Thursday, May 27, 2021

Paintings by Pierre Bergian at Eerdmans





Paris salon of Hubert de Givenchy by Pierre Bergian 

The other day I visited the gallerist and author Emily Evans Eerdmans at her charming gallery Eerdmans on East 10th Street off of Fifth Avenue. Emily has writing numerous books on decorators, including Mario Buatta and Henri Samuel, helped organize the colossal Mario Buatta auction at Sotheby’s last year pre-pandemic, and shows art works in her gallery that celebrate design. We proceeded through her pink ground-floor office, up the emerald green stairs with the zebra print rug, and into the chartreuse-glazed salon with a 13 foot-high ceiling and windows overlooking the rear garden below.

There, Emily is currently showing a selection of iconic interiors painted by the Belgian artist Pierre Bergian.  The small paintings are done in oil with pencil, and have the finely wrought feeling of drawings that require an up-close look. The interiors captured are well-known, including the homes of Jayne Wrightsman, Kenny Jay Lane, and Karl Lagerfeld, but the artist has rendered them in a subtle, understated way, without their signature bright colors, like a memory or a dream. Done on wood panels though, they have a solidness to them.  Most of the interiors featured here no longer exist so these paintings give permanence to the fleeting.

 

 

Friday, April 16, 2021

"Is That an R?"



 




The other day I was early for a doctor appointment so I sat down for fifteen minutes in Madison Square Park, which is a favorite place. I enjoyed looking at the lawn and watching the people pass by, many walking their dogs. After a while, I stood up to head to the appointment. A woman sitting about six feet away from me on the bench, who I hadn’t noticed, said to me, “Is that an “R” on the front of your bike? Is that a Raleigh?” 

 

She was pointing to a logo on the stem of the bike. “Yes it is,” I said. “How long have you had it?” she asked. “One year,” I replied. When the summer looting happened last year, my previous bike was stolen from where it was chained on the street - a vandal had power-drilled through the lock. “I found this bike on Craigslist and went to Brooklyn to buy it,” I told the woman. “Oh,” she said. “I’ve had my Raleigh since 1963.”

 

She stood up to get a better look at my bike. I saw she was small, older, face-masked, wearing an employee card around her neck that said MET, which I thought stood for Met Museum, but later realized that MetLife has its headquarters on the park. She told me she stores her bike in her apartment building. “I used to put my son, who is now 51, on the bike and take him to school, down Park and back up Lexington,” she said. “Neither of us wore helmets then. Now I’m appalled to think about it.”

 

“I’ve never seen an “R” like that,” she said, and got out her phone to take pictures of my bike.  Crouching to take a photo of another logo on the seatpost, she said, “The other day I went down to storage and looked at my bike. I don’t ride it as much.” It was time for me to go and we said our goodbyes. I whizzed off to my appointment. I hope she gets her Raleigh out soon and enjoys it.

 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Stories for the Brown Harris Stevens Design Blog


Central Park

I've recently been enjoying writing features for the Brown Harris Stevens blog. Brown Harris Stevens is the oldest and most prestigious luxury real estate firm in New York City, and has a robust blog covering design, lifestyle, homes, and more. The features I've written about architecture, real estate, design, and style have been leveraged into BHS social media posts, paid advertising and IGTV videos to increase awareness and drive engagement; blog traffic has increased by 20%. The assignments have given me the opportunity to visit some fascinating locations in New York City and share them with readers. The city is filled with architectural history and interest; all you have to do is look up! You might enjoy my stories: 

Central Park: An American Work of Art

Live in the Timeless Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower 

See Inside Architect Ralph Walker's Iconic Walker Tower  

On the Market: A Rare Gilded Age Fifth Avenue Mansion 

 The Surprising and Unexpected Frick Madison

"Posh Portals" Celebrates New York City's Best Entrances

The New Moynihan Train Hall by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill 

A Lower East Side Carriage House with History 

A Chelsea Original: “The Night Before Christmas” for Brown Harris Stevens 

Live in the Rich History of Fort Greene 

McKim, Mead & White’s Harvard Club and Harmonie Club 

Decorate Like Carrier and Company  

The Met’s “About Time” Exhibit Celebrates 150 Years of Fashion 

Actor Richard Thomas on the Allure of "The City's Most Ornate Building

On the Market: Jayne Wrightsman's Extraordinary Home and Collection

The Enduring Appeal of Emery Roth + Bing & Bing

 The West 67th Street Artists' Colony Historic District

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art is Open with a 150th Anniversary Exhibition 

Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy for Brown Harris Stevens 

Remy Renzullo x Carolina Irving Tableware Collection

Rosario Candela's Mansions in the Sky

Eileen Fisher + West Elm 

Bonus:

