Saturday, December 8, 2012

*Introduction to Sarah Sparkles Art Adventures and Inspiration Diary*

At the turn of the new millennium, I found myself frequenting art-based warehouse parties for an encompassing, transformative experience. In 2001, I got involved with creating art installations for large Brooklyn warehouse parties. In 2003, I attended my first Burning Man. These experiences primed me-- someone who has a generally deep belief that things should be built to last-- for a life that revolves around creating ephemeral art; something beautiful that lasts for one month, one week, one night, or a one of a kind piece of jewelry that will last for years to come- but I will never see it again. I became dedicated to documenting the finished art pieces as well as the production process that transpired. For myself, the production that happens behind the scenes is the true magic- the alchemy, the circus tricks. I love it! Aside from some small cuts, burns, and the trail of glitter I leave behind, in the end the photograph is usually all I have left. This notion of ephemeral art is apart of what inspires me to create this blog, to give an extended life to the work that I do and pay tribute to the artists that I love. With the exception of my jewelry and costumes, all of the art showcased here is created as a result of dedicated collaborative efforts. It brings me great pleasure to share a glimpse into this unique world that is my chosen life path. It is a way for me to share what happens during those times when I am literally or emotionally sequestered finishing a large project, and my friends and family do not see me for months on end. It is also something I can share with my friends around the world who can’t just hop on the subway to go see what I’m working on. Hopefully this medium will also help me to inspire people to do what they love, and to connect with more people who want to help make the world a sparklier place ;)

Back in 2005 while managing a fashion and accessories boutique in Williamsburg, I was looking for extra work to help pay the bills. My friend David said “Sparkles, do you know that you can get paid to put sparkles on things?” “REALLY?!!!...” He put me in touch with the holiday windows production manager at Bergdorf Goodman… and the rest is history. For the past 7 years I have been working on the freelance visual team that executes a large portion of the year-round production and installation for the illustrious Bergdorf Goodman windows. While working at Bergdorf I met designer Douglas Little and immediately felt kindred with his glamorous, macabre aesthetic. I am always very excited to work on his projects. As a production artist I am committed to working with designers and event producers who’s aesthetic I love- and take great pride and passion into seeing the vision into fruition. Otherwise I prefer to spend my time working on my own jewelry line and accessory designs. I am also in the final stages of producing a photography book on 21st century art-based protests and creative alternative subcultures. The more awesome art jobs that come in, the longer it has taken me to finish the book. But it is worth it to me to fund and produce this book myself; to have total creative and business freedom, to actively work within a DYI paradigm that the book so heavily promotes. (My book is going to be affordably printed in the USA, not China!!) So the ongoing story of my creative work life is one that spans the underground, grassroots, avant-garde, to the world of high-end production arts. For me there is really nothing else in between. And that’s how I like it- the best of both worlds. Full on.

So without further ado I bring you the Sarah Sparkles Art Adventures and Inspiration Diary. It will be a place where I showcase my most current creative projects, share some of my favorite blinged-out jobs of sparkle past, introduce amazing artists and designers that I have the pleasure of working with, and at times give a sneak peak into my world of unique cultural explorations. To get the party started, I have posted my last 3 months of art jobs and creative projects including: Bergdorf Goodman holidays windows, Van Cleef and Arpels holiday decor, events at the Waldorf and the Plaza, underground NYC nightlife and much more! Feel free to share this with others who will enjoy it. Wishing you all the best!!
XO Sarah Sparkles

*Behind the Scenes Pix from Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Windows* November 2012

Ron Salva is the creative genius that styles all of the mannequins in the Bergdorf windows. All of them. Pulls the fashion. Does all of the hair, make up, and accessorizing. I love Ron's style immensely and am grateful to be exposed to all of the high fashion combined with his aesthetic. One day I will do an entire article as a mini retrospective of his work. It will be called "Ron's Girls."

It's hard to not be tempted when surrounded by the hottest mannequins on earth.
Daniel was Ron's trusted assistant this season, he rocked it!

                                     Window director David Hoey: the ultimate magician.

*Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Window Installation* November 2012

For the past 7 years the season finale of my fall production season is always inevitably the installation of the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows. This years theme was The BG Follies of 2012, with windows inspired by Ziegfeld Follies, Vaudeville revues, old Hollywood, Art Deco style and vintage show girls. (YAY!!!) This year my assignment was to install a window on 5th avenue entirely covered in meticulously patterned feathers. Thousands of feathers. Ostrich, peacock, rooster, I was in heaven! The window was designed by window director David Hoey in collaboration with Johanna Burke of Burke and Pryde design studio.  My co-worker Rory and I spent an entire week installing and doing last minute production for the feather window. This window is a true masterpiece, I'm grateful to have been apart of it.

"Called Naughty and Nice, Act II Window is a tribute to burlesque performer Sally Rand, inventor of the risque fan dance... Our visual team’s obsessive artistry: it’s covered in thousands (if not millions) of white feathers. The feathers are used as a mosaic and was constructed feather by feather.”- Window director David Hoey quoted on BG's window blog.

                 Rory put forth an impeccable attention to detail while installing the feather window.

Johanna is schooling Rory on her stellar rigging techniques.
Its perfect that we cant see what she is doing. You are not supposed to. That's what makes it so good!!
Sparkles werrrking in an Alexander McQueen hat.
Inside one of the greatest shows on earth
                                        BG Follies 2012 "Naughty and Nice" Holiday Window
                                      Fashion by Marchesa, Accessories by New York Vintage

          Bergdorf Windows are on display at 58th Street and 5th Ave until January 3rd, 2013


*Van Cleef and Arpels Holiday Décor* November 2012

For the past three years creative director Douglas Little has designed the Van Cleaf and Arpels holiday windows and interior décor. This year he booked me and one of my favorite co-workers on the planet Jessie Flynn to encrust a phoenix statue in mother of pearl for the main floor of the iconic luxury jewelry store. This was one of my favorite projects of the season, because meticulous detail work with tiny sparkly things is one of my life's callings. The phoenix sculpture was fabricated by the ultra talented artist George Sellers and one of his assistants started the shell work in Dallas. Jessie and I brought it home :)
Jessie Flynn is an amazing inter-disciplinary artist hailing from Scotland/ Northern England. Her specialties include painting, mosaicing, mask making, and is currently producing props for the highly acclaimed theatre show Sleep No More.
Jessie Flynn painting Van Cleef and Arpels Holiday windows 2011
The first day Jessie and I ever worked together we ended up dressed as stiletto-clad maids covered in hot wax assisting Douglas in a Bergdorf Goodman Fashion Week window. The fates smiled upon us.Since then we have worked together as production artists on television, glamorous special events and unique high-end fashion windows. We are like old war buddies, with a high threshold for pain and extremely long hours. We love what we do. This holiday production season we were both working around the clock, running back and forth between Bergdorf Goodman holiday production and Van Cleef and Arpels.



The completion of the Van Cleef holiday windows and decor was celebrated with a fabulous launch party. I was too busy drinking champagne and having a ball with my cohorts to take many photos, but luckily the paparazzi was there.­ Photos available on Patrick

*Hulaween* Halloween 2012

As I'm wandering around the streets of Williamsburg trying to find good coffee and make sense of the fact that the night before Hurricane Sandy wiped out my hometown, my parents house, and significant portions of the city I love, I get a phone call saying " THE SHOW MUST GO ON!! " Within a few hours I was in a taxi cab detouring disaster zones with Douglas Little and his team to go install the decor for Bette Midler's Halloween party at the Waldorf Astoria. Hulaween is the annual fundraiser gala for Bette Midler's non-profit organization New York Restoration Project that creates and restores parks and gardens, and plants thousands of trees around New York City every year. I believe that the fates permitted this party to happen because it was for such a great cause. All the while the joke of the evening was guest speaker Al Gore couldn’t make it to the party because of global warming. HA! It was truly an amazing fete to pull off a production of this level in the two days following the storm. However this was Douglas's third year designing the decor for Hulaween and if anyone could make it happen, it would be him. And there was hot wax involved. Lots of it. Dripped all over a sea of roses to complete the nights theme "Paris in Hell." Blondie sound checked while we did the install homestretch. That was Awwwesome! Despite the great hardship taking place in New York City, those who could still attend Hulaween came with great style and flair and raised 1.8 million dollars for restoration that will directly benefit parks and gardens destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  I have so much respect for Bette Midler for the great work that she does and believe it is of dire importance that more people use their wealth and influence to cultivate stewardship of the planet and give back to the community. Go Bette! That’s what’s up.

