Monday, February 9, 2015

Palm Beach Social Diary

Norton Museum of Art honoree Beth Rudin DeWoody and her husband Firooz Zahedi arrive for Saturday night's Gala. Beth and Firooz are standing in front of an artwork she commissioned, Love Stream #2 by artist Randy Polumbo.
Norton Museum of Art Gala honors Beth Rudin DeWoody
By Augustus Mayhew

Love was in the air on Saturday night as the Norton Museum of Art's sold out crowd of more than 350 supporters came to drink, dine, celebrate, and honor Beth Rudin DeWoody, one of the museum's passionate patrons as well as an influential curator and prominent contemporary art collector. Guests alit from their cars and marveled at the classic Airstream trailer placed at the museum's entrance, previously parked in DeWoody's backyard. Artist Randy Polumbo transformed the aluminum and glass icon into a provocative work of art. Thanks to DeWoody's wit and wisdom, even the most glum-faced retired CEO smiled when they glimpsed this anomalous objet d'art. Then again, Beth DeWoody's collection is a homage to imaginative creative expressions.

The Norton Museum of Art's 2015 Gala focused on Beth DeWoody for not only for being a longtime supporter of the Norton, funding the museum's Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers, and her donations of art to the museum's permanent collection, but also her savvy as a curator and her sensibility as a collector. The Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects features as many as 200 artworks selected from her more than 10,000 paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and photographs.

Because of their scope and depth, DeWoody's 1,500 photographs are not included in the current show but are already scheduled as the subject of a 2016 exhibition. The showcase is structured to reveal DeWoody's enthusiasms and concentrations in her collection. Artists represented include American Bruce Connor and Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury. Connor's assemblage sculpture, Drum (1962), is one of ten pieces in DeWoody's collection by this influential California artist whom she first met during the 1990s when she bought a pair of his shoes. Other featured artists include: Nicole Eisenman, Karl Benjamin, David Wojnarowicz, Isamu Noguchi, and Jim Lambie, among many others.

Here's a look at Friday's press preview and the following night's Gala festivities.

6 February 2015 – Press Preview
The Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects
8 February 2015 – 3 May 2015
Norton Museum of Art – West Palm Beach

The Norton's lobby features an untitled geometric abstraction by British artist Terry Haggerty.
"I like it when I don't really know who the artist is, what they are, male or female, just that what I am looking at is great art. I collect what I love, which is nice." — Beth Rudin DeWoody
"At the time I bought some of these works by amazing women, they were mostly not appreciated. Only now, a group of them are coming to the fore, such as Audrey Flack, Donna DeSalvo and Sylvie Fleury; they are getting revived and reexamined. I've been collecting a lot of these women for a long time ... Rosalyn Drexler, who may be 89 or 90 now, is still alive. She is having a show in New York this month. Drexler was one of that group of overlooked women Pop artists. She was included in a show a few years ago of female Pop artists ago at the Brooklyn Museum. This piece, Love and Violence, 1965, was featured in a Whitney show called 'Sinister Pop.' Though it isn't just these amazing women, I've collected so many unknown male artists and African-American artists who were also not recognized for their art." — Beth Rudin DeWoody
The Triumph of Love, study for a painting. Cy Twombly, artist.
The exhibition focuses on works on paper and three-dimensional artworks. Rather than displaying these dimensional works in the usual manner in a limited space, the collector and the curator embraced the idea of showing as many pieces as possible. Thus, the sculptures are mounted on two multi-level platforms, staged as to encourage each viewer to impose their own sensibility in determining the aesthetic or cultural relationship between contrasting pieces.
Cheryl Brutvan, the Norton's curator of contemporary art, and Beth DeWoody, are sitting in front of the exhibition's centerpiece.
Left to right: Works by Rosalyn Drexler, Tom Sachs, Allan D'Arcangelo, Jim Dine, Billy Al Bengston, and John McLaughlin.
George Condo, artist. Left, The Italian Girl, 2002; right, Young Woman with Pearl Necklace, 2005.
An amusing tableau.
Nick Cave, artist. Hustle Coat, 2014.
Rob Wynne, artist. Almost Nothing, 2003.
Sylvie Fleury, artist. Serie ELA 75/K (Easy, Breezy, Beautiful), 2000.
An eclectic assemblage of works spark the imagination, featuring the work of Bruce Conner, Audrey Flack, Andy Warhol, Anselm Reyle.
A view along the north wall to the wall gallery where the works on paper prevail.
To the right, a view of the Gray Gallery with Daniel Arsham's animated Donkey, 2010.
The Gray Gallery features the work of Rudolph Stingel, Jacqueline Humphries, and Heinz Mack.
By mixing the pieces, the curator values the viewer's point of view. Curator Cheryl Brutvan.
Jamie Wyeth's portrait of Andy Warhol. "I think I found this at an art fair. I loved it." — Beth Rudin DeWoody.
The work of Jeffrey Vallance Is just one of many California artists DeWoody has collected.
A graphic fifty shades of gray artwork.
"Honey, I rearranged the collection ..."
"I love historical art. So when I collect, I collect from different periods ..." Beth Rudin DeWoody.
A period design.
A Jack Pierson work. "It spells PALM TREES, so I had to have it." — Beth Rudin DeWoody.
A colorful optical abstraction.
At DeWoody's waterfront compound, the scale of the outdoor pieces rivals the landscape.
In a world where art headlines focus on record auction paddle prices and speculate on the identity and wealth of a secretive buyer, whether a $120 million painting by Eduard Munch or an $80 million Jasper Johns work, Beth DeWoody has pursued her passion for discovering art. "A woman who needs no introduction," said Cheryl Brutvan.
On with the show …
Norton Museum of Art Gala 2015
Honoring Beth Rudin DeWoody
7 February 2015 – 7pm
Norton Museum of Art, a view to the east. A capital campaign is underway to fund a major renovation designed by Foster + Partners that will shift the museum's entrance to South Dixie Highway facing the historic Woodlawn Cemetery.

