The gun and Easter eggs were a universe away as I pulled a studio chair
up to the corner of the light table across from one of Vera's top artists.
I asked Shirley if she had a moment and after her nod asked how the work
for her showing across the river was coming along.
She immediately raised a knowing eyebrow, "Oh goody, one of your
The room around us was full of occupied light tables, each with a
highly skilled artist pursuing the impatient necessities of this top studio
feeding the heart of the New York City fashion industry.
It was the main creative hub for Scarves and Blouses by Vera
or simply Vera Scarves—the first ever signature clothing line.
The studio was an international workplace for twenty-five of the world's most
incredible artists, not to mention home court for Vera Neumann herself.
Of course, scarves barely covers the story, because
also there were blouses, dresses, bed linens, and tableware, with work being done for
Burlington, Mikasa, and others.
If there was a fashionable product that could use a great design, this
was a place that could do it.
Two shoulder height room dividers split the large bright room into
thirds, but otherwise it was totally open to allow the full ceiling of daylight
fluorescents to freely add to light coming in from an entire wall
of windows overlooking the Hudson River far below.
The windowed wall showcased a broad expanse of plant and tree covered
ancient volcanic palisades horizoned above the
opposite river bank nearly three miles away.
When Shirley made polite reference to my standard every-spare-second
pastime, it was
the first moment I was aware my conversations of opportunity (stolen
whenever possible) might be considered interviews.
However, since I had learned very early in life to be a good listener
and careful observer, it only seemed natural, so the idea of an
interview rang true enough for me to only answer, "Yes, if it's ok."
On my arrival at the Vera Industries art studio in my new position
as Assistant to the Art Studio Coordinator, I was handed what I
considered to be the keys to the kingdom, that is: access to two dozen of the
best qualified, most brilliantly articulate, severely creative, and
horribly frustrated artists on the planet.
I was sure that in their heads would be found the essence of everything
I had ever wondered about art, or dreamed to achieve in life, or hoped to
accomplish on any given day.
More or less, I was correct.