Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ahoy there!

Let me re-introduce myself; my name is Vivien.  It's been.... egad, six weeks since my last post!  I wish I could have been better at keeping up with my blog, and all of yours, but I haven't had many moments to spare.  I've opted to spend any extra time with my family while all of us are together.   So here's a quick update:

In the middle of May, I went to my oldest daughter's graduation from Notre Dame.  It was a wonderful weekend, full of time spent with just our daughter and raucous times spent with her friends and their families.  Despite the weather (36 degrees cold!) on the big day, nothing could suppress the celebratory mood.

My daughter, all bundled up beneath her robe, along with her boyfriend as they entered the stadium

The next weekend we headed to Florida for an "I want to be a kid before I have to be a grown-up" trip to Universal and Disney.  Both my son and daughter's significant others joined us.  We had so much fun that the inevitable lines didn't even phase us.  It could not have been a more perfect trip.

Then came prom.  My youngest daughter's school is small, so they have a combined junior/senior prom.  She had a great time.  I love it that the school sold individual tickets to the event, so there wasn't any stigma for going without a date.  That said, my daughter went with one of her closest friends and it was sweet to see them get all dressed up.

My daughter and her prom date; what an elegant couple they were!
That same night was the opening reception for Art Around Town, a NWAG-sponsored event that paired merchants with artists. I was selected by a day spa and I think the consensus is that my flower and shoreline pictures are a good fit for the spa atmosphere.  I have to say I love the look of my large photo, Georgia's Poppy, printed on canvas and hanging right behind the reception desk.

Of course, work has kept me busy.  I just love it.  I'm a big fan of all the people I work with, both staff and founders, and taking the 9:22 train home hasn't been a problem --- except when I get stuck behind an open drawbridge for hours.  That said, I'm learning and doing more in those days than I ever thought possible.  Being in the city is great too.

Grand Central at night; what a sight!

I love people -watching in Union Square; she was kind enough to let me take her picture
We work hard at work, but we enjoy building our community, too.  Here's a great picture from an evening out.  I'm telling you; these entrepreneurs are smart and have great ideas.  Can't wait to keep an eye on what they're doing.

XRC Labs, Cohort 2; definitely keep an eye on these folks! 

When I have that calm moment in the morning, I've been admiring the generosity of my garden.  It's been overwhelming.

Peonies, roses, and irises from my garden gathered in a tabletop bouquet
I've been lucky to squeeze in some time at the museum.  The Nest exhibition was amazing.  I wish you all could have seen it.  I was able to give one of the closing weekend tours last Saturday.  By now I'm sure you know how much I love giving tours.  Even though the exhibition has been up for three months, every visitor brings a slightly different take on the art and it keeps it so exciting for me.  I'm looking forward to docent training next week when we learn about a new exhibition!  And, I've been in conversation with the Associate Curator about upcoming exhibitions for which I might want to be docent trainer, so stay tuned.

Now that the exhibition is over, all of James Prosek's mural will be painted over ... and he's excited about that

I'm signing off now in favor of some more family time.  I hope all's well with you.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Life and Heart are Full

Union Square in the spring
There are so many wonderful things going on in my life, I feel I'm about to bust.  

1) Work is great.  I'm learning every day (I can feel my brain dusting off neglected synapses) and I really like the people I work with.  I love working for my boss, an intelligent, dynamic woman with incredible experience who makes everyone feel like partners, not subordinates.  It seems I'm always surprised when 6:30PM comes around and I have to scramble to catch the train home.  Curious about what I'm doing?  Take a look at our website.

Capturing elongated profiles on a passing subway train as I wait on the platform
2) The KMA is great.  My geek-side continues to be happy as I do research in support of Associate Curator, Elizabeth Rooklidge's work.  I had an ah-ha moment the other day while reviewing someone's portfolio at work.  I got all excited when I spotted artwork from one of the artists I was researching contained within someone's inspiration pages.  I gave a mini-art history lesson on the spot  and that was pretty cool.