The evening's honorary chair was Jane Holzer.

Major support came from the following: Visionary Sponsors Ann and Gil Maurer & May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc. Grand Benefactors Jane Carroll and Leo Arnaboldi, Michael and Julia Connors, Jane Holzer, Anne Berkley Smith, and Sotheby's.

Benefactors Henry and Elaine Kaufman, Joanne Pearson, Jean and Fred Sharf, Bruce Beal and Frank Cunningham, Christine and Bob Stiller, and Valentino.

Grand Patrons Ruth and Ted Baum, Howard Cox, Mr. and Mrs. Philip H. Geier, Jr., Pam and Bob Goergen, J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Foundation, Michelle and Joseph Jacobs, Michael Kluger and Heidi Greene, Jane and Leonard Korman, The Leonard & Evelyn Lauder Foundation, Heidi and John Niblack, Regina and Herman Porten, Susan Carmel Lehrman, Ambassador and Mrs. Craig R. Stapleton, and Edith and Kemp Stickney.
The arrival area in front of the museum.
Love Stream #2, 2012 was a focal point at the entrance to the museum's Esther B. O'Keeffe wing.
Within minutes of the arrival of the first guests, the Airstream turned Love Stream became the Happening place. "You take photos in this pitch black darkness?" a guest asked. I assured them the flash was a 1000-watt surgical lamp.
Artist Randy Palumbo inside his hallucinatory Love Stream # 2, 2012, apparently attempting to levitate the Mylar ball.
Love Stream #2, 2012, view through the back window inside Randy's mobile pleasure palace.
Anne Pasternak, Randy Polumbo, Vera Neykov, Kyle DeWoody, and Anne Keating.
Ophelia and Bill Rudin.
David E. Van Zandt, president of The New School, and Mark Gibbel, chief development officer at The New School.
Leonard Lauder, right, and Scott Benarde, left, communications director of the Norton Museum of Art.
Darian Zahedi and Firooz Zahedi.
Artist Maynard Monrow.
Beth Rudin DeWoody and Hope Alswang, director of the Norton Museum of Art.
Jane Holzer and gallerist Sara Gavlak.
Another glance at the endlessly fascinating Love Stream #2.
Before stepping inside the museum, an encore for the irrepressible Randy Polumbo.
Artist Terry Haggerty's geometric abstraction added a sense of illusion to the museum's lobby, the evening's cocktail reception area.
The Norton lobby during the cocktail reception.
Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, peruses The Triumph of Love.
Gigi and Harry Benson.
Wilbur Ross and Hilary Geary Ross.
Madeleine Rudin Johnson and Bruce Barnet.
Jackie Weld Drake. Anne Harrison and Hilary Geary Ross.
Fashion Sense ...
The guests examine the collection's works on paper.
Cheryl Brutvan, the museum's director of curatorial affairs, and the DeWoody show's curator.
Interior designer Jennifer Garrigues.
Artist Rob Wynne.
A view of the Gray Gallery during the opening night reception.
A view of the main exhibition space with Rob Wynne's Almost Nothing on the far wall.
And the band played on ...
The dinner hour approaches.
Alex Papachristidis and Scott Nelson photographing Beth DeWoody.
Julie Connors and Mike Connors, among the evening's Grand Benefactors.
From the lobby, guests made their way to the dinner in another area of the museum.
Salads preset, guests found their tables.
Dinner at 8? Maybe, 8:30?
Place setting.
The Triumph of Love: Beth Rudin DeWoody Collects at the Norton Museum of Art. Poignant. Provocative. Powerful.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Lost in Wonderland – Reflections on Palm Beach.