Friday, November 18, 2016

David Monn's Joyful "Art of Celebrating" Book and Party

David Monn decorated the extraordinary Rose Reading Room with red-fringed lampshades for a New York Public Library Lions gala (images from the book courtesy of David Monn). 

A beautiful party can offer an enchanting escape from daily life, and to be able to organize a wonderful party is a gift. Events planner David Monn is well known in New York for the parties he has designed including benefits for the New York Public Library and Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala and a White House state dinner. Now he has produced his first book, The Art of Celebrating, a hefty, over-sized 400 page tome published by Vendome Press that features 26 of his events, and he recently hosted a wonderous book party at the New York Public Library to celebrate its publication (more about that affair below).

David grew up in the town of Fayetteville, Pennsylvania, and he writes in his book about arriving in New York unable to afford college so he educated himself by observing the beauty of the city. After working in interior design and the jewelry business, he started his events planning business in 2004 and quickly got some big commissions. Now his company with 25 employees plans weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, parties and galas.
For another Literary Lions gala, David Monn transformed the McGraw Rotunda into a forest with hanging lanterns –

At the Metropolitan Museum, a Costume Institute evening in honor of Chanel found David creating a French formal garden with defining boxwood and hedges in the Charles Englehard Court of the American wing. Fragrant gardenias made up the centerpieces, and the facade of the First American Bank, built in 1822, was dramatically lit at the rear  –

In Baltimore at a wedding rehearsal dinner held in the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, David asked artists to recreate Monet's dreamy water lily paints for a romantic backdrop. Pretty ranuculus flowers on the tables repeated the paintings' pastels –

Farther abroad, David designed a birthday party in the Palazzo Pisani Moretta in Venice. Cocktails were served in the Grand Salon whose walls are covered in their original fabric –

To mark the book's publication, David hosted a party this week at the New York Public Library. As TD and I approached the Library's majestic entrance on Fifth Avenue, we saw that elegant, tall, white candles in glass globes lined the steps of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to announce the party –

Inside, the Gottesman Exhibition Hall was decorated with faux apple trees which were strung with white lights that looked like flowers –

The scent of jasmine filled the air. Impressionistic Monet water lily-like murals were hung here too, lining the walls over chic seating areas brought in for the party –

There were four bars, which was convenient and nice not to have a long wait at a bar. And there were delicious food stands everywhere one looked offering oysters and shrimp, eggplant parmigiana, wonderful pigs in a blanket, sliced jambon serrano ham –

The event moved out into the vaulted Astor Hall. David gave his remarks and thanks, and then on the opposite stairway singer Lisa Fischer performed a soaring rendition of "I Dream in Color" –

The Abyssinian Baptist Church Cathedral Choir from Harlem sang some gloriously uplifting gospel music which was especially moving to me after the upsetting and sad political news of the week –

Yours truly with Mr. Monn –

When finally we peeled ourselves away to leave and return to the world outside, a band from Elan Artists was performing Prince's powerful "Purple Rain." The event was a magical moment of beauty, which the world can really use right now. That's what I call a book party.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sense & Sensibility at The Gym at Judson

Watch this video trailer to get a taste of this lively Sense & Sensibility.

Recently my friend Elliott and I enjoyed the Off-Broadway production of Sense & Sensibility that has been created by the innovative Bedlam theater company and is on the boards at The Gym at Judson Memorial Church, which is the theater space in the church that TD and I attend. Though I have not read the Jane Austen book, I am a big fan of the 1995 movie that starred Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, and was directed by Ang Lee, so I was looking forward to seeing this show about the romantic plight of the Dashwood sisters who suddenly find their fortunes diminished.

Though the book is set in the refined and proper English Regency period, this adaptation, written by Kate Hamill who also stars as Marianne Dashwood, is a zippy and energetic romp through the 1811 literary classic. The Bedlam theater company is renowned for it's fresh, new productions that dissolve the wall between actors and audience, creating an intimacy and immediacy that draws the viewers in. The show is very inventively staged with furniture on wheels so tables and chairs and parts of the scenery whiz and spin by. Elliott and I sat in the front row and I had to pull in my feet so that my toes didn't get run over as furniture sped past. Some actors play several parts and laugh-out-loud humor leads to quiet, moving moments. In this clever production, the buttoned-up English classic is infused with a modern, airy, breathlessness that is irresistibly entertaining.     
You can get your tickets here – this amusing escapade is up until November 20.