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In this issue On the Cover
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when Finland-based photographer Paul Hänninen is behind the lens, it seems that a million stories might be inspired by his captivating images. “What motivated me to keep shooting—and what still motivates me today—is the ability to edit and tone the colors of a photo to intensify the mood that I want it to convey,” he says. This photo, taken on the island of Senja, Norway, is just one example of his magical talents. See more in our feature story, “Exploration, Enlightenment, and Enthusiasm.” Vie is a French word meaning “life” or “way of living.” VIE magazine sets itself apart as a high-gloss publication that focuses on human-interest stories with heart and soul. From Seattle to NYC with a concentration in the Southeast, VIE is known for its unique editorial approach—a broad spectrum of deep content with rich photography. The award-winning magazine was founded in 2008 by husband-and-wife team Lisa and Gerald Burwell, owners of the specialty publishing and branding house known as The Idea Boutique®. From the finest artistically bound books to paperless digital publication and distribution, The Idea Boutique provides comprehensive publishing services to authors and organizations. Its team of creative professionals delivers a complete publishing experience—all that’s needed is your vision.
FROM NOW UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, GUESTS AT THE DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART CAN EXPERIENCE DIOR: FROM PARIS TO THE WORLD, AN EXCLUSIVE STORYTELLING EXHIBIT OF THE LEGENDARY FASHION HOUSE, ITS CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES, AND ITS CREATIVE DIRECTORS AND VISIONARIES THROUGHOUT THE DECADES.
Photo by James Florio, courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art
LE MONDE 95
Exploration, Enlightenment & Enthusiasm: Storytelling through the Lens
96 The House of Dior: Where Fashion and
VISUAL PERSPECTIVES 31
100 The Limit Does Not Exist: Going to Extremes 106 Life Is One Big Celebration: Let’s Mingle!
42 No Rules! Creating Hapiart
110 The Master of Light and Shadows
50 Living with Color: An Artist’s Journey
116 Art: It’s a Family Affair
54 Let Freedom Ring: A Dream Keeper at Work 62 Art for the World: Saving Mother Nature
INTROSPECTIONS 120 A Culture of Your Own
VIE BOOK CLUB: THE READERS CORNER 125
74 A Walk in the Clouds
126 The Reality of Racism
80 A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
130 A Goddess in the Making: Circe
68 Beyond the Delta: Exploring Coastal
BON APPÉTIT! 84 Master Class: Experience Japanese Cuisine by the Experts
C’EST LA VIE CURATED COLLECTION: THE CULTURE OF SUMMER 90
THE LAST WORD: CULTURE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND 133 AU REVOIR! 137
TheIdeaBoutique.com email@example.com V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 13
PHOTOGRAPHIC FINE ART Medium to large-scale artwork focused on the waterways of the Gulf Coast. J o n a h A l l e n .c o m | @ J o n a h A l l e n St u d i o J o n a h @ J o n a h A l l e n .c o m | (850) 739- 0 929
CREATIVE TEAM FOUNDER / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF LISA MARIE BURWELL Lisa@VIEmagazine.com
FOUNDER / PUBLISHER GERALD BURWELL Gerald@VIEmagazine.com
EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR JORDAN STAGGS Jordan@VIEmagazine.com
CHIEF COPY EDITOR MARGARET STEVENSON CONTRIBUTING WRITERS SALLIE W. BOYLES, SARAH FREEMAN, SOL ANGE JAZAYERI, STEVE L ARESE, MYLES MELLOR, SUZANNE POLL AK, XENIA TALIOTIS, SUSAN VALLEE, MEGAN WALDREP
ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY ART DIRECTOR TRACEY THOMAS Tracey@VIEmagazine.com
SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS OLIVIA PIERCE HANNAH VERMILLION
CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS NEIL A. ARMSTRONG, BRANDAN BABINEAUX, BARTHFOTOGRAFIE, IVO ANTONIE DE ROOIJ, DIGITALPEARLS, ALFIO FINOCCHIARO, JAMES FLORIO, MICKI GLENN, PAUL HÄNNINEN, STEVE L ARESE, BRENNA KNEISS, MAPICS, CHRIS MCLENNAN, INDEN MILES, SEAN PAVONE, JAYDA RUST, ROB SUISTED, HENRY WILSON, NOPPASIN WONGCHUM, DARRIS HARTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY, SHUTTERSTOCK
ADVERTISING, SALES, AND MARKETING DIGITAL MARKETING DIRECTOR MEGHN HILL ASSISTANT TO THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ABIGAIL RYAN BRAND AMBASSADOR LISA MARIE BURWELL Lisa@VIEmagazine.com MARTA RATA Marta@VIEmagazine.com
AD MANAGER OLIVIA PIERCE Olivia@VIEmagazine.com
DISTRIBUTION MANAGER TIM DUTROW BRIGHT STAR MENTORSHIP PROGRAM HATTEN HUFF – AUBURN UNIVERSIT Y, FINANCE AND MARKETING OLIVIA MANTHEY – TROY UNIVERSIT Y, MARKETING
VIE is a registered trademark. All contents herein are Copyright © 2008–2019 Cornerstone Marketing and Advertising, Incorporated (Publisher). All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without written permission from the Publisher. VIE is a lifestyle magazine and is published twelve times annually on a monthly schedule. The opinions herein are not necessarily those of the Publisher. The Publisher and its advertisers will not be held responsible for any errors found in this publication. The Publisher is not liable for the accuracy of statements made by its advertisers. Ads that appear in this publication are not intended as offers where prohibited by state law. The Publisher is not responsible for photography or artwork submitted by freelance or outside contributors. The Publisher reserves the right to publish any letter addressed to the editor or the Publisher. VIE is a paid publication. Subscription rates: Printed magazine – One-year $29.95; Two-year $49.95. Subscriptions can be purchased online at www.VIEmagazine.com.
16 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
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THE POWER OF A RAINBOW All Things Bright and Beautiful
I have set My rainbow in the clouds and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. —GENESIS 9:13
spectrum of refracted light in the shape of an arc, the rainbow is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can bring hope to the weariest of souls or a smile to those walking in divine gratitude. I don’t recall ever seeing one that did not cause me to catch my breath from its sheer beauty, filling me with a sense of joy—a joy that everything in the world will be all right. With that joy comes a sudden understanding that some things in life are far greater than I could ever know. Gracing the cover of this Art & Culture Issue is the image of a magnificent rainbow over Senja, Norway, captured by Finland-based photographer and storyteller Paul Hänninen. In a world of increasingly rare sightings of stunning flora and fauna, I find incredible depth and meaning in his captivating photography of nature’s handiwork. You can learn more about this talented artist in my interview, “Exploration, Enlightenment, and Enthusiasm,” where Hänninen shares his contagious message of hope and gratitude and his view of a world that is still a beautiful place after all. This issue is a reminder to me that when I first envisioned what kind of magazine VIE should be, what it
VIE editor-in-chief Lisa Burwell Photo by Brenna Kneiss
should say, and what it should offer our readers, I knew there existed endless topics that would enrich a world starving for stories with heart and soul. What I did not realize was how much good I would encounter over the years. Of the many lessons I’ve learned along the way, the most cherished is that there is immense good and beauty in our world if you know where to look. To Life!
—Lisa Marie Founder/Editor-In-Chief V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 21
PROJECT: VIE Magazine Headquarters, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida ARCHITECT: Gerald Burwell FURNISHINGS: Modern Interiors, Miramar Beach, Florida
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We collaborate with talented photographers, writers, and other creatives on a regular basis, and we’re continually inspired by how they pour their hearts and souls into their crafts. Follow these creatives on social media and don’t forget to check out our account, @viemagazine.
Writer/Photographer, “The Limit Does Not Exist”
Writer, “A Goddess in the Making”
IN THIS ISSUE, WE DEBUT THE NEW VIE BOOK CLUB, SO WE ASKED THE CREATIVES: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK AND WHY?
Choosing a favorite book is difficult, but Kevin Fedarko’s The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon is top of my list for nonfiction. It recounts the 1983 story of a record-setting run on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park, completing its 277 miles in a breakneck thirty-six hours and thirty-eight minutes. That year saw unprecedented rainfall, resulting in the Glen Canyon Dam releasing as much water as it could to avoid collapse. Fedarko perfectly marries journalism with breathtaking storytelling, even making the principles of dam construction more fascinating than I ever thought possible. This white-knuckle read is the next best thing to sitting in the Emerald Mile and cheating death as it rips through the Grand Canyon.
SARAH FREEMAN Writer, “The Master of Light and Shadows” @setfreesarah
I have to go with One Day by David Nicholls. I’ve read this book countless times and still finish it red-eyed. From laugh-out-loud funny in places to heart-wrenchingly sad, the British novel charts the two-decade friendship and lives of Emma—a left-wing, working-class girl—and wealthy, chiseled Dexter. It makes me incredibly nostalgic about 1990s pop culture and my own love affair with Scotland’s capital city.
HATTEN HUFF Bright Star Mentorship Program Participant @hattenhuff
My favorite book would definitely have to be Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It takes readers through a love story that is inspired by Hosea in the Bible but is set in Gold Rush–era California. The novel has a way of captivating readers and the beautiful characters make it a tough one to put down.
I literally cannot answer that question. I do my best to average a book per week. I genuinely believe you are never alone, without advice, or unsupported if you have a library card. Books contain hidden treasures—they’re waiting to be opened up and discovered for all their wisdom. But if you are asking for some of my favorites, A New Earth from Eckhart Tolle is a great philosophical read. It was life-transforming for me and taught me how to place my ego where it should be—on a shelf. In fiction, The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai—a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer prize—has multidimensional characters so beautifully crafted I found myself laughing and crying for their wins and losses throughout the novel. A favorite in the series category, hands down, is The Red Ledger by Meredith Wild. It’s a fast and rich read that wraps you up in a sexy adventure. But be warned: this series will make you a binge reader until the last volume. In historical fiction, I loved Madeline Miller’s Circe, which I was lucky enough to review for this issue of VIE. I can go on and on, but let me leave you with a psych-thriller: Baby Teeth, soon to be a film, which turns the motherdaughter dynamic upside down as it delivers a bad-seed story to ignite your creepy-crawly senses.
THE GREAT BELIEVERS BY REBECCA MAKKAI HAS MULTIDIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS SO BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED I FOUND MYSELF LAUGHING AND CRYING FOR THEIR WINS AND LOSSES THROUGHOUT THE NOVEL.
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 25
ON L AND - AT SE A - IN THE AIR
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Talk It Up! WE LOVE TO COMMUNICATE AND INTERACT WITH OUR READERS! AND WE LOVE IT EVEN MORE WHEN THEY PROUDLY SHARE THEIR STORIES AND POSE WITH VIE FOR A CLOSE-UP! THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT: SHARING, LOVING, AND BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. WE THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH AND WE APPRECIATE YOU!
@istweddings Such an honor to have this beautiful @alysbeachfl wedding featured in @viemagazine this month! See full feature in our profile. Many thanks to the Corr family and our wonderful wedding friends! @charlesbentley Thanks for the feature, @viemagazine!
@abhisheklegit Featured on @viemagazine Aug ’19 issue!
@thesmileof30a And the show will go on! Follow us to join in on a brand-new chapter of our journey. We’re starting fresh and at full force!
@bevolo Since 1945, @bevolo has created hand-crafted, high-quality light fixtures that are designed to last a lifetime. The New Orleans–based brand made gas lanterns that have been hanging in the city’s French Quarter for over seventy years. #Repost @viemagazine
@thelensbar Our favorite beach read, @viemagazine, paired with our favorite Celine opticals in red acetate
@beyondbex Article for @viemagazine now live and in the print edition. Read all about @kokkiniportarossa—how a crumbling knight’s house on the Greek island of #Rhodes has been lovingly transformed by one determined family into luxurious boutique suites.
Send VIE your comments and photos on our social media channels or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear your thoughts. They could end up in the next La conversation!
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 27
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The Women of Mykonos by Gee Gee Collins Mixed media on canvas 72 × 60 × 2 in.
Visual Perspectives EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Picasso meets the modern age in the artwork of Gee Gee Collins. The Atlanta-born belle studied painting at the College of Charleston and received a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Georgia before moving to New York. Her paintings of faces and figures give one a sense that they could be the work of a classical artist transported into the modern age of bright colors, minimalism, and femininity. She even re-created Sandro Botticelli’s famous painting The Birth of Venus (1486). Collins’s Venus emerges with palm leaves, her entourage, and even a cat curled up in one corner of the canvas—a birth of today’s independent woman.
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 31
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Exploration, Enlightenment & Enthusiasm
Lens I N T E R V I E W BY Lisa Burwell
P H OTO G R A P H Y BY Paul Hänninen
The places and creatures of earth are magical, especially when viewed through the lens of twenty-f ive-year-old Finnish photographer Paul Hänninen. His rich images depict a fairy-tale world of beautiful landscapes and mesmerizing wild animals that seem to come alive from the still photos and remind viewers that our planet is incredible and worth protecting. Paul has captured scenes in Finland, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Namibia, and South Africa and has a trip to New Zealand planned for the coming year. He expounds upon his adventures, the challenges and rewards of photography, and how travel can change your life.
VIE: You travel the world in search of stories to tell through your lens. How did you get started in such a fascinating career at your young age?
PAUL HÄNNINEN: I’ve been thinking about this a lot—about when it really started and what led to its becoming a career. To begin with the earliest creative influences for me, I’d say unorganized playing with Legos, exploring and examining the nature of my motherland, Finland, and really scrutinizing the tiny wonders of the bug world as a lonely kid. But the actual photographing started not much earlier than 2016, although I was somewhat familiar with cameras and Photoshop already. I started with LG’s G3 smartphone, as it was one of the first to have a camera with manual settings, and started actively
Opposite: An enormous African elephant encountered by photographer Paul Hänninen at Erindi Private Game Reserve in Namibia
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 33
looking for artistic stuff to shoot, creating tiny stuff to shoot, and looking for the creative angles. What motivated me to keep shooting—and what still motivates me today—is the ability to edit and tone the colors of a photo to intensify the mood that I want it to convey. My first photography trip was a week in Iceland in the fall of 2016 with my partner, Hannele, and the longest one was when she insisted that I come with her to Namibia for three months in the beginning of 2018. She was doing a school internship there in a hospital in Katutura, Windhoek. But more on that incredibly life-changing trip later.
VIE: Are you a self-taught photographer or professionally trained? PH: Self-learning in itself is crucial in building a bundle of skills for a meaningful, fulfilled life where you gather new understanding throughout your life and retain a humble beginner’s attitude toward everything. That’s why I prefer it and am self-taught, thanks to the internet. You should treat every person you meet as a teacher yet still use common sense and humble questioning in your mind to decide whether the teachings of someone are right or if you should use their life as a warning example instead. The majority of schools diminish creativity to a certain point as they put every student into the same mold; but even so, they do have some valuable things to be learned for those who are motivated—plus they are perfect for making new friends.
VIE: Of all the subjects that you photograph, do you have a favorite? PH: I tend to bounce back and forth between wildlife photography and setting up something creative by myself to shoot—a tiny snowman, for example. But in the end, what’s more meaningful is the wildlife of our planet. Thankfully, though, those two subjects are easily condensable.
VIE: How do you determine when and where you will go next to tell your story? PH: I’m a simple man; I see pictures of a place and I wanna go—haha. Mostly, it’s Above right: Hänninen says that witnessing a fully grown giraffe run was an unforgettable experience. This image was also captured at Erindi Private Game Reserve in Namibia. Opposite: “These sunset aerials at one of the most aesthetic eskers in Finland show that the heat of the oncoming summer is rapidly eating off all the ice from the lakes here,” says Hänninen of this shot taken at Pulkkilanharju Ridge.
34 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
thinking about what we (my partner and I) will get from the journey in a certain country, if it is safe for us, and most important, if we can afford it. Our next and longest trip so far will be to New Zealand at the end of 2019 with a working holiday visa. We’ll stay there for at least six months, while the max limit is one year. You should stay tuned for more of that later on this year!
VIE: What do you want to communicate to the world through your art? PH: In short, I want to show how beautiful our planet earth really is and communicate that we should truly treasure it—and to show that imagination is the most essential seasoning of life; without it, life tastes bland, no matter where you are.
VIE: Can you elaborate on what you feel or what happens to you when you know you’ve
captured an image that will move people to stop, think, and pay attention?
PH: To be honest, I really don’t know until after I’ve edited an image. Before that, it’s just wild guessing. Only after I’ve had the time to deeply get into a certain image and carve out and intensify the mood that, before editing, only subtly smoldered within, do my senses start to tingle that this might be it.
VIE: Is there any news coming up for you that you’d like
to share with our readers?
PH: Yes—New Zealand at the end of this year with Hannele. The working holiday visa was her idea, but she was thinking about Australia at first. We then thought it over and came to a realization that we’ll get much more out of the vast country of Australia when we’ve lived in the tightly packed New Zealand first. So, new adventures full of ocean life, rain forests, mountains, and glaciers are forthcoming! But, obviously, since we’re on a budget, we’re going to need to work there. Still not knowing too much about all the work opportunities the country has to offer, we’re not planning to travel around every day, but often. I’ll also aim to do collaborations with many of the local businesses that I don’t even know yet, but I’ll get into that before the trip. And because we don’t know enough about New Zealand, we’d be more than thankful for any tips, deep knowledge, and contacts concerning all of the above, so I welcome anyone to hit me up if they think they know of something we don’t. Getting into underwater photography there would be a real dream come true!
Self-learning in itself is crucial in building a bundle of skills for a meaningful, fulfilled life where you gather new understanding throughout your life and retain a humble beginnerâ€™s attitude toward everything.
