On October 20, 2012 Michael secretly planned to propose to Keren (me) in an art gallery in Chelsea, NYC. He wanted to celebrate my love of art and our many memories walking through museums and exhibitions together. Mike and I first moved into an apartment together almost two years ago, and our apartment felt like a home once we began collecting art. I also have vivid memories of our many vacations and the museums in cities we visited – learning about Surrealism at the Vancouver Art Gallery! Learning about the Medici’s at the Musée Maillol in Paris! Watching performance art at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid! We live and explore each other through cultural experience.
Yolanda Sanchez, Wherever you are is Called Here, 2012. Oil on canvas, 48 x 96 in.
Yolanda Sanchez, The Absent Mirror, 2012. Oil on canvas, 52 x 42 in.
None of the galleries would allow Michael to rent their space. Some would not allow food near the canvases and others did not have the date available. Feeling dismayed, Mike vented to his local tailor and stylist Casey Bickley, from Michael Andrews Bespoke, during a pants hemming.
What kismet! Casey knew of a fellow whose mom owned a gallery and pulled some strings. Kathryn Markel Fine Arts agreed to the surprise. With the help of Alex, one of my fiance’s best friends from undergrad, Michael bought easels and interspersed pictures of Keren and Michael’s travels between the original paintings by Yolanda Sanchez, whose work was showing at the time.
Keren thought she was going to a work event until Michael started getting irrationally nervous. Michael sweated through his shirt and had to change before the event. He also could not even answer the most basic questions relating to the work event, “where is the event?”; “who is hosting the evening?” She knew something was up only moments before the big reveal when Michael started shaking (erratically) in the elevator. It was endearing.
Walking into the pristine, white space, Keren noticed that the entire room was empty and filled with photos of the couple. It took me a few moments to make sense of the scene – for a split second she thought that the artist had created an exhibition about her! Michael got down on one knee (uttered a beautifully prepared speech) and proposed surrounded by paintings by Sanchez for her work Meditations on the Between (press release can be found here). Thank goodness I was wearing something vaguely fancy and had recently been convinced to get a manicure! Had I known about the surprise, I probably would have dressed a wee bit differently, knowing how many photos I was about to be thrust into!
Here’s a watercolor of Michael and me created by Danny Brito!
Yes, my sister did make us wear these ridiculous t-shirts! At least black is slimmimg!
The newly engaged couple!
Michael had one more trick up his sleeve. Family and friends from Boston,Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. came in for the event. Surrounded by loved ones, a small gathering followed. Knowing my love of cheese platters and grape leaves, he also had catering from Zabar’s. Very New York!
Sanchez writes of her work and mission statement, “My work is a gathering of my awareness of being and my experiences of moving with and living among other beings, places and things. It is my desire to become a more ‘finely tuned observer’ and to live more in the moment. Making art for me is a way of being present in the world; it is an act of attention. And through this attention, I give back and offer praise to the world. As such, my work is celebratory, expanding, opening, and about offering pleasure.” Her art will forever hold a special place in my heart, I got engaged in front of her ethereal, bright and colorful paintings. Her canvases are dripping (literally) with emotions and sensations. As Wesley Grissom from Arbus Magazine writes, “Yolanda Sánchez is a figurative gardener. She doesn’t grow fruits, vegetables or flowers outside her Miami Beach home. Instead, the artist imbues vitality into allegorical gardens on canvas inside her studio.Brilliant blooms of pigment burst from her abstract paintings like clumps of crape myrtle blossoms tangled with verdurous sweet potato vines.”
Yolanda Sanchez, What was said to the Rose (That Made it Open), 2012. Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in.
Sanchez was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States in 1960. She obtained a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1979. Later she acquired her BFA and subsequently, an MFA from Yale University, where she studied with the British painter, John Walker. Yolanda is a Fulbright scholar.
The artist explains, “There is no story to be told, just simply a desire to awaken. My work, in general, is a search for re-enchantment, for a way to reach below the surface of things, to find that point of connection with life. ” How apropos because, on October 20, 2012, the day I became engaged to my soul-mate, an entire world awakened to celebrate my personal point of connection, my fiance. Her subjective and explosive canvases are filled with pregnant thoughts, what-ifs, dreams, and promises. Each stroke a possibility.
Yolanda Sanchez, Wanderings #1, 2012. Oil on canvas, 41 x 29 in.
Yolanda Sanchez, Wanderings #2, 2012. Oil on canvas, 41 x 29 in.
Michael worked with a jewelry designer in Boston, MA to reset the diamond that is a family heirloom from Morocco in the 1880’s. The diamond has been worn by four women prior to me, including Michael’s mother. This history and character is incredibly important to me. At one point the diamond was a pair of earrings, then later a solitaire ring. The stone is a brilliant, round cut. My wonderful engagement ring has a rounded, square halo of smaller diamonds surrounding the center stone. It is art deco inspired. Not all halo rings are created equal. In order to achieve the halo look, most designs use inner metal prongs to hold the diamonds. Another option is to cut, groove, or notch the diamonds to fit together.
Halos and cluster rings have been around since before the Victorian age. Famously, Princess Diana had one decades ago!
My proposal was quite literally a “work of art!” Now off to plan my wedding…