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You never know what’s going on behind closed doors, and the case of the Mehta household, who could imagine that beautiful artwork was being created in an in-house studio in Quaker Ridge. Scarsdale resident Shreya Mehta is an award-winning visual artist, who strives to explore issues of identity, gender, power and spirituality in a variety of mediums and styles including paintings, charcoal sketches, and meditative practices. Her art has been exhibited across the globe from the New York Indian consulate to Prime Minister Naredra Modi.shreyaShreya Mehta in her studio.

We interviewed Shreya about her creative process and her personal experiences as an artist:

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist and how long have you been one?

I did not know I wanted to be an artist. I just knew I wanted to change the world. I’ve always been an artist because everybody is an artist whether they realize it or not. Everyone is an artist the minute they are born because creativity is a human quality.

What is the point of being an artist to you?

I create the beauty that I want to see in this world, and I explore this creative journey to understand who we are in this world and what our identity is whether it be cultural, spiritual, or gender. Once we understand this, I believe, we can have a much bigger sense of purpose and what we have to give the world. One of the biggest drives for me to create art is Art For a Cause, which is a nonprofit I launched in 2012 where I give back to charitable causes that I am passionate about. For instance, I donate a portion of my commissions to fund the education of underprivileged girls in India.

Is there a certain artistic path you take and/or principles you try to incorporate in your art?mehtahorses"Traces of Palanpur I” depicts a crowd gathering for a royal procession in Palanpur. It was made using charcoal, graphite and 22K gold leaf on 150 lb. Arches cold-pressed paper.

A couple of years back, I realized the making of paint, paintbrushes, and all the supplies have so much toxicity in it. There is so much animal cruelty that goes into even a tube of paint. My spiritual conscience did not allow me to work with those mediums anymore, and so I researched the natural pigments that are made from plants, minerals, and mother earth. I now use those materials in the most sustainable way possible because I think it is so important to be thoughtful about the materials we use and what we surround ourselves with.

How has your practice and your journey as an artist changed over time?

I started my practice by exploring the world as I saw it through my own eyes. In the past, I traveled to India while capturing scenes from the villages, and now even in Scarsdale, I capture the nature I see. But, with time, I have started to internalize what I am creating and move toward a more abstract way of expression. Nothing is black and white because there are all these shades and validity in the truth, which is now what I try to convey through my artwork. I feel like my practice has changed from just capturing what I see around me to a more internal, abstract way of creating art. From the raw materials to the subject matter to the time of day I create art, I’ve taken a more meditative route.

Do you find it hard to find time to pursue your art while fulfilling family obligations?

Such a good question! I often wonder if domestic life is the enemy of creative work?
The constant pull of family, household work, errands seems to suck out time from the day. But I have realized that it is all about balance. I plan out the most important priorities the night before and carve out time to focus on my art. I have days which are just dedicated to creating and exploring. The point of art is to unsettle and to question. To do that, I need to be present and to have that gift of time.

What advice were you given as an artist and is there anything you’d like to tell an aspiring artist?

I think the best piece of advice is “you do not need to have a signature.” In other words, do not
fit your whole self into a signature style. I think it is so important to experiment and really take that time to explore different mediums and subject matters because art is not just a destination, it is a journey. I urge every young boy and girl to learn, experiment, and keep their minds open. Try to create small little rituals like taking a photo of nature with one’s phone but making sure to do it daily. Art is not just about doing something once, but rather developing a creative attitude toward life and a daily appreciation for beauty.

mehta1“Rivers of Gold” was made with 22K gold leaf and gold paint imprinted on handmade straw paper cemented onto primed linen canvas.

What is your favorite piece you have created?

That’s like asking me which of my children is my favorite! I do not think an artist could do that.

What type of environment inspires you the most?

The time of day is very important for me. I need to be surrounded by nature and the ideal time for me to do so is early in the morning around 5-7 AM when the sun is rising. That’s the time when I feel like my artwork flows the best. In the summer months, I love to sit and paint outside, but for the winter months, I have mirrored the outdoor setting indoors with plants in my studio.

What artists are you influenced by?

