Friday, August 18, 2017

LIZ SMITH: Out East and Up North

Alec and Hilaria Baldwin at the 13th annual Authors Night in East Hampton.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Authors Night with a Speck of Truth Out East; And a Trip Up North Where 4forART Charms the Berkshires

“ARE YOU Miss Coulter’s ‘partner?’ asked writer and man-about-town Gregory Speck, of an Amazonian blonde woman who never left the side of conservative provocateur Ann Coulter. This happened at the 13th annual Authors Night in East Hampton last week.

Ann Coulter sans bodyguard.
The blonde gave Mr. Speck a look Medusa would have envied and snapped, “I’m her bodyguard!!”

Miss Coulter was too busy signing books to be aware of this amusing (to us) mix-up. One of Coulter’s non-fans, Alec Baldwin, would have been especially amused. But Mr. B. had been placed at another end of the huge tent, filled with celebs hawking book. (This was done with apparent purpose. Nobody wanted a political confrontation. To anybody’s knowledge, the beefy Baldwin and the cadaverous Coulter never even knew they were on the premises together.)

The 13th of these yearly literary markets to benefit the elegant local library offered guests the chance to meet and mingle with such esteemed writers as actor Alan Alda, commentator Douglas Brinkley, biographer Robert Caro, artist April Gornik, critic Jeffrey Lyons, architect Peter Marino, historian Kati Marton, gossipeuse Holly Peterson, painter David Salle, comedienne Jessica Seinfeld, politician Jean Kennedy Smith, newscaster Elizabeth Vargas, and publisher Chris Whipple, all of them ready to autograph their books for sale ... the challenging geography of placing in alphabetical order such a smorgasbord of intellectual egos required a diplomatic hand, hence the careful placement of Baldwin and Coulter, for one.
Alan Alda. April Gornik.
Robert Caro.
Jessica Seinfeld and Elizabeth Vargas.
Stephen and Jean Kennedy Smith.
The crush and media frenzy at this event was such that even Dick Cavett was unnerved. At one point, asked to sign his book, he looked unsure as to how exactly the deed was accomplished. But, he recovered.

And of course, everybody has an “important” story to share. Party planner David Monn grabbed the ear of Mr. Speck with whom he shared an episode of "Secret Lives of the Super Rich” — which by the way is the highest rated installment of that entire series, and is often rebroadcast on CNBC. (In my sometimes manic channel surfing this program has never fascinated me.)
Dick Cavett.
David Monn.
The Baldwins with Senator Gillibrand. Photo: Richard Lewin
Monn confided: "Do you know that it was a total surprise to me that the network used the three days of footage they shot of me, allegedly for an entirely different show that was never broadcast, and it cost me $80,000 as well as a long term client?" he disclosed in disgust!

Gregory, never at a loss for a tale of his own, then confided to David that it was Loreen Arbus, the daughter of ABC TV founder Leonard Goldenson, who had introduced him on a gala date at The Cloisters to realtor Dolly Lenz, who was about to host the “Secret Lives” pilot, which is how his own Beresford “Animal House” — as he dubbed it, because of his famous taxidermy collection — came to be sold to Fox News hostess Kimberly Guilfoyle! As they say, that's Show Business! Or Real Estate, or What To Do With Stuffed Beasts!
Gregory in his former Dining Room.
THE Berkshires is one of the go-to places for urbanites and others who want to spend the summer or even a few days enjoying the charms of New England; flora, fauna, and culture.  The home of Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow, Mass MOCA and many other institutions, it now welcomes a new art gallery 4forART in Lenox, Mass.  It marks the return of gallerist and art historian Ute Stebich and three other partners: Jane Kasten, Liz Thompson and Akkie Martens; all long-time residents of the region. 
THE FOUR friends each bring a different take.

Ute, who is originally from Germany, studied at the Institute of Fine Arts in NYC and has long been known for her collection of contemporary and “self-taught art.”

4forART partners Liz Thompson, Jane Kasten, Ute Stebich, and Akkie Martens
Her original gallery, The Ute Stebich Gallery, enjoyed an international reputation. (It was closed in 2003 when her late husband became ill)

Ute says that her exhibition concept is “based on the idea that all art is connected through quality; I specialize in quality.” This vibrant juxtaposition is achieved by mixing folk art, fine art, craft, self-taught and well as textile art. She proves her point through cultural, material and visual pairings and contrasts.

Now Ute is part of a band of four merry single ladies (through death or divorce), all accomplished in the arts, all who are using their talents to begin their art careers again. Over lunch in June they realized they were connected through art and searching for new meaning in their lives. Thus the gallery was born and opened ten days later to four women in the seventh decade of their lives.
4forART in Lenox, Mass.
AKKIE Martens is originally from the Netherlands with a background in European art. Her sophisticated eye and her international business experiences add great value. She worked for sixteen years with Ute in the original gallery.
LIZ Thompson recently was the Executive Director of “World Views” which established a program for resident artists in lower Manhattan to work in the empty spaces in the World Trade Center. She has also served as the Artistic and Executive Director of Jacob’s Pillow and VP/Director of the Next Wave Festival of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
JANE Kasten, the fourth partner, is a designer who worked with Billy Baldwin, and also a gallerist. Jane led a very successful art gallery in Great Barrington, MA from 1998-2008. Her life, too, has been steeped in arts and culture.

Go and see some great art and meet four amazing ladies. Here is their website but nothing replaces the joy of experiencing the art works in person.

4forART is open seven days a week from 11-5 p.m. at 53 Church Street in Lenox.  The ladies and the art will all charm you as they did me.

Photographs by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images (East Hampton Library)

Contact Liz here.