Here’s what works for me when I get stressed at the office:

1) A 10-minute Facebook break, going through my loved ones profiles (I especially love seeing old pictures of me when I was a kid looking so very happy with my parents)

2) Looking at gorgeous, gorgeous jewelry from my favorite designers/brands, Cathy Waterman, Gurhan, Yossi Harari, Temple St. Clair and Chanel.

3) And if you are like us, instead of just working on a necessary, my husband and I are actually applying finishing touches to our entire apartment.   I am finding shopping for things like wall sconces and door knobs really relaxing.  Here’s a door knob I really like from Emtek.

4) And if all else fails, I get myself a treat like a cupcake from the place beside our building 🙂

It’s almost the end of our first trimester :), and also apparently, the end of the line for my regular clothes.  As I sit here after a burrito lunch (which cannot have helped matters), and unbutton my pants, I thank God for having an office and proceed to look for maternity clothes online.  I remember reading somewhere about there being fashion forward wear for moms-to-be from the retailer Asos.  And without letting myself be distracted by the great items in their “regular” women’s line, I head straight to the maternity page, and almost immediately find a dress that will surely help me come to terms with having to give my current wardrobe a hiatus.  The navy color and the no-frills yet coolly different air of the dress makes it fit in with my usual style, and aside from the extra room in the tummy, it could be part of my neutral, well-cut uniform.  And by the way, only $51!   Now just crossing my fingers that I love it as much when the package arrives 🙂

It’s my lunch break at work and I am busy putting together an envelope to send to my mom and dad.  In it is a copy of the handout at the New New York 2001 – 2010 exhibition and a photocopy of an article in New York magazine on the same said exhibition.  The hubby’s name is listed in the handout, as he was part of the group of Architectural League members who shot photos around the city to capture the ‘changing face’ of New York.

We attended the opening reception for the exhibition last Friday, which I was pleased to observe, had enough attendees to warrant people stepping out of the show floor for some air.  Needless to say, I was exceptionally proud of the hubby, as even though I have been to many art shows and auctions, I have never actually had a work on display 🙂

May 5 was quite a great day for me and the hubby.  It was a beautiful Wednesday morning for our first prenatal visit to our obstetrician.  And although as with annual physicals and other routine check-ups,  you are always a bit uncomfortable, seeing our baby on the sonogram was quite amazing.  And he/she was such a show kid, the little feet even gave a few kicks while it was being measured 🙂

After the checkup, still marveling at having seen him/her, we decided to take the crosstown bus back to the UES.  But just as we had hopped on, my phone rang with someone at a leasing office for an apartment on the UWS that I had left a message for the previous day.  Very unlike us, we decided to get off the bus and meet the agent at the building on W 78th and Columbus.  Lo and behold, we walked into an apartment that we just felt had to be destined for us to have a baby in .  It was perfect.  Like most nyc apartments, it was not a massive amount of square footage, but the living room area and the bedroom had 13ft ceilings, big windows in both spaces, looking out to a garden, a brick wall, and only one flight up.  The husband then went on to the leasing office to do the application while I headed back to work, and by the end of the day, the perfect apartment was ours.

Days like that one are rare, but every once in a while you are lucky to have the chance to be thankful that the stars line up for you.

First time at the auctions

December 13, 2009

We were lucky enough to get invited to attend our first Sotheby’s auction in mid-November with a party from a gallery I used to work for on the Upper East Side.  Having only seen these formal auctions in movies, we were of course excited to go.

Apparently, the people who attend these auctions do not really dress as formally as portrayed in films. There were no gloves, no evening gowns, and no tuxes.  There was however free flowing champagne. And there were exorbitant amounts of money offered very coolly for items with sale prices (or hammer prices, as they are termed at auctions) that are determined by how many people on the auction floor, or on the phones, want to walk away with them.

Being a newbie, I read each the description and estimate price listed in the catalog for each lot.  And then watched as the bidding, for the most part, reached the high estimate price and then quickly pass it.  If this is how the art market is in such dismal economic times, I wondered how much more money would change hands if we were not in a recession.  The Camargo sculpture pictured here for example, sold at $1.35M, three times the high estimate price of $450K. I had to struggle to keep my mouth from hanging open as the bids skyrocketed for about ten minutes.  It was quite an exciting evening, although the critics wrote the next day that it was not at all a great auction by their standards, and that Christie’s, although they did a bit better, also was not spectacular.  As for us, we are happy to start following the market at this stage.  If the tales are true about art being so much more lucrative a couple of years ago, we may have had a coronary at our first live auction, as we watch what to us is the value of a couple of homes, thrown at a things that will hang on the wall. 

