Sunday, August 30, 2015

And now...a Fine Art Installation for Residential, Corporate, Retail and Hospitality.

One of a kind.
Hand made.

The Art Room - a fine art gallery in Petersburg, VA - features a wall of squares...not quite tiles, and not exactly like many other installations of this kind. Today, 135 individual little masterpieces adorn one wall.
The squares, loving called "miroir aux alouettes," are not manufactured, not mass produced, not based on trends, and not for everyone. The name refers to traps for larks [the birds!] which always feature mirrors, like these small treasures.

They're not glass or wood... they are small canvas squares [6x6x1"] that are hand painted and embellished with all sorts of unusual things... old Christmas cards, real gold foil, vintage pendants, glass mirrors, cannibalized jewelry, keys, tiny animals, beads, rhinestones, toys, tiles, tacks, gears, bait, buttons, bows and bits and pieces of a zillion different things. No two are alike. 
They are hand made by a duo of artists [known as Ibby & Ommie] who found inspiration in many places, and save every little thing that might be useful.

Many other artisans create or manufacture memory blocks, tiles, or plaster, paper, copper, tile...create installations of a few or hundreds of pieces. Here are some examples from Sid Dickens, Houston Llew and Cedar Mountain... and hand made mosaics from Dusciana Bravura in Venice, Italy.
Houston Llew Copper

Cedar Mountain Mass Produced Blocks

Dusciana Bravura Mosaics

Sid Dickens Plaster Memory Blocks

For a high-end client who wants to make a similar impact, but also wants something no one else can possibly own, consider a grouping of these unusual little masterpieces -- that will begin many a conversation. Everyone that sees these unusual works of art stays and looks, and wants to know more.
On a bookshelf

Tiger, tiger...burning bright
Oh, Deer!
Penguin on a Bike!
They are elaborate, yet lightweight and can hang on a single small nail. They are not perfectly square. The edges are painted and adorned with ribbon or webbing; all are sealed with gloss coating. They will last for years without any maintenance

Orange Mandala

A client in Calabasas, CA with her first!

Currently priced at $125.00 USD per piece; with volume discounts for groupings. The artists can customize pieces with your clients' colors, themes, and can include bits and pieces, logos, marketing materials, etc. They can match pantone colors or interior paint colors.

And, they make lovely, unique gifts!

For more information, visit The Art Room's Facebook Page...The artists can also be contacted through
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Friday, April 3, 2015

Oh Venice, you did it again...UPDATED 4/4/15


Third trip to Italy - this time I visited Rome, Cinqueterre, Mantua and Venice...and this time was the first time with my darling husband.

I was inspired EVERYWHERE, and wandering the streets [canals] and alleys of Venice always leads me to something that inspires me. Everything outside and inside. I have more ideas than hours in the day.

On our last day, we were off in a different direction when i came upon a gallery that took my breath away.

Too bad they were already closed, I might have tried to purchase everything. Yes, I took photos through the window. Naughty me. Look at Dusciana Bravura's amazing sculptures online. But...the wall of little square mosaics captured my attention.

Check these out! Of course, they are made from GLASS...I don't know if theyre grouted or fused or what... but they are meticulously made from glass tiles, mirrors, millifiore cane, maybe cermics?

I know how to create glass mosaics, but I work in paper. This display gave me an idea that I could incorporate [borrow...steal...?] into my work with junk mail and found objects.

So with proper PROPS to Dusciana Bravura... here's my venture into creating small pieces: on canvas - using/ upcycling a smattering of stuff I had on hand - in my many drawers of junk mail, Christmas cards, ceramic tiles, beads, crystals and jewels from my Grandmother and Mom's collection [they were jewelers in the 50's] mirrors, rhinestones, electronic parts, hardware [tacks, bolts, etc.]. souvenirs, wood, clock parts, napkin rings, glitter, glass beads, bobbins, plastic toys and more:

 Now I'm obsessed with making more! So far, I've made 16. They are 6x6", on thick canvas. They're painted all around with lace trim on the side... very shiny and no two are alike. They have a very high gloss coating. Here are some detail pics:

I have a few more ideas up my sleeve from that trip... 

For you non-creative types... LOOK AROUND YOU and you'll find a world of inspiration!

