Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - April 2014

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Page 13 of 46 n Hudson Valley Parent 13 I am a Hudson Valley Parent Michelle-Marie Heinemann: Beautifying the Hudson Valley By KATHLEEN WILLCOX M ichelle-Marie Heine- mann, a mother of two from Wappingers Falls, produces vibrant, expressionistic works of art that have been exhibit- ed in America, Germany and Swit- zerland. She is involved in a number of charitable causes, most notably her commitment to fight cyber-bul- lying, but she says her real focus and inspiration is that of her children, Hudson, 7, and Hyacinth, 2. "I have had a home in the Hudson Valley for 16 years," Heinemann said. "A year ago, we decided to move here full-time. The children have the space and the freedom to be children here." Heinemann admits she feared leaving New York City behind. "But over the years, I came to realize how many vibrant cultural institutions we have right in our backyard," she said. "The Culinary Institute of America, Vassar, Marist, wonderful restaurants, antique stores and hiking. We slowly started spending more and more time here, until moving here full-time a year ago just seemed completely natural." Heinemann says she and her husband, Jon, who runs a hedge fund called the Heinemann Fund, have never looked back. She says that in addition to providing her family with a wealth of aesthetic and tactile pleasures, living in the Hudson Valley has infused her philanthropic and artwork with a fresh burst of energy. "I have opened myself up to new possibilities out here. Now, my art and philanthropy go hand in hand," Heinemann said. "They flow into each other." And they flow out of the Hudson Valley. This month, Heinemann's sculp- ture, "Robin's Egg" debuts alongside eggs created by Jeff Koons, Donna Karen and Tracey Emin, among more than 200 other leading artists in The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt held in New York City. (Fabergé spon- sors the 100% charitable egg hunt). Created to raise art class funds for city children through the program "Studio in School" and to benefit en- dangered Asian elephants and their habitats through "Elephant Family." While she calls taking part in the Faberge Egg Hunt "an honor," she says it's through her work as the Goodwill Ambassador at Utter- ly Global Youth Empowerment, a charity founded to promote Internet safety among children, that she has found her true calling. "I believe that cyber-bullying has become a scourge today," she says. "Parents need to be so vigilant and involved in their children's lives online." In addition to promoting Utterly Global Youth Empowerment and spreading the word that "It's cool to be nice," working with them to create programs in schools, she is helping to organize fashion benefits that directly profit the organization. To organize an anti-bullying club in your school or find out more information, visit The Hudson Valley itself will receive the most visible and prev- alent windfall from Heinemann's creative generosity, in the form of oversized, brightly hued "Flower Tree" sculptures that look part Dr. Seuss, part Tim Burton, 100% Hud- son Valley cool. Ultimately, Heinemann says she hopes to give away "hundreds" of flower sculptures, but she currently has pledged 12 sculptures to the state of New York, and she is in discussions with the CIA, Vassar and other public institutions about where and when to deliver the works. Photo by Kit DeFever Heinemann has pledged 12 of her "flower tree" sculptures to the state of New York, including the CIA, Vassar and other public institutions. A ribbon cutting for a sculpture on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail will be held in June. "Over the years, I came to realize how many vibrant cultural institutions we have right in our backyard."

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