In September 2015, Henderson Moore Blumer could sense the panic of fellow art student Suzanne Zoe Joskow.
She was in her first year of the M.F.A. program at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles; he in his second. It was that time at the start of the semester when students begin receiving their critiques, and a lottery had assigned Ms. Joskow to one of the very first slots.
“She had a week to put together work that everyone rips apart,” said Mr. Blumer, 32. He traded slots with her, as his was scheduled a month later. To thank him, she baked him a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies. (Mr. Blumer is vegan.)
“That whole first year we became very good friends and an important sounding board as fellow artists,” said Ms. Joskow, 38.
They each worked in studios along a warehouse-style corridor, he on an interactive computer-based photography project without a lens or aperture, she on an abstract work of water color ink that bled onto bits of colored tissue paper. After each of their critiques, as tradition had it, they gathered with fellow students and professors at Tattle Tale, a dive bar near campus.
By the second semester, Ms. Joskow got a pair of white roller skates with pink wheels to get around the studios faster; Mr. Blumer’s was at the other end of the hall. Together, they went to art-related events, explored local architecture and drove around to estate sales.
Despite their increasing closeness, it came as a surprise when in March 2016, after a reception following Mr. Blumer’s solo show at the Viento y Agua coffee house and gallery in Long Beach, Calif., they shared their first kiss.
“Both of us were smiling, but stunned because of the friendship,” she said. He was also still unsteady after his recent divorce from his wife of a year and a half. So they kept things platonic. At least for the next few months.
She soon invited him to his first Passover Seder, which she hosted at the guesthouse she was renting in the Beverly Grove section of Los Angeles.
“Suzanne set up a magical Seder experience in a backyard with beautiful fig and citrus trees,” he said, with 20 guests and vegan versions of her matzo ball soup and flourless chocolate cake.
That summer, he was staying with his parents in Napa, where he grew up. They arranged to meet up in San Francisco, had their second kiss, and soon began dating seriously.
A few summers later, in 2020, they bought a house in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was built in 1922 by A.B. Crist, who designed the first house in Hollywoodland.
“We wanted to plant our roots,” said Ms. Joskow, who is originally from Boston. Her art work is now largely archive- and research-based, and includes a recent project on Los Angeles-community cookbooks. Mr. Blumer is the manager of engagement and events at California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita.
That New Year’s Eve, after Ms. Joskow whacked a star-shaped piñata hanging from the stone pine tree in their backyard, out flew a black pouch with a ring in it. Mr. Blumer picked it up, then got down on one knee. After she said “yes” just around midnight, fireworks went off around the city.
In October 2021, they welcomed a baby named Beatriz Ziva Blumer, or Birdie. Mr. Blumer secretly started learning Yiddish so he could one day read her poems by the bride’s great-grandfather, Daniel Charney, a poet who wrote for New York’s daily Yiddish-language newspaper, “Der Tog.”
On Jan. 22, they were married under a century-old tree in their backyard by Rabbi Zachary Zysman, before 15 vaccinated guests. A California-meets-New England meal followed, including lobster rolls from Maine (the groom prepared a vegan version using hearts of palm), pickles from Nate ’n Al’s deli nearby and the bride’s kumquat olive oil cake.
They plan to repeat the menu with a dozen different dinner guests each month this year. “We get to sit down for a real meal with people we haven’t seen in so long,” the bride said.