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Urban Arts Partnership Celebrates 25 Years of Creating Arts Education Programs

Mable Yiu

Amidst announcements that funding for the arts may soon disappear, arts and education nonprofit Urban Arts Partnership celebrated its 25th anniversary at Cipriani Wall Street on Wednesday, March 15th. Urban Arts Partnership aims to close the achievement gap in underserved public schools via arts-integrated educational programming.

Programs include The Academy, extracurricular art programming for high school students designed to promote individual voice development, social justice, and college readiness; Fresh Prep, a program leveraging hip-hop to help students who have failed state standardized testing pass the test; and Adobe Youth Voices, a program presented in partnership with Adobe training educators to incorporate technology and media into their lessons; among many others.

On the red carpet at the 25th anniversary benefit, attendees spoke of the importance the arts play in education. Said UAP co-founder, actress, and emcee of the night Rosie Perez, “[Arts education] is effective because it’s kinetic learning. You’re learning with all of your senses. You’re not just sitting and listening, and trying to memorize what you’re being told—you’re getting up and participating and using your critical thinking, and your creative thinking.”

Actress Yolonda Ross provided personal examples of how music has always helped her learn and retain information, from learning multiplication tables from Schoolhouse Rock as a child, to using rhythm and song to help her memorize lines for a role. “When I break down scripts, I break them down rhythmically…I remember dialogue in that way—kinda sing-songy,” she said.

Other notable attendees included model Ashley Graham—who was also one of the honorees of the night—singer Andra Day, and comedian Cecily Strong.

Looking forward, the nonprofit aims to grow and expand the types of programs offered. Ms. Perez specifically spoke about expanding their arts-integrated technology offerings, including introducing a program to teach students coding by creating video games.

Growth in terms of cities reached is another major priority. “What we really want to do is have these programs in every state if possible,” she said.

By Meena Lee

Photos courtesy of Urban Arts Partnership

Perrier-Jouët & Andrew Kudless' Upcoming Art Installation at DesignMiami/

Mable Yiu

It’s November, which means a few things in New York: 1) We are finally experiencing some east coast fall weather, 2) The holidays are coming very very soon, and 3) New Yorkers will be flocking to Miami at the end of the month for all of the big art and design fairs. For Perrier-Jouët, the iconic champagne house founded in 1811, their main focus of the month is number three—preparing for their art installation at DesignMiami/. 

This year, Perrier-Jouët is teaming up with designer and architect, Andrew Kudless, for an art installation that combines things the house has always prided themselves with—craft, heritage, nature and art. Art has always been incredibly important to Perrier-Jouët, as seen with their widely-popular Belle Epoque collections. While each year they have commissioned an artist to create an art installation at DesignMiami/ since 2012, this year’s partnership with Kudless—who’s based in San Francisco—marks their first year working with an American designer, rather than one from Europe. As said by the maison’s Creative Director, Axelle De Buffevent, “We were super happy to bring an American designer to Miami for the first time. For us, it’s taking a new angle, a new direction. It creates another point of tension.”

Having started the discussion for this year’s installation 16 months ago, Perrier-Jouët and Kudless are now in the final stages of putting everything together. Again and again, the idea of combining craft and technology comes up in our meeting with De Buffevent. In one example, she discusses using technology as an enhancement in the current champagne-making process: “We still make champagne the same way we did in 1811. We bring technology in, but the making is the same exact way. Some things were handmade, but now we have some handmade and some mechanically turned.”

Trained as an architect, Kudless is interested in the materials and systems within architecture—the thread that connects paintings, drawings, furniture, buildings and cities. His practice, called Matsys, stands for material systems, which shows how “everything that is made or is natural is this interaction between materials, geometry behavior and performance.” He notes that the project was inspired by a few things: “The original proposal went back to looking at some of the work of the Art Nouveau period—I wanted to look more into trends that connected them all. One, for example, was the curving line, embodied in the paintings in women’s hair or grape vines… There’s this vitality that sometimes is quite abstract and sometimes quite literal—you see it across all pieces. So I wanted to create something with strands, how they are separate and also bundled together. [Essentially] different scales within the exhibit that share the same DNA.”

Because there are so many booths within the fair and it can feel pretty hard to soak everything in, Kudless makes it a point for the installation to create a moment of pause, seclusion and rest from the overwhelming aspect of the fair. He wanted to create a “secret garden or forest,” while showcasing four elements: a screen, table, bench, and ice bucket. The ice bucket is most connected to the champagne-making process in that it utilizes leftover Chardonnay grape skins, dried and ground into a powered form and put through a 3D printer. And that again, is how they are combining technology, nature, craft and art to create something innovative, interesting and beautiful. 

Kudless’ installation can be viewed at DesignMiami/, November 29th to December 4th, and will eventually make its way back to the Perrier-Jouët house in France.

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Perrier-Jouët

Q&A with Artist Kristin Simmons

Mable Yiu

New York City-based artist Kristin Simmons is known for drawing inspiration from the city and "the idea of capitalist desire and consumption." Here, we discussed how she got her start in art and what her plans are for 2017 (which will be here before we know it!). 

Your art is so witty and usually has something to say about today's society whether about politics, capitalism, drugs or guns. How did you find your "style" of art? 

I think my style found me! I am really interested in the idea of capitalist desire and consumption; wanting/needing/having/getting/lusting etc., which I think are endemic to American culture. I was influenced from an early age by Pop artists such as Warhol, Johns, Lichtenstein, and Wesselmann. I remember being thirteen years old and seeing the Rosenquist retrospective at the Guggenheim and thinking "Wow—I want to do that." I want people to experience how art can consume and simultaneously seduce the viewer.

How has living in New York City influenced both you and your art?

