Friday, May 20, 2016

The Art Set: Art and the Americas

Antonio Lopez, Rebecca Giglieri wearing Charles James, 1982. ANTONIO LOPEZ: Future Funk Fashion will be on view at El Museo del Barrio from June 14 through November 26, 2016.
The Art Set: Art and the Americas
by Charlie Scheips

New York’s big Spring Art Season is now winding down as the Art Set heads off to Europe in June. I arrived back from Los Angeles in early April just as it was all getting into high gear in and around New York.

One of my favorite art benefit events is the Tate Americas Foundation’s “Artists Dinner” that takes place every three years in New York. I’ve attended all four since they started — and this one, on May 3rd, took place at the IAC Building in Chelsea. It was once again a smash — raising $1.5 million toward the acquisition of art of the Americas for the Tate.
Outside the IAC Building for Tate Americas Foundation’s “Artists Dinner."
I arrived just as the party was getting started and ran into Melissa Feldman, whose MF Productions produced the event, chatting with Tate Americas Development chief Virginia Cowles-Schroth. Minutes later I was saw Tate Americas Director Richard Hamilton and followed him to greet artist/photographer Wolfgang Tillmans who told us he had just completed a series of posters that anyone can download from his website in support of Great Britain staying in the European Union.
Two of Wolfgang Tillmans' Pro-EU posters.
I also got a chance to congratulate Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota who recently announced that the Tate will mount a major retrospective of David Hockney next year in celebration of the artist’s 80th birthday. The Hockney show will travel to the Centre Pompidou in Paris and (rumor has it) to the Metropolitan Museum’s new Met Breuer in the old Whitney Museum.
David Hockney will have a major retrospective at the Tate next year. That's me in the white shirt playing cards on the painting on the left which is also in the photo on the right! Photo: David Rose/The Telegraph
After grabbing a drink, I fell in love with the 2016 midnight blue convertible “The Dawn” Rolls-Royce that was on view in the lobby for the party — thanks to the luxury “motor car’s” sponsorship of the dinner — along with Oscar de la Renta. Soon Angela Westwater and David Meitus were witness to me taking the driver’s seat as we got details from Rolls-Royce’s Heather Skipper.
In the 2016 "The Dawn" Rolls-Royce at Tate Americas Artists Dinner.
By then the nearly 400 guests were arriving in throngs. I got to plant a kiss on the cheek of Anne Pasternak whom I haven’t seen since she took the helm of Brooklyn Museum. As the Rolls-Royce was strategically placed at the path for the dinner I also got to say hello to Sharon Delano, artist Tracey Emin, art dealers Dominique Levy, David Zwirner and Jack Shainman and several of the 40 artists of the Americas being honored that evening including Bruce Nauman, William E. Jones and Glenn Ligon.
Agnes Gund and Klaus Biesenbach. Mark Bradford and Nicholas Serota.
Brice and Helen Marden.
Richard Hamilton and Juan Yarur Torres. Tracey Emin and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Gaurav Garg, Rambert Rigaud, Komal Shah, and Peter Copping.
Zoe Whitley and Pamela Joyner. Sarah Arison.
I was so happy when I got to my table to discover that I was seated next to the truly legendary art dealer Paula Cooper who opened her first gallery in New York in SoHo in 1968. By the early 1970s SoHo was the major center for contemporary art galleries until high rents sent the galleries to Chelsea in the mid 1990s. Today Paula Cooper has two galleries on 21st Street currently showing Bruce Conner and Meg Webster. In 2003 Paula also opened 192 Books up the street on 10th Avenue that is one of New York’s best eclectic bookstores. Both Paula and I enjoyed getting to know Colombian artist Miguel Angel Rojas who was one of the evening’s honored guests at our table.

