Friday, October 28, 2011

Last Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 was the inaugural Riverdale Festival of the Arts (

The event was the brainchild of three women -- me, Linda Manning and Tracy Shelton.

(Artwork shown, Franco Defrancesca and Allison Gregory, Elisa Contemporary Art.  Photo by Byron Kates)

Together we created a live art and music festival geared to bring people together, connect them on an emotional level and help support the local community. And it worked!

It was a beautiful sunny Autumn day and we have over 1,000 people join us over the 5 hour festival!

I was responsible from bringing in the artists and artists organizations. I reached out to a number of local artists, posted calls to artists and contacted museum directors. 

The result was a great mix of local and international artists and artwork, as well as presences from some local arts organizations. 

 My gallery, Elisa Contemporary Art, was joined by the Derfner Judaica Museum and Art Collection, The Bronx Museum of the Arts and No Longer Empty. 

We had individual artists from Abstractionist Barbara Laube, to Photographer Anna Purves to Korean Artist Nu Ryu and studio mates Joy Langer and Jennifer Shotton and many others.

There were several areas set up for kids to create their own projects as well spearheaded by the Scribble Art Workshops, Bedrock Preschool and the Riverdale Y.

The stage hosted both local and international talent including Tenor Saxophonist, Eric Alexander, NYC Rock band, Sweet Fix, a wind ensemble from the Bronx Arts Ensemble and performances from local theater.

What we heard from participants and attendees was:

"The quality of the work, music, other exhibits was outstanding, and the whole feeling and vibe of the event was the most gratifying of all."

" Just wanted to thank you for a great day! The event was awesome...met a lot of great artistic people."

“It was great for people to see how much is going on in Riverdale. There haven’t been enough events that bring the community together." 

What I also loved is the follow up that I have seen between artists -- the wanting to stay connected, stay in touch and support each other.

I really do believe that Art (and I mean that in the broadest sense of the word - from visual to audio and more) has such a strong power to connect us to each other, go beyond the differences and see the commonalities.  

It does have the ability to create a community, a "village" even within a large concrete jungle.

I am honored (and exhausted) to have been one of the driving forces to make this event happen and to generate the awareness to make it a success. 

My thanks to my partners Linda Manning and Tracy Shelton (the 3 of us shown here for the media event at my gallery).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On this 10th anniversary of 9/11, our gallery exhibit celebrates the human spirit and the ability to persevere…when everything around us has so dramatically changed.

The exhibit opens on September 9th and runs through November 5th.

We honor the ability to make sense out of chaos. To dream big and reimagine our world and our potential. We honor the everlasting presence of our loved ones.

And the importance of appreciating the simple pleasures of life.

We honor a day, September 11 2011, that has forever changed our lives, and our perspectives.

And we share the personal stories of our artists. The Human Spirit includes the artwork of:
  • Austin portrait artist, Ray Donley
  • Emerging artist, Krzysztof Pastuszka
  • Syracuse artist, Michael Barletta
  • Hawaii artist, Connie Firestone
  • Connecticut artist, Daryl Zang

  • A portion of all gallery sales is donated to charities helping underserved children heal through art. We currently support Free Arts NYC, Creative Arts Workshops for Kids and Arts to Grow

    Our artists from around the US share their personal stories of how 9/11 changed their lives and their artwork:

    From Austin Artist, Ray Donley
    For Ray Donley, September 11th, 2001 was 11 days before he was scheduled to open his first New York solo show. He had planned and painted for the exhibit for more than one year. As he and his wife flew into New York on September 20th, the Twin Towers were still billowing smoke.

    According to Ray “I was devastated by the attack first and foremost because of my great love for New York and the many friends who lived here. My solo show proceeded as planned opening on September 22nd, mainly due to the urging of then Mayor Giuliani for everyone to get "back to business." However, it was a disaster. There was so much grief and sadness that permeated the city.”

    His art then, as it is now, was poignant and reflective, and captures a very psychological element.

    He has never had a solo show in New York since and continues to feel almost superstitious about it.

    For Hawaii Abstractionist, Connie Firestone:

    “We got a call from our daughter at 5AM saying simply "turn on the television". There is something so ominous about that. I sat for hours, wrapped in a blanket, although it was quite warm, watching with our entire nation in broken-hearted shock; then I went to my studio and painted until the light was gone.

    As soon as I had enough light the next morning, I was back working on three large canvases at once, crying and painting for 10 solid hours. I think I was trying to create guardians for the world.”

    For Connecticut Figurative artist, Daryl Zang
    She was 5 months pregnant with her oldest son, Fritz, and was absolutely miserable.

