Friday, April 13, 2018

New Online Portfolio

I have updated my online portfolio on a new platform and I like how it looks. You can check it your here!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Gucci + Old Masters for Christie's

Alessandro Michele, the wunderkind creative director at Gucci, has created a clever, original Spring advertising campaign that is inspired by Old Master paintings. I wrote about this artistic campaign and other instances where Old Masters are finding a new prominence for Christie's online magazine. Read it right here! I really enjoyed writing this piece, which combines fashion, media and art history, and I hope that you enjoy it too.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Peter Hujar and Tennessee Williams at The Morgan Library

Morgan Library Director Colin Bailey welcomed guests.
TD and I recently headed up to The Morgan Library & Museum for a special event called LGBTQ & Friends Night Out at The Morgan, presented in partnership with Out Professionals, the gay and lesbian networking organization. The Morgan Library is one of my favorite places in New York and I still love the light, airy, modern renovation of The Library undertaken by architect Renzo Piano in 2006.
The evening was organized because The Library is now presenting two wonderful exhibitions of two iconic American gay artists - photographer Peter Hujar and playwright Tennessee Williams. At the beginning of the evening, Director Colin Bailey offered a warm welcome to guests. After a glass of wine in the atrium, TD and I headed off to see the exhibitions.
Peter Hujar Self-Portrait Jumping (1974)

In simple black and white, Peter Hujar photographed the New York City East Village art scene and the worlds of avant-garde dance, music, art and drag in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. At the same time he witnessed the beginning of gay life and gay liberation in New York and then the AIDS crisis. Including 160 photographs, this is the first major retrospective of this artist who The New Yorker says "was among the greatest of all American photographers." Hujar passed away from AIDS in 1987 at the age of 53.
TD and I were moved to see in the exhibit photographs of Peter with our beloved friend Robert Levithan, who passed away about one year ago. 

Robert and Peter had been a couple, and maybe we knew that but we forgot. TD illustrated Robert's children's book about his dog Sophie called Sophie's Story. There were more pictures of Robert throughout the show, which made it especially poignant for us.
In Peter Hujar's words, he took “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects.” Here is English artist Malcolm Morley in East Hampton in 1976 looking cranky but I like his pea coat –

And artist Louise Nevelson in 1969. TD and I once say a great Off-Broadway play about Louise Nevelson called Edward Albee's Occupant.

The empty downtown streets in Hujar's photographs and the eccentric characters capture a city that I knew once but is gone now. I found the show to be moving and elegiac as it evoked a simpler time in New York before it was a city in overdrive.
Upstairs we went to find a tribute to Mr. Tennessee Williams (pictured here by Irving Penn for Vogue in 1951). Called "No Refuge but Writing," which describes the only place Williams found peace, the exhibition includes original drafts, private diaries and personal letters with paintings, photographs and objects.

I have a great book called Five O'Clock Angel, which is the letters of Tennessee Williams to Maria St. Just, the title referring to cocktail hour when a drink would arrive. Williams was such a beautiful, poetic writer. Like Truman Capote, another lyrical, Southern writer, Williams suffered from alcohol and drug abuse. TD once saw Williams in a restaurant near Lincoln Center in the daytime when the playwright was so drunk, he was incomprehensible. He came to sad end, choking on a bottle cap in the middle of the night at the Hotel Elysee on Lexington Avenue at 54th Street in 1983, age 71.
A self-portrait of Tennessee Williams –

What a writer he was. TD and I had the good fortune to see his memory play The Glass Menagerie on Broadway with Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, which was breathtaking. In its first versions, the play was called The Gentleman Caller, and here is Williams' casually elegant description:

"The story is very simple." Ha!
These are two excellent shows housed in a lovely building. Visit The Morgan!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Wondrous David Hockney

