Have you all been in to check out Arts Unbound in Maplewood Village (100 Baker Street)? The space looks great and what a wonderful philosophy – to promote the passion and careers of disabled and elderly artists. I’m very excited to team with Arts Unbound as a sponsor for an upcoming event called Art Bender. For 24 hours (May 14-15, noon to noon) it’s time to get your creative on. Whatever it is – tackling a garden project, painting with the kids, playing guitar – you name it – just get artsy and share it at #artbender. According to lead volunteer Danni Michaeli, the hope is to make this an annual event. “This is the time to do that project you’ve been putting off,” he said. “Tell your friends and neighbors, spread the news.” To sign up for the event, sponsor an artist or get more details about organized activities planned that day for kids visit artbender.org. Check out this fun video here by Cass Pohlenz.
What is your background that led you to having an art gallery/ framing business?
I studied business management and art history at Ithaca College. I then received my Appraisers Certificate from NYU and worked at a local art gallery and auction house before forming my business.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I continue to get excited when I place that perfect piece. I know I am meant to do this because after 21-years I still get that thrill.
Your gallery is amazing. How did you come to be in this space?
As the business grew, we felt the need to look for a different kind of space. Our current move to our three-story carriage house with its exposed brick, natural light and high ceilings is so conducive for showing all different types of artistic mediums. The move enabled us to increase our custom framing service as well. We now carry more than 6,000 frames, which include lucite, gold leaf and a new collection of leather frames. We believe that how you view art makes such a difference, we are constantly reminded of it when we hang a new piece in this space.
What kind of events do you have here?
Last year we threw a grand opening celebration and have since had several exhibitions. Our most recent event was a Valentine’s inspired display that included playful and provocative pieces. In April we will be featuring “First Bloom 2016”, a multimedia showcase of floral artwork. In the coming months we plan to do more collaborative events with the interior designers that we work with.
Buying art is such a personal thing. What advise can you offer to those just starting out?
Seeking the advice of a professional, whether with art or design, is important for those just starting to collect. However, one should buy what speaks to them on a personal and emotion level. When I see a piece and cannot stop thinking about it, then I know it is something I will enjoy for years to come (sadly, there were plenty of those pieces I went back for and they were gone).
Do you have a personal favorite style of art?
There is not one specific medium or style that I consider to be my favorite. I love tiny etchings, but on any given day I might crave a big, bold colorful contemporary abstract. That is the great part about furnishing a home with a collectionâ€”you can use the art to give each room its own distinct character. Our gallery offers a very diverse selection of art so we can help our clients achieve that goal. Buy what you love.
What is the trick to creating a gallery wall?
Start with one or two pieces to anchor the collection then build around it to balance and create something that feels collected over time. Each piece can be varied and unrelated to the others. They don’t have to match. Custom designed framing can bring together the arrangement. We offer layout and install services.
What do you like about having your business in downtown Chatham?
We are thrilled that we made the move to Chatham. The quaint town offers a myriad of shops and dining and is easily accessible by car and the NYC train lines. We are centrally located to a large interior design community as well as their clients.
You live in South Orange. What is that like?
South Orange is a rich, culturally diverse community. I love attending a local neighborhood party and meeting playwrights, actors, editors literally down the street from my home. I am always amazed by the quality and quantity of talented artists right in my own backyard.
Coffee or tea gal?
Coffee all the way, black and strong. I like to cut myself a piece every morning 🙂 Nespresso.
Best way to get you out of bed on a chilly winter morning?
My room is always freezing. We (I) turn the heat off at night and sleep with the window open. My husband kisses me goodbye every morning and whispers in my ear, “It’s 45 degrees in here.” I love getting out of bed early to sit with my coffee and check emails.
Your favorite meal?
My sister Denise’s fish tacos followed by a chocolate nutty pie.
I love active, adventurous travel while learning new things about nature and history. I enjoy biking, climbing, rafting, antique shopping, ha! And I love traveling with my husband and extended family.
When did you open Great House? What made you do it?
I have been in business for 12 years. I renovated the store and changed the name to GreatHouse a year ago. I wanted to share my vision by helping people have a home where old and new is a stylish and comfortable mix.
What do you like most about owning your own business in Summit?
The best part of owning my own business is having a fun, positive, beautiful place to go every day where I can share my enthusiasm about the pieces I have hand picked. I am so touched by the appreciation we get each day for what we think is just a lot of creative fun. Summit has it all … cultural opportunities and a downtown that’s exploding with fresh new shops, services and restaurants. I’m very proud to be a part of this community. Our customers are kind hearted and have great taste. They are artistic and open minded and are willing to think outside the box along with me.
You travel quite a bit for work. Whatâ€™s your favorite (for the store) destination?
That’s an easy one….FRANCE!! Paris is intoxicating…visually stimulating from the art and architecture to the people watching and boutique store windows. I also love having my honey speak French (swoon!) and the friendships I have formed over the years with people in the countryside. The French know how to live and whenever I return from a trip to France I feel refreshed and inspired.
Advise for the new homeowner just starting to decorate?
Be brave enough to be different and acquire what moves YOU! Buy one good antique for each room. They will be the pieces that you treasure and, as your needs change, they can be moved to different rooms and take on different roles.
An item you bought that you regret selling?
I sold an oil painting years ago that I think about still. It was both a soft and wild portrait. People often say “how can you part with it” when referring to things at the store, but I feel honored when someone likes my things and I enjoy their glow when they find something here they love….it’s a very warm feeling. Then the hunt continues!!
Favorite piece of furniture in your home?
An antique blue and cream chinoiserie secretary I have in my bedroom that I inherited from my loving Grandmother. It was a treasured piece in her living room where she kept her stationery, cards and special wrapping paper that she would reuse. I miss her every day and think of her style and warmth and how I felt in her home whenever I look at it.
Check out Bonny’s store Great House at 12 Beechwood Road, Summit or visit her website BonnyNeiman.com. Also, keep up with what’s new at the store and her fun buying trips on the blog here. Thanks Bonny!
When did you start taking photos?
When I was 8. I borrowed my Dad’s Brownie. Later I “borrowed” my brother’s 35mm. I only recently gave it back.
Where are you from originally?
Boston area, but my family moved to Yonkers when I was an infant so I claim dual citizenship – New Englander and New Yorker.
What did you do in your former life?
I worked in video networking for Merrill Lynch and before that I was in video production and post production. I studied literature and communications in school with lots of broadcast classes.
When did you start photographing professionally?
In 2007. Prior to that I photographed events part time.
What do you most enjoy photographing?
Tough call. I enjoy finding the unusual, the missed, the not so obvious patterns in my subjects.
How is it working with clients?
In my event and portrait work I need to give the client what they want, but I also give them my view of their world. How much depends on the client.
And working just for your pleasure?
In my art I have freedom in the what and how.
What are the most challenging photos to take?
Ones that are in my head, but that I haven’t worked out the how.
A recent trip to Yellowstone. How do I take a photograph that doesn’t look like every other image out there? I just kept my eyes open and tried to really “see” what was there.
I love living in Maplewood because?
The sense of community. People come out and help each other. Be it during Sandy’s aftermath or to help a sick neighbor, all you have to do is ask. And the arts. We have a sick amount of talent in Maplewood and South Orange from artists, dancers, authors to filmmakers, singers and actors. Never a dull moment.
Check out Joy’s work here. Thanks Joy.