I'm calling this collection of little canvases "Miroir aux Alouettes"
Each piece has mirrors - round, tiny squares or larger ones. All of them include gold leafing and reflective materials. The term refers to traps used to catch larks. They had tiny mirrors on them, to attract the birds that like "shiny things!" All of the canvases are coated several times with a glossy medium; some have glitter, some are irridescent, some contain glass beads or other shiny lacquers. 
24 as of 4/7/2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

The oddly glowing and extravagantly bejeweled Blue Hippo of Luck and Love in Situ.

Imagine you are wandering on your own, contemplating your future when your reverie is interrupted by a huffling noise amid the nearby grasses. A grunting noise accompanied by that of squishing of muck and mire, green blades of grass moving to and fro. You explore further and come upon a clearing - a puddle of mud occupied by a single, blue hippopotamus.

This beast is not only of unusual color, but also covered in a pattern of sparkling jewels. He glitters in the sunlight, his eyes are shimmering sapphires. Typically, hippos are dangerous to humans, but this particular specimen is not. In fact, you have discovered a mystery, a good luck charm, an enchanted being with the power to distribute luck and love to those who find him by accident. For those who need a boost of luck, or a true love to arrive, you only need to find him.
Gaze upon him, then close your eyes and visualize that which will fulfill your heart's deepest wish. His power is yours for just a moment, as he will disappear as quickly as he arrived.

The Oddly Glowing and Extravagantly Bejeweled Blue Hippo of Luck and Love In Situ.

Sandhi Schimmel Gold's Blue Hippo
in si·tu
/in ˈsīto͞o,ˈsē-/
adverb & adjective
adverb: in situ; adjective: in situ; adverb: insitu
in its original place."mosaics and frescoes have been left in situ"
in position. "her guests were all in situ"


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Clever, Funny, Creative, Knowledgeable, Insightful, Experienced and other superlatives...

No, not talking about me.

No...the funniest guy in the room - is also the smartest one - the brain you want to tap into - is my Brother...Jeff.

His memories of our childhood, he would argue, is different than mine. He was the golden child - literally - golden hair, golden skin, bright green eyes with long golden lashes. A golden orb glowing from within. The kid with the straight A's. He grew so fast during junior high, if he stood still you could watch his pants grow shorter. We fought like cats and dogs, nearly to the death, at times. In some ways I was jealous of how smart he [was] is.

He was going to go places. And he did - he was a huge fan of Bruce Lee, so he became one of his teacher's students. Jeff earned a black belt in Jeet Kune Do [a system of fighting - Kung Fu-ey] and studied Mandarin. That meant college in Seatlle. College at Cornell, in Arizona...  law school in NYC and Los Angeles. The kid my parents thought was the one and only hope for the American Dream [of refugees] was on track  -- but secretly  unhappy and frustrated. A family of creative types spawned another generation of unabashed creative types.

A Psychocybernetics workshop conducted by our old family friend Shirley unearthed an unspoken dream...which was confirmed by my good friend Joyce, an astrolger... [I got Jeff a reading as a gift] Jeff's real talent, and future would lie in his ability to write.

So, the Doctor of Jurisprudence moved to the City of Angels and thus began a 30+ year multi-dimensional career that included writing for Television...Movies...Stand-Up Comedians and more.

Jeff has produced more than #1 rated Radio show and has an been an active member of the Writers Guild. He's been clever, nimble, intelligent, funny...and more. He's worked with more celebrities than I could name... from writing their jokes to screenplays...[movies that actually got MADE]. He even pitched our Mom's story to a movie studio - which got optioned by none other than Steven Spielberg!

Many people in the industry, not just newbies, turned to Jeff for advice. He gave it freely... and was spot on. A lot of people would concur. Me? I admire him from afar. During one hiatus, Jeff developed a workshop in response to a writer's group in Phoenix. He flew over, put a bunch of people in a room and after 2 days they walked out with their brains bursting - full of know-how, and a healthy dose of reality. We all know that you have to take your Hollywood ambition with a hefty grain of salt.

I've been bugging my brother to bring his "workshop" to my neck of the woods, and he is. Maybe you just need your script punched up, maybe you want to ask questions about pitching your idea for a TV show, maybe you're thinking of buying a typewriter...He is one cool dude, he will not only tell you everything he knows, he'll also tell you what not to do, in a smart and affordable way.

So if you've EVER thought of writing for Television or Movies... or jokes, or other projects, this is the time to sign up - if you live in Baltimore, or Washington, or are willing to drive there for a weekend... if you live in or near New Orleans...or Phoenix... and if not - contact Jeff and maybe he'll bring a workshop your way. He's the funniest guy in the room, and he's got the chops to teach you a thing or two.

