KPH_whitesitemap whitesitemap white_sitemap white_sitemap KPH_whitesitemap KPH_whitesitemap KPH_whitesitemap whitesitemap whitesitemap white_sitemap white_sitemap

Kim Parker Blog
 
May 2017  
Harmony   "RSS" feed icon
     
Eclectic designer interiors
     



I love being surrounded by rich color, and decorating with furnishings that create an eclectic, universally harmonious feeling in our home. Beloved objects have the ability to transport the spirit. We form lasting friendships with them as they endear themselves to our hearts over time.

I remember the day my husband and I came upon this large Indian painting of Krishna and cows at the local flea market. My eyes were instantly fixed on the beauty of this hand painted tapestry. It evoked and instant feeling of love with its friendly depiction of cows and flowers. For seventy-five dollars, it became ours. It has been hanging in our bedroom for more than a decade. To it’s left are two small Haitian paintings typically full of exuberant color. They remind me of a trip my family had made to Haiti in the 1970s during the Baby Doc regime. The land was arid and the people poverty stricken, however, the kind nature of the Haitian culture left an indelible mark upon us all. Their joyful spirit somehow always reflected in their paintings. The multi-colored crocheted bedspread found at a flea market is a blanket that was not only made by loving, talented hands (and someone I never met) but, whose heaviness has lent itself to many nights of solid sleep. I feel the connection to all things made from the heart and by hand. They hold a special energy and feeling. The floral pillows are from my own fabric and cushions collection at Clarke & Clarke.

There is great comfort in these cherished objects. I have become all too aware of the importance of creating a feeling of harmony in one’s home interior, especially set against the chaos of the world. It is not shallow to surround oneself with a reminder of what makes the world a beautiful place. It is essential to stay connected to beauty, truth and wellbeing. More and more I find myself not scrolling through Facebook. I started to see too much of the opposite feeling. One of my Facebook friends said to me a year ago, “You can learn a lot about people from their Facebook pages. It is obvious to me that what is important to you is beauty. Whenever I feel unhappy, I go to your page.”

Every morning I awaken to the song of a Robin, who starts singing at about 3:00am. I am always amazed at the beauty of this free concert. Sometimes I cannot fall asleep because I am held captive by its purity. There is no admission to Nature. I have become increasingly aware of the things that are essential to spirit. I am not a preacher nor am I interested in advising others how to “find happiness.” I just want to steer my own small ship towards the sun, towards things that offer peace, harmony and joy in life.

     

     
August 2016  
Leonard Bernstein   "RSS" feed icon
     
"I believe in every artist's life, there is at least one defining moment that stands apart and provides an everlasting foundation of validation to launch one's creative journey" -- Kim Parker
     
     
Leonard Bernstein -- American conductor, pianist,  composer and educator
     
     

Today, August 25th is Leonard Bernstein’s birthday. Every year on this date I find myself reflecting on the great privilege I had at age sixteen to perform under his baton at Tanglewood. I decided to post the chapter from my book Kim Parker Home: A Life in Design (Abrams) that tells the story of this milestone in my life; a tribute to a truly great man whose impact on my life is the gift that keeps on giving.

*********



I believe in every artist’s life, there is at least one defining moment that stands apart, that leaves an indelible mark and provides an everlasting foundation of validation throughout one’s creative journey. One experience in particular that had the most profound emotional effect on me happened when I was in my teens and perhaps served as the most important artistic moment in my life.

When I was sixteen, I spent the summer playing in an orchestra at Tanglewood, the summer residence of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. These summers were filled with not only the extraordinary beauty of the Berkshires, but great music, and great musicians whom we had the incredible privilege of working closely with.

Leonard Bernstein was in residence at Tanglewood, the summer of my sixteenth year, and had long been my hero since I was very little. His pictures graced my bulletin board by the time I was eight. I used to privately leap with excitement behind my bedroom door while listening to a recording of him conducting Beethoven's "Leonore Overture No.3". Bernstein had an exuberance that no other musician ever paralleled in my opinion. He was in love with life, and for me, embodied everything that constituted creative genius.

My flute teacher at Tanglewood was the former co-principal flutist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Paul Fried. One morning, Paul called me and said, “Kim, tomorrow Leonard Bernstein is conducting your orchestra, and the orchestra is going to be playing a piece he just finished composing, his "Divertimento for Orchestra". I have assigned you Principal Flute for this piece in rehearsal tomorrow under his baton. If you come to the concert tonight you’ll have a chance to hear it for the first time. We’re premiering the piece.”

These words were like an emotional electric shock. My dream was coming true. I was about to play for Leonard Bernstein, my hero. Of course I took my teacher's advice and went to hear the premiere of his new orchestral work that evening. I had hoped, I suppose, by attending the Boston Symphony concert, that the flute part would not be something too demanding as I knew I would not be able to see the part for more than a few minutes prior to rehearsal the next morning.

At the concert that evening I listened carefully to each movement. Suddenly, three quarters of the way through the piece, there was a lengthy flute solo that opened the third movement. There it was, this shining oasis for the flute alone, in the middle of this symphonic work.

I didn't sleep that night. The notion of having Leonard Bernstein a few feet away from me on a podium the next morning, conducting his music, was beyond a dream. If we were playing something from the standard orchestral repertoire, a Brahms or Beethoven, Tchaikovsky or Mahler symphony - that would have been fine, as I was familiar with those parts. But the next morning our orchestra would be the second orchestra ever, to play this new work of his, and there was a flute solo I had never performed. If ever I was going to have to be " note perfect", tomorrow was the day.

The next morning, I had literally fifteen minutes to sit with the flute part prior to rehearsal. I of course used it wisely, going directly to the third movement to look over the solo passage. Moments later, Bernstein entered the rehearsal hall, full of life and love, energy and joy upon the podium.

“Good morning, “ he said ebulliently. “How many of you came to the concert last night?,” he asked. He paused for a moment and turned to me and asked, “Flute, what is your name?” to which I replied, “Kim.” “Kim,” he said warmly, “I want to start with the flute solo in the third movement. The meter is a bit tricky, but just follow me, I will conduct you through it.” And all I remember was that for the first four or five bars of the flute solo, I paid very close attention to his every gesture on the podium, following the tempo he had indicated. But soon after that, I took off on my own, playing through the entire solo passage as if I had known the music my whole life. One note led to the next, effortlessly. All fear fell away as I was lifted into what I can only describe as a state of total euphoria, musically. I was no longer following his baton, but taking flight freely on my own with the beauty of his music.

What I had not noticed, while playing, was that Bernstein had gently stopped conducting me long before, allowing me to continue to play this solo to the end, un-conducted. And when I finished, he came down off the podium, parting a Red Sea of music stands, until he reached mine, and took my face in his hands, kissed me, and said, "My dear Kim, you are an artist."

When I look back on this experience, (which took place over twenty seven years ago) I realize what an emotional milestone it was. It was the defining moment for me as a musician, and from that point on, I knew, that had I never performed again, I could go to my grave musically fulfilled. Over the years, I have come to appreciate more deeply the gift the Universe bestowed on me that summer. Not only had I played for my hero, but even more Divinely, I was given the precious opportunity and gift to play his music. This moment provided me with the greatest set of creative wings I could ever have asked for, freeing and permitting me to take artistic flight in any direction.


     

     
July 2016  
Father of the Flowers   "RSS" feed icon
     
     


I recently came upon this beautiful video of the life of a father and son in war-torn Syria. Abu Ward, known as “The Father of the Flowers” and his son Ibrahim lived amid the ruins of their beloved city Aleppo. Surrounded by the wreckage of a once thriving, cultural city, they managed to create a piece of paradise, a nursery full of plants and flowers growing rosemary and small potted evergreens to roses lovingly nurtured. Creating this garden sanctuary amid the rubble and dust brought hope and a feeling of life back to those who remained there.

We ordinary people own the whole world. The world is ours,” he said joyfully against the backdrop of bombs falling. “The sound of war is like Beethoven’s music. We have become accustomed to this music, and without it we couldn’t manage, so we think of it as music now,” he said.

I am reminded of how the human spirit can be something so incredible when faced with great challenges. Sometimes when I am walking here in the streets of New York City, just a simple smell or visual can trigger a memory taking me to places once traveled. I am aware that we possess the ability to transport ourselves, to hear music or find beauty where it might seem least likely to exist.

In the face of devastation, Abu Ward found a way to bring beauty back by planting shoots of green, and flowers providing hope where there was little. He gave his son the most beautiful gift a father could give, manifesting a piece of paradise with an inextinguishable passion for life; the precious tools for survival.

It moved me especially as I am a painter of flowers and have always looked to painting gardens for sanctuary and healing. It is difficult to accept that bombs are dropped on such beautiful people. Tragically, Abu Ward lost his life shortly after this video was made. Thankfully, his story and his voice are being heard. He said, “Flowers help the world, and there is no greater beauty than flowers. And when you smell them, they nourish your heart and soul,” and lastly, The essence of the world is a flower.”

YouTube Video Link:   Inside Aleppo: the Tale of the fllower-seller

 

     
     
     

     
May 2016  
A Beloved Man   "RSS" feed icon
     
Ernest Taub in Memoriam 2016
     


Ernest Taub was my beloved stepfather. He was pure joy and love. He was gentle, kind, humble and generous; a Brooklyn boy of Polish, Jewish descent. I was eighteen years old when Ernie entered my life. He brought kindness into a home that sorely needed it. I watched him joyfully dancing with my mother in the living room to jazz, a sight so new to my young eyes. His favorite poem by EE Cummings was, “If Ups the Word” that he recited many times with great flair and feeling to us over the years. Ernie knew all about celebrating life. That’s what he did every day. He couldn’t even hand you a bag of chips and soda for the car ride back to the city without a generosity of spirit.

I remember in my mid twenties carting my first abstract canvases to the house to show mom and Ernie, leaning them all up against the old Oak tree on our front lawn. I remember how Ernie studied and carefully observed each one. He shook his head incredulously asking me what I was thinking when producing them. He had a way of making you feel special. That was one of his many gifts. He was a great educator; tennis and sports enthusiast; connoisseur of art, jazz, poetry, literature and of life! He loved to work with collage, experimenting for a time and producing an impressive body of abstract paintings. But it was his soul that was his real masterpiece.

During difficult passages in my life, Ernie knew where to guide me. I spent twenty years working with my healer Gil, his dear friend. He simply had an instinct for helping others, steering them gently towards self- empowerment.

For the past 35 years, I know how incredibly lucky we have all been to have such a wonderful soul in our lives teaching us by example what unconditional love felt like. My husband Felipe called his passing, "monumental." Even the local baker whom he bought his gluten -free cookies from in town, cried when hearing the news. Everyone felt his joy that flowed so effortlessly from his beautiful heart.

Right now it feels as though the Sun has gone away. My friend Sonia said, “Kim, It is just a time of passing... That’s what is difficult. But once he does, he will be with you again. You know that.” As I take a deep breath, I realize that such a bright Light in this world could never really be extinguished. He taught by pure example, the importance of kindness and non-judgment. He was patient and wonderfully engaging, interested in everything life offered. Ernie simply illuminated everyone and everything around him, casting his everlasting love and compassion over all of our hearts.


     

     
October 2015  
A Walk in the Park   "RSS" feed icon
     
New York in Autum by Kim Parker
     


It’s autumn now and who can’t feel the poetry in the air? On a morning walk to the Union Square market I see how the red roses, once vibrantly thriving in the summer sun, have now turned their faces downward, petals surrendered to the inevitable. The leaves have gone from a luminous green to olive-brown, some golden like shillings. An orange Maple shocks the local park with one, last, passionate outcry. At the market there are bouquets of Bittersweet and Eucalyptus, Dahlias and wooden crates of multi-colored gourds that call to mind jester’s hats, warty reptile flesh and Gaudi. Crisp apples are set apart by name in wooden crates, rosy like a Cezanne still life. There are pies of all kinds readying our appetites for Thanksgiving, while tapping memories of family gatherings past. The Tibetan and Mexican farmer’s market vendors stand behind their scales with familiar smiles and greetings. One in particular stands out. I remember a late summer’s day when I asked him for flowers that were going to be discarded and I was handed five, huge bouquets of fresh Dahlias. My arms suddenly overloaded with Heaven. I was literally speechless while my husband responded, “How perfect, for the girl who has given so many flowers to the world.”

