Monthly Archives: November 2016

Interview with the Renowned Artist and Native New Yorker, Ida Pearle

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We are so very honored to interview Ida Pearle this month, a mother and patient of Dr. Cao’s, as well as a highly accomplished and renowned artist, writer (and violinist)!   Her artwork is both comforting and inspiring, beautifully depicting movement and capturing the innocence and magic of childhood.  Her first book, A Child’s Day: An Alphabet of Play was chosen as a best children’s book of 2008 by Bank Street College, and her newest title just released last year, The Moon is Going to Addy’s House, is an American Library Association Notable book and has received exceptional reviews.    Make sure to keep your eyes open at your next visit…her incredible artwork is about to grace the walls of South Slope Pediatric’s lobby!

SSP: Can you please tell us a bit about your background growing up in NYC and how the culture helped shape you as an artist and as an author?

I recently published a book about my childhood in New York called “The Moon is Going to Addy’s House”. It’s about a car ride from city to country that I took every weekend as a child.  I spent 5 years creating it, which was a wonderful opportunity to meditate and reflect on my New York city childhood and it’s richness.  I feel very attached and connected to my childhood places, be they neighborhoods or homes. I grew up in New York- late 70s/80s it was a very different place; my experience was a much more bohemian one than is possible today I think. My father was a sound engineer, and had a recording studio in our loft, and my mother was a painter.  I was surrounded by people creating constantly and my identity as an “artist” already strongly formed in childhood. My parents protected my free time and made sure I always had paper and pencil. I spent a lot of time as a child at the city’s art museums, The Met and The MoMA, and had access to tons of visual material, like my own large collection of children’s books and my mother’s art monographs. My parents were incredibly encouraging and really made art the center of my universe. In this way my focus today is very much a continuation of what it was in childhood, and my work is very much the blossoming of seeds planted in my childhood. The other lucky thing that plants my work geographically in New York was my going to the United Nations International School as a child. New York is already an incredibly diverse place, but UNIS was even more of a microcosm- every student hailed from a different country and that experience more than anything has informed my aesthetic. I aim to create inclusive imagery and a diverse representation of children. My commitment to celebrating the beauty of diversity is rooted in my experience as a child in playing with children who were different from me. Celebrating our common humanity is something I like to think we are especially good at doing as New Yorkers.

SSP: Who were your favorite illustrators and authors as a child, and how did they influence you?

Growing up I loved Robert McClosky, Ezra Jack Keats, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Ludwig Bemelmans, Leo Lionni and Maurice Sendek of course. I think a few on this list were incredible draftsman- like Robert McClosky and  Nancy Ekholm Burkert, who also made work outside of the tradition of children’s literature. I think perhaps Ezra Jack Keats and Leo Lionni have influenced my work more directly in terms of simplifying forms in my own work (as well my our medium – cut paper) I think children are attracted to that simplification, and I have always been attracted to minimalism. It takes a lot more mastery of form to pare things down to their most essential.

SSP: As a creator of fine art for children, what mediums do you use? How would you describe your work?

My work is originally created in cut paper collage. I use a lot of drawing to produce the imagery- but then it all has to be cut out with an exacto knife and glued together.  I suppose I would describe my work as being about gesture, movement, and pattern. I’m very interested in the human form, how it moves through space, and the challenges of depicting that on a flat plane. It’s very interesting to have to create something from nothing and to have it convince the eye of something very specific, like weight, volume and/or velocity. I think there is a magic in art- the marriage of technique and imagination which transports you to a place beyond the page. Thematically, I aim to capture the happy and care free nature of childhood, and to create images where all children see themselves represented.

SSP: I understand you do unique customized pieces of artwork in addition to fine art prints – can you please tell us more about that?

I love to create collages for children and families’s homes. Mostly these pieces are bespoke and one of a kind. I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years and I’ve gotten to hear how these pieces have become special family keepsakes that are treasured for a long time- which makes me very happy! It’s a very special process getting to know and depict a family through creating an art work for them! I treasure these experiences.

SSP: Your most recent book, The Moon is Going to Addy’s House, has received such incredible high praise. To quote Martin Scorcese, “The Moon is Going to Addy’s House is visual storytelling at its very best. The emotional journey of the children is beautifully expressed through Ida Pearle’s stunning use of collage, color, texture, and movement”.  How do you think you are able to connect so strongly to the reader? 