Portrait of an Artist (1972)
There is a beautiful exhibition of the work of David Hockney now up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through February 25th and I highly recommend it. The renowned British artist is now in his 80th year and this retrospective highlights his greatest work over the last 50 years. It's so interesting to view it because one can see, from the very beginning in the Sixties, the themes that run through Hockney's painting - the signature pink and green and blue colors, depictions of water and swimming pools, a chic take on people, and a robust sensuality. He's been consistent.
I've always been a fan of David Hockney's. Many years ago my friend Jim Reginato took me to a party when the artist had a new book out. I bought the book and I wanted Hockney to sign it for me but he was being monopolized by a woman photographer who shall go unnamed. Jim said to me, "Go interrupt them and ask him to sign it. That's what book parties are for." But I didn't and regret it. I wish I had a signed book! New York City is not a place for shy people.
I still love to look at Hockney's work. It's like a trip to a warm, tropical place when it's frigid winter in New York –
The Bigger Splash (1967)

Hockney went to art school in London and then moved to L.A. where he was taken with the nice weather and the beautiful people. With Hockney's work you get happy colors and a joy for living. You can almost feel the warm air.
I love the perspective of this early painting below, from the point of view of the swimmer in the pool as he looks across the rippling water and up the stairs. You see already Hockney's blue, brick, green, and pink –
Pool and Steps, Le Nid du Duc (1971)

These same colors move inside too with Hockney's large double portraits. Here is on the right Christopher Isherwood, who wrote The Berlin Stories, upon which Cabaret was based, with his younger boyfriend painter Don Bachardy on the left. Interesting how Isherwood is looking at Bachardy and Bachardy is peering out at the viewer.
Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (1968)

This is a small drawing of Hockney's friend the fashion designer Ossie Clark looking chic in a Fair Isle sweater.

Hockney moved back to England but he took his California colors with him. Here is David Hockney's version of winter with wonderful pinks, green and oranges –
A Closer Winter Tunnel (2006)

Summer version of the English landscape - earthy, rich and ripe. This scene reminds me of the farms of upstate New York where I grew up. These paintings were broken into six panels so that Hockney could easily transport them. 

Hockney has moved back to L.A. and is still painting pictures of his residence there.
Garden #3 (2016)

This exhibition makes you want to go home and paint your walls pink and your floors blue.
If you lived with one of these paintings you'd always be happy. Long may Hockney reign.

Friday, December 22, 2017

At Home for the Holidays

TD and I recently put up our Christmas tree, which we always enjoy during the holiday season. My sister Cynthia and sister-in-law Barb are coming from Colorado and we'll be together with my two brothers and their families, which will be great. This will be our first Christmas without our parents; my father passed away in April and my mother passed away five and a half years ago so this will be a first for us.
Getting the tree is a project! The calm before the Christmas tree storm:

We used to live on Jane Street, and we have been getting our trees for thirty (!!) years from Billy Romp and his family who come down from Vermont and set up shop in the month of December at the corner of Jane Street and Eighth Avenue.

We love to see Billy each year. We pick out a tree and he straps it onto a cart that is attached to a bike and he walks with us to our apartment. We set up the tree and have a glass of red wine and catch up on the year.
Soon Billy is on his way and we get to work -- the lights, the ornaments, the star on the top, the cloth  below.
And voila –

I like how the tree adds a colorful glow to the room. Everything on the tree is personal to us. We have collected a lot of antique ornaments –

And a lot are handmade. The ornament in the middle that says "Greetings" was one of the last things that my mother made and sent us. She liked to create cards. TD cut out the paper angel on the left. 

