New York Post - Thursday, February 5, 2009 :: GIVE ME LIBERTY!
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Nine days before 9/11, hip-hop entrepreneur and philanthropist Russell Simmons and his family left their Liberty Street apartment and moved to Saddle River, NJ. They picked a good time to relocate.

Their condo was just steps from what would soon become known as Ground Zero, and the apartment was destroyed during the terrorist attack. Not one item inside remained intact.

Russell Simmons with Anarctica Painting
Russell Simmons, whose favorite painting is this Victor Matthews work,
gets some help around the house from Barbara K.

Although Simmons is a man who could live anywhere he wants, he's returned to the same apartment on Liberty Street. His four-bedroom penthouse is now steps away from all the cranes rebuilding the former World Trade Center site. And while his neighborhood is a constant reminder of tragedy, it also makes Simmons think about luck and rebirth and hope.

Six years after he left, Simmons decided to move back to his renovated home, where he now meditates in his yoga room, listens to the area's construction noise and enjoys his extensive art collection, including a commissioned Shepard Fairey "Obama Hope."...

...Tell me about the rest of your art collection.

I have an 80-inch-by-110-inch painting, a collaboration by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. My absolute favorite is a painting by Victor Matthews, a 60-inch-by-72-inch oil and graphite on canvas called "Antarctica." It is breathtaking. Each time I look at it I see something new.

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Register Star - Friday, January 30, 2009 :: A gift for the first lady
By Hallie Goodman

HUDSON — Two Hudson designers have created a fashion care package for First Lady Michelle Obama.

Clothing designer Vilma Maré, owner of the boutique (hi)story at 433 Warren St., and jewelry designer Allison Culbertson who co-owns Olivia on Warren, at 435 Warren St., collaborated on the collection of outfits and accessories.

Vilma Mare

Hudson clothing designer Vilma Maré packs up the box of couture clothing and jewelry that she and jewelry designer
Allison Culbertson are sending to First Lady Michelle Obama.(Photo -Robert Ragaini/Hudson-Catskill Newspapers)

Michelle Earrings
tiger iron earrings
Jewelry sent by Culbertson

The two have not made contact with anyone in the Obama camp and intend to send the package directly to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., in the hopes that Obama will not only accept the package, but will also like and wear the ensembles.

Maré said the package also serves as their formal request for an opportunity to present their fall ‘09 line to the first lady in person.

“I’ve been told you must never send black as a gift, but its not a gift,” said Maré, referring to a black gown she included in the box. “It is an offer to buy.

“I wanted to showcase the craftiness of Hudson,” she said. “To try to show that there are still crafty people ... and us crafty people are the local economy.

“It is only the third week, so we aren’t rushing,” said Maré, “she’s busy moving into a new house.”

In those three weeks, Maré has been preparing to shutter her store. “We are leaving the space [and going to] a much smaller space which will not feature artists,” she said. “So this is my last chance.”

Culbertson’s business is also struggling, but she and her fiancé and co-owner Brian Branigan said they have no plans to close Olivia on Warren.

“The idea was inspired by Obama’s appreciation for style, and they thought that she might be receptive, said Branigan.

“A customer came into Vilma’s store and recommended that she put a package together,” said Culbertson. “And Vilma asked if I wanted to join her, so it started like that. I was game.

“I wanted to show some support and I thought — what if? What if she gets this and wears it? I thought that could be great,” she said.

Culbertson said that she chose most of the jewelry in the package based on what Maré was going to present. But she did design one pair of large pearl earrings specifically for Obama.

Maré chose a variety of dresses and a jacket from her signature collection, but fine-tuned them for Obama. Each piece feature’s Maré’s trademark of arching exposed seams.

From 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Maré and Culbertson will have a party at (hi)story to celebrate their collaboration, and to bid the box bon voyage. The party will feature live music by the Hudson City Ramblers. Maré invites the public to come and “raise a toast toward luck.”

Though she prefers to keep the focus on the celebratory side of things, the party will also serve as a farewell to Maré’s store.