Don't forget there's still time to see the incredible Nest exhibit!

Paul Villinsky's Self Portrait on view at the KMA

3) I'm participating in Art Around Town, a community-wide art celebration organized by Northern Westchester Artists Guild.  Merchants select artwork by members of the guild and display it in their stores for a month.  I'm excited that my photography will be throughout the lovely spaces of Emmary Day Spa in Chappaqua.

Moonscape ©Vivien Zepf
One of the photos I'm hoping to display at Emmary Day Spa

4) The SPUN prospectus is up and entries are welcome!  This year the exhibition will be held at the NEST Arts Factory Gallery, a bigger venue that enables us to include more -- and larger -- work.  Check out the prospectus here.  I hope you'll consider entering.

Work by Sooo-z Mastropietro, from last year's SPUN exhibition

There's loads of great stuff happening on the family front, too.  Our oldest is graduating from Notre Dame next weekend.  She'll be home with us for about six weeks before moving to Chicago for her job.  Our son is coming home from school in CA and will be working in NYC for the summer.  With both of them home, we'll have a chaotic full house for a bit and I can't wait!

We've had lots of family fun at ND football games; I'm hoping my daughter will be able to join us from Chicago if we continue to go to the games. 

I'm off now to go back to sleep.  I've asked for the chance to nap on Mother's Day, and that's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to dream of peace and send best wishes to all the women, whether they're a relation or not, who've provided love and support in my life.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

An Unexpected Turn of Events

Have you wondered where I've been?    The simple truth is, I've been working.  Not in my studio, but in a building here.

I now go into the city to work for an accelerator in a Parsons building.   

No, it's not related to physics or to car speed; accelerators help entrepreneurs bring their products to market faster than they could on their own.  I work for XRC Labs, an accelerator partnering with Parsons and Kurt Salmon, a group dedicated to helping start-ups that combine innovative technology with retail and consumer goods.  

It's an incredibly dynamic environment.  Things move quickly and I'm working hard to climb the learning curve.  The people I work with are great and the office is filled with positive energy and excitement.  I'm meeting so many cool people who have remarkable ideas, willing to risk quite a bit to make their ideas reality.  Even the whole neighborhood is exciting: I've already shared the sidewalk with Tim Gunn and crossed the street with  Kathryn McCormick of So You Think You Can Dance fame.  (No, I didn't take pictures; I was too star-struck.)

So please bear with me as I adjust to the new demands on my time.  I've missed blogging and my studio and am confident I'll figure out how to make it all work.  Stay tuned.

Monday, March 28, 2016

News and Then Some

I have an official byline on the KMA blog!  I've been writing for the museum "behind the scenes" for a while but as of last week, all my posts will be identified as being written by Vivien Zepf, KMA Docent Trainer.  Yep, pretty cool.  You can see my most recent post about the shadows found in the exhibition, along with my photos, here.  I hope you'll consider following the museum's blog; the exhibitions are really exciting and I think the blog content is an interesting and informative addition to the museum experience.  Here's one of my post pictures to whet your appetite.  Intrigued?  I hope so.

View from above of Paul Villinsky's life-sized, Self Portrait
I spent last week on the road, looking at colleges with my youngest.  Unlike most schools, hers doesn't offer a February break so they can take two weeks off in March.  We drove to locales south of New York and got a glimpses of spring in the array of blossoms decorating the campus lawns.  It was wonderful.

We savored some great food -- oh how I wish this pizza joint was in my neighborhood!

I was even given the opportunity to touch a Rodin. Yes, a REAL Rodin!

We're continuing the visits this week; however, we flew to our first stop and are driving from here on out.  By Friday I'll have driven 2,000+ miles in two weeks.  It's amazing to see this wonderful land we live in and to share it with my daughter during a pretty special time in her life.

Good times.....

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Exhibitions - Are You Ready?