I cherish these morning walks before the city fully awakens. I like our East Village neighborhood with its not so perfect, slightly edgy, Spanish-flavored, crate-sitting old-timers who have witnessed the partial gentrification of their hood. The old, Russian Souvenir shop on 14th Street, finally closed as I had thought it might for twenty years. In its soot- covered front window were Russian trinkets and one pair of Finift hand painted porcelain earrings, the first official gift my husband bestowed upon me. On the inside, heaps of Eastern European war artifacts, religious statues, more jewelry and a man who looked to be as old as time would allow. I have to admit that my heart sank to my feet when I saw the store finally boarded up. My dear old, Irish friend Jim, a kid of the Great Depression once said of such a closing that it “made him sad” because it was, “the death of a dream.”

I don’t like everything to be beautiful all the time. I also enjoy finding beauty where it’s least likely to appear. That was why we elected not to live in the beautiful Park Slope, Brooklyn, with all of its gorgeous blocks of elegant brownstones and small yards lovingly nurtured. There is something about symmetry that leaves me less excited. I prefer a block with a mixture of architectural eras; where both a feeling of struggle and gentrification coexist. There is tension, truth, and a sense of survival. It reminds me that everything teeters on the edge of something, like the rose facing downward, beside the Evergreen standing confidently. To be alive is to witness. It is to gather like a mad harvester; to take into our heart as much truth and beauty as it can hold. To walk fully is not to stare into our iphones. I know I am equally guilty of this behavior, but as a painter of flowers, I will not allow myself to be seduced by a world so void of sensuality. We cannot forget how to stare into our dog’s soulful eyes, or through the branches of a tree that lead us to an open sky. We cannot forget how to look up, smile and say hello. And as DH Lawrence once wrote: “For man, as for flower, beast and bird, the supreme triumph, is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive.”


 

July 2015  
Dancing on Walls   "RSS" feed icon
     
     
Red Tulips designer fabric from the Kim Parker collection for Clarke & Clarke. Copyright Kim Parker Inc. 2015. All rights reserved
     


This month is a truly special time for me as it is the introduction of my new fabric and wallpaper collection with Clarke & Clarke of London; a dream and vision I have held in my heart since childhood.

As a young girl, my bedroom walls were papered in a dainty floral print that even then, felt slightly timid to my eyes. My bedspread and matching curtains had a gorgeous cranberry and pink floral pattern against white, echoing the apple blossoms that grew outside my window. Without realizing, surrounded by flowers, my bedroom held the early inspirations for my future in floral design. Even my favorite childhood books that were all of English origin, had themes connected to the garden.

One such book was “Sarah’s Room” with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. “In Sarah’s room green trees grow tall and Morning Glories bloom, and of all the rooms in all the world, the best is Sarah’s room,” were the book’s opening words describing papered-walls in bold vines and flowers, larger than the ones on my bedroom walls. Those black and white wallpaper illustrations captured my imagination, and although the book was just palm-sized, somehow it was all the more precious.

“The Secret Garden,” by Francis Hodgson Burnett, was my other favorite childhood book, an English classic of course, again focusing on the theme of the garden. This magical book was about a neglected garden and three sweet children who brought it back to life with their loving efforts. My Mother read me a chapter each night and I recall how we both couldn’t wait for the next installment. I remember clearly the anticipation I felt when Mary, Dickon and Colin opened the garden door that first time, after a Robin had unearthed its key. As it had not been tended for many years, it was overgrown and wild. I believe the dream of wanting to create my own gardens on walls and fabrics really took root at that tender age. I was already painting and drawing flowers, guided by my own natural connection to rich color and Nature. My vision was never about symmetry, like the dainty floral pattern in repeat on my own bedroom walls. The gardens I had envisioned were wilder, more organic and free.

For many years in my design life, the category of wallpapers and fabrics had been the one that I coveted most. My husband and I met with many fine companies over a fourteen -year period, trying to find that perfect dance partner who would bring this vision to faithful fruition. Many were too conservative, using Document or archival patterns; taking a “safer” more traditional approach for wall coverings and fabrics. Others simply were not the right dance partners whose temperament did not speak of joy to me. For many years we carefully navigated the industry, meeting with Design Directors and company presidents both abroad and in the US, waiting like expectant parents to birth this child. Just the other day the Design Director for my tableware collections at Lifetime Brands, said, “Kim, you are really unique in the way you have navigated the design industry. You really follow your heart and you go with what feels right for you, and that sets you apart.”

The road to this wallpaper and fabric designer collaboration with Clarke & Clarke of London was indeed a long one; requiring tremendous patience and perseverance that led to the birth of a dream. I wanted to have garden walls that would bring the abundance and joyfulness of Springtime into the home all year round. No dreary winter’s day could stop this garden from blooming! This was a child I had protected and nurtured for years. She would become a dancer on walls; opening her heart and leaping joyfully; swinging the door open to the Secret Garden like never before.


     

     
June 2015  
A Slice of the Apple   "RSS" feed icon
     
     
     



For the past six months my husband and I have been searching for a new home in Manhattan-- ever since our landlords informed us that when our lease ended at the end of June, they wanted a family member to occupy our brownstone apartment of fifteen years. Typical me, no sooner had I heard this, I was already online looking at places, beginning what would become an “odyssey”- viewing 160 apartments from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, out to houses on Long Island and in Florida.

My life was suddenly this huge white, open canvas. We discussed living abroad in Spain or France, then during the bitter cold winter, Florida. Conversations with agents seemed endless. I had no idea that over the past fifteen years while living in a virtual real estate bubble, paying a pretty steady rent without fail, that the new landscape would present a number of challenges when finding our next home. It was now necessary to share a lot of personal financial information with agents and landlords who expected you to prove your financial worth through a sharing of 2 years worth of tax returns, bank statements and of course a credit report. Fifteen years ago, a solid credit rating and down payment were enough. Bloomberg must have changed all of that.

But this was not the only new reality we were facing. When one has been living in a certain zip code in Manhattan for thirty years as we have done, it is hard to turn one’s back on community, network of doctors, vets, etc. With every day, week and month that passed, this zip code became more meaningful somehow. In January we fell in love with Clinton Hill, Brooklyn with all of its Victorian charms, trying to recapture the beloved brownstone feeling we had cherished for fifteen years. We then migrated to Park Slope where we realized proximity to the great Prospect Park would be ideal for our dog Wendy and for us as well, as it had always been a place we adored visiting. A dear Brooklyn friend gave us grand tour in the middle of the frigid winter through its brownstone streets, pointing out all of its charms and offerings. He put a beautiful face on every street, like a true mayor could do. We came away moved and grateful for such an introduction, so much so that we put our first “good faith deposit” on a brownstone apartment on 9th Street, right across the street we were told from one of the best jazz clubs and patisseries. But right before signing on the dotted line, my husband got cold feet. He was the boy who grew up on Riverside Drive. Brooklyn seemed like a foreign country to him. He was having a clear -cut case of anxiety and so we bolted, losing the $1000 deposit.

So we took our love of brownstones to the Upper West Side. That was his idea and I actually liked it. Proximity to Central Park was definitely appealing and I was always enchanted by all of those Beaux Arts mansions along Riverside Drive as well as the elegant old brownstone apartments closer to the park. But what became a reality about these elegant facades was how poorly managed many of the interior spaces were. Many windows faced brick walls not green trees. Many kitchens had appliances that were filthy or in serious need of updating. I am not a snob by any means. My kitchen of fifteen years in Gramercy was pretty pathetic. Even though our apartment had been profiled in numerous design magazines, the kitchen was never featured, and for a good reason. Bedrooms couldn’t even accommodate more than a bed with windows facing black airshafts. Many elevators were faulty and frightening to ride, and some of the most elegant buildings nearer to Riverside Drive housed apartments that reeked of cat urine. Some tenants openly confessed while packing their belongings that the place was “rodent infested”, saying on their way out, “Tell management to seal the spaces between the walls and floors because there’s a real mouse problem. But it is a good place.” One realtor walked me into an apt that had just been rented and some young, handsome Indian man walked out of the shower half naked shocked that we were inside his new place. One beautiful prewar building along Central Park West with perfect views of our beloved reservoir had a concert pianist who practiced non-stop all day long in the apartment above. The agent confessed that they were having trouble renting it for that reason. Down in Battery Park City, we were even shown an apartment whose windows were facing the Holocaust Museum; a depressing daily reminder, one of history's darkest moments. Some buildings had serious histories of bedbugs, something that freaked us out completely. Agents still tried selling you on an apartment even if it had had a recent infestation.

Rental cars, taxi fares, buses and subways became the daily routine for six months straight. We crossed Central Park on foot from East to West through the snowy drifts of January to the humid days of summer. Those walks were indeed magical even amid our exhaustion, always reminding us of a city we loved.

But the process started to take a heavy physical and emotional toll on us. It wasn’t just financially draining, but also, emotionally. Every time we returned to Gramercy Park, whether from the Hamptons in LI, Forest Hills, my hometown of Huntington, Brooklyn or even the Upper East or West Sides, my husband and I felt like we were in mourning regarding our own zip code. Walks through the local Union Square flower market brought tears to my eyes. The downtown area had a certain tempo we were accustomed to, even the architecture, the general pace of life was different from other parts of the city and surrounding areas. Downtown the rents had almost tripled since we’d moved into our place fifteen years ago. The apartments we were seeing for $3200 per month were just a ridiculous 400 square feet. After about thirty apartment viewings downtown, we looked in other neighborhoods, realizing that we were being forced out as the downtown area had become “the most desirable zip code,” unless we wanted to pay almost double what we had been paying. Designer, decorator, photographer and artist friends of ours all confessed that had this happened to them, they would never be able to afford living in Manhattan again. They couldn’t prove that they were earning 40x their monthly rent.

The few apartments we did see along the way and put an application down on also came with other issues- like a landlord whose lease said “pet friendly” but when push came to shove he backed out, feeling apprehensive he said, about living below a dog. Another one slipped away because someone was paid under the table.

I am not good at making my mind up fast- when it comes to choosing a home. “Home” for me makes itself known either instantly, like our brownstone apartment had, or slowly. There’s no such thing as “time” in the NY rental apartment market. If you don’t make up your mind, someone right behind you will. They won’t be offended by the stench of cat pee, or upset by a bedbug history.

It was at the buzzer, the first week of June that the Gods miraculously delivered. After a very steamy day looking at places in Harlem, at newly constructed apartments that had no closets or square footage, I was literally bent over with exhaustion. It was upon arrival home that day that I said to my husband, “I think we should revisit Stuyvesant Town in our neighborhood.” I had never envisioned living in a community of tall brick buildings. I always envisioned myself somehow in something more classic, European. So I called the agent I had met with a few times before, and she said, “Can you move next week? Something just came up.” When she told me it had windows facing south looking over trees (not bricks) and that it had almost 800 square feet, I bolted to her office. When we walked into the apartment my husband and I looked at each other incredulously. It was “home.”

In the end, I guess what defines “home” is where the heart is. Maybe an elegant Brooklyn brownstone could have been home, or a house in Huntington, or cottage in Sarasota, Upper East Side modern apartment, or a Queens prewar gem with typical arched doorways, but none of these places ever captured our hearts. We even, against our instincts went to Trump’s cold wall of buildings along the Hudson that offered no parks nor a stitch of greenery-- just cold steel and an almost eerie “Shining-esque” kind of loneliness along the West Side Highway.

In the end, what defines a “home” is community, energy, a favorite restaurant, and the memories that create the stories of our lives. We might not think that the local shoe repairman’s smile or flower market four times a week really matters, but it does. My eyes took in many offerings over the past six months. My Buddhist healer taught me to listen to my body, and to trust what it was saying. Throughout this process that is exactly what I did. My husband and I navigated the high seas of New York real estate together. We held tightly to what we had envisioned for ourselves, and just when we were ready to surrender, that perfect place we would build our next nest appeared saying, “Welcome Home.”

