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My Engagement!

On October 20, 2012 Michael secretly planned to propose to Keren (me) in an art gallery in Chelsea, NYC.  He wanted to celebrate my love of art and our many memories walking through museums and exhibitions together. Mike and I first moved into an apartment together almost two years ago, and our apartment felt like a home once we began collecting art. I also have vivid memories of our many vacations and the museums in cities we visited – learning about Surrealism at the Vancouver Art Gallery! Learning about the Medici’s at the Musée Maillol in Paris! Watching performance art at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid! We live and explore each other through cultural experience.

Yolanda Sanchez, Wherever you are is Called Here, 2012

Yolanda Sanchez, Wherever you are is Called Here, 2012. Oil on canvas, 48 x 96 in.

Yolanda Sanchez, The Absent Mirror, 2012

Yolanda Sanchez, The Absent Mirror, 2012. Oil on canvas, 52 x 42 in.

None of the galleries would allow Michael to rent their space. Some would not allow food near the canvases and others did not have the date available. Feeling dismayed, Mike vented to his local tailor and stylist Casey Bickley, from Michael Andrews Bespoke, during a pants hemming.

What kismet! Casey knew of a fellow whose mom owned a gallery and pulled some strings. Kathryn Markel Fine Arts agreed to the surprise. With the help of Alex, one of my fiance’s best friends from undergrad, Michael bought easels and interspersed pictures of Keren and Michael’s travels between the original paintings by Yolanda Sanchez, whose work was showing at the time.

Keren thought she was going to a work event until Michael started getting irrationally nervous. Michael sweated through his shirt and had to change before the event. He also could not even answer the most basic questions relating to the work event, “where is the event?”; “who is hosting the evening?” She knew something was up only moments before the big reveal when Michael started shaking (erratically) in the elevator. It was endearing.

Walking into the pristine, white space, Keren noticed that the entire room was empty and filled with photos of the couple. It took me a few moments to make sense of the scene – for a split second she thought that the artist had created an exhibition about her! Michael got down on one knee (uttered a beautifully prepared speech) and proposed surrounded by paintings by Sanchez for her work Meditations on the Between (press release can be found here). Thank goodness I was wearing something vaguely fancy and had recently been convinced to get a manicure! Had I known about the surprise, I probably would have dressed a wee bit differently, knowing how many photos I was about to be thrust into!

Mike and Keren Wedding Watercolor

Here’s a watercolor of Michael and me created by Danny Brito!

Keren and Mike at the Engagement Party

Yes, my sister did make us wear these ridiculous t-shirts! At least black is slimmimg!

Keren & Mike are Engaged!

The newly engaged couple!

Keren, Shari and Mom (Amy)

Keren, Moshe (Dad), Jesse, Maryanne and Roger

Keren, Shari and Mike

Michael had one more trick up his sleeve. Family and friends from Boston,Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. came in for the event. Surrounded by loved ones, a small gathering followed. Knowing my love of cheese platters and grape leaves, he also had catering from Zabar’s. Very New York!

Sanchez  writes of her work and mission statement, “My work is a gathering of my awareness of being and my experiences of moving with and living among other beings, places and things.   It is my desire to become a more ‘finely tuned observer’ and to live more in the moment.  Making art for me is a way of being present in the world; it is an act of attention.  And through this attention, I give back and offer praise to the world.  As such, my work is celebratory, expanding, opening, and about offering pleasure.”  Her art will forever hold a special place in my heart, I got engaged in front of her ethereal, bright and colorful paintings. Her canvases are dripping (literally) with emotions and sensations. As Wesley Grissom from Arbus Magazine writes, “Yolanda Sánchez is a figurative gardener. She doesn’t grow fruits, vegetables or flowers outside her Miami Beach home. Instead, the artist imbues vitality into allegorical gardens on canvas inside her studio.Brilliant blooms of pigment burst from her abstract paintings like clumps of crape myrtle blossoms tangled with verdurous sweet potato vines.”

Yolanda Sanchez, What was said to the Rose (That Made it Open), 2012

Yolanda Sanchez, What was said to the Rose (That Made it Open), 2012. Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in.

Sanchez was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States in 1960. She obtained a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1979. Later she acquired her BFA and subsequently, an MFA from Yale University, where she studied with the British painter, John Walker. Yolanda is a Fulbright scholar.

The artist explains, “There is no story to be told, just simply a desire to awaken. My work, in general, is a search for re-enchantment, for a way to reach below the surface of things, to find that point of connection with life. ” How apropos because, on October 20, 2012, the day I became engaged to my soul-mate, an entire world awakened to celebrate my personal point of connection, my fiance.  Her subjective and explosive canvases are filled with pregnant thoughts, what-ifs, dreams, and promises. Each stroke a possibility.

Yolanda Sanchez, Midsummer Magic, 2012 Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm)

Yolanda Sanchez, Wanderings #1, 2012. Oil on canvas, 41 x 29 in.

Yolanda Sanchez, Wanderings #1, 2012 Oil on canvas, 41 x 29 in. (104.1 x 73.7 cm)

Yolanda Sanchez, Wanderings #2, 2012. Oil on canvas, 41 x 29 in.