It's only March but already Jane and I are working on SPUN 2016, the juried innovative fiber exhibition we host in the fall.  As we've started to do the prep work, it's reminded me of the important prep work every artist should do before entering any exhibition.  I spoke about this in my June/July 2015 Quilting Arts Magazine article, "Maximizing Your Chances".

Here are two charts / lists I've created that I'm happy to share with you for your personal use.  They help me stay organized when I make show submissions and I hope they'll help you, too.

Let me know what you think.  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

1,000 Ways

Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (1941)

I love Ansel Adam's photography so I was very pleased that one of this photographs, Moonrise, Hernandez New Mexico (1941) was the subject of one our photography class modules.  Our second week of class was devoted to the different ways photographers have captured the moon and this particular photo of Adams's was discussed.  Part of what I found particularly interesting was hearing Adams speak to the serendipity of discovering the scene and the ways he ultimately developed the image, admitting "There's a 1,000 ways to do it."  You can watch the short videos here and here.

Moonrise has become an iconic photograph, still in high demand among collectors.  Is its appeal the glowing moon and gravestones?  The horizontal composition that echoes the Rule of Thirds?  The expansive and raw landscape?  I have to admit; I wasn't familiar with this image.   I thought we'd be discussing "Moon and Half Dome", an image I've loved since I first visited Yosemite when I was ten.

Ansel Adams, Moon and Half Dome (1960)

But that's part of the fun of class, isn't it?  Finding new things to love.

Monday, February 29, 2016

February Book Report

February is coming to a close -- I feel I have to acknowledge I'm posting on that special day of a leap year!  All the hoopla aside, it's time for a quick recap of some of the books I've read this past month and can recommend.

My book group read Whiskey and Charlie by Annabel Smith this month and we all enjoyed it.  Whiskey and Charlie is the story of identical twin boys, how they perceive each other, and how the way others perceive them influences the feelings they have about themselves.  It's also about grief, regret, love, expectations, and what it can mean to be a sibling, partner, child, and friend.  It's as easy as a beach read, but offers a lot to think and talk about.

I finished The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner.  What a fascinating, and humbling, book.  First, I realized how much cultural world history I didn't know... but now I (sorta) do.  Second, I enjoyed traveling with Weiner as he recreated environs of millennia and centuries past to describe the unique settings and circumstances that helped spawned pools of genius.  Third, I really liked the investigation into creativity, creative people, and the receptive audiences that are necessary to recognize genius.  Yep, a genius is just an undiscovered talent (or a crackpot) if what (s)he does isn't recognized as adding value.  I also appreciated the value of discourse for the genius's growth.   The examination of contrary ideas, of educated debate, is critical to the development of a genius's ideas.  Living in isolation doesn't produce more dynamic inventions and thoughts, nor does living in paradise.  Stirring the pot is a component of genius, as is living in a place or time that recognizes failure not as a stigma, but as a part of the process.  One of the final segments I highlighted in the book is as follows:

We need to begin thinking of creativity not as a genetic endowment, a gift, but as something that is earned -- through hard work, yes, but also through the careful cultivation of favorable circumstances. We need to begin thinking of creativity not as a private indulgence but as a public good, part of the commons. We get the geniuses that we want and that we deserve.


Reading about particular circumstances of human genius has led me to this book:

Now I'm reading about the social and cognitive genius of dogs, man's best friend.  How did these two vastly different species that evolved on opposite sides of the globe  come together?  What particular skills and genius does a dog have that have made it so successful on such a widespread scale?  I'll let you know.

P.S.  For my Anonymous Reader (you know who you are), here are a few good non-fiction books about Western Expansion that have my husband's stamp of approval.  Sorry it took so long to put the list here. You might be familiar with and have read a few of these, but hopefully there's a new title here for you to enjoy.

Kearney's March by Winston Groom

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

Nothing Like It in the World by Stephen Ambrose

Blood and Thunder by Hampton Side