V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 35
VIE: Tell us more about that life-changing trip to Namibia. PH: In 2017, Hannele asked me if I’d like to go to Namibia with her as she wanted to finish her paramedic studies with a hospital internship there. I hesitated for a moment, but after scrolling through the wonders the country had to offer, I was fully sold. It was our first time traveling to Africa. On January 7, 2018, we hopped on the plane in Finland knowing we wouldn’t be back until April. After twenty hours and one stop in Doha, Qatar, our plane began its descent to the airport at Windhoek, Namibia, and, oh man, the landscape through the plane windows was exactly as one might imagine Africa to be. Bushy trees covered a vast, dry savanna with puffy clouds above it. It instantly took me back to the VHS wonders of my childhood, which I had never experienced tangibly. Let’s fast-forward to our host family, who lived in the slum of Windhoek—Katutura (roughly translated to “place where we don’t want to be”)—where we spent our first month. As you might imagine, being two white people from Finland on our first trip to Africa, we experienced a huge culture shock. Thankfully, our hosts, Leonard and Hillary, were the kindest, most loving people the world has to offer and treated us as their own children, no matter our skin color. After only a week, the neighbors accepted us as good people, and walking Hannele to the hospital at 6:00 a.m. had already become a routine. Two of Hannele’s
This page and opposite: Hänninen’s adventures in Namibia included traveling to game reserves nearly every weekend to explore and photograph the continent’s incredible wildlife. 36 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
classmates from Finland had also come there for their internships at the same time, which brought more peace of mind to me. We were actually supposed to go live with them in a student guesthouse as their school had assured, but none of us got there until after the first month. Nevertheless, I knew Hannele wouldn’t have to be alone in the hospital, which turned out to be a real test of one’s mind with all the disaster around—they didn’t have the resources or the equipment we had back home; young people were dying and you could do nothing about it; and, worst of all, only a few workers tended to really care. One just had to adapt and put up with it. But, despite all that, we loved the two-hour-long story sessions at the dinner table back with our host family—no phones around, just wild African stories one simply couldn’t make up. That was seriously priceless. That I really miss.
Seeing a sixteen-foot-tall giraffe launching itself into a run was mesmerizing— the creature almost seemed to be moving in slow motion because it was so heavy.
But what I miss at least as much are the adventures. Every weekend we rented a car and drove to some nature destination, be it the desert or a game reserve. Katutura made me grow as a man, but, oh boy, those savanna rides were what truly brought out my inner child. Seeing a sixteen-foot-tall giraffe launching itself into a run was mesmerizing—the creature almost seemed to be moving in slow motion because it was so heavy. Staring a male lion in his eyes was intense, but staring a male leopard in his eyes as he walked toward our open safari vehicle was beyond frightening. The most dramatic moment, however, was when a horny bull elephant, packed with testosterone, was about to run over Hannele’s and my car on one of those safaris. Happily, my foot was firmly on the gas pedal, and we got away.
A moody landscape shot of Hamnøy, a small Norwegian fishing village Opposite left: On his Instagram, this photo of penguins in Cape Town, South Africa, is accompanied by Hänninen’s playful caption, “Tag these two knuckleheads from your friend list.” Opposite right: Hänninen writes of the leopard: “The silent killer of Africa. The one that local farmers hate. Intelligent, ambitious, and not here to play around . . . and the one who most definitely knows how to dress.” 38 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
We loved the two-hourlong story sessions at the dinner table back with our host family— no phones around, just wild African stories one simply couldn’t make up.
Showing all the shots I took to Leonard and Hillary was so special. Seeing the excitement on their faces made me feel fulfilled. And with that being said, that’s where I must go back with Hannele—back to Namibia. It made us feel alive with its subtle and not-so-subtle dangers, with the right amount of uncertainty, and with its people in the same time zone yet nearly a polar opposite from Finland. And no school has ever taught me as much as those three months did— just think about that.
View more of Paul’s work or inquire about purchasing a print when you visit PaulHanninen.PB.Photography or follow him on Instagram @paul_hanninen. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 39
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C R E AT I N G
I N T E R V I E W BY J O R DA N S TA G G S | A RT W O R K BY K R I S T I KO H U T
ontemporary artist Kristi Kohut is pushing sixteen thousand followers on her Instagram account. Her work has been featured in over seventy publications, including Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Forbes, and The World of Interiors. She has hosted popup shops in the Hamptons and collaborated with big brands such as Anthropologie. Among her collectors are well-known entrepreneurs, Hall of Fame athletes, and magazine editors across four continents. Her waiting list for commissions is pushing into 2020 already. And yet she reinforces the idea that she does not fit the typical mold of an artist. She moves fast. She began building her brand from the ground up in 2014 when she turned her hobby into an art studio and business. Today, Kohut’s kaleidoscopic gemstone- and nature-inspired pieces are selling for more than twice what they did back then. The “slowmoving” art galleries that never seemed to get back to her when she was starting are now knocking on her digital door quite constantly.
Kristi Kohut: The energy, the intensity, the highpressure pitches, and the late nights. I was young, and it was exciting, fun, and creative, I started in NYC and was surrounded by interesting and talented people. I also loved the actual creative process of imagining an idea through endless brainstorming and then bringing it to life. Learning from creative directors, photographers, directors, stylists—the process of collaborating with so much creativity and talent was invigorating. It was glamorous and energizing, and I learned so much that I still apply to my creative practice today. It taught me to push out endless amounts of work and then filter through to find the ones that make a difference. I learned how to build a brand and connect with people by telling a story (all things that you don’t learn
Opposite: Artist Kristi Kohut of Hapiart in her studio Below: Kohut is inspired by color, nature, and fashion to create her whimsical, kaleidoscopic works of art.
“It’s all proof that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for artists,” Kohut confides. “For me, fine art and digital commerce go hand and hand. I’m happy being an outlier—or, more aptly, an artlier.” Kohut tells us about her journey to becoming a professional artist, why art is important to the world, and why it’s okay—even a good thing—to break all the rules: VIE: You started your career in advertising. What did you love most about that job?
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ART WAS ALWAYS A PART OF MY LIFE, EVER SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL. I CAN REMEMBER SITTING AT MY DESK LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW TO THE BRIGHT GREEN GRASS AND
Right: Kohut’s works include everything from paintings and home goods to these unique digital prints on acrylic, hand-embellished with cut-glass glitter and crystals.
THE BLUEST SKY, JUST PAINTING FOR HOURS. sky, just painting for hours. The thing that would light me up the most, more than any other toy, was a brand-new box of Crayola 64 crayons. Something about the vibrant colors and the endless possibilities of combinations just fueled me.
Below: A Beautiful Glimpse
in art school but that have been critical in allowing me to succeed as an independent artist and connect with people in a real way). Most importantly, it inspired me to think big. Everything ever created exists first in the imagination. The only limits to what we can do or accomplish are in our heads. Be bold and crazy enough to think of larger-than-life ideas. Don’t look at what’s already been done or what others are doing—think bigger. If you can imagine it, you can create it. VIE: When you started painting in your home studio after becoming a mother, was that the first time you had painted, or was it something you always loved? KK: Art was always a part of my life, ever since I was a little girl. I can remember sitting at my desk looking out the window to the bright green grass and the bluest 44 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
But all I heard was, “You don’t want to be an artist”—the whole starving artist myth—“You have to get a real job.” I went to journalism school at the University of Missouri and for a time thought I wanted to go into broadcast journalism. Then the book Ogilvy on Advertising arrived on my lap, and I was excited. I studied advertising instead and went off to New York City to work at what was one of the most exciting firms—Ogilvy & Mather. I worked at Ogilvy all through my twenties, ultimately ending up and spending most of my time as an art director at the Chicago office. I suddenly felt things begin to come full circle as to my passion for art and creating. VIE: After leaving the world of advertising to start your family, you began painting again as a hobby. When did you realize you could turn your art into a business?
KK: In the beginning, I just wanted to make art. And I did—a lot of it. I just kept creating and creating and creating until my walls were filled. After honing my craft for several years, it was time to start putting my work out there (I was quickly running out of wall space!). Then people started asking about it and wanting the pieces I was creating, and it slowly took off. Three years ago, things changed, and it’s felt as if everything has been at a hyper pace since then. The interest has been far greater than I imagined early on.
prove that fine art could be sold and scaled online. And so that’s just what I did, and the result was bigger and better than I ever could have expected—that made all the difference.
My studio was filled with commissions from buyers who eventually became collectors, designers were calling, commercial projects (hotels, etc.) started showing up, and I knew something was happening.
KK: Hapi is actually the name of an Egyptian god that is known for bringing in the annual flooding of the Nile after the drought. For me, this is a metaphor for what creativity does. It also references the emotion I want my work to bring out in my audience—I hope my work lifts you up out of the everyday and brings you joy!
Early on, the typical artist’s path and exclusive representation didn’t feel like a good fit for me—it just seemed to move too slowly and had too many rules. I wanted to connect one-on-one with potential buyers. Bucking the norm at the time, I started selling my art online and sharing my story on Instagram. In one click, someone could become a collector and own a first edition, and in one message, a collector could connect with me directly. The response was incredible and not only personally fulfilling for me, but it was also a strategic decision. I was out to build a true business and
VIE: You use the name “Hapiart” on your social media. What was the inspiration for that name?
Over time, I realized how much people want to connect with the artist and know who the person is behind the work, so ultimately (a bit begrudgingly, ha!), I switched over to my name.
Above and top: The patterns in landscapes, seashells, bodily tissues, agates, and other gemstones inspired Kohut’s Symphonic Atlas series.
VIE: How would you describe your work? KK: Colorful. Bold. Whimsy with a bit of glamour. Rule-breaking. I love to mix things up, whether it be the media itself or the use of unique materials. High and low. Matte and glitter. Chalky and glossy. Vibrant and muted. There’s also a lot of
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Visual Perspectives piece of fruit, a fashion runway. More than anything, schemes come instinctively, welling up from my technicolor soul and creating worlds of magic. Nature is, by far, my favorite artist. I often spend time outdoors taking in the natural world and marveling at colors, patterns, and symmetry, internalizing them for inspiration—from dappled marble and squiggly agate lines to shimmering glaciers and iridescent birds. These elements are echoed throughout my work, whether as transforming opalescent colors in a tray or as sparkling glitter brushed methodically on a painting. Beyond aesthetics, I aim to connect my work to ideas one sees in nature: the surprise of bare winter branches turning into blooming trees; patterns in molecules that exist but aren’t obvious to the naked eye; the innate order of the Fibonacci sequence seen in delphiniums, pineapples, and nautilus shells. It all inspires a deeper context and thinking behind my work.
Above: Kohut often works with interior designers, homeowners, and hotels to curate artwork and home goods, such as her pillow collection, in their spaces. Opposite: Her sculpture series includes acrylic blocks and one-ofa-kind shapes with elements of everything from hand-embellished, hand-cut artwork to clothing tags and other found paper, finished with shimmers of cutglass glitter.
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interactivity to them—I want a piece to come alive as you move around it and as light hits it. I do this by incorporating layers of materials such as iridescent acrylic and cut-glass glitter. One of my favorite quotes is by Helen Frankenthaler: “There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.” VIE: What inspires the colors and patterns you create? How do they make you feel? KK: Historically, there are two big influences in my work: color and nature. More recently, I find fashion becoming an inspiration as well. I’ve always connected to the world in color. From childhood, hues flashed to me like a spark: the red strawberries in the garden hanging toward green grass, the blue of summer sky against a ripple of darker blue water, or a shiny ROYGBIV-colored beetle on top of matte textured bark. Every glance is a rainbow, drawing me in and fueling my energy. That’s especially true professionally: color drives and defines my art. Like a mix master, I love to layer colors to create harmonious combinations. The color spectrum is my musical scale, and paintings are my songs. My favorite thing to do is light up a canvas with vibrant brights and combine tones in unexpected ways. Neons juxtapose with faded neutrals, pastels provide a counterpoint to primaries, dark lives with saturated, and all color wheel rules are thrown out the window. Anything is possible. As long as it brings a zing of joy, the choice is right. Kaleidoscopic inspiration can come from anywhere: bold architecture, natural landscapes, patterns in a
This can be seen most recently in my Symphonic Atlas series, featuring mixed media of frosty white fields and brightly hued organic lines meandering off each canvas’s edge. Are these abstract aerial views of geological landscapes or microimpressions of crystals and the human body? Further to that, I love to leave the true meaning a bit ambiguous and unclear as to whether these works reflect contained, finite moments or small snapshots of something larger that continues. No matter how it’s interpreted, I hope the series challenges perception and invites questioning. VIE: How do high fashion and pop culture come into play in your pieces? KK: A key theme in my work is the juxtaposition of the natural and material worlds. In so many ways, life imitates the earth: city lights echo the sun; manufactured sequins mirror a watery landscape’s iridescence; printed fabrics on runways feature flora and fauna. My work often explores how nature creates an awe-inspiring foundation for people, and in turn how people make beautiful things from their imaginations to fulfill themselves. As a former advertising art director, I’m fascinated by beauty in its many definitions and forms. I’m especially drawn to bold elements in pop culture: modern restaurants with unusual architecture, impactful typography and text treatments, luxury fashion designs by Mary
Katrantzou and Alexander McQueen, and mindbending exhibits such as Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future at the Guggenheim. This tension between natural and man-made shows up in my art in subtle ways—like a synthetic Lucite frame encasing a natureinspired work of art—or in more overt examinations. In a recent mixed-media piece, I incorporated a vintage Gucci scarf featuring a floral print, inspired by a Botticelli painting and originally made for Grace Kelly, combined with nature-inspired references like glitter and actual elements from nature: butterflies and leaves. All meant to provoke reflection, both for me and the viewer. VIE: What is your mission when it comes to giving back to charity through your art sales? KK: Giving back has always been woven into the fabric of my business. Since the beginning, I’ve donated to FEED Projects to combat hunger, now with 1 percent of all my profits going to FEED and similar charities. Food is a fundamental right and a building block for everything else in life. I’m passionate about doing my small part to help make a difference so that kids can grow up and pursue their own path and dreams. With every piece of art sold, a tiny step is made toward ending food insecurity. Each little individual effort can add up to create change and make the world a bit better, together. VIE: You say you want people to be able to own art—whether it’s through buying an original piece or being able to afford a print or home decor item. Why do you think it’s important for people to have art in their homes? KK: Art shouldn’t be limited to the lucky few. Everyone should have the opportunity to live with art in some way, whether it’s the ten-thousanddollar painting or a small print. There is nothing like living with art—so much love, joy, passion, dreaming goes into an original
MY WORK OFTEN EXPLORES HOW NATURE CREATES AN AWE-INSPIRING FOUNDATION FOR PEOPLE, AND IN TURN HOW PEOPLE MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS FROM THEIR IMAGINATIONS TO FULFILL THEMSELVES. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 47
your great taste and go out and buy the same blush twill Cassina sofa, but there’s no way they’ll have the same original painting hanging above it. VIE: Who are some other artists you’re loving or inspired by this year?
work of art. A bit of this energy comes through and adds to a space in a way that something machine-made just never can. Humans have been creating and living with art since the dawn of time. There’s something in it that fuels us at the deepest level. And in a world where so much is mass-produced and Amazon-primed right to your door within hours, there’s something irreplaceable about owning something that is one of a kind, made by hand. There will only ever be one just like it, no two people can own the same one—and I don’t know about you, but as an art enthusiast myself, there’s something so stinkin’ cool and priceless about owning an original that no one else has. Your friends might love
KK: I’m obsessed with Jacob Hashimoto. His work is incredible, and there is nothing like seeing it in person. All of the layers and details and his use of color and pattern are beyond. I’m also really inspired by Alessandro Michele and what he has done with Gucci. The mix of old and new, colors and patterns, glitz and glam, vintage and graphic is so incredible. I love Ashley Longshore and collect her work— I have two large-scale pieces hanging in my homes. She is another artist who is bucking the traditional gallery model and going her own way. She is so inspiring and so full of personality and energy! We have another piece we commissioned from her being
framed as I write this! I not only love creating art but also love collecting from other artists. VIE: What do you love most about sharing your tips and news through your blog? KK: There’s so much that goes into the art of collecting and hanging art in your home. My collectors come to me with so many questions, and I get that it can feel overwhelming. I want to change this and help make the process more seamless and more fun. Art should be nothing but that! I’m hoping to demystify the process a bit with my blog and help collectors navigate through all the little details so they can get to the good stuff—living with art!
VISIT KRISTIKOHUT.STUDIO TO LEARN MORE OR SHOP NOW, AND FOLLOW ALONG ON INSTAGRAM (@HAPIART).
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AN ARTIST’S JOURNEY
BY S A L L I E W. B OY L E S | A R T WO R K BY S A N D R A S O L D O AC KOV I C
Born in Belgrade, Sandra lived in Mostar, BosniaHerzegovina, which she describes as “a small city with a lot of charm,” a place that engenders poets and artists. “My city is fifty miles from the Croatian border. We did our day trips to the Adriatic Sea.” With the Mediterranean climate and azure skies embedded in her soul, Sandra says, “All my blues and greens come from my old town and homeland.” From settling in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, she shares, “What I picked from the South are the landscapes. I fell in love with nature.” However, she states, “There’s always more to it. I always try to paint the feeling behind the scenery—how I see it.”
When artist Sandra Soldo Ackovic was young, she says, “I remember my teacher telling me I was brave because I was not afraid of the critique. I paint what comes out of me and give it to the world.” Her intention is “to leave a nice, calm, positive feeling.” Ironically, as Sandra attests, “The colors are screaming.” Using bold hues to create tranquility is her “personal challenge” and her signature. Her journey, in turn, sheds light on Sandra’s artistic viewpoint. “I come from a country that doesn’t exist anymore,” she reveals, referring to Yugoslavia. “We came to America in 1995, during the civil war that started in Bosnia in 1992. I came with my husband, Olja, to connect with my aunt and her family. I am an only child, so I left my parents behind.” Over a yearlong period, she couldn’t contact her parents. “It’s peaceful now,” she says. “The war ended officially in 1997, and everything was nice and calm by 1999.” 50 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
Sandra’s originals cover the walls of her home, yet they represent a fraction of her full body of work. Countless paintings fill her basement studio, which has no windows. “A long time ago,” she explains, “I read in a book by Austrian artist Friedrich Stowasser that artists should not have a studio with windows because they should not look outside; they should look inside themselves. We need daylight to paint, but my understanding is that we can easily get distracted by our environment.
