Behind the Mic to Behind the Scenes

Behind the Mic to Behind the Scenes

Newscaster-turned-design-star Cathy Hobbs brings big personality to every set

By Allison Geller

Television was always Cathy Hobbs’ ballgame. Before she took to the screen to share her design expertise, appearing most recently on Oprah Winfrey’s eight-city “The Life You Want” tour, she was scooping up Emmys as a television newscaster.

As a young reporter in the early 1990s, she volunteered to cover tough stories like the Siege of Sarajevo and the Great Flood in Missouri, always on the lookout for ways to build her chops. That same dedication applied to her career transition. “I always wanted to make sure that I had the highest level of experience and deliver that as a professional,” Hobbs says. “For interior design I felt the same. I didn’t want to be a reporter who woke up one day and called herself a decorator.”

As a child growing up in Columbia, Maryland, Hobbs used to ride a bike around her neighborhood and look at the homes being built, imagining where the various rooms were going to be placed. “I had always had an interest in real estate and design, but from a really organic standpoint. It was just something that I enjoyed but never really thought that I would transition into a career,” she says.

In fact, her career in television also had an indirect start. She had been studying marketing and finance at the University of Southern California, doing business internships the whole time. One day it occurred to her that TV reporting might be fun, and she took an internship at a TV station in Bakersfield, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles. “I would attend school during the day Monday through Friday, and then I would drive up to Bakersfield on the weekends, where I was a weekend reporter on the NBC affiliate.”

Working that first job, Hobbs wasn’t exactly flush with cash, so she scoured flea markets and thrift stores in order to furnish her apartment. That was her first inkling that she might have an eye for interiors. “A lot of people would come into my little apartment and say, you know, I think you have a knack for design.”

In 1997, she made the move to New York to work at WPIX-TV. While pursuing her career as an evening newscaster, she decided to take a design class or two “as a hobby.” “What started as a hobby just continued,” she says. Though her design education began as purely a creative outlet—she still has the easel from the painting class she took one morning a week before work—it eventually turned into a second degree.

Hobbs’ scored her first paid design job through a friend of husband’s, who hired her to redo his bathroom. “Halfway through the project, he said, ‘I want you to do my kitchen too.’”

Based off of those samples, Hobbs slowly began to accrue other clients. In 2005, she and her husband bought an apartment in Williamsburg (when the neighborhood was still up-and-coming) and her real estate agent encouraged her to try her hand at staging and styling. Soon she was hooked, and began the self-branded company that is now ten years old.

Despite the fact that she had the degree and ASID certification, though, she found that it wasn’t always easy to win the trust of potential clients.  “I was known as a newscaster. I was on television in New York City in millions of homes every night from 1997 to 2009 as a newscaster.”

“The big transition for me was when I was cast on HGTV design star season six aired in 2011,” Hobbs says. Cast out of 7,000 people, she was one of 12 finalists to be featured on the series. “I think that’s when people said, ‘Wow, this gal is serious.’”

Despite the obvious differences, Hobbs sees a major parallel between her career as a reporter and her self-reinvention as a designer and stager: both of them require the astute skill of interpretation.

“My background is taking a big huge concept and making it understandable to millions of people in the form of a news story,” Hobbs says. “Similarly, you can take this massive or confusing space and make it digestible and understandable to a potential buyer so they have that emotional trigger to then make a real estate transaction.”

Her work has been influenced by her worldwide travel—she believes that “as a designer it’s really hard to interpret different styles if you have not traveled extensively”—but also by her effort to stay fresh, take risks, and learn from others in the industry.

“If there’s a job that I don’t get, I actually want to see what that person did, because I want to learn from that experience and grow for the next time. I think that creative people are constantly growing,” Hobbs said. Her tenacity comes straight out of two decades of reporting for the news, when there was no hope of getting a coveted interview without a brazen overture. As Hobbs says, “I’m always willing to knock on that door.”

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Women in the art world: Exploring balance, harmony and feminine power

Women in the art world: Exploring balance, harmony and feminine power

By Venus Quintana

Art is a powerful form of communication and bears a unique ability to transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries—it is an exploration of what it means to be human. Art can be brash or sublime, basic or intricate, and is one of the first forms of human expression. It has an extraordinary capacity to express resistance and rebellion; protest and hope. Art touches people in a deeper and more affecting way than academic and political discourse; it moves us to tears, to laughter and to action.

