Monday, October 10, 2016


At my daughter's request, I've decorated for Halloween; it's one of her favorite times of the year.  We used to have blow-out Halloween parties.  Our front porch still bears evidence of the body outline we painted one year.  (Paint + cement = permanent) This little pumpkin sits on our kitchen mantle, adorable in its lumpiness. 

This is just one of number of decorations that I cherish, made by our children when they were small.   It's making me reflect fondly on years gone by.  It prompted me to dig through my needlepoint "hideaway" drawer to discover a canvas from a decade ago. Now I'm stitching madly in spare moments to finish this before Easter.  If all goes well, this bunny will take its turn sitting on the kitchen mantle.

Our youngest loves to dress the house for the seasons, but I'm getting a little teary-eyed thinking about next year when she'll be off at school.  What will I do?  I can't say one way or another.  All I know for now is that my youngest really isn't the "baby" of the family any more.

Her senior picture

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Bedside Table

With all my travels, I've had time to do some reading. Here are some of the books I enjoyed this summer:

1) A Man Called Ove.   The title character, Ove (pronounced ooo - veh according to my Swedish friend), is a curmudgeon.  How he interacts with his neighbors is the essence of this story.  For some people the beginning is a little bit rough , but please try to push through it.  We all loved it in our book group.

2) After a seven month wait, I was lucky enough to see Hamilton on stage in July.  Before I went I felt it was a good idea to supplement that experience with the book.  I know this is a heavy tome, but it is well worth the time investment.   Our forefathers really were a marvel.

3) This book by Catherine Ryan Hyde is about grief, truth, recovery, family, and the potential for natural beauty to offer solace.  It's a vacation read, but also had some moments that have lingered with me.

4) Kent Haruf's last novel is a poignant look at our desire for companionship even in our later years, when most might think that need has diminished.  Like all of his books, Our Souls at Night is sparse in language but rich in meaning.

5) Not to deny my geeky side, I've been reading I Contain Multitudes.  No, it's not Walt Whitman.  Instead it's a scientific look at the symbiotic and invaluable relationship across all species, animal and plant, between health and development and microbes. I find it fascinating, though some might be grossed out (or bored) by it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Breathing Room

The pace has slowed.  Things are settling.  I have room to breathe and remember to be thankful.

Burnt redwoods by our home
The Soberanes Fire, started by an illegal campfire in a CA state park, threatened our family sanctuary.  Our home was literally at the front lines, surrounded by firefighters and flames.  We were under mandatory evacuation orders; however, people I don't know were protecting my home.  The magnitude of their commitment to keep others safe is staggering and humbling.

My mom and close girlfriend hanging together during a night out.

A few weeks later, their hard work meant we could all still gather together with family and friends.  It was an extra special time.

My eldest daughter has safely moved to Chicago.  I'm thankful she was able to get a job right out of college. Regrettably, she fell just a week after moving and has been in a boot for the last six weeks.  The good news: though she fractured her ankle and tore everything on the right side of her foot, she'll heal without surgery.  It will still be a 3.5-4 month recovery, but that's so much better than starting again, back at square one, with surgery.

Alexander McQueen, 2014/15 Ensemble

"Rhythm Pleats", Miyake Design Studio
My work schedule has eased up a bit and I now have time to catch up on art.  The images above are from the amazing Manus x Machina exhibition at The Met.  Sigh.  Loveliness, innovation, inspiration abound.

I'm enjoying the simple pleasures of playing with my dogs.  They've gone from this 

to this.

We took a trip to Notre Dame for a game. Yes, I know the Irish have played poorly, but the time spent together as a family was priceless.

We took time in Chicago visiting with our eldest and stopping by my alma mater for a trip down memory lane.  

All in all, these last two months have offered ample time to pause, reflect, be thankful, and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A New Exhibition at the KMA

Today I stopped by the Katonah Museum of Art to pick up my docent materials.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay long, but I did dash about taking a few picture of the new exhibit: OnSite Katonah.  The exhibition has eight site-specific installations that complement and speak to the museum's physical landscape, both indoors and out.  In other words, these installations appear throughout the KMA campus, which makes for a special kind of visit. 

Detail, Grimanesa Amoros, Light Between The Islands, 2013

Detail, Caleb Nussear, r~mr #1, 2016

Detail, Caleb Nussear, tall, 2016

Detail of multiple elements of Caitlin Masley, Neo-habitat (after the modernists), 2016

MaDora Fey, #6250, 2016

Visitor work in the Learning Center
Yep, totally cool!  More pictures and info to come.  If you're on social media, look out for posts with the #OnSiteKatonah hashtag.  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th!

This tulip reminds my of the stripes on our flag
Happy Fourth of July!  I hope you have celebratory plans today.  It's gorgeous weather here today, and we're heading to a picnic this afternoon.  I'm looking forward to good company and great food.

I've also had a chance to do a bit of leisure art.  I'm happy to report I've finished one of the needlepoint Christmas ornaments for my children. Here's a sneak peek:

Not hard to guess what this one's about....
I really wanted to go to my studio, but I've been away so long that I decided my best bet was to pick up a piece I don't have a strong attachment to; in fact, I don't like it very much.  I figured I couldn't make it any worse, and I'd get some quilting practice in as well.  After a few hours, my quilting was mostly invisible and the piece hadn't improved. (Okay, it hadn't gotten worse either.)

Boring, boring, boring.  So I painted over the quilting.

Much better.... except the composition really needs to be cropped.  What do you think of this?

Personally, I like this closer cropping.  It's still not a compelling piece, but at least it's a bit more interesting.  While the paint dries I'll think about what to do next.  Any suggestions?  I feel like it needs a few splashes of orange somewhere, but I haven't figured that out yet.  If nothing else, this has already served me well as a practice piece.

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.....