Artists should seek solitude when painting. My family knows that if I’m in the basement, no one comes down—unless the house is on fire!” The prolific artist has work on display in the Phil Mechanic Studios in the River Arts District of Asheville, North Carolina. There she spends every other weekend painting and interacting with patrons
and visitors. “My art has flourished in the past five years,” says Sandra. “That’s when I first started to paint what I wanted.” Attributing her artistic talent to her mother, who made crafts from textiles and mosaics from broken glass, and her steady hand to her father, an agricultural engineer, Sandra says, “I always planned to go to art school. I didn’t paint, but as a little kid, I always drew and had coloring books. I was born with it, and it just has to come out of me in some way.”
Above: Two Horses by Sandra Soldo Ackovic Acrylic on canvas, 30 × 40 in.
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Above: Dreaming Like Van Gogh Oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 × 43 in.
For a time, life’s circumstances turned her need to create into a luxury. “When I came to America,” Sandra says, “I had to learn the language, go to work.” After working in daycare, she became a dental technician. Sandra and Olja’s two boys, now young teens, were also born. “There was no time for art, but I’d always find twenty minutes a day to do something, often on paper.” “My art started as a hobby and a way to heal myself,” she says. “Coming out of Bosnia, I was sad for my family.
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I was starting a new life. I became mildly depressed but was too poor to pay for a psychiatrist, so I went into my studio and painted until I healed myself.” She also began painting commissions for an interior design group. A visit to a North Georgia farm owned by friends who had horses and goats reignited the spark. “I always admired horses from a distance because I lived in a city,” Sandra says. “On those trips to the farm, I got to know their names and personalities, and I was drawn to their anatomy. I thought, let me see where this goes, and I absolutely loved it. I found a way to paint the image of an animal I loved and put my emotions in it. I like to call my art ‘fables’ because those animals start to talk to me.”
ome of her pieces become so personal to Sandra that she cannot part with them, but she has so many others to share. “It’s funny how paintings sometimes speak to us,” she says, “and we are surprised. I am surprised, especially when I do a figurative work, by a message that radiates after it is finished. For a painting to be good,” she insists, “it must have a soul. It has to talk to someone other than me.” The canvas and paint speak to Sandra each step of the way. “I never sit in front of a white canvas knowing exactly what I’m going to paint,” she says. “I start a couple of canvases of different sizes at the same time, randomly adding unplanned layers and splashes of color.” She paints the initial layers in oil with a spatula or roller. “After it’s dry,” Sandra describes, “with no intentions, I come back and look at that canvas and rotate it to find images. Sometimes, I like it like that, and that’s my abstract work, but that phase usually doesn’t last long. If I see something in the canvas—a woman’s figure, a dog, a horse—I’ll go from there. It’s very spontaneous.”
“Sometimes, I like it like that, and that’s my abstract
Left: Vivid colors unify Sandra’s collections and her paintings often complement each other. Below left: Artist Sandra Soldo Ackovic
work, but that phase usually doesn’t last long. If I see something in the canvas—a woman’s figure, a dog, a horse—I’ll go from there. It’s very spontaneous.” For her figurative work, Sandra searches through magazine clippings that she keeps in files. Regarding the size and composition, she says, “That’s when the planning comes in. When I decide on the image I want to paint, I draw a sketch directly on the canvas. If I like where it’s going, I start adding layers to the figure.” At this stage, the medium is either fluid or heavy body acrylics because the drying time is much shorter than for oil. “After, I work in oil with brushes,” Sandra says. “Very often, I just use my fingers.”
Eager to test diverse methods, such as applying cold wax and oil, Sandra also likes Powertex, used “for sculpturing on canvas, which gives you a 3-D effect with plaster and textile applications.” She has further created her marbling technique by swirling paint in a kiddie pool of water and then submerging the canvas. “Inspiration comes in waves,” Sandra says. “If I’m walking my dog and I’m inspired by the green in the trees, I’ll snap a picture with my phone. When I look at the photo again in my studio, the emotion I felt comes back to me.” Considering her latest work—combinations of abstract and figurative offset by a rectangular block—Sandra says, “I’m a sucker for doing something different. Sometimes the galleries say that you need to have only one style and keep doing what works. To me, that’s not challenging enough. So, I do like working in a series, in a collection. They are all slightly different but connected. What connects my work is color. I like pure, very bright colors—straight out from the tube!”
To view more of Sandra’s paintings and inquire about her existing work or commissions, readers should visit her website at SandraSoldoAckovic.com. Individuals can also follower her on Instagram at @Soldo_Art or her page at Facebook.com/ SoldoArtist. She further welcomes people to meet her and view her work in person at the Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts Street, Asheville, North Carolina. Sallie W. Boyles works as a freelance journalist, ghostwriter, copywriter, and editor through Write Lady Inc., her Atlanta-based company. With an MBA in marketing, she marvels at the power of words, particularly in business and politics, but loves nothing more than relaying extraordinary personal stories that are believable only because they are true. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 53
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A Dream Keeper at Work B Y S A L L I E W. B O Y L E S A RT WOR K BY K ATH Y FINCHER
A measure of unbridled freedom and utmost discipline produces fine art. Both are ingrained in artist Kathy Andrews Fincher. While growing up in her hometown of Duluth, Georgia, thirty minutes north of Atlanta, she was usually riding her horse through the local lake or swimming in it with her four brothers. Like every other child, she was sent outdoors with the freedom to be a kid until the sunset signaled time to head home.
Kathy’s mother—valuing education and deeming that her only daughter, a rising high school sophomore, needed some ladylike qualities—sent her to Brenau Academy, an all-girl boarding school in Gainesville, Georgia. Finding little in common with girls who wore makeup, she was grateful for Jenny McCrary, a fellow student with three brothers of her own. Thanks to Jenny, Kathy gained a precious friend and a treasured art teacher. “Lydia McCrary, Jenny’s mother, had studied art at the Louvre in Paris,” says Kathy, “and the museum’s curator had spent his life rediscovering the mediums of the Old Masters.” By befriending the curator’s wife, Lydia learned the classical methods directly from him. She, in turn, adhered to the techniques in teaching through her studio in (of all places) small-town Gainesville. Kathy claims that
Lydia immediately accepted her as a student to lure Jenny there. Although Jenny quit after four classes, Kathy, who received permission from Brenau to leave the campus for her art education, ended up studying under Lydia for twenty years. “I gained this tremendous background in drawing, which has not been emphasized for a long time,” Kathy says. “The emphasis was void of color, but it was a life lesson on perfect values. The finished work looked like a black-and-white photograph.” Explaining her disciplined training, she continues, “You drew for four years in charcoal before you used color. When you painted, everything was in pure white. Various rooms in the studio contained the subjects—pure white plasters of busts, reliefs of florals and figures, and statues of Renaissance influence.” All were meant to be studied. “Doing in-depth research on every piece of art you approached was one of the main lessons I took from Lydia,” Kathy says. “On top of that, you strived for every piece of work to be a masterpiece. It was not unusual to begin a painting and know that you’d be working on it for three to four years.”
The Dream Keepers by Kathy Fincher Dry pastel and watercolor on museum rag board, 40 × 30 in. The original painting is in the George W. Bush Presidential Library. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 55
athy later transferred from Brenau College (Brenau University today) to the University of Georgia as a junior to major in art. “My first assignment was to paint three nudes on a three-tofour-foot canvas,” she recalls. “I asked the teacher how to mix flesh tones; Lydia still had me drawing.” The answer then and repeatedly thereafter was to “express yourself.” Kathy states, “There was no organized teaching. Because of that, I changed my major to outdoor parks and recreation and spent my senior year living on a wildlife refuge in the Okefenokee Swamp. I completely turned against the arts.” Instead, she turned to the great outdoors. A natural athlete, Kathy and her extended family had spent many Sundays after church on Georgia’s Lake Lanier. “We would all tie our boats together and swim,” she says. Seeing a kite skier inspired her brothers to build a flat kite to ski behind their boat. When Lake Lanier Islands formed a ski team, Kathy (in college) and her brothers (in college and high school) were hired to perform tricks in their shows. obsessed with
“I became so snow skiing that I practiced every night in my mind. In my sophomore year in college, I worked it out with Brenau that I would cut classes on Fridays and Mondays to teach snow skiing over the weekend in North Carolina.”
She next qualified for a position on a US team of water-skiers that entertained international audiences at the 1975 World’s Fair, Expo ’75, in Japan. Additional work as a performer and trainer presented a gig that had her skiing off Navy Pier in Chicago and then wowing crowds for the legendary Tommy Bartlett Show.
“For about five years, I was waterskiing in the summer and snow skiing in winter,” says Kathy. Jenny’s family had introduced her to the winter sport. “I became so obsessed with snow skiing that I practiced every night in my mind. In my sophomore year in college, I worked it out with Brenau that I would cut classes on Fridays and Mondays to teach snow skiing over the weekend in North Carolina.” From teaching at various ski resorts and learning aerials and jumps, or “ballet on skis,” Kathy started the first freestyle school in the Southeast. “Art was not on my radar,” she proclaims. Securing a “real job” wasn’t a priority either, but her dad insisted it was time. Little did he realize that when Kathy became a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines, she would also join the company’s downhill ski racing team. Ironically, a job relocation to Miami also gave her more time to water ski and master tricks, including the reverse toe back, performed by only one other female in the country. “I would think so deeply about it,” says Kathy, who took her ski handle on Delta layovers and practiced with it attached to a door handle in her hotel room. “In 1981, the first year I went to ski in the national
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tournament, I became a national champion, number two in the nation. During all this time,” she notes, “I had a strong faith. I believed my true calling was to be an athlete, so I put everything into it.” And then she met and married Jef Fincher. “I never allowed him to talk about children,” says Kathy, who had neither the slightest maternal instinct nor any notion of altering her competitive, on-the-go lifestyle. “God has a good sense of humor,” she avows. “I got pregnant on my honeymoon.” Honoring Jef ’s concerns over safety, Kathy put both types of skiing on hold during her pregnancy and focused on tennis. “My team would make it to the state finals,” she remarks. Fulfilling her commitment, after three hours, she made it to a three-set tiebreaker but lost because of a “nagging problem.” She was in labor! Kathy arrived at the hospital in plenty of time to have Maggie, but her concerns went beyond giving birth. When she closed her eyes, she couldn’t see herself as a mom. She saw water skis and snow skis. In a prayerful moment, she asked God if her maternal instincts
would ever kick in. Of course, they did—to an extent. “I had this little baby with a squished nose and all the bonding feelings, but,” she confesses, “it didn’t take long before I was ready to go back to skiing and turn the baby over to the housekeeper.” Daughter Kelley came soon after. With two children under the age of two, Kathy says, “I told Jef, ‘We’ll find somebody nice to raise the kids.’” Strong female voices were telling her she was a national champion; her husband was asking Kathy to be a mom. From a Bible study on marriage, Kathy says, “I learned that it was not about my relationship with Jef, but with God.” In other words, she let go of the image she had of herself and allowed God to show her who He wanted her to be. She gave up competitive skiing. “I was miserable,” she says. “I had no identity.”
Above: A Little Help from My Friends Left and opposite: Before becoming a professional artist, Kathy skied for national teams on both water and snow and was a national water ski champion for women’s trick skiing, among other accomplishments.
The timing was perfect for her mother and aunt, both artists, to ask, “Won’t you paint with us?” They had been studying under an artist who used dry pastels, and Kathy vividly remembers “the explosion of being able to work in color.” Also, she says, “Pastel is so spontaneous. You need a color and you pick it up. Oils, you have to mix.” Even better, she didn’t have to “paint from a bust. For the first time, I fell in love with the ability to create.” She began with impressionistic landscapes and had some in a shop for framing, where an art publisher spotted them and readily offered Kathy a contract to sell her work as prints. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 57
The Retirement Gift Available as giclée canvas, 24 × 18 in. Opposite: First Look Available as fine art print, 14 × 11 in.
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lthough she enhanced the landscapes with “Monet-type women in long dresses, when that was the rage,” Kathy didn’t care to paint faces, much less children. Her mother, nevertheless, insisted she do a portrait of Maggie for the nursery. Her good friend Laurie Snow Hein, a renowned portrait artist, was visiting, so Kathy asked, “Will you help me do this? You paint the kid, and I’ll paint the background.” Seeing the finished portrait in Maggie’s room, the publisher took a photo, which she sent to Current (Current Media Group). The retail catalog company, specializing in paper items, offered Kathy a calendar contract that paired her with a complementary artist, who, coincidentally, was Laurie. Each would provide six paintings featuring children. “You have a problem,” Kathy told her publisher. “I don’t paint children.” Her publisher told Kathy she painted them now because the contract was too good to refuse! When her first illustrations showed children from behind, her publisher, wanting a face, sent Kathy back to the drawing board. Using a photograph that she’d taken of a little boy, Kathy planned to circumvent the issue by concealing his features with a hat and scarf and showing him through a snowy window. Then it happened. “I started working on the little bit of the face that was exposed,” she says, “and I immersed myself in the expression. One thin shadow around the mouth changed everything. I was hooked.”
Starting over, she represented herself. “I went to the licensing show in New York with twelve new images,” Kathy says. “I was on the same aisle as the publisher, also licensing my art. It made them look terrible.” Even then, buying back her rights took five years, prompting Kathy to give talks on copyrights for the benefit of other artists. She also speaks about her faith and American values, often based on The Dream Keepers, a pastel and watercolor that Kathy painted in response to 9/11. With assistance from former Georgia Congressman John Linder, she presented the work to President George W. Bush in the Oval Office in 2007. The original “I started working on the now belongs to the George W. Bush little bit of the face that was Presidential Library. A monument exposed, and I immersed of The Dream Keepers with lifelike bronze statues also graces the town myself in the expression. green of Duluth, Georgia.
One thin shadow around the mouth changed everything. I was hooked.”
“The Dream Keepers was a reckoning for me after 9/11,” Kathy shares. “I realized I wasn’t meant to be a bystander.” Reflecting upon Norman Rockwell’s paintings, which “helped people remember who they were” during the World War II era, Kathy says, “I felt I had that same responsibility to give a message of hope.”
The painting, First Look, launched a body of work that has made her one of the world’s most-licensed children’s artists with collections named Mama Says®, Country Kids, Spirit of Innocence, Little Lessons in Faith, and UnBridled Wonder. Accordingly, she’s known in the art world as the “feminine Rockwell.” In her third year with Current, Kathy accepted a significant commitment as the exclusive artist for her calendar. She approached every painting as “fine, classical art,” each taking a month to complete, and she was still flying for Delta. Remembering how she painted on the final deadline image until FedEx arrived for the pickup, Kathy says, “That’s when I called it complete!” Demand further heightened with a Christian publisher’s book contract, and other licensing opportunities materialized in the gift industry for merchandise like figurines, bronze statues, and ornaments. Unfortunately, the relationship with her art publisher went sour, forcing Kathy to sever those ties. “When I left the publisher at the age of fifty, I left behind every painting I had ever done,” she says. “The company owned all the copyrights. I didn’t even have the rights to make personal Christmas cards from my art.” Losing control over “intimate images,” painted from her photos of children who were family and friends, was devastating. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 59
n the aftermath of 9/11, Kathy recalls, “Children were drawing buildings burning. Other artists were painting children holding flags. I stared at a blank canvas and wondered, who are we and why are we such a threat?” She landed on the pillars of faith and freedom. “I drew a rectangle to represent the flag for freedom and a cross for faith to symbolize our Judeo-Christian heritage. I thought, what if these children were dipping their hands in paint and putting their flag back together? Even more symbolically, I decided the children would put the American Dream back together.” Bottom right: All Mine Available as giclée canvas, 24 × 18 in. Below: Artist Kathy Fincher and her family present The Dream Keepers to President George W. Bush in the Oval Office.
From a design perspective, Kathy says that adding the stepladder “to intersect all those horizontal lines of the flag” was a breakthrough. Placing the children (Jef suggested seven to represent the seven continents) on different levels and creating the arched window also enriched the composition. “It wasn’t until I came up with the idea of light streaming in from a side window that I realized it could cast the shadow of the cross to represent faith.” While in the Oval Office, President Bush, admiring Kathy’s use of light, had commented, “Light and darkness coming together made the shadow that shaped your cross. That’s what 9/11 was all about.” She was not envisioning anything like that moment when Kathy took her painting to the Duluth town green, where she’d find her aunt and mom, to ask them, “Is it finished?” They told her, “It’s perfect!” A bystander chimed in, “I’ll tell you one thing, that blood-stained handprint is powerful.” The painting had many tiny hands, so Kathy needed him to point out what he saw. “The one at the foot of the cross,” he indicated. Seemingly, the children’s footprints, in and out of the red paint, had created a large, perfectly shaped hand. “Do you know how challenging it is to draw a perfectly proportioned handprint?” Kathy says, challenging any skeptic who suggests that the hand formed by accident. Fate also had a hand in instituting the monument, officially ordained as a 9/11 memorial. Kathy was considering something for the Bush Library but decided Duluth deserved a monument. She had the epiphany in 2012 when Rand McNally (the map producers) named her hometown among America’s top five most patriotic cities.
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She hadn’t sculpted since college, so Kathy commissioned Atlanta-based sculptor Martin Dawe to fashion the lifelike bronze figures from her designs. When he showed her the first child and asked her to edit the work in progress, Kathy presented a list of comments. He offered her a hand of clay. From that point on, she sculpted with him. Having hundreds of figurines made from her artwork, she says, “I’d edited sculptures— noses, ears, position of legs—almost every day for thirteen years on the computer. It was heaven to see all four sides at once and get my hands on it.”
