Celebrating the Beauty of NYC // for Donate Life Month

Finally, I’m looking out the window and seeing the sun shine.  Soon the snow will be gone, the grass will be green, flowers will be blooming. Spring is a time of renewal, a season to observe how life comes back in nature, color explodes where its been grey and bleak and after these long months of being indoors we will all enjoy the spring air. For my family and I,  April is also a reminder of a time when my husband wasn't sure if he would see the renewal of spring. He, along with over 120,000 people in the US, was waiting for an organ transplant. April is National Donate Life Month, and efforts are underway to help all of those, including the 10,509 New Yorkers who are waiting to see if they will live for another spring season. LiveOnNy recently launched their new campaign to recognize the beauty of New Yorkers and appeal for them to help each other through organ donation. April_2015

Howard was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, a terminal lung disease in 2006. He was listed on the transplant waiting list in the winter of 2011, we weren't sure what would happen that spring as he waited for a lung transplant. We remember those few months well, and are very grateful that Howard received a double lung transplant a few months later in August. I have posted before about Share Life NY,  our family’s efforts to raise awareness of the dire condition of transplantation in the US, particularly in NYS. The state ranks last, 50th in the country of registered donors, and in NYS only 23% or the residents are registered vs. 47% in the rest of the country. This month, as NYC comes to life with its unique and wonderful energy, I would like to shed light on the work of LiveOnNY, the New York City based Organ Procurement Organization that coordinates organ donations within New York State. (formerly NYODN) and their wonderful efforts to help build the donor registry in the New York area. Their new campaign focuses on NYC, its icons and the caring of its residents.

LiveOnNY with Brand Line Stacked

And their tag line,

Long Live New Yorkers...Long Live New York!

Click here to see their moving video

LongLiveNY Movie Poster

I often talk of how artists find inspiration in nature, but they are also drawn to the energy and lights of the city. As a New Yorker, we are sometimes immune to the constant movement and stimulation. This month, RE is focusing on The Beauty of NYC, how photographers capture the beauty and noise of the city in their individual styles. RE artist John Duckworth, captures the light and expanse of the city in this panoramic view of Manhattan from across the bridges in Brooklyn.  As a visitor to the city, his outsider perspective sees the whole, as in Bridge

JD.Bridgeand also the details in the street, in Taxis

JD.taxiBarbara Erdmann, a RE photographer, tells her story by finding pattern and repetition in her images, Urbane has a great contrast of color against the grey ground

0277 UrbaneRE photographer Stuart Zaro, is the owner of  Zaros Bakery, a third generation NY business. Even though he is at one of his stores in Grand Central Terminal frequently, as an artist he sees the big picture not just the crowds. Here he captures the Beaux Arts architecture and beautiful light of the landmark 1903 building in Grand Central

sdz.Grand Central NYC

Waiting, is a favorite image also taken by Zaro at Grand Central. We have featured this photo as an analogy for organ donation for all those on the “waitlist” for transplantation.

WaitingThe popular aerial views of photographer Gray Malin's travels and adventures around the world provide a different perspective. His New York collection captures the city in warmer weather, from Sheep Meadow in Central Park

GM.Central Park.Sheep Meadow

to a birds eye view of  Washington Square Park.



RE photographer Kit Kittle created Enlightenment, a series of images with a Buddha statue in different settings. The contrast of the sitting Buddha against a variety of backdrops are illustrated in his book by appropriate philisophical quotes.  Buddha and Graffiti tells a great NY story, the contrast of calm against the grittiness of the street and graffiti. “Do not dwell in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment…” - Buddhist Teaching

KK.Buddha & Graffitialso from this series, the statue sits among the commuter commotion, Buddha and Grand CentralKitK.4340.Buddha in Grand CentralRE along with Share Life NY supports LiveOnNY as they celebrate New York and urge New Yorkers to learn more about the issue of organ, eye and tissue donation. Each donor can save up to 8 lives and greatly improve the lives of up to 50 people. In NY State someone dies every 15 hours while waiting for a transplant, there are not enough donors for the number of people waiting. We are grateful that Howard’s donor made the decision to join the registry. During the month of April, Romanoff Elements will donate a portion of sales to LiveOnNY. We hope that others can be as fortunate as Howard and enjoy a second chance of life.

If interested in more information about organ donation, or to register to be a donor, please go to ShareLifeNY.org or DonateLife.net to find your state’s registry. If you are in New York State, you can register here.