I still admire my brother, I think you will, too. Click on the link above to see what he's up to -- Maximum Screenwriting - and if you have a writer's group, contact him - and if you, just you have always wanted to write? This is the guy to know. He's not so blonde anymore...but he's still golden - and glowing, as far as I'm concerned!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What Christmas Means to Me.

 What does Christmas mean to me?


It's not my holiday! 

All this stuff?
Pretty, but meaningless.

I grew up the child of immigrant parents. Jewish. Holocaust survivors. Both of them.

Of course, as children, their neighbors and playmates in Hungary and Czechoslovakia had Christmas trees, and plenty of traditions...leaving their shoes outside, hay for reindeer... etc.

But they never followed them, never celebrated, didn't go to church. Didn't recognize Jesus as the son of G-d, or G-d or anything like that.
Who was Jesus? A nice Jewish boy, had some interesting ideas, tragically died young.

I was a little jealous of our Catholic neighbors, the Fredricks... they had the tree, the ornaments, presents... we had Hannukah, a nice holiday - we had a menorah, dreidels, gelt, potato pancakes [never had a jelly donut, must not be a Hungarian thing.] We did get some presents, but not giant toys, not the crazy haul the Fredricks girls got. We didn't have disposable income. I used to go over to check out the tree - I tried a candy cane at their house, and it was nasty. They also had a dog that wanted to bite me [Tuffy], so I didn't spend a lot of time there. Besides, those crucifixes on the wall were pretty graphic and not very cheerful.

At that time, people were still blaming the Jews for Jesus' death, so I kept it on the down-low when I could.

I never understood the issue... if Jesus didn't die, didn't resurrect... you wouldn't have him as a what's the problem? I thought Jesus' entire message was about love. About forgiveness.

For centuries, our loving Christian brethren have been slaughtering Jews for that crime, and for any other reason that pleased them. My parents and their families really paid a steep price. When I was a kid, in the 20th Century... my loving Christian friends would call me "Christ killer!" to my face. I would be chased, threatened, and sometimes kicked or had my hair pulled.  I'd shout "I wasn't there! I didn't do it!" but I guess that doesn't matter...something about bloodguilt? How loving and forgiving that practice is...

In college, I piped up during a Religions of the World class when the professor [actually the Dean of the Humanities Department of a publicly funded state school] told the class we would all go to hell if we didn't accept Jesus as our personal saviour. He also had us read the single chapter on Judaism to discuss. I was a little disturbed - the entire chapter was almost entirely devoted to circumcision. that The Q&A included questions about big noses [?] controlling the banks and Hollywood, and using Christian children to make Matzo. Well, that was fun!

Hey, there were Hindu and Muslim kids in that class, too... and he made fun of their religions relentlessly!  Then there's me...the outspoken Jew [and two others that were cowering in their seats] who disliked the increasing spread of this "propaganda." 

I was followed to my car after that class. By a few loving Christians who wanted to beat the living daylights out of me. Why? Luckily, I had a pair of nunchaku under my car seat and I knew how to use them. I got all Bruce Lee on them and they left me alone.

I stopped going to that class for the rest of the semester.

At about the same time, I had a part time job at a department store, in the gift wrap department. I used to wear a beautiful silver necklace with a Magen David pendant. A beautifully attired older woman brought me gifts to wrap, and while I did... my necklace was dangling... the woman asked me what it was... she actually reached over and touched it. I said it was a magen david [sounding more like the Hebrew than English] she said "What?" Oh... A Star of David... "What?" Oh... a Jewish Star I told her. She immediately reached out, lifted up my hair and asked me where my horns were. Oh, these adorable Christian traditions based on a bastardization of a word in Exodus describing Moses... and this statue didn't help. Thanks, Michelangelo for keepin' it real. Not.

Through the years...every job I've ever had [when I wasn't self-employed] I would ask for the High Holy Days off... back when I actually went to Synagogue and bought into all that jazz. [These days, I'm more of a provisional agnostic] [I'm not a joiner] Every time... without fail... some fellow employee, or boss would insist if I took those days off, I had to work on Christmas. Well -- you oughta know, I was perfectly willing to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day... I wasn't doing anything else.