“It wasn’t until I came up with the idea of light streaming in from a side window that I realized it could cast the shadow of the cross to represent faith.” Given her project management and fund-raising knowhow, along with her artistic talents, Kathy welcomes opportunities to help other municipalities and organizations erect monuments. “I think cities should be telling the stories of their past through their art,” she says. Guided by her faith and love of country, Kathy is currently working on a series based on the themes of Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 Four Freedoms speech: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Using a scrapbooking technique, Kathy is combining images of her paintings
and photography to represent the “freedoms of,” and she’s depicting “freedoms from” in two new paintings. Contemplating Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms series and channeling the maternal instincts she’s developed over time, Kathy says, “It hit me: what would those freedoms look like today, especially if done to educate children?”
To learn the answer, readers should visit KathyFincher.com to see a video of her work coming to life and to explore the paintings, prints, books, and other items in Kathy’s catalog. Numerous items are available to purchase, and Kathy welcomes inquiries about commissions and speaking engagements.
Sallie W. Boyles works as a freelance journalist, ghostwriter, copywriter, and editor through Write Lady Inc., her Atlanta-based company. With an MBA in marketing, she marvels at the power of words, particularly in business and politics, but loves nothing more than relaying extraordinary personal stories that are believable only because they are true. Chrysalis
Kitty Taylor, Broker, GRI, CRS, CIPS Catherine Ryland, Broker Associate Cat C ole
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World for the
Saving Mother Nature
By Olivia Manthe y and Jordan Stag gs Ar twork by Heather Freitas
rt is such an arbitrary creature; there is no definition of what it is or how it should be created. Phoenix-based mixed-media master Heather Freitas has taken her idea of art and run with it! Not only does she have a distinctive way of portraying the world as she perceives it, but she is also doing good by helping the environment at the same time. For every painting she sells, she donates ten dollars to the nonprofit One Tree Planted, which in turn plants a tree for every dollar they receive. It’s always a joy to witness people using their talents for good and not just for self-seeking endeavors. In just about every piece of Heather’s art is some aspect of found or recycled objects. It seems she can do just about anything as she uses sequins, ripped paper, tabs from soda cans, and other items to create interest and texture along with her layers of paint and ink. “When you bring in elements that can’t be reproduced or torn exactly the same ever again, a moment in time is created that can never be re-created,” she says. Also in keeping with her environmentalist efforts, many of Heather’s pieces, starting in 2016–2017, depict endangered animals or have a message of conservation attached. “In 2017, I was awarded my second solo exhibition, and I decided I wanted to focus on documenting all the species in Arizona that were currently endangered or threatened,” she explains. “That was a big turning point not only in my career but also in my life. I thought maybe if I could paint all of these species and hang 62 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
them in one room, people could feel the weight of the issue we are facing right here, right now. From then on, I vowed that I would document as many endangered or threatened species as I could and compile a database in paintings so that people would take action themselves. Unfortunately, even at the rate that I paint, I will not be able to paint all of these species in my lifetime.” The sad truth is that the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species currently estimates over twenty-eight thousand species on earth are threatened with extinction. “My collection of paintings will continue to grow until the day I die, in hopes that I can influence the change needed,” Heather says with determination. “Having the ability to incorporate recycled materials into my work is also very important to me because I feel it adds that extra layer to the statement. Not only is a piece documenting an endangered species, it is also using the very materials that add to many of the hazards that species (including ours) are facing today.”
My collection of paintings will continue to grow until the day I die, in hopes that I can influence the change needed.
Above: Chrysoritis Cotrelli (CR) Cotrell's Daisy Copper Mixed media (newspaper, old photo prints, old sketches, ink, acrylic paint, and hand embroidery) on gallery wrapped canvas, 6 × 6 in.
Heather does just about anything in her power to leave this world better than she found it, inspiring her fans and peers to do the same. Her complex layering of colors, meaning, and humor is the total package—her work is avant-garde and at the same time recognizable and relatable to many. She paints things that we have seen before and that we recognize, yet when we see them for the first time on her canvases, they are surprising. For example, her painting Nine One Nine depicts a rooster but instead of a fleshy growth for a crest, its comb is made of syringes. Not all of her paintings focus on the environment and animals. Some of Heather’s contemporary pop art is about giving power to the people. Undefined and unable to be put in any box, Heather creates work that varies in subject and meaning. Some of her pieces, such as Rehab and Greed, are serious in nature, whereas her commentary on pop culture is amusing and punny— for example, there’s Wine Goes In Wisdom Comes Out
Left: The Bear’s Bees Mixed media (newspaper, old photo prints, ink, acrylic paint, and hand embroidery) on gallery wrapped canvas, 10 × 20 in. Opposite: Leopard Lily Mixed media (newspaper, decorative paper, tissue paper, ink, and acrylic paint) on wood, 18 × 18 in. Next page, top: Flap Jack Octopus
Mixed media (newspaper, old photo prints, ink, acrylic paint, and hand embroidery) on gallery wrapped canvas, 11 × 14 in.
Next page, bottom: Thank You for Shopping
Mixed media (newspaper, paper bags, plastic bags, ink, acrylic paint, and hand embroidery) on gallery wrapped canvas, 24 × 24 in. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 63
Speak your truth because we all have the power to influence the world and art is one of the best tools to help you do so. I like to tell people that if someone can fly to the moon, you can accomplish your dream too.
and her painting of a doughnut that says, “Eat More Hole Foods.” Her figurative works include Audrey Hepburn, Bob Marley, Princess Diana, and many more. Heather has partnered with the city of Tempe, Arizona, to show her work in outdoor spaces as part of the She Tempe public art project. She also collaborated with the jewelry brand Alex and Ani on a painting for its Scottsdale store. “They were so much fun!” she says of working with the brand. “Alex and Ani released a chakra collection, and I was asked to do a painting of the Root Chakra for their big release day in Scottsdale. It was a lot of fun and inspired me to continue exploring the chakras in the arts.” Another of her favorite projects was working with the Gila River Arena in Glendale, painting cow skulls for the band KISS when they performed there. Rock on, Heather! Through it all, Heather says being a professional artist hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it. “I remember my first collection, my Wasteland Collection. As I was creating it for my first solo exhibition, people told me I would not sell any of my works because they were too sad. Three years later, I have sold over four hundred original works,” she says. “Speak your truth because we all have the power to influence the world and art is one of the best tools to help you do so. I like to tell people that if someone can fly to the moon, you can accomplish your dream too.”
To see more of her work or to purchase, visit HeatherFreitas.com or follow along on Instagram @heather_freitas.
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MAKE IT COLORFUL
Return to the sugar-white sands and turquoise waters of Panama City Beach for endless family fun, eco-adventures, nonstop thrills and weekend escapes. And discover even more incredible things to do at our real FUN fall events. Come make Panama City Beach your Real. FUN. Beach.
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Buzz Aldrin poses beside the deployed United States flag during Apollo 11 extravehicular activity on the lunar surface. The lunar module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are visible in the soil of the moon. Neil Armstrong took this photo with a 70mm Hasselblad lunar surface camera. While Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Eagle LM to explore the moon’s Sea of Tranquility region, Michael Collins remained with the command and service module Columbia in lunar orbit.
SEE THE WORLD
Photo courtesy of NASA.gov
July 16, 2019, marked the milestone fiftieth anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 launch, the iconic mission that transported Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin to the moon. The historic endeavor secured America’s place as a technological world leader—not to mention the new front-runner in the Space Race. An estimated 20 percent of the world’s population watched on July 20, 1969, as Armstrong and Aldrin stepped foot where no man had gone before. This year, the US celebrated with hundreds of events, parties, exhibits, documentaries, and more commemorating this incredible feat of human ingenuity.
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Beyond the Delta Exploring Coastal Mississippi
By HANNAH VERMILLION Photography Courtesy of COASTAL MISSISSIPPI
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Comprising twelve distinct cities and communities, Coastal Mississippi is a cultural explosion featuring endless culinary options, fun attractions, and sixty-two miles of scenic shoreline along the Mississippi Sound, Biloxi Bay, and more.
rowing up in the Florida Panhandle, I thought I was familiar with most of the getaway spots within a few hoursâ€™ drive of Scenic Highway 30-A, so I hate to say I had never heard of the charming area known as Coastal Mississippi until recently. Last spring, my husband, Jake, and I packed our bags for a much-needed weekend getaway to check out all that the area has to offer! Just a short road trip down I-10 lies the charming town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Our first stop was The Roost, located in the heart of Ocean Springs, where we were greeted by friendly hotel staff and the resident cat, Porter. The Roost, a boutique hotel surrounded by huge oak trees and within walking distance of downtown, is a historic building that was beautifully restored in 2016. The large porch on the second floor is perfect for sipping cocktails, people-watching, and reading. The rooms are very comfortable with beautiful reclaimed wood wall paneling and the cutest decor. I canâ€™t wait to go back with my girlfriends for another weekend getaway.
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Above and inset: Enjoy a refreshing cocktail at The Wilbur Bar, located on the first level of The Roost boutique hotel in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Photo courtesy of The Roost Above right: The lighthouse in Biloxi is a scenic spot for a stroll. Photo by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock Right: An iced coffee from Bright-Eyed Brew Co. is the perfect pickme-up! Photo courtesy of Bright-Eyed Brew Co. Previous page: The Pelican Suite at The Roost offers a king bed in the master bedroom, a private bathroom, and a kitchenette. Photos courtesy of The Roost
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pon first glance, you would think this charming little town wouldn’t have a vibrant nightlife, but you would be wrong! Located in downtown Ocean Springs is Vestige, where Chef Alex Perry prepared a beautiful meal of wagyu beef and fresh fish. Nominated as a semifinalist for the 2019 James Beard Award in the Best Chef: South category, Chef Alex uses all fresh ingredients, making it a full sensory experience complete with friendly staff in a relaxing, comfortable environment. This restaurant is a must during any trip to Coastal Mississippi. We later made our way back to The Wilbur Bar, located on the bottom floor at The Roost, to enjoy some late-night drinks and live music. Of course, the most crucial part of the day is that first cup of coffee, and Coastal Mississippi has a plethora of great options. Our first coffee stop was The Greenhouse
on Porter, where we ordered the pour-over coffee and PB&J homemade biscuits. We sipped our coffee in an actual greenhouse while admiring the plants and all the art displayed on the walls. This felt like a true local hangout spot! Also brewing fantastic coffee was Bright-Eyed Brew Co., located in downtown Ocean Springs. Be sure to order the Americano—delicious! Lucky for us, the Spring Arts Festival was happening the same weekend we were having our little getaway. So many fun and eclectic vendors had set up booths displaying their works of art. We spent all morning admiring all the art that had obviously been inspired by the beautiful scenery unique to this part of the Gulf Coast. This festival happens every March in downtown Oceans Springs, so it’s a great time to plan your trip. Speaking of itineraries, if you are anything like us, the struggle is real when planning out a visit but, thankfully, My Gulf Coast is a free travel app that helps users locate attractions, restaurants, shopping, and other activities. This app came in very handy over the weekend. After a quick—and amazing—meal of chicken and waffles from True Wings (as per my husband’s request), we went to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA). Opened in 1991, WAMA is dedicated to the works of Walter Inglis Anderson, whose paintings, drawings, and sculptures of animals, plants, and people along the
The brightly colored paintings of Walter Anderson are enough to make anyone fall in love with the Gulf Coast. Gulf Coast have placed him in the company of the most compelling American painters of the twentieth century. Also featured in this museum are works by his brothers, master potter Peter Anderson and painter and ceramist James McConnell Anderson. The brightly colored paintings of Walter Anderson are enough to make anyone fall in love with Coastal Mississippi. One of the many attractions we couldn’t wait to check out in nearby Biloxi was the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum. This is a must-see for any fisherman or seafood lover. Highlights include one-of-a-kind exhibits and a giant ship in a bottle. Also in Biloxi is the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, which holds pieces by over three hundred artists from across the country. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, this campus of award-winning structures surrounded by majestic live oaks is a stunning sight to see. Pick up an attractions pass if you plan to visit all these sites—it will be well worth it.
Above: The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi was established in 1986 to preserve and interpret the maritime history of the area. Left: Students inside the former home of Walter Anderson, now part of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in downtown Ocean Springs Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson Museum of Art
The harbor at Biloxi is beautiful at sunset. We walked up and down the West Biloxi Boardwalk, exploring the lighthouse and watching shrimp boats, before ending our night at White Pillars, a farm-totable dining experience in a historic mansion. Chef Austin Sumrall prepares delicious meals, viewable by patrons in the pristine, white-table-clothed dining area. After a full day of food, we opted for small plates of crawfish, avocado toast, and fried pork belly followed by collard green salads. On the last day of our getaway, we made our way to Old Town Bay Saint Louis, about an hour and a half from Ocean Springs. Craving something on the healthier side, we went to the Mockingbird Café, located in a downtown cottage. I ordered the fresh V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 71
fruit and granola, while Jake ordered the cheese grits and pulled pork (so much for the healthier side). This coffee shop has a front-porch dining area perfect for meeting locals—and petting friendly dogs! The Arts Alive! Festival, happening all day in downtown Old Bay Saint Louis during our visit, was another highlight of our trip. We saw many vendors selling jewelry, pottery, and paintings and even a live demo of a letterpress machine. This welcoming, eclectic town has many local shops and restaurants, making it a must-visit by the Gulf.
A mural in the Old Town of Bay Saint Louis near the Mockingbird Café, where the homemade granola topped with fresh fruit makes a delicious breakfast (inset)
Sadly our amazing weekend in Coastal Mississippi had to come to an end, but we can’t wait to go back and explore the many other things that we didn’t have time for during our first trip.
Visit CoastalMississippi.com to learn more about Coastal Mississippi and build your itinerary!
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A WALK IN THE CLOUDS B Y
M E G A N
WA L D R E P
P H O T O G R A P H Y C O U R T E S Y P R O Y E C T O N E B U L O S A
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arcos Galindo sat on the couch with a new public policy degree in one hand and his head in the other. Dreams of making a positive impact on his native Mexico shattered with a taste of the political world in college. But, encouraged by his father to take the next step, Marcos applied to the PhD program at the London School of Economics and Political Science and got in. So, to help his son save up some money during the sixmonth interim, his father bought land in Colima, Mexico, to turn into a farm. It was then that Marcos discovered the education he was looking for wouldn’t come from a notable university. It would come from the ground on which he stood. “I fell in love with the rural work,” Marcos says, gesturing out the window of his SUV. “I called my dad three months in and said, ‘Dad, this is what I love. I get to wake up very early and organize the people, have lunch and coffee with them, go to work, and try to make an impact on these people’s lives.’” Marcos never went to London. Instead, he grew the farm into a business, employed 150 people, became organic and fair trade certified, and exported papayas and limes to major retailers, such as Whole Foods.
Above: Marcos Galindo, director of Proyecto Nebulosa Left: Ninfa Raicilla is a distilled spirit made from wild agave that the Proyecto Nebulosa team manufactures on the property and offers at the Jardin Nebulosa restaurant, as well as in nearby restaurants. They hope it will soon be distributed around the world.
But with growth came more responsibility. For a year, Marcos managed the business side from Texas, away from his wife and two kids (he now has three children under the age of seven) and far from the impactful one-on-one work he loved. Once again, it was time to pivot. He and his wife agreed to sell the business, and Marcos, along with his father, turned a sleepy lumber mill into a stunning hacienda mountain oasis. Finally, the cultural and economic project he longed for had a place to exist. And this was just the beginning.
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arcos navigates up a remote, muddy road and farther into the Sierra Madre Occidental in western Mexico. He’s taking four of us to a secret hacienda set inside a cloud forest. So secret that at the time of writing, it had yet to be publicized in the United States. We soon discovered that a cloud forest is just as enchanting as it sounds. Only 1 percent of the forests in the world can claim this title. And with little exposure to wind or sun, the clouds tend to hang around the tree canopy level, creating enough moisture to sustain an impressive variety of life in one small area. Think tall trees with moss, air plants, orchids, and wild ferns growing on them, and a place that jaguars, pumas, and endangered species call home.
Above: The gates of Hacienda las Tres Carmelitas, Proyecto Nebulosa’s lodge and event venue tucked into the scenic Sierra Madre Occidental Right: Jardin Nebulosa in San Sebastián del Oeste is the family’s farm-to-table restaurant offering fresh, seasonal fare and traditional recipes with a modern twist. 76 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
“This is my heritage,” Marcos says. “I’m not a historian; I am a sociologist. And as a sociologist, I know the problems in my country.” One problem, he explains, is that there are stretches of land and people in Mexico that are forgotten in terms of government support. But traveling to these remote communities, Marcos knew their abilities and what they aspired to build. It was then he questioned how to integrate agricultural work to increase their quality of life. “It’s like finding a black truffle in the forest, but here, they sell the liquid for five dollars a bottle on the side of the road,” Marcos says. “This is when the new generation has to do something about it because (in Europe), black truffles can sell for a thousand dollars a kilogram. Here, they have something more valuable, but they don’t know how to sell it.”
The other problem, he says, is that the Mexican youth have very few choices in terms of making a living. Most kids aren’t interested in the familial traditions of farming, and since money is an issue for the majority of Mexican citizens, continuing education isn’t an option. Instead, they end up in crime, or they cross the border for low-paying jobs. “That’s when we thought we have to blend,” Marcos says. “We love our culture, we love to research, we love scientific advancement and knowledge, but we are trying to bring it back in a cool way.”