     

     
December 2014  
Hallelujah   "RSS" feed icon
     
     
     



As the holiday approaches, I find I am feeling gratitude for many things. We have been busy with new designer collaborations. Some will launch just as the New Year enters in, and others that have been in the works for the past year or two, will be introduced in the coming months. It has been an intensely creative period where I often found myself in my studio painting textile designs to the sweet chirp of the cardinal out my back window, or to the music of Astor Piazzolla. I entered into a meditative commitment producing designs for all the various new licensing partnerships. It was an amazing stretch of output and inspiration. As I am now witnessing these designs doing their dance upon these new product surfaces I am full of delight.

Visits from friends from overseas and family graced the in- between -moments over the past months, refueling my paintbrushes with love. My morning walks to the gym were full of life. Everything illuminated by gratitude, the simplest infusions, like the fresh smell of cilantro at the farmer's market, or the boy handing out Babka samples in front of my favorite bakery.

I am feeling both an artistic and spiritual freedom that I know has come from a lot of hard work. Parting ways with a business partner of fifteen years required a kind of courage I did not think I possessed. For weeks I processed the pros and cons, recognizing ultimately that it represented an old script that no longer served me. I was able to say farewell with gratitude for both the abundance it had once brought as well as the challenges it ultimately imposed. As I let go, watching the balloons fly into the air, I felt free and light as if having defected from some repressive regime. I took the chance, and the reward instantly presented itself in the form of opportunities, inspiration and clarity.

In the coming year we will launch fabrics and wallpapers, dinnerware, bedding, a new collection of wall art, a new fine art calendar, fashion accessories, tech accessories, and more. And as the news reports continue to roll in, reminding us of a world that appears to be in chaos and lacking in Light, I still remain hopeful. I will always be a believer in beauty and kindness, and that Love will prevail.


 

     
September 2014  
Points of Light   "RSS" feed icon
     
     
 
     
     


As the summer comes to a close I look back on all the events, the family gatherings, beach excursions, business meetings, and times with friends, and am grateful for the balance they provided. It was a summer of new designer collaborations, of new product launches, and preparation for others upcoming. I was often with paintbrush in hand, feeling deeply inspired, noticing that my gardens were becoming even more vibrant.

I often feel that when the world seems to be moving in a more chaotic direction, I am somehow filled with the desire to balance it by immersing myself in painting gardens. I have also been noticing certain friends moving in the direction of their Light as well. It makes me wonder whether the Universe is calling all forces of Light to come forth and brighten the world. I believe that all of us are responsible for what we emit energetically. We are all Points of Light. We all possess the ability to make the world a more beautiful place.

My husband Felipe and I had the great privilege of again attending another live concert at Symphony Space about a week ago, of our friend, and legendary Brazilian musician and composer, Egberto Gismonti. I cannot find words to express what it feels like to be in the presence of such beauty in the world; to be given such an immense gift. We sat rapt by this great sonic weaver whose musical compositions for the past thirty years have been a source of my greatest inspiration and the accompaniment to my own creative process. You could hear a pin drop in the hall. People came with deep respect and excitement as he played one full hour on guitar (solo) and then on piano. I said to him afterward in the greenroom, “For once I am speechless. I know what it took to play two straight hours without an intermission, what energy was involved for you. Sadly, for me though Egberto, it felt like five minutes.” He took my hands and said smiling, “It felt like five minutes for me too Kim.”

This is the way it feels to love one’s creative process, to be immersed in something that carries you away and takes you on a journey so personal, that there is no sense of time. I know that feeling well. That is why I left my own classical musical career behind, trading it in for painting gardens. It was that timelessness that I wanted to feel all the time.

When I paint gardens I cannot remember one isolated moment, one flower that went down. It was just the over-arching sense of creating a garden that mattered. Gismonti creates his own gardens too, and the only thing to do is to listen. We are given the privilege of walking with him. He takes us to a place where you feel the evidence of God. It’s like watching Matisse paint.

These are the things that remind us what a gift Life can be. Even the walk Felipe and I took up the Upper West Side two hours before the concert started, gazing at the beautiful Beaux Arts architecture, and the lovely Argentine couple whom we met on line outside beforehand who shared their excitement with us, (and whose wife sweetly grabbed my hand in the middle of the concert to squeeze it incredulously) were all part of the program. I am thankful, and certain, that everything will no doubt find its way into another garden.


Egberto Gismonti Live on Youtube


     

     
June 2014  
Mary Abrams   "RSS" feed icon
     
     


When I was growing up in Huntington, LI, one of my mother’s closest friends was Mary Abrams. Visits to her Victorian house were always a treat for me as a young girl. Mary’s home interior was the living equivalent of any Vuillard painting. There were beautiful Victorian antiques strewn with gorgeous throws, pillows, paintings, books, and beautiful wallpapers. Every room was simply a feast for the eyes.

But best of all were Mary’s beautiful oil paintings. I remember her many canvases leaning up against walls and in stairwells, one amazing painting after the next depicting gorgeous interiors, their beach home in Northport, landscapes, still -lives- all equal in beauty in my opinion, to any Bonnard painting. My very young eyes could never get enough of Mary’s work. (I did not know then that my own life would lead me in the direction of becoming a painter.) Her color sense was extraordinary. She could capture the essence of a snowy scene with a refined application of grey or white. Her interiors of screened porches with white wicker chairs were reminiscent of the work of Fairfield Porter whom I know she greatly admired. You wanted to enter into the interiors Mary painted where sometimes her beloved Dachshund was curled up cozily on sofa or hassock. They were richly eclectic, harmonious and embracing.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to amass photographs of her paintings with her husband Norman in hopes of getting an art book published on her incredible body of work. She had been profiled by The New York Times, and had numerous gallery shows in the NY area throughout her life.

While putting this manuscript together, I realized how grateful I was to her, to have had such an inspiration in my life as a painter. She was a teacher, but one I rarely discussed painting with. When showing her my portfolio of hundreds of hand painted silk textile designs, almost twenty years ago, I remember with what enthusiasm she gazed upon my work as I lay each silk piece down, and what that meant to me. I gave her one of my favorite hand painted silk pieces at that time, which she then framed for her art studio.

One afternoon in my mother’s house, I brought a canvas of a garden I had painted to give to my Grandmother Grace as a house present because she had just moved into a new home. Mary was visiting that afternoon and watching in our living room as my eighty-something year old Grandmother clearly did not understand my own bold use of color nor abstract approach to painting gardens. (Grace was used to more traditional looking art.) After Grace politely rejected my painting, Mary said instantly, “Kim, I will take it! It’s beautiful!” words that meant more to me than my Grandmother having wanted it.

My husband Felipe built her website (www.MaryAbrams.net). We have both loved living amid her beautiful paintings in our home for years, one of which she gave to me after our book project had finished that she knew I loved. It is a simple snapshot of her screened porch whose brilliant use of white and overall economy, perfectly illustrate the extraordinary gift she possessed.

 
     

     
March 2014  
An Invitation to Dance   "RSS" feed icon
     
     
 
     
     



Every March my husband Felipe and I go to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center. This ritual always hits the refresh button, leaving us feeling exhilarated and inspired by his profound connection to life and beauty- through music, choreography and costume.

While looking out over the entire ballet theatre, with its jeweled balconies and red velvet seats, a place where as a child my parents had taken me, I felt nostalgic for a distant past as well excited in being treated to such an expression of beauty.

The first dance piece on the program was set to a string orchestral work by Handel; the perfect Baroque opener. It was light, sensual and joyful. The costumes were diaphanous sky blue, helping to create the illusion of something Heaven sent.

My husband and I squeezed each other’s hands throughout the performance. We were witnessing something so extraordinary that we could not believe we were there. There were passionate leaps of joy, and playful, Bourree-like gestures in bare feet; circles formed calling to both our minds, Henri Matisse’s painting “La Danse.”

Later in the program, the dancers stomped their heels to the music of Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, in a palette of blacks, deep greens and rusts, skirts flying up with garters, and a kind of sensuality through syncopation that left us dancing out the front door when it all ended.

Each year I come away from the ballet with the feeling that we live in a city that is full of incredible riches. Such high quality performances are going on every day; great exhibitions are hung in museums, and sources of inspiration are simply everywhere. I am reminded of how beautiful it is to devote one’s life to any art form. To dedicate one’s life to bringing joy and beauty into the world means to live an inspired life.

One dream I have had for many years is to design a set for the ballet- in particular The Paul Taylor Dance Company. Every year that we attend his performances, I have come away with this feeling. I am certain that I could paint an exuberant fantasy garden backdrop for his dancers to leap in front of, a kind of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” mural rich in color. Perhaps if I meditate on it, (as I have done with many things in my life that have thankfully come to fruition) it too will be realized.

But it is also important to dream; to hold the sweetness of hope in one’s heart while passionately moving in its direction without expectation. It is that illuminated hope, sweet yearning and reaching I have seen in Paul Taylor’s work that inspires me so much, that elusive, fine line, between Heaven and Earth.


     
     

     
January 2014  
The Nature of Change   "RSS" feed icon
     
     


A musician friend of mine when recently asked in an interview, what made him happy, replied, “Change.” He spoke of his travels, of visiting countries around the world and seeing different cultures. His response made me think about the word “change” and what it meant to me.

As a painter of flowers, who has probably painted more than a hundred thousand of them in her lifetime, one might wonder how returning to the same theme can remain fresh after so many years. I would not be the first artist of course who fell in love with one concept, passionately and exhaustively exploring it. Artists like Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock for example, were painters who created their own unique language, expressing and exploring the subtle changes that occur within the same subject matter.

I started to think about my own comfort zone, my love for repetition and for painting floral patterns. Then I realized that one of my favorite pieces of classical music, Ravel’s “Bolero” (which I even named one of my designer rugs after) best illustrated the way I felt about life and how brilliantly change could occur within repetition.

Maurice Ravel has always been one of my favorite composers. He was a great colorist. His orchestral music in particular best exemplifies his extraordinary sonic palette; each instrument given its own brilliant hue and moment to shine. In “Bolero" Ravel gives the same irresistible melody to each instrument, first the flute, then the clarinet, and on to each section of the orchestra, until every instrument has played that same hypnotic theme and offered their own unique version of it. This musical masterpiece best illustrates the beauty and the paradox that exists between things that appear static, and things that in fact change.

We all have our daily routines and hear of friends or colleagues who travel the world, and speak of change and adventure. What I have come to understand in my own microcosm is that it is the internal world where the most profound change really occurs. I have enjoyed traveling to many countries and have explored the wonders of many exotic cultures too. It is when I find myself walking to the same locations, or circling the reservoir in Central Park that I have done countless times, that I recognize the more intimate nature of change.

In George Harrison’s song, “The Inner Light” he writes:

(based on Tao te Ching Chapter 47)

Without going out of my door
I can know all things on Earth
Without looking out of my window
I can know the ways of heaven.

The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows

Without going out of your door
You can know all things on Earth
Without looking out of your window
You can know the ways of Heaven.

Arrive without traveling.
See all without looking,
Do all without doing.


     

 
December 2013  
Gil   "RSS" feed icon
     
 
 

Dr. Gil Seifer, PHD, was my beloved mentor and healer for twenty years. From the first day we met it was evident that I was in the presence of an extraordinary soul. My loving stepfather Ernie recommended him to me. I quickly realized that Gil was no ordinary therapist, and did not have a traditional textbook approach.

Gil’s aura was a brilliant sky blue. He devoted most of his lifetime to healing and helping others. His energy was always generous and warm and he personified kindness. I believe pain is the great teacher. Gil had been through many lifetimes in this incarnation, (something we felt we had in common) and as fellow Aquarians, we shared a similar outlook on many things, both with one foot in the spiritual world and the other planted here. Whenever I encountered darkness, he gently showed me the way back to the Light. Sessions were always richly infused with his illuminated wisdom and Buddhist beliefs.

He would say, “You bring beauty into the world my love. The world needs your beauty. If your work touches just one person, you have fulfilled your soul’s purpose. Your painting brings me peace, creativity. When I am having a difficult time, that is where my eyes go.” He would often emphasize how people who were caught up in money had lost their way. He would say, “ Darling, make sure you never forget who you are, and where you have come to now. You are a true emissary of Light.”

Everyone has one great teacher in a lifetime. Gil was mine. He brought clarity to everything we shared. Our communication went beyond words. He was a fine Reiki healer, introducing me to the importance of observation, “mindfulness” and that our breath was a gift. He taught me that taking “baby steps” was nothing to be ashamed of, that in life, all real progress was gradual.

