Liberal Arts: A Path to True Riches

One of the people who inspired me to pursue a college education was a writer and educator named Earl Shorris. I can still remember the day I read his essay, “In The Hands Of The Restless Poor.” I was bursting with an array of emotions. From the onset of the essay, I was reminded of my own life and the trauma that came once I had been exposed to my ignorance of the humanities. It was painful, and I was angry that it had taken twenty-eight years for me to finally experience the true riches and treasures life had to offer. I felt as if the blindfolds were finally lifted from my eyes, and with a clear vision I could fully experience art, music and literature in a way that changed me completely. Once I made a conscious decision to pursue a proper education, I understood more clearly the systematic order that ran society and my place at that very moment within it.  It hurt me deeply to learn that I had been shorthanded by limited access to the arts, while others were born into such riches that greatly enhanced their lives. 

Shorris, while interviewing inmates for a future book project, became inspired to start an educational program that introduced the poor to the humanities. Viniece, an inmate at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, was the source of his inspiration for the program, when during their interview, she told him that in order to remove people from poverty they had to be exposed to the humanities. She said the way to do this was by taking the poor children to plays, museums, concerts and lectures, “where they could learn the moral life of the downtown.” Shorris was struck by the profound truth of this statement, and it became the catalyst for his founding of The Clemente Course in the Humanities in 1995.

Initially, Shorris was not successful at finding participants for the program. But eventually he changed his approach by stating that, “It is generally accepted in America that the liberal arts and the humanities in particular belong to the elites. I think you’re the elites.” All but one of the twenty something students he was recruiting signed up for the program. By telling the poor that they were entitled to a liberal arts education and capable of academic achievement, just like those born into wealth and privilege, he was able to persuade them to sign up.  

Shorris believed that the humanities gave the poor the ability to think beyond the daily grind of their survival. He reminded his students that the humanities would absolutely make them rich, “but not in terms of money. In terms of life.” In my own experience, it wasn’t about the material riches a college education would provide, it was about experiencing the life transforming power of the arts. I was famished for knowledge and continued to press forward in hopes that Kent, Aristotle, Plato, Wordsworth, Bach, Renoir and many others would serve as stepping-stones as I climbed out of mental poverty and into “elite status.” 

Shorris writes, “The winner in the game of modern society, and even those whose fortune falls in the middle, have others means to power: they are included at birth. They know this. And they know exactly what to do to protect their place in the economic and social hierarchy.” He quotes Allan Bloom, author of, “The closing of the American Mind,” who wrote, “They direct the study of the humanities exclusively at those young people who have been raised in comfort and with the expectation of ever increasing comfort.” Shorris believed that exposure to the humanities would enable the poor to see reflection and creativity as their birthright, just as those “raised in comfort.” 

By the end of the first years of the program sixteen students graduated, four of them received scholarships to Bard College, while ten others went on to obtain their four-year degree. Shorris saw the personal change that the program had brought upon his students. In one instance, he recalls the change in David Howell who phoned him at home to tell him of a problem he encountered at work with another co-worker. While Mr. Howell’s first reaction was to, “Smack her up against the wall,” he instead asked himself, “what would Socrates do?” This was a powerful moment because it showcased the program’s ability to develop proper social skills. On the website, The Clemente Course in The Humanities, the values, mission and goals of the program are clearly stated. Mr. Howell’s experience cited above is an example of the program’s mission: “To strengthen habits of reflection and critical thinking so that students are better able to control the direction of their lives and engage effectively in action to improve their communities.”

The Clemente Course continues in places all over the country. A new book, edited by Jean Cheney and L. Jackson Newell titled, “Hope, Heart, And The Humanities: How A Free College Course Is Changing Lives” explores the enormous contributions of the Clemente Course. I wish I had the opportunity to meet Earl Shorris before he died.  I was deeply moved by the fact that his greatest contribution came late in life, after he had achieved personal success as a social critic and writer.  It confirms the great truth I seek to live by—that it is “more blessed to give than it is to receive;” that in giving to others we experience the greatest joy life has to offer. The world is a much better place because of people like Earl Shorris.  May his work live on in the work of the dedicated teachers and administrators that continue the work of the Clemente Course in the Humanities.

Donald Trump: An Artist in The Making?

Calling all artists! 

Want to gain some serious global press and have one of your sketches sold for $29,184 at auction?

Become president of the United States of America! It's that easy! Or is it?

We all know president Donald Trump to be a real estate guru, reality TV star and now, politician. But wait, there's more... he's an artist, too! 

