Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cold and crisp

Cold and crisp scene in Central Park. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, November 20, 2014. Very cold, like winter, yesterday in New York, with another month to go of fall. Traffic in the city from the 80s to the 20s was gridlock. Traveling the thirty blocks south and west from my apartment took an hour.

The Michael's Lunch:

• Simone Levinson with Paula Zahn
• Dennis Sharp with Kelley Clarkson and infant
• Jim Dunning
• Tom Rogers with Vicky Ward
• Jason Binn
• Beverly Camhe
• Peter Kreisky with Jack Kliger and Roger Cooper (Bday)
• Tim Landi (ABT)
• Wednesday Martin
• Alice Mayhew with Mark Whittaker and Lynn Nesbit
• Jack Myers with David Verklin
• Peter Price
• Henry Schleiff
• Jack Stahl
• Andrew Stein with Candia Fisher
• Dini von Meuffling with Richard Farley
• Michael Wolff (USA Today)
• Lewis Korman
• Chris Meigher (Quest)
• Joe Kernan with Ogden Phipps
• Mrs. Leonard Shulman
• Penny Trenk
• Sam Waksal
• Betty Lee Stern with Nancy Brinker
• Neil Lasher (Bday)
• Tina and Simon Beriro
• Esther Newberg (ICM Literary)
• Linda Fairstein with Catherine Burke (Linda's British publisher)
• Armando Ruiz
• Debbie Bancroft with DPC
Rickie and Thomas Lloyd with Bryan Huffman
• Meryl Gordon
A 2006 photo of Mr. Lloyd and his wife Rickie from the New York Times.
Wednesday/Michael’s. The joint was jumpin’. Full up from front to back. Missing were Da Boyz, all of ‘em and a few others we often see on Wednesday. In the rundown, you will see many single names. Nobody was lunching alone. I simply didn’t know the names of their lunch partners. There are others who escaped my notice; many.

The Mr. Lloyd listed in the sidebar is a grandson of the late Bunny Mellon. He and his wife, who live in Washington, DC, had come up to New York for Tuesday night’s Preview cocktail of his grandmother’s collection sale at Sotheby’s. They were lunching yesterday with Bryan Huffman, an interior designer from North Carolina who was a personal friend of Mrs. Mellon, and with Meryl Gordon who has written a biography of Brooke Astor as well as Huguette Clark, the 105-year-old mysterious heiress who died here in New York three years ago and left tens of millions to her maid and nurse as well as her accountant and lawyer. She is now working on a biography of Mrs. Mellon.

The Bunny Mellon art sale was the first of what will have been mainly three sales (the catalogue has two volumes for the interiors items). The jewels and interiors sales took place yesterday and today, and continues until the 23rd.

The art sale which was held a week ago Monday totaled an impressive $158,737,250. Two paintings by Mark Rothko fetched prices well beyond their estimates. The first Untitled, with an estimate of $15 - $20 million, painted in 1970, the last year of the artist’s life, and purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon the following year from the Marlborough Gallery, brought $39.925 million. The second also Untitled, was painted in 1955 and also purchased by the Mellons from Marlborough in 1970. Estimates on the work were $20 - $30 million, and it went for $36.565 million. You can see all the results of the sale(s) on Sotheby’s web site.

The prices of Mrs. Mellon’s art were not nearly as spectacular as some of the prices at other sales in the past week where the total reached up to $1 billion or more. These are historical numbers in more ways than one because the state of the economy of the cities and towns across America, and of their citizens, is very delicately precarious in many instances, to put it very mildly.

Mark Rothko
Untitled ( Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange). Lot Sold: 36,565,000 USD.
I have been told that all the proceeds from this estate sale are going to the Mellons’ charitable foundations. Mrs. Mellon’s heirs – family members – have been bequeathed even greater treasures. This is hearsay but it makes sense, for one can see from the way she lived that the family fortunes were vast. The Mellon fortune, always regarded as Pittsburgh fortune (among their holdings besides banking an steel interests, were Gulf Oil and Alcoa Aluminium, for starters), obviously rivaled the Rockefellers (and with less family members).

The Sotheby’s catalogue of Mrs. Paul Mellon’s collections is a great addition to the library of anyone interested in decorative arts, painting, china, antiques, gardens, jewels and what have you (if you’re very rich). It is pricey – $300 – but beautifully published and edited with a great deal of information about the lots as well as the history of the lady and her interests. Of all the famous auction sales of prominent individuals, such as Jacqueline Onassis and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, nothing matches Mrs. Mellon’s in terms of artfulness and aesthetics, as well as whim and wit, and sheer natural beauty.

What is amazing to me is that Mrs. Mellon was endlessly acquisitive about things that took her eye, caught her fancy, and yet it never looks like too much. Compared to most of us, it was way more than too much, more than we might ever even use in a lifetime. Although she lived a lifestyle that clearly provided occasions to put much of it to use and/or much of it on display (as a collection item).  But her display suggested a modesty and simplicity throughout.
It never looks like too much.
She was surely one of those women whom retailers literally were thrilled to see coming into a shop. Because she could spend and did. This is not uncommon among the very rich, just as it wouldn’t be uncommon among a lot of us who aren’t rich at all but think we would like to be. Getting and Spending are the two bywords that motivate a lot of aspiration.