One of our last meetings, a visit on a late summer’s day, I shall never forget. “You are flying darling,” he joyfully said to me when I entered his space, cupping his hands in front of him as if catching my energies in two mitts. “How beautiful you are! What beautiful energy you have brought me today!” I remember I definitely felt like I was flying that day. We talked and laughed, and sat holding hands in silence that overflowed with mutual affection.

I do not know how to summarize twenty something years of work with someone so Divine. I am overwhelmed by his gifts of non-judgment, unconditional love and kindness. That he did not want a memorial service is fitting. His work was his passion. He was able to turn his own painful life experiences into nectar for others.

It will take time for me to find my balance, I know. I don’t believe that dialogue ends when we leave our physical bodies. I believe that our spirits will always be together, as he had whispered to me just before he passed. I believe he is now “soaring” (as his daughter Sandy eloquently put it.) Yes, Gil will soar, with wings I am certain, will be filled with Golden Light.

     
     

     
November 2013  
Design Integrity   "RSS" feed icon
     
 
     
     
     

Whenever my husband Felipe and I drive along the Westside Highway, where once beautiful old New York brownstones and Pre-War buildings graced the surrounding blocks near Lincoln Center, my stomach turns when we pass in front of architect Costas Kondylis’ ugly wall of apartment buildings that overlook the Hudson, commissioned by Donald Trump. So uncharacteristic of elegant New York, and more like something one might find along the coast of Florida, I am reminded of the exaltation of mediocrity, the need for ego gratification, and what I have come upon in my own industry of design, when money is pumped into a brand ad nauseam. Architects like Frank Lloyd Wright (who created the Guggenheim Museum), or Frank Gehry (with his IAC InterActive Corp building), or William Van Alen’s Chrysler Building, have erected structures that will forever be hailed as masterful contributions to this great city.

I am not sold by the meteoric rise to fame no matter how much wealth it garners. I am also not swayed by the force-feeding of an idea that has a money machine behind it. There is a lot of brainwashing going on. The public is often bombarded with the propaganda and promotion of mediocrity, then copied and disseminated for the sole purpose of profit. In my own industry of design I have watched as the “zigzag trend” for instance, (the same motif that Charlie Brown has sported across his chest for over a half a century) has been elevated to new heights and duplicated by countless design companies who apparently are having a tough time finding new and original ideas to develop.

Those Trump Place buildings along the Westside Highway, a beautiful piece of real estate where a community fought hard to keep its old world elegance and charm (but was “Trumped”) sadly lost the argument and battle. Riverside Drive, once considered the Fifth Avenue of its day, with its Beaux Arts mansions, and Parisian aesthetic, was in this particular area dismissed and leveled. Forever New Yorkers will be faced with this architectural travesty. I have actually been inside one of those buildings visiting a client whose view of the Hudson all the way up to the George Washington Bridge was pretty spectacular. One can easily understand why occupying one of those apartments would be very desirable. But from the outside, it is clear that beauty and integrity lost out to the power of money.

I suppose this is a reflection of the times. I am constantly reminded of this in the pages of numerous fashion and design publications. There is a refrain of banality, no new ideas, just a repetition and bombardment of visuals that lack spark and brilliance. Sadly, it seems that the world has become more concerned with, “What is my ROI?” (Return On Investment) above everything else.

It is the slow and steady rise that is everlasting; like Matisse, Wright, Gehry, William Van Alen whose contributions to the world will be forever remembered and cherished as testaments to the importance of beauty and integrity. True beauty heals the world. It is born from a sacred place. It takes more time and effort to manifest and stands the test of time.


 
 
Trump Place
 

     
October 2013  
Form of Love   "RSS" feed icon
     
     


For years I have moved between my love for painting flowers and abstraction. I am always in question about why I always return to the theme of “the garden” and why I cannot seem to exhaust my desire for painting flowers.

Perhaps the reason is because there is sensuality when working with form, a connection to the feminine, a feeling of being rooted to Mother Earth. A flower’s shape is of course a very pleasing and sensual thing, as are leaves and stems. There are certain parameters that are gently understood. Form is a comforting embrace that provides the freedom to dance within its confines, but like a good dance partner, does not inhibit self -expression. When moving away from painting flowers, I have often felt I have abandoned an essential part of myself. There are days when I need to get away from painting them, but inevitably, I always return to the garden.

I watched an interview of Poet Laureate Billy Collins the other night whose words moved me on the subject of “form.” He said, “The pleasure of form is that you have a companion with you, besides all of the poets you’ve ever read. The candles of the page are lit by those poets of the past. To write poetry is to be alone, but you always have the company of the form itself, which has a kind of consciousness. The sonnet will simply tell you that’s too many syllables, too many lines, or that’s the wrong place. So instead of being alone, you are in dialogue with the form.”

I am also reminded of a passage from one my favorite poems, “Birches” by Robert Frost where he writes:


I’d like to get away from Earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, til the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

     

     
September 2013  
Legacy of Beauty   "RSS" feed icon
     
 



I have been a huge tennis fan for years. It’s a sport that has both elegance and intelligence and seems most analogous to life; a dialogue that takes place on grass, clay or asphalt. My husband, a nationally ranked college tennis player and I have watched hundreds of matches together. For years, like so many, we have been huge fans of the great Roger Federer. I was not brought up in a family of sport enthusiasts. My parents were interested in classical music and art mainly but I remember tuning into the highly publicized tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs in the 1970s, “The Battle of the Sexes,” on our old black and white Zenith tv set, feeling an early enthusiasm for the sport.

Roger Federer is one of the great contributors of beauty to this world. I would have to put him in the same realm of genius as ballet dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. For years we have been watching him leap and dance upon the court, gracefully turning the game of tennis into an art form like no other before him. He taught us that “power hitting” was not a necessary key to winning, even though he could hit a hard ball and return the toughest of serves from any opponent. His beautiful backhand, his pointed toes when serving at the baseline, and his non-violent approach to the game put him in a league all his own, making the game into a kind of ballet, while many of his colleagues approaches were largely demonstrations of anger, impatience, impulse, and a desire for power. Roger’s reply to even the wind was always poised and elegant.

While watching his 4th round US Open match the other night, we witnessed points that in the past might have been easier for him to return, but were now somehow getting away from him. I felt at first like I was watching a spider who had lost one of its legs, suffering. It was painful because we had all come to expect this Titan of the tennis world to provide us yet again with the evidence of beauty and perfection. We were not used to his game coming apart. We enjoyed seeing him walk away with the prize.

The sad thing I guess about being an athlete is that the shelf life is pretty short. When the signs of physical struggle begin, we all feel it. I was thinking last night about “beauty” as I often do, and its importance in the world. Painters can go on painting their whole lives. Great classical musicians like Rubinstein and Segovia were able to perform into their old age. I remembered watching a film about Nureyev when he returned to his native Russia, not the great leaper he had once been, but a man stricken with AIDS, still showing signs of all of his brilliance, but tragically, a frail example to his homeland many years later, of the genius dancer he once was.

For us, Federer’s game is still very much alive and beautiful. What occurred to me after watching the match last night, is that there is equal beauty and meaning in embracing one’s “humanity,” our own imperfections. As the slow diminuendo begins for Roger, (as it inevitably does for all athletes), I only hope that he himself never loses sight of his enormous contributions to this world, a world that so needs to be “Fed” such beauty.

The evidence of his “humanity” is also a beautiful thing to behold, reminding us that we are all imperfect, and that we need to embrace that part of ourselves lovingly. Our lives go on. We hopefully find new ways in which to create growth and bring beauty into the world. It is just a turning of the soil really, another chance to dig deeply, and find new meaning in the garden.

 

     
August 2013  
Introducing Petrushka   "RSS" feed icon
     
     





This past winter when I was quietly designing my rug collections for Fall 2013, I found myself returning to my passion for the colors red, black and gold. Behind this design was the music of Stravinsky and Prokofiev, and a love for The Ballets Russes.


I came upon this red textile design of mine in an archive I had not visited for some time. It looked fresh to my eyes and to my heart. It appealed to my desire to be more dramatic, to take chances, to express my passion for all things Russian. I decided to name the rug "Petrushka."

Petrushka is a love story - a ballet by Igor Stravinsky and Alexandre Benois. When I named the rug Petrushka, I didn’t even know that Petrushka, a clown puppet wore red! So the design unknowingly, befitted its title. Sadly however, this love story has a tragic ending. Petrushka falls in love with a fellow puppet that is a beautiful ballerina. The ballerina is repelled by Petrushka and runs in the direction of his diabolical rival, a Moor, another puppet who is handsome and exotic. In the end, there is a fight between the Moor and Petrushka, and tragically, Petrushka is killed. What is beautiful about the story however are the two worlds that exist: a realistic world supposedly represented by the crowd at the circus, who seem oblivious to feeling and who operate without real signs of humanity; and an imaginary world, represented by the puppets, who when brought to life, are full of feeling and tender emotion.

The first time I saw this ballet was when watching a PBS telecast with the great Rudolf Nureyev dancing the lead role as Petrushka. Nureyev’s movements were just that of a puppet. His transformation from puppet to human was unbearably beautiful. I went on You Tube to find a link to this vintage performance and thankfully was able to find a small portion of it- just enough to convey my enchantment with this magical story. My Petrushka rug is a tribute to love, and to a culture that has long inspired me.

YouTube Link to Rudolf Nureyev dancing "Petrushka"

     

     
July 2013  
Mission: Beauty   "RSS" feed icon
     
     



A decorator friend in New York sent me an email the other day that said: “Your vision is very unique and gorgeous. Your color sense is unparalleled. I like things that are unabashedly beautiful. It seems to me our current culture is afraid of real beauty. It prefers edgy, ironic and ugly. It’s time to bring back the concept of REAL BEAUTY. I want to feel dizzy, breathless when I see a fine product. That is how I feel when I look at the items on your website.”

I really appreciated Bill’s words. I have definitely been aware of the exaltation of mediocrity in the design industry. I am not sure whether it is due simply to a lack of imagination, or whether it is a reflection of the times- a surrendering to a world that sadly lacks harmony. The clashing and almost toxic color palettes I have seen featured in some of the design magazines seem almost there for “shock effect.” It feels angry, provocative. It does not speak of peace and harmony to me.

I think of Matisse who, while the world was at war, quietly painted under austere conditions, holding tightly to his brushes while creating an incredible body of beauty for the world. I hold the image and notion of this in my heart all the time. I know that beauty is subjective. I know that one man’s “skull and cross bones” motif is another man’s flower. I understand that art can be reactionary, provocative, and that it is no less “valid” if it blasts you with toxicity. I get all of that. But when it comes to my own sacred space, the place I inhabit, I know I could not live a single minute with any of that. For me, home is a sanctuary. It’s a place that embraces you the moment you come through the door. There’s enough chaos on the outside world. I see it in the city streets every day. I am not oblivious to the mad look in people’s eyes, the sad face of poverty and the stench that emanates from the city sewers. The spectrum of ugliness is surely there. I guess it is a question of survival; one’s ability to bear witness, but to transform negative energy into its opposite. I somehow learned to do this at an early age. I did not come from a peaceful home. My parents were highly gifted musicians and artists, but were always at war with one another. Behind my bedroom door, I learned to create my own “gardens”, painting flowers that burst with exuberant energy- colors that brought harmony and joy into my life. So I guess it is no coincidence that I would forge my way towards a career in painting them.

For some, harmony is a wash of white with a few colorful accents. For others, the richness of color can be experienced more abundantly. Like Bill, my decorator friend, I belong to the unabashedly abundant camp. I too want to feel “breathless” and awed, rather than “shocked.” I doubt I will ever stop striving to create beauty.

     

     
June 2013  
The Writing is on the Wall   "RSS" feed icon
     
     



The Writing is on the Wall

I have always liked the story where Julian Schnabel when once asked, “How long did it take you to make that painting?” replied, “ Only one hour and my entire life.”

Over the past few weeks I have been immersing myself in my love for color. My husband and I are avid walkers. We go on “blog walks” where I keep a camera handy in case something presents itself as inspirational. Just the other day I came across a mosaic wall in decay that I believe was originally created by children. I started snapping away with my camera. There were so many brilliant abstract compositions within the larger mural. There were beautiful color stories to behold. Each detail had amazing negative space and each a successful abstract composition to my eyes.

