1 comment

Let the Rumpus Begin – An Artist’s Dwelling (8)

Today’s post is in honor of Maurice Sendak, prolific artist, illustrator, and author. Sendak is best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, first published in 1963. He is from Brooklyn, NY and was born to Jewish-Polish immigrant parents. During his childhood several of his family members were still in Europe and died during the Holocaust. He decided to become an illustrator after viewing Walt Disney’s film Fantasia at the age of twelve. To read a more complete life story and obituary, go to the New York Times, HERE. 


Author/illustrator Maurice Sendak standing by an life-size scene from his book “Where The Wild Things Are” at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Credit: James Keyser/Time Life Pictures/Getty


Actress Catherine Keener and director Spike Jonze on Maurice Sendak and Wild Things Way. The intersection commemorates where the book was written in Greenwich Village.  Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 was officially declared “Where The Wild Things Are Day” in New York City. Photo by Julienne Schaer courtesy of NYC & Company, found HERE. 

He has been quoted, during a PBS Interview, as saying, “My gods are Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Mozart. I believe in them with all my heart.” Elaborating further, he has explained that reading Emily Dickinson’s works helps him to remain calm in an otherwise hectic world: “And I have a little tiny Emily Dickinson so big that I carry in my pocket everywhere. And you just read three poems of Emily. She is so brave. She is so strong. She is such a passionate little woman. I feel better.” His work is just weird enough to be off-kilter!


An organic and tree based canopy just like Max would have! Found HERE. 

Max can’t have all the fun, here’s a room for the Maxine in your life. Under the apple tree canopy bed  features a modern romantic Scandinavian design from Sleep Therapy. I would feel like a fairy or nymph in this woodland fairy tale scene.  Image found via Etsy, HERE.

Found in Belsay Hall in Northumberland. In 2007, the abandoned Belsay castle housed an exhibition called “The Picture House”.  Artists, film directors, actors and musicians were invited to fill Belsay Hall’s empty rooms with installations to delight and amuse the visitor. The above image is from Geraldine Pilgrim who imaged a tree growing directly through a bed. 

Verdant green walls, a convex mirror, branches, stars, and rustic wood make this feel like a hidden childhood jungle. Image found HERE, originally from Toula’s, a home-and-garden boutique that is now closed in Athens, Georgia


In his New York Times obituary it is noted that Sendak’s work was the subject of critical studies and major exhibitions (recently at The Jewish Museum, in NYC); in the second half of his career, he was also renowned as a designer of theatrical sets. His art graced the writing of other eminent authors for children (Little Bear) and adults, including Hans Christian Andersen, Leo Tolstoy, Herman Melville, William Blake and Isaac Bashevis Singer.


In the 70’s some really hip parents allowed this fantastic Where The Wild Things Are room-sized mural. The paint even camouflages the door and armoire!

Whole tree architecture is a form of building refined by Roald Gundersun that works with the local ecology and economy to allow buildings to be sustainable. To read more go HERE.

 Designed by Turkish Designer Asli Tunca.

Oh, to build a childhood fort, to live in a secret and private treehouse! Must have a password to enter and NO BOYS ALLOWED. Image found HERE. 

Or perhaps you like your tree canopy beds to be pine wood and a bit more minimal and sophisticated? Image found HERE.


His work was dark, mangled, odd and yet somehow gentle and nostalgic. He Sendak grew up  lower class, Jewish,  and gay — permanently shunted to the margins of things. His images and text both celebrate and chastise humanity – the judgement on those with AIDS, the expectations of childhood, homeless children, the anxiety of separation and loss during childhood, and the dingy nightsscapes of New York. Sendak explained all with a sense of sharp humor, surrealism, observations, and imagination. His work has touched millions of children, adults, and those in between. Let the wild rumpus never end!

“And he sailed off through night and day

and in and out of weeks

and almost over a year

to where the wild things are.

There, Max leads the creatures in a frenzied rumpus before sailing home, anger spent,

to find his supper waiting, and it was still hot”

Sendak explains, “And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming wild things”, perhaps through a fantasy room of our own we can tame our “wild things” as well.


Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10a / 10b / 11 / 12 / 13 


My Week in Snapshots: 4/29/2012 – 5/6/2012

What a social butterfly I had to be this week. I usually am in a bit of a hibernation, cocoon during the work week, yet my calendar was filled with soirees, galas, parties, birthdays, and all sorts of festivities. NYC somehow aims to be celebrating something every weekend; whether it be Cinco de Mayo (margaritas, please), The Kentucky Derby (mint juleps, please), The Tribeca Film Festival (Manhattans and Wine, please), or the River to River Festival of the Arts(Micro-brewed Beers, please). Here are a few photos taken straight from my iPhone so that you can see the fêtes through mine own eyes.

1. The subway system was filled with men in seersucker suits, pinned with boutonnieres, and women in swanky cocktail dresses ready to drink juleps, bet on the trifecta, the winning thoroughbred, and to consume some bourbon. However, my favorite sartorial delights were those women who were not afraid to wear BIG floppy hats.

2. I was a little confused by the street sign that told me to walk toward the sky.

3. While doing some weekly errands at the drugstore a man was displaying his artwork along a vacant facade. His name is Teofilo Olivieri and I eavesdropped on him speaking with some potential customers. He explained that we was originally from Hoboken, NJ and I thought I overheard him explained that he uses art as a form of therapy and is inspired by the people in NYC.  Teofilo’s pieces being for only $40.00. His latest series potrays animals stenciled on old, used library books. “I’ve been very visible in New York City for the past 10 years, but the book covers have gotten the most response of any of the things I’ve worked on in my entire career,” Mr. Olivieri said.

4. My boyfriend and I were craving asian junk food (aka, our local ‘chinese food’ restaurant). When we finished our feast, we opened up the fortune cookie to reveal this odd message, “Alas! The onion you are eating is someone else’s waterlily”. Googling this phrase, it seems that this is an  an old chinese bromide expressing what we mean when we say someone’s trash is somebody else’s treasure. Oh the universality of cliches!

5. While celebrating my friend Kimberley’s birthday, we first all met at Barcade in Williasmburg to order some pints of beer, play board games, and eat some junk food. Note my nude nail (caramel, natural, and buff manicures are my new ala mode). I am eating a vegan dessert from Champs Diner where these devil’s food oreo balls were only $0.85 apiece! I also learned how to play the very addictive board game, Carcassonne (I became a medieval conquerer and territory expander).

Joe Fresh Style in Caramel, $4

Image found HERE. Please note the arcade games in the background: Paperboy, Ms. Pacman, Rampage, Punch-Out, and my personal favorite Tapper (and oh so many more!). 

6. While visiting the Marimekko flagship store on 200 Fifth Avenue, I came across the epiphanic discovery that the Finnish 1960’s print house now creates CLOTHING and APPAREL. This is epic. The swing dresses and mod shifts are classically cool. The 4,000-square-foot shop feels like one of Dr. Seuss’ quizzical world, and is complete with an instore seamstress who can create masterpieces from bolts of fabric on demand. The ubiquitous Converse sneaker brand also collaborated with the textile giant to create the ultimate canvas shoe.


Images from Marimekko U.S.

7. Right around the corner from McCarren Park, Bar Matchless in Greenpoint, Brooklyn features drinks, a live music room, DJs, dancing, pool, foosball, and food. The weekly food specials often come with a free drink token, and the food itself is quick, easy, comfort food with a twist. The place is dimly lit, has several local brews on tap, and is a quintessential divvy hangout. More than the slightly “metal” decor, I fell in love with the bathroom. Completely covered in graffiti, weird messages, band posters, endorsements, and political stickers, the walls themselves felt like a unique piece of artwork.