Enjoy the warm weather, spring and the renewal that it brings. Microsoft Word - CAROL.Doc1.doc

The Art of Waiting // National Donate Life Month

Spring has been slow to arrive this year. It feels like we have been waiting a long time for the winter  to end and for warm weather to arrive.  We wait for many things, but nothing compares to the wait being endured by 122,000 people waiting for a life saving organ transplant. Being on the wait list means not knowing whether  a donated organ will be received in time.

I was reminded of the issue of waiting while visiting with a sculptor in his studio a few months ago, I was moved by this piece, Waiting for News. Christopher E. Green captures what it is like for family members to wait for news while a loved one is receiving critical care. From the moment I saw it, I felt the emotion he portrays about his experience in a hospital waiting room. “We were all waiting for news of our love ones...Waiting for News attempts to convey the emotion of those that were in limbo, not knowing whether their news would be good or bad.  Not knowing which way their emotions would go.”

My family knows this experience well. My husband Howard was diagnosed with Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, an illness with no known cause and no known cure. We were told he had 5 years, at which point, he would be a candidate for a life-saving lung transplant. I wrote about this in a previous blogpost, now, I will emphasize that it is 2 1/2 years later, and we are grateful every day to his organ donor for providing him with a second chance at life. His story, and more about organ donation are on our organization’s site, Share Life.

Last spring at our Inaugural Event for Share Life, we featured the photography of Stuart Zaro, particularly this image, Waiting. This photo, taken in Grand Central Terminal, became a symbol of the long and emotional wait sick patients endure while waiting for a transplant.

When I make studio visits, I am drawn to artwork in the colors of Donate Life, the national organization that promotes the issue. April is National Donate Life Month, and groups around the country promote all things blue and green, colors that signify life and health. This Friday, April 11th is National Blue and Green Day.

Romanoff Elements, along with Share Life, supports the efforts of the New York Organ Donor Network, the New York City based Organ Procurement Organization that coordinates organ donations within New York State. Each donor can potentially save 8 lives and impact up to 50 lives with their organs and tissue. A portion of proceeds of RE sales this month will go towards the NYODN’s work. The artists I work are supportive of this issue as well. I’ve included a few blue and green artworks, prints, paintings, photographs and paintings, inspired by nature in shades of blues and greens.

Photographer Nancy Woodward captured this springtime image, First Day of May, while shooting in the woods, she looked up and “saw the canopy of skies in the afternoon sky”. The image is about light and blue and green and spring all at once!

In True Blue, painter Anne Raymond's vivid colors are inspired by the beauty around her Hamptons' studio.

I love the blues in John Duckworth's abstract photographic landscape, Bohicket Creek. It captures the serene beauty of the South Carolina coast, the ocean, sky and horizon.

This is one of Artist Kerri Rosenthal's paintings with "happy colors", 20/20 Vision, like many of her abstract paintings are filled with exuberant colors and combinations

I extend my appreciation to each of them for allowing me to show their work. I am equally appreciative to those artists I have worked with over time, for being supportive of my family and me as we go through this journey. Please browse artwork here, on the RE site, Facebook and in our gallery. Be in touch if you have any questions.

The wait for spring seems to finally be behind us. We can personally say that my husband's wait is also over, but we think about the 122,000 in the US and over 10,000 in NYS who are waiting for life-saving transplants. If interested in more information about organ donation, or to register to be a donor, please go to ShareLifeNY.org or DonateLife.net to find your state’s registry.

Thank you!

Stuart Zaro // An Unordinary Storyteller

Photographer’s have the ability to capture moments in time and in those moments tell a story. Stuart Zaro’s photographs reflect “ordinary life”, but they are uniquely his stories. He captures the contrasts he sees in everyday life, but in his view, he oftentimes portrays it with a wink and some humor. The lightness is juxtaposed against darker subjects and issues.

In becoming familiar with artists and their work, I find learning of their influences and journeys helps to put their work into a context. I’ve known Stuart and his photography for many years, but a recent conversation we had shed a new perspective on how his work has progressed. Stuart was intrigued with photography after finding a random camera lens on the Washington DC streets while in college. Upon moving back to NYC, he studied photo at NYU, enrolling in the program that became the Tisch School of the Arts.

Zaro has spent his professional career at Zaro’s Bakery, a NYC family business started by his grandfather. (I have to add, that I’m a huge fan of their delicious chocolate babka and classic black and whites!) Business and family demands took priority for a number of years. After raising his four sons, Stuart had time to revisit his passion and return to photography.

