Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Turning to the sunlight

Spring makes an appearance in Central Park. 2:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017. A beautiful summer-like day, yesterday in New York with lots of sunshine and the temperature hitting 80 degrees, which with no humidity is an ideal temperature. More promised. Here's a taste via JH ...
I’m behind the times on this, but it’s never too late for someone you admire. Three weeks ago, on March 20th in Paris, Iris Cantor was made an officer in the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, in recognition of her profound support of the arts and the legacy of artist Auguste Rodin.

The award was bestowed by French President François Hollande and launched a Rodin centennial celebration that  sweeping the city with exhibitions and events at the Grand Palais and Musée Rodin. There was also the release of a new Rodin-themed 2-euro coin.

Many U.S. museums also will celebrate the centennial this year, with shows or special installations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in Washington DC, the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and others.
President François Hollande awards the Legion of Honor to Iris Cantor in Paris
Credit : © Présidence de la République - L. Blevennec
Iris Cantor has continued the work of her late husband B. Gerald (Bernie) Cantor, whose passion for Rodin inspired him to share the artist’s work with the public through major exhibitions, commissions and education programs. The Cantors created the largest privately-held collection of works by Rodin and gifted more than 450 works to institutions including Stanford University (where they also established the Cantor Fellows research program), LACMA, the Brooklyn Museum, the Met, MoMA, and the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Iris and Bernie unwrapping a Rodin.
To date, more than 10 million people have visited traveling exhibitions of Rodin’s work organized by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation on five continents. The Cantors commissioned large-scale, authorized posthumous bronze casts of The Gates of Hell and Monument to the Burghers of Calais using the artist’s preferred lost-wax process, and Iris co-produced the award-winning documentary Rodin: The Gates of Hell.

Beginning in the 1950s, Bernie Cantor became a close friend and supporter of the Musée Rodin in Paris. He encouraged the museum to open its archives to scholars, preserved the integrity of Rodin’s home and studio at Meudon by buying adjacent land and donating it to the museum, funded important publications, and commissioned many Rodin bronzes to be cast under the museum’s auspices. Cantor Hall at the recently renovated Musée Rodin honors their support, and Iris’ award during the Rodin centennial celebration is the latest chapter in the Cantors’ enduring love and advocacy for Rodin.

I’ve known Iris for a long time now; maybe twenty years. We met through our mutual friend Raul Suarez. We rarely see each other. She moves around a lot – with a house here in Manhattan, another Palm Beach and for a long time she had a palace in Bel Air.

She also is very busy with her philanthropy. I read somewhere that she is the second biggest philanthropist in America. That may be inaccurate but it expresses the enormity of her giving and her interests. She is a leading supporter of healthcare advocacy, research and treatment, especially for women. After learning that medical students were taught to diagnose female patients by thinking of them as smaller versions of male patients, Iris was inspired to address gender disparities in healthcare.
Iris and Bernie at The Musée Rodin.
She established the Iris Cantor Center for Breast Imaging at UCLA in 1986, the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center in 1995, and the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in 2002, as well as the Iris Cantor Men’s Health Center at New York-Presbyterian in 2012, which reverses the paradigm to benefit men with the knowledge gained from treating women. Additionally, she has supported the American Hospital of Paris for more than 20 years, presenting a forum for French and American doctors to share their knowledge and expertise. See what I mean?
Ribbon cutting for the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, 2002.
Ribbon-cutting celebration marking the opening of the Iris Cantor Men's Health Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital, 2012
Now, the lady herself: when in her company, she’s got a quiet manner, almost soft-spoken (but not) and quick to laugh and quick to note the ironies of this comedy of errors we’re living in. Unlike many of us who reach that rarified station of Very Rich, Iris sees things as they are in much the same way that she saw things as a young woman who met this big financial guy who had a monumental passion for Rodin. How do I know that? Because the girl’s still Iris. It’s a pleasure just thinking of our company.
President François Hollande and Iris Cantor at the inauguration of Rodin: The Centennial Exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris
Another note of pleasure. Driving back to New York from Cape Cod late Saturday afternoon, we hadn’t had anything to eat since very early that morning. JH, who is the gourmand in the company, told me there was a famous pizza place in New Haven called Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. Voted the best pizza in America.

JH had had it and said it was good. Not far from the highway, I voted for it too since it was on-the-way. The only problem, he said, was there was often a line just to get in. And neither of us wanted to wait.
The long drive back on I-95.
So we got off I-95 and were on Frank Pepe’s street in a couple minutes. However, there was a line! At four o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. JH said there were some other pizza places as New Haven is known far and wide for its Neapolitan pizza. We then tried the second pizza choice. A line. Finally a third, Modern Apizza. No line but not a table available in the house and a line for them. We got take-out, and ate it in the car in the parking lot. Half-mushroom (JH) and half plain. Unbelievable. I think maybe it was the best pizza I’ve ever had. Unbelievable. There was nothing left when we closed the box. JH was right.

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