The Tarot Garden/Giardino dei Tarocchi


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The Tarot Garden or, in Italian: Giardino Dei Tarocchi, is a whimsical sculpture exhibition which is located in Tuscany near Pescia Fiorentina. The garden is modeled after Antonio Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona. Those familiar with Gaudi know he has a brand of architecture which is modern, creative, colorful and playful. Barcelona is inspired by Gaudi’s works and the cathedral which is still in progression.

The Tarot Garden is the mastermind of French-American artist; Niki de Saint Phalle. It is quite unique and I came across the images on Instagram. It might be a secret garden to those outside the European radar. De Saint Phalle has collaborated with many artists who have engraved their names into work. It is like an amusement park, but it is a land of symbolic sculpture. It seems part child like and part adult. It took 20 years to develop and opened in 1988. De Saint Phalle lived in The Sphinx while working on the project. Spend a few hours seeing the colorful ceramic mosaic painted creations with mirrored pieces on reinforced concrete. The materials which have been used to build these 22 elaborate creations. Sculpture themes are; The Sphinx, The Golden Skelton, The Hanging Man (death theme), The Priestess, The Castle, The Devil, The Moon, The Oracle and The Hermit. I do not fully understand the mythology, religious, mysticism, predictions, space, time or deeper interpretive meanings, but one can read the website in more detail and watch videos. The collection is based on tarot cards and combines imagery and nature in a dream like state. The creative designers put thought into the color, shapes, textures, materials, placement, design , philosophy and detailed subjects. One wanders through the garden maze and leaves, feeling as if they have escaped the world of time and place.






Le District; A NYC Spot with a French Riviera Feel

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Le District/ Liberty Bistro is a downtown cafe, wine bar, market and group of restaurants which face North Cove Marina. It is nice in the summer because you have a Hudson River view while tasting; moules frites, croissants, a glass of rosé, or an entree of French fare. On weekends, outdoor tables and a DJ are like a French fête. Inside, Le District is an upscale market where one can buy fromage, café, patisserie, crepes, macarons and products which have been imported from France. Le Beaubourg is a restaurant with an extensive wine and champagne list, poisson, melted fondue with a plate of bread or their classic onion soup. L’ Appart, the exclusive restaurant where a reservation is needed for an event dinner or formal affair. There is a wine bar, classes and an area for food. The boat slips, view of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, Battery Park promenade and a tune by Vanessa Paradis or Carla Bruni Sarkosy, makes you feel like you are at Nikki Beach in Cannes. Whether you choose to sip on Veueve Cliquot, vin de Cote d’Azur or an Alain Milliat blackberry juice, one can shop at Brookfield Place and relax by yachts which ripple on the water.

The Avatar of Feminist and Fashion Pop Art: Ashley Longshore


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Ashley Longshore was born in Montgomery, Alabama. She is the daughter of an ad salesman and studied ballet, jazz, voice and piano as a child. She majored in English Literature at the University of Montana. Longshore is self taught and decided to take her painting, sculpture, and design talent and opened a studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans. She developed a following on Instagram, but not liking the way one pays galleries to show work, she took an alternative route. Not a Gallery Girl, for anyone who watched the reality show. Ashley decided to move to NYC and made her debut with “Sugar Face” which was shown at Boîte à Epice in Chelsea, NY.. downtown. The area where street murals and graffiti art is de rigeur. One revels in walls showing street life, pop icons and history. The NY Times has dubbed her, the feminist Andy Warhol.

By 2011, Longshore had made her entrance into the art world scene. She did a series of paintings entitled: “Greed, Money and Status”. There is a painting of Gordon Gekko, the character played by Micheal Douglas in the movie; Wall Street. A painting of the hungry real estate agents in Chicago, the play by Glengarry Glenross. Ashley Longshore designed a chair which was stuffed with $500,000 of symbolic money. Chairs are another piece of work she is known for creating. She designs contemporary armchairs with painted trims in bright colors and velvet fabrics with images such as;  Frieda Kahlo on the back. Longshore did a series, Fashionably Late. As well as a collaboration for French fashion company, Chloe, which was at Art Basel in Miami. Maybelline cosmetics had her paint graphic designs for a lipstick tube collection. Blake Lively, Penelope Cruz and other celebs buy her works. Blake Lively and Ashley Longshore worked on design for Lively’s Preserve site about southern life. Blake Lively collects many of her paintings and features them on her own Instagram. In 2011, Longshore provided fabric prints for a Project Runway, Season 18, contest. The contestant who used a butterfly print pattern, won. She later appeared as a Runway judge. Longshore has been featured in; Elle Decor, Forbes, Marie Claire Belgium, SPUR and Vogue. Ashley likes sparkles and glitter and uses these elements. She worked with bag designer Judith Leiber on an AL X JL sparkly 14,000  crystal bag collaboration. One of her well known slogans; ” I do not cook, I do not clean and I do not fly commercial”. A lot of the work is painting, but sculptures of gold bars and cake designs with inscriptions saying; “Can I Puke On Your Birkin”are  popular. She plays on commercialism and fashion as a way of expression. She is even featured in the 2011 film: Twilight Breakdown.