8. My favorite 24/7 diner also happens to be a Cuban, homestyle bar named Coppelia. On Monday, as part of this restaurant’s year-old anniversary, a mixology competition was held to discover the next cocktail to be added to the menu. The mash-up, sponsored by Yerba Buena Co., SAVEUR, Pisco Sour, and Viral Fashion, was the brainchild of GM, Ricardo Palafox. Coppelia is giving a platform for industry members to compete against each other and for the chance to see their signature cocktail featured for the next year. Week Four’s final winner was Maury Robayo, head mixologist at Rayuela and Macondo, who created the Pisco y Pimiento with Pisco Porton, Campari, lemon juice, simple syrup, grapefruit juice, egg whites, black pepper. However, the drink pictured is one of the ‘loser’ featuring rose petals, and a lemongrass, sugar rim (it was still pretty tasty, although a bit sweet).



9. I walk a little over a mile to work, every morning. My office is based in midtown east, very close to The Empire State Building, Herald Square, and other extremely touristy areas. The hubbub and traffic is sometimes overwhelming. However, on May Day (May 1st), it was even more busy than usual. Thousands of Occupy Wall Street protestors, from all over The United States, converged on Fifth Avenue to protest financial institutions, government, inequality, civil rights, and a bevy of other issues. By the end of the day more than 50 arrests were made. The protest, seeming to occur without a proper permit, froze traffic in central Manhattan and made it very impossible for work to continue for a few hours.

10. Because there were so many holidays, celebrations, and protests this week the New York Police Department (NYPD) was waiting on several subway trains to hand out tickets for drunken intoxication, urination, and other raucous violations.

How was YOUR week?


0 comment

Meet & Greet

I literally do not know how to begin to even discuss the glory that is Sonja (née Vitow…but legally her name is Sonja Robinson Vitow). Sonja recently married her high school sweetheart (Samuel Skeen…so much alliteration), and fellow member of the self-touted group, “The Good Squad” in January, at The Franklin Institute’s Planetarium, in Philadelphia, PA. Seriously though, does it get any more nerdy/hip? This combination of both uber nerdy and somehow alarmingly chic best describes the wonder of Sonja (whose nicknames include Sun Jar, Sun Yi, et. al.)

But let us (be kind and) rewind; how did Sonja and I meet? The short answer is: BANGS. No really. Sonja and I were both members and editors of a literary magazine based at The George Washington University known as Le Culte du Moi (website not updated since 2009). We actually did not like one another, in fact, we had gotten into a few fights. During the thaw of winter hiatus, and upon our return to the first lit. mag. meeting of the semester, we showed up to the event wearing THE SAME OUTFIT WITH THE SAME HAIRCUT. It was a sign from the gods above – the heavens sang, a million angels threw confetti streamers from cumulonimbus clouds, and Zeus bowled a thunderous strike. The rest, as they say, is history. Now we are as inseparable as two friends, who live in cities 230 miles apart, could possibly be (thank you Skype, Gchat, SMS). I was also a bridesmaid in her wedding (which has the high distinction of being the only wedding wherein the maids want to wear and actually REPEAT the wearing of their dresses…and the wedding was PEACOCK THEMED). Clearly her life inspires me use parentheticals overzealously.

Sonja is one of those individuals who is a a multitalented, ambidextrous, pluralistic, amalgam of a person. What the hoohaw does that mean? She speaks French, German, Spanish, and a wee bit of Norwegian. She translates poetry for fun. She writes short stories, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction (See: The Great Boston Molasses Disaster). Sonja is currently pursuing an M.F.A. at Emerson College, and has been published by The Safety Pin Review, The Meadowland Review, and Gulf Coast Magazine, she was event shouted out by the L.A. Times recently; learn more about her myriad achievements HERE.

If I am being completely candid, the only thing that I (possibly) do not like about Sonja is her weird affinity for hockey.


Name: Sonja Robinson Vitow

Location: Beantown (Boston, MA)

Job: Intern at the Boston Preservation Alliance, Graduate Assistant at Emerson College, MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Emerson College

Age: 24 (AND A HALF)

And as part of my ongoing EAT/SEE/SHOP/DO series, Sonja has dreamed up some favorites in her city: