Janice Lipton: Flower Child

Janice Lipton is not a professional photographer. She’s a woman who finds solace in flowers and greenery, and she allows this fondness to guide her in photographing flowers and publishing compilations of her images. Her books June, July, August and September are filled with stunning visuals of blooms, mostly from Colorado. Each image is paired with a corresponding inspirational quote to complete the viewer’s full experience. More on the life threatening illness and the lifelong love that inspired Lipton through her journey, plus a gallery full of flora.

How long have you been taking photographs? It’s always been a hobby of mine, and I’ve always had a passion for flowers. It wasn’t until about four years ago when I was in Colorado and would send e-mails to my friends with pictures of flowers, saying, “Isn’t this gorgeous!” Everyone’s response was always the same: “You should publish them.” I had so many people saying the same thing to me. So, I decided at the end of the summer, I would publish this book. I did it, not knowing how hard it was and how much time it would take, but it was so fabulous and rewarding. Of course, after one book came out, all I remember hearing was, “When are you going to do your next book?” It took me three years, but that’s when Septembercame out. This was, of course, more challenging than June, July, August because I didn’t want any duplication of flowers. I had to look at flowers with a different eye for the second book and dig a little deeper to find flowers that were prettier and better.

Are the flowers in September also from Colorado? Ninety percent of them are from Colorado. To shoot the orchids, I went to the New York Botanical Garden for the orchid show. What was also fabulous about September was that I was able to get there at peak week when the leaves were changing from regular to dead. It only snowed one day, and I was there that one day. That’s when I got the pictures of the red leaves and the frost on the leaves and the frost surrounding the flowers. It was amazing! It was one of the highlights of my life.

When in your life did you start noticing and taking interest in flowers? I grew up in Los Angeles, and I’ve always had a passion for flowers, whether it’s wallpaper with flowers on it or flowers themselves. I’ll be somewhere and see a flower growing out of the dirt and say to someone, “Look at that gorgeous flower!” And, they’ll say, “How did you even see that?” It’s almost like I have a divine sense for it. I had a calling to do this book. When I did book number one, it was almost like I was possessed. I’d take a picture and look at it and I wouldn’t love the way it looked. So, I’d go back and take it or wait until the sun was a little farther over the hill so that the lighting would be better. Then, the next summer when I went back, it wasn’t inside of me. It was the first time that I understood what a writer feels with writer’s block. You just can’t go take pictures and say, “I’m going to make a book.” It has to come from within.

How did you choose the quotes? Every quote from the book matches every flower. It was very challenging, and I did a lot of research. I have particular authors that I love. I wanted to have all types of inspiration, whether it be spiritual or metaphoric or more pedestrian. Whatever way, I wanted to contact people.

What feedback have you received from the books? Every day, I get an e-mail or a text from someone saying, “I saw this rose and it made me think of you.” I got an e-mail today from a person who said, “I have an aunt who is dying and I gave her your book. She says it’s really helping her.” I got another one from a woman that says, “I’m going through a really trying time in my life and your book is giving me the strength to go through.” Every day, people are telling me how my book has changed their life. It blows my mind. I’m just a regular girl who decided to follow a dream and do this, and I’ve changed people’s lives. It’s so rewarding and fulfilling. I’m a philanthropist at heart, and this is just another way that I’ve been able to touch the world.

Does that mean you’re going to put out another one? I’m working on it. I want to do the next one on tree trunks. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed or if you’ve lived anywhere or gone and seen great trees, but when you walk up to a tree, there’s a life in them. Sometimes, in between the crevices of a tree trunk, there will be a plant growing. There will be a moth with a pearlized finish or little bugs living inside. I’ve already started working on it. It’s a process of learning how to do it properly. I am an amateur photographer, so, I’ve just started thinking about where in the country I’m going to visit. I’d like to go to the state of Washington to take pictures of the sequoias.

In the book jacket for September, you mention that a life-threatening illness guided you in putting this book out. When book number one came out, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had to have brain surgery. Part of why the new book took three years to do was because I had to emotionally recuperate. When you face a life-threatening situation like I did, you look at life a little differently. I have a different way to see how flowers bloom now and a new appreciation for life.

What do you grow in your own flower garden? Mainly orchids, but I have a smelling garden with all types of flowers. I have another wall that I have covered with all hibiscus.

What are your favorite flowers to receive as a gift? That’s a touchy one. It’s probably not a particular flower as much as the combination. It’s the art of putting the flowers together. What you put with a hydrangea, what you put with lilies, what you put with orchids make the visual appearance. I’m all about the visual. A dozen roses doesn’t cut it.

Where are your go-to places? In Miami, I like Il Gabbiano. You sit outside there and you’re right on the water. At La Piaggia you feel like you’re in St. Tropez, because all of the tables are on the sand. I love Mr. Chow and taking the boat to Fisher Island. In Aspen, I like Matsuhisa and Il Molino.

More on Janice Lipton at www.janicelipton.com.

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living. ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, The Odeon (NYC) -American Psychos down salmon and steak frites, but the real scene’s on the sidewalk. ● Vice President, Content – Chris Mohney, Agua Dulce (NYC) – Festive outpost feels like Miami, F-L-A.

EDITORIAL ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Features Editor – Willa Paskin, Mayahuel (NYC) – Tequila temple where patrons pay homage to the goddess of agave. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Peppermill (Las Vegas) – Vegas institution pushes diner food in front and romantic cocktails in the back. ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, Serpentine (NYC) – Patrick Duffy’s legendary scene uncoils in west Chelsea. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Jupiter Room (Montreal) – Drink your face off for cheap and dance ’til it aches. Cayte Grieve, Blackstones (NYC) – Foster Ethan Kamer, Joseph Leonard (NYC) – Elegantly distressed Village charmer serving up three solid meals a day. Eiseley Tauginas, Barrow Street Ale House (NYC) – College sports fans and West Village regulars cram into cozy confines. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Back Forty (NYC) – Manure-free urban farm sates virtuous, albeit rare, healthy food cravings. ● Editorial Interns – Molly Gunn, PDT (NYC) – Somebody told, but still a nice sophisto surprise behind the grunge of Crif. Megan LaBruna, Mercury Lounge (NYC) – Catch a future indie rock god at this rite of musical passage. Toren Curtis, The Vagabond (Miami) – Great indie scene. Even better music. Ashley Simpson, SPiN New York (NYC) – Marginally-more-athletic alternative to beer pong gets its own private club. Averie Timm, Downtown Cipriani (NYC) – Über-scene congregation of A-list supermodels, art stars, and financiers. Food, too. If you care. Annie Werner, Antone’s (Austin) – This revered blues club’s namesake did more for black-white relations than the Oreo cookie. Hillary Weston, The Four-Faced Liar (NYC) – Greenwich Village-proper pub is something out of Middle Earth, or Docklands. Either way: the real deal.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Mizu Sushi (NYC) – Popular lunch spot for Flatiron media types needing to bitch. ● Assistant Designer – Serra Semi, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Canal Room (NYC) – Jersey hordes in the house, but discreet famous faces still rock all night. ● Freelance Designer – Krista Quick, t.b.d (NYC) – Sleek and chic lounge in the heart of Greenpoint.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Shang (NYC) – Toronto-bred Susur Lee takes on nouveau Asian small plates at the Thompson LES. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Dylan’s Candy Bar (NYC) – King-sized candy shop hypnotizing children and torturing adult waistlines in the UES.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA) – The inspiration is Eyes Wide Shut…so yes, there’s lots of leather. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts) – An escape into paradise in the middle of, well, paradise. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Barrio Chino (NYC) – Chino Latino tequila bar serving up 50 kinds of that devil stuff. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Brooklyn Bowl (NYC) – Rock and bowl will never die. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick, Tournesol (NYC) – Coq au vin and crème brûlée? Oui! Oui! ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Tu Lan (San Francisco) – Word-of-mouth dingy treasure serving good, cheap Vietnamese food in a downright crappy location.