The dichotomy of when you are a child vs. adult is very blurred when you grow up in New York City. You are exposed to a lot at an early age (shootings on the evening news, dolls that look like "trophy wives," and therapy or medication as the go-to solution for any minor imperfection). I became interested in looking at these cultural anomalies as a young adult by executing them in a provocative and alluring way through bold typography, color, images and found objects. 

You studied Studio Art and Art History at Columbia University—what was that experience like? 

I loved my experience at Columbia. To be at the center of the "art world" as a student where you have access to the most renowned faculty, resources and museums is an invaluable asset and advantage. I am truly grateful for my time there. If I could do it again, I wouldn't change a thing. 

Before you became a full-time artist, you were working in advertising. How has your lifestyle changed since then, and what has stayed the same? 

I always saw advertising as the corporate intersection of business and creativity, which has obviously inspired my art. When I was working in the ad world, I would get up early or stay up late (and sometimes both!) to make art in my free time. My schedule now is just as intense, since I am pursuing my MFA at The School of Visual Arts, freelancing for clients, and continuing to create personal work on a daily basis.

What is a typical day like for you? 

Oh my goodness, I am not sure if I can call any day typical! But I'll give it my best shot...I usually wake up around 7, respond to emails, check Instagram and other visual sources I love to peruse for inspiration, then get up and out the door by 8. I usually have anywhere between 3-7 hours of graduate classes and work to do on commission projects, and then I try and dedicate 3-4 hours to making my personal art. I like to get to bed early, which is no surprise to anyone who knows me. I need A LOT of sleep. I enjoy doing my reading and research on projects later in the evening before bed—it's a nice way to wind down and get ready to tackle the next day. 

You were just at the Affordable Art Fair a few weeks ago. Was that your first time exhibiting at an art fair and do you plan on being at any other ones soon? 

Yes, this was my first time exhibiting at The Affordable Art Fair. I was fortunate enough to work with Barbara Cartategui (of Soraya Cartategui Fine Arts) who did a wonderful job promoting my work—a large number of my pieces [were] sold, which I was thrilled about. I am in another show focusing specifically on my print work at The ICP from November 3rd to November 6th.

What are some of your upcoming projects/plans for 2017? 

I definitely plan to continue working in a similar style and focusing on consumer and advertising iconography. I'm interested specifically in looking at 80's culture (music, technology, politics, film, medicine etc.) and how that has influenced the millennial generation. In terms of medium, I will continue to print and paint, but I have some ideas for 3D objects or "combines" that are starting to come together. 

See more of Kristin Simmons' work through her website and Instagram

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Kristin Simmons

Questions, Answers & Coffee with Dancer Julian MacKay

Mable Yiu

We sat down with 18-year-old dancer Julian MacKay at Mille Feuille Bakery to discuss his career over a cup of coffee. At 11 years old, MacKay moved from his hometown in Montana to Moscow to join the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. He became the first American to earn an upper school degree in Russia, and is now the youngest soloist to dance at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. If you think that's already a lot, he’s just been signed by IMG for modeling and talent.

How were you discovered by IMG?

IMG found me on Instagram and wanted to sign me for talent & modeling, which was unexpected because it wasn’t something I’d been going for. I’d never heard of IMG, so when I received a random message on Instagram, I was skeptical. Nonetheless, I ended up going to the agency in London. It’s really interesting how you can use a platform such as dance or ballet to seek out other opportunities, like modeling.

When you first went to Russia at age 11, were you familiar with the language?

I only knew one word which meant “a little bit”. I was very young, and it was the sound for trains (“choot choot”), so I answered “choot choot” to everything. Slowly but surely, I gained more knowledge of the language. Knowing Russian and being bilingual opens the brain to new possibilities -- it definitely helps you know more about the world.

How were you recruited into the Royal Ballet?

I went to Bolshoi [Ballet Academy] when I was 11 and spent six years there. I was the first American to graduate with a Russian diploma. After I graduated when I was 17, I went to a ballet competition in Switzerland [Prix de Lausanne], where I won an offer to participate in an apprenticeship at the Royal Ballet. I went and really enjoyed it, but noticed that you had to wait a long time to dance advanced roles. I was already able to dance the soloist roles because of my Russian training, but knew I’d have to wait three or four years to attain them in London.

I decided to take a soloist opportunity I was offered at Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Usually people don’t get to skip steps like that -- it’s definitely been a crazy ride so far. In terms of my career, I was only able to envision what I wanted to be because I saw what my sisters were doing -- they were already ballerinas in Europe when I went to Bolshoi. That’s the only reason I was able to see how to pursue dance and become successful with it.

What’s your favorite place that you’ve lived?

I love St. Petersburg. It’s beautiful and there are canals everywhere. You can rent speedboats pretty cheaply, and a driver will drive you around the canals -- it’s quite fun.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not busy dancing and modeling?
I love to skateboard. It’s a great way to learn your way around. I don’t like walking that much -- I’m a dancer, so walking can get weird with my hips.

Is there anything you can share about your future acting opportunities?

I have a lot of exciting things coming up. It’s something I definitely want to pursue because it’s so close to dance and ballet; just another way to express myself.

Your Teen Vogue video was incredible -- you’re extremely talented.

Thank you! It’s definitely been a journey. There were a lot of times when things shouldn’t have worked out, but I stayed focused on the future. There were times in school when I told myself I couldn’t do it, but it never really mattered, because I knew that I had to. I realized that the little things that I told myself I couldn’t do didn’t mean all that much.

The Teen Vogue video was shot in Moscow by Charles Thompson. It was winter in Russia; it was freezing. Moscow is an amazing city. Because I grew up there, it feels like a home away from home. It’s very business oriented, whereas St. Petersburg is more artistic, like New York. I love Montana though; it’s always home. We have chickens, rabbits and two dogs. It’s definitely out there in the wilderness.