When I read about a site-specific installation being set up at the newly renovated David H. Koch Theatre, my first thought was “genius!” I was expecting a pay-to-view exhibition of works that would take up a section of the building temporarily to help NYC Opera recoup some of what was surely a renovation that went over budget (consider the price-hike for everything in the current state of the economy). But I was wrong. As I walked into the theatre lobby to attend the cocktail reception, I realized that not only is the installation free for opera ticket holders (will be on view till April 18, 2010), but the dynamic sculptures were not taking up any square footage in the promenade, as they were strung way up in the air. The artist E.V. Day had used the City Opera costumes to construct suspended sculptures of the couture garments in dramatic positions or poses.  It is an added bonus that you are able to view the works from the different perspectives afforded by the three floors up, as well as from the promenade floor. My favorite of them all is piece #4 in the exhibition, which was of about three dozen of ornate hats/head-gear that were part of City Opera’s wardrobe. I just couldn’t help thinking, where were these hats on Halloween, when I was struggling to find inspiration for a costume?

Kandinsky on the color Yellow

December 11, 2009

“Yellow is disquieting to the spectator, pricking him, stimulating him. Yellow can be raised to a pitch of intensity unbearable to the eye and spirit.” Quoting the artist from the book Spiritual in Art is how the audio guide discusses Kandinsky’s Impression III. In case anyone wonders in the future how we came to the decision to have a yellow baby room, I am noting down that it was not from any sense of practicality (yellow’s gender-neutralness), but from our being captivated by this particular oil painting by Vasily Kandinsky.
We saw the Kandinsky show at the Guggenheim on the 21st of October, coincidentally also the museum’s 50th anniversary. The festive spirit of all the visitors standing in line to get in (the line had rounded the block before 11am) certainly helped the tiny bit of anxiety I usually face as I walk in this particular building. We all of course acknowledge Frank Lloyd Wright’s brilliance in designing this 20th century architectural icon, but the physical effort needed to walk up that spiral ramp whilst your brain is processing various works of art has never been a small matter for me.
And this is how I was able to ascertain the impact of Impression III. Considering that the painting was sequenced in the middle of the exhibition, which meant I had already walked up a considerable amount and had seen a number of great works, Impression III’s wide expanse of black on a background of bold yellow woke up my slightly fatigued mind like a jolt of caffeine. I was invigorated enough to muster the strength to finish the walk up to see the rest of the show, instead of deciding to leave the rest for another day.
The work left such an impression (pardon the pun), that we started searching for a book on Kandinsky that would have an image of the painting. Our hunt produced a book by Thomas M. Messer, first published in 1997. I went directly to the page of the book discussing Impression III to read what was written on the work in an attempt to figure out what it was that forcefully caught my attention. It is written that the work’s predecessor, Impression II, was painted in 1911, two days after Kandinsky attended a New Year’s concert in Munich. It would be safe to assume that both works were inspired by Kandinsky’s experience of being at that performance.
Messer writes that the black on the yellow may represent “the artist’s identification of black with negative attributes.” While I do recognize that everyone has a bit of darkness in them, I suspect that my interest has more to do with my obvious attraction to black and gold combos (such as my love for a gorgeous black leather bag with goldtone metal accents, or admiration for all jewelry pieces with gold and onyx). And so despite this possibility of a negative connotation, we are determined to find a print of this particular work that will one day be on the wall of our nursery. A room that will be decorated predominantly in yellow, which will go with the yellow STOKKE we had long ago planned to get for our future babies.
As for the rest of the exhibit, while my interest in seeing Kandinsky at the Guggenheim stemmed from encounters with Abstract Expressionist works at the gallery that gave me my first job in New York City, I left the museum an exhilarated (if a bit tire) fan. I would therefore like to end with some text from the exhibition that may help in the appreciation of the artist’s works.

As identified by Kandinsky, there are three types of paintings designated by their associations with music:
Impressions – based on real life subjects
Improvisations – spontaneous and unconscious images from the artist’s inner life
Compositions – formally developed formats often preceded by many studies.