11 Ways to Feel UP: A Wide Eyed Tale of Two Cities



Everyone is Tired. Stressed. Imperfect. Where is the new news? It’s Spring. If John and Yoko can wake up wide-eyed, prop themselves up in bed and announce a Love-In…so can you.

Note to The Spring in You…I rarely roll out my laundry list but in the mode of celebrating it vs.complaining….my typical day’s schedule begins like a marathon around the world…I am stressed…but I love it.

  • 4-5 am. Up. Espresso, intense yoga, writing, music.
  • 6-8 am. A mix of European business, my spa, bagno, shower.
  • 8-9 am. Dress.
  • 9 am. A TV segment shooting a client’s stem cell surgery.
  • 12 pm. To the Downtown office.
  • 4 pm. Uptown. A premiere of “Your Highness,” the new …movie.
  • 7 pm. Downtown. A meeting for our im.material village in Haiti.
  • 10 pm. LA calls.

Existing somewhere between an imperfect glamour giddy like Carrie Bradshaw, R. Crumb‘s yogi brother in the Terry Zwigoff/David Lynch movie “Crumb” and a visionary athlete like Yoko Ono …it’s no wonder I have dark-circle Bette Davis eyes. As one of my business partners in the entertainment industry says, concealer is her best friend. Concealing or Complaining is not my way.  Celebrating, yes.  One cannot ride two horses. Compost the Complain. Decide that your 20 hour, 2 days into one “day”schedule is your Art.

My Art this month took place between NYC and Milan, two high-paced cities, a weave of new “understandings” via a very New Moon Spring cleansing and a firm grounding in the Fullness of The Big Moon. This Time has been like a collective Shamanic moment between the Year of The Rabbit and 5 million planets in Aries to open the Spring.

I am loving the roundness of Time and seasons, the transformation of spaces through art and architecture co-mingling with the transformation of Self through symbols and actions ranging from shopping for shoes for grounding, plastic surgery, indulgent desserts or happy joy Spring symbols in golden yellow flowers everywhere. Everything we do is choice. To be embracing the juice of Paradox of either Exalted and Wretched States. Is your life a Mythical quest or same ole same ole? Are you awake yet?

Here are my top 11 ways to Wake Up, Feel Up this Spring and trade the same ole “stressed and tired” to “artful and energized.”

ONE  Value Imperfection or The Physical Impossibility of Imperfection in the mind of someone Perfect. (thanks Damien)

I happened to notice that the plastic surgeon’s office (of the above-mentioned TV segment) was a literal art gallery for Hirschfield portraits of women famed for large, expressive distinctive parts, from the stellar noses of Barbara Streisand and Bette Midler to the wide eyes of Bette Davis and Judy Garland. The full color, slick photos of generic and unknown “fixed” women were a crazy contrast to the business at hand…removal of such parts. For sure the value of distinctive parts was clear from the art and even its own intrinsic value, to be discovered in the future, weighs in on the side of befriending what we may see as wretched and turning it into Glory.

Trust me, when compelled by a force greater than me to weave plastic surgery, a comic movie, some desserts with art and a whirlwind Milan trip…it is a bit like a Holy Grail…a chaotic mix of life’s aspects…a seeming imperfect soup…how the hell will I get there? The little wonder of why the hell I write floats along the excitement throughout the process right until the end. And the quest for “it” is driving.

Just those moments that seem to be “not” are really where “is” is. When our “imperfections” result in beauty. When wretchedness inspires a fresh, glorious start. When a green shoot is tired of the dark and cracks the soil. A thought: art interwoven with life, expression for something other than shopping, acquiring, hustling and dragging through a busy day.  Just Because we Felt a Moment, is the Moment to savor.

In the movie, “Your Highness,” when the lazy, selfish Prince Thaddeus is faced with the opportunity to pull the sword from the stone, and all he wants is to go home and lay in his bed, that is just the moment of Truth, Change and Possibility. He Grabs It.

From lazy to inspired.  From weed to brilliance.  Another friend brilliantly has an answer for people complaining about “all the work” and their “busy lives” and “it’s just too much!” with…”This is not Work. This is Art.” We choose our tasks, our grails and our busy lives. Why complain?  From tiny discomforts to out and out anger and illness the disconnect from Joy is astounding. Can we commit to our Art, it’s tiny triumphs and no matter what?

I think the Earth requires that now.  A friendliness towards the hidden Love in all, even your Dark, your disconnected, your Fear. Circle it back. Find art and beauty everywhere, especially at the point of Power where you think it is Not. Allowing the Good, the basic friendliness to surface.

TWO. Crave Renewal and Cave Underground Like Persephone 

In the Galaxy’s Milky Way, on the Earth re-awakening, in the Spring beginning, in the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, in 2011, in NYC’s West Village, yellow flowers are popping up like gold. The energy is still asking to drop your cares and foibles, get grounded and follow the your stressed white rabbits into a cave where the roots and deep meanings must first be understood to birth treasure.

here, step into this tiny shop…

A Shoe store with an art gallery in the back?

