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 or 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!

Tangerine Tango // Color of the Year 2012

Last week, Pantone, Inc. announced that Tangerine Tango #17-1463 will be “The Color of the Year 2012”. This was big news and cause for lots of review and discussion in the design worlds.

“Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. This robust color was descibed as a “spirited reddish orange”, and will “provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward”.

Eiseman continued, “Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”Pantone Inc, the NJ company, began as a source for printing guidelines. It has evolved to create standardized color palettes for a number of industries, including graphics, fashion textiles and interior design. PMS, the Pantone Matching System, enables color to be consistent across industries, from paints, to printing ink to textiles to lipsticks.The selection of a particular color is a thoughtful process. Pantone “literally combs the world looking for color influences....including the entertainment industry, art, artists, technology, sports and socio-economic conditions..”  The color chosen will subsequently impact many industries and individuals.Oranges and reds are warm colors associated with nature, with daylight or sunset. Color Theorists describe the usual strong reactions to orange, more so than other colors, it's a “love it or hate it” color. It radiates warmth and energy. Bonnie Edelman’s photograph, Campo Sunset, comes to mind with the description of the energy of the red hues.

and Golden Campo is on the other side of the spectrum, the warmth of yellow.

When I was a textile stylist, creating colors and patterns for fabrics for men’s clothing, I eagerly awaited the trend reports, forecasting the colors of the season to incorporate into our seasonal fabrics. This is true for stylists and designers across creative fields. The result is a consistent theme for the seasons, and it starts here - with the selected colors by Pantone.

According to Apartment Therapy, Tangerine Tango, “.... is a highly-usable color for interiors. It's very easy to incorporate into a room as an accent, although the full wall treatment is absolutely an option for those willing to take the plunge.”.  It has always been a good color for interiors, it works as a standout accessory against neutrals.  Apartment Therapy showed these examples, from a complete orange wall, to a bold orange sofa in a neutral room.

and acessories, a way to introduce a small accent of the warm color to any room

Apartment Therapy

Judy Ross Textiles, a favorite pillow source,  has a beautiful group of hand-emboidered pillows with the uplifting color - perfect for accessorizing

The same is true for clothing and make-up. When my husband wears his orange sweater, (instead of his usual black!) he feels lighter and brighter and the color elicits a smile from others. Expect to see more of this reddish orange in the coming year.

I have seen a strong and positive response to orange in artwork, from the sunsets above to the color-soaked paintings by Janet Mait and Anne Raymond below. The bold color makes an impact, and as the description of Color of the Year says, they are strong and in turn provoke an emotional response.

to the natural sky of Nightlight, by Stuart Zaro

Tangerine Tango, is an early 2012 prediction...and there will be many more in the next few weeks as the calendar rolls to the new year. Pantone Color Institute selected a color  of nature that is warm and has a positive energy - as they suggest, to help recharge and propel us into 2012.