Michael worked with a jewelry designer in Boston, MA to reset the diamond that is a family heirloom from Morocco in the 1880’s. The diamond has been worn by four women prior to me, including Michael’s mother. This history and character is incredibly important to me. At one point the diamond was a pair of earrings, then later a solitaire ring.  The stone is a brilliant, round cut. My wonderful engagement ring has a rounded, square halo of smaller diamonds surrounding the center stone. It is art deco inspired. Not all halo rings are created equal. In order to achieve the halo look, most designs use inner metal prongs to hold the diamonds. Another option is to cut, groove, or notch the diamonds to fit together.

Rounded, Square Halo Engagement Ring. Rounded, Square Halo Engagement Ring.

Halos and cluster rings have been around since before the Victorian age. Famously, Princess Diana had one decades ago! 

My proposal was quite literally a “work of art!” Now off to plan my wedding…

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Artists & Fleas

Established in 2003, Artists & Fleas Artist, Designer & Vintage Market is a weekly Williamsburg Brooklyn indoor market (Located in a large early 1930s manufacturing warehouse in the heart of Williamsburg’s North Side) where emerging and independent artists, designers, vintage collectors and DIYers can showcase their wares, set up shop and meet their market. It’s a unique destination where consumers can interact and buy directly from the source.

The shadows of midday pass over the entrance to the flea market as a passerby has a smoke break.

Aren’t shadows sneaky? Isn’t the sun strange? Here I am snapping photos in nearly the same spot, at a different time of day. 

Delicate, vintage wedding dresses and prom delights hang in neutral shades.

Part designer showcase, part maker’s market, this pop-up will host over 30 independent creators and sellers of jewelry, art, design, home accessories, vintage clothing, and all things indie, funky, Brooklyn and bespoke from both Artists & Fleas’ 9 years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the larger creative community. In addition, the market will play host to an eclectic mix of weekly programming led by independent designers and artists open to the public.

Now in its seventh year, the flea market has done so successfully that it has expanded its offerings to Chelsea Market for a pop-up event! I adore flea markets for both their visual appeal and their ability to foster true customer bonding. It is always wonderful to see goods and wares displayed exactly how store owners want; the browsing experience is greatly enhanced by knowing that items were personally curated for the market event.

Punk, hardcore, wicked, whatever adjective or descriptor one uses, the jewelry still has edge from FSMNYC

 The ever changing array of customers, clients, and vendors is updated biweekly. Sometimes the space even offers live music and a DJ. Even if your latest paycheck has not arrived (and you can’t shop QUITE yet) the meandering is supremely gratifying.
Some shops include Brooklyn Charm (a perennial favorite that makes one-of-a-kind charms on the spot), The Blue Hound, Cynthia Rybakoff (modern vintage jewelry with a pop culture twist), GoLLY (one of a kind screen prints), QP & Monty (a veritable, vintage treasure trove), Paste (limited edition lithographs), however the pièce de résistance (in my humble opinion) was Rifle + Radford.
Although Radford is Melanie’s maiden name, her business’ title is a phenomenal way to stay attached to one’s familial roots AND to use alliteration. Who doesn’t need a little R&R?
Cowhide, agate, coral, glass, books, and a fish print. What more do you need, really?
Rifle + Radford is Brooklyn-based, Southwest-inspired design studio specializing in eclectic collections of handcrafted heritage jewelry, clothing and salvaged antiques, vintage housewares and home decor accents. The first thing that struck me about Melanie’s display area was how beautifully and exactly placed each item was. The taupe colors of old maps mingled seamlessly with the intense purples of minerals and gems. Feathers and antlers looked natural sitting on mechanical bar stools. The whole display was a study in editing.
I’ll take personalized stationery and an antler wrapped in yarn, please! 
Southwestern Flair! 
The second thing that struck me was the owner’s killer style. I have never seen such a perfect choice of rings (and on the proper finger! ring placement is a science…).  I spoke with Melanie a bit and asked her exactly HOW she found her items, we discussed my family’s history in the antiques industry, but also her knowledge of RIFLING (not the usual “gun barrel” definition, this is what she calls searching for her inventory).  Some of her items were antique or vintage, some were handcrafted and new, and yet others were a combination of the two, a re-purposing of worlds.
Whatever this case used to be; a display for jewelry, a cufflinks holder, the bottom of a cash register, or an organizer, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that now it is a makeshift holder for some of the most neatly packaged earrings, ever. Can we TALK about those TURQUOISE AVENTURINE TEARDROPS?
Are you as touched by the charming packaging as I am? Oh an ombre amethyst slice on my ear or neck! Click HERE for more. 
No shortage of gemstones, birthstones, and gold plating. 
My sneaky, voyeuristic photo features the creative director helping customers. Look at those old filing cabinet drawers topped with shadow boxes (secret: I knew these boxes were from West Elm, so she and I got to talking about our mutual design loves…)
If you were to become a designer, antique collector, or creative director, what would you call your business? How would your products be themed? Rifle + Radford has her vibe and brand down pat.