It’s no secret that female artists have been overlooked and underestimated throughout art history. For years, women in the field have been sidelined by men, whether those men be their contemporaries, romantic partners or mentors. The battles fought in the 1970’s certainly paved the way for many of the women artists today, having explored the efforts and accomplishments of international feminists to produce art that reflects women’s life experiences.

Dani Wilbert is a New York City artist and welder, who draws on her childhood experiences to create unique metal sculptures that challenge her gender role in society. “My father was a commercial pilot and he’d take me to the airplane hangars. That’s where I started picking up nuts and bolts and discarded items from the machine shops,” she explains. Dani’s main art focus is on the subject of rats. When the questions arise, Dani puts it very simply, “It is risky and amusing.” Her unusual artwork turns the disgust over onto its own head by showing the viewer personifications of manner and dignity. “For the most part, I portray rats as the height of class and elegance by painting them in stately human social settings.” Most often, Dani’s art is compiled from scrap metal she picks up all over the city and she is rarely offended when her work is mistaken for that of a male artist. Even so, she explains, “I don’t have patience for the guy who tries to test my knowledge of welding during an exhibit opening.”

As a woman and an artist, I believe in the power of art to bring about social change. It is in our common interest as human beings to ensure that artists have the freedom to speak out. Today’s society presents a multitude of challenges for women artists and entrepreneurs, who are constantly striving to maintain equilibrium of ‘art making’ and family life. Melony Mazzeo is a modern-day renaissance woman whose adversities have enabled her to become a true vision of her higher self. As the owner/founder of “Ohmigod” cookies, along with her own line of clothing and jewelry, Melony has proved that women really can do it all. A widow at forty two years old, Melony had to adjust to a new challenging, unexpected chapter of her life. “The death of my husband was a game changer. The catalyst for me was survival,” she explains. “My creative hobby turned into a full time job.  Although producing an income was paramount to paying my ongoing bills that showed up monthly on my doorstep, I was truly more excited about the journey than the payout.”

Art in the making may elicit connections to energy so powerfully evocative and memorable that they act as agents of change, setting into motion new physical and emotional journeys of discovery. Creating art can be a powerful process of transformation, where strong emotions can be released and pain transmuted into a sense of hopefulness and trust in a woman’s own ability to work through disappointments and challenges experienced in life. Asia Lee, an accomplished Long Island photographer, has allowed her life experiences to deepen her passion for her work. “I came to this country as a traumatized little orphan girl. It shaped me not to think outside of the box, but to not even have a box,” she describes. While her resume boasts of celebrity clients, Asia’s true passion is capturing the beauty of everyday moments. Her images focus on bringing out the extraordinary beauty of ordinary life. A recent trip to Nigeria is where Asia had the epiphany to share the gift of her artwork and the calming message it shares. “Having lost everything as a young child, I’ve searched for the meaning of life. I feel I’ve found it in creating my work and sharing it with the world to help others feel comfort.”

Life and work can never be perfectly balanced; the scales are tipped in favor of work. Without the fuel of life, artistic inspiration will run out of juice. In short, it will be all work and no play. As artists, we enrich the lives of others. Our own lives, therefore, need to be enriched to start with. For Fareen Butt, her life has been, and will continue to be, one of advancement in perception. An internationally renowned gemstone painter, Fareen’s works are made of precious and semiprecious stones and metals, with the intention of creating a piece that is aesthetically pleasing. “Through the process of becoming resilient, one becomes a richer more multifaceted person,” she reports. “The perspective I have gained over the years, of rising above and finding a higher ground, has undoubtedly enriched my creativity and is reflected in my artwork. Both have grown more complex, more saturated.” The continuation of influences from international human innovation past and present, the pursuit of capturing the omnipresent, and the study as a whole have converged into the creation of her artworks.

The saddening truth is that the art market still suggests that male-dominated power structures persist. Historically, art made by women has struggled to fetch high prices at auction, but the art world looks set to change, and shows increasing signs of recognition for the value and stature of leading female artists. The entry of females into the very uppermost echelons of printmaking, sculpture and photography has risen. Until last November, American photographer Cindy Sherman held the record for creating the world’s most expensive photograph, Untitled #96, sold for $3,890,500. Of course, there are other indicators of success in the art world besides sales figures. Solo shows, when a gallery throws a great deal of its resources and floor space behind a single name, are one way to gauge the esteem in which an artist is held. Diana Pinck, an established artist on Long Island, expresses her passions through portraits, landscapes, still lives and seascapes in a romantic, yet realistic style. Working chiefly in oil and pastel, her paintings are marked by glowing colors that seem to illuminate the canvas from within. “I think it will maybe take another fifty or one hundred years until women artists will be as highly regarded and fetch equal prices as their male contemporaries, but maybe that will never happen,” she explains. Diana is very excited that she is booked for a solo exhibit from March 19 to March 23, 2015 at the Museum of Sex in New York City.  “The exhibit will allow me to paint as I please, as there will be no boundaries of how far I can go.  My portraits are often very sensual but I will be able to push the envelope a bit with this exhibit.” Diana puts it quite simply, “In the end it should really not matter if the artist is a man or a woman. If it’s great art, it’s great art.”