Bart Boehlert for Architectural Digest

Sunday, August 23, 2020

A Trip Through New England




Chaffinch Island in Guilford, Ct. 
TD and I have been sheltering-in-place since March the 12th, and desired a much-need trip out of the house so we planned a recent getaway, being careful and using precautions while we were traveling. Our first stop was in Guilford, Ct., where my parents lived for approximately 35 years. We always enjoyed taking the train to Guilford and visiting them there, and we have missed it. Also, we have not been back since my father passed away in Colorado two years ago. Chaffinch Island in Guilford was always a favorite spot for my family to visit. After my mother passed away in 2012, my father and I brought some of her ashes down to Chaffinch Island and dispersed them in the water.
TD took took this picture then of my father and I --




So when we visited Guilford recently we took some of my father's ashes down to Chaffinch (picture at the top of this post).  It was a poignant trip. I'm glad we had the chance to do it.
We visited out favorite spots in Guilford, including the town beach --



I love the quiet, serene quality of the Connecticut Shoreline. TD sketched the scene --



That night we had a delicious dinner at Quattro's in town, which was a new discovery for us.
The next day we drove from Guilford, Ct., to Little Compton, RI, to visit the beach house of my great and long-time friend Abby. We enjoyed staying in the beautiful house for a couple nights, and then she and her family arrived for the weekend. Glorious summer days.
During the week TD and I went to an ocean beach called South Shore Beach in the town of Little Compton Beach. It was a delight to be in the ocean. The waves were rough!



It was great fun to spend time with Abby and family - husband John, daughters Lila and Mary, son Stephen plus niece Sophia. It's what relaxed summer days are for.
The family belongs to the Elephant Rock Beach Club in Westport, MA, so that's where we headed on Saturday. There, Sophia, Lila and Mary sported TD's tee shirts. You can buy TD's popular tee shirts in his Etsy shop!



It was a glorious day at Elephant Rock Beach --



The water was very warm. It was so nice to be all together swimming in the ocean --



After we left the beach John and Abby gave us a car tour around. We drove along country roads to Sakonnet Point, and John and Abby bought lobsters for a delicious dinner. I loved the grey shingle Cape Cod cottages with white trim along the water --






On Sunday we said our farewells to the Carrs and drove up to Keene, NH, to visit our great friends the Healy family from Jane Street in New York City. The Healys own a unique property called Lake Falls Lodge, which consists of an Adirondack-style lodge and several other houses on a large piece of land. It can be rented for weddings and corporate retreats. We have been to two spectacular Healy family weddings at Lake Falls Lodge. It's a special place.
Many of the Healy clan have been sheltering-in-place there, including our beloved friend Peggy Healy, who hosted a book party for TD when he illustrated a children's book. It was a full house with a large group and we enjoyed a grilled steak dinner in the yard at a big table near the pond --



The next day Don took us on a tour of the properties which are impressive indeed. He is building a large structure called the Barn outfitted with every modern convenience so that weddings and corporate retreats can be hosted year 'round. We had a swim in the pond and gathered together for a lobster salad lunch. 



After lunch TD and I were off, traveling over country roads through the Berkshires in western Massachusetts to Williamstown, MA, the home of Williams College, which opened in 1791. In Williamstown, we stayed at the Williams Inn, which was lovely. We were surprised that the town seemed more closed up than the other places we had been, in Connecticut for example. The trip to Williamstown was determined by the news that The Clark Art Institute had opened -- I think the only art museum open in the Northeast. We'd always wanted to go so we thought it was a good time for a visit. It was slightly raining when we went at 10am as the doors opened. I was so happy to be back in a museum!



The Clark was founded in 1952 upon the art collection of Robert Sterling Clark, who was a Singer sewing machine heir. Other Singer sewing machine heirs were important arts and culture patrons in Cooperstown, NY, which is a beautiful town we love. The Clark has a lovely array of art and Impressionist paintings. Here is a jolly Madame Escudier by John Singer Sargent from 1883 --



and a charming self portrait of Renior from 1899 --



Outside TD enjoyed the tranquil scenery as cows roamed over the hills beyond --


At that point we got in the car to head home. We had heard a little about a storm. It turned out to be Tropical Storm Isaisas. Or Hurricane Isaisas, depending what you read. Not the day to be driving from the Berkshires to New York City. Let me just say I was driving and it was hairy. The wind was so strong that I had to hold on to the steering wheel tightly to keep control of the car. On the highway we drove around several huge trees which had crashed on to the road. Thank God they didn't land on cars. We did make it home safely to Manhattan thankfully.
It was a wonderful trip with lots of different parts and all went well. It felt like we were being looked after. I hope you are having a nice summer dear reader despite these strange times. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Flowers in the Time of Quarantine



     Dear Reader, I hope that you and yours are safe and sound during this unprecedented time. TD and I have been staying in place at home since March the 12th, going on ten weeks now. New York City has suffered tremendous loss. Thankfully TD and I are fine. The streets have been spookily quiet and empty. Things seem to be easing up a little now but still of course no one wants to run into this virus so being outside in public and in stores is anxiety-ridden.
     One thing that has helped is having flowers in the house. They offer some beauty for the eye and a small opportunity to be creative in arranging them. In the beginning, flowers were only available at the corner delis. Some delis were closed and some ran out of flowers but we found a couple that still provided. Now the farmer's market at Union Square is getting into swing and flowers are available there, though we have to wait in line to enter the market and then wait in lines at each stand to be served. 
Sign at the farmer's market --


