Back in NY
Rutherford Place. 9:10 PM. Photo: JH.
Ronald Weintraub is prominently known in certain New York circles mainly as a successful businessman who is the husband of Harriet Weintraub who has one of the more prosperous and high profile public relations agencies in the city, in partnership with Peggy Siegal and Virginia Coleman. Their WSC public relations group handles a lot of well-known clients from film companies to charities to luxury products and purveyors. I often see Ron (as he is known by his friends) at Harriet’s events. He’s a pleasant guy with a ready smile, somewhat reserved, although he wouldn’t be described as shy. I was told a number of years ago he sold his business for a tidy sum and retired.

What I didn’t know, and possibly what a lot of people didn’t know until last night, was that about fifteen years ago Ron embarked on a new path in life – as an artist. It started in August of 1990 with a trip one August on a chartered yacht, with four other couples, around Turkey. They invited Iris Love, the archeologist who knew Turkey quite well, to join them.

On their first day in Turkey Ron had the opportunity to accompany Iris on a visit to an archeological museum in Istanbul, and he found her knowledge and ideas fascinating. For the next ten days he was also present at the lectures she gave the guests on the boat. Iris told me last night at the Salander-O’Reilly reception that she had no idea up until she read the catalogue that the trip had changed the life of one of her “students.” Although, she added, he was the “real student” on that particular trip – an “A+” student.
Ronald Weintraub
He was so inspired by Iris that when he returned to New York he began making collages and eventually painting backgrounds. Realizing through this process that he knew nothing about painting, he signed up for a class at Parsons, after which he took a semester of Saturday classes in drawing at the Art Students League.

Finding the classroom environment too slow, he hired a teacher – in this case Ross Neher, a fine artist himself, who also teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at Pratt Institute. They started working in the kitchen of Weintraubs’ Fifth Avenue apartment but Harriet soon objected to the smell of the oil paint, so he rented a small studio on East 73rd Street. Having recently sold his business, he could devote all his time to painting.

Dessert in the shape of palettes
Then in 1996, the Weintraubs bought a house in Water Mill and when the lease on the studio ran out, he moved his studio out there where he’s painted ever since.

In the beginning, he confided to his teacher, Neher,
that he felt he lacked talent. Neher advised him that persistence is more important than raw talent and that “practice is vital.” It is Ron’s nature to be persistent. He also was fortified with a “high degree of self-confidence,” no fear of making mistakes and no concern for other’s opinions. So he made a lot of mistakes – hundreds, maybe thousands, destroying more paintings than he saved and learning by practice.

After the reception, guests repaired to Allison and Leonard Stern’s house a few blocks away for a buffet dinner. Before dinner was served, Leonard Stern stood on the staircase and gave testimonial to his friend’s “new” career. Leonard told us that Ron was never one to talk about his endeavor and so when Leonard heard he’d rented a studio, he couldn’t help wondering “what” he was doing there. Up until last night, even Leonard who’s been a friend of Ron’s for more than forty years never saw any of his work.

Leonard Stern’s speech about his friend was amusing and heart-warming. Known to the world as a highly focused, brilliant businessman, in the company of friends and family Leonard Stern is a very warm and affectionate fellow, very proud to see his friend making a major and significant transition in his life through art. The evening called for a gift and so when he was finished speaking, the Sterns presented Ron Weintraub with a gift wrapped in red. Opening it before us – it was from Barney’s – he found a black beret, which he donned while the crowd applauded.

Ron Weintraub and Leonard Stern
It was an evening about old friends, good friends, life decisions and the courage of one’s convictions. The image that most of us had of Ron Weintraub was transformed immediately to reflect his reality. In an interview published by Salander O’Reilly he said, “My intent is to enjoy myself by engaging in the process of art-making and to give tangible expression to my feelings, to create something others might enjoy looking at and living with, and to leave a piece of myself as evidence of my existence.”

You can see for yourself – the exhibition runs through March 26th at the Salander O’Reilly gallery at 20 East 79th Street.

A lot of the Weintraubs and Sterns’ friends turned out for the show and the buffet including Karen and Richard LeFrak, Denise and Andrew Saul, Francesca Stanfill and Dick Nye, Chris Browne and Andrew Gordon, Gail Hilson, Marjorie Reed Gordon, Lyn Revson, Mario Buatta, Nancy and John Novogrod, Colombe Nicholas and Leonard Rosenberg, the David Stockmans, Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrell Aston, Debbie and Leon Black, Beth Rudin DeWoody and Howard Blum, Katharina Otto and Nathan Bernstein, Dolly Lenz, Iris Love, Kara and Steve Ross, Pamela Gross and Jimmy Finkelstein, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Virginia Coleman, Christopher Mason, Kris Fuchs, Peter Gregory, Joanne DeGuardiola, Caroline Hirsch and Stephanie Krieger and Brian Stewart.
Virginia Coleman and Christopher Mason
Francesca Stanfill and Dick Nye
Harriet Weintraub and Leonard Stern
Denise and Andrew Saul
Lyn Revson, Mario Buatta, and Nancy Novogrod
Andrew Gordon, Chris Browne, Colombe Nicholas, and Leonard Rosenberg
Karen LeFrak and Gail Hilson
Caroline Hirsch, Brian Stewart, and Stephanie Krieger
Iris Love
Karen LeFrak and Debi Black

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L. to r.: Kris Fuchs; John Novogrod; Lyn Revson and and Dolly Lenz.
Katharina Otto Bernstein
Dinner is served in the living room

March 2, 2005, Volume V, Number 37
Photographs by DPC/


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