As I got older, I paid attention to more things.  I read more about Christianity. How did things get so off course? I totally get how an Emperor wants to be large and in charge in Constantinople, and then how Rome gets all pissed so they have a break up. I totally get the difference between Catholics and the other denominations, and totally get how a randy fat king gets to invent his own version of Christianity so he can get out of a marriage so he can have his way with a hot babe... or how a really angry guy can nail some new rules on a church wall... and how you guys burned each other on the stake depending on who was in power, and how another king gets to translate the bible into English for the masses and gets to do a little editing along the way to make it more yeah, over the last few thousand years, there are many, many versions of Christianity.

Sure, there are different versions of Judaism, but the only differences is how strict you are, and how many of the original 613 commandments you want to follow [yeah, not 10]. And, I know people who do. Follow. All of them.

It also cracks me up when I see pics of Moses
with the tablets and they have Roman numerals...Um... no Rome yet, dummy? Even Hebrew isn't right!

So, if this is sounding more like a diatribe against Christmas from a battered and abused Jewish kid... let me get back to the actual holiday... and why it is meaningless to me. From an outsider looking in. I still don't like peppermint, btw.

I'm not really much of a Jew either, I consider myself Jew-ish.

My first words were "more lights," I was told. I must have been talking early, but it runs in our family. I made my parents drive around neighborhoods to look at them. They are beautiful. I'll give you that. I'm guessing this is some kind of electronic nod to the Star of Bethlehem? If Jesus himself walked up to this house, do you think for a minute he would recognize this as a celebration of his birthday? Or his teachings?

Santa Claus. Sinter Claus? Old St. Nick? but how is he related to Jesus? Does that make him Jewish, too? Well... a nice story about the guy who gave to poor children got mushed from St. Niclaus to Santa Claus... I don't get the connection between that real story and the guy invented by Coca Cola
to sell more soda... but yeah, it's fun. Somehow, the story of a simple, Jewish rabbi wandering around the desert preaching love, and spirituality turned into mishegas.

Nothing says Jesus died for the sins of the world... like a dachshund ornament or ballet slippers!

The guy who warned his followers against being "of the world and losing your soul" inspired people to go broke buying their kids presents?

The man who said to love your neighbors as yourself inspired the annual War on Christmas?

And, those who think this is a Christian nation instead of a nation - a Republic - with a majority population of Christians.  These kind folks think I'm gonna get all warm and fuzzy if they get in my face to sneer Merry Christmas!!! AT ME instead of just saying Happy Holidays...or Seasons Greetings. Or busts a gasket if the Target Lady says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas?

You can have your holiday, it's a lovely time of year, get over yourself. Why do people get so angry at people that don't celebrate Christmas? Or throw Memes around the internet saying the White House tree is now called a Holiday Tree by a Muslim President [major sigh inserted here] Are you really practicing your faith or are you just a blowhard fan?

No one even gave children presents for Christmas until the visit from St. Nick poem came out... it was written by a rich guy in 1893 who didn't want to give his servants gifts for Christmas [as was the custom], but instead invented this gat guy, the reindeer and all that... so SANTA would have to give the gifts, not him. Then, the department stores got in the act, and the rest is history.

Did you know that celebrating Christmas in America was illegal for a while??? Have you heard of Separation of Church and State? Honestly, your nativity set is lovely... get it off the courthouse lawn.

The man who said the only way into heaven is to DO the WILL OF G-D [which includes: to love mercy, serve others - especially the poor and walk humbly...., love your neighbor {so start donating to your local food bank}] and not what you SAY.
So, it's not how many times you say Merry Christmas, or how big your Christmas display is, or how many trees you have up or how much that Playstation's what you DO and how you ACT.

Ham for Christmas dinner? Uh, you know Jesus was kosher, right? Plaid bows? Wow, that technology wasn't invented yet in year 32 of the Common Era. Getting a tattoo of Jesus? That's not far back as Leviticus!

Celebrating Christmas has turned into a circus. Every year, I hear someone say "Put Christ back into Christmas." I don't see it, folks. When I look at Christmas trees, I know Jesus never saw an evergreen. Santa doesn't belong in the lexicon. Elves? come on, what did ancient Jews know from the North Pole?

I'm not being a grinch. I just don't take it seriously. I might've stayed up late on Christmas eve once...staring at the fireplace, just in case. I like cookies. I like carols. I really love Amahl and the Night Visitors. I'd watch the Mr Magoo or Black Adder Christmas Carol anytime. Mostly because it doesn't mean anything to me.