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by Brian Cuban

Most of my life has been about succumbing to various triggers that set off a litany of destructive behaviors.  Stress at work. Stress with relationships. Negative body image. Finally at age forty-five, I began recovery, developing a sense of self-awareness to recognize and deal with stressors as a part of life.  That life for me was twenty-seven years of eating disorders, drug addiction, clinical depression and alcoholism. It all culminated to three failed marriages and a near suicide. The journey to that point was one of shame and concealment through college, law school and my professional life as an attorney— sometimes high-functioning and successful, and sometimes not, as the two worlds I had created touched and then finally collided.

Realizing that no matter whether I walk into the abyss or hold my head up and face the darkness head on, there will always be stressors and events in life that are both completely in my control, self-created chaos, and beyond my control. Life simply happening. I realized I had complete control over two things:  Attitude and response.

Most anyone in the law profession understands that the stress can be intense. Stress of perpetration, of deadlines, of winning and losing. As a lawyer, much hinges on projecting an aura of self-confidence and strength, traits I did not possess.  Instead, I chose to self-medicate to provide the illusion of possessing these traits.  Soon began the paralyzing panic attacks and the feelings of total exposure any time I stepped in the courtroom.

Finally, after getting clean and sober, I walked away from the law profession with no regrets.  I was no longer willing to destroy my physical health and relationships to project what I was not.  I was not disciplined or disbarred. I simply chose another career path. Today I pursue my true passion: helping others who went through what I did to develop a better self-image.

Of course, not everyone can walk away from his or her chosen profession.  Bills must be paid. Obligations must be met.  Maybe you love what you do but there are obstacles of depression, addiction, family stress and job stress. Maybe the self-awareness for you is simply realizing what the underlying issues are and dealing with those to make you better at what you’re passionate about.

It is not for me to tell anyone what stresses to accept and avoid in their lives. What I do believe in though, universally, is the first step: self-awareness.  Being able to step back and evaluate the situation objectively.  That is easier said than done, but the hardest step to happiness is always the first small one.  When I took that first step towards recovery, I realized that the only thing holding me back from my future was my own perception of what people would think of me and the fear that I was projecting weakness to everyone I encountered.

In reality I found only love and support from every corner that I had hidden these behaviors from, namely from my friends, my family, and my girlfriend.  In the legal community, we are all weak in one form or another. We are all flawed. We all have to face triggers that can take us down a dark road mapped out by a lifetime of experiences. Do what you need to do to recognize the roadblocks.  Accept support from those who love and care about you. Remember there is no shame, only a fuller, happier life.

 Brian Cuban is an authority on eating disorders and addiction and author of the book SHATTERED IMAGE

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Developer Spotlight: Michael Paul Enterprises, LLC

Developer Spotlight: Michael Paul Enterprises, LLC

Interview with President/CEO Michael D’Alessio and Yvonne D’Alessio

Michael Paul Enterprises, LLC is a full-service real estate investment and development firm specializing in the design, construction and management of both residential and commercial real estate properties. The company has been in business for more than 25 years. We have offices in Manhattan, Westchester and the Hamptons, and the company is led by myself and my wife, Yvonne C. D’Alessio.

Our services include real estate sales and leasing, financing, portfolio management, general contracting, construction management and consulting. Through strong and long-standing relationships with investors, lending institutions, architects, engineers, design professionals, contractors, material vendors and community leaders, our team delivers quality projects on time and within budget.

Can you tell us about the early stages of your career, how you got your start, and if you ever had a “big break” in the industry?

I began my career as an accountant with the former Arthur Young accounting firm in Manhattan, but was eventually lured to real estate development due to my lifelong passion for building and construction. That passion prompted me to start my own general contracting firm. I earned a certificate in real estate development from New York University, then eventually expanded my business into real estate development.  It is has been my love and passion to build ever since.