Mark Rothko is definitely one artist that has inspired me because he has such a strong and spiritual way of exploring color theory. Another artist growing up was Georgia O'Keeffe and her flowers. The way she blazed the trail for hundreds of female artists even inspires me to this day.

mehtawindowBring the Light In

What does Scarsdale mean to you?

One of the things I am also grateful for is how beautiful the natural landscapes of Scarsdale are; it is an environment that inspires and calms me. The nature, the houses... It is a perfect little village and I just feel like it's home.

What do you want to share with Scarsdale residents?

I offer studio visits either virtually or in-person, and I would definitely love for people who are so local to come by and see a real artist's work—the mess included! I used to work in Brooklyn but since 2020 - I have transformed my guest bedrooms into 2 home studios in Scarsdale, NY.

To learn more about Mehta's art or for a virtual visit, you can follow her on Instagram @artshreya or visit her website here.

tonysaegusaAzuma Sushi, a staple in Hartsdale, is now closed after proprietor Tony Saegusa passed away at the age of 73 due to complications from COVID on March 1, 2021.

According to a gofundme page that was set up to assist Saegusa’s family, “Azuma Sushi has been a staple among Westchester county residents. The Hartsdale restaurant was one of the first authentic sushi restaurants in Westchester County. His customers and staff over the past 38 years became like a second family to Tony, and his favorite part about running the restaurant.”

Azuma served traditional Japanese sushi using the freshest fish in an elegant setting. Tony greeted you with a bow and showed you to a table in the formal dining room. Patrons knew they should be on their best behavior. Even after others started opening Japanese restaurants offering whimsical ingredients and custom sushi rolls, Azuma maintained its original menu and ethos. The future of this iconic restaurant is unknown.azumaFlowers on the door of Azuma in Hartsdale

Saegusa was born in Yamanashi Japan on October 11, 1947. He came to the United States in 1969 and opened Azuma Sushi in 1983. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Kuniko, 3 sons; Tohgo, Haruki, Kento and one grandson, Ken.

Danielle Jeremy Maya copyDanielle, Jeremy and Maya Moving is always a big and stressful decision. Moving during the COVID-19 pandemic is even more difficult. Selling and buying properties under COVID rules is tricky, finding COVID safe movers is another complication and conducting closings via Zoom is challenging as well. If the house needs work, scheduling painting, renovating and deliveries during COVID are more obstacles to overcome.

Then, when you’re new in town, how can you make friends with your masked neighbors? How do you meet new people when your kids are in the house, engaged in remote or hybrid learning with limited after school activities? Playdates are complicated, birthday parties small and the suburbs can feel isolated.

Read about some newcomers to Scarsdale and how they overcame challenges to get settled in their new community, We were introduced to the moms of some families who recently moved to Scarsdale and here are their stories:

Lauren moved to Heathcote from the Upper East Side where she was born and raised. She has two kids ages 4 and 2 and works as a lawyer and licensed social worker.

Danielle moved to Quaker Ridge in November after leaving the city and briefly experimenting with New Jersey. She is married with a 2-year-old and has a baby on the way.

Minisha, also lives in Quaker Ridge, where she moved after 20 years in Manhattan. Minisha is a physician in private practice on the Upper East Side. She partially commutes and partially works from home. She has three children, ages 12, 10 and 7.

Zoya moved from Queens to Edgewood. She works as Allergist-Immunologist at Montefiore and has a 22-month-old and works as an

Mira is new to Fox Meadow and comes from Chicago. She has two kids, ages 12 and 10, and works for JPMorgan Chase.

Here is what they shared:

(Q.) What have been some positive experiences you’ve had since moving to Scarsdale?

Lauren: Local programs like Mohawk Day Camp, Westchester Reform Temple and Kids in Sports have been excellent with their communication, kindness and positive spirit. We have made friends with others who recently moved here- the shared experience of moving to a new town in the midst of a pandemic with young children leads to quite a bond!

Danielle: I will never forget the welcome we received here. Our family lives either out of state or out of the country so community was important to us. We hesitated to leave the city for fear of feeling isolated but we were so wrong. For weeks, we had dinners sent to us, wine deliveries, and endless doorbell rings from genuine, lovely people. We love living in a neighborhood like that.

