Paige Peterson. New Yorker. San Francisco-bred, where her mother was mayor of Belvedere, California for eight years. Married (now divorced) to one of the sons of investment banker and one-time Nixon Administration Presidential assistant (for Economic Affairs) cabinet member, businessman and investment banker, Pete Peterson. Mother of two – Alexandra and Peter Cary, painter and several times cancer survivor.

I mention the last not because it is distinguishes her but because it doesn’t. No complaints from Paige, although I’ll bet she’s had her moments. Her children, her work and her friends are what distinguishes, to my mind. Alexandra and Peter Cary are bilingual, proficient in Spanish because when they were very small, she asked her housekeeper Maria Garcia to speak to them only in Spanish. The simple result: today Peter Cary and Alexandra converse effortlessly in Spanish with among others, their housekeeper. Only mama doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Alexandra, who’s enrolled at Middlebury in Vermont, is going to Buenos Aires where she is going to study for a year, fully prepared, thanks to Maria.

No matter how she’s feeling, she’s one of those people who will put a good face on it. That’s a special talent. I think you’re born with that quality although no matter what you often have to work at it. Paige is a hard worker.

The Peterson Family: Peter Cary, Paige, and Alexandra

Her health problems started years ago with a pain in her face. “It felt like some demon with an ice pick was in my right cheek bone stabbing me relentlessly ... then out of nowhere it would stop. This went on for years. I would grab my face to stop the pain. I finally went to a doc who said that I probably had a sinus infection, but we would do an MRI of my brain just to make sure everything was okay. It never occurred to me that anything other than some antibiotics would be needed.”

“One day I was on a train with my friend, Peter Brown, (British-born public relations consultant) headed to the White House for the first Tony Blair dinner with the Clintons. While on the train I spoke to my doc who said I had a brain tumor and that I needed to come right back to New York.  I did not. I thought to myself I may never have the opportunity to go to the White House again, and so I went to the dinner and had a wonderful time. Upon my return, I saw Dr. Frank Petito and he advised me to remove the tumor immediately, so we did.”

“The tumor was the beginning of many operations. I have ended up at Sloan Kettering too many times. My body makes tumors, some malignant some not. I have had surgery somewhere around every 18 months for the last 10 years. Often times the treatment is harder than the surgeries.”

“However, after years of design and television work, I took the presence of the brain tumor as a wake-up call.  I knew it was time for me to concentrate on what I truly loved doing - painting. I had always spent time painting, but now I decided to focus on it exclusively.”

“I started painting my children, my friends at the beach, and my family. Over the past few years, I have had 6 gallery shows and was privileged to be included in Jonathan Becker's book, Studios By The Sea.

I’ve been an admirer of her work since I first saw some of it a few years ago. The images just moved into my imagination and have stayed there ever since. Barbara MacAdam in ARTnews put it more succinctly: “It continues and even updates a Pop-minimalist tradition of such practitioners as Will Barnet and Alex Katz. Her use of “negative space,” is what makes it personal and distinctive. It both conceals and projects a certain emotional content, hinting at an underlying narrative. The group of bathers are definied mainly by stripes and their suits and towels,” and yet you can almost see and feel the East Hampton beach that they are on.

The big excitement in her life at this writing is over the new children’s book that she illustrated and co-wrote with her close friend Christopher Cerf called Blackie, The Horse Who Stood Still. It is a true story about a horse who lived out his life on an island in the San Francisco Bay. Paige grew up in belvedere, a land-locked island
in the San Francisco bay. She used to walk down the old railroad tracks with apples and carrots and sugar cubes to feed Blackie in his pasture in Tiburon, the next town over. Blackie died when she was 11 years old. Chris wrote the text and Paige did the illustrations.

It comes out in September through Welcome Books and Random House. “Blackie is about being calm and quiet and focused and thoughtful - things I have concentrated on being since my body began challenging me.”

“How,” I once asked her, did she handle all the bad news that’s come her way. “It is all about attitude in the end,” was her instant response, “and how well we handle ourselves in the face of adversity.”