Longshore is the first female artist to have her work on display at Bergdorf Goodman’s. Homeware, scarves, pillows, paintings and furniture are all creations in which she prides herself. Longshore has written two books, one; My Rizzoli Coffee Table Book and You Do Not Look Fat, You Look Crazy. Soho, The Hampton’s and Palm Beach fashion boutiques, Kirna Zabete, had 20 of Longshore’s pieces for Christmas called: Jingle My Bells. During International Women’s Month, in February, 2019, Longshore had paintings of female figures at Diane Von Fustenberg’s flagship store gallery. Some of the paintings are; Maya Angelou, Audery Hepburn, Greta Thurnberg, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Diane Von Furstenberg, Princess Diana, Gloria Steinem, Malala Yousfei and Marlene Dietrich. These portraits gave DVF’s #InCharge and Be The Woman You Want to Be, a visual perspective on influential females, She is going to have an upcoming painted butterfly display at  Brookfield Place’s Art Exhibition which will show the beauty of nature in troubling times. The AL Charitable Foundation provides three scholarships for young artists, one in memory of photographer, Alix Martinex, one in memory of Patrick B. Hale, a theatrical performer, and a third for a female artist who is underrepresented as a minority or is from a vulnerable community. Longshore has a non profit with Miley Cyrus called The Happy Hippie. It auctions off work from artists in the LGBT, youth and homeless populations. Ashley Longshore is on the go, following her passions and creative drive.




Heritage: Monaco’s Pink Palace, Beatrice Borromeo and Buccellati Jewels

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Beatrice Borromeo, born in Innichen, Italy which is located in South Tyrol, close to the Austrian border. Beatrice is from an aristocratic Italian family. The daughter of, Donna Paola Marzotto, and Carlo Ferdinando, Count of Arona. The family is related to the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, during the mid 16th century. The heirs own the Borromean Islands which are set in the Mediterranean with fairy tale architecture and the sea as a backdrop. Beatrice’s mother is linked to the design House of Valentino and Beatrice wore a Valentino dress for her 2015 summer wedding to Pierre Casiraghi. Pierre Casiraghi is the youngest son of Princess Caroline of Monaco and Hanover and Stefano Casiraghi. Beatrice wore 5 wedding dresses between the wedding in Monaco, the formal religious ceremony in the Borromean Islands and parties. The Armani Priveé gown, simply elegant and white, is smashing and a beautiful veil was an accent to the assemble. Beatrice Borromeo is blonde and has an air of finesse. She has been on fashion magazine covers, but Hello Magazine shows her style as well. Beatrice attends fashion week in Paris, London and Milan, as does her sister in law, Charlotte Casiraghi. Beatrice Borromeo has modeled for Valentino, Trussardi, Ermanno Scervino and Alberto Ferreti. She attended Bocconi University, as an undergraduate, and received a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University in NYC. She has worked in radio and TV, writing and reporting. While living in Rome, she wrote for the newspaper: “Il Fatto Quotidiano”. Beatrice directed the documentary: “Mamma Mafia” which covers the female roles within “the familigia”. She is the current muse for high end jewelry company, Buccellati. Buccellati was founded in 1919 by Mario and his son, in Milano. It was bought by a Chinese company and then French clothing and jewelry group, Richemont, The ad campaign is set to sensual music and shows a series of snapshots in which she walks through Rome’s/La Citta Eterna: Piazza di Piedra, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Dei Fiori and a villa, wearing intricate gold necklaces, the Macri bracelet, with tiny star shaped diamond florettes, lace cocktail earrings and honeycomb designs. Right now, her role is as wife and mother to two young sons. Beatrice is a nice addition to the House of Grimaldi. Charlotte Casiraghi, her sister in law, is the one who made the introduction to her brother, Pierre. Charlotte has had her own foray into fashion. She is a top equestrian and modeled for Gucci bit loafers, scarves and their makeup line as well as being a YSL model and ambassador for Mont Blanc. She attends the shows with other European socialites. She developed her own line of bold and avant garde jewelry,Les Aimants with Mont Blanc. She has written a book about philosophy which is dedicated to her father. Charlotte, Pierre, and her older brother, Andreas, are in line to the Moangasque throne. The tiny principality has been in the family for over 700 years with Prince Albert as the current leader. Their grandmother was actress, Grace Kelly, who became a princess upon, her 1956, marriage to Prince Rainier. Grace met the prince while filming; “To Catch a Thief”. The film starring, Cary Grant, centers on a jewel thief in the French Riviera. Get a glimpse of the new Grimaldi generation on The Rocher, Port Hercule or during the changing of the guard at the Pink Palace. Or, you can try your luck, 007 style, at The Casino de Monte- Carlo.