When I was a display artist, I decorated Christmas trees. I could fluff and light a tree faster than anyone. I fell in love with the lights and colors, and ornaments. I collect glass ones. They're out all year. One year, I got a sandblasted mesquite tree, painted it with bumper chrome, put blue and white lights on it and ornaments. No star, no plaid bows. It was our winter solstice tree. I can be a little pagan if the mood suits.

I see the Christmas being celebrated all around me as a morph between outlandish capitalism, the torture of the Santa myth until kids are horribly disappointed later - and pagan rituals. What you call Christmas has almost nothing to do with Jesus. And, I am not a believer... so other than the fact that I still don't like Candy Canes, Christmas means nothing to me.

I know you have traditions, and they are nice.

I have mine, too. Movies and Chinese Food...
and for many years, I'd go to Vegas. With all the other non-Christians [and that one granny chain-smoking at the nickel slot machine with her tacky Christmas sweater on]. I'm sure there are plenty of Christians there, too. After all, it's a Christian nation.

So if someone wishes YOU an easy fast on Yom Kippur, you'll be cool with that, right? Of if someone hopes you have a bright'll be grateful for the kind wishes. If someone hopes you family is blessed with warmth and grace during Ramadan, you'll say "Thank you, you too!"....right?

If you say Merry Christmas to me, I'll say "thanks, you, too!" back. I won't get mad at you. If I get a Christmas card instead of a Seasons Greetings card, I won't get mad. If I put a wreath on my door...that's blue and white... I don't think Santa is coming, it's just pretty.

So, Christmas is just not my holiday, and I don't celebrate it at all. It's great for those who do, but for's just Thursday.

I'm sure these are pretty tasty, though...
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Commission Conundrum

A lovely couple in Austin already own some of my work...
Several months ago, Husband contacted me and asked if I would create a special piece for their 50th Anniversary. He was going to send me some photos... due date way in the future.

I was in the middle of a really large corporate commission, so I didn't even take a peek at the photo[s] until I was getting close to starting.
This is what I found.
Original size? About 8x10"
Oh boy.
I was in trouble.

Husband wanted a piece 16x20" - usually no problem. But it wasn't a close up. It was their wedding pic from 1964! Husband wanted both of them in the pic, veil, cake and all.

Uh oh.
I was in BIG trouble.

Usually, a 16x20" portrait is a very close head shot.
I work from photos, and these were aged...faded...the colors were a little off.  I couldn't see both of them as clearly as I would like.
I asked... can I just do a close up wife? [no]
Can I skip the cake? [I hope not]
Can I see some more photos? [sure]

Husband sent more pics.
Didn't help.

I tried sketching, I tried painting. I wanted to say "uncle." 
I wrote - I'm sorry, I can't do it.

Husband wrote me a short, but lovely note. It hit me in the heart. I suddenly felt even MORE connected to this couple. I studied their photos. She looks like a lovely. He looks so happy.
Alright... I'll do it.

That's why they call it making Art the Agony and the Ecstasy
It reminded me... why artists sometimes feel like they're painting the Sistine Chapel. A portrait is so personal, so meaningful. I mean.. I can't screw this up!
It's too important.

I cropped the photo to this. I tried to amp up the colors.
I started, like always, with a sketch.

Is this going to work?

I painted, I cut paper, I got into it.
Suddenly, I felt like I was in the groove.

I looked forward to every day spent with the couple.

Parts of this portrait are really simple, parts are VERY complicated.

I kept going back and forth between their wedding photo and their portrait to be. I figured out what would work for me... and hoped they'd like it.

Here's the finished piece and some details. The majority is upcycled junk mail [like I do] and I used paper doilies to create the lace... some rhinestones for details in the veil [and ring]. I made a few color changes and a bit of paint to hopefully make the tulle more realistic. This is not in professional lighting...just a quick pic while still on the easel... sorry about the glare.

A challenge met is a real triumph. I'm very proud of what I created.
And, the happy couple is really happy, too. I was out of town when Husband received the finished piece. His note to me made me cry.

Say what you want about suffering for your art - making something with your heart and soul...with your own two hands - that has such a tremendous affect on another person[s] is what it's all about, baby.
I will forever be connected to this lovely couple who have a piece of me on their wall and I have a piece of them in my heart.