Dad, this is what I love. I get to wake up very early and organize the people, have lunch and coffee with them, go to work, and try to make an impact on these people’s lives. It’s hard not to become impassioned when listening to Marcos. It’s the way he uses his hands when speaking, the gleam in his eyes when describing the mountain, how his voice resonates with tones of hope. This continuing thirst for knowledge has led Marcos’s journey and attracted a tribe of talented people that help bring his vision to life in the form of Proyecto Nebulosa. (Nebulosa is the Spanish word for “nebula.”) For example, he called world-renowned mixologist and concept developer Martin Kovar and asked him to create an experimental and innovative bar using ingredients from the land. Then came chefs Alex Gómez and Nicolás Nieves to realize his dream of creating a restaurant where people can try foods grown and harvested in the cloud forest. Another essential member of the team is botanist Mónica Rivas, who leads research on endemic plants. Together, they’ve worked for three years to research the forest and figure out ways to utilize their findings in the gastronomy (the art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food). Even now, the team travels together on a three-day mountain trip each week to explore different parts of the land. They’ve since found about forty-five species of vegetables, fruits, and flowers they believe were used in the ancient civilization to cook and to heal. Proyecto Nebulosa has two primary focuses. The first is on sustainable agriculture: they raise everything from coffee to turkeys. The second focus is on
Above: In addition to serving its own Ninfa Raicilla spirit, Jardin Nebulosa serves up a variety of cocktails and boasts “creative mixology made with the best ingredients that nature has to offer us.” Left: Each item on the menu at Jardin Nebulosa takes its cues from the natural environment and the changing seasons in the cloud forest. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 77
The second focus is on discovering ways of teaching local communities how to preserve ancient agricultural traditions to build a higher quality of life. discovering ways of teaching local communities how to preserve ancient agricultural traditions to build a higher quality of life. As if this wasn’t enough, they’ve created Nebulosa Camp, which includes fifty kids from the local communities. One month each year, Marcos and the team choose ten of the most committed students and bring them to the hacienda. The students learn chemistry (through beer brewing and the distillation process), marketing, storytelling, gastronomy, botany, wildlife, and more. There’s even a botany professor at Brandon University in Canada working to send his master’s degree students to do scientific research with Proyecto Nebulosa. With the simple dream of making a difference, Marcos and the team lead by example rather than ego and think globally yet act locally. They have created a place where living off the land results in the advancement of every person involved. “When I bring my kids and they see what we’re doing, that’s when I know we made the right choice,” Marcos says. “It’s not about money. It’s about continuing tradition.”
PROYECTO NEBULOSA IS . . . JARDIN NEBULOSA: Located in the charming town of San Sebastián del Oeste, this revolutionary establishment uses ingredients from the central region of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The menu features a bounty of traditional dishes reimagined with flavors that change with the season. “We have a biodynamic farm where we try to preserve what we find in the mountains,” Marcos says. “We have a Mexican plant engineer that’s helping us grow everything we find in the mountains so it’s sustainable.” ( JardinNebulosa.com)
NINFA RAICILLA: Named after an endemic species of hummingbird that the Proyecto Nebulosa team has discovered and is presenting to the Smithsonian, Ninfa Raicilla is a distilled spirit with a potency similar to that of moonshine. It is made from wild agave plants found in the mountain area and is produced using ancestral methods that are around five hundred years old. “As a young Mexican, it’s important to do it the way it’s supposed to be done,” Marcos says. “It feels like you’re continuing with something, and you cannot put value to that.” (NinfaRaicilla.com) NEBULOSA CERVEZA ARTESANAL: Brewed at the hacienda under the watch of head brewer Mariana Dominguez, the beer comes from ingredients found in the cloud forest, such as herbs and fruits, as well as water from the natural springs nearby. 78 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
HACIENDA LAS TRES CARMELITAS: Twenty-eight miles north of the Puerto Vallarta international airport and seven miles from San Sebastiรกn del Oeste where the Jardin Nebulosa restaurant resides, the hacienda is an incredible combination of colonial and modern architecture. Its landscape design rivals a Hollywood movie set. A short walk behind the hacienda leads you to Plaza Maria Colima, where you can witness the production of Nebulosa Cerveza Artesanal and Ninfa Raicilla or take a seat at Cantina Experimental, the innovative bar led by acclaimed mixologist Martin Kovar.
To learn more about Proyecto Nebulosa, book a stay at Hacienda las Tres Carmelitas, plan a feast at Jardin Nebulosa, or learn how they make their small-batch artisanal spirits, visit ProyectoNebulosa.com.
a pictpaints ure A THOUSAND WORDS PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENNA KNEISS
Each spring, the area from Mexico Beach to Carrabelle, Florida, plays host to over a hundred artists who travel there for the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air (also known as Americaâ€™s Great Paint-Out) and the Plein Air South conference. Their subjects have included the gorgeous coastal landscapes and wildlife, the areaâ€™s charming homes, inns, and businesses, and even the local people. This year, some of the artists were no doubt concerned about what they might find since Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm, ripped across the Florida Panhandle on October 10 last year. The devastating hurricane made landfall directly on the small town of Mexico Beach and wiped out nearly all the homes and businesses there, but it was not the only 2018 disaster that affected the one-hundred-mile region nicknamed the Forgotten Coast. A controlled burn turned into a wildfire and destroyed thirty-six homes and eight hundred acres last June in and around the community of Eastpoint, just across the bay from Apalachicola. These two major events drastically changed the 80 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
landscape that participants in the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air had come to know and love. Still, that might have made the fourteenth annual paint-out the most significant one to date.
his is an important time to document what has happened and how our communities are recovering,” says Joe Taylor, president of the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition. “Artists always find beauty, even in the most interesting and challenging situations.” Twenty artists from around the world, plus four Florida-based plein-air painters, set up their easels along the coast from May 3 through 12 for the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air. Immediately following that event, Plein Air South brought in 160 participants from May 12 through 16.
“Mexico Beach was delighted to be part of the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air paint-out for 2019. While our landscapes offered a different perspective than the normal beachfront community for artists to capture, they were able to document our coastline with depictions of endurance and life.”
Artist Brienne M. Brown of Julian, Pennsylvania, paints near the welcome center in Mexico Beach, Florida, during the 2019 Forgotten Coast en Plein Air event. Left: The Never Forgotten Coast logo adorns the side of the Mexico Beach Marina as the town recovers from Hurricane Michael nearly one year later. Photo courtesy of Mexico Beach Welcome Center
Beautiful and poignant works from Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2019 are available to view and purchase online at ForgottenCoastCuluralCoalition.WildApricot.org under the “Art” page. Paintings such as Standing Firm by Vicki Norman, Keeper’s House Recovery by Brienne Brown, The World Turned Upside Down by Charlie Hunter, Still Standing by Anne Blair Brown, The Flag Is Still There and After The Storm by Luke Buck, Claims & Adjustments by Mark Shasha, Amongst the Debris a Ray of Light by Charles Dickinson, and several others document the damage as well as the hope, determination, and progress that the “Unforgettable Coast” of Mexico Beach has made since last October. “Mexico Beach was delighted to be part of the Forgotten Coast en Plein Air paint-out for 2019,” says Kimberly Shoaf, president of the Mexico Beach Community Development Council. “While our landscapes offered V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 81
Stewart White of Baltimore and Tony Robinson of Wexford, Ireland, paint the scene at the Mexico Beach Canal. Inset: Painting by Tony Robinson
a different perspective than the normal beachfront community for artists to capture, they were able to document our coastline with depictions of endurance and life. This was the first annual event that came back to Mexico Beach since the storm and it became a stepping stone on our journey forward. It showcased that our wonderful beach community is still relevant, resilient, and ready for the next steps.” Mexico Beach’s recovery efforts have been ongoing since the day after Hurricane Michael. Residents and visitors alike vowed to help the tiny fishing and tourism town get back on its feet and retain the friendly, unpretentious, hometown charm that has made it a favorite vacation spot for so many. After extensive cleanup of the marina and canal, the Mexico Beach Marina reopened in May, and the annual GollyWhopper 82 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
Classic, Offshore Classic, and MBARA Kingfish Tournament fishing events returned for the summer! The GollyWhopper Classic raised $12,500 for the City of Mexico Beach to use for canal repair efforts, while the Offshore Classic on July 26–27 and the Kingfish Tournament August 23–24 are also bringing more business and donations to the cause.
“This was the first annual event that came back to Mexico Beach since the storm and it became a stepping stone on our journey forward. It showcased that our wonderful beach community is still relevant, resilient, and ready for the next steps.”
ACE Hardware, Crazy Beach Pizza, Forgotten Coast Property Management and Vacation Rentals, Forgotten Coast Realty of NW Florida, Mango Marley’s, Mexico Beach Harmon Realty and Vacation Rentals, Mexico Beach Marina, Mexico Beach Sundance Realty, Mexico Beach Wine & Spirits, Pristine Properties, Rustic Sands RV Park and Grill, Splendiferous, Two Gulls at the Beach Gift Shop, the US Post Office, White Sands Salon & Boutique, 98 Real Estate Group, and more. Thanks to the generosity and the grit of locals, visitors, friends, family, and many others who wish to help these small beach towns come back to life, Mexico Beach and its neighbors will rise again.
Keep up with news, business openings, and more updates via MexicoBeach.com, by signing
Other small businesses in Mexico Beach continue to reopen on what seems to be a weekly basis. Many are ready to welcome patrons and can’t wait to see visitors and friends return: Caribbean Coffee, Cathey’s
up for the town’s monthly email newsletter, or by following along on social media at Facebook.com/ MexicoBeachFL, Instagram (@mexicobeachfla), or the hashtag #rebuildingwithlove.
From sushi making to tea ceremonies, the culture surrounding Japanese food and its mastery is steeped in tradition and revered throughout the world.
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MASTER CLASS E X P E R I E N C E JA PA N E S E CUISINE by the EXPERTS B y X e n i a Ta l i o t i s
Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands (and always a favorite with skiers), is in the spotlight this year as its capital, Sapporo, is one of the host cities for the Rugby World Cup in September.
way from Sapporo’s slopes and stadium, the vast Hokkaido prefecture is also a natural paradise, home to immense lakes, forests, mountains, volcanoes that give Mount Fuji a run for its money, and some of the best onsen (hot springs) in Japan. If that’s not enough to tempt you, then it has one more ace in its hand—its cuisine. Apart from being the birthplace of miso ramen, Hokkaido is also renowned for its seafood. Among the specialties are kaisendon (a simple bowl of rice and fish elevated to a fine-dining experience by the quality of the ingredients), crab,
and tempura. Throughout Hokkaido, you will find restaurants that focus on each of these. In fact, shokunin—which can be translated as “specialization”—is Japanese cuisine’s secret. Artisan chefs will dedicate years, sometimes their entire lives, to becoming masters of one craft and one craft only, be that making tea, tempura, or sushi. In this feature, we celebrate four master craftspeople whose pursuit of perfection has taken them to the top of their professions. All are based at Prince Hotels in Hokkaido, so if you are planning a visit there, book a table to see excellence in action! V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 85
I INSTILL PASSION INTO EACH GLASS AND THROUGH THE PAIRINGS. I PERFORM TO MY BEST ABILITY AT ALL TIMES AND TAILOR MY SERVICE ACCORDING TO THE PERSON—EACH ONE IS AN INDIVIDUAL
AND NEEDS SOMETHING DIFFERENT FROM ME.
“The interior of our teahouse is decorated seasonally with flowers and scrolls to create a peaceful environment,” says Mari. “In summer, we serve our tea in thin, open-shaped bowls, which are designed to make people feel cool, whereas, in winter, we choose small thick bowls to help people feel warm when holding the tea. These subtle changes are very important in Japanese culture and reflect the delicacy of the art.”
MARI INOHARA, TEA MASTER G R A N D P R I N C E TA K A NAWA H A NA KO H R O The matcha tea ceremony (chanoyu) has been integral to Japanese culture for more than four centuries, since the priest Sen no Rikyū (1522–1591), who is considered the master of masters, popularized the practice. Mari started going to tea ceremonies when she was eighteen years old and progressed to taking lessons and participating in ceremonies organized by her university and temple. She has now been practicing her art for ten years.
Above: The Japanese garden in Takanawa has over twenty varieties of cherry trees and sixteen types of flowers. It is a short walk from your room at the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa. Photo courtesy of Prince Hotels 86 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
“To become a tea master, you must first qualify as a kōshi, or lecturer, in an official tea ceremony,” she says. “This can take several years. You start by studying under a grand master, by observing and memorizing the work of the seniors. I wrote everything down and practiced hard until I was ready to become a kōshi. Tea masters never stop learning. I go to tea exhibitions, museums, events, and schools to learn new skills and knowledge about my craft.” The tea ceremony at the Grand Prince Takanawa starts at ten o’clock in the morning and allows guests to experience a taste of Japanese culture within the hotel grounds. It’s highly ritualized: the environment and preparation are as important as serving the tea.
Mari starts by wiping the tatami floor and then arranging the tea sets. She and her guests have to follow very precise procedures—for example, guests must wipe the bowl with their thumb after they have finished and rotate it counterclockwise before returning it to the tea master. “Serving the tea takes between thirty and sixty minutes, and the steps must be followed accurately,” says Mari. “It’s very meditative, giving everyone time to be calm. Guests are supposed to leave their anxieties outside.”
AKIRA KANEKO, TEMPURA CHEF GRAND PRINCE HOTEL TA K A NAWA – WA K ATA K E T E M P U R A R E S TAU R A N T “There is a Japanese phrase—ichi-go ichi-e—which means meeting someone only once in a lifetime,” says Akira, “and I keep that in mind whenever I serve guests as a motivation always to give my best.”
Bon appétit! Akira’s family owns a sushi restaurant, so cooking has always been part of his life. He started at the bottom—cleaning the kitchen and washing up—before becoming a sous chef. He learned how to make sushi first but found he had a passion and talent for tempura. He says learning to fry tempura was challenging. “There is a lot to think about—how to make the batter and how to find the right oil temperature for each food item. And timing is everything.” Becoming a tempura master is a lifelong pursuit. “Tempura masters never stop learning or refining their techniques,” Akira continues. “It’s an art form that needs precision. The lightness of the batter is key, and so is the amount of time you fry for. Japan has four seasons, and we use ingredients that reflect and complement each one. Our menus and art change with the seasons. Every day is a learning opportunity, and even as a master, I don’t forget that.” Frying methods came into Japan from Portugal in the Muromachi era (1336–1573), and it wasn’t until the Edo era (1603–1868) that Japanese chefs began preparing tempura the way they do today. Tempura is cooked in front of guests, so the preparation, frying, and conversation are integral parts of the experience. “Communication is a key factor, as is the presentation, which involves a high level of performance,” says Akira. “Guests interact with the master, asking about the process, and he has to be able to talk and work at the same time.”
FUMIKAZU UENO, HEAD SOMMELIER SAPPORO PRINCE HOTEL Fumikazu has been studying wine since 1985, and his knowledge extends far beyond sake, the rice wine that is Japan’s national drink. “In Japan, the term ‘master’ generally applies to someone who is recognized as being outstanding in their field—it is an acknowledgment that they have spent years perfecting their art. To become a master sommelier in Japan, you must pass an exam. The exam includes wine tasting, an essay, practical skills, and sake tasting—though that has its own qualification, the Sake Diploma, which I also hold. I am also recognized by Spain’s sherry association.” Like other Japanese masters, Fumikazu is on a path of continuous learning. He strives to improve and to gain new qualifications as often as possible. “My job is incredibly rewarding, but the learning process is rigorous and a huge investment, both financially and in terms of my own time,” he shares. “I would wake up at four thirty every morning before work to study and use my time between shifts to practice and to develop my nose and palate. The dedication to my art has meant sacrifice. I spent my days off studying, so I wasn’t able to spend as much time with my family as I would have liked.” Fumikazu says the sommelier’s serving process should enhance the dining experience. “It’s a piece of theater, which whets the appetites of my customers,” he says. “I instill passion into each glass and through the pairings. I perform to my best ability at all times and tailor my service according to the person—each one is an individual and needs something different from me. Part of my job is to create the V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 87
Bon appétit! best environment for people to enjoy their wining and dining, and that involves entertaining my guests and passing on some of my knowledge. Sometimes I see myself as a vehicle, helping to steer conversations around the table.”
MOTOICHI SATO, SUSHI CHEF H A KO DAT E - O N U M A P R I N C E H O T E L “Hakodate, where the hotel is based, is famous for its seafood and marine vegetables, and it is my job to do justice to that wonderful produce by showcasing it in the most beautiful way possible,” says Motoichi. “Sushi everywhere uses the same basic ingredients—fish, rice, seaweed—but what you do with them can be the best or worst meal your guests will ever have.” An itamae, meaning a chef who is “in front of the cutting board,” is a highly respected profession in Japan—one that takes up to a decade of training to achieve. Sushi chefs must have expert knife skills and know how to make rice of perfect consistency, color, and balance. Depending on the fish they are using, they will need to vary their rice recipe. Sushi chefs start their careers by washing up and cleaning the kitchen, giving them an appreciation for the entire operation of a restaurant. They then progress to rice maker and then to wakiita, which means “near the cutting board” and is like a sous chef.
SUSHI EVERYWHERE USES THE SAME BASIC INGREDIENTS—FISH, RICE, SEAWEED—BUT WHAT YOU DO WITH
THEM CAN BE THE BEST OR WORST
MEAL YOUR GUESTS WILL EVER HAVE.
Motoichi also says he will never stop improving. “You can never achieve perfection, but you must keep aiming for it,” he says. “To excel in your craft as a sushi chef, you must respect and get the best out of your ingredients; you must be a master of your hōchō (special sushi knives); you must be an excellent communicator, so you can interact with diners; you must be precise and graceful in your every movement. All of this needs constant attention. I read a lot and study the work of sushi masters I admire to see how they present their sushi and dress their plates. There is always something new and exciting to discover. I always endeavor to reflect the beauty of the area and the sea in my dishes.”
Visit PrinceHotels.com to find these properties and many more and to plan your Japanese culinary excursion with the masters!
T H E C U LT U R E O F S U M M E R
Some things about summer are just cultural mainstays: jetting off for a tropical vacation, catching up on a few good books, enjoying time with friends and loved ones, dressing in your favorite bright colors and a pair of oversized sunnies. It’s still not quite time to break out the fall knits and boots (although we’re loving the looks coming up this season—check out our blog, La Muse). Here’s one more taste of summer, compliments of the C’est la VIE Curated Collection!