After a welcome by Tate Americas Chair Jeanne Donovan Fisher, Nick Serota asked all the artist present to stand for a round of applause.
Jeanne Donovan Fisher.
Sotheby’s Oliver Barker.
In June the Tate will open its new Herzog & Meuron building next to the Tate Modern. Sotheby’s Europe Chairman Oliver Barker raised over $100,000 during the live auction over dessert before the guests moved back for the After Party with DJ Rachel Chandler. Annie Plumb introduced me to artist Neil Jenney, whom I had never met, but whose work I first saw at the Whitney’s influential New Image Painting exhibition way back in 1978.
Dinner in full swing.
On my way home, I recalled the first time I visited London in the early 1980s. The day before I left New York composer Virgil Thomson gave me a list of places to go including to the Tate Gallery Restaurant that the über gourmande Virgil said had classic British cuisine as well as a very good wine cellar. In those days, as I remember, it was known as simply the Tate Restaurant but today it is called the Rex Whistler Restaurant derived from the English artist’s great 1927 wrap around mural in oil and wax entitled The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats.

As far as I was concerned the restaurant was the highlight of my Tate visit then.
Virgil Thomson, in his apartment at the Chelsea Hotel, giving Charlie suggestions where to go on his first trip to London circa 1984.
Rex Whistler photographed by Howard Coster in 1936. Whistler was the first casualty of the D-Day invastion.
The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats 1926–7 at the Rex Whistler Restaurant, Tate Britain.
At that time, the fairly dowdy old Tate was simply a sober neo-classical building on the former site of the Milbank Penitentiary on the Thames that had a rather dusty display of British art. Thanks to Nick Serota and his team “The Tate” is one of the most dynamic art centers in the world. Today the institution comprises four major sites — two in London (Tate Modern and Tate Britain) and the other two other sites in Liverpool and St. Ives in Cornwall.