Leffot at number 10 Christopher Street in NYC’s West Village has as their motto, “Nuquam Jactate” or “Never Boast,” which to me is like the Buddhist credo to not cherish the inauthentic small self, but celebrate the Authentic Self. On the day I visited, the confluence and interest of 3 very distinct and equally entranced men in the store was a precious NY moment. Like a Balanchine dance, an older conservative gent, a very corporate young fellow and a super stylish hipster rotated, stopped, contemplated and envisioned around an altar-like table of elegant shoes. This moment spoke volumes about style and actually the 3 top tenets of anything good: make it classic and timeless, pay attention to quality beyond and make space for intrigue and beauty.

THREE: The Art is Way Deep Inside.

Going deeper. Behind the elegant stepping possibilities of these shoes is artist Jarrod Beck‘s installation, Equivalence, in the backroom of the shop. Rody Douzoglou is the curator of Backroom NY, a project of her gallery without walls, Douz and Mille.  Yoko was a forerunner in this idea with bed-ins, we love art appearing exactly where we are to peak the moment, change the everyday into magical.

“Architectural, dingy and layrinthine,” says critic Andy Campbell of Jarrod’s work. (and it’s a compliment.) When the ultimately false God of Time has us strung out and nervous as The White Rabbit, do you remember to ground your emotions into the support of the Earth and rabbit fertility with newness, inspirations, creative pursuit, food, hugs and bigger pictures?

FOUR: Savor the Round and Earthy. The Round Grounding of Glorious Food.

When the heady becomes too much, we go for grounding in food. This month, so many round desserts appeared! So Feng Shui.

At il tre merli in the West Village, for our favorite potato gnocchi, and the dessert was a mound of round. Note, we did not wait to snap the picture. In Milan this month did the rest of my food joys unfold. An exquisite Affogato (ice cream and espresso) at a tiny spot near the breath-taking Certosa di Milano, a 14th century monastery with frescos of Caravaggio’s master, Simone Peterzano and Daniele Crespi just outside of Milan and a special unfermented and totally delicious beer called Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau at a small trattoria in Isola, Milan.
This coffee gelato in Zona Tortona was heavenly. Keep your eyes on the dessert please, my nails are a frightening sight (I was in Yoko Ono mode…just installed a green wall at the Railway Station…more about that later. We were in Zona Tortona to see our friend Frederico’s bathroom installation with expressive, detailed massive orgy illustrations and matching live fish in the sink created by his girlfriend who sports adorable golden lion ears.)
FIVE: Allow Dreams to Unfold
The times just before change, the dreaming state. Many round images inspired me this Spring, from the rising “otherworldly inspiration” of hotelier Vikram Chatwal’s Dream Hotel in New York and it’s round windows to small everyday joys like my cat napping, a pot of quinoa cooking or a secret circle place where friends shiver a bit in the cold Sunday afternoon and Spring uprising in my favorite NY park on the Hudson River.
The lances of green and full branches had a luminosity against the soft, swirling water which I loved.
SIX: Make your Life Mythic. Get out of Bed and Quest.
Your Highness is the exact right dose of Bawdy and Mystical Quest Lingo. Recently,  a friend popped up with an afternoon press preview of the film starring Danny McBrideJames FrancoNatalie Portman, which was an unexpected spark of fun and fast genius. When the fabulous and brave Prince Fabious’s bride is kidnapped, he goes on a quest to rescue her and forces his lazy, party-all-day, ambition-less brother Thaddeus to join him, it’s clear the brothers are two sides of our ego-coins. From one of the funniest moves by an actress I have ever seen, when Zooey Deschanel goes for the prize she wants to Thadeous’s prize from the Minotaur which he sports around his neck once out of the Labyrinth (both prizes being the same) and he goes forward towards his prize booty, namely that being Natalie Portman…I loved the whole quest and nonsense of this movie.
My own quest this Spring was to realize an urban art intervention in Milan during Salon de Mobile, the international design fair where 300,000 people come to Milan to be immersed in art and design. We landed green lushness via a Paul Clemence photograph, indiegogo.com fans, tons of media coverage and lots of Faith upon an uninspired Garibaldi railway platform stairs project. You can read more about that project on our Green Provocateur blog.
We knew we were welcomed in the hood when in the morning the graffiti appeared.
SEVEN: Bury the Past with the Future.
The art and re-invention questing in Milan was begat by Leonardo da Vinci and it permeates the city, people and the air they breathe and water they drink. For the Salone del Mobile, you are highly likely to turn a corner and see something status quo altering such as what the brand Trussardi commissioned around the Leo fountain in Piazza della Scala, the Opera house. In celebration of a chair design, yes, all this for a chair design, Michael Young built a kinetic gold lattice web around Leonardo and his stone friends, a kind of drawing out of the past like windows to an ocular, molecular LSD vision.

EIGHT: Life is a Labyrinth, Take the Minotaur Bull by the Horns.

When in the confusion and clamor of Life, start where you are.

