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Vibing on Art and Artists’ Books

Gil Moshe Gentile got it just right in June 2013 when he asked Hannah Marie Mandel to meet him at “Jack Goldstein X 10,000,” a conceptual art exhibit at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

“He was an artist I really loved,” Mr. Gentile said. “It was her vibe, too.”

When he had reached out to Ms. Mandel on OkCupid a week or so earlier, he had no idea that she was into ’70s and ’80s conceptual art. Her profile no less intrigued him — it was as sparse as his, and mentioned she created artist’s books.

At the time, he worked as an assistant to Cory Arcangel, a media post-conceptual artist, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, who was also on her artistic radar.

“We both did small press projects,” said Mr. Gentile, 33, now the exhibition and publications designer at the University Art Museum at SUNY Albany. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence.

“I was interested in conceptual art related to cinema,” said Ms. Mandel, 31, now the archivist at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, she received a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

After wandering around the museum, they headed to Koreatown and had bibimbap, a Korean rice dish (she for the first time).

“It felt like a really good match,” said Ms. Mandel, who realized they knew some of the same people in the world of artists’ books.

They later took the subway home to Brooklyn — he to Bedford-Stuyvesant and she to Greenpoint — and met again a week later at Manhattan Inn, a former Greenpoint bar. Soon enough, their relationship developed a rhythm.

He met her after work several times a week when she worked at Chelsea galleries managing photography, press and their websites. They regularly went to Printed Matter, an art bookstore in Chelsea, then to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown or Veselka in the East Village. And just about every weekend, they went to one friend or another’s art show opening.

Credit…Eric Helgas
[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

In 2014 the couple created “Brand New,” an artist’s book, by reprinting distorted photos from a 1985 New Museum catalog, including works by Jack Goldstein. It was a “sly” nod, he said, to their first date.

In 2015 Ms. Mandel moved into Mr. Gentile’s apartment. A year later, after she got into an archival master’s program at U.C.L.A., they moved to Los Angeles. (He grew up there, she in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.).

They found a studio apartment in the Los Feliz neighborhood, and enjoyed hiking nearby trails up to Griffith Observatory and going over to his parents’ house for Shabbat dinners.

“I really liked L.A. and planned that we would stay there,” said Ms. Mandel. But after they landed jobs in 2018 back East — she at Bard and he at SUNY Albany — they moved to Hudson, N.Y.

That fall they adopted Sesame, a rescue beagle cattle dog with “a big personality,” Mr. Gentile said, and Ms. Mandel’s passion for baking postmodern-like cakes took off into a side business, Forsythia Forsythia.

Mr. Gentile asked Ms. Mandel to marry him on July 3, 2019, as they relaxed at home playing with Sesame. A celebratory dinner followed at Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, their favorite restaurant in Hudson, after which he got down on one knee for a formal proposal “to have the experience of saying we did it,” she said.

They planned to get married in May 2020 at Joe’s Garage, an event space in Catskill, N.Y., but after Covid hit they moved the date to December, which they postponed again.

On Oct. 16, Rabbi Nina H. Mandel, a paternal aunt of the bride, officiated before 84 vaccinated guests. Their grandmothers watched on Zoom. So did the bride’s father, who tuned in from an Albany hospital while recovering from a heart attack he had after arriving in New York a few days earlier. Her mother, along with the groom’s mother and father, attended in person.

“Full speed ahead,” Ms. Mandel recalled her father saying before they were wed that rainy evening under a huppah he had built.

At the reception, out came a creation of the bride: a white-tiered, tahini-frosted coconut and black sesame cake filled with pickled berry jam. It was decorated with marzipan apples and oranges, a salute to New York and California.

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