It’s interesting that you’ve lived in so many places and can say good things about all of them.

Even if I don’t like something, I’ll figure out a way to enjoy it so that I can get something out of it. For example, the winters in Moscow were always really cold. I’d still laugh though, because I’d see the backs of women walking on ice in really high stilettos, and then they’d turn around and be holding babies in their arms. It’s mind blowing.

Do you have performances every night during the season?

I’m not necessarily performing every night, but definitely every other night. It’s been difficult to learn different roles and be dancing them at the same time. Everything’s new to me. The best thing I did was relax and realize that I could actually do this stuff. I know what I’m doing when I’m on stage, but it tends to be more in my head. The body follows the mind.

Do you sleep?

Yes! Sleeping is very important. Especially when I get home late from a show and it’s 11:30pm, and the next day I have class at 9am. When you’re really exhausted, it’s pretty easy to sleep. More sleep is always good.

Do you know where you want to see yourself in the future?

It’s difficult to say. I’m 18, so I don’t know what opportunities I’ll have in the future, but right now it’s going great. Ballet is quite a young career. By the time you’re 40 (if you make it that long), you have to retire because classical ballet is too hard on the back. I’m interested in seeing where I can take these high energy things, including modeling, with me as I get older. I’m going to school in Moscow to get my masters degree in the arts and learning how to stage a ballet. I get bored quite quickly, so the more challenges I have, the better.

By Matt Bernstein


The Intrigue of Lartigue: A Response to Lartrigue’s Year in Color

Mable Yiu

An icon in the world of photography, Jacques Henri Lartigue is most commonly associated with the black-and-white images of his early career. Beginning at the age of eight, Lartigue photographed his family and friends playing outside of his home in Courbevoie, France. As he grew, so too did the scope of his pictorial inspiration, as he became interested in shooting sports events--an experience that would later contribute to the techniques he used in capturing the motion of automobile races and early aviation. Though Lartigue took almost 120,000 photographs over the course of his life, only about forty percent of his work is in color. Martine d’Astier and Martine Ravache explore this dimension of Lartigue’s art and how it consumed him later in his life in “Lartigue: Life In Color.” 

The book touches on the interesting irony of Lartigue’s work, something that Amsterdam’s Foam Fotografiemuseum highlighted in its exhibition earlier this year. Though the artist’s fame is largely attributed to his black-and-white work, he was more intimately connected to the idea of color. As a matter of fact, Lartigue was at the forefront of color photography when the Autochrome Lumière process was first introduced in 1903. Ravache affirms that “this confluence explains how he was able to capture the “revolution” of future seeing before anyone else.” 

Color photography was initially met with great resistance, as it was prohibitively expensive, unestablished, and seen as a “commercial obligation imposed by the illustrated press” that true artists wouldn’t dare to attempt. Given that many of his contemporaries held this belief, it is unique that Lartigue boldly entered the realm of color without hesitation. This lack of calculation or consideration of outside influences is characteristic of Lartigue’s work, as he created on his own in isolation. His photography was a pure representation of his individual thought, as he was inspired by the impulse of life. When being questioned about the motives of his work, his response was indicative of his authentic approach: “What pushes [the shutter]? My eye, my heart, my gut.” 

By Sydney Hartzell

New Music for Any Occasion

Mable Yiu

We’ve all had songs and artists that we absolutely love to listen to, but at some point, we still find ourselves looking for new ones. It’s inevitable: everyone likes to occasionally ditch their old favorites in hopes of coming across a newer, fresher sound. With so many options for how and where we listen to music nowadays, refining our preferences can be surprisingly difficult. We’ll help you out -- here are five fresh artists guaranteed to fit any vibe, whether it be a post-workout cool down or gearing up for a summer cocktail party.

Washed Out

If you’re looking for a calming, gentle, earthy playlist, Washed Out should definitely be on it. The band’s sound is a soothing combination of modern, alternative beats with relaxing, uplifting vocals. Listening to the band’s music is a highly sensory experience, as they frequently incorporate rich undertones which deliver an almost underwater-like experience. Some songs even include rainforest sounds which contribute to the band’s carefree aura. Some of our favorite songs include “Feel It All Around” and “New Theory”.


The name of the band is no coincidence; listening to the Bahamas will without a doubt make you feel like you could be in the islands. Tracks like “Lost in the Light” remind us of looking out on a tropical ocean as the sun goes down – sweet, calming, and great to fall asleep to. Consider incorporating this timeless sound into your next cocktail party or luncheon playlist. It’s sure to provide an effortlessly mellow mood.


This alternative Los Angeles band is the epitome of timeless, modern, and cool. Their songs often utilize melancholy or emotional lyrics with slightly upbeat instrumentals. This juxtaposition creates a variety of songs perfect for cruising in a car or improving a long day at work. Gentle, welcoming vocals make LANY perfect for subtle background music as well. Experience some of the band’s best work by listening to the tracks “ILYSB” and “Walk Away”.

Real Estate

If you were to strip LANY of its Californian vibe, you would have Real Estate. The band’s soft tones and happy melodies are sure to brighten up your day, no matter the weather. Real Estate hails from New Jersey and is based in Brooklyn, and its music definitely reflects the tranquility of the east coast. Try listening “Beach Comber” or “Talking Backwards” on a lazy Sunday or over a morning cup of coffee.

Sylvan Esso

A bit different from the others on this list, Sylvan Esso’s music is less acoustic and uses techno sounds to create a mellow but optimistic collection of songs. A mixture of synthetic beats, subtle drums, and angelic vocals makes Sylvan Esso a must-have for your next party playlist. The overall mood of the band could best be heard through songs like “Uncatena”, “Coffee”, and “Dress”.