As soon as I got home I started painting immediately. I turned on “Selva Amazonica,” a musical composition by Egberto Gismonti that somehow seemed analogous to me to the wall with many richly colorful mosaic pieces. The music also brought about the feeling of “saudades” (longing) for the Brazilian landscape that for many years I had been a part of. The combination of an old school wall in decay in downtown Manhattan, and Gismonti’s music, became the unlikely pairing and inspiration from which I leaped passionately into my new work.

I love being able to observe the connection between all things, to recognize the seeds of inspiration and feel gratitude for each one. Even the simple kindness from my local shoe repairman from Russia, who gently replaced the laces on my English walking shoes that morning, found its way into my painting. I believe that every day the weave of life is so rich and replete with gifts. We just need to notice that there is beauty and meaning in the details.



     
     
"Selva" by Kim Parker
     

     
May 2013  
Grace in May   "RSS" feed icon
     
Grace Mont  
 



The past few weeks have been a powerful mixture of emotions, from the death of my beloved Grandmother, to my brother’s Carnegie Recital Hall concert that occurred on the very same day.

I would first like to pay tribute to my loving Grandmother, Grace Mont, whose friendship I cherished for fifty years. Not everyone has had the great fortune of having all four grandparents for as long as I have had mine. Grace, however, was the last one standing. Some of my favorite memories of her took place in my teenage years like when we spent a weekend in Tanglewood together picnicking on the great lawn sharing a glass of wine during the concert, but soon realizing that our legs had fallen asleep beneath us and we couldn’t get up. Soon we broke out into a fit of laughter, tears rolling down our cheeks as we attempted to stand but could not. And at the Lenox Inn where she had booked us a room together, we shared a bed beneath the eaves. I remember how special it felt being that close to her. I knew even then that I would cherish that moment forever.

Grace was a modest soul who put a high premium on education. She was mostly self-educated, a history buff. She was a great listener, a lover of short stories, and from early on, supported my own love for writing. When she came to the big city to visit me, she was always illuminated and awed by everything around her. To my eyes, she was a blossoming tree amid the cement, delicately but brilliantly thriving. Even a turkey sandwich we bought her from the Jewish deli elicited a kind of appreciation and enthusiasm like no other. In those days, when she entered our modest sized one bedroom apartment, adorned with red velvet Troika couch, she exclaimed, “This is the most beautiful place I have ever seen!”

Grace did not come from wealth. In fact, early on she had many obstacles to overcome at a very tender age. Her father died by the time she was a little girl, and soon after she was placed in an orphanage, separated from her brother and sister whom she adored. Tragically her brother died not long after, and when she finally found love and was engaged, her fiance died as well.

Her whole life she tried to overcome these early tragedies, but sadly, they followed her. You could always see this in her eyes. She was the child that never recovered, waiting for life to sweep her off her feet and take her away from such sadness. The loneliness of being an orphan, and the loss of so many of her loved ones left indelible scars that never seemed to disappear.

To me she was a beautiful and precious cameo, a delicate flower. She crocheted me a beautiful blue pancho at age eight that I wore for years. Every time I put it over my head, it held the embrace of a loving Grandmother.

On May 9th 2013, my brother Dennis Parker played his second NY Carnegie Recital Hall concert - twenty years to the day of his last performance in that same hall. That very morning, we were informed that our beloved Grandmother had passed away. The day was a bittersweet mix of sadness and incredible joy from the beauty that emanated from his cello. He played like an angel. At the end of the concert, he spoke to the audience before playing two encores, reflecting on how his first son Rollie had just been born two weeks prior to this NY debut twenty years back, and how Grace had offered to take care of his new infant son in the greenroom while he made this debut. He eloquently reflected on how life had come full circle on this day, playing two beautiful encores that left everyone in tears.

In my heart, I believe that Grace died that morning so that she could attend my brother’s concert and be with the family. She was a lover of beautiful music, and came to as many family concerts as she could throughout her life. She loved when I played Brazilian jazz on my flute, surprising me with her response to music that was seemingly outside her usual musical taste. But what I loved most in her was the friend I had; the one who watched “The Odd Couple” with me and laughed when Tony Randall went into an allergic fit we called “honking,” or when she would simply take my hand on the couch, and say nothing.


 
kimmie and pookie
 
Kim wearing the poncho her grandmother Grace made 1973
 
Dennis Parker at Carnegie Hall
 
Dennis Parker and Lina Morita in concert
     

     
March 2013  
March On   "RSS" feed icon
     
     



They can cut all the flowers but they cannot stop the coming of Spring.”

-Pablo Neruda


I get a lot of emails from budding artists, designers and students who request advice on how to turn their love for textile design or painting into a successful business.

When I roll the tapes back and look at my incredibly colorful and somewhat circuitous path in design (which was chronicled in “Kim Parker Home: A Life in Design,”) I see that not only has the design industry changed since the days I rolled my heavy cases of prints around, selling them to all the various fashion houses, but also, a current challenging economy faces them as well.

In the days after college, when I decided to enter the fashion world with no resume or degree in art or design (but with a degree in music) and only a small black book of about one hundred palm-sized designs that I had painted over a series of three years at my kitchen table, the obstacles were pretty high for me as well in terms of my landing employment in this foreign industry. The economy was in a better place under President Clinton in those days. Entering buildings along Broadway, 7th and 8th Avenues in NYC to network and find clients, was also perhaps easier as this was pre-9-11 and there were no security checks in the lobbies. You could walk right in and ride the elevator, which I did, stopping on all floors and leaving business cards at reception desks for fashion design directors.

My first fashion jobs, as mentioned in my book, were tremendously challenging in the industry. Hired to paint for fashion studios, reproducing existing Hermes or faux jewel prints in new color combinations, rendering incredibly tight plaids with a ruling pen (a tool I had never heard of or used until handed to me on the first day of my very first job) were all on- the- job educations for me. Many of my first jobs hired me based upon my small black book of hand painted paper textile designs, but most, were not interested in where my fortes existed. I worked in children’s wear, ladies wear, couture, swim and sportswear studios, as well as fabric converters and scarf companies. I spent about five years hopping from one job to the next, often fired, but never disappointed in leaving a single position behind. Everything was an education for me. From each job I gathered important information and valuable experiences. Many of these fashion companies had little to offer in terms of creativity. In many cases, I was hired to take on managerial positions where a paintbrush could not be found. But in the rare cases where I was able to finally express my fortes as a painter, the window of hope and the confirmation of having patiently followed my passion, started to take root.

There are no short cuts in life. This I have learned. When I have followed my heart, and I have moved in the direction of my bliss, it somehow, over time, met me half way. And after leaving the fashion world behind as a studio painter, and then going on to sell my own silk and paper prints to hundreds of fashion houses from New York to California, painting seven thousand prints in seven years, I embarked on another magical chapter in my design life. These were years of massive amounts of energy output. I was in my thirties and I had that energy. I painted every night at my desk, and was out selling my designs all week long while jumping in and out of taxis with two heavy cases of prints. I never thought ahead. I only believed in that moment in time being my destiny, and did so with gratitude.

I adored building my own print studio, Kim Parker Designs. With my prints now appearing in the collections of DVF, Anna Sui, Calvin, Gap, Anthropologie, Old Navy, Carolina Herrera, Jill Stuart, JCrew, to name a few, having richly colorful encounters with many of the great designers and watching as my work was beautifully featured on their runways and in their collections, I felt that I was living a dream life. I painted, I sold, my salary more than tripled since leaving the 9-5 world, and I made my own schedule. I did this for five years. After that, my husband and business partner Felipe got me into licensing.

The licensing landscape was entirely different from what I had become comfortable with when selling my designs to everyone else. Now I had to stop doing that. I now had to hold onto these designs because they would represent the voice of my brand. So we did the Licensing Show at the Javitz Ctr and it was there that fine companies in dinnerware, art reproduction, stationery, rugs, bedding, and other products approached me and signed my brand on. What I didn’t know at the time was that it would be about a year before I would see actual income from these collaborations. But once we started the ball rolling with multiple product lines, other companies approached us and we soon were collaborating with some of the top companies in design.

And for the past twelve years, this has been the landscape. Kim Parker Inc. has co-branded for Spode, The Rug Company, Harry N. Abrams, Scholastic, CHF Industries, Galison, Editions Limited, Graphique de France, Hallmark UK, to name a few. More recently, we have been creating our own designer products, like rugs, pillows, and bedding, and selling them off of our e-commerce website. We have signed on with new contracts for new collections that will launch in 2014. The landscape just continues to expand and inspire.

But when people email me asking me “how” to “get into” the design industry with their own work, I find there is really no one answer I can give that is simple- other than that where there is a fire in one’s belly, and passion in one’s heart, this can never be extinguished. I have always been passionate about painting. I have always since childhood, loved working with color and pattern, evidenced in books my parents kept that were filled with hundreds of vibrant early examples of this passion. This is something that can never be taken away. It is Divinely bestowed.

My only advice is to follow that passion and fire. No matter how bad the economy, no matter how stiff the competition, no matter whether you have no degree in design, or how little you know about moving in the direction of your dreams, the Universe will gently provide an open door, when passion, talent, patience, integrity and perseverance exist. And no matter what darkness might present itself along the way, it is only there to make us stronger. And where there is Light, we have the evidence that we are right where we were meant to be.


     

     
February 2013  
Love is the True Color   "RSS" feed icon
     
 
"The Birthday" by Marc Chagall
 



February is almost over and I am finally feeling that I can sit down and string this incredible month of events together with one word: Love. Marc Chagall once said, Love is the True Color. I heard this when watching a video on his life, a gift from one of my best friends for my birthday this past week.

Aside from it being Valentine’s Day and a milestone birthday this month, where friends and family bestowed some of the most meaningful gifts and spent loving time with me, it seemed as if everything was truly illuminated by the color of love.

New and inspiring designer collaborations (one company whose aim is to help less fortunate children and clean up the environment in a Third World country), to new product design contracts both here and abroad, inspired me and filled my heart. All month long I felt as if kindness and love were raining down. I was unable to sit and compose my thoughts and feelings because I was deeply filled with gratitude.

Every day is an open canvas that we are given to dance upon. It is ours to create, to fill from the heart, or simply observe how the Universe will fill it. On this milestone birthday that just passed, I took time to reflect upon the long trail that had led to this juncture.

The greatest compass we possess is our soul. I believe we are each given a Divine channel to resonate within. When we listen to our heart, and fearlessly move in the direction of our bliss we dance with life, with the Universe. (Just as Chagall had done - as evidenced in all of his paintings) I know I have lived and continue to live passionately. Everything I know of my life, was hard earned, and all the sweeter because of it.

I truly believe that everything arrives and is given when it is meant to. If we take time to quietly observe, to meditate, we can see the masterful strokes that create the landscapes of our lives. We can look with gratitude and love at our own painting, and awaken to the gift of each new, miraculous day.


     
January 2013  
Homage to Green   "RSS" feed icon
     
 



This past summer when designing my Spring 2013 rug collection, I had no idea that emerald green was going to be Pantone's pick for “Color of the Year.”

The photo above was taken in India where my new “Jade Garden” rug was being created and washed. The inspiration for this new rug actually came last July when I found a small green and white antique porcelain lamp at a flea market. This little jewel of a find added such a brilliant accent into our very rosy pink living room. And the more I looked at it, the more I yearned to see more of that green color incorporated. The next thing I knew, I was mixing paint, trying to come up with the perfect shade of green for a new rug design that would quench my thirst for this exuberant hue.

Green is the color of life! It is the color associated with growth, hope, fertility, prosperity and harmony. It is the color of the fourth chakra, the color associated with the heart. It represents love and healing and provides us with a connection to Nature. Who wouldn’t want to live with all of that?!

I believe that the color green is truly an infusion of joy, a breath of fresh air! I have always adored and employed all types of greens in one way or another into the majority of my work. I remember when green was considered a taboo color in both the fashion and interior design industries. In the days when I sold my own line of silk prints to fashion houses, the majority of my clients regarded green as simply not a “fashion-friendly” color. I have also been told by the wall art industry for years that paintings with a lot of green in them did not sell well in that market. Whatever. I always found all of these rules totally absurd. How could any color ever be considered taboo? Thank God Van Gogh never followed trends!


