Thursday, June 24, 2010

83 degrees at midnight

Looking south at the not quite full moon from Upper West Side. 12:15 AM. Photo: JH.
June 24, 2010. Very hot in New York. 83 degrees at midnight, along with all that lovely humidity that the East Coast is famous for.

Doesn’t keep all New Yorkers at home, however. Over at Christie’s at Rockefeller Center, the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club hosted a “Decorator Show House Summer Soiree” for their Decorator Show House Committee with three celebrated Relais & Chateaux chefs providing the hors d’oeuvres: Jonathan Cartwright of the White Barn Inn & Spa of Kennebunkport, Maine, Graham Gill of Windham Hill Inn in West Townsend, Vermont, and Mark Levy of The Point at Saranac Lake, New York; along with champagne provided by Champagne Nicolas Feuillarte (for toasting, of course).

Kips Bay has been running Decorator Showhouses for years in New York and they are very popular. This year for reasons unknown to me (but not to the organization’s directors), they were unable to secure a vacant townhouse/mansion, hence last night’s reception which brought out more than 200 and raised some money for their good cause.
Above: Jim Aman, Anne Carson, and John Meeks.

Right: Alix Lerman and Shani Gilchrist.

Below: The Michaels sisters with Rod Winterowd and Tiffany Dubin.
After the Kips Bay benefit, I was due at a friend’s birthday party up on Park Avenue in the Sixties. With Sian Ballen (our NYSD HOUSE editor) and the intention of finding a cab, I started to walk in that direction and passed through Rockefeller Center.

I love Rockefeller Center. It was started, if you don’t know, by John D. Rockefeller Jr. with the intention of developing the land (on a plot between Sixth and Fifth Avenues and 49th and 51st Streets) that belonged to Columbia University. Fifth Avenue was a major socio-economic dividing line in those days. Many members of the Vanderbilt family had built their enormous mansions on Fifth, beginning at 51st Street running north. (The only Vanderbilt mansion still standing on the avenue is now the Versace store next door to Cartier between 51st and 52nd Street.)
The Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink as an al fresco summer dining room last night at Rockefeller Center.
West of this golden mile, the real estate was decidedly different, including glitz, theaters and working class neighborhoods. 52nd Street, for example, was Jazz Street where during Prohibition almost every doorway was a speakeasy on the block between Fifth and Sixth.

They broke ground for the project in 1930. In 1931, the complex in planning was named Rockefeller Center at the suggestion of man named Ivy Lee, who was one of the first “public relations” advisors ever and had long been on retainer by the family (at a reported fee of $250,000 a year – multiply that by 30 to get a sense of the buying power of the dollar in those days), as a tribute to the man behind it – Mr. Rockefeller. The only son was referred to by almost everyone involved with him in business as “Junior” because his father, the patriarch billionaire, was still very much alive. Ivy Lee, incidentally was the great-grandfather of a member of the New York art world, and coincidentally a friend of several direct Rockefeller descendants of “Junior” – the artist Rachel Hovnanian.
30 Rock, the GE Building, home of NBC Studios, modern classic 70 years on. The silver and glass Citigroup building on 53rd Street between Third and Lexington Avenues, last night at 8:15.
30 Rock or the GE building, as it is known, was for decades known as the RCA Building, the company’s headquarters. It was where its National Broadcasting Company had its radio and later its television studios (the Today Show) is still broadcast from a street level studio on the other side of 49th Street.

Rockefeller Center was the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times – 14 buildings in the Art Deco style. Construction began in 1930 on the onset of the Great Depression and completed in May 1939. In summertime the famous ice skating rink is transformed into an outdoor café, as you can see.

Walking up Park Avenue I got a twilight shot
of another of my favorite New York buildings – the Citigroup Center – still a stunner, on 53rd between Third and Lexington Avenue.
Anyone for a red Ferrari. As JP Morgan once said (about his yacht), if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. So I wouldn't ask.
Speaking of Mr. Morgan, JH just happened to take this shot earlier today of the J. P. Morgan House at Madison Avenue at 36th Street. Constructed in 1853 for financier Isaac N. Phelps, the house was acquired and remodeled in 1895 by J. P. Morgan, Sr. The house was one of seven residences belonging to J. P. Morgan, Jr. After Morgan's death in 1943, it was sold to the Lutheran Church, whose effort to develop the site was blocked by preservationists. In 1988, the Morgan Library acquired the house for offices and a bookshop.
Meanwhile at the Ferrari showroom on Park Avenue and 55th, they were having some kind of party – no doubt a promotion since some of their latest models were parked on a matching red carpet on the Avenue.

Flashback. This past Monday on another dog day afternoon – with temps in the 90s, up in Central Park, on the Lake on the west side of the park, there was a performance on the water of Greek composer Iannis Xanakis’ “Persephassa,” a piece for six percussionists first heard forty years ago at the Shiraz Festival in Iran.