Minisha: We didn’t know what to expect moving in a pandemic, so I made a concerted effort to engage on local Facebook groups and contacted friends of friends. We’ve met some lovely families who have welcomed us with open hearts and arms. In retrospect, moving during this time was nice in a way because everyone’s life slowed down to a pace where they may have been more open to meeting one on one, or had the time to do so. We’ve gone on nature walks with new friends, dined outside a few times, enjoyed firepits and sledding... These are things we wouldn’t have done or had in the city.

Zoya: We have really enjoyed getting to know our neighbors via backyard chats and discovering new restaurants like Wood and Fire. We love shopping at DiCicco’s. We have also enjoyed strolling through Scarsdale Village and our neighborhood with our son.

Mira: Neighbors went above and beyond to welcome us when we moved in, from stopping by to introduce their families to dropping off an orchid and bringing home-baked cookies. They even shared electricity over the 10-day power outage by running a cable across the street so we could run some essentials like our coffee pot and Aerobed as we awaited our moving truck! I met amazing moms who organized play dates and sports meet ups for our kids to connect before school started. La Renaissance Bakery gave my daughter a sampling of French cookies to "acclimate her" to Scarsdale. Irish Bank and Vega even provided a welcome drink to us.

(Q.) What has been the most difficult or frustrating for you?

Lauren: In some ways I still don't have my bearings here - I don't know where the local movie theater is, where my kids would have birthday parties, or even what it's like inside friends' homes or my kids' school. Like all parents I am anxious about school in the months ahead when my son starts kindergarten in September. I’m looking forward to outreach from the elementary school for my son as he prepares for kindergarten.

Danielle: Seeing how this pandemic is affecting people’s health and livelihood. We have been fortunate to stay relatively healthy, but many have not. It is challenging to stay diligent while pregnant, not being able to see family for many months, all while having fears of sending kids to school. My heart is really with those who are suffering or have lost loved ones.

Minisha: Keeping the kids’ morale up while not in school full time. Their city friends are back full time and that’s a little frustrating for them but they’re happy we’ve re-located and doing really well. I know they’d love more regular social interaction, especially being new to town. They’re involved in sports, but it’s limited now, and we haven’t gotten to experience the version of Scarsdale we chose pre-pandemic. That’s out of our control, of course. Overall, we feel blessed to have found a great house in a wonderful community with lots of new friends.

Zoya: Learning about home ownership and all of our new responsibilities here has been our biggest challenge. We are making progress!

Mira:Finding venues for the kids to safely integrate into the community, finding outdoor spaces to play and hike with our dog, and creating safe play environments with other kids - don't we all have that challenge in COVID times!

(Q.)How has the pandemic complicated moving to a new town?

Lauren: In general, it is hard to meet people at a time when I am creating a new life for my family. Everyone has been friendly and I feel fortunate to have made genuine connections on behalf of and through my children. Everyone is isolated now, particularly during the winter, so it can be challenging to get to know people. I hope to build on the connections I’ve made and help others do the same.

Danielle: We are currently remodeling our house and there are lots of delays with personnel and materials. COVID has made almost every element of the job more challenging, from furniture to faucets as everything is backordered for months. I know people will see this and relate- the impact on our supply chain has been pretty astounding.

Minisha: I thought it would be more challenging than it was, but people reaching out to us has made all the difference. This is going to sound strange, but as a working parent, acclimating to new schools was almost easier in a way for me because I know that while I’m at work there aren’t lots of school activities and parent meetings that I’m missing. Once things are back to normal, I’ll have my bearings and I’ll be better equipped to be more involved. I was very involved in my kids’ previous schools despite working full time.

Zoya: It has of course been very tough to meet new people. The community events and casual chats that used to occur pre-COVID are all on hold now.

Mira: We are new to the community and have to earn trust of others without the pre-pandemic ways of socializing in order earn that trust. Our neighbors have been nothing short of amazing.

