Yogi, artist Kim Manfredi shares 10 precious objects
By Sloane Brown
For The Baltimore Sun|
Feb 20, 2016 | 11:40 AM
Editor's note: Take 10 is a series of occasional features on prominent local residents and the possessions dear to them.
For Kim Manfredi, 51, life is about journeys: journeys to physical places, journeys among states of mind and the journey of life itself.
"When I was 18 years old, I broke my back," she says. After graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art, she moved to Arizona, where she painted the desert and took up yoga.
"From my very first class, I had relief from my physical pain. And mentally, it just blew my mind. Yoga was a passion and a practice that fulfilled me personally," she says.
She returned to Baltimore and started her Twin Diamond Studios painting company. She also taught yoga at a local fitness club until one day in 2000 when she came to work to a very cold room and a lockbox on the thermostat. Manfredi left the club and launched Midtown Yoga. Little did she realize at the time that she was at the crest of the newest fitness wave.
"I started the company because of an unheated room. I had no ambition at all," she says with a laugh.
Fifteen years later, Midtown Yoga had morphed into Charm City Yoga, with seven local locations. During that time, Manfredi began yearly trips to India to study under yoga masters.
"In a way, yoga is a systematic repetition of actions that bring up one's reactions, responses, attachments and aversions. In understanding those responses, I can begin to decide whether those responses serve me in my life. And if they don't, the yoga is the process – through gentle awareness – of letting those kinds of habits, reactions, unconscious responses go away," she says.
In 2006, Manfredi decided to let go of one tangible thing. She sold her decorative painting business so she could study in a MICA graduate program under the late painter Grace Hartigan.
The booming yoga company caught the attention of California-based YogaWorks, which approached her and her husband/co-founder Chris Blades, about buying the business. This fall, that became a reality, with the stipulation that Manfredi stay at the helm.
"For me in my process, there's an infinite number of changes happening all the time. If I can be aware and open to those changes, there's the possibility of transformation in my everyday. It's as simple as continuing to be enthralled by the sunrise, or being kind to my husband or kind to myself or interested in making art. It has to be new. There has to be wonder," she says.
For more of Manfredi's story, look to her 10 objects of significance.
Statue of Ganesh
She got this representation of the Hindu elephant-headed god in India. "You see those beads on him? Those are gifts for the teacher training students. Ganesh is the mascot of Charm City Yoga, and he is the remover of obstacles. He helps you on your way."
It helps every morning to start her day: "It's a Manduka Pro mat. You don't slip on it. It's heavy. It's hard. It's awesome."
She bought them two summers ago in New York. "I had never bought an expensive pair of shoes before. I guess I never felt like I had enough money to buy [them]," she says. It was really great going into the Prada store and actually buying something."
One-quarter of a Raoul Middleman painting
"When I was in undergraduate school, I used to grind Raoul's oil paints for him," she says. "Obviously, I could never afford one of his paintings. My friend who worked for a framer went in the Dumpster one day and saw this Raoul Middleman painting cut in four [pieces] because Raoul had not approved it. So, it's like contraband."
"My work now is inspired by my travel," Manfredi says. "They're portable, and I don't need to have a studio."
She loves to travel. For years, she traveled every year with her mother. In addition to going to India every year, she and her husband go to their house in Spain for at least a month every summer.
"Once I got a serious blender, my life got better. My soups got better. My smoothies got better. If I had to pack up my car and take 10 things with me, that blender would be with me because I can get so many nutrients out of a smoothie."
Mosaic bespoke titanium bike
After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, she vowed to cut down on gas consumption. "I made a commitment to drive my car only two days a week. It's now been six years. There have been some exceptions, like, when it's below 28 degrees; I can't brake so well anymore. I've changed my entire life by biking five days a week," she says. "I find when I'm out in my car, it's, 'Oh, let me stop here; let me stop there. You really don't do that on the bike; life becomes simpler and more enjoyable. It's really transforms everything."
'Writings (Schriften),' by Agnes Martin
She has read a bit from it almost daily for the past seven years. "She's a painter from the 1950s who also has a select amount of writings that offer an insight into a painter's mind, a painter's way of living. Although she doesn't use yogic terms, her inspiration is almost identical to yogic philosophy."