Iconic Art and Beauty


Mona Lisa’s famous smile hints at

embarrassment that so many people

bother coming so far to see her

when she’s really nothing special.

Alison Pearson


Instead of another selfie, how fun would it be to recreate your favorite iconic artwork?  Harper’s Bazaar November 2017 features five unstoppable and trailblazing models in a tableau of iconic paintings. (Photographs by Pari Dukovic/Fashion Editor Anna Trevelyan)

Winnie Harlow as Mona Lisa

The Canadian model of Jamaican descent (above) helped demystify the skin pigmentation condition vitiligo. She knows what it’s like to have strangers make assumptions based solely on appearance.

Candace Huffine in The Birth of Venus

A top plus size model, Candace Huffine felt a special connection to the painting of the Roman goddess of love since she first set eyes on it as a teen. For her, the fashion world’s expanding parameters are merely a return to form, “I have a body like Venus, and it’s well past time we acknowledge this is a body type that’s always been beautiful.”

Hari Nef as Madame X

Transgender model and actress Hair New is an emblem of contradiction. In highschool, she wrote a paper on John Singer Sargetn’s famous woman in black and made one of her first trips to New York just to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see this painting.

Erika Linder as Egon Schiele

Androgynous sexuality is Swedish model Erika Linder’s commonality with the Austrian painter Egon Schiele. This is her interpretation of Schiele’s Self Portrait With Peacock Waistcoaat. Erika continues to build her career as a menswear model.

Halima Aden in Girl With a Pearl Earring

As the first hijab-wearing Muslim model signed to a major agency, showing even a little sliver of skin and her pierced ears was something new for Halima Aden. The young woman in Dutch master Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring appears seductive precisely because of her restraint.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite iconic artwork.




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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947



Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman




To The Girls

What a wonderful life I’ve had!

I only wish

I’d realized it sooner.



On Huffington Post, Nina Bahadur invites you to offer advice for girls as they travel the path to womanhood:

Author Courtney Summers launched the hashtag #ToTheGirls on April 14, the same day that her YA novel All the Rage was released. Her hope is that women will share their best pieces of advice to young women seeking guidance and affirmation.

In a blog post about #ToTheGirls, Summers urged her followers: “Take the opportunity to tell the girls you know — and the ones you don’t — that they are seen, heard and loved. Share advice. Be encouraging. Tell us about or thank the girls in your life who have made a difference in yours.”

Women on Twitter shared their best insight on confidence, romance, success, sex and more.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add yours to my faves:

@SaraZarr : You don’t have to grow up to be a mom or a wife if you don’t want to. It’s ok to not have kids, not want to babysit, etc.

@HaleShannon  Find and stay near the people who make you feel possible, larger, worthy, interesting, excited, comfortable, confident.

@coracarmack  It’s never too late. To do what you love. To change your mind. To change your life.

@syntactics : “I’m sorry” is for when you’ve hurt someone. It’s not for when you’re asking others for respect or the right to take up space.

@FeministFists  You have the right to take back your consent at any time during a sexual situation. Even if he bought you dinner.

@elloecho  The mistakes you made do not shape who you are. They are NOT who you are. Forgive yourself, love yourself, and let them go.

@SarahDessen It’s okay if you don’t have everything together. Life is a process. Keep learning, keep loving. Keep on.







Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards


Photography © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947



Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Power of the Pin-up

Her sexiness is natural and uncontrived,

and her exposure

is always accidental.

Dian Hanson, The Art of the Pin-up


Gil Elvgren, I’ve Been Spotted, oil on canvas

Mad Men ends this week… Sigh! Who will not miss Don Draper and Joan Holloway, the epitomes of sexy in the 1960s? Way before their decade, who summed up sexy?

Gallerist Louis K. Meisel of New York City shares his extensive collection of the beautiful coiffed women next door, in stockings and garter belts, or in dreamlike settings captured in oil paintings, watercolors and pastels. The pin-up girl is said to have been born of war, when President Woodrow Wilson’s Division of Pictorial Publicity decided on her as the visual stimuli to persuade men to join the World War I.  Both flirtatious and innocent, mischievous and sweet, was this well- or scantily-dressed woman persuasive or what?!

While pin-up is deemed as the objectification of women, it is also a testament to the quiet power of femininity, sexuality, and a woman’s freedom to choose.  It is a recognition that women are agents of change simply by making the most of what she’s got (and have we got a lot!) in courage, style, looks,  strength, compassion, wisdom, intelligence, charm, wit and humor. And may the softness of our curves lead mankind towards making more love than war!

The Great American Pin-up Girl Returns opens at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York City today, April 2 to May 2, 2015.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what you love about pin-up. xoxox

Haddon-Sundblom-Pinup-with-dogHaddon Sundblom, Untitled (Girl with Dog)


Vaughan Alden Bass, Sugar N Spice oil on canvas


Gil Elvgren, Low Down Feelings, oil on canvas


William Medcalf, Permite Girl on Car Creeper, oil on canvas


Sharon Birke

201 697 1947



Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

No Feet Left Behind

The one thing that can solve

most of our problems

is dancing.

