Friday, January 17, 2014

The Art Set: Smoking in California

David Hockney contemplating his work at the de Young at David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition.
The Art Set: Smoking in California
by Charlie Scheips

I began the New Year having lunch with art dealer Christopher Ford at the Chateau Marmont. I became friends with Christopher soon after moving to LA when he opened the Pence Gallery in Santa Monica. These days Christopher lives in Palm Springs but he was in LA for the holidays house sitting for a friend. LA is a much friendlier place for smokers these days than New York. Most restaurants and bars have some place that you can have a smoke and of course the weather is nicer and in general you move around more in your own private spaces for the most part including the car.
Christopher Ford at the lobby of the Chateau Marmont.
Whatever is your position on smoking ... it's never going to go away. As David Hockney points out, it's been hovering around 20% of the population for several years now so the hard core smokers are obviously not giving up. Basically you just avoid going to the myriad places that are unfriendly to smokers and places like New York are the duller for it. Smoke free is dreary as far as all of us are concerned. I've said my piece!
The smoking lounge at the Chateau
The legendary art dealer Irving Blum and his wife Jackie had our all-smoking group for dinner last week at their beautiful art-filled house in Bel Air. Johnnie Reinhold and Jacqueline de Chollet, like me, were visiting from New York; Bing McGilvray from Gloucester, Mass, and David Hockney all joined LA public relations guru Carolyn Graham, and Beverly Hills Gagosian Gallery Director Deborah McLeod making for a lively dinner party indeed.

Irving and Jackie saw the work of Irish artist Richard Mosse at the Venice Biennale this past year and bought one of his large-scale photographs from New York dealer Jack Shainman soon afterwards. The huge photograph came in three pieces before it was installed on a large wall in the Blum’s living room.
David Hockney views Richard Mosse's large scale photograph at Irving and Jackie Blum's.
Irving Blum as Deborah McLeod looks at David Hockney's iPad.
Bing McGilvray.
Dinner was a delicious shrimp and avocado salad and a Hockney favorite Shepherd's Pie followed by lemon sorbet with berries and home made cookies.

The next day I drove over to the Getty Center to meet historian Jim Wilke and see the stained glass window from Canterbury Cathedral on loan while the cathedral undergoes a renovation. We wandered also through the permanent collection galleries where I fell in love with a chandelier of glass enameled metal and gilt bronze by Gérard-Jean Galle created around 1818-19 in France. The blue globe features gold stars representing the heavens while symbols of the zodiac wrap around the globe’s equator. Beneath is a crystal bowl intended to contain swimming goldfish.
Driving in Santa Monica on the way to the Getty Center.
Charles Ray's Boy with Frog at the Getty. Charlie In front of Boy with Frog at Punta Della Dogano in Venice, 2009.
The great chandelier I fell in love with at the Getty.
That evening, Diane Connors gave a dinner for some pals at her apartment in the middle of West Hollywood. I first met Diane when she organized the opening night of the LA Art Fair in 1990. After a stint running special events for AIDS Project/Los Angeles, Diane moved over to Disney where for years she has been the company’s VP for Special Events for Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures.

Among those present were a contingent of Tahitians including LA-jewelry designer and former pearl farmer Dora Fourcade and Tahitian government agricultural chief Martin Coeroli, jewelry designer Lynn Nakamura, celebrity liaison Robert Ell and producer Rob Sheiffele, whose latest credit is The Doctors for Paramount/CBS television. As it was Friday night and parking is a nightmare in that part of town, I got a ride down the hill and then Rob kindly drove me back home after Di’s dinner.
Typical traffic in West Hollwood.
On Sunday we were up early to head up to San Francisco to see David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition at the de Young Museum in the city’s Golden Gate Park. We took two cars with David and his assistant Jean-Pierre Goncalves de Lima in one car and Hockney technical assistant Jonathan Wilkinson and me in another. Just near Fresno — which is about half way there — we stopped at the Harris Ranch a sprawling upscale restaurant just off Interstate 5.
The de Young Museum.
Hockney at the de Young.
We arrived around 3:30 and checked into the Fairmont Residences at Ghirardelli Square just above Fisherman’s Warf.
The grand Fairmont Hotel.
The Fairmont's Colleen O'Neill gives me a tour of the historic hotel.
The Fairmont'ss Cirque Bar which was the first bar to open after the repeal o fprohibition. Note the foot rail — it was an ashtray with running water in the good old days.
Demo of the Cirque Bar's ashtray.
The de Young Assistant Director Richard Benefield drove me over to the Museum to see the Hockney show which was curated brilliantly by David’s longtime manager Gregory Evans.

The show is the largest exhibition ever staged at the de Young with more than 300 works spread over two floors of galleries. David’s 2005 Self-Portrait with Charlie (Scheips) was loaned from the National Portrait Gallery in London and used for the title image as well as the cover of the catalog and for advertising and promotion.
de Young Assistant Director Richard Benefield with David Hockney.
Charlie in front of blow up of Self-Portrait with Charlie at the de Young.
The show was so popular that it frequently sold out during the run.
David Hockney
"Self Portrait with Red Braces" 2003
© David Hockney
Private Collection
Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt
David Hockney
"A Bigger Matelot Kevin Druez 2" 2009
Exhibition Proof #1
© David Hockney
David Hockney
"The Massacre and the Problems of Depiction" 2003
© David Hockney
Collection The David Hockney Foundation
Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt
David Hockney
"A Bigger Message" 2010
© David Hockney
Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt
David Hockney
"Bridlington Rooftops, October, November, December" 2005
© David Hockney
Private Collection
Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt
Unfortunately the show, which has attracted over 200,000 visitors, is due to close this weekend. But Hockney has filmed a three-camera documentation of the entire exhibition that is now going through the editing process. My college friend Donald MacGregor, whose been living in San Francisco for more than two decades, joined me to see the exhibition for his third time. David’s longtime friend Arthur Lambert and Shahn Andersen flew in from New York just to see the show.
Charlie Scheips and Donald MacGregor.
David Hockney with Shahn Andersen.
Long time Hockney pal Arthur Lambert.
We had a great dinner at Panne e Vino that night. The next morning David and I got the car out of the hotel garage and took a drive around San Francisco so we could smoke. We had noticed the night before that all the streets in San Francisco seemed to be hardly lit casting a gloom over the city. We were told that various communities had the lights dimmed — which doesn’t make for sparkling city on the Bay! I hadn’t been to San Francisco since 1991 and I remember it being much more lively and filled with colorful personalities and a vibrant nightlife.
Our group at San Francisco's Panne e Vino.
I had a delicious pizza at Panne e Vino.
All the no smoking laws do affect a city’s collective life. Frankly, I don’t think a lot of people who endorse these mean-spirited laws even go much to nightclubs and bars. They’re too busy at health clubs and telling people like me what to eat, drink and not smoke.

When we happily returned to Los Angeles Tuesday night we all watched the great Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy 1936 film “San Francisco” which begins with lively scenes of New Year 1906 revelers drinking and smoking at “Blackie’s” saloon.
That’s the San Francisco of legend and history. Seems the city’s fathers and mother’s think Prozac and water is better than champagne and cigars. Everything now seems like a hypoallergenic Starbucks — when Jonathan Wilkinson and I went over for a drink at the landmark Buena Vista bar where Irish Coffee was supposedly invented we had to wait for a baby stroller to exit before stepping into the bar.

I won’t rush back.