In the front hall I put some evergreens in a glass vase and hung a few ornaments on the sprigs –

Our Christmas decorations include this reindeer on the living room fireplace mantle who has a pretty wreath around his neck. I found the reindeer at ABC Carpet and Home –

The fireplace doesn't work so we put a big candle in it for a warm glow –

I'm so grateful to be seeing my siblings and extended family this holiday season. I hope that your holidays have a warm glow too dear reader and I wish you all the very best for the new year ahead.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Elegant World of Louis Vuitton and the Invention of Travel

A big, beautiful exhibition created by Louis Vuitton is now open downtown inside the American Stock Exchange Building at 86 Trinity Place until January 7th. Called "Volez, Voguez, Voyagez" ("to fly, to sail, to travel"), the exhibition celebrates the history of the French luxury heritage brand and the invention of travel at the turn of the last century. Louis Vuitton has built inside the Stock Exchange a two floor museum with 16 rooms. It's quite a dazzling feat and I highly recommend a visit to anyone who is interested in luxury brands and beautiful things and the history of fashion. I am helping out at Louis Vuitton as a docent giving tours through this show. Admission is free and you can find out how to reserve tickets and sign up for a tour here.

Mr. Louis Vuitton was born in 1821 in a small village in eastern France. Both of his parents died, and when he was 14, he decided to walk to Paris. Ambitious boy. The 300 mile journey took him two years, and when he arrived in Paris, he got a job in a wood shop learning how to craft packing boxes and crates. In 1854, at the age of 33, he opened his own house, creating modern trunks for the elite. Indeed, Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napolean III was a client. After Louis Vuitton died, his son George and then his grandson Gaston increased the business and the success of the house. Today, 163 years after it was founded, Louis Vuitton is the number one ranked luxury brand in the world.
Curated by Olivier Saillard, each room of the exhibition has a theme. This one below features travel on the high seas –

In the aviation room, a life size airplane soars overhead –

One room with a giant Murano glass chandelier and tented ceiling celebrates the stars of Hollywood who traveled with Louis Vuitton luggage –

A Lartigue photograph captures the chic style of the time –

The trunk of French couturier Paul Poiret, who was the subject of a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is laid carefully with his painter's jacket –

Perhaps my favorite piece is tucked in a corner - it is the trunk of General Douglas MacArthur with his monogram on the top and a handsome stripe down the side –

There is a lot to see here and the show is very popular. I recommend visiting on a weekday, or if you come on a weekend day, come early before the line gets long. And enjoy this elegant journey.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Meet Miguel Flores-Vianna and the Haute Bohemians

With photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna at his jam-packed book signing party at Creel and Gow.
The fall season has brought the most wonderful new book from Vendome Press by my friend photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna called Haute Bohemians

In the book, which begins with a foreward by Architectural Digest Editor-in-Chief Amy Astley, Miguel presents 23 of his favorite homes from around the world that he has photographed. The theme that runs through them all is their very eclectic and personal decorating style, which the homeowners have uniquely created. The book is peopled with artists and writers and collectors who have produced their interiors to perfectly reflect themselves with a profusion of flowers, art, books, and antiques. All of that speaks to me.

Miguel was an early supporter of this blog, which I really appreciated. The Argentine-born journalist was a magazine editor at Town & Country, House Beautiful and Veranda before he became a photographer ten years ago. His partner is European so Miguel now lives in London, but he returned to New York City for a book signing last week, which was hosted by Amy Astley at the chic Upper East Side shop Creel and Gow where proprietor Jamie Creel greeted guests. On a hot, steamy September night last week, a crush of editors and decorators crowded in to congratulate the author.

Later, Miguel told me that his favorite things to do are travel and read. "Now I like to see nature more and more rather than historical monuments. I like experiencing other cultures, that is my idea of luxury - to be in a country where I don't understand a word they are saying and to somehow find my way."  He hopes his book inspires readers. "We live in a world that changes all the time, too fast for my taste, and I love that all these characters stick to what moves them, what touches them, and that is why they are able to live in such soulful places."