As Artnet news reports, President Donald Trump sketched the Manhattan skyline for a charity event to promote world wide literacy in 2005. Along with president Trump's drawing, other 'big' names joined in showing off their artistic skills including Republican John McCain, former Democrat Senator Joseph Lieberman, and my personal favorite, actress Charlize Theron. 

Twelve years after the charity event,  president Trump's sketch is considered an extremely rare example of presidential memorabilia. This past Thursday at Nate D. Sanders auction house, there were 11 bids on the drawing, starting at $9,000.  It is no secret that president Trump has gathered quite the following, but now he has also attracted the attention of some serious presidential memorabilia collectors. 

I have always been into NY skyline paintings, drawings, and photographs; the iconic landmark is a popular setting for artists all over the world. 

Look, I'm no art critic expert, but if you ask me, seems like the president is "making America great again" one middle finger at a time. 

Well, the 2020 presidential election is just around the corner, interested in running? No, silly, you don't need new Nikes for this race, just an orange spray tan, a dirty mouth and money to spare!

Happy running! 

Get Your Art On(line)

You're fresh out of college and you just put a deposit on your first place. The new furniture will soon be delivered and now it's time to focus on the walls. 

Time is running out! 

Your house warming party is just a week away and you want so badly to impress your friends and family. 

Saatchi is the answer! 

'Dress up' your walls with affordable art. With Saatchi you can choose from a buffet of genres and artists. With over 1000 works of art being uploaded each day to their online gallery, you are sure to find something that speaks to you. Saatchi offers original paintings, fine art photographs and the largest selection of emerging artists from all over the world.  

Here are a few pieces that are new this week on the Saatchi platform.

Artist: Jolina Anthony | Painting 50 x 50 

Artist: Lloyd Martin | Painting 66 x 72 
Artist: Guerrero | Painting 68 x 49 

Got some extra cash? Thinking of making an art investment? Or maybe you're interested in learning more about art in general and wish to stay connected to one of the biggest online artists network.

Artsy is for you! 

All the world's art accessible to you with a click of a button; I know what you're thinking, what a cheesy selling line! But it's true! Artsy will  instantly connect you with original pieces from all over the world you would otherwise never have access to. 

Below are some of the genres available from original paintings to photographs, works on paper and more. Check em out! 

Who's got dibs? You got dibs, on 1stdibs!

1stdibs is an online marketplace for luxury antiques, furniture, jewelry, and fine art. The website connects thousands of dealers from around the world. Founder, Michael Bruno created 1stdibs after making a trip to Paris. He was inspired by Marché Aux Puces and wanted to share all of the beautiful things he found in this unique market with the world. 

The 1stdibs website was created in 2001 and has expanded rapidly, becoming the premier online luxury marketplace. The site offers dedicated first class services to dealers, designers and collectors around the world. 

If you're looking for luxury and the finer things life has to offer, check 1stdibs out! 

Here are a few of my favorite paintings from the website. 

Artist: Don Voisine Ailsa Blue, 2017 

Artist: Maria Asuncion Psico-Freud, 2008 

Artist: Chrissy Angliker 

Happy buying! 

Finding Rothko in The Bahamas

Why do I create? 

I've found that every creative process I have ever engaged in has been a reaction to the world around me, It is how I grasp control of my enviroment. I see creating as a form of  power, which gives me the ability to stop time and relive special moments over and over again. 

I look back at some of my projects and am always moved by the stories they tell. In them, I see passion and that is how I wish to engage in the creative process, by fully submerging all that I am, in all that I create.

This body of work is very different from what I have been accustomed to photographing. And the most beautiful thing about these new photographs, is that they introduce a side of me that I only discovered while in the process of shooting them.

I am provoked by simplicity.

The new direction I have taken in my photography displays a more linear, unified and contemporary look. It documents my desire to find order in things, my deep appreciation for simplicity, clean lines and sophistication. 

While vacationing in the Bahamas last summer, I was taken by the mixture of bright colors that made up its downtown area. I recall waking up early and heading to town before the rush of people poured in. The quiet streets, alleyways and buildings settled beneath the golden light of the morning sun, beautifully displayed the most interesting shapes made of white, bold and vivid colors. These mixtures of colors reminded me of Mark Rothko's art. 

At the time, I had no idea the colorful images below would become so well accepted. In addition to Rothko, these photographs also reminded me of the streets of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, during carnival time. The vibrant colors of the costumes and floats, and the energy and happiness that fill both the natives and tourists, inspired me to name these photographs Samba 1-4

In May of this year, I was notified through the gallery that carried this collection of prints, that William and Sonoma wished to sign them to their online art gallery. Of course, this news was a great and wonderful surprise. 