List some of the biggest challenges you face today as a developer. (lack of product, financing, end loans?)

Some of the biggest challenges are the lack of inventory and, therefore, very competitive bidding for available, desirable property. 

What are some requirements you look for in an agent? What are clear signs that make you take a pass on a particular firm/agent? 

Michael Paul Enterprises chooses brokers based on their work ethic. We look for someone who understands the value of a strong marketing campaign and can reach high-end clientele. They understand the urgency for immediate viewing of the product.

What are the top trends/amenities your clients require today? For instance, going green, LEED certifications, etc?

Our clients require high-end luxury finishes, savvy apartments and a well-thought-out product.

What do you offer the consumer that other developers don’t? Why buy a MPE product?

We pride ourselves on providing personalized attention and service.  Yvonne and I are hands-on. We visit our construction sites daily and personally provide executive support throughout the life cycle of each project, from pre-construction planning and design through completion.  We deliver high quality and spare no attention to detail when placing our product on the market. Once you’ve had an opportunity to preview one of our buildings, you will quickly realize all the personal attention we’ve invested. We only create projects where vision and thoughtful design add lasting value.

What neighborhoods do you like for the end-user, as well as for the long term investor? (i.e. those looking to purchase a personal home vs. investment homes)

I am enthusiastic about the Upper East Side and Midtown East. Both are great neighborhoods with countless development possibilities.

Talk about some of your latest projects

We’re very excited about our most recent Manhattan project, 230 East 63rd Street – a high-end luxury boutique condominium building located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was built with a vision of someone owning a home in the neighborhood, not just an apartment. The residences have amazing layouts that flow nicely for entertaining in addition to incredible amenities including steam showers, Jacuzzi tubs, a washer/dryer in each, a fireplace and radiant floor heating throughout. It was truly a project built with pride and we’re happy to report we’ve sold out! 

Please elaborate on what MPE is doing outside of NYC. (DC, Chicago, LA, etc.)

We also work in Westchester and the Hamptons. Some notable Michael Paul Enterprises properties currently for sale outside of Manhattan include an 18,000-square-foot estate in the Water Mill section of the Hamptons, with a price tag of $11.9 million, and a new home currently under construction in Southampton Village – a 6,000-square-foot classic home priced at $5.9 million.

What’s coming to market soon that you’re excited about?

Both Yvonne and I are committed to developing more high-end luxury boutique condominiums in Manhattan, as we feel these types of projects stand apart from the influx of large residential high-rises and offer the intimate living experience many buyers are looking for.

554 East 82nd Street, which is about 80 percent completed, offers four large residences, three of which will be duplex apartments and will boast three- and four-bedroom apartments. All have outdoor space, gym access and storage space.

225 East 81st Street, which is about 60 percent completed, will have five residences with similar layouts and the same square footage as the residences at 230 East 63rd Street, except this project will have three and four bedrooms. This project will also have a gym and storage space.  

It’s vacation time…where can we find Michael and Yvonne? What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working (or is that a trick question??)

Yvonne and I are always working; however, we do take time to enjoy our family and friends. In the summer we enjoy golf and tennis and our home in the Hamptons.  In the winter, we love to travel and ski.

It’s 2020—what is the current state of MPE? 

Our vision for the company is to continue to acquire and develop noteworthy properties with great potential. The sky is the limit!


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By: Ryan Serhant  

NYC will always be a top global destination for foreign investors and moguls in the market for big ticket, ultra-luxurious Penthouses that sit atop gleaming high-rises. However, my New York based clients noticed that less inventory was available in the middle market luxury space. These buyers have been coming to me in droves with tall orders, requesting a four–bedroom residence in a luxury building with a two-bedroom budget. In the past, inventory was low and demand continued to increase. Everything is changing in 2015, with new inventory finally coming to the market, taking the shape of luxury boutique developments, effectively fulfilling this demand for new luxury units without high-rise prices. 2015 marks the rise of Luxury Boutique Development in NYC.

While many developers seek to capitalize on this trend and seize the moment, native New York developers Michael Paul D’Alessio, and Yvonne D’Alessio, of Michael Paul Enterprises, have an advantage on the Upper East Side. The D’Alessio’s recognized the void in the marketplace early on and developed luxury boutique properties that offer far more privacy than their crowded and overpriced high-rise counterparts. Priced at millions less than comparable high-rise units, the units at 225 E. 81st  www.225E81.com and 554 E. 82nd St. www.554E82.com will not last long.