Band on the Run
I’m With The Band Silk Head Wrap in Purple Haze $48 – im-with-the-band.com 90 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
C’est la vie
Come Fly with Me
The Art of Flying Hardcover $300 – amazon.com
Out of the Bag
Gianvito Rossi Portofino 100 Leopard-Print Calf Hair Sandals $995 – NET-A-PORTER.com
Can’t Be Broken
Loeffler Randall Maria Beaded Heart-Shaped Tote in Rose Gold $275 – loefflerrandall.com
Givenchy Beauty Le Rouge Intense Color Lipstick in Framboise $38 – NET-A-PORTER.com
Olympia Le-Tan Limited Edition The Great Gatsby Book Clutch with Strap $1,408 – olympialetan.com
Tiffany 2019 Blue Book Collection 18-Karat Gold and Diamond Earrings $130,001 – tiffany.com
You’re a Vision
Hip to Be Square
Edie Parker Floral Abstract Coasters in Guava Multi $238 – edie-parker.com
Tiffany Paper Flowers Butterfly Sunglasses $480 – tiffany.com
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Destin Bayfront Estate 4 1 3 C A L H O U N AV E N U E , D E S T I N , F L O R I D A This stately bayfront residence is situated on over an acre and a half of land and offers a rare combination of expansive views of both the Choctawhatchee Bay and Marler Bayou. The brick-paved driveway meanders around century-old oak trees draped with Spanish moss. As you approach this Mediterranean-style three-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath home with its three-and-a-half-car garage and six-space outdoor parking, youâ€™ll also notice oversized lanais, balconies, and courtyard porches. It comes complete with an infinity-edge pool, hot tub, outdoor kitchen, and protected boat dock with easy deepwater access to East Pass and the Gulf of Mexico. Floor-to-ceiling hurricane-proof doors and windows offer bay sunset views from the living room and upstairs billiard room. This fully furnished home is ideal for boat lovers, water-sport enthusiasts, and those who love to entertain!
LOCAL EXPERT. GLOBAL REACH. 3557 E COUNT Y HWY 30A SANTA ROSA BEACH, FL 32459 (850) 259-8960 RENEE.RYAN @ EVUSA.COM 30AGULFCOASTHOMES.COM © 2019 Engel & Völkers. All rights reserved. Engel & Völkers and its independent franchisees are Equal Opportunity Employers and fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act. Each property shop is independently owned and operated. All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. If your property is currently represented by a real estate broker, this is not an attempt to solicit your listing.
Visit Bar-Palladio.com or follow on Instagram @barpalladio to see more. Photo by Henry Wilson
Le monde GOES ROUND AND ROUND
It’s time to switch off from reality and tune into the fantasy crafted at Bar Palladio, a dreamy café and bar located inside the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel in the heart of Jaipur, India. The venue is named for Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, and the architecture and design were inspired by Venice’s famous eateries Caffè Florian and Harry’s Bar. Guests at Bar Palladio can enjoy signature cocktails and Italian food—or they might prefer to take tea on the terrace at the adjacent Caffè Palladio. Il Teatro at Bar Palladio also provides live entertainment, from music and theatrical performances to cooking demonstrations and more. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 95
DIOR The HOUSE of
WHERE FASHION and ART CONVERGE
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James Florio, courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art
Fashionistas and art lovers, rejoice! The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) presents Dior: From Paris to the World, a stunning collection of the legendary fashion house’s work and global inﬂuences from the past seventy years, which is on display at the museum through September 1, 2019. The exhibit, which formerly showed at the Denver Art Museum (DAM), expanded its offerings for its Dallas debut. Select vintage looks by Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent and updated works from Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s current creative director, were added, so even those who previously visited From Paris to the World will see something new in Dallas!
The “Field of Flowers” section, part of Dior: From Paris to the World at the Dallas Museum of Art, juxtaposes the legendary fashion house’s looks with floral artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe and others.
Along with the nearly two hundred haute couture dresses from the eras of founder Christian Dior and creative directors Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri, the show also features accessories, photographs, original sketches, runway videos, and other archival material. Guests can see the history of fashion through the eyes of one of its most influential brands as the retrospective offers a new perspective on Dior following the Paris exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Pieces from the esteemed Dior Héritage Collection, many of which have rarely been seen outside Europe, are on loan for the exhibit, with additional loans from major institutions. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 97
he House of Dior has been a legendary force in fashion and visual culture for decades and continues to be an important influence that blurs the lines between fashion and art,” says Dr. Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA. “Dallas has long recognized the artistic significance of Dior, most notably when in 1947, early in his career, Christian Dior traveled here to receive the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. We are excited to welcome this innovative, creative voice back to our city and to offer DMA audiences the opportunity to be inspired by the remarkable legacy of a global icon.” Organized by DAM and curated by DAM’s Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion, Florence Müller, Dior: From Paris to the World is designed by Shohei Shigematsu, a partner at OMA and the director of the New York office. OMA, established in 2001, is a leading international partnership practicing architecture, urbanism, and cultural analysis. Sarah Schleuning, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA, curates the Dallas presentation.
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“The history and impact of the House of Dior is the result of a convergence of several artistic directors who have made visionary, yet distinct, contributions to the French haute couture house.” “The history and impact of the House of Dior is the result of a convergence of several artistic directors who have made visionary, yet distinct, contributions to the French haute couture house,” says Schleuning. “The exhibition takes audiences through more than seven decades of innovation, bringing together the most exciting, dynamic, and pivotal pieces.”
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art is among the ten largest art museums in the country. At the heart of its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than twenty-four thousand works and spans five thousand years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Visit DMA.org/Dior to learn more or get your tickets for Dior: From Paris to the World and other current exhibits.
Above: “Total Look” combines Dior garments with matching accessories. Left: The main exhibit, From Paris to the World, is set up in the DMA’s massive Barrel Vault. Opposite top: Maria Grazia Chiuri’s looks in the “Creative Directors” room Opposite bottom: “Splendors of the 18th Century” is complemented by Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre’s painting The Abduction of Europa.
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THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST Alex Honnold, professional adventure rock climber, is the subject of Free Solo, a 2018 National Geographic documentary directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. Photo courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films Opposite: Photo by Steve Larese 100 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
o t g n i o G
s e m e r t x E BY STEVE LARESE
CHARCOAL CLOUDS DARKENED AS I REACHED TO TAKE OFF MY SUNGLASSES, ONLY TO REALIZE I WASN’T WEARING ANY. I WAS RAPPELLING DOWN A TWO-HUNDRED-FOOT GRANITE CLIFF IN THE SANDIA MOUNTAINS EAST OF ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, WHEN AN AUGUST AFTERNOON STORM BOILED OUT OF A BLUE SKY. I WAS NEW TO ROCK CLIMBING, AND A FRIEND HAD TAKEN ME ON MY FIRST RAPPEL WITH A LOCAL CLIMBING GROUP. I inched my way down the rope when the dim scene flashed brilliant white and I felt the thunderclap in my bones. I let the rope slip out of my hand. A safety Prusik knot engaged and kept me from plummeting a hundred feet, but I was now welded onto the main rope. Another flash lit up the mountain as I regained my senses and choked back panic. No one atop the cliff or below could help me. I was a lightning rod dripping with metal climbing gear stuck in the air. “What am I even doing here?” I berated myself. “I got out of a cozy bed at 5 a.m. on a Saturday and now I’m going to get fried. I don’t belong here.” Fear turned into adrenaline. I grabbed the rope with my left hand, hauled myself up a few inches to create slack, and bunched the Prusik knot back together so that it could freely slide back onto the main rope. I was back in business and quickly finished my descent to the group of people that I had met only that morning. This happened years ago, and I swore that day I was through with so-called adventure sports. But soon after, my new friends invited me to go climbing again, and I accepted without hesitation. The fear of rappelling and rock climbing—not to mention almost being struck by lightning—had turned into exhilaration. This is what I thought about all week as I sat in my office in front of a computer. Those strangers who could only shout encouragement when I was stuck and slap me on the back as we took shelter below the cliff face had become fast friends. We share a love for excitement, time spent outdoors, and hanging around the campfire after a day of pushing ourselves mentally and physically. It has created a culture that transcends petty societal squabbles and leads to new friendships wherever I go to explore. The laser focus it takes to eat my fear and safely make the next move clears any anxiety from my head. I’m no Alex Honnold, but I have found a culture that makes me feel like I do belong. I became one of the millions who embrace—and are embraced by—outdoor adventure culture. Interest in so-called adventure culture is increasing, thanks largely to social media and the exploits of extreme outdoor athletes. The outdoor industry in the United States alone creates 7.6 million jobs and generates $887 billion in
consumer spending, according to the Outdoor Industry Association (OutdoorIndustry.org). And a significant portion of those profits is donated to organizations that help maintain and protect wild spaces. “I’d like to see outdoor culture grow more and get people off their devices and outside,” Alex Honnold tells me at the annual Outdoor Retailer trade show held in Denver. It’s a mix of business and celebration where outdoor brands big and small showcase their upcoming products. We’re at the Black Diamond Equipment booth where he’s scheduled to sign autographs, and a throng has already queued to meet their climbing idol. Honnold became a household name in 2017 when he
Photo by Steve Larese
free soloed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, climbing 2,900 feet above the floor without any protection from falling. He won an Academy Award in 2018 for the Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi documentary Free Solo about that climb. Honnold is credited with bringing attention to outdoor sports to a new generation often criticized for spending too much time indoors with technology. “It’s important for people to go outdoors and care about wild spaces and try to protect them,” he continues. “I think there are a lot of environmental issues going on, and the more time people spend outdoors, the more likely people care about protecting the outdoors.”
“I’d like to see outdoor culture grow more and get
people off their devices and outside.”
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Honnold tries to use his fame for good with his Honnold Foundation that promotes solar energy worldwide (HonnoldFoundation.org). But he stresses that you don’t have to do extreme things outdoors to be a part of adventure culture. “It’s whatever you enjoy, however you want to challenge yourself. Do it for yourself.” Jim Harris is an adventurer and photographer who taught mountaineering courses for Outward Bound and Alaska Mountain Guides and photographed for National Geographic. A snow-kite accident in Chile broke nine vertebrae and left him paralyzed from the chest down in 2014. Doctors thought he’d never walk again, but with the same grit and determination he used to summit mountains, Harris managed one day to wiggle a toe. After years of therapy, he can ski and bike in a limited capacity, and he’s a member of the Adidas Terrex international athlete team and a Yeti Cycles ambassador. His pursuits nearly cost him his life, but adventure motivates him as much as it ever did—and so does being able to function in ways many people take for granted. “As a culture, adventure lifestyle is portrayed as adrenaline-loving, jet-setting, and foot-loose, and that can feel like an impossible bar to clear,” Harris says. “Like,
Colorado is known as one of the US’s premier adventure destinations. Ice climbing in Ouray Ice Park is not for the faint of heart! Photo by Inden Miles/ Colorado Tourism
New Zealand is one of the world’s most popular destinations for adventurers, offering incredible experiences such as the four-hour Lost World Cave guided tour. Photo by Rob Suisted/ New Zealand Tourism
if you’re not traveling across the Asian steppe for the next two years while hunting for the next great paragliding launch, you aren’t adventuring. But trying to keep up with athletes and influencers isn’t where the joy comes from. The joy is from toeing the perimeter of your own comfort zone, experiencing new people, places, and sensations.”
activities are shared with others. We love to connect with people who are experiencing the same thing. We share our stories.”
Harris says he believes the adventure-sports culture appeals to so many people because it welcomes both introverts and extroverts. He shares this ethos and his travels on his website (PerpetualWeekend.com).
There is no strict definition of what constitutes an “extreme sport.” Typically it’s a nonscoring, independent athletic outdoor activity that could result in severe injury or death if not performed correctly. (Consider, though, that boxers have a one in 2,200 chance of dying in the ring, and the extreme sport of skydiving has the odds of one in 101,083, according to a joint study that included the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Every time you ride in a car, you have a one in 6,700 chance of dying, for reference.) Honnold’s unprotected free soloing and Tyler Bradt’s 189-foot waterfall drop in a kayak are considered either exhilarating feats of human achievement or suicidal stunts, depending on whom you ask.
“Adventure culture is maybe a bit of a paradox because the activities it encompasses are so individualistic,” he says. “You don’t need a team or a coach to ride a bike or take a trail run. And yet we really love when these
Images of people slacklining across canyons or taking swan dives while attached to two-hundred-foot ropes fill Instagram feeds. YouTube is saturated with GoPro videos from longboarders reaching seventy miles per hour heading down twisting mountain roads. Mountain bikers free-fall off towering cliffs only to recover at the bottom slope.
Inset: Skydiving over Queenstown, New Zealand Photo courtesy of NZONE – The Ultimate Jump/New Zealand Tourism
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Outdoor sports expert Sirena Dufault says “adventure” doesn’t have to mean extreme sports or death-defying stunts; it can just as easily be a beautiful hike or a picnic, as long as you’re enjoying nature. Photo courtesy of Sirena Dufault/Trail Inspire Inset: Alex Honnold in Free Solo Photo courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films
As it’s so easy to post these exploits online, the drive to push the boundaries of safety (and common sense) is stronger than ever. According to an Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine study, four million people annually are injured to some degree participating in extreme sports. Forty thousand of these suffer head and neck injuries, with skateboarding being the leading cause. The study’s conclusion states: “The number of serious injuries suffered in extreme sports has increased as participation in the sports continues to grow. A greater awareness of the dangers associated with these sports offers an opportunity for sports medicine and orthopaedic physicians to advocate for safer equipment, improved on-site medical care, and further research regarding extreme sports injuries.”
“IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE EXTREME. IT CAN BE A PICNIC. IT CAN BE A THREE-MILE HIKE, OR A THREE-MONTH HIKE.”
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But it’s those risks (and looking good doing it) that make extreme sports so increasingly popular. Statistics add to the rebel reputation and allure of the extreme sports culture, but you don’t need to be a Red Bull or X Games athlete or risk your life every time you leave the house. Getting outside and exercising in fresh air arguably improves your health. And sharing those experiences with others is good for your mental health too. For Sirena Rana Dufault, who promotes outdoor recreation at TrailsInspire.com, any outdoor activity can be a part of outdoor culture. “I think it’s just people making getting outside a priority, whatever that [activity] is,” says Dufault, who hiked the entire eight-hundred-mile Arizona Trail and is writing a book for Wilderness Press (due out in the spring of 2020). “It doesn’t need to be extreme. It can be a picnic. It can be a three-mile hike or a threemonth hike.”
Dufault credits such social media sites as Unlikely Hikers (JennyBruso.com/UnlikelyHikers) for bringing more attention to diversity in the outdoors. “There is no outdoor body type,” she says. “You don’t have to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount to enjoy the outdoors. As long as you’re willing to learn and are out there trying, you’re an adventurer. You share a culture and are part of the outdoor community.” Competitors in New Zealand’s Southern Traverse adventure race don’t know the course they’ll take—or even if they’ll be crossing a gorge by rope—until the prerace briefing. Photo by Chris McLennan/New Zealand Tourism
Award-winning travel journalist Steve Larese loves the outdoor culture of his home base in New Mexico and can be found backpacking and climbing throughout the Southwest. He has recently joined the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council technical search and rescue team to help others in the outdoors. Follow him on Instagram at @SteveLarese.
LIFE IS ONE BIG
CELEBRATION Let's Mingle! B y A B I G A I L R YA N Photography by MICKI GLENN
Opposite left: Balloon garlands made with different sizes and colors are a huge trend in event decor. This “welcome to our wedding” installation by Mingle is magical! Photo courtesy of Mingle Opposite right: Mingling balloons with flowers and greenery is always elegant and beautiful. Photo by Darris Hartman Photography 106 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
eople often wonder what can make an ordinary party into an extraordinary, successful event. It’s not just about refreshing beverages, mouthwatering hors d’oeuvres, and tunes that you can’t help but dance to alongside your squad—although all those things are certainly significant. The overall experience is one of the most pivotal things that people sometimes forget to consider when planning. With that experience comes the decor. You want guests to come to your event and photograph different details that leave them thinking, “I want that!” or “That’s so clever!” How does one achieve this? Say hello to Rebecca Cross of Mingle. If you’re a Northwest Florida local or a frequent visitor to the area, you might have seen her along the Emerald Coast building some of the most extravagant balloon
decorations you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Other than that, good luck finding her. “I am the girl who shows up at every party, even when I am never actually invited,” she says. “I come in and make everything look picture perfect, and then I disappear before the show begins.” Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Cross is a creative mastermind. In 2004, she launched an online shop where she sold craft supplies and memory-keeping products to paper-craft enthusiasts around the world. In just three months, the brand she “accidentally” built from her garage had grown to become one of the top ten sites in the world of craft hobbies. “Twitter wasn’t tweeting yet, and Pinterest wasn’t anything we could have even imagined yet,” she says. Two years later, Cross sold the business—but that wasn’t the end for her. In 2007, she launched a design
“ W H E N YO U M I N G L E W I T H OT H E R S , YO U O F T E N D O S O OV E R F O O D A N D D R I N KS , E I T H E R AT H O M E O R AT A S P E C I A L LO C AT I O N . W E K N E W W E WA N T E D TO B E A PA RT O F P E O P L E ’S DA I LY C E L E B R AT I O N S . ” and manufacturing company focused on creating products for the crafts industry. “This company is really where I found my ‘creative vision’ to work,” says Cross. Needless to say, the company quickly skyrocketed, and she was faced once again with the unexpected. “We were successfully selling patterned papers, stickers, stamps, photo albums, mixed media paints, and other craft-centric products to large retailers around the world. Our products could be found in Australia, Singapore, Canada, and, of course, the United States at stores such as Michael’s, Jo-Ann, Hobby Lobby, HSN, and more.” Shortly after selling that business also, Cross and her family packed their bags and transported their lives from Kansas City to a piece of paradise along the Gulf of Mexico in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. After a lengthy break from the day-to-day business life, Cross caught herself having “ants in her pants”
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and pondered about what was next. Her new brainchild, Mingle, was born. The concept started with a storefront providing merchandise to help people decorate and celebrate. Its offerings ranged from tabletop accessories to home decor accents to a room full of party supplies. “We wanted to help our customers bring everyone together,” says Cross. “When you mingle with others, you often do so over food and drinks, either at home or at a special location. We knew we wanted to be a part of people’s daily celebrations.” In early 2017, Mingle opened its doors in the 30Avenue shopping plaza. Shortly afterward, the Mingle team discovered the high demand for balloon decor and styling in the communities along Scenic Highway 30-A. “Once we announced our on-site design, styling, and delivery service for events and special occasions, our balloon business really blew up,” chuckles Cross. In 2019, she decided to close the storefront to focus her undivided attention on event decor and installation services. “Balloon decor and design are extremely versatile, not to mention colorful,” says Cross. “It is a product that can truly transform to fit any theme, event, or venue space. The design possibilities are endless!” VIE had the pleasure of collaborating with Mingle for our inaugural Logan Lane Holiday Block Party last December to benefit Hurricane Michael Relief in Florida’s Panhandle, and we fell in love with Rebecca and her husband, Barry. Shortly after that, we were engaged to host the 2019 Digital Graffiti Awards Party as the pregame for its Illuminated+ main event in Alys Beach, Florida. When brainstorming on how we could top our previous events, we knew 108 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
that incorporating Mingle’s spectacular balloon sculptures mixed with delicate florals (courtesy of Flowers by Milk and Honey) would be a home run. To learn more about our Digital Graffiti California Dreamin’ party, visit our blog, La Muse, at VIEmagazine.com.