Coming of Age: Bat Mitzvahs and Quinceañeras… A 13th and 15th Birthday


The Bat Mitzvah. The coming of age ceremony in Judaism, when a girl turns thirteen and becomes an adult in the eyes of Judaism. One is responsible for understanding the meaning of the Torah and taking on the role of a Jewish woman. The counterpart, a Bar Mitzvah, a male turns thirteen and becomes an adult in the Jewish religion. Originally, there were only Bar Mitzvahs and in many Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox communities, Bat Mitzvahs do not play a role in the religion. A newer trend, the B’nai Mitzvot, a ceremony with two siblings of a similar age who have a ceremony together. I write about  the Bat Mitzvah because I am more familiar with the female experience.

It is a milestone day, usually occurring on the date and month of the Hebrew and or American calendar which corresponds to a girl’s birthday. Much preparation has gone into the day: years of Hebrew school, reading the Torah, singing, writing a meaningful speech and preparing for the celebration, afterwards. Bat Mitzvah, in Hebrew, means a female, bat, who does a good deed, a mitzvah. The Torah portion of the day is a significant piece of a revelation or philosophy about life according to the Jewish history, sometimes it falls out on a holiday, A female feels special on this day, she wears a dress  which fits the ceremony and party mood. The party can be a day event or a more glamorous dinner and evening party at a venue. Some are held in Israel. Today, many girls are seen wearing a sequin top with a long skirt and designer sneakers, easier for dancing. The party often has a theme such as; a color, music, the beach, sport, hobby or a symbolic connection to the person. The rooms are decorated with balloons, flowers, the girl’s name on screen, printed on pillows, in lights or party favors. A photographer or videographer captures the moment. There are picture montages from their childhood and entertainers. Each theme is unique and has relevance to the individual, a way to express and celebrate their birthday and entrance. My Bat Mitzvah theme; rainbows. I had white balloons which represent the clouds, rainbow arches near the tables and pots of gold, in wrapping paper. My invitation was blue, like the sky, with rainbow colored ribbons, sealed with a silver star. The symbolic meaning; to follow your dreams and see the multitude of colors in life. I wore a multi white and cream lace tier top and skirt which had a delicate style. My younger sister played the song a piano;”Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Many parties have a candle lighting ceremony where 12 or 13 people in the girl’s life, light a candle. The cake, music, toasts or tributes, play a role. Many go over the top with cartoonists, video games, face painters and DJ’s. People do the Hora dance and a girl is lifted up on top of a chair, as a means of celebration and elevation. One can watch Bat Mitzvah’s on YouTube and Vimeo, in order to get a better idea of what a day is like.

A Bat Mitzvah is similar to a Quiñceanera, a fifteenth birthday party or similar to a girl’s coming of age. The ceremony, originated with the Aztecs in Mexico and was preparation for marriage and motherhood. The Spanish came to Mexico and brought Catholicism. Other Latino/Meso- American cultures have quiñces as well. The girl has a religious ceremony at a Catholic church. There is a party or fiesta where a girl has a court of 7 damas ( ladies) and 7 chambelanes (male escorts for each dama), totaling 14 and the Quinceañera, makes the 15th. The father/daughter dance is a key feature and many have their last doll (muneca) which is dressed up and resembles the party girl. There is a shoe changing ritual where the father takes off her flat shoes, replacing them with high heels. The mother applies lipstick on her daughter to make her appear as a lady. She is now considered a woman and has established her heritage as an adult. The gown is elaborate and usually comes in bright colors or traditional white, similar to a debutante gown. It is made of ruffles with a tulle or organza bodice and has a tighter top in a matching shade with sparkles or floral appliqués. Gowns look like a Cinderella dress or similar Disney princess outfits, some girls wear a tiara. Compare a Quinceañera to a Bat Mitzvah because both cultures have similar traditions and parties which celebrate their cultural identity and role as a maturing female.. A coming of age party. So, Mazel Tov (Congratulations) or Felicitaciones.