Saturday, June 29, 2013


Grandma's Closet
Last winter, a Japanese website named "HEAPS" contacted us. Don't ask me what it stands for, maybe HEAPS OF FUN! They wanted to come and photograph our closets. OK. I figured this contact was a result of our being in the book Advanced Style by Ari Seth Cohen.

The cover of Issue 2
Look right above and see our closet in the "Style" box.

HEAPS is a New York and Tokyo digital magazine. As the lovely editor, Yo Sato, explained to me, it's to show people in the Big Sushi what's up in the Big Apple. Yes, I will admit, I styled our closets which never looked so good, for the shoot.

The photographer who came to our apartment took some great shots. I am sorry that I did not get his name for credit. In the one above, I am wearing an Alpana Bawa coat. Richard has kind of a funny smile but I think that he looks terrific. Apparently, the only way you can view the content of this site is to download it to an IPad. According to my friend, Jodi Miller, who did these screen grabs for me, it's an interactive app. No, I don't have an IPad.

They call this "Style" story, "Grandma's Closet." I am the Grandma. (Not in real life, though.) I think this graphic is adorable. These are our actual closet doors.  I love the way we designed our closets in our apartment. They go from floor to ceiling. You click on the pink heart and ... voilà!

Inside the closet...

Naturally the text is in Japanese. Several people sent me translations, but I will post this one from Carla Margulies D'Acierno, who is a linguist.

In New York, in Japan the fashionable old age lady who cannot depend on the eye ([guranma]) the multitude it is. Accurately with black from texture [ru] mode system to style of the systemic fur being covered, style of her personality full opening only New York. Even among those, carol [materu] is the existence which is conspicuous conspicuously. In the colorful dress which does not make age feel, only it is to overflow the smiling face. Repeating year, the reason where she continues to shine probably is what? To joke [guranma] of the New York stamp, passing the time, it visited concerning the method of living which does not fade.

The Gist:
Most old ladies in Japan don't have an eye for style. They mostly wear black and cover themselves with fur. Only in New York can your style open up completely. Even among all the stylish people in New York, Carol really stands out. She wears colors which do not make her feel old. And she smiles a lot.
Year after year, why does she continue to shine? It's that New York "je ne sais pas" and she tells good jokes. Her style and way of life do not fade.

Colors love this Grandma.

In this shot, Richard and I are sitting in our living room/dining room/work space. Note the orange roses which perfectly match the book -- Grace Coddington's Memoir. (A must read, BTW.) Repros of some of Richard's drawings on the table, and my inspiration board on the right.

Some of my hats and beads.

Red Rouge and philosophy for a brighter life. 

I like this photo of me because of the geometric quality of the white wall, and the colors of the chairs around me. I am wearing a dress designed by a Japanese designer, Tsumori Chisato, and purchased in her boutique in Paris on rue Barbette in the Marais.

The text is based on the answers I wrote to the editor's questions. Here's a sample. If anyone wants to read the whole thing, email me, and I will send you a copy.

YO SATO: Until when you think you will wear clothe nicely and be fashionable and cool elderly?

ME:  I will dress up and have fun until I drop.

A Bientot, Mes Amis!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An Advanced Style Summer Luncheon

A Delightful Lunch at Epistrophy
Today we had the most delightful time meeting up with old friends from Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style blog. Lunch was at Epistrophy, an arty cafe on Mott Street in the NoLita section of New York. In attendance were Ari, Richard and me, Debra Rapoport and Joyce Carpati.

A charming outdoor table
I had never been to this cafe, which reminded me of the Pink Pony, an artist and writer hangout out on Ludlow Street. Sadly, the Pink Pony just closed, a victim of rising rents in the neighborhood.

Books on the shelf
Joyce Carpati
 Ari recently did a shoot for the July issue of 
Vogue Australia.
Joyce was one of the featured models.
She looked elegant and stunning,
comme d'habitude, in an Armani outfit.

Charming details in the cafe
Debra Rapoport wearing a hat of her own design.
Debra's arms sporting the brilliant cuffs
 that she makes.

Eccentric decor enhances the charming vibe.
 Richard in a Coton Doux shirt from Paris.
 Joyce, Ari and Debra.
Joyce, Debra and me on a perfect summer day.
I am wearing one of my bead necklaces.
It's called "Snapdragon."
Photo by Ari Seth Cohen

Thank you, Ari, for a wonderful get-together!

To see Ari's pictures for Australian Vogue, 

À bientôt!

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Very Short Story

A Baby Meets Mondrian

When I was a newborn baby my mother, Mary, did an extraordinary thing. She invited Piet Mondrian to our house for lunch and "introduced us," so to speak. The year was 1944; the month was January.
Mary Markel in training to become
a Registered Nurse at Children's Hospital,
Buffalo, New York - 1940.

My mother had a dream. She dreamed that she saw me as an adult, standing in an enormous white room, bathed in sunlight streaming from four tall windows and looking at a flat object which was covered with multicolored lines. This dream perplexed her. She was a deeply sensitive person, a nurse and a concerned parent. She wondered what the dream meant. She told my father, and he wondered too. But they both had a sense that it was something good.
Our studio at 723 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia.

Then one day while looking through The New York Times, she came upon the art pages. There she saw an article about an exhibition of paintings by Piet Mondrian at the Valentine Dudensing Gallery. And there was a reproduction of one of his paintings.

Broadway Boogie-Woogie by Piet Mondrian.
1942-1943, Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York

My mother was startled. The Mondrian painting was the object she had seen in her dream. She wrote a letter to Mondrian, in care of the gallery, explaining about the dream. A week later, a note arrived from Mondrian himself. He said it was indeed a strange and wonderful event. He said that he would like to meet this baby, me!
Baby Carol.
My mother invited Mondrian to come to lunch at our apartment. We lived in Bayside, Queens, and Mondrian took the Long Island Railroad from New York City, where he lived. It was a cold January day. My mother did not really know his aesthetic attitude but somehow, she knew instinctively what to do. She wore a yellow sweater, a blue skirt and string of red beads. She wrapped me in a white blanket with a black and gray linear design. She put red carnations on the table. She served food which she made in a Dutch oven.

Mondrian did not stay long on that afternoon in 1944. My mother told me of the meeting. She held me up to him, and he touched my chubby face. He even held me for a moment in his stringent, yet gentle, arms. He said that he was sure I would grow up to be an artist, be able to live in a disciplined environment, dedicate my life to art, and also, that I would marry an artist.
Me in my studio at 723 Chestnut.
All these predictions came true. I was lucky to have met him when I did, because he died a month later. I will be eternally grateful to my mother.
Richard Cramer, the artist who I married.
The painting is a celebration of our love and
is called Spring Wall.

Dedicated to Mary Markel, 1919-2008

Thank you for giving me red carnations
 each year on my birthday.

À Bientôt!