This year, I will bring over a dozen new luxury boutique developments to market all over the city. In fact, I just launched Seven East Village, a luxury boutique development located at 277 E. 7th St. that is contributing to the evolution of the entire neighborhood. The building is located just east of Tompkins Square Park, an East Village neighborhood that has morphed into a destination for dining, nightlife and excitement. The neighborhood resembles Williamsburg in attitude, with great restaurants and reasonable (but rising) apartment prices—and a Manhattan address!

Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban, the owners of the hot restaurant Edi & The Wolf, were early pioneers in this neighborhood on Avenue C with their upscale, yet rustic restaurant. Then, more recently, Eduard and Wolfgang took a bet on the expanding popularity of the neighborhood by opening The Third Man, a popular mixology bar a few doors down. ‘Dallas’ actor Jesse Metcalfe has even heard about the evolution of this neighborhood and is interested in one of my units at 277 E. 7th St. Word is definitely out about this hidden gem of a neighborhood, and it’s obvious now that Eduard and Wolfgang were certainly on to something!
In fact, Condos at the Flowerbox Building in the East Village, near 277 E. 7th, have traded at $1,600 psf, and that’s a good indicator of the way the neighborhood has evolved. Prices at 277 E. 7th are a steal at just $1400 psf, and I have a HUGE 1 bedroom with a big backyard for only $1.075M. The mortgage payment on this unit would be comparable to rent. The other new condo buildings in the immediate vicinity are: 227 E 7th (just completed), and 397-401 East 8th Street (under construction), all four within arms reach of each other.

If you are looking for exclusivity, luxury, privacy, value, and space, give me a call. These units are limited and will not last long. You can finally have everything you’ve always wanted and more.


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Metropolitan Magazine offers powerful editorial content each issue, featuring insight from a who’s who in luxury real estate including CEOs, top agents and the stars of the industry. Click on the boxes below to read the features within each section or scroll down to start browsing work from our columnists.


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Yoga: The Perfect Style for Your Personality

By Kathryn Budig 

bhujaThe word yoga probably conjures up the image of a content-looking yogi contorted into the shape of a pretzel but I have good news-all yoga isn’t like that. In fact, there are endless variations of yoga for every type of person.

The question is where should you start? Below is a short list I put together of some of the most popular styles of yoga, mapped out to match your personality in hopes that you may find your perfect style. Remember to try more than one, or at least until you find one that keeps you motivated. It’s out there — I promise!


You’re organized, always on time, never miss an appointment, and always want to do your best. 

You’ll loveAshtanga yoga. This style of yoga created by Pattabhi Jois originated in Mysore, India. It’s a set series of postures that are done in a sequence that can be practiced independently or in a led class. The sequence is challenging and fiery — it’s a great way to build strength, burn off excess energy and see results from your dedicated practice.


You’re a born athlete. You sweat every day. You adore a challenge and you love to move! 

You’ll lovePower yoga. I know this will be your cup of tea. These classes are often heated (which translates into major sweating) and include demanding postures strung together into sequences. Even the strongest athlete will find a challenge in this style of class, not to mention a great way to elongate and protect the muscles for their regular endeavors.


You’re constantly on overload with you wheels turning and twenty irons in the fire. Clearing your mind will sooner happen when pigs fly. 

You’ll loveVinyasa flow. This style of yoga links movement with breath in an often dance-like sequence of postures. It can be rigorous or soothing, or both, depending on the teacher and level. Vinyasa flow demands your full attention to do well. You can’t balance or flow if your mind is somewhere else, so this is the perfect way to get rid of your to-do list, for at least the duration of the practice


You’re a sponge for information. You’re always open to learning about anatomy, how the body works, and how to keep it safe during your practice. 

You’ll love… Iyengar yoga. This style of yoga was created by B.K.S. Iyengar. His style focuses on the intricate details of the body and how it works within each pose. It moves at a repetitive and thoughtful pace with ample amounts of yoga props to make the posture more accessible and appropriate for each body type.


Showing up to a public yoga class is your worst nightmare. You don’t want anyone watching you or you’re simply not confident enough in your yoga skills to practice in front of other people. 

You’ll loveOnline yoga. All you need is a space big enough to unroll your yoga mat and to be able to stand, fold and extend your arms. This option allows you to safely try different teachers and styles in the comfort of your home, and to work at your own pace.


