Art with Children of Mumbai

Photo gallery below text ↓

In 2006, Connie Blunden, Greenwich Academy’s outreach coordinator and global studies teacher planned a trip to India in collaboration with Greenwich Academy alumna, Shaheen Mistry.  Mistry dropped out of Tufts University in the late 80’s, to move to Mumbai, with the intention of working with homeless children and children from lowest income areas.  While enrolled in the University of Mumbai, Mistry inspired friends to join her efforts.  After establishing a presence in Mumbai’s slum areas, as a home tutor, she started approaching business owners and spiritual leaders about using their spaces, after hours, as schools.  Her request fell on deaf ears.  Finally, a priest asked when she would be ready to start.  She jumped at the opportunity and replied, “tomorrow.”  Once the project was proven a success, doors opened more readily for bright-eyed children from Mumbai’s slum zones.

Blunden asked Joan Mendelson and me to join the trip.  We led a group of Greenwich Academy teenagers to India, during monsoon season.  Blunden initiated the trip and coordinated all the logistical details.  I planned the curriculum.  The Greenwich Academy girls, Blunden, Mendelson and I, each carried an extra suitcase, filled with necessary supplies, which were then donated.  We worked with adorable children, who were no different than all other groups of children in their ability to learn and laugh.  At the end of the week, the kids from one of the Akanksha centers proudly invited our group for a tour of their village within the city.

At the Indian government’s request, Mistry left Akanksha in 2008, to spearhead “Teach for India.”  Akanksha continues to thrive…

“Currently, Akanksha reaches out to over 6500 children through two models: the after-school or center model and the School Project.

Akanksha has 3 centers and 21 schools in Mumbai and Pune.”



Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital: Art Committee


2001-2004 |  One of the 6-person art committee in charge of developing the art collection and art programming for the under-construction Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.




With a gift from Steven and Roberta Denning that was earmarked for art, the hospital collected “Children’s Symphony.”



Valhalla – SPADICIA HARRIS was beaming. She was spending her last day at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at the Westchester Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for cancer treatment since November. Spadicia, an 8-year-old from Antigua, talked about one feature of the hospital that she may miss — the original artwork.

“I love it,” she said, as she stood near a large black-and-white crayon drawing of a ballet dancer by the contemporary American artist Karen Kilimnik.
The title of the drawing, with its tutu made of black glitter, was “The Fairy of Bravery Endows the Princess With Self-Assuredness.” The title was particularly poignant in the oncology unit, where children like Spadicia endure frequent rounds of chemotherapy, surgery and other procedures.
A hospital may seem an unlikely place for art usually found in Chelsea galleries or the Whitney Biennial. But the children’s hospital, which opened in September 2004, has an outstanding contemporary collection devoted to both well-known and emerging artists like Ed Ruscha, Chris Ofili, Jeff Koons and Rachel Harrison.
Each of the three floors has its treasures and more are coming, said Kenise Barnes, a Larchmont gallery owner and art consultant who is a member of the children’s hospital art committee.
The six-member committee was formed five years ago to lay the groundwork for an arts therapy program that would do more than surround children with painted rainbows and sunny skies. The committee pledged to seek out high-quality contemporary art that would provide solace and inspiration to patients, their families and hospital staff members, said Jan Mittan, executive director of the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“Art is such a vital piece of the treatment program,” Ms. Mittan said. “We’re touching the lives of these really sick kids and their families at the heights and depths of their emotions.” The hospital depends entirely on private funds and major donors for the art program, Ms. Mittan said.
One such significant donor is Martin Eisenberg of Scarsdale, a vice president of Bed Bath & Beyond who is a member of the art committee.
Mr. Eisenberg, whose father, Warren Eisenberg, helped to found the Bed Bath & Beyond chain in 1971, is a collector who knows his way around the contemporary art market. “He said he’d be involved only if it was ‘good art,’ ” Ms. Mittan said, smiling. As it turns out, she added, “without his and his family’s involvement, I’m not sure where we would be today.”
Mr. Eisenberg, 51, says he finds art for the hospital much the way he and his wife, Rebecca, find their own art: “I turn to the artists I admire and the galleries I admire.” He is on the drawing committee of the Museum of Modern Art, the acquisition committee of the Studio Museum in Harlem and the board of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.
The collection’s cuddlier images include an acrylic painting of a giraffe by Dave Muller in the emergency room, serigraphic prints of two pandas by Rob Pruitt on an upper floor, and photographs of pets by Hirsch Perlman that children can hang in their rooms. But the art is not geared primarily to children.
“I said, we’re not going to dumb it down to kids, it’s going to reflect our tastes,” Mr. Eisenberg said. Nor does he kowtow to parents, some of whom, he said, object to seeing Elizabeth Peyton’s portrait of the rapper Eminem in a waiting room.
Mr. Eisenberg helped devise what Ms. Mittan called a “clean and pristine plan” for the hospital’s art program, focusing on work by primarily young and cutting-edge artists. Many of the artists donated their work to the hospital, as did some galleries and museums. In addition, the Eisenbergs, along with other donors, lent the hospital works from their personal collections. Ms. Mittan estimated the value of the hospital’s current collection at $1.75 million. Funds for the program, including insurance premiums, are all donated. Ms. Harrison, whom Mr. Eisenberg called “one of my favorite artists,” donated “Sunsets,” a series of color photographs based on a picture postcard.
“I contributed the work because Marty asked me to,” Ms. Harrison, who grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, wrote in an e-mail message. “Who doesn’t want to help sick kids?”
On a recent tour of the artwork, Mr. Eisenberg started with a giant, curving saltwater aquarium in the lobby that is based on a design he commissioned from Vito Acconci. With a pathway between its two sections that is wide enough for wheelchairs and gurneys, it is popular with patients and visitors alike.
Another eye-popping work in the lobby is a fanciful baroque bridge, “Satinstein,” by Rachel Feinstein, which hangs over a small stage.
Explanatory plaques hanging at a child’s eye level next to the artworks were written by Jessica Anenberg, a child-life specialist who coordinates the hospital’s art studio. Ms. Anenberg said she took young patients to see works like Mr. Koons’s playful “Cut Out” or Kelley Walker’s “Marantz Turntable,” a print suggestive of music, in the hope that they would be stimulated to express themselves in paint, clay or printmaking.
“It gives them an outlet if they’re going through a difficult diagnosis or a new therapy,” she said.



