Thursday, April 18, 2013

From lunches to dinners to awards

Under the blooming cherry blossoms in Central Park. 3:30 PM. Photo: Jeffrey Hirsch.
Thursday, April 18, 2013. A beautiful sunny Spring day, yesterday in New York, with temperatures hovering in the low 70s and perfect.

Down at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library on 42nd and Fifth, they held the annual Library Lunch. Following the actual luncheon, there was a conversation of the Classics moderated by David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, with Rebecca Mead on George Eliot's “Middlemarch” and novelist Gary Shteyngart on Philip Roth's “Portnoy's Complaint.”

This annual luncheon is another one of those special bonuses of living in New York. This luncheon is a fund-raiser so the ticket is a high one, although they draw a few hundred in attendance. However, like so many of these public cultural activities – in this case literary – there is something to learn, someone (often a prominent author) to hear and learn from; and something to take away and think about.
Olga Votis, Lea Brokaw, Danielle Ganek, NYPL President Tony Marx, Elizabeth Rohatyn, Darcy Rigas, and Shala Monroque.
The co-chairs of the Library luncheon this year were Lea Brokaw, Danielle Ganek, Shala Monroque, David Remnick, Elizabeth Rohatyn and  Olga Votis. The lunch was sponsored by Asprey.

Over at Cipriani 42nd Street The Food Allergy Initiative was hosting it’s 14th Annual Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) Spring Luncheon. Co-chairs were Abbey Braverman, Roxanne Palin and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. Lori Stokes of WABC-TV New York was emcee.
Coco Kopelman, Peter Lyden, and Gillian Miniter.
Lisa Blau, Lea Brokaw, Susan Burden, Katie Carpenter, and friend.
Steve Schwarzman and NYPL President Tony Marx. Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Yvonne Force Villareal.
Eleanora Kennedy and Tory Burch.
Merilee Bostock and Susan Braddock.
Daisy Prince and Marina Rust Connor.
Peter Duchin and Joan Hardy Clark, who was celebrating her birthday.
Me, I was down at Michael’s once again to meet up with our No Holds Barred columnist Blair Sabol who drove up from Philadelphia for the day on business (and our lunch). The place was jumping and the light and the flowers and the great Michael’s art collection gave the day a lift.

In the crowd, Media and PR abounding: Catherine Saxton was hosting Jamie Figg, Yue Sai Kan, David Hryck; in town from Shanghai (her other home); Scott Currie with Lynn Tesoro;’s Bonnie Fuller, Carlos Lamadrid and Gerry Byrne presided over the big Table One with several guests; Veranda’s  Dara Caponigro;’s David Adler; WSJ’s David Sanford and Lewis Stein; Alexander Chemia; Jimmy Finkelstein with Randy Falco; Andrew Stein with James Toback and Bill Siegel; Rob Wiesenthal with Sir Howard Stringer; Quest’s Chris Meigher; author/journalist (columnist for the GuardianMichael Wolff with Dave Calloway of USA Today; Leslie Stahl; Patrick Murphy; Eva Lorenzotti; John McEnroe with tv producer Jim Bell; Boaty Boatright with Jay Kantor; Jack Kliger; Peter Brown; David Kohl; Sharon Bush with Judy Cox; Steven Stolman; Jill Zarin (New York Houeswives); the FT’s  fashion reporter/ columnist Vanessa Friedman – the very best in the business in my opinion; Hollywood mogul Ron Meyer; Tom Goodman; Barry Frey; Howard Berk, Jason Bernstein; and scores more just like ‘em.
The Michael's lunch yesterday. It looks rather calm but that's only because the sound's been turned off.
A close-up of the bouquet above my table.
My own private daffodil, given to me by our doorman Luis, who is a serious horticulturist, raising, among other plants, a variety of orchids. They were tiny buds when I got them three weeks ago. I set this pot in my corner window where it got heat, sun, and water once a week. For awhile I didn't think anything would happen, but yesterday, it suddenly appeared so I took her outside for a photo-op..
Last night’s Social Calendar  was jumping too. Starting the evening, over at Tiffany on Fifth and 57th Street they were hosting a cocktail reception celebrating their Jazz Age Salon with Tiffany’s The Gatsby Collection, inspired by the new film version of Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” starring Leo DiCaprio.

In the Grand Ballroom down at the Waldorf, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Leonard  Lauder hosted their annual fundraiser, this year titled “Viva Fiesta! The Hot Pink Party” with Sir Elton John once again, Emcee Elizabeth Hurley.
Constance Jablonski, Michael Kors, Aerin Lauder, and Elizabeth Hurley at last night's Breast Cancer Research Foundation's “Viva Fiesta! The Hot Pink Party.”
At Gotham Hall, Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife Lisa hosted their Grassroots Garden Gala which they co-founded, and they honored Harold Hamm and Marlo Thomas.

