Meet the creatives and champions who are shaping the cultural conversation in Manhattan.
Painter and collector
Although you might know Michael Chow from his opulent Chinese eateries, Mr. Chow, as he’s known, is a prolific painter and collector with a background in art tracing back to his college days in London. Chow was a struggling painter for 10 years before he opened his first restaurant in the high-end neighborhood of Knightsbridge. He has been expressing himself through his palette—as opposed to his palate—for the past 60 years under the name Zhou Yinghua and collecting fine art for the past 55. His latest focus has been four season paintings to illustrate the impact of global warming and the decay of nature on the world. “Artists must be true to their time,” Chow says. “Therefore, I paint my landscape very differently from the traditional way. The artist’s job is to [create] continuation and contribution.” But Chow is not just behind the easel. Art giants such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Helmut Newton and Ed Ruscha have all created portraits of the business tycoon in their individual styles. Chow’s collection features the works of such greats and also traditional Chinese painters such as Qi Baishi, and he believes in the pragmatic side of private curation, revealing the business acumen responsible for his success. He says, “You [can] collect with love, but you [should] always collect with the element of investment.”
Blair Voltz Clarke
Founder/Owner of Voltz Clarke Gallery
After years of working as an advocate for artists, Blair Voltz Clarke opened her first gallery 2015 and never stopped expanding from there. “As relationships flourished with artists and clients, a gallery setting became the natural next step for mutual growth,” Voltz Clarke says. This month, one of her gallery’s represented artists, Jason Trotter, continues to show his “Equilibrium” series of geometrics in acrylics and further demonstrate the symbiotic partnership between gallerist and painter. “I have always found creative souls to be kindred spirits,” Voltz Clarke says. “All forms of art, from music, theater to visual arts, are a fundamental component to a well-rounded lifestyle.”
“My mom was very creative,” painter Jason Trotter says. “Growing up, I remember watching her. She was always painting or working on some kind of arts and crafts project.” His own experiences with the connective power of art brought him into a more creative space, and he found himself in high demand as the luxury art scene responded to his sharp lines and popping colors. Trotter’s latest projects include creating art for the Proper Hotel in L.A., which is set to open next month, and his solo exhibition with Voltz Clarke Gallery, which shows until Jan. 10. He says, “Art uplifts, inspires and is a powerful form of nonverbal communication that has the potential to bring people together despite whatever differences may exist.”
Despite her plans to study design and work in brand identity and beauty packaging, inspiration hit artist and art director Katherine Moffett during her foundation year at the School of Visual Arts. After being immersed in drawing and painting classes, her professors gave her a newfound appreciation for fine arts.
“I learned that you can create things any way you want, and you can even create how your world looks,” she says. “The act of creating brings joy and meaning to life.” After graduation, she rented a studio in Chinatown. Having a space that belonged only to her, where she could be free from any other responsibilities, allowed creativity to flow. Soon, she was able to take part in a gallery show and slowly transitioned from her design day job to working totally independently. She has gone on to create art for companies such as Birchbox and Diptyque.
Her Caran D’Ache pencil sketch of Lana Del Rey graced the VB Gives Back tote bag for the month of September. All of the proceeds from sales of the tote went to Edible Schoolyard NYC, which provides education to children in the public school system on good eating habits via hands-on cooking and gardening programs.
Veronica Swanson Beard & Veronica Miele Beard
The creators of ready-to-wear fashion brand Veronica Beard, aka The Veronicas, bonded over their love of fashion after they married brothers and became family. Their partnership birthed a brand that has won a place in the hearts of celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle. “Art and fashion go hand-in-hand, and Veronica and I love to fuse the two worlds whenever we get the chance,” Veronica Miele Beard says. The brand has collaborated with many artists, including Donald Robertson and CJ Hendry, along with Katherine Moffett for the VB Gives Back campaign. Every month, a woman is spotlighted along with her favorite cause. The charity gets $10 from every sale made on veronicabeard.com, along with 100% of proceeds from sales of their limited-edition artist-crafted VBGB tote bag. They have donated to foundations supporting breast cancer research, ending sex trafficking and promoting women in leadership programs, among many other causes.