I heard about it Tuesday from my lunchdate Patsy Tarr, who first heard the sounds from her her apartment high above the Park, and then from her window saw the intriguing site of a flotilla of boats on the lake. She went down to take a look and came away with a couple of shots of the activity. It was part of the 4th annual “Make Music New York.” There were percussionists in the boats, more on the shore and dozens of boats (from the Loeb Boathouse) rowing around them. Another New York moment that amazes.
The percussion concert of Iannis Xanakis' "Persephassa" Monday afternoon on The Lake in Central Park as photographed by Patsy Tarr
More amazement. Over at the New Jersey Meadowlands, just a short bus or car trip over the bridge or through the tunnels, Beneath the world’s largest Big Top, sixty magnificent horses from all over the globe, as well as 100 brilliant acrobats, musicians and dancers, are performing on a set against a semi-circular, 160-foot backdrop of unique imagery, completed with marvelous music and acoustics. For adults, as well as children are transported in to a fantasy world of Beauty, Love and Romance called CAVALIA, the grand multi-media theatrical show created by Norman Latourelle, of the world-renowned Cirque De Soleil.

Hailing from Montreal, the Show took over a decade to develop. At times, CAVALIA’s Star Horses, gallop, cavort, and run free. Perhaps the most touching is to witness to the tender relationship between the horses and their riders – one in which there seems to be a collaboration between equals.

The Show is followed by a fascinating tour of the stables in which one may meet these noble creatures. CAVALIA is truly enchanting.

— Jill Lynne for NYSD/
CAVALIA's Largest BIG TOP in the world.
Photo-Banners around tent.
Elke Breyer with Popcorn & Program.
Performer/Riders in VIP Tent. Performer/Rider in Stables.
Performing Horse with Braided Mane in Stables.
Performing Horse in Stables. Mane-Braiding in Stables.
Scenes From CAVALIA.
Living well is the best revenge. Coming up this Saturday, June 26th, up at the Stair Galleries at 549 Warren Street in Hudson, New York, 2 hours from the city by car or Amtrak, there will an auction of the contents of Dogwood Farm, the Connecticut estate of Douglas Cramer and his partner, Hugh Bush.

Mr. Cramer is the enormously successful producer of films and television shows over the last four decades, as well as producing partner of the late Aaron Spelling.

Douglas Cramer and Hugh Bush.
The catalogue.
His most famous of many famous shows were “The Love Boat” and “Dynasty.”

Aside of his great successes in the entertainment media, over the years he acquired a huge contemporary art collection. In the art world and entertainment industry he was also well known for his collection of fabulous properties.

Dogwood Farm was bought in the late 1990s when he moved his operations and residences from California to the east. Today he and Mr. Bush have homes in New York, Martha’s Vineyard and Miami.

The 130 acre Dogwood Farm in Roxbury, Connecticut was put together with the help of British interior designer Nicky Haslam. A barn was converted into a main house rambling with several additions as well as a guest house, pool house and art barn for the ever burgeoning art collection. MAC II, the design team of Mica Ertegun and Chessy Rayner decorated the interiors of the main house.

A barn was converted into a main house with many additions. From there Cramer and Bush enhanced the grounds with garden benches, limestone finials, urns and birdbaths, cast stone figure of house, an 18th century sundial and many other fascinating objects.

The property was recently sold and most of its contents, including a good collection of its art, will be sold at the auction this Saturday.

I asked Doug why they were selling this magnificent property, the scene of many wonderful (and large) parties over the years. His answer was simple: between their travels and their other residences, they were there less and less.
"About twelve years ago, I got a call from my old friend Doug Cramer whom I had known since the late 60s in Los Angeles. He as now thinking of buying a house in the area of Connecticut where I lived. Did I know anything interesting? I did -- and he and Hugh Bush bought it -- Dogwood Farm. In the years since then, I've watched, amazed, as they recreated it, enlarged it, built barns, a pond, a pool, bought hundreds of acres around it and, of course, furnished it. Major collectors of art, they also collected great furniture and objects; I shall sorely miss it all." -- Brooke Hayward
Lot 117. Italian engraved silver box. Pamaloni, the hinged lid inscribed "Dear Doug, Thank you for 21 wonderful movies, and all the good times! With much love, Danielle." A gift from Danielle Steele. Proceeds from sale to benefit the Nick Traina Foundation. Estimate $200 - $400.
"I will miss visiting Dogwood farm, the fabulous weekends, the beautiful surroundings, the marvelous house and the brilliant collections of furniture, paintings and sculpture. I will never forget experiencing the relief of any stress the minute one turned into the long tree-lined driveway and the as the house came into sight, a beautiful lake appeared and at the end of it, an amazing sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly. The house was filled with superb English furniture as well as some beautiful French and contemporary pieces. Both Doug and Hugh have amazing taste and talent in turning each room into a cozy space in spite of awe-inspiring art and antiques. Days spent in the good company of Doug and Hugh were feast for body and mind." -- Mica Ertegun.
Dogwood Farm. The main house entrance in winter.
"Dogwood Farm was a haven of beauty and charm. Everything there was extremely comfortable and I shall always remember it." -- Lee Radziwill. The eight-foot twin upholstered modern sofas were designed by MAC II for Dogwood Farm based on a design in Bill Blass' Sutton Place apartment, fabricated by DeAngelis. Estimate: $1200 - $1800 (each).
"Doug has always been known to give the most incredible parties. His barn dances at his ranch in the Santa Ynez valley above Santa Barbara were legendary. His Christmas parties at Dogwood in Connecticut were over the top. You never knew who you were going to meet there: actors, composers, writers, or even a ballet star. I think I remember one Christmas where Santa got drunk. I hope I'm invited to his new house in Miami where I'm sure the parties will be bigger than ever." --- Ellsworth Kelly.
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