Visit M I N G L E 3 0 A .CO M to learn more or contact Rebecca about your upcoming event!
Above: Vita, the 30A Photo Bus, got a makeover by Mingle and Flowers by Milk and Honey for VIE’s Digital Graffiti 2019 California Dreamin’ Awards Party. Left: Rebecca Cross, owner and creative director of Mingle Photo by Micki Glenn
5 U N I Q U E WAY S T O U S E
Balloon Decor By REBECCA CROSS OF MINGLE
1. ADD MESSAGES Personalization is a huge trend, and balloons are no exception. When you add a custom decal to a balloon, it makes it just a little more special and unique for your event. For example, “Happy Birthday, Cassie” or #FortyIsFine—you get the idea!
4. CHOOSE A THEME
2. LIGHT IT UP
There are hundreds of iconic and graphic shaped balloons on the market today. You can find everything from flamingos to french fries. Use these novelty balloons to set the mood for your party and add a quick themed element you might not have access to otherwise.
Internal LED lights are becoming extremely versatile and are being used more and more in balloon decorations for events. Add glow lighting inside balloons or wrap rope lighting around columns or arches to bring them to life at night.
5. HIDE JOY INSIDE
3. GO BIG! Jumbo balloons with tassels, metallic fringe, and other “tails” will delight every guest. Ranging from two to eight feet, these oversized spheres are not to be missed.
Above: Creative balloon decor by Mingle for bridal showers and engagements Left: Photo courtesy of Mingle Center and right: Photos by Jayda Rust
I’m sure everyone has seen the colored confetti hidden inside a balloon for a gender reveal party. Use this same method to hide a secret message, money, or other sweet surprises. Once the balloon is popped, the treasure will be revealed! V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 109
THE MASTER OF
BY SARAH FREEMAN
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Amsterdam was one of three cities on writer Sarah Freeman’s trip to discover the history of famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn. Photo by Mapics/ Shutterstock
Three cities and one remarkable artist’s legacy. Sarah Freeman journeys to the Netherlands to mark the 350th death anniversary of one of the most beloved Dutch masters, Rembrandt. Holland, the flat-as-a-pancake country that’s gifted the world tulips, clogs, and whirring windmills, is 240 times smaller than the United States, but four hundred years ago, it was the foremost maritime and economic power in the world. Driven by new freedom from Spanish Catholic rule, the Dutch Golden Age (spanning 150 years) was an era of unprecedented prosperity and creative discovery, thanks to artists like Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. But one Dutch Golden Age artist’s legacy trumps them all—Rembrandt van Rijn, whose life and oeuvre are being commemorated with a series of exhibitions and events across the country until early 2020.
LEIDEN: GOLDEN BEGINNINGS To scratch beneath the impasto of the man behind the masterpieces, my first port of call is Rembrandt’s birthplace, Leiden. A love letter to the Golden Age, the university city’s cobbled streets, canals, city windmills, and hidden poorhouses are steeped in seventeenth-century nostalgia. The leader of the Leiden Pilgrims, William Bradford, wasn’t exaggerating when he described it as “a fair and beautiful city, and of a sweet situation.”
Photo by Noppasin Wongchum/ Shutterstock
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Le monde The story of the United States’ early colonists begins in liberal Leiden. The Plymouth Pilgrims lived here for a decade before setting sail for the New World in 1620, putting down roots in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. Their time in Leiden is memorialized at the city’s American Pilgrim Museum, a fourteenth-century townhouse near Hooglandse Church. A five-minute hop, skip, and occasional stumble over the cobbles from the museum is another storied address, built three centuries later on Langebrug, where a young Rembrandt was apprenticed to master Jacob van Swanenburgh. The building has been reborn as the Young Rembrandt Studio, where state-of-the-art video mapping of the artist’s Home to the most extensive early years is the perfect beginning for a self-guided Rembrandt walking tour. Between canalside iced collection of Rembrandts in coffees, I make a pilgrimage to the artist’s red-shutthe world, the Gothic-inspired tered Latin School, Leiden’s Gothic cathedral where behemoth will be unveiling its the master painter sang in the choir, and Weddesteeg, his quayside address until 1631. The trail finishes ambitious Rembrandt–Velázquez up at Museum De Lakenhal, the axis of Leiden’s exhibition in October. booming textile trade during the Dutch Golden Age. The former cloth hall now safeguards the artist’s earliest surviving painting: A Pedlar Selling Spectacles (Allegory of Sight), displayed alongside 40 paintings, 120 etchings and 20 drawings as part of the Young Rembrandt – Rising Star exhibition (November 2019–February 2020).
Right: The windmill and museum De Valk in Leiden is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Photo by Alfio Finocchiaro/Shutterstock Opposite top: The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642 Opposite bottom: The Rembrandt House Museum in the old Jewish quarter of Amsterdam celebrates the 350th death anniversary of the Dutch master this year. Photo by Ivo Antonie de Rooij/Shutterstock 112 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
Trading one landmark building for another, I make my way to the monumental Leiden City Hall to graze on Italian bistro-style fare at its namesake restaurant. One pear-and-pecorino-stuffed tortellini later, I load my extra cargo onto Rondvaart Leiden’s vintage narrow boat to explore Old Leyden’s green-fringed moats. Now a portal into the city’s cultural heritage, these bucolic waterways (complete with bobbing ducks and weeping willows) at one time defended the city’s outer walls. Sun bouncing off the mirror-smooth water, we glide past the city’s greatest and greenest hits: Holland’s earliest botanical garden (which seeded the country’s first tulip), the world’s second-oldest university observatory, and the enormous sundial at the De Sleutels flour mill. One final chug along Leiden’s most beautiful canal, the Rapenburg, is a fitting farewell to Rembrandt’s hometown.
AMSTERDAM: CAPITAL GAINS Set on building his fortune, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam in 1631, the second installment of my Dutch trip-tych. Traveling on two wheels is a rite of passage in the Dutch capital, so I join the city’s 850,000 cyclists and ride to Rembrandthuis, the painter’s 1639 house turned museum. Crowdpleasing painting demos, which take place in his north-facing studio, reveal how the master of chiaroscuro mixed his famous palette. I head straight upstairs to admire Rembrandt’s rarest etching, The Hundred Guilder Print, wrapping up at the upper floor’s Cabinet Room that overflows with exotic paraphernalia and dusty art books archiving sketches by the likes of Michelangelo. While Amsterdam’s Amstel River was a favorite subject of Rembrandt’s, curiously, not one of his four hundred paintings or eight hundred etchings immortalized the construction of the city’s seventeenth-century canal belt, a triumph of the Golden Age. On Canal Tour Amsterdam’s Rembrandtthemed Open Boat Goes Golden Age tour (booked through Stromma.com), you travel back in time to this illustrious era, plying the city’s trio of historic canals: the Herengracht, where wealthy merchants’ homes flank the canal; the Keizersgracht, named after Emperor Maximilian of Austria; and the Prinsengracht, which was once a working-class area. Between the city’s iconic grachtenpanden (canal houses) and innumerable bridges, we tick off landmark
sites like century-old Beurs van Berlage (formerly a commodities exchange) and Western Church, where a destitute Rembrandt is buried in an anonymous plot. His beloved wife, Saskia, is also buried in the church. Tragically, she died at the age of twenty-nine in 1642—the same year Rembrandt completed The Night Watch, a three-year labor of love. Visitors can watch the celebrated masterpiece’s multimilliondollar restoration while it stays on display behind glass at the Rijksmuseum. Home to the most extensive collection of Rembrandts in the world, the Gothicinspired behemoth will be unveiling its ambitious Rembrandt–Velázquez exhibition in October—a collaboration with Madrid’s Museo del Prado.
T H E H A G U E: H AV I N G A R O YA L LY G O O D T I M E As the seat of the House of Orange, The Hague was the center of power at the height of the Golden Age. The embodiment of this era’s riches is Lange Voorhout, the city’s most magnificent boulevard “where royalty from Europe would parade in their carriages to see and be seen,” snappily dressed art historian and Hagenaar (inhabitant of The Hague) Remco Dörr tells me. The next stop on our two-wheeling tour of the city is Hotel Des Indes, a former party palace turned grand hotel, which sits in all its colonial splendor at the end of leafy Lange Voorhout. Opposite the hotel is Escher in Het Paleis, a museum housed in what was once Queen Emma’s winter palace. Fans of the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher flock here to see his mindbending Day and Night, one of America’s most-sold posters in the swinging sixties. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 113
Panorama photo of the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, home of the best collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings Photo by DigitalPearls/ Shutterstock
Our next artistic address is Mauritshuis, a temple to Golden Age art, housing the second-largest permanent collection of Rembrandt paintings in Holland. The artist’s highlight reel: his first official commission, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp; the shadowy Saul and David (only declared a legit Rembrandt four years ago); and his last self-portrait from 1669, are all here. So, too, are the best of his contemporaries, like Vermeer and his iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring—bought for the equivalent of around thirty dollars back in 1881. It keeps good company with Hendrick Avercamp’s Winter Landscape with Skaters (1608), Holland’s most popular Christmas card, brought to life most winters when the city canals transform into one giant ice rink. Art gorging done for the day, I step outside to an Avercamp-worthy scene—the city’s grand parliament
Van Gogh famously said, “Rembrandt is above all a magician.” Seven days and a hundred-plus paintings and etchings later, I’m convinced I’ve fallen under the artist’s spell too. 114 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
Self-Portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1628 (age twenty-two)
house, Binnenhof, reflected in the swan-plied Hofvijver Lake. Opposite sits De Plaats, one of the oldest squares in town, where I sate my appetite at Jamey Bennett restaurant. Inside, it’s all exposed brickwork and chesterfield sofas—a cozy backdrop for dishes like fennel salad with apple and pomegranate and mint pesto rack of lamb. Suffice it to say, I’m well on my way to a Rubens figure, as the Dutch would say! My stylish city escape (and the perfect place to sleep off a long lunch) is the newly opened Ibis Styles, located a whisper from the Old City Hall and The Hague’s hopon-hop-off tram. Set in a heritage building designed by Holland’s first modernist architect, Hendrik Petrus Berlage, it’s a vision of black welded steel, wood, and glass, offset with art nouveau flourishes and a gorgeous staircase.
As the night draws in, I spend my final evening in the city’s last remaining liqueur distillery, Van Kleef, where I raise a glass of jenever (the ancestor of modern gin) to the Dutch master. One of the 1842 museumcum-shop’s most famous patrons was none other than Vincent van Gogh, who, much like Rembrandt, was obsessed with self-portraits: the original selfies, as it were. Van Gogh famously said, “Rembrandt is above all a magician.” Seven days and a hundred-plus paintings and etchings later, I’m convinced I’ve fallen under the artist’s spell too.
Train travel between Leiden, Amsterdam, and The Hague can be booked on the web at NS.nl. Head to Holland.com for more information on planning a trip to the Dutch country. Brit-born Sarah Freeman’s appetite for adventure has taken her to some far-flung corners of the earth, from Indonesia’s remote Mentawai Islands to the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. The internationally published travel writer and photographer regularly racks up air miles on assignment for Bloomberg, Sunday Times Travel, and Harper’s Bazaar.
Right: The Zoo Gallery visionaries Roxie and Chris Wilson with their son, Baxter (left), at the Grayton Beach store. The family has owned and operated the eclectic art gallery and retail destination in various locations on the Emerald Coast since 1979. Photo by Brenna Kneiss Opposite: The Zoo Galleryâ€™s mission is to provide unique offerings to shoppers while directly supporting American artists and makers. Photo by Gerald Burwell 116 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
ART I T ' S
FA M I LY
A F FA I R
By Jordan Staggs
“Do we want to be a Walmart world?”
ith all due respect to Sam Walton, that’s a definite no for Roxie Wilson, owner of the eclectic art gallery and retail haven The Zoo Gallery, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary on August 8, 2019. The shop’s locations in Grayton Beach and Miramar Beach, Florida, are just about the opposite of what one might imagine from a big-box store. The carefully curated mix of artwork, clothing, accessories, jewelry, and home goods represents a lifestyle that has evolved over four decades and yet has retained its essence of “standing out from the herd,” as Roxie and her family like to call it. “I’ve always loved and been passionate about art,” she continues. “It stirs the soul.” It’s fair to assume that countless souls have stirred after walking into The Zoo Gallery since the first location’s inception in 1979, when Roxie decided to leave behind her position as an art teacher at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach. She and her husband, Chris, opened their fine
art gallery there. As Fort Walton Beach is a tourist town, the demand for expanded offerings over the years resulted in The Zoo Gallery’s being the creative, one-of-akind combo they are today. “I wanted to have an art gallery, but it evolved to be a retail shop—still with a handpicked, artistic focus,” Roxie explains. “Our sense of display and decor has been key to building something you won’t find anywhere else. We have many repeat customers who have been coming for years and now they’re bringing their families with them. People say their vacation isn’t complete without a trip to The Zoo Gallery.” The Zoo Gallery hopped around from Fort Walton Beach to the Shoreline Village in Destin, the Market Shops at Sandestin, and Destin Commons, and finally to its current homes of Grayton Beach and the Grand Boulevard Town Center in Miramar Beach. But through it all, the tradition and family presence have remained. Chris and Roxie have always been in and out of the stores, working the floor, meeting customers, sharing their story, and working directly with artists and vendors to V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 117
Below: Roxie Wilson and Otis, the original Zoo dog, in front of a mural painted by Roxie at the Fort Walton Beach store
Above: While the company itself turns forty this year, The Zoo Gallery on Hotz Avenue in Grayton Beach is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Photos courtesy of The Zoo Gallery
Left: Chris Wilson outside The Zoo Gallery on the Strip in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
bring new and exciting pieces into the shops. A steady stream of loyal and passionate employees has also kept the spirit of their vision alive—none more so than general manager Robyn Stork, who has worked with the Wilsons for over twenty years.
“WHAT I LOVE AND ADMIRE ABOUT THE ZOO GALLERY IS THAT AFTER FORTY YEARS, THE MISSION OF SUPPORTING AND PROMOTING HARDWORKING ARTISTS HASN’T FALTERED,”
“What I love and admire about The Zoo Gallery is that after forty years, the mission of supporting and promoting hardworking artists hasn’t faltered,” says Robyn. “I work with the Wilsons, and that makes it more than just a job. They care about me and all of their ‘zookeepers’ like family. It’s been incredible to be part of a company and team whose passion is for more than just the bottom line.”
“We can’t thank our employees enough,” expounds Chris. “We can pick up the coolest things in the world to sell, but if the employees don’t ‘get it’ and don’t have a love for it, it just wouldn’t work.” Now an integral part of the zookeeper team, Chris and Roxie’s son, Baxter, has joined the ranks to help curate offerings alongside Roxie and to usher The Zoo
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Gallery into the next generation. “I’ve always been proud of it,” Baxter says. “My parents created something so unique, and I want to keep with the tradition of what The Zoo Gallery is but also embrace and add some of my personal style and a next-generation energy to the vibe that already exists here. I especially love working directly with the artists.” Baxter’s sister, Raven, is an artist and author living in Charleston, South Carolina, whose work is also available at The Zoo Gallery. Roxie says that both her children have always had distinct artistic tastes and strong personalities, and having Baxter on board full-time at the store has been fun. “We rarely disagree on choosing inventory,” she says. “It’s been great because together we bring to the table a mix of experience and a younger eye.” As part of his initiatives at The Zoo Gallery, Baxter has also been “remixing” some of the store’s classic T-shirt designs and creating new ones. As part of the
fortieth-anniversary celebration, The Zoo Gallery encourages anyone and everyone who has one of their T-shirts to share it on social media and talk about how they got it or why it’s special to them. “Everyone has a T-shirt story,” says Roxie, “whether it was handed down to them from a parent or it’s a more recent design. We’ve worked with Greg Keith at Serigraphia screen printing for years to create our shirts, and he’s been fantastic.” Fans can even stop by the store to get the exclusive fortieth-anniversary shirt, now available in both locations. Serigraphia, also founded in 1979, has collaborated with the Wilsons on over twenty-five T-shirt designs, says Greg. Half of those are still in production. “This alone attests to Chris and Roxie’s creativity and ability to relate to our current visual culture. The Zoo Gallery was one of my first customers, and now Serigraphia works with the second generation of zookeepers, their son Baxter, and the legacy continues.”