    According to Daryl “I was nauseous and dizzy and had a severely pinched nerve in my hip from how he was positioned. My husband Tom had left early that morning for the airport for a business trip. We had recently hired someone, who spoke very little English, to help me around the house. I ended up spending the day and long into the night on the couch sitting with her, first trying to mime out what was happening and then just watching the news together."

    The day definitely made me realize how precious family is. I know being pregnant at the time influenced my decision to be home with my son.

    Several years later, when I picked up my brushes again, my early paintings were solely focused on him.” Fritz continues to be the focus of much of Daryl’s work and is featured in one the exhibit paintings.

    Emerging Artist, Krysztof Pastuszka
    He was living and attending High School in Michigan.

    He remembers everyone crowding into a closet where there was a TV to see what was happening, and the solemn state that came over his school as everyone was trying to understand what was happening… and why.

    Syracuse Artist, Michael Barletta
    On 9/11, Michael Barletta was working in the framing department of a local art supplier. As he entered the warehouse to start his day, he heard a radio which was tuned to NPR. The morning programming was interrupted with a special report that was already being called an alleged terrorist attack. Michael's co-worker and best friend had not yet heard the news, and Michael knew he had an older brother who had recently moved to Manhattan.

    They tried calling his brother...but with no luck .

     According to Michael,
    "I peeked into the store and saw people whispering, some wide eyed with a hand cupped over their mouths.  One person leaned against a rack of paints with their head down possibly crying.  Then came an announcement over the store's PA.  The owner insisted that everything was going to be ok and that staff should continue with their duties and customers should continue shopping."

    Michael and his friend informed the owner that  that would be leaving work. They walked to his friend's house about 15 minutes away and spent the afternoon watching chaos unfold on live television interspersed with the networks replaying what little footage they had at the time.  Same image over and over until you became numb or physically ill.

    It was almost midnight before they reached his friends brother. He was fine and said he was far from the scene all day.  

     The next day they learned the art supplier closed about an hour after they had left.

    If you have your own 9/11 story to share, please email me at We'll be posting them here on our blog at Here are the details of our exhibit:
    • What: The Human Spirit
    • When: September 9 – November 5th, 2011
    • Special Reception: Saturday, October 29th from 4-7pm
    • Where: Elisa Contemporary Art Gallery, 5622 Mosholu Avenue, Riverdale NY
    • Gallery Hours: Friday/Saturday 10 am - 6pm, and by Appointment (Days/Evenings/Sunday.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hugo Garcia Urrutia's Mexican Tsunami at Art Santa Fe 2011

I wanted to share an installation that will be part of Art Santa Fe 2011 by Hugo Garcia Urrutia's inspiring cutting-edge installation, "The Mexican Tsunami".

Hugo is an artist, architect, fellow gallery owner at Decorazon (in Dallas) and most importantly, a friend.

There is something eerie and viscerally arresting about Hugo Garcia Urrutia's installation piece: The Mexican Tsunami. Standing at 16 by 12 feet, a wall of over a thousand yellow sandbags heaves up off the floor and looms over the viewer, curling, at the top, like a wave that is about to fall. The effect is both direct and suggestive: the means of holding back the rising water are transformed into the crushing wave itself.

For Hugo Garcia Urrutia, born in Ciudad Juarez, the work of The Mexican Tusunami goes beyond aesthetics and politics. In 2010 his brother was a victim of the rising tide of violence sweeping across Mexico. For Garcia Urrutia, this project has been a way to "bring awareness of a now immune, desensitized, and in some cases defeated community, that is numbed by an ongoing wave of violence." Garcia Urrutia compares the current situation in Mexico to a tsunami, not least because it is a phenomena of "catastrophic" proportions.

His ongoing works for this project are an attempt to pierce through the numbness of a world that has become acclimatized to daily news of violence and disaster.

Garcia Urrutia's background in architecture is evident in the integration of strong and dynamic structural form. The Mexican Tsunami presents itself as a challenge to the viewer, its looming presence refuses to allow us to just walk by.

The installation will be at Art Santa Fe 2011 from July 7-10.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Forever connected to Art

Over the weekend, I rearranged my own art collection at home. Or at least moved one piece to a place I would see it every day.

It is an Alex Katz aquatint that I bought myself as a birthday present years ago.

Whenever I look at her (and she is not a "typical" Alex Katz portrait) I am brought back to a moment in an Alex Katz exhibit at New York's Whitney Museum of Art.

I was there with my dear friend Gretchen (today an uber-editor with lots of titles on the NYT bestseller lists).

We were young, New Yorkers and just starting out in our professional lives. We stood and carefully analyzed one of the first paintings in the show when we overheard "Look, those two girls look like they just walked out of one of his paintings!" We laughed...and we loved it!

Years later, Gretchen gave me a wonderful coffee table book about Alex Katz and I bought Wedding Dress (38/75!)