Greenwich Apple Store



Kim Tamalonis
Kim Tamalonis Typically, visits to the Greenwich Apple Store are great! However, in May I brought my 11 month old 128 GB iPhone to the store, because it was having significant problems maintaining battery life. when fully charged, the phone would drop down to either no charge or almost no charge before my eyes. The store fixed another problem that they identified, but they did not resolve the issue at hand. They did reinstall software and sent me home with the message that my phone was probably fixed. Also, they didn’t record why I had come to the store. Significant problems persisted. I wasn’t able to return until the beginning of August, when my first visit to the store was awful. I was told that my phone was out of warranty and there was no record that I’d come for the same problem (though they did have recorded that they had done diagnostic tests on the phone). I was told repeatedly that I could buy a new phone. Unfortunately, I had to cause a stink. A very kind young woman performed a new reinstall and the unsympathetic manager tried to convince me that reinstalls usually fixed similar problems. Well, that had already been their band-aid approach in May. A week later, the phone still wasn’t working. I took it back again. I had a huge event in the city on the 31st that I had spent the summer coordinating. I needed my phone to work. Finally, a sympathetic Apple genius decided to replace the phone. Were my review based on my first experience, I would’ve given no stars. However, there were several people who helped me over the visits who were receptive to the issue and who sincerely tried (or wanted) to help.

To everyone at the store who worked with me, this was the event for which I needed a working phone:

Teaching Awards and Honors

2016 – Rye Middle School Point-of-Pride Award

Rye Middle School principal awarded my students’ and my work, raising fund for refugee children, with the Rye Middle School Point-of-Pride 2015-2016 distinction.

Point of Garnet Pride

“There are many, many activities in the middle school that I am very proud of. The faculty, staff and students are very, very special so it was difficult to decide what to highlight. This year, I would like you to highlight the following:

Under the guidance of art teacher Kim Tamalonis, one hundred thirty-eight Rye Middle School sixth, seventh and eighth graders aided Syrian child refugees living in camps in Jordan and Turkey.  The Rye Middle School kids collected 100 pounds of art supplies to send to Syrian children in the 80,000 person Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan.  The kids then raised $3100 by selling gift cards and original art during a month-long exhibition at the Rye Arts Center.  The proceeds support the Blossom Hill Foundation’s programs for Syrian child refugees, including continued development of a computer lab in a refugee camp in Turkey.”
Ann Edwards

2011 – Westchester County Common Core Development Committee.

Standard developer (I had no power to influence the outcome.  I felt very opposed to testing grade school art students.  However, being chosen for the council was a dubious honor).


2008 – Rye High School Distinguished Service Award    *Please see Document A


2005 – College Board Teaching Award 

Listed in the 2006 College Board Report to the Nation, as the foundations teacher in the program with the highest scores in the world (in the small size high school school category).   * Please see Document B


Document A

Distinguished Service Award.jpg


Document B


Blue(s) Period

At the end of the 90’s and the beginning of the new millennium, I volunteered art services to the Music Maker Relief Foundation.  I had already started making music inspired portraits and art.  My initial request to the outreach organization to create portraits of poverty-stricken blues musicians, who were hitting their prime in senior years, turned into work of a different sort.  The not-for-profit company asked for volunteer graphic design services.  After resurrecting a large box of old black and white water damaged photos for them, I created the jewel case booklet and designed the cover for the company’s Captain Luke and Cool John holiday CD.  Next, I tackled “Route 66,” an Eddie Tigner cd cover.

Extraordinary experiences resulted from that time, from “Shuck n’ Suck” music festivals on ranches in Georgia, and the Willie King Festival at an off-the-grid spot on the border of Alabama and Mississippi (which was filmed the next year by Steven Spielberg) to a trip with the Music Relief Foundation’s unique board of trustees.  Grammy winner, Taj Mahal, 7 or 8 other notable musicians and I navigated our way to a remote beach in Costa Rica, across from the Osa Penninsula, where the board members brainstormed in the morning, hiked through rainforests and fished in the afternoons and made music in the evenings.