By Matt Bernstein


Diane Arbus: In The Beginning

Emily Allen

Commercial photographer turned artist, Dianne Arbus, strived in capturing moments and places that comprise New York City life. The show highlights the first seven years of her career (1956-1962). The exhibition itself, is neither organized sequentially nor thematically which allows the viewer to freely travel through the various stages of Arbus’ career. In this sense, the show is conceived to have neither a start, middle, or end. More than 100 small, intimate, and truly authentic documentary style photographs are presented on their own walls, standing as individuals themselves. Arbus’ fascination with the differences between all things and all people truly comes through in the photographs of individuals who are extracted from their environment, frozen in a moment in time, and yet seem to come alive in front of the viewer. 

As the show’s exhibition label describes it, “the exchange of both sides of the camera — of seeing and being seen — raises existential questions in the subject, questions that ultimately transmit themselves to the viewer.” This holds true in many ways. Arbus strived for a relationship with her subjects and by extension, us viewers also become her subjects keeping the pictures alive. As one travels across the gallery and in between pillars, the viewers become an uncanny double of the individuals who reside in the frames on the walls. 

The show, curated by Jeff L. Rosenheim, will run from July 12th to November 27th 2016 at the Met Breuer.

By Sidney Bitter-Larkin

Photos courtesy of Sidney Bitter-Larkin

Q&A with Anoushka Shankar, Indian sitar player and composer

Emily Allen

Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the legendary sitarist, Ravi Shankar and sister of Norah Jones, is known for her bold experimentation of Indian classical music and progressive world music, earning her 5 Grammy®nominations. Her new album, ‘Land of Gold’ is more than experimentation; it is an experience in itself. In response to the current refugee crisis, the album embodies diversity, openness and inclusion at all levels – from the core quartet, to the artistic collaborations to the organic layers of sounds. It is definitely not one to be missed! We had the privilege of talking to her after seeing her perform at her sold-out City Winery concert and here are some key takeaways:

The best way to listen to Indian music for the first time: ‘Land of Gold is what you call a crossover album. It's not necessarily an example of traditional Indian music by any means but that can mean it's a good introduction. The good thing about an album like Land of Gold is it can root the very Indian melodies that I play on the sitar in slightly more familiar Western structures and that can help a new listener to understand the melodies a little better. If that sounds pleasurable, then I highly recommend they turn to more classical CDs to hear more.’

How she chose the theme of the album: ‘The album was written in response to the current refugee crisis, which hit sort of a tipping point last summer. In Europe it suddenly became the focal point in news and media so it was very present and I had simultaneously just given birth to my second child. While watching these heart-breaking images of people with babies in their arms trying to cross the sea, because of that vulnerable emotional state that I was in, it just sort of leaded into my music. A few songs in, I made a decision to allow that process and to allow the album to be in response to what I was seeing around me.’

The narrative journey that her music takes in ‘Land of Gold’: ‘For me it’s so important after expressing emotions like anger and outrage, and pain and sorrow to transition into a more hopeful place because I don’t know how to continue on without a sense of hope. So it starts in a very dark place and peaks; by the end it turns into a bit of light and turns into a hopeful ending - like a song called ‘Reunion’ or a lullaby called ‘Say Your Prayers’.’

The core quartet of musicians in her album and their contributions: ‘I picked the quartet that I would be touring with quite carefully. Playing a plucked string instrument, I really do think that having a counter of a wind instrument like a shehnai does work very well and then to get grounded by the upright bass is also something that really rounds up the sound.

The Hang is an instrument that I have fallen in love with over the last few years and Manu Delago was my co-writer on this album so the Hang is very prominently featured. He is also one of the best drummers in the world so having him in the band really rounds everything out in a beautiful way. Sanjeev on the shehnai plays in a way that the instrument really wails, it feels like he really helped me articulate a sense of a cry against things or a feeling of pain.’

The decision making process to include different layers of sound to her music: ‘The approach from the beginning was being open to the universe and what was going to show up. My musician friends came to Italy where I was staying at a friend’s farm and so we recorded in a barn for the first few weeks and that kind of set the tone in a way because there was no way we were going to be able to create a sanitized studio environment there and so we just let everything in.

The crickets that started chirping are on the record as the percussion sounds on ‘Crossing the Rubicon’, the goats that went by are on the record, and from there we stayed open. When it started raining in London we stuck a mic out onto it. I feel like we’re all craving that? This modern recording system has reached a type of tipping point and people are really enjoying that organic approach again in music. So it just felt like a welcome relief to go back to that really.'

Her female artistic collaborators: ‘There was a little bit of approaching the album from like a casting of a film, in the sense that people had, not just their musical contribution to offer but also what their music represented to the story. The main female collaboration in particular, MIA, is obviously an incredible artist and I love the musical input she brings but also what she represents as a refugee advocate and a refugee herself. Alev Lenz sings the title song beautifully and I love the fact that she is of Turkish and German descent and someone that lives in London and is just such a product of that diversity. What can I say about Vanessa Redgrave, her voice is mystifyingly beautiful, and she is a lifelong activist and campaigner so it just felt like being blessed by a legend.’

Her inspiration when improvising within the purely classical format: ‘In a very subtle way at times, but always at the forefront is my father because he taught me right from the beginning, so my kind of style and sound were very shaped by him. Because I literally learnt that method of improvising from him, I do reconnect with that teaching process and the way he played when I play in the classical framework. I love most of all that it’s an ancient classical tradition that is simultaneously completely fresh and in the moment because it's being improvised. Some days are better than others but I play the best within the Indian classical music when I can really be grounded and centered in myself and be really present in the moment.’

