spent the weekend debating whether to fill her seat on the Supreme Court before Election Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio honored her as a native daughter, saying, “I’m crushed that we lost an incomparable icon. A daughter of Brooklyn. A tenacious spirit who moved this country forward in fairness, equality and morality. She was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She never backed down from a fight. Tonight her hometown and world mourn.” Flags around the city flew at half-staff.




BuzzFeed Brisket Battle

Hon, guess what…

…I’m going to be in a BuzzFeed video where the subject is Jewish moms rating each other’s brisket. OY!

When it comes out in a couple of weeks, I’m either going to be laughing hysterically, crying with embarrassment, or both! If you never hear from me again, it’s because I’m hiding under a rock. Permanently! Here’s the skinny on the experience.

I heard about the opportunity for Jewish moms and brisket, and since my youngest and I have laughed while watching many a BuzzFeed video, I figured why not reach out? After learning that I had to bring a cooked and sliced brisket with me to the set, I called my mother-in-law for her recipe and the butcher for the meat.

I’ve cooked many briskets in my life, but none were as good as my my mother-in-law’s. Cecile makes a delicious brisket (along with many other dishes), but there’s one problem when asking her for a recipe—measurements! She knows the right amount of ingredients to use by eye, so you have to ask, “How much paprika should I use? A cup? A tablespoon? A teaspoon? A pinch?” Then there are the steps! So many steps!

When the brisket was cooked and cooled, Hubby got to work slicing. I carried the very-well-wrapped dish with me on the train from NJ to NY. I thought, if the train breaks down, I’ll have food for a bunch of people, but no forks!

The BuzzFeed office is cool. Really cool. Funky murals-large snack area-red-walled conference room-signs I wanted to Tweet-cool. I was older than every single employee, so when a woman walked in who looked to be about my age, I said. “You must be one of the Jewish moms!” She was.

Soon, five of us along with accompanying hubbies, uncle, and a friend were kibitzing (Yiddush for talking.) Shout out to the other moms, Helene, Jen, Marci, and Shannon, who were as nice as could be. We were called to the set one at a time to try each other’s food, but here’s the rub. The thing that makes the videos funny is when you’re a little mean about the food you’re trying.

Some of the questions asked were:

  • Do you agree to be completely honest?
  • What does this piece of brisket say about the person who made it?
  • What is this dish missing and what would you add to it?
  • What rating between 1 and 10 would you give it?
  • Would you serve this to your family?

I felt so bad after saying I would not serve one of the dishes to my family* that I said to the director, “Wait! Stop! Can I make a disclaimer?!” 

“Sure, make a disclaimer,” he said.

I looked straight into the camera. “I like everyone I met today! Please don’t take any of this personally!” 

*What I didn’t say and maybe should have, was that when my triplets plus a younger child were little, and I was perpetually exhausted and running around like a chicken with no head, any food made by someone else was wonderful! So who am I to be so picky? OY GIVALT!

I thought about the whole experience some more and, you know what? If the other moms didn’t like my brisket and wouldn’t serve it to their families, I’m okay with that because:

  1. This was all in good fun,
  2. each of our families loves our cooking and,
  3. it’s not like the winner gets an all-expense-paid vacation. You know what the winner gets? Bragging rights!

Cool Conversations on the High Line

Lubaina Himid’s life-size painted portrait.

Walking along the High Line in Manhattan recently, my daughter, niece and I came across one of High Line Art’s En Plain Air exhibits. Brightly colored doors set on railroad ties featured women we wanted to stop and meet.

Lubaina Himid, a [British] artist from Zanzibar, Tanzania, create life-size portraits cut into silhouettes that stand freely as flat sculptures. These works have a theatrical quatlity, referencing stage sets and the simplified histories that dominate our world. With Five Conversations, Himid introduces five reclaimed wooden doors from traditional Georgian townhouses paint with portraits of everyday stylish women who love talking to each other. In her signature way, Himid brings the two-dimensional medium of painting into our three-dimensional world.

En Plain Air is a group exhibition that examines and expands the tradition of outdoor painting.

I didn’t know this artist so, of course, I needed to find out more.

A pioneer of the British Black Arts Movement of the 1980s and ’90s, Lubaina Himid has long championed marginalized histories. Her drawings, paintings, sculptures, and textile works critique the consequences of colonialism and question the invisibility of people of color in art and the media. While larger historical narratives are often the driving force behind her images and installations, Himid’s works beckon viewers by attending to the unmonumental details of daily life. Bright, graphic, and rich in color and symbolic referents, her images recall history paintings and eighteenth-century British satirical cartoons. In many works, the presence of language and poetry—sometimes drawn from the work of writers such as Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill, or James Baldwin—punctuates the silence of her images with commands, instructions, or utterances that are at once stark and tender.

Himid was born in Zanzibar in 1954 but moved to the UK with her mother, a textile designer, when she was only four months old. Himid said, “I was living with a woman who was constantly looking at the colour of things, at other people’s clothes. And we were constantly in shops, and we weren’t at shops buying things. We were in shops looking.”

My daughter and niece.

Check out the way the arches and path create a one point perspective.

I call this “City Jewelry” since the windows are diamonds.

Camp: Notes on Fashion Part 2

Ashish, 2017

Hon, here are more of my favorites from the collection of bizarre and humorous clothes on exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” (running through September 8).

And accessories…

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