The cheerful, fresh-looking white daisies at the top of the post were from a deli.
Tulips are entertaining because after they are placed in a vase, they continue to grow and get taller --


I loved these big, fat, pink roses. You can't feel bad when you're looking at big, fat, pink roses. They are in a radicchio vase from Tiffany's that TD and I received as a gift from our friends Margaret and Dick Holman at our commitment ceremony in 2000.  I love this vase and unfortunately Tiffany's doesn't make it any more --


A single rose went on the table next to the chair where I read at night --


A bright yellow daffodil for the bathroom --


These tulips from Durr Flowers at the farmer's market grew and arced dramatically --


In the pots on the front stoop I planted a mix of colorful pansies and impatiens. The ivy from last summer survived the winter. In the other pot on the stoop I planted basil but it died when we had a surprisingly cold night --


A pale peony bloomed in the front hall --


Another peony went into a hanging glass wall vase --



I am really missing nature and the country right now so it's nice to have flowers at home. Flowers delight the eye and offer a soothing comfort. I hope that you are finding solace too.



Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Morgan Library & Museum for New York Cottages & Gardens



For the "Divine Design" column for the March issue of New York Cottages & Gardens magazine, I was happy to write about The Morgan Library & Museum, which is a favorite spot of mine and a treasure of New York. For the story, Christine Nelson, the Library curator, took me through the building on a private tour, which was such a treat and so interesting. Check out the March issue and learn about this beautiful museum, which Mr. J. P. Morgan built at the turn of the last century to house his own personal book collection. 

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Winter Show for Corcoran's Online Magazine Inhabit




You might enjoy reading my article for Corcoran's online magazine about the Winter Show, which is happening now here in New York City. Previously known as The Winter Antiques Show, the fair has a new shorter name and a more electic range of offerings. Read all about it here!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Mario Buatta Auction for Corcoran's Inhabit magazine




You might enjoy my new story for Inhabit, the online magazine from Corcoran, about the upcoming exhibition and sale at Sotheby's of the collection of the late decorator Mario Buatta. As you may remember, Mario was a friend and we did a video interview with him here on the blog when the New York School of Interior Design renamed its library the Mario Buatta Materials Atelier. That was a hoot. Sadly, Mario passed away in 2018 and now his collection of more than 900 items is coming to auction next week. You can read my story here -- one last tribute to Mario.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Queen of Spades at the Metropolitan Opera




     For my birthday recently TD and I went to the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center to see Queen of Spades by Tchaikovsky. It is a less well-known opera but it happened to fall on my birthday and I love Tchaikovsky so we said, "Why not!"
     I always love to go to the Met. As we approached the opera house through the Lincoln Center Plaza enjoying the Marc Chagall paintings that glow from inside, I remembered the time I saw Jackie Onassis outside at intermission eating an ice cream cone. Inside, the Met is all red velvet. Red velvet lines the stairs and the walls, and the red velvet seats are comfortable and cushy. Even the bar in front of each seat which carries the subtitles is covered in red velvet. Some people dress up for the opera, with women in sparkly dresses, which I like to see. I find the whole experience very plush.
   I enjoyed the opera a lot although the plot is simple and grim, essentially about a man who loses everything and goes mad due to his addiction to a card game. However, the production is beautiful. Set in 18th century aristocratic Russia, it features the big wigs, big dresses and dazzling jewels of the era. I just loved the ball room scene pictured above (photo from the Met website) at the beginning of the second act. Highly stylized in dramatic black and white, it reminded me of the famous black and white Ascot scene that Cecil Beaton created for the 1964 My Fair Lady movie.
     The music is glorious. The opera premiered in St. Petersburg in 1890, after Tchaikovsky composed many of his most famous works including Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, and Symphony No. 5, though The Nutcracker came later in 1892. The composer died suddenly in 1893 supposedly of cholera but now it is said he committed suicide because he was gay. What a tragedy, how many more masterpieces could he have created?
    Fortunately the seats are comfy with plenty of leg room for a tall guy like me because the opera was more than four hours long. But it was all enjoyable and such a pleasure to be there listening to the music.
    I took this photo of the curtain call --


   And then it was back out into the night and down into the subway and home to bed with visions of eighteenth century aristocratic Russia dancing in my head.
   Happy New Year and all best wishes for 2020!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Jacqueline de Ribes in New York Cottages & Gardens



I hope you can check out the new December issue of New York Cottages & Gardens magazine to see my latest "Divine Design" column, this one on Jacqueline de Ribes, "the last queen of Paris," who is now 90 and recently auctioned much of her family's collection of antiques and art at Sotheby's in Paris. I believe I met Jacqueline de Ribes in New York in the '80s or '90s when she worked as a fashion designer because I think she was a client of Eleanor Lambert, the fashion PR powerhouse, who often had parties in her apartment on Fifth Avenue. Jacqueline de Ribes certainly was a French style icon who was always covered in the fashion press. When I saw this auction coming up on the calendar I thought it would make for a good story.