Up at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, The Academy of American Poets were holding “Poetry and the Creative Mind” with a bevy of special (famous) guest readers, followed by a cocktail reception and dinner with the readers.
The flowers in front of the Plaza and the fountain, next to Fifth Avenue, last night.
I went over to the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza where the American Academy in Rome was hosting a Tribute Dinner honoring Elizabeth Diller, Charles Renfro, and Ricardo Scofidio who received the Centennial Medal , and Adele Chatfield-Taylor, the President  and CEO of the American Academy who is retiring at the end of this year after twenty-five years of success and progress of the American Academy. She was awarded the Medal of Excellence.

Mercedes Bass was Dinner Chairman and the black tie affair was a great success. The ballroom was filled to capacity. Playwright John Guare (Chatfield-Taylor’s husband) was emcee, and the guest list was populated with distinguished Fellows of the American Academy (FAAR), trustees, artists, authors, architects, attorneys, philanthropists and cultural activists.

Prestige is the word that comes to mind. Its prestige offers and affords the pursuit of Excellence. That pursuit takes place in a kind of oasis, set in Rome, for those selected to join. It is the leading overseas center for independent study and advance research in the arts and humanities.
Guests finding their seats for last night American Academy in Rome's annual dinner.
This has been going on for 119 years. McKim, Mead and White designed its main villa. It offers support, time and a collaborative environment for its Fellows. These individuals are among some of America’s most gifted artists and scholars. It’s a haven and a heaven for those men and women.  Who also have the somewhat unique experience of living in a community that is composed of people like themselves, in “pursuit” of that excellence.

The American Academy offers “up to 30 Rome Prize Fellowships in architecture, design, historic preservation and conservation, landscape architecture, literature, musical composition, visual arts, and in humanistic approaches to ancient studies, medieval studies, Renaissance and early-modern studies, and modern Italian studies.” A place to go away, to and give birth to dreams. It sounds like a vacation, and I don’t doubt that in some ways it is. It has to be – in that extraordinary physical environment in that ancient spot on the planet.

The ideal that the American Academy in Rome supports, underwrites, encourages, is, ultimately, a better world. It is significant that it sits on terra firma that has seen three civilizations.
Mercedes Bass and Robert Stern.
It was an evening of speeches, albeit brief, of expressed thanks for support. And unlike many dinners where there are a number of serious speeches, the tables are quiet and attentive. That tells you something about those attending, for very often these large dinners are filled with people who can’t stop talking no matter what it is going on.

Diller, Renfro and Scofidio are partners in an “interdisciplinary design studio (Diller, Scofidio + Renfro) that integrates architecture, the visual arts, and the performing arts.” They work collaboratively with a staff of 90 architects. They are very busy with projects like the High Line urban park in Chelsea, the redesign of Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the renovation and expansion of the Juilliard School, the Institute of Contemporary Art on Boston’s waterfront; and on and on. The sheer volume of their projects astounds. It reflects change not only in the architecture but in the culture and the society.
Elizabeth Diller (on video screen) speaks for her partners, Charles Renfro, and Ricardo Scofidio, in accepting last night's award.
Emcee John Guare speaks with enthusiasm and quiet wit about his wife Adele Chatfield-Taylor's experience of running the American Academy in Rome, as well as the pleasure of spending time in Rome regularly and being surrounded by the Academy's rarified environment.
John Guare and Adele Chatfield-Taylor as she is presented with the citation to accompany her Medal of Excellence.
Speaking to the guests, accepting her medal.
Chatfield-Taylor and Guare accepting the applause of the room.
Aerial view of the American Academy in Rome (lower right where you see the blue water of a fountain).
Adele Chatfield-Taylor has been the head of the Academy since December 1988. She came to it through a Rome Prize fellowship herself – in 1983-84. She had previously worked as a professional historical preservationist, working on the staff of the New York City Landmarks Commission and then as Executive Director of the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation. Listening to her acceptance speech last night, I heard a woman who is deliberate yet gentle, deeply committed and still curious, with the demeanor of an excellent executive and an ally of artists. If this were a religion she would be the cardinal, or maybe even the pope. There was that aura, along with the camaraderie, in the room last night.

It was a special evening. They raised more than $2 million for the Academy.
Several of the FAAR members applauding Adele Chatfield-Taylor after her acceptance speech.

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