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Posts from the ‘Art Deco’ Category

The California Sunshine and The Leaf and Vine Art Nouveau Ketubah

14 February 2013



We’ve got the ocean, got the babes

Got the sun, we’ve got the waves

Best Coast, “The Only Place”

The notion of writing on my patio in February seemed a fantasy for six years of my life. Living in Portland, Oregon, February was most dreary, dark, lonely and bone-chilling cold. One year was so particularly miserable that we had a “Heat Wave” party replete with beach balls, sand, palm trees and towels in an 750 square foot apartment with the thermostat turned to 85 degrees.  We wore bikinis and swim trunks drinking fruity cocktails with paper umbrellas watching the windows fog and the sweat bead.

I now sit perched atop my hill in Marin County, California sporting a tee shirt staring at 150 year old palm trees and listening to the hummingbirds buzz not 5 feet from the milk crate on which I sit.

I write long-hand, my preference as a professional cursive-maker, unable to shackle myself to my large desktop inside; my drafting table a forgotten mess.

In Portland, February would be a most productive time. Unable to venture out, all one can do is stay warm and create.

Yet I persevere in my new sun-drenched existence. I must not allow the sun temptress to flirt with me, cajoling me to play with her.

Custom Ketubah commissions await; projects in various stages of development must be completed and sent out to their respective clients. Etsy orders need to be filled.

Thus I bring the flora and fauna of my new land to the Art Nouveau Leaf and Vine Ketubah I created recently for a wedding in Lake Tahoe. Forging a new identity in a new land.


The Ketubah – A History and Definition

29 January 2013



Thirteen years ago I created a ketubah for a close friend. Knowing I knew Hebrew calligraphy and could draw, he asked me to use my artistic license and create a piece of art for their traditional Jewish wedding. Word spread and suddenly I had a new career for myself. 

Never have I fully explained exactly what a ketubah is. So here it goes.

The ketubah is a marriage contract that the groom is required to give the bride spelling out the husband’s obligation to his wife. Originally, it was considered so binding that a couple whose ketubah had been lost was forbidden to live together until a new ketubah was written.

Although the ketubah is not mentioned in the Torah, the first reference to a deed associated with a Jewish marriage ceremony is the 5th century BCE. Written in Aramaic, the spoken and written language of the period, it specified that a groom must provide his wife with “food, clothing, and necessities” and entitled him to her earnings. It protected her from arbitrary divorce and guaranteed her alimony.

In the Middle Ages it was standardized and used throughout Central and Western Europe. In 1492 after the Spanish expulsion, the Jews who resettled made slight departures from the standard text by adopting local customs.

When Israel was established, ketubah text was standardized. During the 1970’s, illuminated ketubot experienced a resurgence that has continued, not only among Jewish couples, but among others who wished to have a custom written document celebrating their marriage.

Many couples commission ketubot with traditional language using both Aramaic and English while others choose their own special vows. 

Pictured is my Art Nouveau Custom Ketubah.

The Japanese Lantern Ketubah

24 January 2013



It’s been a while…

I find it difficult to summarize my life thus far. I moved into an 1889 Portland Alberta Arts District Victorian until California came calling. I am now in Marin County perched upon a hilltop . No longer residing amidst bars, coffee shops and perpetual multiplying of bespectacled hipsters, I now find myself surrounded by fruit trees and baby boomers. A different life.

Creating art is the only constant. Much of my focus on Ketubah, I find refuge in creating illustrations based on Art Deco and Art Nouveau sensibilities. I find solace in the minute movements of the calligraphy pen and in the sheer concentration (followed by instant gratification or impending doom) it takes me to ink a piece of my own artwork. Without mistake.

Pictured is “The Japanese Lantern Ketubah.” It is the first time I inked directly onto the paint (gouache) itself rather than containing the calligraphy to a text box. It was intensely stressful as any false move could mean disaster for a completed 22″ x 30″ painting. I endeavored and proved successful.

The wedding was an elaborate Art Deco affair held in the stunning Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. A gorgeous affair, a beautiful couple, and, I must admit, a sense of pride in accomplishing something new.