Visit Kathryn’s online studio @ www.yogaglo.com 


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Written in Stone

In an age where we find ourselves surrounded at all times by a complex web of glass, steel and plastic, stone retains its elementary and essential status as the material of permanence and timelessness. There is no experience quite the same as placing one’s hand against the coolness of marble or seeing a supple flow of forms carved from its seemingly unyielding hardness. But while stone retains a place of pride in building, architecture, and decor, the grand tradition of stone sculpture, particularly figurative work, has diminished in modern times, threatening to mute one of stone’s most glorious and distinctive voices. These voices raised themselves up to counter that danger.



(Proprietor of ABC Worldwide Stone & Board Member, New York Academy of Art) Sculpture gives us the opportunity to recognize art dimension-ally. It brings art to life in a way that other forms of art can never achieve. I have had the opportunity to see some of the great masterpieces of sculpture, and each time I’m in their presence I’m humbled, and yet I’m challenged by the level of talent that our species possesses. Sculpture in the urban setting adds beauty and sophistication to the fortunate onlooker. Where sculpture exists, an oasis is created where people are drawn to explore, contemplate and enjoy the inseparable bond between art and nature.

Sculpture enriches public spaces like no other form of art, but sculpture is also one of the most expensive and time-intensive kinds of art making. Training, fabrication, materials: all require commitment, skill and an intimate relationship to a sculptor’s chosen medium.


(Dean of Academic Affairs, New York Academy of Art) I see two extremes happening simultaneously in contemporary sculpture. On the one hand there is the post-studio model whereby the artist becomes the director, orchestrating artisans and assistants to produce ambitious work that may not require the artist’s touch. This sensibility has a certain remove and coolness that speaks to its conceptual history. Artists with large studio practices and multiple assistants are nothing new in the art world, but with the advent of digital printing and milling, it is currently being taken to a new extreme. On the other hand you see artists returning to the inherent joy of being what Mark Mennin refers to as “the single combat warrior.” This kind of artist almost insists on doing everything themselves. This can lead to a certain romanticizing of the studio practice, but I find it admirable just the same.

The trend in contemporary sculptural practice in recent decades has been away from stone in favor of modern and manufactured materials, especially in abstraction and assemblages created from diverse sources. While many beautiful and intriguing sculptures have arisen from this engagement, there’s been an unfortunate side effect: a lessening of stone as the first choice for sculptural practice, which has had some unforeseen effects.


(New York-based artist) I think stone is worthy of consideration today for two important reasons. First, its aesthetic contributions are endless, both in the range of colors and applications. Secondly, we live in a time of expanding sensitivity to using natural materials and avoiding petroleum-based synthetics such as plastic.

Another unintended consequence: a loss of skill in working with stones of all kinds, as artists turned away from the material. Hard as it is to imagine, it would be difficult to find contemporary sculptors who have the technical know-how to create sculptures on the level of many figurative works executed just a hundred or so years ago.

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I had the pleasure of being asked by the New York Academy of Art if I would be willing to assist in developing a stone sculpture pro-gram to an already existing and incredible sculpture department. I was so happy that they had the foresight and vision to want to further pursue this age old medium. We immediately put together a Residency program that would allow the students to travel to Italy and learn these classic stone carving techniques with some of the masters in Carrara. Carrara is the home of the Apuan Alps, which is where all of the great Renaissance sculptures procured their materials and honed their craft for millennium. We were also able to assist in designing and offering a workshop at the school which would allow the students instruction on how to sculpt in stone here in New York. The Academy then provided the space to house a dedicated stone sculpture area at the school in which a stone sculpting elective is now taught as a part of the regular curriculum. Since this process started in 2011, the community of sculptors at the Academy has grown and the interest in stone sculpture is seeing an upswing in interest and stewards.


Since the inception of the stone-carving elective at the New York Academy of Art I have seen an uptick in the sense of seriousness in the Sculpture Department. There is a feeling that along with the rigor that is demanded of stone carving there is a connection to art history and its most ambitious art-makers; there is almost no way that you can start carving stone without feeling a connection to Bernini, Michelangelo and Rodin. I have also seen how the Academy’s patrons respond to the art that is produced in the class and through the Carrara Residency; it is almost a magical reaction, as if they can’t believe that students can produce something so incredible.

There is no experience quite the same as placing one hand against the coolness of marble or seeing a supple flow of forms carved from its seemingly unyielding hardness. 