On adapting her instrument to different environments: 'I think how one presents music can really change up how people take it in. There are some people who will feel very intimidated by a concert hall because it’s not their natural environment but if they can hear the same music at a festival out in a field they can feel more relaxed and more open minded and enjoy the music and then the opposite will be true. That’s one of the reasons that I love taking my music to many different kinds of venues because I do actually enjoy seeing that the same music can translate in different places to different people.'

Anoushka will be back in NYC this November to make her debut with the New York Philharmonic alongside Zubin Mehta at the Lincoln Center.

By Shibanee Sivanayagam

Photos courtesy of Jamie James Medina




Q&A with Artist Lan Zhenghui

Emily Allen

Artist Lan Zhenghui, who will be doing a U.S. lecture and creative tour this fall, combines the historical with traditional Chinese Ink Painting and the innovative with modern compositions and interpretations. We caught up with him and asked him a few questions. 

How did you know you wanted to become an artist? And how did your art career begin?

To choose art as a career was for me a series of specific steps which took place in my young life. As a teenager, I went to college to study engineering, (which I believe laid a strong foundation for rational thinking and logic). When I was 20 years old, by pure chance I was suddenly one day struck by the color combinations of a few small labels, and then decided to switch my direction to art. I was accepted a few years later by the prestigious Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (home to very famous alumni artists, including Zhang Xiaogang and Zhou Chunya. The acceptance rate to this institution is extremely competitive (many thousands of aspiring Chinese artists apply and only a handful are accepted). Even so, acceptance to the academy of fine arts does not guarantee that you can become a professional artist. At university my interest was drawn to the basic form and the aesthetic feeling. I went to ChongQing University as a teacher after graduation, and then worked in different fields afterwards, which allowed me the success to earn my first “pot of gold,” and alleviating my worries about making a living . By the end of  the 1990s, when I felt that everything was in place and ready for my artistic career, I became determined to work as an artist full time. Since then I've been building my heavy ink system with a lot of challenges, hard work and effort. My career as an artist reached its pivotal point when my artwork was chosen for a solo exhibition at the National Art museum of China in 2006.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

My aesthetic is very close aligned to my philosophies and my thinking processes. I prefer the relationship of integration and macroscopic composition to the detail and realism. In this manner I strive to express the appeal from the spiritual level -- and this in turn is reflected via my abstract expression ink painting.

Should people know something about you or your art before experiencing it for themselves? 

One of my favorite quotes is -- “Good art will shock you” by the finish Chinese painter Wu Guanzhong (widely recognized as a founder of modern Chinese painting). The viewer draws the art inward and is touched by the masterpiece. Artists use their vision to influence the viewer. I feel that the viewer does not need to know the specifics or the background information about my art in order to experience it. I have conducted many years of long-term research about the language of vision and how this relates to exhibiting my art. My artistic process consists of different elements such as ink, dying, construction, black and white and scale. My hope is that my work can deliver the message to the viewer and arouse their personal resonance with my works, so that they feel and sense familiarity with my painting, a sense of the magnificent, the exciting, even dysphonia, vastness and a hazy sense. I do not use these concepts to tell stories because the effect can be limited. Instead, I strive to use my vision to touch the viewer’s heart and encourage a dialogue and deliberation as a result of experiencing my art.

What do you hope to accomplish or communicate with your art?

I want my large-scale paintings transcend the aura and effect a kind of shock/vision to the audience. As an artist, I also want to display the profoundness of humanity in so many ways. I want to use a new language of vision to express deeper thinking. For example, by creating works that can be both solemn and stirring at the same time, oscillating and yet noble. I use this language of vision to better express abstract concepts more efficiently. I believe that a good artist should build the value of her or his vision, so that it can constantly influence different times and places, ongoing for multiple generations. So that it resonates with human nature.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

Besides my own independent thinking, I was influenced by Chinese and foreign masters from past and present. From the traditional side, Liang Kai in Song Dynasty and his Immortal in Splashed Ink had a great impact on me, especially his strong abilities to reduce shape and temperament found in Chinese ancient splashed ink painting. This is a major feature of China ink, and I had the same impression from the works of Japanese artist Kakejiku, and Master of Ming Dynasty - Xuwei’s big free-style painting also was a major influence for me. Also the modern Chinese artist Zhang Daqian, from the fine lines at his early age, to the splashed color through his later years. I was also influenced by western theory and practice - such as the German Bauhaus and western constitution theory, and the German & American Abstract Expressionism also constitutes an influence upon me. I love the structure consciousness of Klein and the ultimate aesthetic of de Kooning, there is profound talent and value in their works. Plus influences from a variety of art genres such as Color-Field Painting. Design is also appealing to me -- I collect all kinds of brand advertising bags, shopping bags, company bags, and I might just have one of the largest collections of this kind of in the world. I put all of these influences together, and turn them into something of my own, which constitutes my work today.

What challenges do you think art and artists are facing today? How should they be dealt with?

I think that throughout different periods the artists will face different challenges. Nowadays, the concept of contemporary is definitely an impact (including money, success and marketing). These are all current challenges which can corrupt artmaking. If the governments could fundamentally support every artist, then in that case we will achieve better art.

What legacy do you hope to leave with your work? 

My heavy ink painting works have been pure abstract expressionism based on composition for many years, and are considered unique for having a deep kind of inside tension, with deep roots in Chinese traditional arts but also achieving international, contemporary recognition. I aim to advance the development of expressionism of Chinese heavy ink painting. I hope it stands the test of time.

What do you love to do when you are not working on your art?

I love to think about art everywhere I am - and at every moment. All of my thinking is completely full of art all of the time. But art itself, I believe, is wildly thinking on its own and it is the reflection of all the things happen and that surround you. I like to completely dissect the person, personalities and environments that I find myself in – for example: reality, society, politics and sex. I record all of my feelings and my thoughts about those elements and then I permeate them into my art.