An 1889 Victorian

23 March 2009


The housing hunt is over. I (along with Belle, the mastiff-lab, my husband, and my new roommate, the Professor) will soon be living in the most gorgeous little 1889 Victorian.

I could not ask for more. Packing boxes and cleaning closets seem rather insignificant knowing my new residence is everything I could hope for. Surrounded by an enormous lush Oregon garden my summer afternoons shall be spent drawing in the sun and picking strawberries, kiwi, raspberries and grapes. Barbecues shall abound and Belle can run around like a wild monkey.

My anxiety assuaged, I am packing up shop. Treasures abound as chaos ensues. Thank you to everyone for their well-wishes during my housing crisis.

The Art Nouveau Ketubah

21 December 2008


Finally, after three odd years, I sifted through all my Art Deco wedding photos. Despite a constant conversation with myself about why I chose to wear that particular hairstyle, I love my wedding pictures. Reminding me of joy and insanity, friends and family, the photos serve to highlight that blur of a day. I do not know if I would have remembered Uncle Stu wearing a tuxedo with a clown nose or “Redbeef” (my husband’s roommate from college) donning a kelly green suit and matching top hat.

However, while photos jog the memory of a place and time, the ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract, serves to remind the couple of the emotion felt, the feelings had.

The Art Nouveau inspired Ketubah pictured is just that. An original design painted in gouache, the stylized waves are reminiscent of the bride and groom’s time in Santa Cruz, where they met many years ago. Contacting me personally to execute both the text and design, it was a joy to create. The text, Art Nouveau inspired English and Hebrew calligraphy, is their vows: promises to each other to be met over a lifetime.

A Garden of Shoes and The 1960s Psychadelic Mod Fashion Plate

8 November 2008


I keep everything. I have broken dishes, an entire couture collection of single shoes, (Belle, my mastiff-laborador, having chewed the other mate–most recently a pair of handmade snakeskin Italian leather pumps that I picked up at a thrift shop in London years ago. Alas.) almost every single piece of correspondence that I have ever received, and boxes upon boxes of clothing.

I have it in my head that someday I will create some sort of art from my history. Most likely these treasures will remain in my attic, sit in my basement and wait to be moved to their next domicile.

My imagination can actually see the beauty I could create. The broken dishes to be made into a Gaudi style backyard bench, the clothing resewn into gorgeous new frocks, and all those poor single shoes? I once saw a famous garden where old purses were bronzed and placed about. I liked the way it looked. Could definitely do the same with the shoes. Especially my old cowboy boots.

This week I went through my art studio looking for inspiration. I always joke that my workshop looks as if it was hit by a natural disaster. People don’t quite believe that until they see it. It’s quite amazing, actually. Utter chaos. I love it.

So I am sifting through boxes and drawers and find a linoleum block/woodcutting kit bought about ten years prior. Thought I would give it a go. I found that I truly enjoyed carving the blocks with my various Art Deco inspired images, retro fashion plates and an Art Nouveau inspired nature scene as well. And I enjoyed the printing itself. A new found medium.

Pictured is my 1960s Mod Psychadelic Fashion Plate. A limited edition, signed and numbered linocut print, she is available in my Etsy shop.

I Love New York and All That Jazz

29 October 2008


As a child I spent the summers in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn visiting my grandmother. In her one bedroom apartment, walking distance from Coney Island, my sister, my grandmother and I would bunk together in the living room. Almost the last stop on the F train, the dishes would rattle and the seventeenth floor shimmy as the nearby subway traveled the one and a half hour distance to and from Manhattan.

New York was the most different place from New Mexico I could conceive of as a child (as an adult as well). But I loved it. Sojourning into the city each day, my father would act as tour guide (as a relocated Bronx boy he claimed ultimate authority on everything New York). Worrying my sister and I would wander off, my dad made us memorize the entire F train route and study city maps.

Thus, I can navigate New York pretty well for a western girl reared on the Rio Grande. Recently vacationing there, I felt at home despite many years absence. A movie I saw in college came to mind. The Cruise, a black and white documentary, celebrated both the city itself as well as a quintessentially New York Gray Line Tour bus guide. In one scene, the guide, with an encyclopedic knowledge of New York culture, recalls literary giants, artists, politicos, criminals and silent movie stars as the bus whirs past their former residences. So much spark within such a small space. The energy is real; the buzz almost tangible.

