Aaron Baldinger and Sarah Passick Baldinger Celebrate the Holidays with ‘Moments of Jewish Joy,’ and Their One-Year-Old

The art and literary world couple meld traditional holiday fare with gallery and museum hopping, and plenty of delicious food.

Aaron Baldinger, Sarah Passick, and baby Lev. Photo: Michelle Rose Sulcov www.michellerosephoto.com

Friends of Aaron Baldinger and Sarah Passick Baldinger like to joke that they’re a “creative power couple,” a label that embarrasses Aaron and amuses Sarah. But there is certainly truth to it. Sarah is a partner at the literary agency Park and Fine in New York City, specializing in non-fiction, and Aaron has been a director at New York’s Gladstone Gallery for a decade.

The 35-year-old duo spoke to me recently about their holiday plans, celebrating Jewish traditions with their toddler and extended family, as well as what’s on their professional plates.

As she puts the finishing touches on current projects, Sarah said she is already gearing up for the “exciting” book proposals she will submit next year, as well as for spring publications. She works with celebrities authors, including “people who are doing really interesting and important work in whatever space they excel in,” from musicians, actors, personal-development experts, and doctors, with the goal “to bring those ideas onto the bookshelf.”

Meanwhile, Aaron works with the artist Ugo Rondinone at the gallery, and as a director, liaises with clients and does sales for the over 70 artists on the roster. He also oversees the gallery’s participation in 11 to 12 global art fairs throughout the year.  After a busy fall at fairs in Paris, Shanghai, and most recently, Art Basel Miami Beach, he is busy tying up loose ends, before a short break, and then heading to San Francisco in January for FOG Design+Art fair, followed by Frieze Los Angeles in February. The gallery is also busy preparing its exhibitions for the coming year, and in January, will open a Thomas Hirschhorn show at its West 21st Street location in New York, as well as a Shahryar Nashat exhibition in Brussels.

The festive family vibes are just pouring out. Courtesy of Aaron Baldinger and Sarah Passick Baldinger. 

On holiday traditions

Aaron Baldinger: “Every year, we meet our entire extended family in Palm Beach, FL where my grandmother lives during the colder months. We’ve made these annual pilgrimages since we were little, and it’s been even more fun since Sarah joined the family a decade ago. After a busy year, we try to take it easy during these trips but there’s always one exception: Cousins’ Night Out, also known as CNO, when our crew of ten eats and drinks way too much. Another key family tradition is Secret Santa, which we all take super seriously. While it’s not a contest, we certainly treat it like one. Sarah and I try to spend as much time with the entire family as possible, but every so often, we’ll sneak away to see one of the galleries on Worth Avenue or visit the Norton Museum of Art for a few hours.”

Sarah Passick Baldinger: “I’m especially looking forward to this trip because we get to bring our now-walking and talking one-year-old, Lev. I’m excited to watch him have so much fun splashing around in the pool and getting plenty of attention from his adoring grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and great-grandparents.”

An illuminating family holiday. Courtesy of Aaron Baldinger and Sarah Passick Baldinger.

On celebrating Jewish culture and food

SPB: “Creating moments of Jewish joy has become even more important since having Lev. Food is such a central part of Jewish culture and family and gathering together. I’m lucky to have a great friend and client, Jake Cohen, who recently released a delicious, must-have cookbook, I Could Nosh, that has an amazing step-by-step guide for making his famous challah recipe. We’ve started a tradition of making challah and lighting the candles every Friday for Shabbat.”

AB: “This year during Hanukkah, Sarah, Lev and I made my favorite holiday food, latkes.  While Lev’s fine motor skills are still a bit too novice to light the menorah candles, it was so much fun having him take part in the festivities. He watched and listened intently as we sang the prayers, and it was so special. It’s important for us that we raise him with an appreciation for Jewish traditions.”

Lev poses next to Ugo Rondinone’s “Bright Light Shining” installation at New York’s Gladstone Gallery earlier this year. Courtesy of Aaron Baldinger and Sarah Passick Baldinger.

Where art comes in, this time of year

AB: “Art is a huge part of our lives both during the holidays and beyond, but it feels especially poignant when December arrives. A holiday tradition that Sarah and I both grew up with and look forward to doing with our son, is going to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. We try to visit the theater as much as possible and have been proud partners at The Public Theater since I moved to New York 15 years ago. As a Hanukkah present to each other, we are seeing Alicia Keys and Kristoffer Diaz’s Hell’s Kitchen this week.”

SPB: “Once we’re back home after our annual jaunt in Palm Beach, it’s back to regularly scheduled programming: exploring the latest exhibitions at our favorite museums. Most recently, we loved seeing Barkley Hendricks at the Frick and Henry Taylor at the Whitney. Some of our favorite shows from earlier this year have been Cecily Brown at the Met and Wangechi Mutu at the New Museum.”

AB: “Even though he’s only one, our son has actually shown a pretty adorable interest in art. Sometimes between naps, he’ll pay me a visit at the gallery. Watching his face light up at certain pieces is so heart-warming. He had the most wondrous adventure crawling through Ugo Rondinone’s colossal bronze lighting bolts and instantly loved the cropped portraits, fluid lines, and vivid colors in Alex Katz’s recent painting show.  We can only hope that he’ll grow up and continue to enjoy a life filled with art, books, and all things delicious.”



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