By Emily Allen

Photos courtesy of the artist

Interior Design with Street Inspiration

Emily Allen

When it comes to interior design, inspiration abounds and styles vary. While many opt for reinterpretations of past designs, London-based interior design label Buster + Punch turns to the streets for fresh inspiration. 

Buster + Punch refers to itself as an interior fashion design label, which is quite appropriate given its sense of style and avant-garde aesthetic. The company believes that interior style is completed by lighting and art, which the Buster + Punch team members craft along with other unexpected furniture pieces like hardware, motorcycles, and whiskey bars. They gather their inspiration from London’s fashion and music scene which is often offbeat, and the designers in turn collaborate with fashion designers, musicians, graffiti and street artists, and motorcycle builders alike to imbue the artistic edge that makes Buster + Punch pieces unique. 

The company, founded by Massimo Buster Minale just a few short years ago, had humble beginnings in an East London garage. Minale quickly discovered his passion for crafting things he loves inspired by an artistic world he loves. Now, the brand showcases its affinity for street art and international talent in a string of collaborations with various artists. What's more, the upcoming collaboration takes an important platform - charity. Buster + Punch will host artist Twoone in its Berlin studio to create works that will be sold for charity. Twoone, who is a well known graffiti artist, will create works on a 3x1 meter panel made of brushed matte black steel in a variety of techniques and mediums. The works will be auctioned off online beginning June 30th. All the proceeds will go to The National Foundation for Youth Music, which invests in music-making projects for youth who live in or experience challenging circumstances. With this new venture, Buster + Punch becomes a design label focused not only on innovation and inspiration, but intention. 

By Emily Allen

Photos Courtesy of Buster + Punch

art de vivre

Emily Allen

On June 6th, The French Institute Alliance Française (FAIF) presented the 3rd annual Art de Vivre Award to Martine and Prosper Assouline, co-founders of Assouline Publishing. The Art de Vivre award recognizes those who have made a profound impact on the art of French living. The creators of the publishing house and luxury lifestyle brand received the honor for their influential work in the French publishing industry.

The highly anticipated event began with a cocktail reception at the FAIF Gallery where guests were able to view a collection of celebrity portraits by renowned French photographer Patrick Swirc. From the gallery, guests made their way to Le Bilboquet for dinner where they dined on delicious dishes including salmon tartare and chocolate mousse.

The evening concluded with an auction where guests bid on luxurious lots. Offerings included a trip to the Deauville American film festival and a ski vacation in Taos, New Mexico.

By Kim Chmura

Photos Courtesy of Michael George

Ancient Technique, Modern Expression

Emily Allen

As times change and ways of thinking collide, Americans face a gripping new era. With collision of competing ideals comes an existential question of identity, which is precisely what artist Lan Zhenghui has set out to explore. As he says, he wants “a front row seat to personally witness this pivotal time when society is hungry for more authenticity.” He has scheduled a tour of the United States to indeed achieve a front row seat and to create a body of work inspired by this societal movement while stateside. 

As his interests and goals imply, innovation is his forte. His reputation in China as a “game-changer” of art certainly confirms this innovative spirit. He seeks to create works based on the changing times in the United States, at the intersection of old traditions and new ideas. The undoubtedly interesting works will reflect this tumultuous time in the American ideology, and will represent the spirit of his art as a whole, which has always centered around the collision of tradition and innovation. 

The collision of old and new manifests in his unique ability to dovetail the modernism of abstract expressionism with the traditionalism of Chinese ink painting. He seamlessly marries an ancient Chinese cultural art form with a contemporary American style, creating works that leave a poignant impression about the dynamic nature of progress and cultural evolution. 

Lan Zhengui will reside in New York City from September of this year until January of next, during which time he will embark on a lecture tour. He plans to visit several universities, museums, and galleries across the nation during his stay. On the agenda so far, he will spend six months in studio residency at Mana Contemporary, and will present lectures at the Rubell Family Collection, Florida International University’s College of Architecture and The Arts, and Maryland Institute College of Art.

Next week we chat with the artist and ask him a few questions, stay tuned!

By Emily Allen

Photos Courtesy of the artist

Lina Bo Bardi: Together at MCAD

Emily Allen

Currently on display at the Miami Center for Architecture and Design (MCAD) is an interesting interdisciplinary exhibit called Lina Bo Bardi: Together. Lina Bo Bardi was an Italian-born Brazilian architect whose passion for design transformed the cultural significance of architecture in Brazil. Her works throughout the 1950s and 1960s, like her personal home, The Glass House and the Museum of Art in São Paulo had such a huge impact on Brazilian society. This particular traveling exhibit at MCAD is run by curator Noemi Blager and illustrates Bo Bardi’s significance in Brazil through the work of three different artists.

The work of the three artists featured in the exhibit have been individually influenced by Bo Bardi’s life and designs. Madelon Vriesendorp is a Dutch painter who also co-founded the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Rotterdam. The life of Vriesendorp intertwined with that of Bo Bardi when she began to teach a workshop with some localBrazilian residents in a craft museum that Bo Bardi herself had converted from a sugar mill in Bahia. Another artist in the exhibition, filmmaker Tapio Snellman, makes films of people’s interactions with their community’s cultural center SESC Pompéia that Lina Bo Bardi actually designed. Finally, photographer Ioanna Marinescu- the only artist of the exhibit to have such a direct correlation with Bo Bardi's work- produced several works depicting Bo Bardi’s personal home, The Glass House.

This exhibit is one of the more interesting finds in the art world as it examines an artist’s legacy with reference to and focus on the art of so many others. People do not live in vacuums; in fact, every word, action, or work of art produced by a person will have an impact on someone else’s life. Lina Bo Bardi: Together exemplifies this notion with its use of interwoven stories from these three artists whose own work will likely have the same far-reaching impact.