(Q.) What are your favorite things about Scarsdale, thus far?Lauren David Luke EvaLauren, David, Luke and Eva

Lauren: First, community. While I very much look forward to meeting new people and exploring new places when the pandemic is over (or at least better), I feel lucky that we have been welcomed. Our neighbors, parents of our kids' classmates, our realtor and others we've met are truly warm and thoughtful. I have lived in cities my entire life and I appreciate that Scarsdale can feel like a small town in terms of a close-knit community while not feeling too small.

Second, programs/events. We were Scarsdale Pool members this past summer and it was great. I look forward to a more "normal" season when kids can take swim lessons and there will be a more relaxed atmosphere. My son has participated in the town's soccer programs and it’s been a lot of fun. Third has to be the chicken parm (and friendly staff) at Meritage!

Danielle: The community and the people, the beautiful, picturesque town with great restaurants and everything you could possibly need, as well as a relatively easy commute to Manhattan.

Minisha: The people, the beauty and the pride that the residents have for Scarsdale.

Zoya: The wonderful school system that our son will soon grow into and the proximity to the city. We are looking forward to nicer weather so we can start enjoying Bicycle Sundays on the Bronx River Parkway. We really look forward to meeting more people in our new town!

Mira: Neighbors who care and connect; culture that embraces diversity and open conversation; amazing resources across the school and community.

Do you have tips to provide to your new Scarsdale neighbors? Share them in the comments section below.

SaniaSania's Brow Bar, founded over two decades ago by celebrity brow specialist Sania Vucetaj and her daughters in New York City’s Flatiron district, will open in Scarsdale this week.

Sania and her team have been the trusted eyebrow artists and stylists that celebrities and VIP’s turn to and trust when it comes to eyebrow grooming, repairing, shaping and maintaining lush healthy eyebrows to perfection. Their signature full brow has been one of their trademark styles. Gentlemen need not fret, as Sania and her ladies are also known for giving men a clean natural well- groomed look.

Some of Sania’s famed clientele include Rhianna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Olivia Culpo, Matt LeBlanc and Kathie Lee Gifford to name a few.

Sania’s love of eyebrow perfection began literally by accident, after suffering a substantial wound as a toddler that severed her eyebrow and left her with a scar. As a result, Sania learned how to master the art of the eyebrow by camouflaging, reshaping and creating her signature full brow. It was then that Sania’s Brow Bar was born.

Sania trained her daughters’ and niece on the art of eyebrow, artistry and grooming as they too have mastered her trademark craft and helped her expand their family business.

Over the years Sania’s beloved clients in Westchester and Connecticut have been begging her to open a second location. After serious consideration, they decided to open in Scarsdale where Sania’s daughter lives and will be an integral part of the business. She was also encouraged to open here by her cousin Eddie Vucetaj owner of Sapori of Scarsdale.

Sania said, “We are thrilled to be a part of the Scarsdale Community and share our fabulous Brow Bar! If “Eyes are the window to the soul” Eyebrows and the essential frame in which to showcase them!” We are so grateful to have received such an incredibly warm welcome from DJ Petta, Property Manager of Scarsdale Improvement Corporation and Ashley Badger and Michael Keating of Sotheby’s and naturally the Scarsdale Business Alliance!”

Val added, “Over the years, our clients have become like a family to us and we are so excited to extend our family into the Scarsdale community and Westchester. Everyone has embraced us so graciously already and we couldn’t be happier to bring our passion here. Being able to help people look and feel their best is why we love what we do.”

Sania’s Brow Bar is located at 14 Harwood Court, Suite 218. Book your appointments at www.saniasbrowbar.com.

Sania’s Brow Bar has been profiled in The New York Times, Allure, Allure’s Best of Beauty, InStyle, New York Magazine Best of Issue, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and as a special talent on The Today Show.

ShirleyChisholmShirley Chisholm(The following was written by State Assemblymember Amy Paulin)
Since 1976, February has been celebrated as National Black History Month. We use this time to honor the brave activists who fought against racial discrimination and oppression, as well as the artists, leaders and innovators who’ve left an indelible mark on our nation. As we reflect on these pioneers, we must keep in mind that the battles fought by these trailblazers of history are still being fought today.

