KES WOMEN | Rachel Rosan | BY Lia Kes |
KES WOMEN | Rachel Rosan
The inspiration behind our first feature of KES WOMEN and this year’s Holiday Gift and Travel Collection is Rachel Rosan, a quintessential KES woman you need to know.
Multifaceted, individualistic and effortlessly cool, Rachel is a world traveler that calls NYC her home. Make no mistake though, she’s a no-nonsense southern girl at heart that can jump on a horse bareback as easily as she can rattle off the names of 5 must-see galleries, 4 page-turning books, 3 kick-ass recipes for which your family will thank you, 2 tips to get your organic garden in ship-shape and 1 sound piece of life advice you know you can trust. We could list at least 50 more things at which Rachel is a pro; There is not much she cannot do. To begin with, Rachel is a contemporary art expert and Head of Appraisals at Phillips, a hostess with the mostest, a wonderful wife and friend to many and, last but never least, a supermom to three boys (and Slater, her beloved Australian Labradoodle that is never more than a few steps behind her).
We were so intrigued by Rachel and how she so effortlessly and beautifully curates everything she touches, we invited her to have a conversation with us to give you a behind the scenes look at her thoughtful approach to life.
Rachel wears The Lia Dress in Black
Is there a guiding principle or something that connects all of the dots in terms of how you curate your life?
I try to incorporate the things that I love in everything that I do. I strive to instill a love of art (in all forms) in my kids, so we work it into our lives in the city or on vacations. And that doesn’t mean just going to a museum. It can be an experience with a local artisan too. There are many examples of this. When we were in Laos a few years ago, we went to the home of an old craftsman where he taught us how to make crossbows by hand. He didn’t own a pair of shoes and he slept on a straw mat in a mud hut. He did not speak a word of English, but we made it work and the kids will never forget that experience. Those crossbows hang in our home on the wall. When we were in Israel once, we went to a kibbutz where we spent the morning with a blacksmith who taught us how to forge iron. We all made a towel hook which we hang prominently at our beach house. In Turkey, just last month, we went to a school in Cappedocia where they teach women from small villages the craft of rug weaving. We all got to try our hand at weaving on a loom. We saw how silk is spun and created from worm to spool. In the Maldives, my youngest son and I learned how to make a fish curry with a local chef and in the rural rice fields of Vietnam, we made rice noodles in the home of an old Vietnamese grandmother. It is so important for me to show my kids that anything and everything can be an art form and I’ve always believed that you learn best by doing. Using your hands to create something, whether it is from silk, wood, iron, flour, fish or paint, is the art that creates a rich and fulfilling life. I would say that is key to how we curate our life.
It all comes together on a Friday night at home with friends, with interesting art on the walls, good food and my kids running around in the background playing with bows and arrows created halfway around the world.
You have many facets and have many roles in your work and home life. You also have many different talents and interests. How do you trace this back, if at all, to your childhood/upbringing?
I wear a lot of different hats. I am an art appraiser, mentor, work mom, wife, volunteer, cook, baker, equestrian, friend, daughter and the list goes on. It hit me when reading Everyday Vitality by Samantha Boardman that there is actually a term for this: “Self-complexity.” I can’t be good at everything all the time, but if I can be good at some things some of the time, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Changing my ‘hat’ when I need to helps me stay resilient and keep a positive perspective. If I’m stressed about work, for example, I go home and bake. Or, if I’m stressed about the kids, I volunteer with my dog at the hospital. I’m pretty sure I got this all from my mama. She was always busy cooking, volunteering and planning trips.
You've become known among your friends as a travel lover and adventure seeker who goes on beautiful and inspiring trips all over the world. Tell us a little bit about how you choose your next destination and what is most important to you in the planning of these family experiences.
We have a general bucket list, but we add to it often. Once we have cleared dates, my husband, Arnon, and I try to find a place that neither of us have ever been. Once we have one or two possible locations in mind, we make sure it's the right season and that we can get flights. We start with a general itinerary of the sites we want to explore and then Arnon takes over from there. I trust his planning completely, and generally just ask him the night before we leave what I should pack! During Covid, we googled what countries were open to foreigners and ended up in the Maldives. I had never thought of going there, but I’m so glad we did. It is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Any advice you would give on how to buy art?
My number one piece of advice is that you should only buy art that you would love to look at every day. It is 100% possible to buy investment grade art at any price level, so if you do your research (or hire someone to do it for you), you can get art that you love and that holds or increases in value. `
If you want to start an art collection, I suggest seeing as much art as possible. Go to art fairs, auction previews, and museums. The Armory Fair, TEFAF and ArtBasel in Miami are all easy options for nearby fairs. Ask how much things cost (at the art fairs and at auctions) and start to get an idea of what you like: abstract or figurative, paintings or works on paper, photography, sculpture or digital art. The online options are endless these days, but I believe that the more art you see in real life, the better. When you stand in front of something that really speaks to you, you know you’ve found your piece.
What is something that has inspired you lately?
The exhibition "Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America'' at the New Museum of Contemporary Art was one of the best museum shows I have ever seen. It was originally conceived by curator Okwui Enwezor who passed away before the exhibition opened. Coming out of lockdown, in a world turned upside down by George Floyd, Donald Trump and Covid, this exhibition captured the pain and loss of a generation. It was an exploration into the way artists have grappled with race and grief in modern America and it was so powerful. It really hit me at the core and I'm so grateful I got the chance to see it in person.
What rituals do you rely on to ground you and make sure you're staying true to yourself?
I try to take my dog, Slater, to Central Park every morning. She runs around with all of the other dogs off-leash and I get to start my day surrounded by nature. Sometimes I listen to a podcast or meet up with a friend. It's the best part of my day and it’s New York City at its best - friendly smiling faces (both the people and the pups) centering themselves before going out and kicking butt.
What’s your best piece of advice?
A good night's sleep solves just about everything.