By Kat Jones

Photos Courtesy of Miami Center for Architecture and Design

Art Lovers Flock to Art New York

Emily Allen

Art New York this past month in New York City hosted the best works from the finest galleries around the world. Art New York, put on by Art Miami, presented over 150 galleries representing around 1,200 artists. The showcase encompassed galleries hailing from 50 different countries, all under one venue roof. The art fair, which represented the launch of Art Week 2016, was held at Pier 94 in Manhattan. 

Art New York allowed a unique experience in its welcoming of art collectors both experienced and new to the art world. The fair showcased works not yet seen by the public, allowing for a preview into the upcoming trends in primary and secondary art markets. Art New York featured works by artists with varying backgrounds and levels of experience, and its counterpart CONTEXT New York offered a juxtaposition of artists. CONTEXT, held adjacent to Art New York, was comprised of artists just beginning their careers. This open forum for new artists to display their works and discuss ideas with other artists allowed for the kind of dialogue among artists that is so important to the perpetuation and creativity of the art world. 

The exclusive VIP preview event kicked off the week long event, and allowed for press, curators, collectors, etc. to see and acquire the works before the public. Among the most impressive galleries exhibiting was the DeBuck Gallery, located in Chelsea. De Buck gallery featured several works in the stark color scheme of black, white, and red, all of which challenged perception and perspective. Additionally, a piece comprised of burnt matches attached at the sides in a perfect circle caught viewers’ attention. Its use of unorthodox materials and its disguise as an object of simplicity lent itself to contemplation about the beauty in traditionally un-beautiful materials. 

Art New York offered everyone in both the art world and the public sphere alike an opportunity to experience the best in art just as it debuts to the world. Art New York, in conjunction with CONTEXT New York presented a beautiful and elegant fair, which fostered the encouragement and dissemination of creativity among the individuals in the art community. 

By Emily Allen

Photos Courtesy of De Buck Gallery and Art New York 

Tribeca Ball 2016

Mable Yiu

This year’s Tribeca Ball, hosted by Van Cleef & Arpels, shone like a diamond as an event full of glitz and beauty. The sparkly motif certainly persisted throughout the night, complete with romantic strings of light in the dining room and attendees adorned in the “shimmery chic” dress code. 

The Ball honored Eva & Michael Chow, who have great influence in the art world. Their prominence as collectors, artists, and icons comes from years of commitment to the arts. Michael Chow, who was a close friend to Andy Warhol, shared in his role as a zealous supporter of the New York Academy of Art. To tangibly commemorate his longstanding support of the arts and his own talent, the Ball featured Chow’s paintings as part of the event. 

The New York Academy of Art provided the perfect setting in which to host many of the top figures in the Arts. Each floor of the Academy contained artwork by its students, beautifully showcased in a miniature gallery style. The music was live, varied, and full of life. The musicians dispersed throughout the event not only provided a musical backdrop, but provided a live entertainment show as they walked around the galleries. Augmenting the art and the music, other artistic elements wowed guests. The Seven Seas theme was carried out theatrically, complete with blue tunnels of light, art installations reminiscent of waves, and shimmery, painted mermaids and mermen on stilts mingling with attendees. 

The Tribeca Ball proved itself yet again to be a beautifully planned event to honor the generous supporters of the arts, without whom our world would be a much less colorful place. 

By Emily Allen

MVVO ART Brings the Accessible Art Fair to New York

Mable Yiu

"Brussels' favorite artist-led fair" is coming to New York City, thanks to their US partner MVVO ART, and the deadline for the New York application was just extended to April 15th. We are honored to be a partner of AAF, and will see you at the National Arts Club this fall!

Video recap from AAF Brussels 2015. 

Read about our interview with the Brussels-based Founder Stephanie Manasseh here, and a pre-launch event we co-hosted with AAF NY here.

By Mable Yiu

Women Painting Women

Mable Yiu

Garis & Hahn

Garis & Hahn

Garis & Hahn Gallery presents a show this month focused entirely on women. The artists are women and the subject matter is women, a fresh change from the often male-dominated field of art. Located on Bowery Street, the Garis & Hahn gallery is a gem on the edge of SoHo. Its newest show, titled “Beyond the Gaze: Women painting Women” attempts to focus itself solely on both the talents and beauty of the female. The show features several artists, all women, whose style and objective coalesce seamlessly. With bold colors and broad brushstrokes, the pieces hold a unique similarity in their diversity.

The artists use avant-garde colors and forms to represent the female body, all while maintaining the utmost respect and admiration for the female body. The celebration of women is at the heart of this show, and each artist shows her regard for women in her own way. 

Tatiana Berg, who combines figuration and abstraction, uses bold, rich colors to express her view of women. She uses a certain symbolism of form in her representation. Her simple figures and use of color are used to represent the true essence of womanhood. 

Sarah Faux, who desires to create an emotional connection between her audience and her compositions, paints in pastels to achieve a softer focus on womanhood. She maintains a more abstract style than that of the other artists, but specific features of the female figure still appear in her work. 

Sarah Awad, whose work gives nod to Fauvism and Neo-expressionism, employs a bright color palette and looseness of form to make her point. She presents her female forms in soft, rounded positions to comment on the softness and fluidity of womanhood. 

Jay Miriam, who paints in a surrealist style based on observations of the world around her, similarly uses color and abstraction to identify womanhood. He includes objects specifically associated with femaleness as well, such as jewelry and flowers. 

Though the styles of the artists vary, each piece colorfully makes its message of femininity apparent. The female form makes a noticeable appearance in every piece, in a unique and powerful way. Overall, the cohesion of beauty and theme allows for a show of great presence and determination. The show, which is on exhibit until April 17, is a must-see. 

