Thursday, September 29, 2016

Each to be grateful for

Begonias on Park Avenue. 10:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, September 29, 2016. Overcast, dramatically in the morning yesterday in New York. Temperature about 70 but a brisk breeze, not chilly, freshening up the place including one’s mood. Rain predicted. These have been beautiful autumn days in New York. Each to be grateful for, if at all possible.
Somebody must have told a friend of mine that I like having an orchid around to add a dash of elegance and beauty to my humble flat. For last week, in thanks for something I did, she sent me this sensational orchid — a speciman I'd never seen before. Fantastic.
The traffic in midtown was heavy and moving slowly. But, like the aforementioned breezes, there was something vital about the energy surrounding. Michael’s was jammed and the same vibe was in the air, fresh and fast. In the room, at table one Bonnie Fuller and Gerry Byrne were hosting a large table of guests. Next door Robert Zimmerman was lunching with Beth Dozoretz; Paul McDonnell and Ed McDonnell; Jim Reginato who has a beautiful new book coming out next week “Great Houses; Modern Aristocrats,” was lunching with Diane Clehane. I got a copy last weekend and opened it to look and found myself engrossed in Jim’s stories about the families who occupy these houses along with their histories.

Barbara Tober and DPC.
Continuing around the room: Jack Myers; Roman Tsunder; Mickey Ateyeh hosting Clive Davis, Riokki Klieman, Tita Cahn, Michael Riedel et al; Michael Christenson; Jimmy Finkelstein; Gerry Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman  who gave up their regular round table to Ms. Ateyeh’s party of five or six. Moving along: Sydney Belzberg; Christopher Winans; Lisa Linden with Harry Blair; Jack Kliger; Pamela Fiori; Joan Kron; sisters, Francine LeFrak and Denise LeFrak Colicchio; Peter and Judy Price; Martin Puris; Noble Smith; Jean Dietze; Alice Mayhew; Michael Wolff; Joan Gelman.

I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Barbara Tober. She and her husband Donald are often on these pages because they are often out and about. The two live kind of a rip-roaring life including business and social here in New York. They have a farm up in Millbrook and thereabouts, and raise horses and ride, and they are very active contributors and even movers and shakers in several cultural situations including the Museum of Arts and Design which the Tobers -- and especially Barbara – were major forces in its development.

What might seem more remarkable is that Barbara is 82 and Donald is maybe a couple of years older. Besides their daily activity, they’re out all the time. If there’s a dinner dance, they’re dancing; if it’s theatre or film, they’re watching; if it’s books, they’re reading.

Gerry Imber came by the table on his way out to say hello to Barbara. I realized they were neighbors up in Millbrook. After he departed, she recounted one Saturday up there when she was out riding through the countryside and suddenly out of nowhere a cow appeared and spooked her horse. The horse suddenly and sharply veered quickly around the cow, and Barbara went flying headfirst to the ground, landing on her nose and crashing her eyeglasses.
Donald and Barbara.
The gash on the bridge of the nose was major when Donald got a look at it. He told her he’d call the hostess of the dinner they were expected at to cancel. Barbara said “No,” she wanted to make the dinner because of the guest of honor.

Barbara on horseback.
She called Dr. Imber. He asked her if it could wait until the following morning. She said "No" because she was planning to go to someone’s dinner that night and she didn’t want to miss the guest of honor.

Dr. Imber told her they too were getting ready for a dinner party that night so a lot was going on at the Imber house at that moment. However, if she came over right away, he’d find a room where he could pay attention to her problem. Which she did and he did.

He cleaned up the wound and put a skin-like piece over that part of her nose, and that was it.

Barbara was Editor-in-Chief of Brides Magazine for about three decades (maybe more). She left quite some time ago, but the editor/organizer/ observer never left her disposition. Yesterday she was telling me about how interesting it was getting older and seeing all the people she's known for fifty years. This week she and Donald were going to a birthday party for a woman who is 111.

I asked her to repeat that number because I thought at first I didn't hear it right. "One hundred and eleven," Barbara repeated. And the birthday girl's daughters who will also be present are 82 and 86 and both very involved in their work and the activities.'
Last night at Doubles, Arlene Dahl hosted a "surprise" birthday party for her husband Marc Rosen whose birthday is tomorrow, September 30th. Marc's birthday is a big round number and like all big round number birthdays, it makes an impression on the person. It was also 32 years ago on that day that Mark and Arlene married. Last night they were surrounded by 38 friends and members of Marc's family.
This past Tuesday at noontime I went to a special luncheon at the Frick given by the Board of Trustees to introduce its Acquisitions Fund which was established to help the museum continue to purchase objects that enhance and complement its holdings for the enjoyment of the public.

Henry Clay and his youngest daughter Helen Frick, who lived in the house (painting by Edmund Charles Tarbell, c. 1910)
I have been to the Frick many times. The first times were when I was a young man here in New York and discovered this treasure trove of art on Fifth Avenue and 70th Street in what was once a man's home -- although Frick built it for his collection with the idea that it would one day be a museum for the public's eye.