“I told my mother in Finland that I was sending a package and she said, ‘I know the address,’” said Maré. “It is the most famous address. So the party is to celebrate the box.”

To reach reporter Hallie Goodman, call 518-828-1616, ext. 2266, or e-mail

The Independent - Friday, August 1, 2008 :: From the frozen South
Antarctica IV (oil, encaustic, and graphite on canvas) is one of the several large -scale paintings by New York artist Victor Matthews on view through September 1 at Olivia on Warren, a new art gallery at 435 Warren Street in Hudson. The gallery is also showing silver gelatin prints by Brian Branigan and handcrafted jewelry by Allison Culbertson.

Antarctica VIII

Register Star - Thursday, July 24, 2008 :: Olivia on Warren opens in city by Christine D'Agostino

The search for a small studio space in Catskill evolved into something more for Brian Branigan and Allison Culbertson and the end result of this evolution is Hudson's newest gallery, Olivia on Warren.

"It's a metamorphisis," Branigan said of the couple's new space at 435 Warren St. "It's been telling us what to do."

After being unable to find a location in Catskill, where they currently reside, the pair decided to look in Hudson. "We went from a studio concept to a retail concept," Branigan explained; Culbertson designs jewelry that they're planning to sell.

"We renovated it and it just became this beautiful space," he continued. It was then that the idea dawned on them to also utilize their new space as a gallery.

"We're a gallery," Branigan said. "But we sell jewelry." The display cases are custom made by Branigan. Custom made tables, benches and display cases will also be available for sale.

Olivia on Warren's grand opening event will take place 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday and will feature artist Victor Matthews' series, "Antarctica Paintings." The works are encaustic on Linen and graphite pastel on paper.

"My goal was to make a good first impression," Branigan said, adding that Matthews' participationin the grand opening is "exceeding my expectations."

Matthews is from New York City's modern art scene and his mentors include such well-knowns as Francesco Clemente and Brice Marden.

"It is only my 20-year relationship with the artist and some good timing that I am privileged to have Victor as our first show at the grand opening of Olivia on Warren," Branigan wrote in a released statement.

Also featured at the grand opening will be "Beauty in the otherwise ordinary," a collection of silver gelatin prints by Branigan, and "Inspired by nature," handcrafted jewelry by Cubertson.

Additionally, Matthews will be in attendence at Saturday's event. "With the good first impression this has become, it is going to be a really hard act to follow," Branigan said.

Olivia on Warren will seek to bring more attention in this region to rising New York City artists, since may other local galleries feature local artists.

"We're going to be very involved in the cultivaion of new artists," he said.

The gallery will also be open noon to 8 p.m. Sunday and noon to 6 p.m. Monday.

Olivia on Warren seems to bring everything full circle for the pair, Branigan explained. Ten years ago, he and Culbertson were partners at the first multi-media lounge bar in New York City. This soon became the only venue where local fimmakers could show their creations.

After eight years, they sold the business and ended up in a house by the river in New Baltimore; six months ago they moved to Catskill.

"We're just so happy to be in Hudson now," Branigan said. "It's so refreshing."

"We are thrilled to be opening a space in Hudson," Culbertson said. "It's a best of both worlds scenerio, living in Catskill and having a space in Hudson."

All the renovation and woodworking at the new space was done by Branigan, while Culbertson painted the exterior of the building. "It's been a ride," Branigan said.

The duo has a Web design and print business, Hudson Design, and they also spent a year successfully redesigning and restructuring the Stewart House in Athens.

In the end, "the owner gave us more responsibility than we wanted," Branigan said, "[so] here we are, back to our roots, doing what we do."

The name Olivia on Warren comes from a nickname long ago given to Culbertson by Branigan, as well as another obvious inspiration: Warren Street in Hudson.

"Warren Street is special," Branigan said. "We're doing a nod to Warren Street by including it in the name."

For more information, call 518-828-0004, or visit For more information on Culbertson's handcrafted jewelry, visit

Olivia on Warren's normal hours are 12 p.m. to 6 p.m Thursday through Monday, as well as by special appointment.