Please click here for more details on the Samba series.

For the time being, I will continue to focus on a more contemporary and modern style of photography. I feel that the bio written to represent the Samba series on the William and Sonoma website, does an excellent job describing my fascination with time, the passing of it, and my deep desire to capture it!
Brazilian photographer Rafaella LaRoche brings her unique eye for color and composition to all of her projects, which range from editorial photographs and celebrity portraits to advertisement imagery and abstract works. In her "Samba" series, she focuses her lens on the exterior of colorful buildings in the Bahamas. From a distance the architectural images read as abstract color fields, but upon closer inspection one can see the subtle gradient fading of color that suggests the passing of time.

There is much to see in simplicity!

Thank you for reading! 

4 Must See Art Exhibition

Got plans this week? Well, you do now! 

How about some summer art? 

Who said summers were only for body suffering, Rocky Road ice cream and farmer tans? Below is information, along with links, to current and upcoming NY art exhibitions that are a must see! 

Sam McKinniss Ellie Sattler 2017 

Gladstone Gallery 

Fall is Cancelled

A group exhibition featuring Georg Baselitz, Maurizio Cattelan, Jim Hodges, Mike Kelley, Robert Mapplethorpe, Calvin Marcus, Philippe Parreno, Ed Ruscha and Wolfgang Tilmans.  

The exhibit combines the works of international artists with depictions of the natural world. 

June 22 - July 28 2017
64, 130 E 64th St, New York (212)753-2200. 

Peter Joseph (Could not find name)
Lisson Gallery 

Peter Joseph 

Abstract painter Peter Joseph shows for the first time at Lisson Gallery. His new body of work depicts a simplistic yet interesting approach to symmetrical shapes. The new pastel color palette in these abstract paintings are light, fun and free.

June 23 - August 11 2017
504 West 24th Street, New York 


New York's Night Out is expanding this summer at The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters and The Met Breuer. Kick off the weekend on Friday nights in great company with iconic exhibitions and various programs while all three museums expand their hours. 

Have a date you wish to impress? This is it!
For more information click here.  

Emma Amos Preparing for a Face Lift, 1981
Brooklyn Museum of Art 

Elizabeth A. Sackler 
Center For Feminist Art 

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85.

Works of black women artists that examine the political, social and cultural priorities during the emergence of the second-wave feminism. It is the first exhibition to highlight the experiences of women of color.

Experience art through the eyes of these expressive and exquisite women.

April 21-Semptemer 17, 2017

There you have it!

Take a break from the sun, check in to one of these gallery/museums and get lost in some great art.

Happy viewing! 

How to Increase Art Sales

If you're going to promote and sell your own artwork, being a talented artist is half the battle!

In this post I will show you how to generate art sales by superimposing your artwork (using photoshop) onto a wall setting. By doing this, you are facilitating a visual for the art buyer of what the piece could look like hanging on a wall. 

To begin, search for a stock image or free image on google of a particular room you think your artwork will look best in, i.e., a bedroom, bathroom, hallway, office, etc. Make sure to select images that are clean and free of clutter; you want the artwork to stand out! In addition, be sure to choose room colors that will compliment your piece and not compete with it.

Once you have selected the right image, next, I recommend you photograph your artwork in natural light. Take the piece outdoors and lean it against something, make sure there are no shadows. Once this process is complete, upload the photo and crop in to only display the art.


Photograph taken in natural light
Cropped in tight on all four corners

Now you're ready to superimpose. Take the image  you have selected to impose on and your newly cropped painting, and open both in photoshop. 

Keep in mind that there are various ways to go about doing this. I am showing you the way I find to be the simplest. 

Note that the wall image I have selected, already has a blank space that I created by simply selecting a small square area with the 'select tool', and then painting the area in white. This will be the location where I will place the painting. 

The next step will be to drag the painting with the 'move tool' onto the wall image. This tool is looked on the top lefthand corner of the tool menu bar. 

Clicked on the image of the painting with the 'move tool' and by holding down the mouse pad, I dragged the painting onto the wall image. 

Now that the images have merged together, it is necessary to scale the painting to fit into the designated blank space. 

It is important to try your hardest to make the image of the painting look true to size. Since photoshop enables  you to scale the image to a much larger or smaller size, try to use your best judgement here so that you don't falsely advertise the size of the actual painting. 

To scale the painting, click on Edit on the top menu bar, scroll down to Transform and from there, click on Scale. By holding down the 'shift' key, drag in on one corner of the painting until it fits within the blank space. 