Beginning with the power of design, a belief or a comfort always helps. Religion and shopping may be the opiate of the people according to Karl Marx, in Milan both are elevated to art.  The heart and invention of modern shopping can be felt in Giuseppe Mengoni‘s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, built in 1861. It was one of the first multi-use public buildings, today housing luxury shops, including the first Prada shop. The soaring space validates life with the same organized, centralized order of cathedral plans, with the dome above and below at the heart with trajectories like arms of the cross. It communicated then and now that everyday activities are sanctioned by the Heavens.

At the center, a mosaic of a bull surrounded by tourists. The tradition is to place your heel on the privates of the bull and spin around 3 times to grant your wish. How much did this remind me of Thaddeus’ trip through the Labyrinth and the meeting of the Minotaur? As we move into the astrological sign of Taurus the Bull, I can envision this Bull-stability and certainly the treasure token Thaddeus won from the Minotaur to take the bull by the horns and get your wishes granted. (see the movie to know the grail.)These photos of the 2008 installation by Minsuk Cho/Mass Studies and Abitare, presented by Storefront for Art and Architecture, the New York-based nonprofit art and architecture gallery are from one of my favorite design blogs, Dezeen. Another example of surprise art and beauty in the public space.

This window by Louis Vuitton inside the Galleria was just Spectacular. Secular. Spiritual.
NINE: Imagine, Dance, Travel, Color Right Now.
For a dancing partner, men’s shoes at Valextra on via Manzoni, had the exact plum passion.My eye was drawn to this yellow girl on a magazine cover while in the offices of our Milan partner, Alcos Comunicazione, and I was not surprised to see the same work of the artist, Liselotte Watkins, all over the Valextra shop, one of my favorite brands, as I own a Valextra vibrant green wallet, which I love.
Liselotte Watkins‘ girls have the exact dose of wide-eyed innocence, strength and knowing that for me touches on a female perspective in the manner of Helmut Newton. A strong statement, but can you see it too?
She says,

“They’re all people to me. I work out their whole story – where they live, if they have a boyfriend, their bank balances and their style. That’s why one girl might have only the jacket of a Victor & Rolf suit – she lost her job the week before so she can’t afford the rest of it.”

With my background as a fashion illustrator brought up on the juice that was Joe Eula and Antonio Lopez, I am happy to see more space for evocative illustrations joining photography in the portrayal of how we see ourselves surrounded by beauty and luxury.

TEN: The Power of Your Bright Nature

More beauty in train stations to bring on the Bright. After Milan and back in New York, we were honored to do the public relations for the AHAE photography exhibit, Through My Window, in Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall this past month, sponsored by our client Duggal, the pre-eminent imaging house and very green-visionary oriented company.  Ahae is 70 plus years of age and has shot over one million images from one window of the nature surrounding a circular pond in a pristine environment.

The one huge light box image of this pond looked very much like the pond and land I traded for NYC about 10 years ago. What one round body of water can engender.

A place of transverse, Grand Central Station is mythic and myopic simultaneously. The Ahae exhibit gives landing to its grandeur.

These days, when much of my life is in the urban space, contemplating my navel and inner brain through nature more often feels like this latest art discovered on New York’s Park Avenue.

Christie’s in New York has set up this 20-ton bronze teddy-bear sculpture before auctioning it off next month for what the auction house expects will bring in $10 million dollars. Urs Fischer, a Swiss artist, created the 23-foot-tall, yellow “Untitled (Lamp/Bear)” plush toy bear slumped against a drooping desk lamp. Have you too been staring at the computer too much and feel like 20 tons of bronze?
ELEVEN: DeTox Heaven in A Wild Flower
Take a tip from the Italians and serve yourself some Spring greens. Dandelion is a Spring tonic thought to be around at least 30 million years and is found everywhere on the Planet. A body cleanse, a soil nutrient, an anti-inflammatory, a wine, a coffee, a pollinator and a Green Provocateur indeed. Gold at our feet.
What we call a “weed” is sometimes something we may not recall the value of. Valuing our experience and physical existence, that which our egos deem perfect and “imperfect” is key to the gratitude and the happiness we are all working 20-hour days for. No matter the experience that choice exists.
I am reminded of a story I heard at a Friday evening dinner Shabbat that my friend, the elegant Tracy Stern invited me to at The Kabbalah Center in New York. It was about a precious Pea.
The story begins with a simple house in a simple neighborhood of a town. Everyone was drawn to one house, as it was fully lit up with lights, music, happiness and joy that you could not avoid it. When one looked in the window, you could see a happy couple enjoying one plump, bright green Spring pea as their meal. Their gratitude and happiness to see the blessings in that one pea, one circular celebration of goodness, is perhaps the meaning of Art.
The most elaborate
brilliant shiny
elegant tasteful pea
in the
whole world.
The pea can be underneath 11 mattresses or 11 layers of our psyche and we have only to discover it.
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night. 
William Blake

2 Responses to “11 Ways to Feel UP: A Wide Eyed Tale of Two Cities”

  1. 1 H Dressler

    Your photos are wonderous. You show us beauty in things that we never look at.

    • Thanks Mom! Glad you figured out how to comment and that you enjoy! And do take some credit, everyone knows you are The Supreme Tour Guide! A walk with you is full of “Look!” “Do you see that?” etc. Thank you for shaping that in me! xoxo

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