When I first visited in the mid-1960s, the Frick was well known among art collectors and museum people but in many other ways it was still a secret to the general public. In those years you could visit on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and sometimes feel like you had the whole museum to yourself, so sparse was the attendance. This was generally true of even the Met during those years.

Its great transition to massive public attention began when Tom Hoving became the Met's director. As he did for Central Park, he did for the Met – greatly increasing public interest and attention. Mr. Hoving had a nose for the future, and the Frick became part of that future of greater public interest.

On Tuesday noontime, entering the Collection I was surprised to see so many people visiting the rooms that at first I thought they were all there for the luncheon. As many times as I've been there in the past two decades it's almost always been for parties and special exhibition previews. Tuesday afternoon, the crowd I was seeing were visitors.

I made it just in time for the seating in the Music Room where concerts, lectures and dances are held, for the luncheon which was grilled halibut followed by a delicious dessert. Before the serving and between courses, the Frick's director Ian Wardropper and members of the staff talked about recent gifts and acquisitions, showing example on the screen on the stage.
Table set for guests in the Music Room.
Marina French, Joyce Cowin, Alexandre de Vogüé, Melinda Sullivan, and Stephen Geiger, while behind at the entrance to the room, Frick's Heidi Rosenau stands next to DPC getting a photo of the room.
DPC's view.
The Fricks moved into the completed house in 1913. Mr. Frick died six years later in 1919. It opened to the public in 1935 under the guidance of his daughter Helen Frick. Although his collection was extensive at the time of his death, it was his intent that great works be added from time to time through purchase or donation.

The criterion for acquisitions had to match and resonate with his aesthetic preferences, reflecting the artists, schools, and subject-matter to which he was drawn as a collector. Works acquired by the institution must also match in quality those already in the collection. During the institution's first decades, funds for acquisition by purchase were drawn from the endowment. Since the 1960s, more works have entered the collection through gift and donations made by Board members and others.
Melinda Sullivan and Chairman Margot Bogert.
Trustee Aso O. Tavitian, Henry Arnhold, and Londa Weisman.
Sofia and Peter Blanchard (Trustee and great grandson of Henry Clay Frick).
Amory McAndrew and Elizabeth Kurpis.
Trustee Barbara Fleischman and James R. Cherry Jr.
Alexandra Porter and Justin R. Kush.
Trustee Sidney Knafel and Seymour R. Askin Jr.
I am hardly a collector or a connoisseur. The great thing about art is that nothing is required but your eyes adjusting to the painter's or sculptor's or ceramicist's eyes. Unlike the larger museums, although Frick could hardly be described as small, its housing invites and welcomes the visitor to become part of the Collector's sensibility. There is time and space always available to enjoy the works of art as if they were your own treasures.

After the luncheon, guests were invited to visit the second floor – which was first the most private part of the residence, decorated in 1913 by Elsie de Wolfe and now used by the museum staff. Much of the interiors remain although everything has been done to accommodate the business of the museum.
Paul Sullivan, Trustee Melinda Sullivan, and Director Ian Wardropper.
Paul and Melinda Sullivan discuss their gift of DuPaquier porcelain with Director Ian Wardropper and guests. An installation of this gift opened on September 28th in the Reception Hall.
Curator of Decorative Arts Charlotte Vignon speaks to guests about the recent acquisition of a pair of Gouthiere candelabra that will be a part of the upcoming exhibition on this French 18th-century court artist.
I went up to have a brief look at some of the pieces that were shown during the lunch. Everything is stunning and beautiful and the artisanship is extraordinary. When we were first shown different pieces at lunch I found the bronze medals collection to be very compelling. I'm not sure why. It began with the view of gilt bronze of Josephine Lapagerie Bonaporte created in 1804 or thereabouts when she became Napoleon's Empress of France. She and the style of that time became real to me for the first time.

Whereas all of the items on display for guests to see were beautiful and wondrous, I wasn't surprised to see the guests lingering and looking closely at the medals. They are a promised donation from the Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher Collection.
Stephen K. Scher and Associate Curator Aimee Ng.
Guests inspecting the recent gift of portrait medals.
Considered to be the world's greatest medals collection in private hands, rivaling and often surpassing those in American museums such as the National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Scher Collection is noted for its comprehensiveness and outstanding quality. An initial gift of about 450 medals will beautifully trace the development of the art of the medal from its inception in the fifteenth century through the nineteenth century.
Pierre-Jean David d'Angers, 1788-1856, Empresss Josephine Lapagerie Bonaparte, circa 1804, gilt bronze.
A selection of the portrait medals will be featured in a major spring/summer exhibition opening in May of 2017. The show will be accompanied by public programming and an in-depth scholarly publication that catalogs the entirety of this important collection. When you get the opportunity to view them, you'll see what I mean. The Frick remains a haven, an oasis, a refuge for all of us.
Jean Dassier — King George I of England, 1727; obverse and reverse, parcel gilt bronze.
Baldwin Drentwett (1545 - active until 1627), Michael Leonhard Maier; obverse and reverse, 1580, silver.

Photographs by Christine Butler (Frick)

Contact DPC here.