What I did in this scaling process below was leave a white border around the image by making it a bit smaller then the actual space provided. This created the illusion that the painting is framed, giving it a more finished look. 

There you have it!

In just 5 easy steps you are that much closer to increasing art sales. Providing a visual for the art buyer not only allows them to see what the painting could look like hanging in a room setting, but also makes your work stand out and look professional. 

Happy imposing and good luck selling your art! 

Julia Contacessi: An Interview

One thing we can all be certain of in life is that change is inevitable! It brings forth hope, uncertainties and the possibility of new beginnings. For Julia Contaccesi, it is the thrill of new discoveries within the process of painting that keeps her continuously developing her craft as an abstract artist.

The 'captain of her ship', Julia is a pioneer as she sails to new horizons on canvas, exploring through different mediums how to contain the unpredictable fluidity of the ocean and the way in which it interacts with the shore. 

I was happy to be invited into Julia's home, where we shared time together in her studio. Her abstract paintings capture the very essence of the ocean and all of the elements that provoke its unpredictable, yet captivating characteristics. 

Below, Contacessi, whose abstract art has become immensely popular worldwide and a personal favorite among designers for its versatility, gives us an inside look into her growing success as an artist.

Julia, looking back to when you were just a little girl, what was the very first thing you remember wanting to become in life?

This question is easy because I very vividly remember it. We are a family of educators and anytime we got together one of my aunts would ask me, "What do you envision for your life?" I remember thinking that I did not want to be a mom, because it looked like a lot of work. At the time I envisioned myself as a lawyer so that I could carry a brief case, because that's what professionals did. And what it ended up turning into when I got older and went to college was a big portfolio that I lugged all my art work in everywhere I went.

When did you first discover that you had an artistic ability?

I remember since grammar school anytime there was an assignment like a book report, or a class project, I was always assigned the art portion. If we were decorating the classroom, I was the one asked to draw on the walls or door.  In third grade we had to do a project on Harriet Tubman, and I was in charge of drawing her portrait. I got to bring the project home where my mother helped me by showing me to use pencil to do the outline first, before committing to coloring it in. remember going through the whole process with her and discovering then, that it was something I really enjoyed. That was the first art project I remember doing.

If you had to describe in just 3 words the process of painting what would they be?

Um, I would say hopeful because it's just a vision in the beginning. But usually it never turns out like the vision, so unexpected, and finally, once it's truly complete, satisfied

Why do we need your art?

You don't need my art! I only want you to have my art if you really love it and if it speaks to you. What I get out of my art is the feeling of escaping and day dreaming a bit, and this calms my soul. I don't want to influence a certain message on anyone. I would like for others to enjoy a quiet moment to themselves where they can escape too. I only want someone to have my art if that's what they get out of it... a good feeling about what they are experiencing. 

What artists have inspired your own style?

I love a lot of the modern work from mid-centry artists that were exploring color field and abstraction. Helen Frankenthaier and her husband Robert Motherwell painted together; 
they had very different work but shared the same process in letting the paintings evolve on their own and not necessarily having a plan for what they were suppose to become. I find my best pieces come out of spontaneity and letting the piece guide me to where it wants to go. I go for a lot of fluid motions, and you can see the fluidity in the piece when you are lost in it. A lot of times I will be so lost in the moment while painting that I will finish a piece and not know how I got to the end. 

Julia, if you could only use two colors for the rest of your painting career, what would those colors be? 

Blue and gold! Blue is a beautiful color, it makes me feel good, it's power, the color of the

ocean, calming, lovely and simply gorgeous! So I can't argue with blue. But gold to me, is the sand. It glistens just like when the sun hits the sand on canvas. It's also, metallic, I mean my God, it's wonderful! I love looking at it from different angles and observing how it's ever changing as the light hits it. It just really feels like sand to me flickering in the water.


My time spent with Julia in her home and studio allowed me to see beyond the abstract artist. Julia does what she loves and it shows through her calm, yet lively spirit. She began her painting career later in life, and has already come such a long way in just four years. 

Where will Julia take her art next? 

Keeping tabs on JC is a must! Be sure to visit her website here, and while you're there, subscribe to her email list, as she is great at keeping her art-loving friends up to date on the latest. In addition, take time to read through some of her own blog posts, which feature interviews, additional Q & A and press highlights.

Want to own an original Julia Contacessi? Shop now, or visit her print section for more options! 

Ahoy Captain and happy sailing! 

A Blog That Inspires: Colossal

Who do you look to for inspiration?

No matter what our creative talents, hobbies and passions may be, it is important that we  look to others who share the same interests for inspiration. As an art blogger, for me, Christopher Jobson's blog Colossal does just that! Inspires!

