Meet Sanaz! Getting to know our neighbors means embracing that we are all more alike than we are different. This week’s Face is a wonderful example that no matter where we come from, the need for art and beauty is universal.
Sanaz Mousavi is a Persian-American creative based in Woodstock, Georgia. She is an interdisciplinary artist with an emphasis on watercolor and chalk pastel. A writer too, Sanaz is working on a novel based on her life. She writes poetry and holds her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Tehran Azad University, Tehran Shomal. Sanaz also attended Kennesaw State University‘s American Studies graduate program. She moved from Tehran in 2014 due to unrest in the political climate and resides in Woodstock with her fiancé, Phil, and her son, musician Ardy Zonouzi.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Until recently, I worked for a corporate healthcare company as a contract manager. Although I never saw myself in this field, I took my job seriously. After I discovered corruption I tried to step in and make things right but I was ultimately laid off, which is now under investigation. I was devastated, of course, but realized that this was a rebirth for me. Now it is time for me to put my art at the center of my life, even though it has always been part of it. I look at this career change as an opportunity to grow as an artist and writer, and I see Woodstock as a wonderful, nurturing place to do this!
What is your favorite restaurant in Woodstock, and what do you love there?
Rootstock and Vine. They had a seasonal pear salad with fresh goat cheese and herbs. I’ve never had it anywhere else. It was amazing.
How long have you lived in Woodstock? What was your impression after moving from Tehran?
I moved straight from Tehran, Iran, to Woodstock six years ago. Everything is so vast here, and so pristine compared to the capital of Iran with 14 million people in one city. I love walking here, browsing the stores, swimming and playing tennis. But at the same time, I’ve dealt with loneliness and felt alienated, which is why I am beginning to work on a vlog about mental health.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Woodstock? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Woodstock?
Katie Morgan, my tenant. She’s an artist, healer, and writer. She works at an herbal shop in Canton. Last December I was moving to downtown Woodstock with my fiancé, and I needed to rent the little house I own. I found her through Zillow and right away we clicked. We had a very interesting connection like we knew each other for years. She’s dedicated to love and art and beauty. She moved in on December 21st and signed what we call our solstice contract. It has been great so far.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Right now, it would be Iran because it’s been five years. I would like to go to Tehran to have a reunion with my friends. But I would also like to explore more places in Europe like Croatia and Santorini and I want to visit South America.
What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
Ali Hatami is my favorite director. He founded a film school in Iran and he explores nostalgia through his cinematography. The name of my favorite movie from him is “Del Shodegan.” This movie was made at the peak of his career. I love the romance and the chemistry between the main characters. “The Disaster Artist” is my favorite U.S. movie. I love the spontaneity of the main character and story behind it.
What advice would you give a crowd of people?
What is something on your bucket list?
To finish my novel and keep working on my vlog. The vlog is based on mental health awareness. It has been educational for me to live in an advanced country where in some ways we have everything we need, but yet people have panic attacks, stress, and people are still dealing with mental health issues. I am exploring places where people can go to feel better mentally, not necessarily a product they can buy.
What is your favorite music/ three bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
I can’t live without music. I think my mom and my father both instilled that in me. Every day since I was young, I would go to sleep and wake up to the sound of music. Here I really like festivals. Shaky Knees is a festival we try not to miss. And now that we live in downtown Woodstock, I’m super excited for the summer concerts. As for musicians, I really like The War on Drugs. Mac Miller, and Tame Impala.
What current / former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Woodstock?
I really like Izumi Asian Bistro. I have lots of memories there, and it has always been a place that me and my son like to go. I was vegan/vegetarian for a long time and they always had good options.
Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where in Woodstock would you have lunch?
The poet Rumi. I cannot imagine my life without Rumi. I would always hear his poetry as a kid, and when I was thirteen, I began to study him with my mentor, Dr. Elahi Ghomshei. For me, being introduced to The Religion of Love was a manifestation of learning Rumi’s work. I would invite him to my house. Persians are famous for our hospitality.
What is your favorite thing or something unique about Woodstock?
I call Woodstock a little utopia. Woodstock is a place of peace. It is very peaceful here, and I love the people here. When I was first dating my fiancé Phil, we were living across the street from Piedmont Park in Midtown, but the peace I feel here is different. Especially downtown Woodstock, the way the community is set up, this is a very friendly community.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
I would say, the image of mental health and the concept of “Hygge.” It is a Danish word that embodies the concept of well-being throughout the five senses. But at the same time, my life has never been predictable. When I have plans for something, sometimes life will take me in a different direction. Last year I was promoted in January, and I was thinking this is going to be my career and whatever I am doing in art is for my love of art. But now I am being taken in a different direction and I’m happy about that. I don’t know where the universe is taking me next, but I am open to it. I want to be more active in the Woodstock community with my art, to continue writing, and to share my work. This is my plan. We’ll see how it goes [laughs].
(Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
At first, my mom was surprised how much I love living here in the United States. She thought after a few months here that I would want to leave, but no. I love the honesty of people here and I love freedom.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
Family, Tehran, and Woodstock.
If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
With the novel I’m writing, I was thinking Keira Knightly could play a friend. And Mac Miller’s music reminds me of my son’s music, so, I felt like he could have played Ardy.
If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
A driver. I can drive, but I’d prefer someone to drive for me.