I would spend years going to places all over the FSU (the former Soviet Union). Then there was Chechnaya. It started like every other airlift at the airport. People crying, saying goodbye, and excitement for the freedom from persecution that was to come. Our Israeli contact told us he was taking these people to Jerusalem, and would be back in 2 days. In the meantime, my assistant and I would stay with these 2 local bodyguards, and one Israeli who was stationed there.
“We want to take you to a privately owned Restaurant! They have great oxtail soup!” One of them said. Bells and whistles started to go off in my head. I wasn’t touching the soup. The guy next to me asks why. “I’m a vegetarian.” He sticks his hand, with his long dirty fingernails into the bowl, takes it out, and says, “Now, it’s vegetarian!”
Ok, this isn’t going to be as easy as I thought. My assistant and I both sensed the danger. I am going to skip a lot of frightening details, and just say we managed to get back to the hotel. We holed up through the night and escaped at 5am. A taxi got us to the airport. “Ok, who’s going to Moscow?” I yelled out in this tiny waiting area. A Pilot came over, I “gifted him appropriately, and off we went.” Wheels up, and I could breathe. There’s a lot more to this story, including an Israeli Commander who kept denying he was a spy. This was followed by a romantic interlude that would stretch from the ice of Russia to the romantic desert winds of the Middle East. But you’ll have to wait for the memoirs.
Long Island’s newest art gallery, M Frank Gallery, just opened their doors for a premiere first exhibit in Syosset in Nassau County. When I interviewed Maya Frank, artist and gallery owner for our premiere issue, she told me it was her dream to open a gallery to showcase her work. She is hoping to support fellow artists, businesses with a place for networking and charities for a place to host fund raisers of all kinds.
M Frank Gallery opens with walls adorned with Maya’s work, sized from small drawings to bigger than life sized paintings. The gallery also features fashionwear and accessories like beautiful handbags designed by Maya, with her art featured in the design.
Born in Russia, Maya has lived in various countries, including Israel before moving to the US. In addition to painting, Maya has performed in ballet and acts in TV in NY based series. A lover of cars, Maya also has a few classic cars that are featured in movies and TV.
currently living in Harlem, NY. My journey as an artist began at age ten at the Art Students’ League in New York City in a watercolor class led my Mrs. Ethel Katz. I used my portfolio of paintings I created there as my entrance application to Music and Art High School. Unfortunately, as I approached college-age, I was discouraged by “well intentioned” adults in my life from pursuing art as a vocation. I eventually lost interest in painting and chose other career options, however, there was always a gnawing question in the back of my mind “why aren’t you painting?” Along the way, several people pushed and prodded me to get back to painting, but I only went as far as dibbling and dabbling as a hobbyist.
Three things reignited my passion to paint after a thirty plus year hiatus. To re-immerse myself in painting, I took a course at Parson’s School of Design and I was encouraged by one of my instructors to “get serious” about my art. Second, during a meditation course called “Finding Your Purpose,” I had a vision of a Native American woman who told me that my purpose was to “bring beauty to the earth.” Third, I entered my first abstract painting of Copper Metal into a 2015 Montclair, NJ exhibit just for the experience. To my surprise – it was purchased! I took this as a clue from the Universe that I should keep going and I quickly got back on track.
…I started off doing some jazz clubs out here in LA, and they went great. I did some in New York before The Cutting Room, like 54 Below and Iridium jazz club. From there it just started growing in other parts of the country as well.
I cut a CD called “D Most Mostly Swinging,” with this great 18-piece band of wonderful Los Angeles jazz and studio musicians, studio musicians, and our great producer and trumpet player, William Ario. And so that’s out. It’s been hard to grow because the live performance thing is almost impossible during COVID.
I’ve been dying to get back into doing live performance, more films and television. I just did a short film, which is called When George Got Murdered, and it’s a really interesting film about the George Floyd incident. I don’t know when that’s coming out, and I did some TV prior to that, a pilot called Puck Heads, where I play the owner of a minor league hockey team, so we’ll see what happens with that. Hopefully, that gets picked up. And I’m supposed to do a couple of other films that got put on hold.
…After I finished up commissions I had on my list, I was basically just painting… One day I pulled up a random photo online, decided just to paint a random dog, and I noticed this dog is a shelter dog, and it was a light bulb that went off where I said, “You know what, why don’t you, during Covid, when I’m home, why don’t I reach out to some local shelters and paint some of the long-time dogs and see if I can post them on social media, get them noticed and hopefully find them homes….