By Emily Allen

Starry Night in a Starry New Film

Mable Yiu

Right now in a studio in Gdansk, Poland, there lies a team hard at work on the world’s first ever painted feature film. The film traces the life of one of the world’s greatest and most notorious artists, Vincent van Gogh. 

Forget animations, forget claymations - every second of this film is a classically painted work of art. “Loving Vincent” features thousands of oil paintings on canvas strung together to create an ethereal yet effectual film about van Gogh’s life. Each painting is completed in the same style and technique of the great artist himself. Moreover, over 120 of van Gogh’s own works make appearances throughout the film amongst those of the hardworking team of painters. 

The film is directed by Dorota Kobiela, a Polish painter, and filmmaker Hugh Welchman, who trace the events leading up to the infamously mysterious death of 

The writers’ created the script from a composition of van Gogh’s letters. To be exact, they used over 800 of his letters, which allows for a very insightful and deeply personal look into his life. The artist is known for his dark and very short life, which the film writers capture well. However, it’s not all dark and stormy, as the writers and painters balance the grim details of van Gogh’s life with the beauty and grace of his work. 

As the late artist himself asked, “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” The team of directors, writers, and painters certainly took this adventurous notion to heart. They have taken on a grand task of doing the notable and mysterious life of van Gogh’s justice by using his own painting techniques. In effect, the film joins together a new generation of painters with old world masterpieces to bring van Gogh’s biography to life. The film is set to open later this year. 

By Emily Allen

Q&A with Stephanie Manasseh, Founder of the Accessible Art Fair

Mable Yiu

Photo courtesy of  Kim De Molenaer

Photo courtesy of Kim De Molenaer

by Mable Yiu

Founder of the Accessible Art Fair, Stephanie Manasseh dreamt of creating a new public art space without boundaries between artists and audiences. The art fair will be coming to New York for the first time in November 2016. 

What led you to start the Accessible Art Fair?

I left Canada in 1997 to move to Europe. Since my youth I have had a keen interest in art as my mother is an artist. I always knew that she struggled to find a gallery to represent her and when I moved to Brussels 10 years ago, I decided to start the Accessible Art Fair as I realized that there were so many great artists out there without gallery representation. I did my research and came to the conclusion that these artists are in need of exposure. I then decided to run a high level, qualitative art fair for artists only. 

Eight years on, I am very proud of the evolution of the fair and what it has become. We are a relatively small boutique fair, working with around 65 artists at a time, showcasing a hand picked selection of artists, chosen by our panel of judges all working in the arts (gallerists, art journalists, fine art specialists, etc). I made the decision that I would rather run the fair in a beautiful and special location in the high end area in Brussels, rather than have a huge event in an exhibition hall. People seem to appreciate the cozy atmosphere where they get to meet the artists behind the work. I think there is a lot to be said about gaining insight on a work of art directly from its creator.

Please describe your work with luxury brands, such as BMW, and how it ties in with the Accessible Art Fair.

I am very proud to be working with luxury brands such as Montblanc (on the Montblanc Likes Art Award, launched at the Accessible Art Fair in 2012) and BMW Belgium. By aligning themselves with the Accessible Art Fair, these very strong brands are showing their support to young, emerging talent and are showing their ongoing support to the arts.

Since November 2015 I have been working with BMW in Brussels as curator for their Art and Design Sessions. These sessions were launched to give a platform to artists and designers of various disciplines. We showcase some young talent as well as some big names such as Marc Lagrange, Xavier Lust and the legendary Terry O'Neill.

I am very excited to announce that we just got confirmation that Jeff Koons will join our session in July. We are bringing over his Art Car and the man himself will be present for one night to talk to our guests about this amazing creation.

That is so exciting that you will be launching the art fair in New York in November. Why New York specifically?

I am really excited about launching the fair in New York City in November 2016. We have found the perfect location which fits exactly the boutique style fair that we are. It just seems a natural evolution to run it in NY. There are so many artists in NY who just need the opportunity to get their work out there and we are here to give them this opportunity! I also love NY and all the possibilities it offers. We have already started working on this edition and I can't wait for its launch next year!

Isa Genzken: Two Orchids

Mable Yiu

Get ready New York City for something special. On March 1, the Public Art Fund will be exhibiting acclaimed artist Isa Genzken’s Two Orchids in New York City. Initially presented at the 56th Venice Biennale’s All the World’s Futures exhibition in the spring of 2015, this is the second time the artwork has been exhibited publicly. The two flowers will be 34 and 28 feet in height and will greet visitors entering Central Park from its southeast corner.

“More than twenty years after first making her famous outdoor ‘Rose’ sculpture, Genzken has again borrowed from the natural world to create an imposing new public installation. Whereas the red rose has long been a rather clichéd symbol of love, the orchid, once a more obscure and exotic bloom, has become increasingly ubiquitous. For Genzken, the decorative neutrality of the orchid makes it the quintessential flower of our period – global and porous to meaning,” said Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator.

The artist’s orchids are stylized and cartoon-like. More subtly, through the choice of the orchid, Genzken references a frequent topic in her body of work: sexual identity. The feminine shapes of the blooms contrast with the nature of the orchid’s root, a reference to the Ancient Greek origins of the flower’s name (Orchis referring to the male sexual organs).

Isa Genzken: Two Orchids will be on view March 1 – August 21, 2016 in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.

Lead support for Two Orchids is provided by the Fuhrman Family Foundation and The FLAG Art Foundation, along with generous support from Galerie Buchholz. Additional support is provided by David Zwirner, New York/London; Elizabeth Fearon Pepperman & Richard C. Pepperman II; Agnes Gund; Sarah & Eric Lane; Andrew & Linda R. Safran; and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. This exhibition is also supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Public Art Fund Talks at The New School are organized by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. This program is made possible in part by Con Edison and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, as well as by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

By Alexandra Fairweather