"Vase of Roses" painting by Vincent van Gogh
 
"Vase of Roses" by Vincent van Gogh
 
     

     
December 2012  
Egberto Gismonti   "RSS" feed icon
     
Egberto Gismonti and Kim Parker at Carnegie Hall--Voices of Latin America Concert--December 4, 2012
     



I could not ask for a greater way to end the year.

For the past thirty years I have been deeply inspired by the music of Grammy Award-winning Brazilian composer and musician Egberto Gismonti. I have painted literally thousands of designs and paintings to his music over the course of three decades. The introduction to his music came in the early 1980s when my brother Dennis Parker, a highly accomplished classical cellist returned home after living a few years in Brazil. In his hand was a gift for me, a record of Gismonti’s music. The record he gave me was called “Circense.” (Circus) The first track he chose to share with me was called “Palhaco,” which means clown in Portuguese.

Some moments feel as if they happened yesterday. I will never forget the way my brother delivered this gift to me. The music had only been playing a few seconds on the record player before he grabbed his cello and played along with such passion. I could instantly see why he loved this music. It was extremely rich in color. It incorporated the sweet laughter of little children on a playground, while a saxophone played the main theme.

Gismonti’s music for me is as rich and magnetically powerful as any of Kandinsky’s paintings. His compositions are symphonies of color. They are intellectually sophisticated and magical. It is his freedom of expression that I adore most. You feel how incredibly instinctive, wild and free the gardens he composes are.

As a classical musician, I don’t often listen to classical music when I am painting. Perhaps the reason is because it is too “structured” -my own creative process being very organic and improvisatory. I usually prefer listening to Brazilian jazz, Ravel
(another great colorist), or just the songs of birds out the window. Gismonti’s music for me is truly a sonic garden- one I have lost myself in literally hundreds of times while painting my own.

So when I saw the name Egberto Gismonti on the marquee outside of Carnegie Hall this past October for an upcoming performance in December, I had to buy tickets of course. My best friend, Sonia Rubinsky, a Grammy award winning Brazilian classical pianist, who wrote the Foreword to my design book, recently forged a friendship and professional musical relationship with him. They are working on an exciting musical program that they will be playing together in 2013. When I told her I had tickets to hear him, she said, “Kim, if you want to meet him, just use my name to get backstage. Bring him your book, and something beautiful from your home collection. I know he will love them. He loves color and things made by hand.”

The eve of the concert was magical. I had no way of knowing whether I would have the chance to meet one of my “heroes” in the music world, nor whether my name would be accepted on the list to greet the artists after the concert. But I wrote my name along with my husband’s on a piece of paper that read: “Mutual friend of Sonia Rubinsky” and handed it to the office manager.

The concert was sublime. We had amazing seats in the orchestra section, and throughout the performance tears were streaming down my cheeks. I couldn’t believe I was listening to him playing live, beloved compositions that I had for so many years been inspired by. I knew then that if I didn’t get the opportunity to meet him afterward that would be fine. The incredible gift of being present at such an event was more than enough.

When the concert finished, my husband Felipe and I ran back to the office manager and were told that Gismonti had added our names to the list. What unfolded next was a dream.

When we arrived at his greenroom door my husband said in Portuguese, “We are friends of Sonia Rubinsky.” The door swung open and he said joyfully, “I love Sonia Rubinsky!” Before I knew it we were embracing in typical Brazilian fashion. He took us into his room, and closed the door. We spent the next thirty minutes alone together speaking about art, music, astrology and our mutual affection for Sonia. I thanked him for bringing so much beauty into my life. He said, “You speak beautiful Portuguese. You don’t speak it like a typical North American.” I explained to him that I had been married to two Brazilians, one from the south and one from the north, and that this could explain my accent.

There was a beautiful energy in that room that I am still buzzing from. I told him that 90% of the paintings and textile designs in my book had been created to his music over a period of thirty years. We spoke of the influences in his compositions, referencing Ravel, Mario de Andrade, Villa Lobos, and the folk music of Brazil.

I reserve the word “genius” for very few souls in this world. Sadly, this word gets used much more frequently (especially in my field of design) than I believe it should. Gismonti is a genius. He belongs in the same echelon as Leonard Bernstein, Vasily Kandinsky and Henri Matisse.

Sometimes life delivers incredible gifts. I am still buzzing from this encounter, and have been flying with inspiration ever since- painting -up a storm as usual, and reveling in the glorious energy that this Divine gift bestowed.




(Link to Gismonti You Tube video -- Live performance of "Danca das Cabecas")

(Link to Gismonti You Tube video -- Live performance of "Palhaco")

(Link to Gismonti You Tube video -- Recording of "Agua e Vinho")

(Link to Gismonti You Tube video -- Recording of "Carmo")


 
"Flower Market" inspired by the music of Egberto Gismonti

 


     
November 2012  
Sandy and Obama: Natural and Political Storms   "RSS" feed icon
     
     

The past few weeks have been a bit of a rough ride- from the violent winds of hurricane “Sandy,” to the triumphant winds of President Obama’s re-election. In downtown Manhattan, where the entire lower portion of the city was left in darkness and cold, (while the Upper West Side remained booming and in tact- a Tale of Two Cities) we dealt with the challenges of Sandy’s aftermath. The night of the storm, the winds were terrifying. We lit candles on the hearth each evening, huddled closely on the sofa, listening intently to our battery- operated radio to keep updated on the effects of the storm, as well as updates on the upcoming Presidential election.

The following morning, there was debris everywhere and an eerie quiet along the avenues. People were out walking, trying to find places open that offered something to eat. Many delis and grocers opened their doors kindly with flashlights, offering what little food was left upon their shelves.

Five days later, when the lights came on again, people cheered in the streets. On television we then saw for the first time the truly devastating and heartbreaking blows the hurricane had dealt to both Staten Island and New Jersey, mainly. It was hard to believe that both the Brooklyn Battery and Midtown tunnels were filled to the brim with water.

While everyone on the coast was trying to find their footing, the Presidential election neared. Many wondered whether “money” would be the victor, whether the Presidency would be “bought” by the 1% of this country. In our own zip code we waited almost two hours on line to cast our votes. Those of us who watched the Bush-Gore election stolen in 2000, feared history might repeat itself. On the eve of the election when Ohio turned blue, screams of joy were heard on the city streets again.

I feel a definite sense of renewal these days in the aftermath of both of these storms.
I am feeling deeply inspired both creatively and politically. I have already started several new design projects, and sense there is a turning of the soil--a new confidence in place, and I am running with it.

 


     
October 2012  
"Beauty Will Save The World" -- Dostoyevsky   "RSS" feed icon
     
     

Sometimes I think that material things don’t really matter. When I am looking into the eyes of my dog Wendy, or listening to a cricket chirping late at night out my window, I know that these experiences speak directly to the heart. They feed the soul at the deepest level. There is no price tag on such things.

I often feel when I am browsing in certain stores, that I would like to be completely free from any desire for acquiring “material things,” no matter how beautiful. We cannot take them with us, so why amass more?

That’s how I felt this morning, until a large reproduction of a Paul Gauguin painting caught my attention. It was a print I had never seen. My husband and I stopped to look closely at it. We were both awed by it’s rich color and abundance of beauty. It was an interesting bit of synchronicity for me, since I had recently developed a deeper appreciation for Gauguin’s work. (He has always been my father’s favorite painter.) Before I knew it, my husband Felipe was carting this large piece home under his arm. I had no idea where we would hang it, but I was glad he had purchased it.

Felipe somehow always brings me back to Earth shall we say. Whenever I think I would like to free myself from material things, to detach from “matter” - sometimes dismissing what I devote much of my life to (paint and design); he jumps in and reminds me of the importance of bringing beauty into the world. “Does this not inspire you?” he asked. I looked at him and smiled. “It’s undeniably beautiful,” I said.

In 1991 I saved an unforgettable interview/article from the NY Times on late Abstract Expressionist painter Robert Motherwell titled, “What It Meant to Be An Artist.” Motherwell said:

I am sure that scientists have or will testify to the relevant facts here and know them far better than I. I speak only as an artist. But to speak as an artist is no small thing. Most people ignorantly suppose that artists are the decorators of our human existence, the esthetes to whom the cultivated may turn when the real business of the day is done. But actually what an artist is, is a person skilled in expressing human feeling. Far from being merely decorative, the artist’s awareness is one of the few guardians of the inherent sanity and equilibrium of the human spirit we have.”

(see link for entire article on Robert Motherwell )

I don’t know where our new Gauguin reproduction will hang just yet, but I know that Felipe often knows me better than I know myself. He sees me bent over canvas and table, designing and painting the hours away, until my back and spine are compromised. As my late beloved Grandfather Eddie once said, “Felipe is the Solarium and you are the Flower.” Eddie was right. The painting he purchased reminded me that there is nothing futile about devoting one’s life to the pursuit of creating beauty.

Here below is a Gauguin painting I recently discovered and love.


“Woman in Pink Dress”

 


     
August 2012  
Life Supplies   "RSS" feed icon
     
     

My husband and I go to the flea market often on weekends. We are friends with many of the vendors there. However, on this particular visit, an amazing gift awaited me. A vendor we had never met before was selling the finest tubes of oil paint, gouache and bottles of dyes strewn across a wooden table. In brand new boxes, unopened tubes of Sap Green (my favorite color) Cadmium Oranges and Yellows, Indigos and Prussian Blues and many more, were all in mint condition, plump and stacked for the taking. I knew well the price of one such tube, especially the ones from France. In disbelief of their excellent condition and abundance, I started to pile these perfect boxes of tubes before even asking how much they were. When the vendor told my husband “Five bucks a box,” I almost lost my breath. Brushes, tablets, art books, and wooden boxes were part of the offering. Like a kid in a candy shop, I gathered these gifts and carted home more than forty tubes of paint, plus paper. For forty dollars, I had just acquired about six hundred dollars worth of brand new paint. (I felt like a dog who had just raided the bacon counter.)

When I came home, I put the boxes on display on my dining room table and just stared at them. I had to pinch myself. When I phoned my mother on the way home to tell her what had just occurred she said, “That’s kind of sad. These belonged to someone else.”

While busily selecting which tubes I wanted to buy, the vendor showed me a book on the well-known abstract expressionist painter (who will remain nameless) to whom these art supplies once belonged. There was a book about his life amid many of his art books and supplies. When I arrived home, I Googled him and read about his life. He was one of the first great Abstract Expressionist painters, friends with DeKooning, Kline, Motherwell and many others. He had lived with his wife in the East Village for most of his life until he passed away at the age of eighty-seven. I felt blessed to have been led to his fine materials. I didn’t doubt that a higher power had led me there. I knew that I would put them to loving use.

I realized that life is cyclical and magical. The image of Matisse's La Danse came to mind because life is a Divine human circle, a perpetual dance.

     

An Afterthought

After some thought and reading up on the life of the artist, whose tubes of paint were miraculously bestowed upon me this past weekend, I decided I would post two You Tube videos on this wonderful painter, Milton Resnick. They are a true testament to why I love New York City, and an intimate glimpse into yet another richly beautiful world.

Milton Resnick Video 1 Milton Resnick Video 2

 


     
July 2012  
Floral Improvisation   "RSS" feed icon
     
     

We recently did some serious reorganizing in our apartment. It feels great letting go of things and holding onto only what is essential. In the cleaning process, two huge planks of plywood stared me in the face. They were the size of a Queen size bed. There was no way I could put these “potential canvases” on the street even though they were pretty massive in size.

We wound up bringing them to a glass-cutting place in the neighborhood where I had them cut into pairs of large squares and rectangles. This began a four- week love affair with painting bold floral designs on wood. Stretched over these generous surfaces, I really enjoyed working larger. Wood has such a wonderful surface quality. My brushes literally skated across them. These new works will soon become posters and giclees.

     
 

I am always humored when I read someplace that, “Bold flowers are in.” For me they have always been “in.”(I really wonder how flowers could ever not be in?! )

Matisse said, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” He also said, “Accuracy is not the truth.”

What I love most about flowers is their essence, vibrancy, energy, form, scent and dance. I have never been interested in duplicating them as I see them. I never paint from reference. A garden for me is about improvisation; an internal freedom.