The Tate Americas dinner is such fun because ARTISTS are the reason we all gather in support of the Tate’s amazing program — I’m looking forward to the next Artists Dinner in 2019!
The parting gift was a miniature model of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed building next to the Tate Modern.
Two days later, after lunch at my neighborhood restaurant Felice with Jennifer Ruys, we walked over to take the ferry near Gracie Mansion at 90th street over to Randall’s Island Park for the opening preview of the Frieze Art Fair. The weather in New York was terrible for most of the time the Frieze fair was on but that didn’t stop record attendance and talk of healthy sales. That night at dinner at artist Michele Zalopany’s apartment in the Chelsea Hotel, I traded art fair notes with art advisor Cordula von Keller who divides her time between Basel, Switzerland and Rome.
Boarding the ferry at 90th Street  bound for Randall's Island.
Charlie and Jennifer Ruys with Alex Da Corte's giant floating baby at Frieze.
Having been the organizer of the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Fair in the late 1980s, I can get art fair fatigue fairly quickly. Its sensory overload at a high throttle but I always usually find a few artists that stand out as new discoveries — at least for me. This year I liked the neo-Cubist paintings of Leipzig’s David Schnell at Galerie EIGEN + ART as well as the digitally deconstructed carpets of Azerbaijan artist Faig Ahmed at Nature Morte. Another stand out for me was the sculptures and drawings by the eccentric H.C. Westermann presented by Adam Lindemann’s Venus Over Manhattan/Los Angeles gallery.
A carpet by Faig Ahmed at Frieze. A painting by David Schnell at Frieze.
Venus Over Manhattan/Los Angeles gallery's H.C. Westermann exhibit at Frieze.
H.C. Westermann in his studio.
Over the course of my five hours at Frieze I also managed to spot friends from all over the world including: Tony Karman, whose EXPO Chicago art fair takes place this year September 22-25, Joan Washburn with her son Brian, Philip Wolf, Susan Reynolds, Tim and Maria Blum, Liliana Cavendish, Anthony Haden-Guest, Jason McCoy, Louise Eliasof, Dorsey Waxter, RISD museum curator Dominic Malone, Jan Rothschild, Stephanie French and scores of others.
The "alleged" doppelgänger Christopher Mason and Charlie Scheips in the VIP Lounge at Frieze.
My big few art weeks in New York culminated with El Museo del Barrio’s Gala at the Plaza Hotel. I have to say, they know how to throw a party. The evening honored the artist and designer couple Ruben and Isabel Toledo as well as MAC Cosmetics Creative Director James Gager. But it also served to celebrate the opening next month of the exhibition Antonio Lopez: Future Funk Fashion that will be on view from June 14 through November 26 at El Museo.
Antonio Lopez in his Carnegie Hall studio, 1967.
Antonio Lopez (February 11, 1943 – March 17, 1987) was one of the greatest fashion illustrators of all time. The Puerto Rican-born Lopez’s untimely death at age 44 from complications of HIV/AIDS robbed the world of a great talent who was also credited as having “discovered” model Jerry Hall, actress Jessica Lange, singer Grace Jones and jewelry designer Tina Chow. I ran into Lopez’s great friend and supporter Candy Pratts Price with her husband Chuck during cocktails and we reminisced about the days in the 1970s and 1980s when Lopez’s amazing illustrations for various fashion houses such as Yves Saint Laurent and department stores such as Bloomingdale’s as well as publications including Andy Warhol’s Interview, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar helped to create the aesthetic of the era.
Oscar De La Renta, 1973.
Nancy Lucas, 1979.
Grace Jones, 1982.
Lopez’s seemingly effortless bravura illustrations defined the look of the New York fashion and art scenes during the era and somehow the El Museo Gala recaptured that long-lost zeitgeist if just for one night. Old friends of Antonio’s such as the Toledos and the Prices, along with model and muse Pat Cleveland, the singular performer Joey Arias (whom I first met in the summer of 1977 when I worked as a “flying salesman” at Bloomingdale’s and he was the manager of Fiorucci’s around the corner), photographer and Warhol “diarist” Paige Powell, and both of New York’s premiere shutterbugs Patrick McMullan and Roxanne Lowit as well as many other pals made the evening feel like a reunion!
Self Portrait of Antonio Lopez, 1981.
We were helped along both before and after dinner by The House of Xtravaganza group of “Vogueing” performers sashaying around the Plaza Ballroom in exotic costumes reminiscent of the raves that emerged out of New York street culture in the 1970s and 1980s. I reminded Ruben Toledo that I first bought two of his hand colored post cards at Fiorucci way back when.
Ruben and Isabel Toledo being honored at the Plaza.
The dinner was delicious: Black Mission Fig & Chevre Tart followed by grilled Filet Mignon and finished with a choice of Lemon Ice Box Cake or Blackout Cake Redux. I really enjoyed several glasses of the Sycamore Lane Cabernet Sauvignon while visiting with the delightful decorator Juan Montoya and Urban Karlsson at table.
Jose and Hector Xtravaganza.
Joey Arias.
Barbara and Donald Tober. Maria Eugenia Maury and William Haseltine.
Ruben Toledo, Isabel Toledo, Mac Cosmetics Creative Director James Gager, Pat Cleveland, and Paul van Ravenstein.
Candy Pratts Price, Christian Roth, and Liliana Cavendish.
Benjamin Bronfman, Ike Ude, and Kalu Kalu.
Marilyn Kirschner and Laurel Markus. Sonia Braga and Paige Powell.
Chuck Price and Rocio Aranda Alvarado.
Edmundo Castillo, Narciso Rodriguez, Candy Pratts Price, and Jason Sheeler
Debi Mazar, Isabel Toledo, and Roxanne Lowit. Agatha Ruiz de la Prada.
Ricardo Szlezinger, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Liliana Cavendish, and Hunt Slonem.
Roberto Camacho, Corice Arman, Alexandre Arrechea, and Laura Blanco.
Jackie Weld Drake and Donald Tober.
Charlie Scheips and Juan Montoya.
There was a real festive vibe in the room with guests hopping tables before we all returned downstairs to the Ballroom for dancing with the House of Xtravaganza acting as a team of Pied Pipers grabbing guests onto the dance floor to the sounds of DJ Scott Ewalt.

Antonio Lopez would have loved it!
All you need today to spin music!  Inset: Charlie with DJ Scott Ewalt at the El Museo del Barrio Gala.
Photography by Charlie Scheips, BFA.com (Tate); Patrick McMullan (El Museo)