This is the first Wedding Cake Portrait that I've painted in about three years. It was a very special project due to the relationship I have developed with the recipients, Marcia Le Beau and Lee Seidenberg. Marcia and Lee live in a neighboring New Jersey town and I bumped into Lee, an advertising creative, illustrator and photographer, during an arts festival in South Orange a couple of years ago. Through our conversation we discovered that not only does Lee share my husband's first name, but his wife, Marcia, a published poet, worked with my sister-in-law at an advertising agency years ago. Lee and I kept in touch on social media until he enrolled Marcia in my watercolor class as a gift last year.
I live so close to NYC, but historically I seldom take advantage of its proximity, shy of attending family celebrations. Now that I'm a short train ride away and I've made a commitment this year to start seeing work by other artists and attending shows other than my own, I finally planned a weekday art day in NYC. As a working teaching artist, this is something I need to prioritize more and with my kids in school for longer stretches, it's actually doable, or so I thought.
I've been lucky to spend time getting to know another creative mom from South Orange (next door to West Orange), who happens to be a published poet. Our meeting is a long story, and I'm not good at short stories. So as brief as I can, it involves meeting her husband, Lee Seidenberg, while figure drawing during a South Orange creative festival, mutually admiring our works, having a conversation, discovering his wife, Marcia Le Beau, worked with my sister-in-law in the advertising industry, told my sister-in-law about the chance meeting, she said Marcia was great, we tried to link up to socialize, hasn't happened because of our crazy schedules, and then Lee gives Marcia watercolor lessons as a gift, taught by, none other than, me. It also happens that my husband's name is also Lee and Marcia and I are both SU alums, oh and we're both Pennsylvania gals. Marcia has been taking my class at Work and Play since January, and I've had the opportunity to get to know her, help her develop her visual art, and discover her amazing creativity as a poet.
While I opened my field trip to all of my students, only Marcia was free to join me. The intended plan was to head to The Met Breuer to see the Unfinished exhibit. However, the NJTransit delays had other plans for us, and we decided to stay closer to Penn Station, walk the Highline and check out some galleries in Chelsea. We headed down the Highline, stopped in for a water at a sweet cafe near 10th and something, where I saw my first eye candy of the day: a Synesso espresso maker, an appliance after my own heart. Beyond the art today, I ended up shooting some reference shots of two beautiful coffee makers and a coffee grinder. As it turns out, Marcia has an acquaintance, Debra Marcoux, who is the director of Markel Fine Arts, and as it turns out, lives in my neighborhood.
Markel Fine Arts has a show featuring two artists, Sarah Irvin and Josette Urso, both abstractionists, but entirely different focuses. Sarah is a mom, using writing, ink, and Yupo paper to convey the temporality of memory and language, inspired by her experiences during pregnancy and early motherhood. I didn't get a chance to photograph her work, but you can explore it more through Markel Fine Arts. Josette Urso is a Brooklyn-based artist who uses landscape as her schema. Not only does she work in oil, but also renders incredibly complex ink drawings from her studio window. We bounced around a few other galleries, finally ending up at George Billis Gallery where I discovered the abstract, patterned works of John Belingheri. My photos don't do the work any justice. You need to see them in person. And, John Belingheri's show, alongside with David Febland and Chuck Aydlett, opens tonight from 6 - 8pm if you're in Chelsea.
We ended our trip with a visit to Underline Coffee which is owned by partners and husband and wife, Brandon and Debra, the same Debra who directs Kathryn Markel. They opened up about two years ago and everything, including much of the interior design, is hand cut, hand brewed, and hand built. We had delicious toast, and amazing coffee and tea, plus got a chance to meet and chat with Brandon.
Our time was short, our plans changed, but we rolled with it and booked it home in the nick of time for Marcia to pick up her kids from school. We're hoping to make another trip in to actually get to the Met Breuer. Keep your fingers crossed that we can make it happen; in the meantime, I highly suggest you read some of Marcia's poetry at www.marcialebeau.com. They are quick, witty, in some cases funny, and a pleasure to read.
Looking forward to my next post? Here's what's in the works: the background to my newly finished painting, a rare opportunity to purchase work by artist Tony Lordi, and a chance to own a one of a kind original work that will soon get a lot of viewing. Want to get these in your inbox? Follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe on the right.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Sometimes called the Kitchen God's Artist, I'm balancing mothering two energetic sons, our new pup, Cider, while making and teaching art. TraillWorks is the apron under which I create and teach. My own art develops mostly in my home studio, but is often spurred through my teaching, and travels. I just relocated to Durham, NC, from West Orange, NJ, so my studio is in renovation right now.
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