While the struggle for equal rights and fair treatment cannot be pinned down to any one location, New York State is home to several key landmarks and milestones in Black history. During the Dutch and Indian War in 1644, the farms of 11 Black freedmen spanned most of central Manhattan, eventually earning them enough money to buy the freedom of their still-enslaved children. Later, historic Weeksville, Brooklyn, became the largest pre-Civil War community of free Black Americans in the United States. Many of the stops on the Underground Railroad were also located in New York, including abolitionist and freedman Frederick Douglass’ house in Rochester, the last stop on the Railroad before Canada. Harriet Tubman, one of the most prominent and effective conductors, helped hundreds of enslaved people escape their captors and settled in Auburn, N.Y., later in her life.

From poet, playwright and novelist Langston Hughes, to anthropologist and writer Zora Neale Hurston and prolific composer Duke Ellington, New York was also the birthplace of the Harlem Renaissance, which is widely credited with revitalizing Black culture through art, music and writing. The far-reaching effects of this cultural explosion would later influence future activists such as James Baldwin, a Harlem-born novelist and essayist who tackled both Black liberation and the struggles of the LGBTQ community in his writings.LangstonHuguesLangston Hughes

More recently, New York served as the home of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress. In addition to representing New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven years, Ms. Chisholm became the first Black candidate to run for President of the United States, as well as the first woman to run for her party’s presidential nomination.

Despite all the progress made by these influential activists, artists and politicians, racism and discrimination still permeate American society. While over 400,000 Americans have now lost their lives to COVID-19, it’s clear that Black people are disproportionately affected by the virus. Black Americans were infected and died at a rate 1.5 times their share of the population, with the number jumping to 2.5 in Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin and Michigan. This disparity points to a deeper entrenched issue of health care inequality. The New York City Commission on Human Rights also released a report featuring testimonials from Black New Yorkers explaining that racism was “inescapable and emotionally taxing” in their day-to-day lives.

In 2020, protests surged across the country in the wake of the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, occurring in more than 400 cities and towns across all 50 states and led to a surge in the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter began in 2013 as a social media hashtag created by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin. These courageous activists, even when faced with a militarized police response, never wavered in their commitment to end horrific police brutality and violence against Black communities. In New York, the Assembly Majority took quick action to show that we won’t stand by while this violence occurs and passed new laws to help hold bad police officers accountable, promote transparency and begin rebuilding trust between communities and the police.

kamala heroKamala HarrisWe have just seen history being made with the election of Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to hold the position in the United States. History has also been made on Capitol Hill. In 2020, a record number of Black women were elected to Congress, which builds on the history made in 2018 when a record 57 Black Members were sworn into the 116th Congress. , In addition, we’ve begun to see monuments to controversial political figures and Confederate soldiers come down, as communities across the country reckon with the racism and violence that stains our nation’s past and present.

Black History Month serves as a time to not only honor and remember the victories of the past, but to motivate us to continue on the path toward true equality. Together, we can continue the work started by these pioneering activists and finally bring their goals – and our country’s founding ideals – to fruition.

As always, my door is open. If you have any questions about this or any other community issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact my office at paulina@nyassembly.gov or at 914.723.1115.
Amy R PaulinAmy R. Paulin

Footnotes
nps.gov/afbg/learn/historyculture/african-burial-ground-in-history.htm
weeksvillesociety.org/our-vision-what-we-do
harriet-tubman.org/moses-underground-railroad
womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/shirley-chisholm
npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/09/23/914427907/as-pandemic-deaths-add-up-racial-disparities-persist-and-in-some-cases-worsen
thecity.nyc/2020/6/9/21286102/black-new-yorkers-describe-racism-as-inescapable-in-quietly-released-human-rights-report
ipsos.com/en-us/knowledge/society/Protests-in-the-wake-of-George-Floyd-killing-touch-all-50-states
library.law.howard.edu/civilrightshistory/BLM
thehill.com/homenews/campaign/524263-record-number-of-black-women-elected-to-congress-in-2020
fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL30378.pdf
cnn.com/2020/06/09/us/confederate-statues-removed-george-floyd-trnd/index.html

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