ADVERTISING – advertising@bbook.com ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Ilili (NYC) – Upscale Lebanese moves miles beyond falafel. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Lillie’s (NYC) – Victorian pub with just enough antiquery to make you feel grand. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, Indochine (NYC) – French-colonial greets uptown-cum-downtown diners. ● Advertising Director – Michelle Koruda, Shorty’s .32 (NYC) – Josh Eden under-promises and over-delivers at this Soho charmer. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, The Lodge (Chicago) -Ye old typical Division Street cheese, but always a shameless good time. Kristen von Bernthal, Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel (NYC) – Acid-trip décor. Sit on a log and rest your drink on a gnome head. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Hopleaf Bar (Chicago) – Andersonville’s best bar. Belgian beers and food meet in a place that’s too smart to be too cool and vice versa. Andrea Forrester, Coast Sushi (Chicago) – BYOB meets the sea at this high-quality Wicker Park sushi spot. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Rustic Canyon (LA) – Leave it to the upper-cresty West-siders to show everyone else up with their moody, fashionable darkwood and cream take on the ubiquitous neighborhood wine bar. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, Coi (San Francisco) – The apotheosis of both the molecular gastronomy trend and the sustainable food movement: ethereal, futuristic flavors in a serene environment. Shawn O’Meara, Nopalito (San Francisco) – ● Sales Coordinator – Celia Ballou, Pink Pony (NYC) – Pseudo-bohemian bistro that’s better for people watching than, like, eating or whatever.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Bottega Louie (LA) – Proof that Downtown is still gentrifying. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, K & M (NYC) – Former perogie factor converted to current meat market for the indie-rock set. ● Interns – Cristina Girgis, Barbounia (NYC) – Tony Medi with good bones. Interior is all about the arches. Alexandra Vickers, The Slaughtered Lamb Pub (NYC) – Magical enough to overlook the horror movie gimmick.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Max’s On Broadway (Baltimore) – Ahhh, good old Max’s I remember you well…well what I can remember anyway. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Caracas Arepa Bar (NYC) – Arepas, seventeen ways. Venezuela is for carb lovers. ● Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Greenhouse (NYC) – NYC’s first Green club tries to make bottles and models sustainable. ● Developer – Dan Simon, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Uchi (Austin) – Thoroughly inventive and delectable sushi in vibrant environs, compliments of lauded chef Tyson Cole. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, The Knockout (San Francisco) – The vibe is blessedly lawless,prolifically musical and down right hedonistic. Peep tall cans and a sweaty dance floor. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Melt (NYC) – Brooklyn brunch spot becoming the standard for neighborhood dining. ●Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Alloro (NYC) – Cacio e Pepe peeps get creative on the Upper East.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA). Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts). Eric Gertler, Matsuhisa (Aspen) – World-famous Nobu chef brings incredibly tasty, stylish, pricy sushi to Aspen. Joe Landry, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills (LA) – Phillipe Starck and Sam Nazarian mind meld to create a papparazzi-inducing modern luxury hotel in (well, near) BH. Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. Barry Rubenstein, Bryant & Cooper (Hamptons) – While it may be trying a little too hard for a classic old-time-y vibe, the steaks are nonetheless quite good. Jack Sullivan, The Raleigh Hotel (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont.

Industry Insiders: Wolfgang Puck, Resto Wizard

Easily one of the most celebrated celebrity chefs in the world, Wolfgang Puck speaks about food with balls, juggling more restaurants than he has fingers, and still finding time to make love.

Where do you love to eat? In France, Beaumaniere. In Italy, Quattro Passi. And in Los Angeles, Matsuhisa. What is your favorite food? Food with some guts or balls, as we would say in the kitchen— no matter what origin. Where are your secret spots? Sidebar at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and Angelini Osteria for true Italian food.

How did you come to LA? I grew up in Austria where I did my apprenticeship. At 17, I went to France and worked there in some of the best restaurants, like Beaumaniere, Maxim’s, Hôtel de Paris. My first job was in Indianapolis, but my dream was always to go to California, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, and I ended up in Los Angeles in 1975 and fell in love with the city, the climate, and the excitement with everything new. I opened Spago in 1982 and Chinois on Main a year later. I think it was the beginning of a new style of cooking in America.

Who do you admire in your industry? The first one, Raymond Thuilier; a true renaissance man who had the passion and love for cooking and who inspired me and taught me many things. Foremost, that great cooking starts with great ingredients. Second, Andre Soltner, because he had the stamina and professionalism to spend every day of his life in his one restaurant, Lutece, in New York. I do not know if he has the perfect wife, but I know he had the perfect restaurant before it closed in 2004.

What is a trend you like in the dining industry these days? I like that many restaurants today have sommeliers who make up many interesting wine lists and serve wine in a professional way. Also, there is a bigger value put on professional service.

Is there anything you dislike in your industry these days? Most young chefs don’t have the patience to learn the basics so they can grow and become chefs with the right foundation.

What is something that we might not know about you? I am involved with many charities from Los Angeles to Cleveland to Las Vegas, and I also love modern art. Robert Rauschenberg and the Los Angeles artist John Baldisarri are two of my favorites.

What’s next? We will open two more restaurants in the first six months of 2009. One is called Five Sixty in Dallas. It will have a great view and Asian-inspired menu. The second one is a Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill in downtown Los Angeles next to the Staples Center at L.A. Live.

And lastly, what are you doing tonight? I will be in my three restaurants in Los Angeles: Spago, Chinois, and Cut. Have dinner with my wife at 11 p.m., then go home, and hopefully we’ll make love.

Photo: Lisa Romerein