These paintings on wood that I just finished were all painted to the music of Egberto Gismonti, an amazing Brazilian pianist, guitarist, composer and singer, whose music has the most incredible sonic palette. His pieces are extremely improvisational. They draw from the rich soil of the Brazilian culture that is made up of a European and African heritage.

One piece in particular, “Cavaquinho” (means a small stringed instrument) I have listened to the most. This music is magical, the perfect backdrop to my painting process. Here is a link below to “Cavaquinho.”

I have spent many years traveling around Brazil, and have an enormous affection for the country; it’s vibrant and loving people, music and food. I have incredible memories of camping on mountains with my brother on the coast of Florianopolis, where butterflies jeweled the cachoeiras. (waterfalls)

Gismonti’s music not only transports me to these magical landscapes and to the many villages and cities I have known and loved, but also somehow takes me away from everything- providing me with the inspiration to depict the gardens it conjures.

     

     
June 2012  
Color Crazed   "RSS" feed icon
     

My color quest in New York City is never-ending. I usually leave the apartment with iphone in hand because so many beautiful color stories pop-up everywhere. I confess that I have an obsession with Vespas, those appealing insect-like motorbikes that come in the most amazing spectrum of colors. I am attracted to their whimsical anatomies and smart design, and I have seen them in colors ranging from powder pink to sophisticated plum.

     
     

 

Over the past two decades naturally there have been major changes in the city, some of which have been heartbreaking. It saddens me when I see beloved institutions like Florent, The Second Avenue Deli, or any number of smaller designer shops shut down due to rent increases. It has become survival of the richest.

These valued restaurants and humbler storefronts from the past were all about human color. As greed becomes more pervasive though, these urban jewels are disappearing. While neighborhoods become gentrified, interesting facades and the feeling of old New York is lost. Thankfully, people like our dear old friend Jim, who fought hard in his day to landmark his own classic block of turn of the century brownstones, prevented many of these graceful structures from being leveled.

The walks we take are never dull however and are always rich in color. All it takes to fill me with joy is one unexpected infusion of brilliant color somewhere. A recent Indian Festival in Washington Square Park with hundreds of mothers and daughters draped in their brilliant colored saris was a banquet for the senses, (accompanied by the pungent smell of curry in the air) and inspired a very large canvas that same day and in a similar palette which I titled, “Love Flowers.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In a street fair I spotted a stunning array of baskets made of sweet grass from Senegal. Even their scent was seductive.

 
 
 
 
 
 

And at the local farmers market unusually vibrant orange radishes, rosy peaches and an incredible cluster of sunflowers energized me. Such a palette to take home!

 
 
 
 

     
June 2012  
Carpe Diem   "RSS" feed icon
     
     

"Fall Garden 1&2" by Kim Parker.



The past few weeks have been so inspired I could hardly sleep. Everything seems charged with energy and Light.


My husband, business partner and web designer, Felipe, who wears many creative hats, and possesses a joie de vivre that sheds a special light over every painting and simple pleasure, ( about whom my late grandfather Eddie once said, "Kim, you are the flower, and Felipe is the solarium,") worked on a video project for YouTube this past week, combining my recent floral paintings with a recording of a flute performance I had given years ago, when I had an early career as a classical flutist. In revisiting these musical moments, some of which were accompanied by my mother Carol, an accomplished concert pianist, I was transported to a part of my past that had become the rich springboard and foundation for my life as an artist and designer.


Click on the image below to view our new YouTube video:
 



Whether a walk to our local flea market, where I can somehow still find amazing textiles that speak to my love of rich color and pattern, or a pile of hats that please the eyes, or pink Peony buds that are pregnant with exuberance, or the sweet song of the robin who sings from dawn until dusk on our city block, I see how rich life is. These gifts are gathered like flowers and taken home and then somehow incorporated into my next creative project.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I am back to painting flowers again, even bolder than before. I see and understand more and more the Divine connection between all things, the higher logic that is constantly working hard to bring love, growth, clarity, courage and strength to all of us each day.



     
May 2012  
An Inspired Path   "RSS" feed icon
     


This is such a glorious time of the year. It feels like there is celebration everywhere you turn. Each spring we love walking along a favorite path in Central Park that I call my Giverny. This precious stretch has a generous arc of the fullest most fragrant pink cherry blossoms. The scent is Heavenly. I always feel as if I am being transported into a Bonnard painting.

 
 
 
 
 
 

The abundance of the color pink always makes me go back to my paintbrushes with the desire to release that exuberant energy and color and create my own version of a garden paradise.

 
 

Exotic types of flowers and shrubs pop up in unexpected places. The city is a wonderland of treasures and inspirations for the senses.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It is not only the softer side of the city that inspires me artistically. I recently painted twenty abstract paintings for a project I was working on for a client. After completing the first two or three works, I started to see how the geometry of New York’s ever-changing architectural landscape had unconsciously inspired these new pieces. For this reason, I decided to call them “Urban Essays.”

What I love about New York is the way everything somehow comes together harmoniously and intelligently. There is the new, the old, the tall, the wide, the soft, the hard, and the elegant and industrial; all juxtaposed in an incredible mix of styles, colors and rhythms.

My eyes have unconsciously been registering these geometric forms for more than twenty years. As I walk anywhere in the city, I always see these “urban collages” wherever I go.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Urban Eassy No. 8"
 
 
 
 
"Urban Essay No. 10"
 
 
 
 
     

     
March 2012
In Memoriam: James McEneaney--1917-2012   "RSS" feed icon
     
     
On St. Patrick's Day, this past weekend, our dearest New York City friend, James McEneaney, passed away peacefully in his home. He was a true lover of life, great friend, teacher, kindred spirit. The gift of his friendship, of knowing and loving him, will forever fill my heart. Here below was my tribute to him, just a few months back in my October 2011 blog entry, which I decided to post again in memoriam.


 
 

  I am constantly reminded of why I love New York City, and why after twenty something years I am still here. New York is really a small town. We have forged many beautiful friendships. One of our dearest friends, Jim, an Irish playwright, is one of our most precious New York City treasures. For years Jim sold his collection of books at the foot of his brownstone stoop. That is where we met him. He was eighty-something at the time, and little did we know we were about to develop one of the most meaningful relationships of our lives. We have held baby sparrows together in awe, eaten in the finest restaurants, and attended cultural events together. But best of all, we have sat out on our stoops on many hot summer days and nights, talking and observing the local color. He has taught us that you can be ninety-something and still ride a bus to Lincoln Center and read quietly by the Henry Moore fountain. He speaks of his late wife Pauline with such reverence and love that we feel as if she is there with us whenever we meet. His curiosity for everything around him, and his love for life itself are infectious. He is just one rainbow of color in this brilliant city, one great source of inspiration.

 
     

     
March 2012  
Pushing through the Soil   "RSS" feed icon
     

 
While walking downtown, I was stunned to find patches of yellow daffodils on the first day of March in our local park. I was not sure whether I felt happy to see them this early in the year or not. A month ago, in early February, while walking our dog through Central Park, we stood staring at a forsythia bush already in full bloom. I noticed a stranger gazing at the same hedge, both of us quietly stunned to find this incredible shock of yellow amid the winter landscape.

There are a lot of stark contrasts these days, not only in the local parks. The word “accountability” comes to mind. All sorts of things seem to be shooting to the surface, as if the Earth was in a cold sweat, trying to rid itself of illness, trying harder than ever to forge its way towards Truth and Light.

On the news we see political upheaval, the ugly face of bigotry, homophobia, disregard for the poor. Some are busy secretly building nuclear arms, burning flags, and opening fire on innocent children, while others are fighting for freedom and equal rights. Mother Nature is showing her outrage through tornados, earthquakes, blizzards and tsunamis. Everywhere you turn, there is evidence of things that are trying to push through, like these daffodils that somehow made their way through the hardened February soil.

I myself see the soil turning, but slowly. The division between the darkness and the light are becoming more defined. In my own microcosm I know there are also things to remedy, karma to be released. I am hopeful when I see flowers, even if they seem to have arrived early. Like these buckets of tulips at the farmer’s market, they remind us that there is always beauty to behold, the evidence of Light.
 
 
     

     
February 2012  
A Real Leap Year   "RSS" feed icon
     



February is my birthday month and it also happens to be Leap Year. I decided that this entry would be a tribute to leaping.

"Dickon's Garden" plush designer rug from the Kim Parker Home collection


Our new “Dickon’s Garden” designer rug arrived a few days ago from India, and I instantly leapt across it in sock feet. I felt like a child dancing in a magical garden!

I have been painting dancers a la The Ballet Russe lately. In the spirit of leaping and a long love for the ballet, I decided to try my hand at painting some Russian gypsies. My husband and I are Russophiles. We often leap around our living room to Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Whether in Kandinsky, Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Chagall, Prokofiev, Tolstoy, or little Sasha Cohen, we are well aware of the unparalleled kind of passion that exists in the Russian culture.

My own heritage is Eastern European. My love for embroideries, and the use of black with dashes of red and gold must stem from these roots. I remember my parents taking us to The Russian Tea Room after a Carnegie Hall concert. I remember saving those colorful postcards they handed out and pinning them to my bulletin board for early inspiration.

For me, there is something about the word” leap” that I feel describes my voice in design. I have always “defected” from industry trends. I remember the look on Rudolph Nureyev’s face, in a documentary I had seen a few years back, at the moment he decided to defect in Paris. The gift that he then bestowed upon the ballet world was unparalleled; his leaps higher and more brilliant than seemed humanly possible. Like a goat in a Chagall painting, he bounded over rooftops, moving with a kind of passion that made people shout at curtain calls. It is this kind of exuberance and unbridled passion that I have always loved in all creative realms, and aspire to in my life in design.


     

     
January 2012  
Rolling Out the New Year   "RSS" feed icon
     

The New Year rolls in and so does our new “Begonias” plush designer rug. What a thrill it was to see this rug completed! The colors are bursting with life, energy and exuberance!

This design actually started as a floral I painted on canvas years ago. A few years later we developed it into an embroidered wool pillow, then some fabric, and now a plush hand woven rug. With the birth of each new product, I feel a sense of awe and then gratitude for the beautiful workmanship provided by these wonderful artisans in India.

The new "Begonias" designer rug from the Kim Parker Home collection



Another arrival in our collection is our new “Anil’s Garden” quilted Kantha bags, each one made of extremely soft cotton, hand sewn in the Kantha technique with careful attention to construction and printing. What a joy it is to receive these new treasures for our collection!



Over the holidays, my beautiful niece Zoe turned fourteen. She is a free spirit who loves to dance. She can draw chic little girls with attitude and a unique sense of style. (She could be the next Anna Sui!)


I decided to send her my “Fidelio” rug for her birthday since she too loves flowers and rich color around her. Her brother Rollie, an amazing artist and talented guitarist, snapped a photo in her bedroom with her new floral addition when it arrived, and I cherish it.




     

     
December 2011  
No Horsing Around   "RSS" feed icon
     
Photo of collapsed carriage Horse on NYC streets
     

Last month while setting up for the BDNY design trade show at the Javits Center, we headed towards 10th Avenue to catch a cab back home. We walked up 48th Street from 11th Avenue, where I came upon a beautiful horse that was tied to a wall by a two -inch chain. I cannot begin to describe the pain this gave me. The horse looked so sad, standing there without the ability to move, facing a brick wall. I petted him lovingly and walked into the garage that was open asking if anyone was there. A man came out from the darkness and said gruffly, “What do you want?” I said, “How long is this horse going to be tied to the wall like that?” He said, “He’s mine, now off with you.”

I asked whether I could feed the horse. He pointed to a barrel that was filled with oats. I reached in and cupped my hands full, went over to the horse to feed him. The horse was so beautiful. His eyes were full of sadness. He was so obviously grateful for just a few moments of kindness. Across the street was his carriage unhinged, a nine- hour day of work behind him, and now a dark, dirty and ugly place to retire ahead- after being tied to a brick wall.

I cried in the cab en route home. I called my cousin in Greenwich Village whom I knew had been involved in helping to create awareness for these poor horses and the abuse they long endured.