Christopher Cerf is a native New Yorker who grew up in the orbit of a distinguished father and a mother (Phyllis Cerf Wagner) who started out adult life as a starlet at RKO Studios in Hollywood (where her cousin Ginger Rogers became a star) and later became one of the major movers in New York literary and philanthropy circles, including the founding of the Central Park Conservancy.

His father, Bennett Cerf was a co-founder of Random House publishers which from the 1940s through the end of the 20th century published some of the most famous authors in the world. In the 1950s when television was still dawning, father Cerf was also a guest panelist on a weekly Sunday night show called "What's My Line" making him a household name across American, which he enterprisingly enhanced by publishing a number of books on humor.

Christopher Cerf and Paige Peterson

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Unheralded in contemporary terms, he is one of the longest running prolific and actively creative people in New York. Once a senior editor at Random House where he worked with George Plimpton, Andy Warhol, Abbie Hoffman, Ray Bradbury, and Dr. Seuss, he's still involved in writing and publishing, and television, and an additional talent beyond his father's: composing.

He's played a significant role in the creation and production of the Sesame Street, regularly contributing music and lyrics, and producing many of its music albums, for which he's won two Grammys and three Emmys.

Since his first song for Sesame Street, "Count It Higher" in 1972, he's written or co-written more than 200 songs for the the program. He's also played a pivotal role in its ongoing funding, and also founded and served as the original editor-in-chief of Sesame Workshop's books, records, and toys division.

His compositions have been performed on Saturday Night Live, The National Lampoon Radio Hour, The Electric Company, Square One Television, Between the Lions, and in numerous Muppet productions, and his songs have been sung by Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, R.E.M., James Taylor, Tony Bennett, The Dixie Chicks, Tracy Chapman, Carol Channing, Randy Travis, The Four Tops, Melissa Etheridge, Smokey Robinson, Bonnie Raitt, Wynton Marsalis, Little Richard, B.B. King, Jimmy Buffett, Bart Simpson, and the Metropolitan Opera's José Carreras not to mention the blond, curly-haired Muppet character from Sesame Street who is his namesake and the lead singer of the rock group "Chrissy and the Alphabeats."

The list goes on and on. There was the editing and production of Marlo Thomas & Friends' Free To Be ... A Family book, album and TV special. The book was #1 on The New York Times bestseller list in 1987, and the show received a prime-time Emmy as the year's outstanding children's special.

He and Ms. Thomas recently collaborated again, co-editing and co-producing Thanks & Giving: All Year Long, a book and CD about generosity and sharing (and their polar opposites, selfishness and thoughtlessness) with royalties going to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, founded by Thomas's father, Danny Thomas, in 1962. It won a Grammy this year.

There's more. He served as Executive Producer, and Music and Audio Producer, of Between the Lions, the children's literacy series that his company, Sirius Thinking, Ltd., created for PBS. It has twice won the Television Critics' Award as the nation's outstanding children's television program, and, in its six seasons, has amassed six Emmy Awards. Even better, in two independent studies, conducted by the University of Kansas and Mississippi State University, the show has also demonstrated success in helping kids — including those at the highest risk of literacy failure — to learn how to read.

The general public probably knows him best as an author and satirist, his having helped launch the National Lampoon in 1970, and serving as a Contributing Editor until the mid-1970s. In 1978, he co-conceived and co-edited the journalistic parody Not the New York Times. Aside from that and many other aspects of his day jobs in publishing,writing and composing, he recently collaborated on Blackie, a children's book based on a true story about a horse (with illustrations by his great friend Paige Peterson).

It's a New Yorker's life, constant industry amidst a parade of sundry personalities, bright and creative, driven and remarkable. Chris who finds spare time, believe it or not, to entertain friends old and new, literary, theatrical, social and just folks, in his Upper East Side townhouse where the menu is hearty and abundant and the camaraderie focuses on a good time to be had by all. It's not unusual to find the host at the grand piano banging out the tunes or rock-n-roll from the 60s on and the crowd singing, performing and/or just wishing life could always be like this. With Chris Cerf you could get the impression it is. Until you take a look at his appointment book, or his curriculum vitae. Then you realize it's a good life, but a very busy (and productive) one.