…Edwin: I’m really excited about sharing my music with everyone, and I appreciate the opportunity to have you and everyone allow me to borrow your ears with an open heart to give my music a try. I feel the adversity in music is very needed and if I could bridge our human connection through my music I’d feel like I’ve fulfilled a dream of mine. I believe everything we do is about communication and human connectivity. The goal is to for me is to create Ann effective way to bridge that connection in a healthy way that offers us a reflection of just how similar we all are. This type of openness connects us all, all different ethnicities, all different races. I want the branches of my music to offer a message about that love and unity. After all that’s what I’m about, that’s the philosophy I try to live by so While I’m here that’s what I’d like to achieve while I’m alive. It’s what I want to leave behind when I finish the book of my life. As each page turns I want to look back at the end of my days and know that I made some kind of an impact, I want to know I reached you all, and that maybe I made it a little bit possible to make you all see how beautiful life is. Life is an amazing gift, and as an artist I personally believe in everything that calls us to awaken to ourselves and to each other. If you really think about it, if we live in gratitude of this amazing gift called life we can actually learn to respect, empower and carry each other even through these trying times….
ALEX: Tell us about Gravesend?
JOSEPH: It’s a great show. It’s about the 1980s, early ’90s, in Brooklyn, New York. So if you were there in that era, you’re going to love the show. Gravesend season 1 is airing on Amazon Prime right now. With actors William DeMeo, me, Paul Ben-Victor, Louis Lombardi, James Russo, and a great cast, that also includes Nick Turtorro and Peter Gaudio (a local Queens guy), it truly feels authentic. The show is unbelievably good, the cinematography, the story.
ALEX: Everybody now knows about it who didn’t know about it before. Our primary audience is Montauk to Manhattan with Brooklyn being very strong. I have already shared with the people on The Brooklyn Open, a Facebook page and group for artists. They’ll be thrilled that there’s something local for them to watch. I love to watch programs where I can say “Hey, I grew up there.”
…In the early days of quarantine, Sandy embarked on a quest to make virtual drumming lessons a reality. He loves his tried-and true-method of playing with his students using the two drum sets in his studio but found that adjusting the sound and synchronization over zoom was too great of a challenge. Instead, he provides a demonstration and discussion, then asks the student to play. Sandy tweaks the speaker and microphone settings so both he and the student are satisfied with the sound. …
…“The results from the video classes are in some ways better than in person classes. (Simultaneous demonstration and working time) pushes the students to try new things and to work faster,” says Jan. “I will continue to use this method of instruction in my classes when we can meet again in person. While nothing replaces actual in person classes – and I want to resume them as soon as possible – this has been a saving grace, not just for me but for of my students as well. Some of them were alone and feeling overwhelmed. It gave us all a sense of purpose and belonging. And I am so excited with the results!” …
…Barbara studied under the late Kitty Klich for one year and then for a year with Bonnita Budysz, a world-wide artist. Barbara’s work has an impressionist aire to it. She has had her paintings accepted into juried shows in NE Wisconsin. She has been part of several group exhibits with the Water’s Edge Artists and the Green Bay Arts Unlimited groups. Last year her work was in a co- exhibit with another artist; she had her first solo exhibit in August & September of 2020 at the Steele Street Trading Co. & … …through wooded areas. Not everyone lives where there is access to natural beauty, so I like to share with others through my artwork. I believe that when I help others, they will in turn help me directly or indirectly. So I give back in these ways. …
As a self-taught emerging artist, my work in oils is reflective of architecture, flora, landscape and street scenes that I’ve photographed in my travels, especially during a trip to Ireland, however the beauty of Long Island offers unsurpassed opportunities to create. The serenity of the East End, whether it’s on one of the undulating sea shores or in a bright lavender field, brings me to the canvas. Butterflies and birds take …
…When I first arrived in the United States at age 11, I had interest in other activities such as sports, but later on, When I became about 14 years old, I got more interested in filmmaking and photography again. I started out shooting action sport pictures for school and kept getting featured on the magazine for my work. It was a start but I also enjoyed fine art photography. I kept learning everything starting from the settings, composition, editing etc. I improved very much and learned through experiences by myself. ..
Robyn: Yes. My favorite shoot with you was in the woods because we did four different photo shoots in one. I felt free to be whatever it was I was feeling in the moment. I brought several costume changes that were easy where I could just throw something on over what I was wearing and it totally transformed it. Not only was I free to express myself through movement ’cause I do dance and art modeling and I’ll work that into it.
