Mikvah Mural Magic

The Chelsea Community Mikvah, “A Spa For The Soul”, had a stunning spa interior, but the staircase leading to the lower level was plain white and boring.

First I applied plaster with a special trowel from Marmorino Products. I created a surface texture reminiscent of a wave.

Staircase before
Wave in Plaster







That wall received several transparent coats of a blue that matches the painted logo on the adjacent wall. The color was applied with an ombre effect: the pigments gradate from medium dark at the bottom to very light at the top, blending with the white background. The painted texture remains transparent and painterly, evoking the beauty of the waters awaiting you downstairs.

– Chelsea Community Mikvah: blue wave wall and painted logo.

The logo wall features a quotation by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Continuing the water theme, the text appears in a wavy manner as well.

– Logo and text

A mikvah is a spiritual, ritual bath, designed to custom specifications, that brides and married Jewish women immerse in. According to Jewish tradition water symbolizes life, purity, and the abundance of G-dly blessings. The waters in the Mikvah contain Mayim Chayim, or living waters. This is gathered rainwater direct from the source that is filtered, purified and chlorinated to the highest standard.

Macy’s Holiday Window 2016

YVStudio was hired by A Standard Transmission, a scenic shop in Red Hook, which creates all of Macy’s special window displays, to apply gold leaf to a massive reindeer head and antlers.

Concept sketch

The original concept apparently asked for a crystal deer head, but at some point this was changed to a gilded version.

Standard Transmission’s sculptors fabricated the huge antlers and head. Their prop department made the elves and presents, while the animatronics engineer created the elves’ movements.

YVStudio spent a week gilding and sealing the fauna.

The end result:

Macy’s “Giving” Window at Herald Square
Animatronics engineer Eric Humphreys is programming the elves' choreography.
Animatronics engineer Eric Humphreys is programming the elves’ choreography.

Antlers in progress Antlers in progress

Animatronic machinery on the back of the antlers
Deer head before
Dear head gilded
Dear head gilded


When even the elevators are works of art

In a midtown New York art deco building YVStudio restored the ceiling of one of the elevators. 

The building itself is a stunning example of art deco at its best, and its elevators are no exception.

The magnificent inlaid wood walls and lighting fixtures are crowned by a sliver dome. After recent damage was inflicted, I re-gilded its 9 ceiling panels. 


Lobby wall with elevator detail
Lobby wall with elevator detail

Medallions on Park Avenue

Earlier this Summer I was invited to do a decorative painting project at an Upper East Side Park Avenue residential lobby.

yvstudio_888park1aThe client asked me to work on 2 items. First I created a faux metal black decorative grille to match an existing iron grille above the entrance door.

The lobby is quite large, and the second half of the project consisted of giving a subtle color wash to 12 medallions in this space. 


I made a custom sample for these, but once the approved color was applied to the actual medallions, it was decided that these should be more vivid. 


This being a conservative and understated building, I kept the treatment rather light and subtle. There was one more revision after that; the golden tone needed to be pumped up. In the end members of the building committee and designer Judy Dunne were very pleased with the results.












Victoria’s Secret brick wall with logos

During a NYC heatwave, on a 95 degree day, I painted a backdrop for Victoria’s Secret. Who said the fashion world is glamorous? The temperature inside the set shop where I was painting was literally as high as it was outside.

VS_Brick wall_web
Brick with primer coat, ready to be aged

My first step in this project was painting and “aging” the brick wall. The bricks are just a sheet of material, too even for what the set designer wants. I used plaster to fill in some of the grooves, followed by a transparent layer of slightly darker paint here and there to mimic weathering.

The aging is not as easy as you may think; in the set shop it will look one way, but in the photo studio with lots of light it will look different. And you never know exactly in advance how it will look; this is where experience comes in.

Aged brick.

The second step was to measure and draw a grid for even spacing of the vinyl letters. Then I transferred the letters on to the wall. It required a lot of rubbing since the wall was textured.






Finished wall

The last step was the application of dulling spray on the letters; sheen is something the photographer does not want in a backdrop.

Of course once the models stand in front of the wall, few people will focus on the letters…

Some days I get to paint backdrops in super fancy photo studios (my favorite is the one at Chelsea Piers). And some days I get to paint in more humble environments. As long as the client is happy…

My painting in the NY Social Diary


About once a month a designer is featured in the Decorator Series in the New York Social Diary.

The July 2016 issue profiles Rod Winterrowd, a California-born, New York-based designer, whose clients are so private that he never discusses them on the internet. 

I have had the pleasure of doing various painting assignments for Rod. For his own apartment he commissioned me to do a large Rothko-inspired canvas, which is now prominently displayed in his living room.

A painting inspired by Rothko by decorative artist Yvonne Verwer hangs above the living room fireplace mantel. The limed Oak corner chair was designed by Rod and covered in a Lee Jofa fabric.

The article shows his exquisite apartment and discusses his life as Vice President at Disney before he turned 30, after which he took the plunge and started studying design at Parsons.

Read the article here: here.

By Sian Ballen & Lesley Hauge
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch


Linda Horn’s Arches Murals

Several years ago I painted two large trompe l’oeil “arches” murals for Linda Horn Antiques at her new location in Carnegie Hill, on Madison Avenue and 93rd Street.

She recently redesigned her store, and wrote “the murals still look fabulous”.

I designed these wall works to complement the store’s Moroccan arches with pilasters in river-washed stone. The color palette is silver and pewter, in tune with the rest of the interior.

Trompe l’Oeil "Arches" Mural. Linda Horn Antiques, Madison Ave, NYC
Trompe l’Oeil “Arches” Mural. Linda Horn Antiques, Madison Ave, NYC




Trompe l'oeil Arches Mural. Linda Horn, LLC, Madison Ave, New York
Trompe l’oeil Arches Mural.
Linda Horn, LLC, Madison Ave, New York


The Pierre Hotel’s Restaurant

The Pierre Hotel in New York, one of the world’s premier luxury destinations, is about to open a new restaurant this week, Perrine. Its previous decor designed by Adam D. Tihany is mainly left intact. 


I worked for Pompeii Studios on its lime-stone inspired walls. Alise Loebelsohn and I repainted some sections and created new ones. 

Lime-stone inspired wall painting


The hotel’s color palettes are echoed in the restaurant’s setting: soft neutrals in pale ivory and taupe are contrasted with rich woods.





The Pierre, the iconic U.S. flagship of Taj Hotels on New York’s Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park re-opened in 2010 following a $100 million renovation.

Possessing a fabled Central Park location and legendary history, The Pierre continues to set the standard for elegance and unrivalled hospitality. When Charles Pierre opened the hotel in 1930 he wanted a place that was elegant and discreet. There already was the Plaza, with its over-the-top Beaux Arts exuberance. And the Waldorf-Astoria, in its Art Deco glory. The Pierre was to be different: an understated grande dame. It still is.



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