Today we’d like to introduce you to Berry Stein. Berry was introduced to us by the gifted Gia Storms.
Berry, we’d love to hear more about how you got to where you are today, both personally and professionally. Can you walk us through your journey?
I moved to Los Angeles almost two years ago, after being in New York for close to ten years. While living in New York I went through two graduate programs in art and education (a lifelong learner’s dream come true), and subsequently taught at the Whitney Museum as well as day schools in the city. It was certainly a challenge to take the leap to move to the west coast (leaving family and my community there was incredibly difficult), but I have never looked back. I have an amazing community of friends and family and find that there are endless opportunities for fun and adventure here in LA.
You’ve spent time in two of the greatest cities – LA & New York. We’d love to hear your thoughts on LA and New York – what do you like and dislike about each? Is one city friendlier to the arts than the other?
I have a lot of love for New York and I absolutely love to visit as often as I can – mostly to see family but also to make the pilgrimage to the art museums and my favorite old haunts in the Village.
Nothing matches the energy and vibrancy of New York. The minute that you walk out of your door you are met with this invigorating (and subsequently exhausting) sense of dynamism and urgency. As much as I love the energy and fast-paced nature of the city, I found it to be unsustainable to live there.
That said, I find Los Angeles to be an easier place to have a more balanced life. Most importantly, the access to nature is a key part of what makes this city so grounding – whether it’s the beach or the mountains, or the swaths of vibrantly-colored bougainvillea along the highway – and of course the majestic light – there is so much natural beauty here that can calm the senses like nothing else.
I also find Los Angeles to be a very welcoming and open city to newcomers. When I moved here almost two years ago, I had a handful of friends that has now blossomed into a larger community that has become an integral part of my life. The cultural diversity that exists here is so rich and wonderful to experience, and the way that Angelenos embrace outsiders is refreshing and gratifying.
In the context of the arts, there is obviously no city that compares to New York. But while New York has some of the greatest art museums in the world and an incomparable performing arts and music scene, I think that LA can firmly stand on its own in terms of offering the public incredibly rich and engaging ways to participate in the arts. I am so proud to live here and boast about institutions such as the Hammer, the ICA-LA, and the LA Philharmonic, and the thought-provoking and exciting work that they are doing to broaden the scope arts engagement.
Can you tell us about your work as an artist, educator and Founder of Art Life Practice? Tell us more about what you are currently focused on?
I have worked in the art museum, school and arts education nonprofit setting for the past ten or so years. At the beginning of 2019 I officially launched my business, Art Life Practice, switching gears from working with youth to adults. This project has taken shape over many years of brainstorming, and with the encouragement of friends and family I decided to pursue this dream full-time.
Essentially, Art Life Practice introduces creative fitness as a vital part of self-care and betterment. It is a nomadic workshop experience that cultivates creativity by combining art history and art-making in an accessible, spirited, and experimental atmosphere. Our mission is to present art-making as a universally essential part of well-being and to foster a rich community of learners and explorers. Founded on the belief that the best way to learn about art is by doing it yourself, each workshop focuses on a specific art movement, process, or material.
I currently host workshops at unique sites throughout the city, because art can and should happen anywhere.
As you know, we’re big fans of Gia Storms. You’ve worked with her and we’d love to hear what your experience was like. For our readers who aren’t familiar with Gia, could you tell them a bit about Gia and also about your work with her, the process, the impact and the overall experience.
Gia has been very instrumental to my growth and development as a budding social entrepreneur. She has helped me to not only shape and solidify my ideas and goals, but more importantly she has instilled in me the confidence to clearly articulate what I want and how I will get there. I was introduced to Gia by a dear friend and as soon as I met her I knew that I had my own version of Brené Brown, Oprah and Tony Robbins mixed into one person.
I have worked with Gia for the past six months, connecting via video calls every two weeks. Similar to therapy, each conversation is unique depending on what has transpired over the previous few weeks, and I determine what specifically I want to address. One of the many things that I appreciate about Gia is that she is 100% not afraid to call me out on any BS, and I am 100% not afraid of being judged by whatever I say to her. She is a confidante who holds your insights and feelings preciously and carefully, yet she is always willing to gently challenge you in the most constructive and enlightening way possible.
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