I am forever connected to that moment and to that joyfulness. And we forever will be those girls!

It is truly part of the incredible power of art!

Monday, February 7, 2011

We Kicked off Superbowl Sunday with an Artists Reception

We had a wonderful and successful wine and cheese reception with Bulgarian Sculptor, Kaya Deckelbaum on Sunday, February 6th from 2-4pm.

Kaya shared her inspirations, artwork and even techniques. She brought along a sample of the wire mesh material which are the basis for many of her pieces.

And she brought a few new sculptures (which will be at the gallery for the balance of the show through March 13th.)

While I attend many other gallery openings and receptions, I am always delighted with those at my gallery, Elisa Contemporary Art, because of how people interact with each, as well as the art.

There were wonderful new connections taking place and an openness for all to join in.

It was an energetic environment to be a part of.

And a big thank you for all that joined us!

And thanks for those who are helping to grow and support the art community within Riverdale.

The exhibit, Distant Faces and Places, will continue through March 13th at Elisa Contemporary Art, 5622 Mosholu Avenue, Riverdale NY 10471. Gallery Hours: Friday/Saturday 10am-6pm and by appointment. For more information, visit our website at or contact

We hope to see you soon.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Distant Faces and Places Exhibit at Elisa Contemporary Art, New York fro...

If you can't stop by our current exhibit, Distant Faces and Places, be sure to watch our video tour.

Here's a brief overview:
Journey to far away places and distant lands. And encounter a spirited few in the new exhibit, Distant Faces and Places at Riverdale’s only contemporary Art Gallery, Elisa Contemporary Art. Our current exhibit explores abstracted landscapes and figurative work in paintings and sculptures.

It is an invitation to escape into the worlds of our four artists and find a place to call your own.

From the art of Syracuse artist, Sharon Gordon, whose landscapes balance delicately on the fine line between abstraction and representation to the intensely pigmented exotic worlds of Canadian Artist, Marie Danielle Leblanc.

In the haunting paintings of Hawaii artist Connie Firestone, you'll sense a watchful presence and be captivated by the body and shadows of the wire mesh sculptures of Kaya Deckelbaum.

These four female artists create visions of alternate spaces and places to explore.

What: Distant Faces and Places
When: Now - March 13, 2011
Artists Reception with Kaya Deckelbaum: Sunday, February 6th from 2-4pm
Where: Elisa Contemporary Art Gallery, 5622 Mosholu Avenue, Riverdale NY
Gallery Hours: Friday/Saturday 10 am - 6pm and by Appointment. Sun. Feb. 6 12-5pm

Check website for additional events in late February to support the Arts to Grow programs for Riverdale Neighborhood House.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Some of my favorites from the 2010 Art Fairs in Miami

I spent 3 busy days in Miami in early December (with 46,000 other art lovers) taking in Art Basel Miami and the satellite fairs.

Here are just a few of the artists that I found inspiring:

The stunning photography of Japanese artist Shinichi Maruyama at NY gallery, Bruce Silverstein. His black and white images capturing water in motion are intricate and awe inspiring. According to his bio, the artist, born in 1968 has focused on this current series since 2005:

"For the past five years, in a group of astonishing images he calls the Kusho series, Maruyama has focused on the technical and formal characteristics of the photographic medium itself. Using the latest high-speed strobe technology, Shinichi developed a fascination for liquid and motion imagery. His latest work is a stunning, abstract collection of images made with sumi calligraphy ink, water, and tempera paint captured in mid-air."

Here are just a few images from this limited edition archival print series:

The beautiful, fragile watercolor portraits by Kim McCarty were both innocent and seductive. The work was on exhibit at several galleries including the David Klein Gallery in Birmingham, MI.

According to McCarty, these poignant watercolor portraits "depict adolescent and preadolescent children hovering between presence and absence, innocence and wisdom, and past, present, and future."

McCarty's work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, UCLA Hammer Museum and the Honolulu Academy of Art.

I was fascinated with the intense, richly pigmented portraits by Spanish artist Salustiano. His uses up to 26 layers of natural pigment in his work to create the pure intense reds.

He created the cover image for a catalogue to accompany the recent exhibition entitled “The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama,” which explored art as a catalyst for peace and inspired readers to actively engage in pursing peace in their lives through art. It is a good mission for all

And my hands down favorite was the work of Sandeep Mukherjee at Brennan & Griffen (the former LA and now New York gallery). The artist, born in Pune India and now living in LA. His most recent body of work incorporates painting and embossed drawing on Duralene. The result is a rich, jeweled body of work with an almost mosiac quality.

Mukherjee’s paintings aspire to become a conduit to another dimension of experience where the possibilities are many and ultimately open ended for the viewers to inscribe for themselves.

His work is in public collections including Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA: Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.