These beautiful creatures are simply slaves. They do nothing all day but carry tourists through Central Park and through the noisy and crowded streets of the city for nine hours each day, seven days a week. They have no green pasture to graze in, to rest their weary legs and spirits. At the end of the day, they are not given proper care, love or compensation for their noble efforts. Instead, they are tied cruelly to brick walls- unable to budge, put for the night into dirty city stables, left like slaves til morning when the bitter routine begins anew. Horses have been collapsing and dying right before the eyes of tourists who don’t seem to see beyond their own ridiculous “romantic” notions.

I have been an animal lover my whole life, and have always felt a kind of psychic connection with all animals. As I walked away from the horse on 48th Street whom I learned was named “Marcello” I literally felt his cry from within. It was unbearable.

I would like to see these horse-drawn carriages BANNED from the streets of New York. They are inhumane, totally unnecessary. For years I have avoided passing Central Park South by the Plaza Hotel, just so that I wouldn’t have to see their tortured souls, see them bending their legs upward for relief on brutally hot summer days when the pavement reached sizzling temperatures, or on freezing days in winter.

I would ask that if you have read this far in my blog, to please click on the link below and sign the petition that bans these horse carriage rides in New York City that are pointless and cruel, to be the voice for these beautiful and noble creatures that have no choice, no voice, and to help give them the proper retirement and respect they so deserve.


www.banhdc.org

www.nyclass.org

Thank you.

     
  Horse Drawn Carriage Ban Logo
     

     
November 2011  
Boutique Design NY   "RSS" feed icon
     
   
     

This month we participated in the Boutique Design New York hospitality tradeshow at the Jacob Javitz Center. We met with hotel owners, decorators, designers and editors. Here are just a few photos from the event.

   
Our booth
   
   
Our new "Mums and Asters" pillows
   
   
Felipe and Kim in the garden
   
   
Taking a breather with my work in the Editions Limited Booth
   
   
   
   
     
October 2011  
New York City Color "RSS" feed icon
 
"Colorful Bike in New York" photo by Kim Parker.
 
 

New York City Color

 

I am constantly reminded of why I love New York City, and why after twenty something years I am still here. New York is really a small town. We have forged many beautiful friendships. One of our dearest friends, Jim, an Irish playwright, is one of our most precious New York City treasures. For years Jim sold his collection of books at the foot of his brownstone stoop. That is where we met him. He was eighty-something at the time, and little did we know we were about to develop one of the most meaningful relationships of our lives. We have held baby sparrows together in awe, eaten in the finest restaurants, and attended cultural events together. But best of all, we have sat out on our stoops on many hot summer days and nights, talking and observing the local color. He has taught us that you can be ninety-something and still ride a bus to Lincoln Center and read quietly by the Henry Moore fountain. He speaks of his late wife Pauline with such reverence and love that we feel as if she is there with us whenever we meet. His curiosity for everything around him, and his love for life itself are infectious. He is just one rainbow of color in this brilliant city, one great source of inspiration.

Whenever I am asked in an interview where I get my inspiration from, I always feel slightly overwhelmed. Everything inspires me. There is not one walk, no matter how many times we have taken it, that does not reveal something new and beautiful to us. There are poppies growing in a park around the corner, and loving gestures right out our front windows at street level each morning that are moving to me. Inspiration comes from the heart. It comes from the ability to see life and embrace the small things with the greatest appreciation.

To rejoice in the good fortune of others and in our own of course, and to exchange kindness, to see the beauty and the higher wisdom of the Universe as it stitches our tapestries, is what gives meaning to every day and moment. There is a spectrum waiting for us when we awaken, an enormously rich palette we are given to draw from, and incorporate into our lives.

I have traveled to many places around the world, and yet, I have come to learn that Everything is here, as I was once told in my twenties by a Buddhist friend. Whenever I go to the gym and look out the window while on a treadmill watching as life passes on the streets below, I am overwhelmed by the complexity of details, the rhythms, the gestures, and colors that come and go in a matter of seconds before my eyes. It is similar to moving in on a great work of art, seeing all of the many gestures and strokes that create the bigger picture. The city can move quickly before the eye, and it is often hard to take it all in at once. But that is perhaps what I love about city life. It challenges me with its abundance of energies and visceral contrasts, ideas.

As a designer and painter, I have never been able to limit myself to using just two colors. For years I attempted to create bi-tonal textile designs, knowing perfectly well that the market for these types of patterns was there. It was too much of a safe play. I could not follow that lead. I could not narrow the margins of self- expression when all frequencies were speaking to me at once.

 

In a few weeks I will be receiving a new batch of pillows and rugs from my collection from India, this next round even richer in color than what is in the line already. While everyone else seems to be catering to the minimal and a wash of white, I am still (as I have always been) quietly moving in the other direction.

On a few city walks recently I snapped images of local New York color that captured my attention and either put a smile on my face, holding me in some way. These are some of the small things that leave their impressions, whether a familiar smile, a blast of color, injection of humor or infusion of beauty –that are there to inspire.



"Sunflowers" photo by Kim Parker
 
At the flower market
 
"DVF Wrappers" photo by Kim Parker 2011
 
A bevy of DVF wrappers
 
"African Bracelets" photo by Kim Parker 2011
 
African bracelets
 
"Just Deserts" photo by Kim Parker
 
Edible Designs
 
" Our freind Enrique" photo by Kim Parker 2011
 
Our friend Enrique
 
"Green Building" photo by Kim Parker
 
 
 
"Stoop sitter" photo by Kim Parker
 
Stoop sitter
 
"Wall Art" photo by Kim Parker
 
Wall Art
 
"Dahlias" photo by Kim Parker
 
Farmer's Market
 
"Central Park in October" photo by Kim Parker 2011
 
Central Park in October
 
 

     
September 2011  
Lou's Bouquet "RSS" feed icon
     

The theme of the garden has always inspired me the most as a painter. I have been drawn to painting flowers because they are brilliant in color, exuberant in form, and because the garden is an inexhaustible metaphor for “life;” a place to explore inner dialogue, as well as trust the absence of it.

Recently, my beloved Uncle Lou passed away. He was ninety-five years old. I loved him dearly ever since I was a little girl. He had a kind face, a gentle manner, and a loving heart. He somehow held no judgment over others, teaching me early on about unconditional love. At family gatherings we held hands tightly. No matter what the occasion that bond was always there. I learned something very important from our relationship; that love was a silent thing. It didn’t matter how often you spent time with someone; what mattered was the essence of the soul connection.

When my father phoned to tell me that my uncle was in the hospital with pneumonia, I knew the end was approaching. Shortly after learning of his hospitalization, I poured myself into painting a still life, a subject I was not usually drawn to. Until then all of my floral canvases and textiles were un-planted, free floating, with no vase or pot beneath them. Throughout the process of this painting, I was fully immersed in my feelings for him. Towards the end, for the first time, I found myself potting them, in of all colors, purple. I decided to name the painting “Lou’s Bouquet.”

A week later we attended his funeral. My father asked me to bring this new painting to the service along with a poem I had written about him. The painting was propped beside the many photos of his life on display. On one of the boards there was a Purple Heart, a medal he had earned while serving four years in France during World War II. To my surprise, his Purple Heart was the exact same shape and color as the purple pot I had painted one week earlier, in my still life.

My Buddhist healer said to me before Lou had passed away, “Honey, you don’t need to go to the hospital to see him. He felt your love while you painted this painting with him in your heart. It’s not necessary to physically be with someone for them to receive your love.” The rabbi who spoke at the funeral said, “When looking at this painting, I am reminded of a beautiful quotation from the Bible: “God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.”

     
 
     
"Lou's Bouquet" painting by Kim Parker
 
 

     
August 2011  
India Love   "RSS" feed icon
 
 
 
I am noticing a wonderful trend these days. Maybe it has to do with the present state of the economy, or maybe it is just something cosmic. (Oprah Winfrey is even doing it!) I see more people wanting to reach for their dreams, start their own businesses.

I have always considered myself independent. I am Aquarian. I know I have always walked to my own beat. When I was thirty-one I started my own textile design studio, Kim Parker Designs, and by the time I was in my mid thirties I launched my own label, Kim Parker Home ®. Nothing came easily, but what always kept things fresh was that I was of course doing what I loved, spending most of the time with a paintbrush in my hand.

For the past decade my brand was licensed by many of the top companies in design such as: Spode, The Rug Company, Editions Limited, to name a few. As of 2010 some of these design collaborations ended. I felt a sweet kind of rumble inside, realizing that taking on the manufacturing and distributing of my own work, rather than allowing another company to represent and produce it in a co-branding relationship, was the next natural step; one which would of course involve new challenges, but also, a more intimate connection to my work and to the artisans who helped create it. It also represented freedom.

The first time I connected with a rug manufacturer in Jaipur, something magical from my childhood surfaced. When I was a little girl, there was a shop in my hometown on LI called “The Aarti Boutique.” This store was Heaven for me. It had beautiful cotton dresses and wrap around skirts with hand- blocked textile prints from India- all in the most vivid colors. There was an earthy smell to these garments that sent my senses into a state of euphoria, as if triggering a blissful memory from a past life. My Mother knew well to leave me there and let me browse while she did her shopping. Tiku, the owner, became a friend, and to this day I can still envision her beautiful face and graceful elegance. Her store was my paradise. I had been painting textile designs in vivid colors since I could hold a crayon, and somehow all of the patterns on those soft cottons and silks, were an unconscious form of confirmation and validation that filled my heart.

Having gone out on my own now to make rugs, fabrics, bedding and accessories, and working intimately with manufacturers in both Jaipur and Kashmir, I am rediscovering and reconnecting with that old love affair.

The very first time I had an exchange with my new rug manufacturer in India, I felt affection for his voice, his accent, his kind and respectful manner, his charming use of the English language, and most of all, for the artisans who took my designs into their custodies with such respect and integrity, transforming them into magic carpets.

I am now more intimately connected to the rug making process. I love seeing the weavers at work on their looms, washing my rugs and drying them in the blazing sun. Each step of this process is precious to me.

We are members of the GoodWeave Organization. This organization was created to end the illegal practice of child labor in India in the carpet industry. A percentage of the rug sales we make, are donated to GoodWeave and this money goes toward providing educational opportunities for children in India. The GoodWeave label is on the back of every rug we manufacture, and assures our customers that no child labor was involved.




Rugs for me are like banners of joy. I have a vast archive of my hand-painted original silk and paper textile designs that have been waiting to be birthed into these flying carpets for years. As a child I painted bookmarks on scraps of cardboard or paper towels from dispensers in grade school bathrooms. Any surface I could get my hands on I covered with a design. The desire and seed for creating rugs was already well in motion by the time I was four.

Now that I am not licensing my designer rugs any longer, and I am working directly with these unbelievably talented artisans and craftsmen in India, it is a dream come true. I love seeing the process as it unfolds. In the past when working with The Rug Company, I was always thrilled to see the end product, after months of waiting for one of my rugs to arrive. I am happy this chapter has ended because now I feel more connected to the process, and birth of each product.

My new bedding collections are being manufactured in India too. My first conversations with my bedding manufacturer were beyond precious. With each color added to the printing table while creating my “Anil’s Garden,” quilt, I was able to see how carefully and lovingly each color and screen was placed in the design. When the quilt was complete, I was stunned. The cotton had that earthy, beautiful scent, and the colors were singing.




This trend I see- where people are moving towards their dreams, taking ownership of what has long occupied their hearts, is a trend that I think is coming from a slow but important turning of the soil. It is about placing value on oneself. It is about putting in, and then releasing that joy into a Universe that sorely needs it. When I pass little coffee shops that have just opened up in the city, despite current economic challenges, I am deeply touched. It just shows how we’re all part of the human race, all of us wanting to birth something, contribute, to give from our heart, to dance and connect to our Divine calling.

Everything takes time and energy, patience, courage, and most importantly, love to manifest. This year marks the beginning of a new chapter for our brand. My husband and business partner, Felipe, and I are already enjoying the fruits of this new direction. We rejoice when a bedspread arrives wrapped in burlap from India, or a wool rug is unrolled at our feet. Each step, each new product, and every connection to the creative process is a gift, and a confirmation, that there is still Light in the world.
 
"RSS" feed icon
 


KPH_whitesitemap KPH_whitesitemap KPH_whitesitemap whitesitemap whitesitemap white_sitemap white_sitemap

   

Design stories, products and spaces
 
© Kim Parker 2016. All rights reserved.