A trip to Cuba with Maine Media Workshops began an exploration of photojournalistic portraits, a genre that he was drawn to - as he sought to capture the essence of the people he met there and on many subsequent trips throughout the world, to Africa, Bhutan, Asia and across Europe.

This documentary-style work was a result of Stuart’s early interest in the photography of the government sponsored Farm Security Admininstration started in 1935. A group of photographers and journalists were selected to report and document the plight of rural  farmers.  He was drawn “magnetically to the compelling photos” taken by the 11 artists, including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Gordon Parks.

Their images, along with John Steinbeck”s The Grapes of Wrath, are credited to have defined this era. This early influence shaped Zaro as he sought to reveal the depths of his subjects and tell his own stories.

Zaro continued to study throughout NYC at various schools, including The School of Visual Arts and The International Center of Photography. After a number of years, Stuart wanted a new direction and returned to Maine. A course with Cig Harvey, led to new work. At her suggestion, he began to “shoot in the dark”.  A new project evolved, as well as a book, Driven Deep. With Harvey as Stuart’s mentor, he returned to get a Masters degree in photography and immersed himself in his art and a new approach to story-telling. Driven Deep is literally dark and figuratively, it’s  “symbolic of shooting darker things."

But just like Stuart, there are contrasts and often the “wink” I referred to earlier, images are tongue-in-cheek even if the subject matter is serious.

His work has been called Surrealistic. Surrealist art often has an element of surprise, objects that don’t quite belong together that create contrast. Photographer Spencer Lim, described Zaro’s work in his blog, Stale Bread, as insightful.  “Insight is looking not just at something but into it. To fill an image with a potentiality that expands our awareness of the world. It surprises in its plainness, leaving us to wonder how something so simple could say so much. Stuart Zaro is exactly that type of photographer.”

WAITING, which has become Share Life’s signature photo is just that. “Where else but Grand Central Station in New York CIty, could you see a line-up of bridesmaids, identically dressed, poised as they are, waiting to buy a train ticket, standing behind a very average NYer?” asked Zaro.

or capturing a man in a rural graveyard in an astronaut helmet, that’s filled with interesting reflections, truly a surreal image.

He primarily works in black and white, but when there is color, there’s a reason. This is from The Aquarium Series. The exaggerated color and contrast transform the jellyfish into a graphic image.

Stuart, his wife Keri and their family are dear friends, they have supported my husband and our family since the time of Howard’s diagnosis with a life threatening lung disease through his  lung transplant and recovery.  And now, Stuart is exhibiting his work, and selling it to benefit the New York Organ Donor Network at Share Life’s Inaugural Event. 100% of the proceeds will go to the New York Organ Donor Network.

Zaro’s work has evolved, but at the core is an interest to capture people in their everyday, ordinary lives and to find a story to tell, sometimes with levity, but always with heart.

GREEN // The Color of Spring

In New York, it's trying very hard to be spring, it feels like it's taking a long time to warm up and change seasons.  In my last post I talked about organ donation, at the same time I sent an eblast with various artworks that to me, represent spring. Green is the color that symbolizes spring.

I received lots of great comments and compliments about the art I selected to represent spring, so I wanted share some of the artworks and acknowledge the artists. I was drawn to nature when thinking about spring, and when I worked with my good friend and graphic designer, Sandy Shekel, to edit the images and create the layout, the greener the better...and there's a reason. Green symbolizes life, new growth, the environment , ecology, recycling and nature.

The lush foliage in COBAMONG BOAT, by Stuart Zaro 

LAUGHTER, by Elena Lyakir

It also represents tranquility, health and luck. We used it for the Share Life logo, to inspire good health and sharing, through organ donation.

Green is also thought to reduce stress and is recommended for a work environment. I'm not sure I'm ready for a return to green walls, but I would love to look at these paintings,

LINE-ING_12"x12", by Xanda McCagg 

and combined with warm colors that evoke a combination of nature and calm, WATERFALL_60"x48", by Anne Raymond   

Christine Wexler's photograph, THE WAVE,  of 3 boys waiting to surf, captures the warmth and spirit of the spring and summer seasons.

There are other artists that come to mind when I think color, and light and spring. Wolf Kahn creates beautiful paintings that evoke nature. I pinned SPRING GREENS on my Pinterest board recently, and it was 're-pinned' and 'liked' many times.

Photographer Bonnie Edelman captures the extraordinary colors of nature in her SCAPES series.