The results of Tibett’s and Drake’s efforts in raising the profile and proficiency of stone sculpture have been highly successful, and the proof can be seen in the artworks themselves. Joshua Henderson, a young sculptor and winner of the 2014 Carrara Residency, created the lovely, mysterious work “Mother,” a sculpture whose flowing lines and wind-swept drapery remind viewers of just how powerful form can be when channeled into a block of creamy Carrara marble. There is nothing quite like working with stone, as both Henderson and Stephen Shaheen can attest.


(Carrara Residency Award Recipient 2014) Once I’ve selected a piece of marble, I try to grasp a vision of what the stone means… I ask myself many questions during the artistic process. How does this material relate to me? Why stone? Why this composition or gesture? Who and what am I representing? During the process many of my questions are answered, and when they are I begin questioning the answers. In selecting material for my sculpture “Mother,” I wanted a stone that was pure and beautiful as was my perception of my mother. I looked for a stone that closely mirrored my feelings for the concept. In this case, white Carrara marble was perfect, pure and strong with subtle veining.

001-Metro2 (84)STEPHEN SHAHEEN 

I use many different media, but when it comes to stone, it’s quite a visceral, even brutal process. There is a violence enacted on the material, and reciprocated on my body. I don’t know that I give them life so much as an interpretable transformation; some people and cultures would prefer the stone in its natural state. Regardless, it is a very involved process that requires close human intervention from start to finish.


In order to “experience” the stone I suppose one must have involvement in, contact with, observation of, awareness of, or insight into the stone. I think it’s safe to say that the more experience a person has with stone the closer that person comes to mastering it.

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And it’s safe to say that, thanks to the efforts of businessmen, educators, fabricators and artists, new generations will have that irreplaceable experience of stone that has for so long been a crucial encounter with beauty.

By Gregory Crosby

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How to Upstage a Home

By Cheryl Eisen 

CHERYL EISEN of Interior Marketing Group shares her thoughts on a variety of design elements that help define the future residences of Manhattan’s elite buyers. They can work just as well in a Chelsea studio or a quaint pied-a-terre in the Village. Eisen’s picks for her team’s stagings, as well as their interior designs, have a unique broad appeal equipped with ‘wow-factor’ that enables your home to upstage its former self.


A Fresh Coat of Paint

If I had to pick just one thing to spend money on, whether it be in a $250,000 home or a $25,000,000 one, I would choose paint. A fresh coat of paint makes any room look finished and new. My go-to’s are Light Grays and “Greiges” – neutral beige-grays – which make a room look bigger and lighter. Walls are the backdrop for your design — think of it as a canvas.

20-greene-2014Grasscloth Wallpaper

When paint isn’t the complete answer, I turn to grasscloth wallpaper. They are naturally textured and add an instant but tastefully subtle luxuriousness to a space, many of them with light-reflecting threads woven into them. I love creating a dark and dramatic accent wall with gray grasscloth behind a master bed to add depth,

or covering an entire hallway with a lighter color. Have left over wallpaper? I like to wrap smaller old or scratched furniture (textured side-table anyone?) and it becomes a one-of-a-kind piece. See Puck PH 2 master

Mirrors, Mirrors on the Walls

Ubiquitous in all my stagings are my unapologetic use of multiple large mirrors. Not only do they make a room feel double the size, they also double the windows, adding more light.

xosqHI6lwo3qy-pR1QTsojRq_ZxuB22OSdVDSnVpylQ,xcW6CHDbowdp88TtUfp_htJQUlxO2R8J1Gi6iYV7PnMOversized Modern Artwork

Most, if not all, of the artwork I use is original, which is wonderful because we can make statement pieces custom-sized and painted for a specific job. We like it oversized and abstract and mostly black and white (unless it’s a kid’s room), creating an eye-catching focal point for the room. How big should you go? As big as the wall space permits. Pro-tip: paint, then hang canvases together so they appear as one oversized piece.

Low, Modern Sofas

Seating that lacks height, but makes up for it in length and plush works by keeping spaces feeling more open and not blocking views, especially if seating is not against a wall. Also, like walls, sofas are best kept light and neutral, helping make a room look less cramped.

Sprawling Rugs

I never use a rug that falls short from covering the seating space in a room. The bigger the area rug, the larger the room will feel. And whenever the demographic permits, I love to use a plush flokati rug.

113186070 copyUnexpected Sculptural Furniture

Especially in smaller spaces, furniture pieces that are both utilitarian and sculptural are a perfect two-in-one and are simply stunning. I like to use pieces with organic elements like raw wood paired with warm metals, such as gold or brass, to create a striking combination.