However, Mrs. Bunny Mellon despite all she possessed/acquired/owned, had a strong sense, an artist’s sense of economy about her things. You see it in the way she displayed everything. You see it in even her most spectacular jewels. You can see it in the way she managed her gardens, her fields, her groves and her forests. It was all in the care and the pruning. She was, after all, an artist of the Art of High Living. Everything was a tool, an implement in expressing that very sophisticated sensibility.
It’s not phenomenal. Throughout history the rich and the powerful have acquired or developed that “natural” ability/talent where the result of their interest has an ever-lastingness to it. Louis XIV. Marie Antoinette. Catherine the Great. William IV, even Henry Clay Frick, for starters.

Mrs. Mellon, being American, and a woman of the 20th century would naturally eschew the splendor of the aforementioned royals. Her houses and their interiors never lent themselves to grandeur, but actually the opposite: coziness. But the sensibility aka the fascination she demonstrated was similar to that of the monarchs. A love of beauty, a normal human condition. When it is. It was a highly unusual life led by a woman who had a modest bearing in her photographs (the famous one of her walking behind the ultra-glamorous Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, for example) and yet made a life at which she was the center at all times.
More catching up. The Museum of Arts and Design hosted their 2014 MAD Ball at Pier Sixty a week ago Tuesday. The evening celebrated four influential creators and leaders in the art, craft and design industries, whose work personifies the Museum’s mission to explore and celebrate contemporary making and skilled craftsmanship across all media.

This year's honorees included Michael Aram, artist and founder of Michael Aram, Inc.; Artist Richard Dupont, in recognition of his remarkable innovations in the arts and field of  digital design; Gallerist and collector Barry Friedman; and the design house, Ligne Roset.
Donald Tober, Barbara Tober, and Michael Aram.
Just as spectacular as the many art and design pieces available through the evening's silent and live benefit auctions, were this year's Visionaries! awards. The Museum commissioned artist Miriam Ellner, whose work was featured in the recent exhibition NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial, to create four hand-crafted pieces for the honorees. Ellner's stunning sculptural creations, titled "Light Catchers," were elegant gilded glass seed-like forms, set in a bronze structure that moves to capture the changing light where they are installed.

Accompanying notable guests such as MAD Director Glenn Adamson, designer Reed Krakoff, gallerists Tracy Williams, Cristina Grajales and Marc Benda, Kyle DeWoody, Jerry and Simona Chazen, and Barbara Tober, were photographer Benjamin Fredrickson; ceramicist Zack Davis, and pastry chef Olivier Dessyn of Mille-Feuille Bakery, who presented live demonstrations throughout the evening.
Barbara Tober and Richard Dupont. David Israel and Julie Hillman.
Martin and Bryna Pomp.
Christina Grajales, Mike De Paola, Bill Taubman, and Ellen Taubman.
Richard and Gail Lowe Maidman. Ron Labaco and Lowery Stokes Sims.
Laura Taft Paulsen and Bill Paulsen.
Nanette L Laitman and Stuart Lasdon.
Barry Friedman, Michael Aram, Glenn Adamson, Richard Dupont, and Antoine Roset.
Even more catching up. The New York Studio School held its 50th Anniversary Benefit Auction and Dinner at 545 West 22nd Street on Thursday, October 23rd. They celebrated the School’s 50th Anniversary and honored renowned visual artist and NYSS Alumnus, Christopher Wool and NYSS Board of Trustee member and now legendary Art Lawyer, Ashton Hawkins.
The silent auction.
The evening included a cocktail reception, silent art auction, a sit-down dinner, honoree presentation, and scholarship appeal. Proceeds from this event helped to support a full range of programs at the Studio School.

This year, it raised over $500,000. This year’s Benefit Chair was Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman. The Benefit Steering Committee included Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Dita Amory, Brenda and Kelly Anderson, Roland Augustine, Paul Beirne, Bonnie Burnham, Paula Cooper, William Corbett, Ann Gund, Johnnie Moore Hawkins, Paul Gunther, Lawrence Luhring, James R. Hennessey and Marc B. Porter, Emily Rafferty, Patricia Sullivan, J.P. Versace Jr., and Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.
Paul Gunther, Perry Guillot, Ashton Hawkins, and Bob MacLeod.
Officially the New York Studio School of Drawing Painting and Sculpture makes its home at 8 West 8th Street in Greenwich Village. It is right next door to the MacDougal Alley studio of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (a great-aunt of this year’s benefit Chair Wendy Lehman. Mrs. Whitney, who founded the Whitney Museum of American Art, owned the property and transformed it into a Studio Club where artists could exhibit their works. When she established the Whitney Museum, in 1931 she hired the architect Auguste Noel to convert the spaces (3 row houses from nos. 8 through 12) into the museum’s first home. When the museum moved uptown in 1954, the buildings became the New York Studio School.
Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman and Graham Nickson. Janice Oresman and Cristina Carlson.
F. Anthony Zunino III, Sally Aeur Zunino, and Madeline McGahern.
Maria and Brian Welch. Graham Nickson and Paula Hornbostel.
Ashton Hawkins, Emily Rafferty, and Johnnie Moore.
Betty Cuningham, Pamela Salisbury, and Marjorie Portnow.
Serena Nickson, Dita Amory, Philip Isles, Bridget Marks, and Jack King.
Charline von Heyl and Christopher Wool. Carleen Murdock with a friend.
Yi Ling, Eric Brown, and Lois Dickson.
Amy Freitag, Joan Davidson, and Ken Lustbader.
Lucy Lamphere, Deanna King, and Susan Sussman.

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