Sunday, September 28, 2008

La Peckham

Ted and I went last night to the birthday party of our great friend Ellen Peckham, held in her loft. Ellen Peckham is a force of nature; an artist, a poet, a decorator, a gardener, and the owner of the Atelier A/E Art Gallery. She is fearless; after the attacks of September 11th, she had plans to go to Egypt, and went anyway, alone and undaunted. She went to visit the pyramids and said it was fantastic because there were no other tourists there, and she went in and crawled around on her back and took photographs.

Originally from Rochester, New York, Ellen at one time lived on Jane Street, so she was part of the Jane Street crowd which Ted introduced me to. She lived with her husband Anson in a house on West 22nd Street which I think was the most beautiful house I have ever been in. Ellen has a magical way of putting things together -- art, antiques, furniture, textiles, Asian objects. It reminds me of 611, my family's home, which I have written about here. On the top floor of her house was a garret-like art studio complete with skylights and walk ways and angels suspended from the ceiling. Honestly, it was Dickensian. She also had an amazing garden.

Recent years have been challenging; Anson passed away and Ellen had some difficult surgeries, so it was wonderful to be with her celebrating her birthday. Ellen sold the house on 22nd Street and moved into this loft. Picture an empty loft which she said was painted turquoise. The space could not have been more different from the nineteenth century house she lived in. And look what she has done. Now it's a wonder of art, beauty, plants, fabrics, glimmering light. It's an abundance of riches; the eye is dazzled. To me it's a combination of Bloomsbury, Proust, Venice, Asia.

The first thing you see when you walk into the loft is a brick wall, pictured above, lined with shelves of china and crystal and topped with dried red roses.

One of Ellen's friends, Gerald Busby, set a few of her poems to music, and they were performed by singer Gilbert-Michel Rolle. Here is Ellen standing at the left, Rolle at center, and Busby sitting at the keyboard.

Silver entrance hall.

One of Ellen's art works.

Chinese horns are hung from the ceiling.

Living room corner.

Ellen has an extraordinary eye; she truly is an inspiration. Happy birthday, La Peckham.

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