Douglas, Bette, & Sparkles after Hulaween planning meeting at the Waldorf.

                                                                          "Paris in Hell"
                                                           Decor designed by Douglas Little.
                                Production and installation by Sarah Sparkles, Jessie Flynn and crew

                                                                  A sea of decorated tables

                                          Party time at the Waldorf. Happy Hulaween!
                                                          Hulaween Press WWD
                                                                     Page 6

*Kostume Kult- Fairy Tale Apocolypse* Halloween 2012

For the past decade, the New York City art collective Kostume Kult has thrown ornate theme parties through out the year to raise money for the free costume boutique that they host annually at the Burning Man Festival. It is Kostume Kult's mission to get people to dress up and express themselves. This is why I love them. This year they even helped save Halloween. After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, down town Manhattan was completely without power. The annual Village Halloween Parade was canceled. Core members of Kostume Kult helped organize a renegade Halloween parade that took place on the previously scheduled route. The official Halloween party took place a few nights later. The theme: “Fairy Tale Apocalypse.” Perfect. I wasn’t in the mood for a party after the storm. However, I have been Kostume Kult’s main door girl for years, and had already agreed to work- so I went. I ended up having a great time meeting people and taking inventory of all the amazing flamboyant regalia as it streamed in.  Despite the turmoil in peoples lives, many were adorned in fantastic costumes that they had created and the atmosphere was extremely resilient and vibrant. People with out heat or power still showed up looking fierce. I love New York. Thank you Kostume Kult for doing its own special kind of relief work: Keeping New York City Fabulous.

             Bruce Lindsay modeling pieces from his new costume/accessory line Electric Candy. "Electric Candy Couture specializes in laser cut and engraved acrylic costumes, jewelry, and accessories that transform its wearers into beings of magic and myth, invoking our inner warriors, lovers, and heroes."

"Is that a veggie strainer on your boob, or are you happy to see me?" Maybe both!
Chuki Lord is always rocking amazing style. I asked her what inspires her costumes and she said she likes to look around and see what she has that serves a specific function that can be transformed into something else. Keep it up girl, it's working! :)

The "Fairytale Apocalypse" Fairy Princess 
                         Iced-Out to the Ice Age quartz crystal necklace by Sarah Sparkles

               "Kostume Kult is a costume art, theme event and media collective
         involved in public festivals, underground art parties and street theater events.
                 We bring people together, creating community in unique ways
                              while challenging people to think differently."
                   For more information check out:

*Shanghai Mermaid* October 2012

Shanghai Mermaid is one of my favorite parties going. The vintage 1920’s-30’s styled speakeasy cabaret with a strict dress-code is a hidden gem tucked away deep in the heart of Brooklyn. That's right, no jeans, no sneakers, it's vintage glamor, flappers, dandy's, and showgirls only. Once behind the unassuming warehouse door, guests step inside a decadent world of hot jazz bands, wild dancing, beautiful people and avant garde performances of burlesque, aerial and fire. Heaven. Shanghai Mermaid was created by Juliette Campbell, an ultra talented event producer who is highly committed to her aesthetic. She designs her events with the intention of providing a truly transformative experience. Shanghai Mermaid participants are encouraged to design their performances and costumes based on period music and styles of dress. At this party on numerous occasions a sensation is conjured that whisks me off to distant time that is oddly familiar. Flapper past life perhaps? Probably. Over the last few years I have worked many facets of this party including designing holiday décor, stage-managing, and cocktailing. I love this party so much I truly want to work the room.  I am utmost grateful to Juliette Campbell and other dedicated event producers who create platforms that encourage people to create costumes, dress up, and go out and celebrate life. I salute you.

Shanghai Mermaid family, in the center the hostest with the most-est Juliette Cambell <3

 One of my favorite aspects of Shanghai Mermaid is that it continually inspires me to design vintage-styled jewelry and accessories to wear to the party. Nightlife has long been a driving force in what inspires me to create original costumes and accoutrements. Jewelry and head pieces designed by Sarah Sparkles.