Well, first of thank you.  I’m very honored by these words, to say the least. I had the great honor of teaching Scorsese’s daughter private art lessons for 6 years, which is how he and his family came to know my book. I think the subject matter is highly relatable – how the moon follows us at night is a universal experience, and I think the visual part – the illustrations probably have as much if not more to do with how people consume this book in particular. I think children’s books are just as much about the pictures as they are about the story. We are visual thinkers first and foremost, we read in pictures before we read in words. Almost like hieroglyphs, they pick up on shapes and symbols first. There is a pictorial language that children react to and apply to their understanding of what is outside the page. I tried with Addy’s House to create a world children could really beam themselves into and see their own experience reflected. It’s an early and important phenomenological experience which is why we see it so much in children’s literature.

SSP: There is a very special relationship between a child and the moon, I see it in my own personal experience daily with my 4 year old daughter who almost treats it as a friend or family member of hers. “Look, mama – the moon followed us”! as we drive home at night. You capture that innocence and joy so well. Does this mirror personal experiences of yours as a child?

Creating ‘The Moon Is Going to Addy’s House’ was deeply meaningful for me. It is based on a phrase I used to repeat as a child on car ride from city to county to a cottage that has been in my family since the 1940s. My father and uncle, city kids used to play there in the summer, as did myself and my sister. My family over the years agreed that this phrase, (or idea) would make a beautiful children’s story. Children’s literature was very important in my family life as a child..

My father became ill about 8 years ago, and told me he really wanted me to focus on bringing this book into being. So, I did. He passed away 6 years ago and the last conversation we had was about the book; he looked at my sketches and encouraged me – he was an incredible cheerleader for my work. It was my opportunity to meditate on my childhood, his loss and to try to transform pain into beauty, which I think is the tool that art is. It’s a healing act, creating or engaging with art of any kind.

SSP: How has having a daughter of your own affected your work?

After depicting childhood, and motherhood for so long it’s opened up another dimension of my practice to me. I understand a mother’s love for the first time, which is different from only understanding a child’s love. I haven’t had the chance yet to make much new work, but when I do- I know I will have a deeper connection and understanding of children, and of parental love.

To learn more about Ida Pearle and her work, go to: http://www.idapearle.com

 

FUN HOLIDAY EVENTS IN BROOKLYN & BEYOND!

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Check out these fun family events that will surely help get you into the holiday spirit.  From family-friendly holiday themed shows like The Nutcracker, Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas and a Charlie Brown’s Christmas Live…to train shows at Grand Central and the NY Botanical Garden…from an Ice Spectacular Show at  Lefrak to meet and greets with Santa himself right here on 5th Ave in Park Slope, there are many ways to celebrate and share the joy with our little ones!

* 15th Annual Holiday Train Show in Grand Central (Grand Central Station, Manhattan): November 14th – February 26th.  Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat and Sun 10am-6pm.  This year’s Holiday Train Show display will feature a 34-foot-long “O gauge” model train layout with Lionel’s model Metro-North, New York Central, and vintage subway trains running on eight separate loops of track, against a backdrop featuring graphics celebrating the Museum’s 40th anniversary by artist Julia Rothman.  http://www.grandcentralterminal.com/event/15th-annual-holiday-train-show/2145462112

* Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas (Vital Theatre, 152 W. 71st St):  November 19th – December 31st, Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 1pm.  Based on the NY Times bestselling picture book by Jane O’Connor.  What could be fancier than Christmas? Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles – and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Ooh la la! This year, Nancy is especially excited. After selling some of her old gowns and accessories, Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper. She can’t wait to decorate the Christmas tree. But when things don’t turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?  http://fancynancychristmaslive.com/  1 hr long.

* Holiday Train Show (NY Botanical Gardens, Bronx): From November 19th – January 16th.  Enchanting model trains zip through a display of 150 landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials—all under the twinkling glow of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Marvel at G-scale locomotives humming along among familiar sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center on nearly a half-mile of track.Explore a winter wonderland across our 250 acres with special tours, a cappela performances, Winter Harmonies Concerts, a poetry reading with recently named NYBG poet laureate, Billy Collins, and activities for kids.  http://www.nybg.org/hts16/

* Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (Manhattan): 9am on November 24th.  The annual pageant of giant balloons, floats, cheerleaders, clowns, marching bands, theater and Broadway in New York performances and celebs is one of the best NYC events in November. Read up here for recommended viewing areas:  https://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/events-festivals/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade

* Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar (501 Union, Gowanus): November 26th and 27th, 11am – 6pm.  Free admission.  Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar is a unique annual event that showcases the best of Brooklyn under one beautiful roof. The 4th edition will be packed with fine handmade goods, food, drinks, music, craft activities and more good times on Thanksgiving weekend.  http://brooklynholidaybazaar.com/

* Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting (Rockefeller Center, Manhattan): The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a world-wide symbol of the holidays in New York City. The 2016 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, November 30, with live performances from 7–9pm, at Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.  https://www.rockefellercenter.com/whats-happening/2016/11/30/2016-rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-lighting/

* Charlie Brown Christmas Live (ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitewell Place, Brooklyn): Fri, Sat and Sun, Dec 2nd – 11th.   Performance of the classic Charlie Brown Christmas special word for word and gesture for gesture.  Jazz trio will play the iconic Vince Guaraldi score.  For show times and details, go to: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2698281

* Santa on 5th (several locations on 5th Ave, Park Slope on Dec 3rd, 10th and 17th): Ho ho ho!  Santa will be making appearances at 3 different locations on our very own 5th Ave during the month of September.  Eat, Drink and spend locally – while saying hi to our friend visiting from the North Pole!  Strolling carolers will be making an appearance as well.  http://parkslopefifthavenuebid.com/event/here-comes-santa-clause-first-visit-of-three/

* The Colonial Nutcracker at the Walt Whitman Theater  (Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts, 2900 Campus Rd, Brooklyn):   December 11th, 2pm.  An annual holiday favorite, Dance Theatre in Westchester performs its family-friendly, full-length version of Tchaikovsky’s ballet set in wintry colonial Yorktown, complete with a red-coated mouse army, an enchanted nutcracker prince, and simultaneous narration to help young audience members enjoy this timeless classic.   2hrs, 10 min including a 15 min intermission.  Recommended for ages 5+.  Tickets: $15. http://www.brooklyncenter.org/buy-tickets/calendar-of-events/view/The-Colonial-Nutcracker/

* Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Radio City Music Hall, Manhattan): The Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2016 literally kicks off the holiday season in NYC. Since 1933, the tap dancers, flying Santa and of course the Rockettes have put on one of the city’s most classic Christmas spectacles. If The Nutcracker from New York City Ballet is too stuffy and doesn’t have enough camels onstage for you, this show is the one to see.  https://www.rockettes.com/christmas/

* Tree Lighting Party (Greenwood Park, Park Slope):  December 7th from 6pm- close. The “biggest tree in Brooklyn”!  Tree, wreaths, and decorations will be for sale in the holiday market.  Bring the family to meet Santa – there will be hot coca, cider, food and drink specials!   http://greenwoodparkbk.com/blog/events/holiday-tree-lighting-party/

* Ice Spectacular (Lakeside @ Lefrak Center, Prospect Park):  December 18th, from 5:30 – 6:45pm.  This annual winter show is FREE to watch and features figure skating solos, duets, and group numbers. Group number registration includes three half-hour rehearsals on Sundays before the show as well as skate rental, show accessories, and keepsake programs on performance days. Register in advance online or in person, limited space available.  $40 for one (1) event, $60 for two (2) events.  http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/event/ice-spectacular-winter/

#LoveinaSafetyPin

love-in-a-safety-pin-webwritten by Dr. Cao

In response to the recent shocking tide of intolerance, I want to make sure you know that:

Our Company stands with Love, Equality, Kindness, Compassion and Community.

These are the values in which your SSP Team believes. By showing this ‘Love in a safety pin’ sticker on our door we want you to know that SSP is a Safe Haven where you will find smiles and help in the (hopefully unlikely) event that you find yourself harassed or bullied on the streets of Park Slope.

I am inviting all families and local businesses to join our ‘Love in a Safety Pin’ Campaign by claiming your free sticker and post photos online using #LoveInASafetyPin

How you can help:

1) Donate (gofundme.com/love-in-a-safety-pin) so we can keep producing and distributing stickers free of charge nationwide
2) Post on social media your photo with your sticker with hashtag #LoveInASafetyPin
3) Share this campaign with your friends and family

If you are a business:
1) Display your sticker in your storefront window
2) Establish a protocol to help in the event someone needs to seek refuge in your business
3) Post on social media the following statement:

“Our Company stands with Love, Equality, Kindness, Compassion and Community. These are the values in which your (Company Name) Team believes. By showing this ‘Love in a safety pin’ sticker on our door we want you to know that (Company Name) is a Safe Haven where you will find smiles and help in the (hopefully unlikely) event that you find yourself harassed or bullied on the streets of (Your Neighborhood Name). #LoveInASafetyPin”

When making a donation we will send you or a friend of your choice a free sticker.

Display it proudly and help your community. Help spread the LOVE !

Dr. Cao