Born in Newark NJ, Barbara’s life has always been filled with art. Her father was a noted interior designer and her mother an accomplished sculptor. The classical music station was always on in the background. While many young children played with building blocks, Barbara and her sister built houses out of the samples of wood, Formica and fabric, which her designer father brought home. During the summers of her youth she attended a fine art’s center in the Berkshires. Days were spent in the dance studio where Barbara practiced her passion, dance. Only after the director insisted, did Barbara reluctantly agree to take a visual art class.
She is a graduate of The George Washington University with an MS in Dance Education and both taught and performed with local Washington DC troupes. She holds a master’s degree in Performing Arts from the American University where she was a member of the dance faculty. After sustaining a serious back injury that sidelined her dance career, Barbara was determined to find another way to stay connected to the arts. She proceeded to earn a graduate degree in Arts Administration. From there, she became the Executive Director of the American Dance Guild. Ultimately, Barbara developed an expertise in event-driven fund raising and for 25 years held positions in the arts, politics and education, raising funds for numerous United States senatorial candidates. She was the New York Director of the American friends of Ben Gurion University, National Program Director for the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the Executive Director for the American Friends of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art---all in New York City.
Barbara’s lifelong dream to live a rural lifestyle came true in 2002, when she and her husband purchased a weekend home in Chatham, NY. It didn’t take Barbara long to be convinced that she wanted to abandon the City and move to the country fulltime. She retired from fund raising and decided to cultivate her baking skills, a long-time hobby. She began studying cake decorating with Master Chef-Instructor Toba Garrett at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. From Garrett, Barbara learned that it was quite common to see ex-dancers finding their core expressions in cake designing, another three-dimensional art form. A self-taught baker, Barbara used her new skills in cake decorating to open The Well Dressed Cake, a special order cake business, locally known for one-of-a-kind wedding cakes. Unfortunately, problems in her hand originating from her back injury years earlier ultimately made it impossible to do the delicate and controlled handwork necessary for cake decorating.
It was during this period that Barbara realized she enjoyed painting, if not on cakes than perhaps canvas. In 2012, she began to study oil painting with Larry Zingale whose greatest piece of advice was, “don’t be afraid of it.” Finding the same difficulty of hand control that was inherent in cake decorating, Barbara switched from brushes to palette knives, and the freedom of abstract painting where she has finally found her creative voice again, almost 40 years after injuring her spine.
Besides painting and baking, Barbara is an avid gardener. In addition, she serves on the Curatorial Committee at the Spencertown Academy, the Board of Trustees of Kids Need Music, and numerous committees at the Chatham Synagogue/Netivot Torah.
Barbara lives happily in the country with her husband Kenneth Kranz, their dogs Dixie and Layla, and Emmett, the cat. She has a son and daughter-in-law, Nicholas McGuire and Sonia Kahn McGuire who live in Washington, DC and a stepson, David Kranz who resides in New York City.