James Brown


Exasperated by the computer induced anti-social and sedentary lifestyle of my teens, I signed Mr. Highschool Senior for social dance classes last week. “This will make you famous with the girls in college!,” I assured him. Yet the minutes were long waiting for him to come out of that first lesson.  Was I just wasting time and money?  He finally stepped out of class grinning, “Dancing is fun!” Whew–Thank you, Goddess!

This week, by some fantastic coincidence, I heard about Dancing Classrooms: a 10 week (20 session) social development program for 5th and 8th grade children using the vehicle of ballroom dance.  The dance floor is, after all, a literal level playing field, doing away with the learning barrier between the gifted and talented and those with special needs. In social dance, every child is treated like a lady and gentleman, taught how to connect with and respect members of the opposite sex, given a safe environment to enjoy movement.

Kudos to teachers and school administrators who recognize that a developing personality thrives beyond grades and testing, that adding fun and engaging character education fosters respect and teamwork, affirming a child’s self-confidence with a sense of joy and accomplishment. All this while teaching good posture, considerate manners, and the importance of eye to eye contact with other human beings. They may even discover that their limbs have uses beyond being hunched over tech gadgets!

Social dance changes children’s perception of themselves and I love how the Dancing Classrooms program sets expectations that help elevate their outlook in life.  Thank you to Pierre Dulaine who founded this program in 1994 and the fabulous men and women who continue to make learning essential life skills fun and easy! I was totally impressed by the children who showed off what they learned in 10 short weeks at last night’s gala.

To donate, volunteer or partner your public school with the Dancing Classrooms program: http://www.dancingclassrooms.com/Page/About/

A closer peek through the lens of legendary NY Times society photographer Bill Cunningham


You’re never too young or too old for fun on the dance floor!


 A mighty proud 5th grade ballroom dancer


Watch their video “Mad Hot Ballroom”

 Photos © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947



Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

The Power of Vulnerability

Kindness to ourselves 

helps us

be kind to others.

Brene Brown


This Powerful Goddess welcomed her wondrous new decade by exploring the breadth of her enough-ness while honoring the women in her family with their treasured heirloom jewelry. It is magnificent to witness a woman venture out of her comfort zone, daring to go where she has not been before, celebrating the many possibilities of her choosing.

Through this long wintry month of snowy blankets that barely melt, I am grateful to be reminded of the reason for the fallow season and the blessing of dark times. I wish you the best and bravest decade, Powerful Goddess! Thank you for touching my life with the books of Brene Brown and the power of vulnerability.  I shall always think of you each time I remind myself “I AM ENOUGH!”

Vulnerability is beautiful and necessary.

The courage to be imperfect,

to let go of what we think we should be,

the willingness to say I love you first,

 to do something or love someone with no guarantees,

to let ourselves be seen as we are,

to practice gratitude and joy, to say “I am enough.”

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how you grow strength in your darkness. xoxox





© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947



Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Gloria Steinem and The Better Woman

 We are becoming

the men we wanted to marry.

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem


Yale Joel—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The poster goddess of feminism, Gloria Steinem, is 80!  She, who popularized Australian Irina Dunn’s quip “Women need men like fish need bicycles,” married for the first time at the age of 66 claiming, “I hope this proves what feminists have always said — that feminism is about the ability to choose what’s right at each time of our lives.”

Other nuggets of wisdom from this icon who has inspired many to expand their world view:

A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after.

If women could sleep their way to the top, there’d be a lot more women at the top.

Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it.

A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.

For women… bras, panties, bathing suits, and other stereotypical gear are visual reminders of a commercial, idealized feminine image that our real and diverse female bodies can’t possibly fit. Without these visual references, each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms. We stop being comparatives. We begin to be unique.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.

Once we give up searching for approval we often find it easier to earn respect.

If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?

Whatever you want to do, just do it…Making a damn fool of yourself is absolutely essential.

A new documentary Gloria: In Her Own Words airs this month on HBO, celebrating the life and work of this feminist icon. Click on “Leave a comment” (above left) to share what feminism means to you.


Portrait Of Gloria Steinem

Gloria-Steinem playboy bunny

Undercover research as Playboy bunny


A writer never sits too far from her typewriter

Gloria Steinam in bathtub

Marianne Barcellona—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

That Was the Year That Was

Gloria Steinem, feminist writer

Aging gracefully with none of that botox stuff


Thanks to Getty and Google archive for these images!

Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

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Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Send In The Clown

Housework can’t kill you,

but why take a chance?

Phyllis Diller

Joan Rivers’ live standup show was packed to overflowing last week.  It was my very first time to witness her firecracker mouth other than the few times I’ve seen her blast the hapless who walk down the Oscar’s red carpet on her watch.  I laughed in hysterical disbelief– How does she get away saying what she does?!

Having grown up in Asia and having given up TV since my kids started rolling in, I’ve only been recently “introduced” to two trailblazing comediennes through their film biographies:  Joan Rivers in “A Piece of Work” and Phyllis Diller in “Goodnight, We Love You.”  Their humanity and vulnerability impress me beyond their courage to say it like it is, holding no one and nothing sacred.  Like Phyllis, I want a life full of laughs and I want to be remembered for my kindness.  At the very least, I’ll settle for their high energy on high heels when I’m 80.

This series is dedicated to the clowns who dare say and do what we don’t.   May we always laugh out loud and be so bold!

© Sharon Birke

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201 697 1947


Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


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