Simon & Nikolai Haas
Although creativity is often synonymous with individuality, Los Angeles-based twin brothers Simon and Nikolai Haas possess collaborative artistic visions and outputs. Professionally known as the Haas Brothers, the artist duo focuses on sculptural works that explore the boundaries of aesthetic, design and craft. They were originally interested in construction and would create countertops and architectural stone installations with their father as kids. “At one point, construction became design became art, and we had this beautiful support system behind us that allowed us to explore,” Nikolai says. “We just kept pushing it. Doing our best to explore with our medium. Art wasn’t really my goal ever, but I’m happy it’s where we landed.” Fresh off an exhibit at Marianne Boesky Gallery, the pair just released a collaboration with Rihanna and featured their ceramics at Frieze London, paving their mutual
path to stardom.
Founder of Marianne Boesky Gallery
Art dealer Marianne Boesky is often credited for the meteoric rise of heavyweights such as Takashi Murakami and Lisa Yuskavage. Her swanky, eponymous galleries are deeply rooted in New York and Aspen and are peacefully thriving in a time when many middle-sized dealerships are actively competing for greater market share. Part of this comfort is a result of her representation of the Haas Brothers, whose aesthetic she says reminds her of Murakami’s. “I first saw their work in a couple of friends’ homes about six years ago and was immediately enamored,” she said in an interview with The Canvas. “I left the[ir] studio with a feeling similar to the one I had when I first started working with Murakami. There is an incredible energy to their collaborative approach and work that I’m drawn to, and I’m looking forward to sharing that with audiences in Aspen and well beyond.”
“You have to constantly evolve, challenge and push yourself,” says famed fashion designer Zac Posen, who recently closed his line. The New York-based talent has pirouetted to focus on other projects like designing costumes for the New York City Ballet. Peach-colored leotards and tutus grace the stage in collaboration with principal dancer Lauren Lovette’s production of The Shaded Line. Subverted and pointing upward in all directions, his deconstructed skirts, with an aesthetic that he describes as “messed-up Degas,” are a radical take on the company’s founding costume designer Barbara Karinska’s original tulle pieces. Posen dresses Georgina Pazcoguin, the androgynous heroine, like himself in a Zac Posen for Brooks Brothers white shirt and black pants. For the rest of the cast, Posen crafted petal tops and lifted the sides and backs of women’s tutus. Ideal for floor work, his costumes offer a break with traditional ballet. Posen’s meticulous designs debuted at the ballet company’s annual Fall Fashion Gala and will be worn throughout the subsequent season. The New York designer also promises exciting launches in the future, such as his upcoming glamorous bridal line for White One, and says, “There is always more on the horizon.”
Choreographer and Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet
Principal dancer Lauren Lovette is showcasing the rebellious future of the New York City Ballet. Returning to the stage this spring, Lovette’s The Shaded Line plays with gender issues, combining elegant movements with atypical female partnerings. Her dancers’ powdery, subverted tulle costumes designed by Zac Posen fuse Lovette’s female perspective with a hint of masculinity. As the fifth female ballet member to choreograph during her tenure—all while still dancing in The Nutcracker and winter season—the dancer upends traditional ballet and places it into a modern setting. “Supporting art is deeply important because without it we have no reason to advance further in society,” Lovette says. “There would be no reason to fight for freedom because we would have no ability to enjoy that freedom.”
Photography by: Michael Chow photo by Fredrik Nilsen; Blair Voltz Clarke photo by Manufoto; Jason Trotter photo by Art Zealous; Katherine Moffett photo by by Grant Friedman; Veronica Beard photo by Taylor Jewell; The Haas Brothers photo by Mason Poole; Marianne Boesky photo © William Waldron/OTTO; Zac Posen photo courtesy of Zac Posen; Lauren Lovette photo by Paul Kolnik