I love New York. Therefore, you may imagine my excitement at a mention by the New York Public Library in an article entitled “All That Jazz”. So thank you New York from a most grateful gal out west.

A Grand Wedding and The Art Deco Ketubah–A Modern Jewish Marriage Contract

20 September 2008


The Ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract outlining a couple’s commitment to one another, is an honor to create. Given pictures of the groom’s grandparents 1940s Art Deco style Ketubah, photos of grand interiors, and cutouts from magazines, I set to work designing a hip, modern take on the Art Deco Ketubah.

Working with the bride to create an homage to her beloved’s family yet incorporate the couple’s own aesthetic, I set to work painting in gouache the image of the tree and birds as well executing my own unique English and Hebrew alphabets in calligraphy.

The bride sent me the pictures following the wedding. Held at the Ruins in Seattle, it was most certainly an affair to be remembered. My jaw literally dropped; she was so beautiful and the wedding a spectacular gala event, reminiscent of a scene from The Great Gatsby or maybe Grand Hotel. I felt like a movie star myself to be in some way part of such a lovely Art Deco inspired scene.

Permanence and Transience: Cooking vs. Art

2 August 2008


My mother is an excellent cook. She can make just about anything from Moroccan tagine to traditional pot roast. And she can cook for the masses, catering my entire wedding, my cousin’s wedding and both mine and my sis’s Bat Mitzvahs. Absolutely none of this talent was passed on to me. Or maybe it was but never fully realized as I hate to cook.

I like the idea of pleasing my friends, exacting their love and admiration through gastronomy; but I loathe the notion of spending time creating these pleasures. Food is temporary. Hours spent, adding a pinch of this, a spoonful of that, seem wasted on transience.

Please do not get me wrong. I love cooks. I love food. I love home cooking. I am fortunate to reap the benefits of those whose creativity is ignited by food, whom are impassioned by the combination of spices, the grouping of flavors.

My art, however, is born out of a yearning for permanence. I screen print my images so they will last for centuries to come rather than using a computer to lifelessly copy my work. I hand-paint my cards so they are kept; records of a time and place serving as personal histories. The notion that what I create may last lifetimes excites me and serves to motivate.

But a good meal is remembered. I will never forget the calamari in Turkey or the steak in Belgium or my mother’s homemade grapeleaves. And that recollection I pass on to others, as I do now. Thus cooking is not momentary, rather the memory intangible.

Thus I present Bouillon Kub (my homage, painted in gouache on wood, to the original bouillon cube packaging in France circa 1920 and, from what I understand, still used today) to all the amazing cooks out there. May your food be forever remembered.

Just Waiting

30 June 2008


Much of my time spent as an artist is in waiting. Waiting for the next show, waiting for the customer to call back, waiting for the paint to dry. Just Waiting. And while waiting, beginning other projects that will soon, in turn, be waiting themselves. If patience be a virtue, right now I have virtue in spades.

Currently I have three projects in wait. Two Art Nouveau inspired marriage contracts and an Art Deco style wedding invitation. Both marriage contracts are actually Ketubah (Ketubot in the plural), Jewish legal marriage documents with both English and Hebrew calligraphy denoting the text. One is a simple black and white Art Nouveau inspired assymetrical frame with Hebrew and English written in a simple, yet elegant hand. The second is inspired by the bride’s grandparents’ Ketubah ca. 1940.

The wedding invitation is in an Art Deco style specifically inspired by the Oviatt Penthouse a Los Angeles Art Deco landmark reminiscent of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel in beauty and opulence.

The waiting, however, is over for the purchase of my images on iPop magnets. Femme Fatales four pack set and the Fashion Plates four pack set as well as the large La Belle Vie single magnet are all available for retail purchase via the website.

So I sit and wait. Not a bad thing. I sit in the sunshine and work, my art in constant revolution as each project takes a turn in time to become whole.

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