The walls and headboard of Nathalie Farman-Farma's London bedroom are covered with the same romantic fabric –

Marion McEvoy's dining room is perched above the banks of the Hudson River –

Carolina Irving's dining room in Paris doubles as a library –

Perhaps my favorite is the Canary Islands home of Min Hogg, the renowned founding editor of The World of Interiors. Its graceful simplicity is so serene –

"All the houses in these pages are poetry," Miguel observes in his evocative book. And he is right. English interior designer Robert Kime once said, “A room should represent the absent owner, its arrangement is the owner's memory.” With his book, Miguel captures those memories.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

October Architectural Digest

I'm delighted to have written a piece for the beautiful October issue of Architectural Digest, and you might enjoy picking up a copy! For this assignment, the magazine asked me to write about the talented artist Marc Hundley who had designed a furniture collection inspired by an important beach house owned by his friend Justinian Kfoury in the community of Water Island on Fire Island. The beach house was originally owned by Morris Golde, who hosted an array of writer and artist friends at his island home including Edward Albee, W. H. Auden, Ned Rorem and Frank O'Hara. One day in June I took the train out to Sayville, Long Island, and then a bus to the ferry dock where Marc Hundley picked me up in a motor boat and we sped across the Great South Bay to Water Island where I visited the house and viewed Marc's beautiful handmade furniture. It was a lovely day. The October issue is filled with stylish stories including a feature on the gorgeous Southampton home of fashion designer Tory Burch who is pictured on the cover looking super-glamorous atop a ladder trimming her hedgerow. Check out the October issue!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Summer Trip to Cape May, New Jersey

Last week TD and I had a delightful trip to Cape May, New Jersey, which is at the southern end of the state and definitely worth a visit. First we stopped in Ocean City, New Jersey, which we always enjoy, and then drove further on down to Cape May, which we had not been to before. The town was a very popular seaside resort in the nineteenth century, but in 1878 a devastating fire that lasted five days destroyed 30 blocks at its center. When the homes were rebuilt, they were designed in the style of the day - Victorian. In 1976 the entire city of Cape May was declared an historic district and so today visitors stroll along block after block of beautiful Victorian houses painted and trimmed in a range of charming colors. Picket fences run along the sidewalks, and the streets are draped with tall shade trees. "I feel like I'm in Meet Me in St. Louis," said TD.

Luckily he had found a room in a charming B and B called Twin Gables where we unloaded our bags. The house is owned by the friendly and warm innkeeper Regina, who reminded me a little of my mother. Coincidentally, the B and B turned out to be around the corner from the home of TD's distant cousin Mary Ellen, who arrived at cocktail hour on the porch with her husband Joe. After a glass of wine, they took us on a quick walking tour of Cape May. Street after street of the prettiest houses and inns stretched out before us. The town reminded me of Cooperstown, New York, which is also an historic district, and of Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard.
Red, white and blue –

A cool porch under shade trees –

I liked this handsome chocolate brown Cape Cod house with turquoise blue trim –

A great spot in Cape May is the Congress Hall hotel. The large resort hotel was rebuilt in brick after the big fire in the nineteenth century. It was fully restored in 2002, and now it's a beautiful destination with enticing restaurants and bars. The striking main thoroughfare at Congress Hall features American flags and Victorian light fixtures – 

The hotel lobby was decorated dramatically with green walls plus red and black accents. Someone who knew what they were doing did a good job designing this hotel –

One night we ate outdoors at an excellent Mexican restaurant called La Dona. Many of the restaurants are BYOB so we picked up a small bottle of tequila and the restaurant made the most delicious orange, lemon and lime margaritas. The best I have had! The food was also excellent. Later, we walked to the big, old Chalfonte Hotel, which was built in 1876.

Simple and authentic, the rambling place has an old-school charm. There's a little bar on the side, and we sat and enjoyed a night cap on the long, wide porch, like that at the Sharon Spring Hotel in upstate New York. Families and friends who seemed to be there on an extended holiday pulled up rocking chairs and talked in intimate groups.
One day it rained, not a beach day alas, but afterwards a rainbow shone bright.

A fitting end to a fun adventure in Cape May –