At its core, The Zoo Gallery is a family business that’s all about art and connection. In an age when both those things are available at your fingertips on a superficial level through social media and the internet, it’s more important than ever that we support the artists whose work we love. “The quality and craftsmanship you can see in someone else’s art is what I love,” says Baxter, who, like his mother and sister, is also a painter. “As an artist, you understand where a piece came from and you can appreciate all the time and effort that went into it. We want to share that knowledge and passion with people through The Zoo Gallery.” “Supporting American artists and getting to form relationships with them and our customers has been a dream come true,” Roxie adds. “Retail is tough work, but if you love it and you’re proud of what you create and share, it makes it all worth it.”
Above: Celebrate forty years with The Zoo Gallery zookeepers! Share your Zoo T-shirt story, visit The Zoo Gallery in Grayton Beach or Grand Boulevard, and get news updates by following them on social media. Photo by Brenna Kneiss
Join The Zoo Gallery in celebrating the big forty on August 8—the stores will hold a special sale event and a vacation giveaway—details to come!
Visit TheZooGallery.com and follow the lifestyle when you #standoutfromtheherd on Facebook.com/ TheZooGallery and Instagram @thezoogallery. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 119
A CUL For a company to grow, it needs to establish at least three things: a mission statement (what the company does and why), a vision statement (where the owners want to be in the future), and core values (the magic that brings it all to life). Together these create the beliefs, behavior, and identity that determine how managers and employees interact with each other and the world. And really, people are no different.
o grow as individuals, in relationships, and as members of our communities, we each need a personal culture of our own. This identity serves as our anchor, our road map to power. Itâ€™s who we are when we are by ourselves and how we act when we are out in the world. Personal culture comes with us through the ups and downs and all the transitions of life.
To change an organization, you first need to change its culture. For example, NASCAR shifted in the early 2000s when R. J. Reynolds ceased being the title sponsor for the Winston Cup Series. Subsequently, Nextel/Sprint came aboard; currently, the Cup Series is sponsored by Monster Energy, marketing to a younger demographic across a larger geographic area, expanding beyond the American South. But no matter the audience, it is crucial to adhere to core values from the start. The Marines are defined by a steadfast commitment to their ethos: honor, courage, commitment. Each Marine tries to live up to these ideals because they know the brother/sister to the left and right believes in the same time-tested principles.
Right: Suzanne Pollak 120 | SE P T E MBE R 2019
In terms of structure, personal culture has a lot of similarities to company culture. However, it is not groupthink. It is 100 percent individual, defined by what we write, read, wear, and listen to, the stories we tell, the repertoire of recipes we make, and even the furniture we choose for our homes. Personal culture is also behavior: the way we treat others and engage with the world. As we grow
TURE of Your Own BY S U Z A N N E P O L L A K
and change and mature, we are always refining our points of view. Our core values remain the same, but our outlook evolves as we meet new people, marry into families, and learn new traditions. There are two things I know for sure. First, never sacrifice your personality for someone else’s idea of “perfection.” You have your own background, beliefs, and set of influences. I have mine. Yours and mine are different, and that is what makes life interesting—to identify what makes us unique and discover what we can each bring to the table, our community, our world. But remember the second thing I know for sure: personal culture has nothing to do with Instagram likes. If you don’t have a personal culture, it is time to develop one:
STAY TRUE TO YOUR TASTE. Trust your innate feelings and attractions. We all have taste, so why do a few dictate to the rest when it comes
to what constitutes good and bad? Ignore that nonsense. What is important is what you are drawn to based on your history. Don’t take the easy way out, trying to look and behave like everyone else. Imitation may be flattery, but it is never genuinely cool. The most attractive person is one who understands his or her particular style, body, and look and owns it. It is impossible to fake authenticity, borrowing what is “in” this year, out the next. Nothing about that is interesting, unique, or you. Why turn the world into a sea of sameness?
UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF LOCATION. We live in different cities and neighborhoods. I spent my first eighteen years in Africa and absorbed distinctive and divergent cultures growing up in many countries, attending twelve local schools, including one in a camel barn. I even absorbed something my American parents didn’t realize their daughter would ever wonder. That is, What will my bride price be? I heard the father of a friend paid two hundred camels for his wife. Would I fetch as many when the time came?
MAKE OTHER PEOPLE COMFORTABLE. My father had a strong personal culture, which he carried to every country, house, and embassy he entered. At our frequent parties, he was a natural host with an intuitive awareness of all temperaments in the room, evidenced by the party music he selected from his collection of over twelve thousand records. He orchestrated the guest list and then greeted everyone at the door and made them feel instantly at ease with his V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 121
Introspections gift of conversation and ability to listen. I often saw him take off his jacket and tie when a guest came to the party sans jackets or tie, both de rigueur in the 1960s and ’70s. He was a master at seating tables because carelessness with this in the diplomatic world could lead to torn relationships and, ultimately, the collapse of long-standing international contacts.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO LEAVE BEHIND. In our everyday encounters with everyone from family to total strangers, we pass on parts of ourselves and our code of culture, even on a cellular level. We transfer: beliefs, behavior, style; our choices in music, menus, organization; how we get along with others, make small talk, use a knife and fork; whether we wait until everyone is served; whether we eat our peas or not. Nobody wants our offspring to embarrass themselves later as adults. What we do might well become second nature to them, a gift of ease in getting along comfortably in the world. In everyday life, our personal culture determines how others see us. How do we leave people feeling when they walk away? Safe, charmed, happy,
uplifted, inspired? Or do we sometimes pass on anxiety and discomfort in our wake?
TO CHANGE YOURSELF, CHANGE YOUR PERSONAL CULTURE. Designing your life is a conscious decision whether you know it or not. Don’t just dream of the life you want, but actively create it. To that end, I am making three changes in the area of time management by adding daily rituals into my schedule. First, I am giving myself permission and a way to unwind at the end of my workday. By changing clothes, making a cocktail or mocktail, and cooking dinner, my brain realizes the time has come to relax! Second, I will reward myself for even small steps forward. I acknowledge an accomplishment and take the time to celebrate that hurdle, instead of only thinking, What’s next? and then going back to the never-ending rat race. The reward can be as simple as a cookie or watching the sunset but, of course, it’s really about the journey all along. Third, I will use mornings more productively—not spending the first hour of the day straightening up the house but shifting that work to
another time of the day so it can be done mindlessly. I plan to do the heavy brain work during the time I am at my sharpest, letting myself think more deeply and not just responding to superficial cares. Once we unlock, develop, and understand our personal culture, we give it to the world. We bring our real self, our spirit, our morale, and this matters most of all for our happiness and the encouragement of others to be happy, too. I want to show you the real me so I can see the real you. Suzanne Pollak, a mentor and lecturer in the fields of home, hearth, and hospitality, is the founder and dean of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits. She is the coauthor of Entertaining for Dummies, The Pat Conroy Cookbook, and The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits: A Handbook of Etiquette with Recipes. Born into a diplomatic family, Pollak was raised in Africa, where her parents hosted multiple parties every week. Her South Carolina homes have been featured in the Wall Street Journal “Mansion” section and Town & Country magazine.
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BOOK CLUB THE READERS CORNER
Admont Abbey Library, part of a Benedictine monastery in Styria, Austria, is one of the largest architectural creations of the late European Baroque period and houses over seventy thousand volumes. Photo by BarthFotografie/ Shutterstock
As lovers of words and stories, the VIE team couldnâ€™t be more excited to announce the creation of the VIE Book Club! Starting with this issue, we will showcase some of our favorite reads, take a deeper dive into their significance and creation, and interview the authors and other creatives behind them. Flip the pages to discover two of our picksâ€”Circe by Madeline Miller and We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Ruffin. We hope they will find their way into your hands, onto your nightstand, or onto your list of must-listen audiobooks very soon! Stay tuned for more book club picks in the magazine and online at VIEmagazine.com. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 125
The Readers Corner
BY SUSAN VALLEE PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF MAURICE RUFFIN
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Have you heard the buzz about We Cast a Shadow? This debut novel by author Maurice Ruffin is causing a stir for the best reasons. The stor y is set in a dystopian future and focuses on a father who wants his son to have a better life than he has had—a life free of racism. His hopes are dashed as the dark birthmark on his biracial son’s face begins to grow and spread, threatening to blot out the whiteness that protects him. Ruffin handles the weighty reality (both real and imagined) of racism with the deftness of a comedian who makes you laugh, but leaves you unsettled and squirming at the realness of the joke. “Frankly, reactions seem to be tied to race,” he says of feedback on his book. “Some white readers are surprised by the depth and breadth of racism in the novel—not all white readers, but some. On the other hand, not a single black person or person of color has said this. I think the differences in the perception of racism are one of our country’s greatest challenges.” In We Cast a Shadow, altering one’s appearance is as simple as a medical procedure. Black skin can be turned white, noses can be slimmed, or lips can be shaved and reshaped so a person can conform to society’s physical ideal. Ruffin centers his vision of a not-so-far-fetched future on a young boy named Nigel, the son of (white) Penny and the (black) unnamed narrator. Nigel’s character begins as a little boy who is anxious to please his parents. The author contrasts that pure love and willingness to please with the father’s impulse to shape his son’s whole life, but this desire becomes increasingly twisted by the father’s fear and self-loathing. “I was inspired to write the book by many current events, like the murder of Trayvon Martin and America’s reaction to our first black president,” Ruffin explains. “But I also wanted to write a book that was in conversation with works by authors such as Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright. I wouldn’t be an author without them. I feel like I’m part of that conversation, and that makes me beam.” Ruffin, a native of New Orleans and one of a handful of African American lawyers in the city, wrote the book only he could write. It tells his story and the stories of his friends, his neighbors, and others in his community. It shows the many, many ways fear can corrupt people. He often tells fellow writers, “Write the book that only you can write, because no one else carries your obsessions, your point of view, or your version of love.”
The book has been praised by a long list of national publications, including the New York Times, Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Book Review, the LA Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, NPR, Southern Living, Parade, the Associated Press, Poets & Writers, and many more. While traveling around the country to attend book fairs and signings (he spoke to Escape to Create members in Seaside, Florida, and signed at Sundog Books this past March), Ruffin is still delighted by the reactions his book is creating. “I’m a published
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The Readers Corner “ W R I T E T H E B O O K T H AT O N LY Y O U C A N W R I T E , BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE CARRIES YOUR OBSESSIONS, YOUR POINT O F V I E W, O R Y O U R VERSION OF LOVE.” author of a book that’s been reviewed nationally!” he gushes. “I walk into bookstores and libraries and, bam—there’s my novel! People chat about my book every day on social media. Folks I’ve never met are having book clubs to talk about it, which might be my favorite thing ever. It’s a good book for book clubs and students.” Author Maurice Ruffin
Ruffin’s second book, a collection of short stories, will also be published by Penguin Random House.
“My novel was set in a fictional city I created, but the collection will likely be all New Orleans stories,” he says. “I love my hometown so much; it’s nice to represent it in the fictional world.” The city has loved him back. His face was on the cover of local newspaper Gambit, making it somewhat difficult, he says, to walk around the city unnoticed. And the Times-Picayune has proudly reviewed and covered his success. To date, Ruffin says, he is the only African American in the city to be published by a major publishing house. “I hope my book opens a few eyes,” he expounds. “If you want to know how it feels for many to be black in America, apparently my book can help with that.”
Visit PenguinRandomHouse.com to learn more about We Cast a Shadow or pick up your copy in bookstores and online now.
ART & CULTURE MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION FOR $29.95 V IE M A G A ZINE .C OM / S UB S CR IBE
C I RC E
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H E RS E L F
Review by S O L A N G E J A Z A Y E R I
have not picked up a mythological saga since college and, admittedly, GrecoRoman mythology is not my genre of choice. But there was so much buzz and anticipation around Madeline Miller’s second novel, Circe, that I felt compelled to join the line of readers who made this novel an instant number one bestseller on the New York Times list. And for a good reason—from beginning to end, Miller’s words (narrated through Circe’s voice) levitate the senses and imagination into the world of the gods. This novel, gaining momentum as a new cult classic, is more than a clever recrafting of
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Homer’s witch of Aiaia. Circe is a complex character study that reads like poetry. In Madeline Miller’s words: “One of the things that drew me to Circe is how she makes her own power—not out of her past, but out of her hopes for the future. As a nymph, she will have no control over her destiny; she will end up as a pawn or as prey to a greater god, or both. She finds that intolerable, so she literally invents her own power. She is the first witch in Western literature, and witchcraft is the opposite of divine power—witchcraft is born, instead, of skill, knowledge, and hard work.
The Readers Corner “I think it takes more strength to break with what you are used to than to stay with it, though, certainly, enduring her family took its own kind of strength. I very much saw this as a story of a woman born into a horrendous family who must learn to find her own path, to build her sense of right and wrong, and of how to be in the world, from scratch.” The firstborn daughter of Helios (god of the sun) and an Oceanid nymph, Circe is royalty, though not respected as such. Lacking her mother Perse’s hypnotic beauty and the supernatural hocus-pocus of her father, Circe is considered ordinary and has a voice so shrill she sounds human. Although she wants nothing more than to be recognized, she is teased and discarded. Perhaps because of this rejection and helplessness, she finds a kinship with us mortals and we with her. Intrigued by mortals’ limited life spans in which to experience their passions, Circe admires human beings above her family tree of deities. She says with admiration, “This was how mortals found fame, I thought. Through practice and diligence, tending their skills like gardens until they glowed beneath the sun. But gods are born of ichor and nectar, their excellences already bursting from their fingertips. So they find their fame by proving what they can mar: destroying cities, starting wars, breeding plagues and monsters. All that smoke and savor rising so delicately from our altars. It leaves only ash behind.” Time becomes Circe’s enemy when she falls in love with a sailor named Glaucus. Not wanting to lose him, she renders him immortal like herself. But Glaucus, now living among the gods, marries the nymph Scylla, and in a jealous rage, Circe transforms Scylla into a six-headed snake beast. Circe’s sorcery scares her father, and so, following Zeus’s advice, he exiles Circe to the desolate island of Aiaia. And it is there among the flora and fauna that we see our heroine evolve and blossom through the art and practice of witchcraft. “Little by little, I began to listen better: to the sap moving in the plants, to the blood in my veins,” she says. “I learned to understand my own intention, to prune and to add, to feel where the power gathered and to speak the right words to draw it to its height. That was the moment I lived for, when it all came clear at last, and the spell could sing with its pure note for me and me alone.”
“I HAD ALWAYS BELIEVED IN VIRGINIA WOOLF’S IDEAS ABOUT WOMEN ARTISTS NEEDING A ROOM OF THEIR OWN—SPACE AWAY FROM SOCIETY TO MAKE THEIR ART. CIRCE MADE ME FEEL THAT VISCERALLY.” When I asked Miller what writing this novel had taught her, she replied, “I had always believed in Virginia Woolf ’s ideas about women artists needing a room of their own—space away from society to make their art. Circe made me feel that viscerally. And this space doesn’t have to be a literal space—though if someone offered me a magic island, I wouldn’t say no! It can also be a mind-set: a willingness to take risks, to put aside the expectations and demands of the world, and to listen to your own voice.”
Above: Author Madeline Miller
And so, I urge you: please take time for yourself to gift your mind and imagination the soulful voyage to Circe’s island of Aiaia. There, you can experience Miller’s evocative literary sorcery.
Learn more about author Madeline Miller and her books at MadelineMiller.com. V I E MAGAZ INE . COM | 131
The Last Word
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CULTURE MAK ES THE WORLD GO ROUND BY MYLES MELLOR
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Microbrewery output Green, prefix Coolpix maker Lattes and mochas Dignify Lotus car and dedicatee of a piano classic Elmer, to Bugs Opera villain, often All-purpose vehicle, for short Rihanna’s first #1 Billboard single Wall or Main (abbr.) Specialty military rank, for short Put up on Facebook, say Pretty in French, Angelina in movies Montblanc, for one Getaway key on the keyboard Brown or Yale A rapper and a state Golf cup Disney movie with a Polynesian setting Nation famous for ABBA and saunas
Famous film festival Hot Springs National Park state Beach basking result Engraved Mirror “Bam!” chef Bluepoint, e.g. Dress shoe brand No longer popular Halloween sound Taylor of pop The turf, not the surf Moved like Sarah Hughes and Michelle Kwan A beautiful Bugatti It separates “pay” from “view” Store popular for its button-downs ___ Got a Secret (TV game show) Sport celebrated on Ralph Lauren shirts
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The Last Word
Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. — Albert Camus
Inspiring 50 Yearsof Excellence... Season Subscriptions On Sale Now Join us as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary season with three incredible productions as well as events for patrons, alumni and the community.
Beer & Ballet
Oct. 12 @ 7:00pm Grayton Beer Company A mix of contemporary, neoclassical and classical pieces from guest choreographers and the NFB repertoire in a more casual atmosphere.
Nov. 22 & 23 @ 7:30pm Nov. 24 @ 2:30pm Mattie Kelly Arts Center
Sponsored In Part by:
The 40th annual production of the classic holiday fairytale with live music by the NFB Orchestra.
Feb. 28 @ 7:30pm March 1 @ 2:30pm Mattie Kelly Arts Center A cavalcade of enchanting characters, dancing, costumes and a magical set with live music by the NFB Orchestra.
A Marketing & Publishing Boutique Brand Curators Creative Influencers Boutique Publishing House Design Studio TheIdeaBoutique.com Santa Rosa Beach, Florida: (850) 231-3087 Clifden, Co. Galway, Ireland: +353 (85) 158 9879
Photo by Brandan Babineaux
Au revoir! BEFORE YOU GO . . .
Sunsets in charming Seaside, Florida, are never disappointing. This view from landmark restaurant Bud & Alley’s shows the town’s newly completed boardwalk, which connects the eatery to the beach walkover at Coleman Pavilion. This once underused sandy path behind some of Seaside’s merchants had a swath of brush blocking its view of the Gulf of Mexico. Now the new boardwalk opens up to incredible vistas and includes bar seating, umbrellas, custom lanterns, and a new shower area for people coming from the beach. Time for a beach trip!
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