The blog was created in 2001. Shorty after, it gained immense momentum. Today, in a common week you can find anywhere from 15 to 20 posts on photography, design, installation art, architecture, street art, animation and more.

In an ever growing digital age, Colossal helps to remind us that creativity is still alive and as organic as ever, as people continue to produce amazing pieces of art with their hands. 

While we're on the subject of creativity and the importance of looking to others for inspiration, let me use this opportunity to introduce you to one of my favorite Colossal post, Where Do Ideas Come From? A Short Film by Andrew Norton Tackles the Nature of Inspiration. 

The short film is approximately 5 minutes long and expresses the perspectives of people from various creative backgrounds and ages, including the likes of Chuck Close and Susan Orlean. What I love most about the video is the simplicity of each answer. As a people we tend to look to those who are mega successful in their craft to inspire, but in the video, inspiration comes from ideas that can be as small as a sentence in a story, or a ball bouncing down the street. But for Chuck Close, surprisingly, inspiration "is for amateurs , the rest of us just show up and get the work done." In other  words, if we sit around and wait for inspiration before getting to work, we never develop the discipline that is a prerequisite for inspiration.

The entire blog is filled with original art that highlights a rich creative culture on a daily basis. 

I have but one critique at this time. I was unable to leave a comment on any post because the feature is deactivated. Boo, I am sure it is for a specific reason, nonetheless, it's a major downer. 

What are you waiting for? Check out the post, watch the video and let me know what you think! 

Ready, set, go!

A Contribution to Public Knowledge

Dear Art Lovers,

Great news! A few weeks back I created a post entitled, Art Districts: Overlooked Locations where I made an edit to Wikipedia's post entitled, Contemporary art gallery. I added Fairfield County to the list of art districts in the U.S., and I am happy to report that the edits remain!

I never knew that it was so simple to edit Wikipedia! I will certainly continue to edit and I recommend you do the same.

It is empowering to know we can all make a contribution to public knowledge!

Happy editing!

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

A few weeks back I created a post on Five of My Favorite Painting Styles. I began the post by expressing my love for traditional art. Number one on my list was Impressionism, so I decided to create a follow up post that focuses on Pierre-Auguste Renoir, whose paintings have captured me from the very beginning of my art journey. 

Renoir was born on February 25, 1841. He was a French artist who helped lead the impressionist movement. In his early life, he was inspired by modern painters, Edouard Manet and Camille Pissarro. In April of 1874, his love for them encouraged him to join both artists, including a few others, in creating the first impressionist exhibition. The exhibit itself was largely unfavorable, but Renoir's work was well received.

Renoir's primary subject was the female's nude body. These paintings captured the warm sensuality of a woman's curve through candid compositions. His paintings were light, sensitive and full of life. But nudes were not the only subject Renoir was interested in. He also painted children, flowers, fruit, landscapes, riverbanks,  the ocean, festivities and more.

When taking his work outdoors from the studio to paint en plein air, Renoir, alongside close friend and famous artist, Claude Monet, discovered that shadows were not black or brown, but carried the reflected color of the object that surrounded it. This technique was called diffuse reflection, and it changed the way impressionists represented light. Way to go, gentlemen! This diffuse reflection caused Renoir to become obsessed with the way light bounced off the water, and how people's reflection looked in the water.

On a trip to Italy in 1881, Renoir came across the works of Renaissance masters, which influenced him to begin a path towards classicism. This did not last long! Shortly after, Renoir shifted gears once more, going back to his roots while engaging in a smaller paint stroke that resembled his earlier works. From this moment on, he submerged himself into painting nudes, which he is most known for today.

Although Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis, he continued painting for 20 years, even with the limitations the disease caused him. A prolific painter, he created well over a thousand works of art before passing away on December 3, 1919.

Here are a few of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's most notable works of art, and my personal favorites.

Le pêcheur à la ligne

Giovane Donna in Un Paesaggio a Cagnes

Chrysan The Mums

The Bathers (1919)

A Woman With a Dog Portrait of Madame Renoir

Name Not Found 

Figures On The Beach

A recommendation:

Renoirthe movie, was released in 2012. Director Gilles Bourdos does an outstanding job capturing the painter's life and passion for art. The scenes are as light, vivid and captivating as his works of art. It makes for the perfect 'date night' movie. 

You can watch the trailer here.

A portrait of Renoir

I hope this post will spark in you a desire to see more of Renoir's work. Begin by watching the movie, or by going to see his paintings up close at the Met. Have fun getting to know this great impressionist master and his works of art!