A gorgeous crowd celebrating Halloween at Shanghai Mermaid 
A special spooky Halloween performance by Rachel Klein Dance Theatre

                                      Special thanks to Juliette Campbell for her dedication
                                                  to creating such a fabulous party! XO

                            For more info please visit

*Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Window Production* October 2012

The fall is the time of year I call art boot camp while spending weeks at a time doing holiday window production out at the Bergdorf Goodman warehouse. This season I worked with the Bergdorf visual team on gold leafing and aging dozens of metal props and the prosceniums that frame the 5th avenue windows. Painting for days, leafing for days, staining and aging for days. Boot camp style. The BG visual team has so much heart. The freelance team consists of highly talented artists who are all unique and bring  a variety of experiences to the table from working multiple job. The backbone of the team is our managers Shane Ruth, Demetrios Argyropoulos and Randy Gunderson who have been working for BG for the last 10-20years. I am so grateful for the experience of working on such an amazing team. :)
Here is a short behind the scenes video shot by Coveteur about the 2012 Bergdorf holiday windows production with footage from artist studios around the city, and the BG warehouse.

                                            photo of Sparkles gold leafing by Coveteur

                                         Liz Flores paints the base coat for a prop
                          that will then be gold/silver leafed. Not bad for a base coat! :)

                              The BG visual team gold leafed all of the 5th Ave prosceniums.

                                         Sean Slaney uses his advanced painting techniques
                                                            to help age the prosceniums.          

                                    This mannequin styled by Ron Salva remained sequestered
                                                    in the studio in the days before install.

TADA!!! "BG Follies" Holiday Window 2012 Act IV, the Daredevil Act, featuring fashion from  Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2013 runway collection. “Our windows are a practice in making the impossible possible — in twisting complexities to new levels by using old-world craftsmanship and artistry."- Window Director David Hoey

*Bergdorf Goodman 111 Anniversary Gala* October 2012

In October Bergdorf Goodman celebrated their 111 Anniversary with a lavish gala at the Plaza Hotel that was attended by the glitterati of the fashion world. Creative director Douglas Little was brought on board to design the stage décor for the gala and he hired me to work on this event as his assistant. We have both worked with Bergdorf Goodman for a number of years, so we are well-versed in their aesthetic. It was a great match! I went to planning meetings, helped with pulling props, coordinated shipments, and managed the freelance team all the while doing production, install, and strike. I do love multi-tasking! Many of the props used were from the Bergdorf anniversary windows and from previous years installations. The older props were brought out to the studio where they were given custom BG purple paint jobs by the lead painter Danny Balgley and other members of the talented freelance team. When the transformation was complete, the stage set was a conglomeration of a mad tea party and a birthday celebration designed in the spirit of Bergdorf's iconic windows.

                         Gorgeous specialty props painted by Danny Balgley and his assistant Emily

                  Watching the decor go up around the party room at the Plaza was pretty epic.


       Production & Installation by Sarah Sparkles and crew. Stage design by Douglas Little.

                                        Remember the anniversary cakes? There baaaack! :)

                                                      And a fabulous time was had by all!
                                                             Happy anniversary BG!

*Temple of Bass at Growing Hearts Farm* September 2012

Over the full moon weekend in late September I was asked to help with stage design for the 'Temple of Bass', community dance party that was taking place at Growing Hearts Farm in Upstate New York. The event was produced by the lovely Dina Sati, who curated a divine array of music from organic and live to crunked-out and bass-heavy, to inspire yoga, meditation, and dance. The experience also included meals with healthy food from the farm, time in nature, and alters imbued with love. This event also created something deeper which is a seed of growth that is planted when a group participates in reclaiming community sovereignty by creating their own rituals and culture. A culture that is there own, that is built from their visions and hands, not fed to them by the mass media or owned by corporations. This particular group effort conjured a genuine sense of joy and camaraderie that was nourishment for the spirit. :)

For stage decor I teamed up with my friend Mikiko who is a doctor that recently moved to New York from San Francisco. This was our first time collaborating and it was a hit! We truly had a great time, with a cohesive vision and a great flow between us. I kept joking with her that she might consider switching professions. The rest of the dream team included Eduardo Darancou aka Man Beast and Adam Pruitt who built the stage structure and video installation by Dan Baker. While the men finished building, Miki and I spent the morning of the event picking a wealth of wild flowers from the field. It was a true harvest of abundance. <3

Stage decor by Sparkles and Miki. Video installation by Dan Baker. Stage structure by Adam Pruitt and Eduardo Darancou.

Kayla Jo and Liz Blake adorn the community alter.
Structure by Adam Pruitt and Eduardo Darancou
Blessings <3