One of the greatest things I can receive as an artist is freedom to express myself. It’s always easy to work with you because you’re always open to my ideas and I could just emote. When I saw the photographs afterward, I looked at what you saw and you captured the angles, the moments when it felt very intense and expressive for me, and you captured these beautifully. Sometimes you would give minimal guidance, like what we got from the fairy shot that turned that into such magic.
I didn’t know what you were seeing and when I saw the finished work …
you did Photoshop to it, the green one where I’m reaching out… I could not have done that work on my own. I can be on my end and do my part, but I that collaboration is necessary in order for me to gain something much greater than myself that I couldn’t have done on my own.
Alex: If you look at the different photos that we’ve got, they’re very, very different they don’t even look like they’re from the same shoot or same session. It’s almost like you changed costume then the whole world changed around you. You used the term transformation before and it was just an amazing thing for me to capture. Then there are limitations when you’re in nature about what’s there, so there has to be in my eyes a capture process and for me, the capture starts with capturing who you are at peak moments of emotion and then trying to enhance that to tell the story. So the collaboration is ongoing and it continues from the time we decided we’re going to do a shoot.
Sometime around 2008, the realization hit me fully and I changed my working title at Concierge Photography from Photographer to Photographic Artist (and added Director of Photography the last couple of years when I started directing photography and lighting for local indy director, Maria Sawoch Filipone). And the change came very suddenly. Typically, I endeavored to capture an image in the camera, and it either met my objective or it didn’t. I built up a small library of really good photographs, and a really large library of, to quote Agent 86, “Missed it by that much!”
One image convinced me to change from what I categorized as a Capture mindset to a Create mindset. Although it started as 2 images I took while running race committee for Sagamore Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, I saw potential for something better and I sat down in my first serious Photoshop session. About 9 hours later, I had created an image called Happy Fleet. I won’t bore you with the details, but the image Illustration of the Year for Professional Photographers of Greater New York, and Town of Oyster Bay People’s Choice Environmental Photo of the Year awards. It’s one of my bestselling artworks.
Yeah, that’s what I’m really proud of. It’s not a tribute band. I do a lot of cover music and I do it my way. I work a lot with Eric Schwartz and the people that have come on board with me, and help support the vision and really believe in what we’re doing. It’s something I’m very proud of, I’m sure in the history of entertainment there have been similar concepts, but as of right now there’s nothing like it, it is like a variety show. We come out, interact with the audience. One of the things I’m really proud of is it’s not a tribute show, it’s a tribute but in pieces, you know.
Alex: Well you play so many different genres and artists in a single show. You mentioned Eric Schwartz. He leads the horn section and horns really bring a lot of depth to any music and in some cases even leads in parts of the show.
Billy: Yeah, so, you know the greatest thing is that I can sit down for a couple minutes to do stand up. It’s not straight stand up. It’s not straight Impressions and all this and maybe some John Travolta and some David Lee Roth or an Ozzie Osbourne impression, but I can incorporate all of that stuff to introduce songs, and also with it telling the story of my life and what really turns me on as a performer, and I think it really comes out in the show.
AW: And I’m seeing something over there on the chair (referring to Maya’s paint pallet)
MF: Yeah, it is my, one of my tools. So I mix and match my paints and millions of brushes that I have – I draw, I paint, with anything that I see next to me. So, that could be an art piece as well –
AW: Yes, I was thinking that we’d photograph it and use that as part of the article.
MF: They actually have that in the city. They have like a big, I forgot what it’s called, they have a collection of… from the different artists –
AW: The palettes –
MF: The palettes from different artists, from, centuries, and they’re selling them as art pieces.
AW: I think they are. You want to hear a funny story, I went to Jackson Pollock’s house, are you familiar with Jackson Pollock? He does, he’s passed away quite a few years, but he did drip and splatter paintings. He lays canvas on the floor, and would spread his paint, and move it all over the place, and a lot of his paint would miss the canvas. So around the edges of the canvas, you’d have all this paint splatter. I made artwork by photographing his paint splatter.
MF: Oh, well that’s, that’s very interesting.
AW: It was awesome to see. What pieces are you working on now?
MF: Well, this I just finished. And I’m working on the piece ‘Medusa’ for past three years’ I believe. I wanted to bring character to it and thoughts. It’s still in my head.
AW: And I’ve noticed you have lots of black and white pieces as well as the color pieces.