Color theorist Josef Albers explored the relationship of colors and perception in his series of over 1000  geometric paintings, HOMAGE TO THE SQUARE.  One of his green paintings, SOFT SPOKEN,

We will be seeing a lot more green in 2013 since Emerald green was selected by Pantone as the Color of the Year. Versions of emerald will find its way into many products this year.

The spring RE eblast, with the variety of inspiring green artwork was created and sent in support of National Donate Life Month. Thanks to President Obama for making it official and acknowledged throughout the country. My family and I are involved in a number of events during the month to help raise awareness and the profile of the dire need in New York State and throughout the US to increase the organ donor registry. Romanoff Elements will be donating a portion of sales to the New York Organ Donor Network and their work on behalf of increasing the donor registry.

I'm hoping that the sun starts to shine more, and we can all enjoy spring;  the warmth, the natural and beautiful colors, and the new energy that comes with it!

The Art of Sharing // A Personal Reflection

“My experience is that organ donation is not on your radar unless it becomes personal. But it can get personal very fast - ask my family and friends. We don’t think about our heart beating over 100,000 times a day, that we take over 20,000 breaths a day until we can’t. We usually don’t think about dying until someone says you are going to. We don’t think about the 117,000 people on the organ waiting list not knowing whether they are waiting to get the organ they need, or waiting to die. We can change that." - Howard Romanoff This was written by my husband Howard, after his life-saving double lung transplant. As he said, the issue surrounding organ donation can get personal very fast. For us, our family and friends, it unexpectedly started in October 2007 when Howard was diagnosed with a life threatening lung disease, Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Until a few months prior, Howard was healthy and had no underlying medical issues. 

Howard’s lung transplant was possible due to an anonymous donor. We are reminded daily of the selfless gift of Howard’s donor. With this in mind, our family has begun Share Life, our effort to pay this kindness forward. Share Life’s goal is to help others get a second chance at life through organ donation, like Howard did. There is information about donor registration and organ donation on the Share Life site as well as Howard’s story. The site should help answer the many questions surrounding the issue, if not, please contact us at Share Life.

We have also become involved with the New York Organ Donor Network volunteering and supporting their work to increase understanding and awareness about donation and transplantation in the metro NY area. April has been designated National Donate Life Month.  NYODN has launched the Hate the Wait advertising campaign and has events scheduled throughout the month to raise the spotlight on this issue. Our dear friends at Zaro’s Bakery are launching a campaign in their NYC stores. Our local community; hospital, schools, religious leaders and town are all participating to help us spread the word about the need to increase the donor registry. We are very appreciative of the support of family, friends, and community throughout this journey.  At Romanoff Elements, we will be donating a portion of April sales to the NYODN.

We are grateful for Howard’s surgery. Howard's lungs deteriorated and he was using oxygen 24/7 to breathe. He was on the "wait list" for 6 months until he received the transplant at NY Presbyterian Hospital in NYC  in August 2010.  The medicine that enables transplantation is remarkable, as are the pulmonologists, surgeons and medical support.

The wait for the transplant was long, Howard’s health declined rapidly and we were not sure if he would get his transplant in time. The reason that he had to wait for those months is simple; there are not enough organ donors in New York State. There are 10,000 people on the waiting list in NYS, and someone dies every 15 hours waiting. This is an issue throughout the country, with over 117,000 people on the wait list in the US. Over 28,000 life-saving transplants were performed last year. My husband was one of 25 double lung transplants in NYS.

Howard has been speaking about his experience as well. Last April he spoke at the American Academy of Medicine in NYC to a UNOS (United Network of Organ Sharing) Conference of transplant professionals about being a transplant recipient. Here is the link to his talk, A Breath of Inspiration.

As Howard said, “Organ donation gets very personal, very fast”. We, along with our children, family and friends, learned this the hard way. We hope that New Yorkers will respond, and see that being a donor is a wonderful gift that is easy to give. We hope that the donor registry will increase, that others will not have to wait, getting sicker each day, as Howard did, hoping, but not knowing, if a life-saving organ will become available.

In August 2012, we happily celebrated Howard's First Re-Birthday with family and friends and can now look forward to more occasions together.

In NYS, it’s simple and quick to register to be a donor, at HatetheWait.org. The national registry can be found at Donate Life America. Our hope is that the donor registry will grow and many more on the wait list, including thousands of children, can be given a second chance at life. We love reading the wonderful stories about lives saved through transplantation, and we hope there will continue to be many more.

“After all", Howard asks, "if someone asked you – If you had the opportunity to save a life at no risk or cost, would you? I think the overwhelming answer would be yes.