Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter 2012 in New York

A child climbing a rock in Central Park, surrounded by the big city. 1:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, January 27, 2012. Raining. Wet. Temperature in the high 30s at night. Winter 2012 in New York.

I went over to the Park Avenue Armory for the Young Collectors Night which also benefits The East Side House Settlement. I wasn’t wildly enthusiastic about leaving the house – the weather and all. But it has been such a quiet January (a “dreary January” wrote one friend in an email today). I agreed. It has seemed especially quiet this year on the social calendar. Someone suggested it was because more and more people go to Florida and stay there for weeks (even months).  I thought about that; maybe. The younger people are all in town. We’re just not the younger.

I think it’s the mild weather too. Snow is exciting, one way or another. Hard getting around but snappy. Slows everyone down but adds zest. Not knowing if you’re gonna get caught in a blizzard, not make it to work; no school, etc. Keeps everyone on their toes. This year they’re on their cells and that’s about it. Snore.
View of the drinks area south to north. Somewhere in the center are the two bars and eight bartenders.
So with all that in mind I thought I’d look and see if there was something to cast off the mental pall for myself over at the Winter Antiques Show. (Sunday is the last day, so get over there!)

The cocktail benefit was scheduled from 7 to 9. I don’t think I’ve ever been to this particular party (they run a Young Collectors Night annually) so I didn’t know who I’d see.

No pall there. The place was buzzing the moment I walked through the big front doors of the Armory. Definitely a younger crowd. Good looking spiffy crowd. Dressed. No get-down slobs.  It’s about aesthetics, and so it is. Age-wise I’d guess mainly mid-20s to early 40s and more on the lower end.
Sharon Bush, Jean Shafiroff, Renauld White, and Eula Johnson. "Keep your eyes open...."
Chelsea Wick, Natalie Obradovic, William Cullum, and Jamieson Clair, with Tom Jayne overseeing the crew.
Dawn Marie Grannum and Shannon Hill. Valerie Tocci and Andy Brooks.
Jamie Drake and Larry Laslo. John Glass and Will Applegate.
I was thinking how this is one of the great things about New York for people coming here out of college (or high school) looking to start a new life and career. The social events that are available to anyone with the interest.

Yes you may have to buy a ticket but welcome to the world. The accessibility of people here is greater than any Facebook or My Space or Linked-In or whatever. The variety and vast multitude of interests that coalesce as a matter of course provide infinite opportunity to learn and to connect, and in many cases, to progress.
This is a 19th, early 20th-century French commercial advertising for a cigarette. You could put a coin in the bottom of the case and she would raise her right hand to her mouth (with cigarette) and then blow smoke out. She looks a little like Elaine Stritch, hat and all. It had been sold so I couldn't find the price, but it is right up there. In perfect condition as if brand new.
Noah's Ark in the same booth.
Looking at a portrait by John Singleton Copley of Thomas Hancock, the uncle of John Hancock, at Schwarz Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. This man looking at the carving at Pace Primitives spent quite a bit of time in this particular booth. I suspect a collector in the waiting.
Pace Primitive, New York, New York.
This chair at the booth of Christopher T. Rebollo in Mechanicsville, PA. (near New Hope) belonged to John Penn, the grandson of William Penn. Most, if not all the furniture in this booth, is from the 18th and 19th century furniture makers in the area around Philadelphia. The cupboard behind is the star of the show. Freestanding in a corner, it is perfect condition and an example of early American craftsmanship. Subsequent paintings over the years were painstakingly removed so that you can see the yellow pine wood and the hand carved Stars and Stripes ornamentation.
Kathy Abbott and Clinton Howell.
Many of last night’s guests were basically at the grown up version of a college mixer. You don’t have to know anybody. Sometimes it’s better if you don’t. In other words, a way to get out and see people in an atmosphere that is interesting, pleasing and even cool. And in New York under those circumstances, you meet people. You just do because they’re standing right next to you. Or across the aisle or waiting at the bar. And the venue – Collecting – also indicates a possible mutual interest.

Aside from all that, it’s helping a very important charity. It’s exposing that and the possibilities of joining in on the helping part. It’s bringing everybody closer to the essence of New York life, and it’s a good looking group. A win-win. Collecting is life stories, and life stories begin here.
The co-chairs for the evening, all in Eli Tahari designs, Emily Israel, Stephanie Clark, Marie Rentschler, and Courtney Booth.
Far left, Melissa Berkelhammer; Nate Berkus with l-r, Courtney Booth, Emily Israel, and Stephanie Clark.
Mr. Berkus et al again but this time with the distinguished author and interior design historian, Wendy Goodman.
I did see a number of people I knew but it was interesting to see how this younger crowd were checking out the booths, which are full of treasures. I had gone through the aisles last Thursday night when it opened, so this time I tried to concentrate on things that looked especially to interesting to me. On prominent display at Kenneth Rendell (one of my favorite spots in New York for window shopping) was a page from Ayn Rand’s original handwritten manuscript of “Atlas Shrugged.” A lot of crossing-outs on this page, number 394. She wrote it by hand!

I asked the price and learned that it was still part of the entire manuscript! But, I was told, a page like this by an author of that rank/popularity/history, etc. usually starts at about $20,000.
Page 394 from Ayn Rand's original, handwritten manuscript (with edits and deletions) of "Atlas Shrugged." This page is part of the entire manuscript, at Kenneth Rendell.
At A La Vieille Russie they had on display a Faberge gold and enamel “X” with pictures of children and of houses (4 – all very large) and dates of the children’s births, and on the top a picture of a man, obviously the husband, the giver of the gift to mark the tenth wedding anniversary of a Russian countess (I didn’t get the name).

Very likely out of reach to last night’s general crowd (in the middling six figures) but nevertheless, potential inspiration. So many people we know or know of who collect or acquire treasures often can tell you what motivated them, what moment, what sight, what thought early on in life led them to these things. It’s the imaginative travelers among us, connoisseurs of their dreams. I’m serious. They were some of them in that room last night. We may never know but I am certain.
At A La Vieille Russie, the main international purveyor of Faberge treasures: Gold and enamel X by Faberge, a tenth anniversary gift from the gentleman in the pink heart at the top, four photographs in gold frames of their houses (and chateaux and villas) and the couple's three children with their birthdates. I didn't get the husband's name but the wife, Sophia, was a Russian countess. I asked "how much." The answer I got was vague enough for me not to remember. Well, Morgan said it first, when asked about the price of his yacht Corsair: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Beautiful.

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