If it is your home, never fear the most important insight of all: yours. When staging, I want to make a room look real and inviting, not staged. The trick to the latter is knowing who you are staging for, and design for that demographic, but always include unexpected elements because buyers for the same listing are not all the same. For the homeowner it is easier because you are designing for yourself, you know what you like, and if you’re not sure, there are those of us with the insight to help.


Cheryl Eisen is President of Interior Marketing Group



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Rebranding and Preservation

 …with Elizabeth Stribling

2By Stephanie Jones

When Elizabeth Stribling became President of Stribling and Associates in 2013, she knew she had an uncompromising legacy to uphold. Having worked as Director of Marketing and Business Development for many years, Stribling already had a comprehensive understanding of core values, including the number one axiom handed down from her mother, company founder, Elizabeth F. Stribling: Work hard and be honest.

Growing up in a family that nurtured ambition of the most sophisticated nature, Stribling spent her formative years frequently engaged in dinner table conversations that would later shape her into a professional listener and role model for self-possession. Her mother taught her the importance of personal accountability while she was still in grade school, a lesson she has carried with her throughout her career. “I think the first thing you have to do is accept the fact that you may fail,” she says.

“Failure can happen, and failure isn’t as bad as people think it is. I don’t have all the answers. No one does. Life is a continually changing process. I have learned to be able to say, ‘I don’t know, but I will find out, and I’ll work to find out.’ And to the people who think they know everything, and are quick to the make answers, and are often too hasty- that’s when real mistakes are made.”

A true New Yorker, Stribling has observed the dramatic developments in her native city over decades of change, and works to imbue each burgeoning real estate market with energetic ideas that preserve the company’s essential ideals. “New York is always changing and we must change with it,” she says, “but [we have to] hold on to [our] core beliefs, and that’s ‘work hard and be honest.'”

“New York has changed so drastically. You can’t have the worst apartment on the best block because there is no best block anymore; everything is the best block. You have to be able to work with the times. Luxury is a continually evolving concept, and you have to be able to continually evolve with it.”

Stribling’s depth of understanding within the changing market comes from her ability to observe herself and interpret each observation as it relates to her work as a luxury real estate professional. “You have to fully understand who you are, and I think that very much involves understanding your weaknesses,” she says.

“You have to look at the world around you and [figure out] what makes you relevant, and what makes you still have a place at the table. But, how do you have a place at that table in five years?”

One way in which Stribling ensures her enduring success is by truly serving the customer. Though the market fluctuates, the conception of luxury Real Estate as a client-centric business remains the same. Stribling’s incomparable dedication to customer service comes directly from her mother. “One of the greatest pieces of advice my mother ever gave me was, when you look at negotiating, you always have to see the other side; if you can’t see the other person’s perspective, you’re going to hit a deadlock.” She maintains the nuance of negotiating comes down to one key component: “I think it’s imperative to listen,” she says. “I listen, and I think it’s really important to listen, and really think about your response. You have to think before you speak, and I think that’s something that just doesn’t happen enough.”

Because her company ideals fuel the way she runs her business, Stribling takes care to select agents and associates who possess the same vital work ethic and integral qualities of honesty and accountability. “A Stribling agent is going to be onboard,” she says.

“The ‘right broker’ is someone who is ethical, who stands up for what’s right. We work very much as a round table here; it’s my mother, myself and seven or eight managers. We really value other people’s opinions. You’re not going to work here by meeting just the head of HR; you’re going to meet with a lot of people. When you walk in the door, you’re getting a card that says my name on it, and you’re going to become a part of that family pretty quickly.”

While company branding is important, in such an evolving industry as luxury real estate, company rebranding is imperative. Though the Stribling name may be known for the ‘trophy apartment’ on Park Avenue, and the elusive 5th Avenue co-op, the brand itself has expanded beyond the Upper Eastside, serving a greater luxury community that reaches into Brooklyn and, more recently, Queens.

Stribling attributes her talent for effective rebranding to her background in marketing, a foundation that includes a strong sense of loyalty, and a desire to meet every customer’s unique needs. Specific price points matter far less than sincere service to the customer as an individual. “I want to learn everything,” she says. “The more I know, the more I can provide.”

Ever the urban entrepreneur, Stribling possesses a steadfast New Yorker approach to problem solving. “I don’t want someone else solving all my problems; I’ve got to solve them myself, with some assistance.” A market as turbulent as luxury real estate demands a special brand of poise and determination, and Stribling continues to rise to each extraordinary occasion.


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