Monday, December 4, 2017

Waiting for the cortege to zip through

The super moon on the eve of the annual Park Avenue Tree Lighting. Sunday, 11:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, December 4, 2017. Only 20 shopping days til Christmas. Just so you don’t forget.

It was a mild first weekend in December weather-wise in New York. Temperatures in the low 50s by day, low 40s by night. Not really cold. Some sunshine but yesterday, Sunday was one of those blank-grey skies which if nothing else can explain your mood on a Sunday afternoon in New York. Where at least it’s quiet.
Last night's super moon. 11:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Saturday traffic on the Upper East Side all the way west to Fifth was very slow moving in spots because ... I was told ... President Trump was in town for some fund-raising events. This is not fake news. This is hearsay.

Presidential traffic is, and has been now for many years, horrible for New Yorkers when any President comes to town because they shut down so many lanes and blocks waiting for the cortege to zip through.

And the SUVs carrying the Presidential parties are all black, with blackened windows so that you can’t see who’s in the cars anyway. And of course, you can’t see your President, the man whose salary we pay (although I don’t think that’s a known fact anymore among politicians). It’s called “Security.” It’s been this way for the last four Presidents. Remember “security” when it meant you had enough to pay your own way and maybe with some left over?

Beth at the opening of her private art space, “The Bunker" on Saturday night.
As I was saying ... This weekend Presidential visit, however, was not as intense as the weekday (or UN) ones because the roads were less traveled and businesses were naturally shut down for the weekend. So weather-wise et al, it was a lovely weekend in New York.

Meanwhile, down in Palm Beach, West Palm to be precise, this past Saturday, Beth Rudin DeWoody hosted the long anticipated Grand Opening of her private art space, “The Bunker” on 444 Bunker Road in West Palm. The Collection was co-curated by Phillip Estlund, Laura Dvorkin and Maynard Morrow. The perspicacious journalist of art and architecture, Augustus Mayhew was there and reports in his Palm Beach Social Diary column today on the NYSD.

Last Thursday night was a night of culture. I started off at the Corner Bookstore on 93rd and Madison where they were holding a book signing for Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker and their new volume on architectural history of the last century, “Harrie T. Lindberg; and The American Country House" (The Monacelli Press).

These are beautiful books to own if you are fascinated by private residential architecture. Peter Pennoyer who is a major architect of private residences here in New York loves his work and loves the history of the subject.
Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker books signing at the Corner Bookstore.
I have had a fascination with houses since I was old enough to understand what that meant. I was particularly interested in the grander dwellings when I was younger and my sense of living had nothing to do with real life and personal comfort.

Click to order "Harrie T. Lindeberg and the American Country House."
By adolescence, the great grand houses took on another more interesting dimension: Who lived there? What was “the story,” for every house has a “story.”  Peter Pennoyer’s father Robert Pennoyer grew up in one of those houses on the North Shore of Long Island and wrote a wonderful memoir about the life there in “As It Was” (Prospecta Press, publishers) published in 2015.

Pennoyer’s and Anne Walker’s story (text), gives you the architect’s story which is about challenge. It sets their creations in an entirely different context and garners appreciation that great creative work can evoke. Harrie T. Lindberg, a first generation American, son of Swedes, came to his fore as a young man working for McKim, Mead & White and moved on up on a similar path of prominence in the first three decades of the 20th century. This book is a perfect gift for anyone with even a passing interest in architecture because it can engage and enthrall; every picture tells a story.

After I got that shot of Peter and Kate signing their book, I grabbed a cab to go down to the Chinese Porcelain Company at 232 East 59th Street (between 2nd and 3rd) for a reception for William Rayner (“Billy” to his friends) and an exhibition of his watercolors. Billy and his wife Kathy are great world travelers. Billy travels with his supplies and puts his hand and eye to work when something catches his interest. Anne Nitze who was at the reception told me that not a few of the great historic sites that are in this exhibition, are no longer there, having been destroyed in our ongoing decimation of our land and landmarks.
Billy and Kathy Rayner.
The Rayners always draw a big crowd of friends and supporters. I ran into Elizabeth Strong de Cuevas, the sculptress, who told me that her very successful book “Strong-Cuevas Sculpture; Premonitions in Retrospect” (Abrams, Publishers) is to be followed by a second book on her work. (
Two examples of Billy's watercolors.
I also ran into Louis Bofferding who told me about an extraordinary “find” he recently acquired at an auction in South Carolina. It was a set of flatware designed by Gabriella Crespi, a sculptress from the prominent Italian family, who died earlier year at 95.

It so happens that I have no knowledge about flatware although like anything of quality or creative appeal, I’m often interested. I was most interested because of Louis’ enthusiasm of this “discovery.” He took me into another room en suite which was jammed with furniture, sculptures, paintings, and there on a trunk lay this amazing collection of flatware pieces. Exotic, otherworldly, handsome, beautiful and gold. (Actually it’s not gold, it’s 24-carat gilt-copper flatware service named “Gocce Oro” — “Dripping Gold” — for 12).
Gabriella Crespi in the 1960s and 1990s in India where she spent the latter years of her life.
You can imagine some ancient queen of the Nile or thereabouts used them for only very private dinners. Now, this is my imagination speaking. The flatware was made in 1974. However from Louis’ point of view they are also a spectacular creative work of an important sculptress now deceased. Her work which was very hot internationally in the 1960s and 1970s, is even more in demand because it is now rare. Her cocktail tables can sell for more than $100,000.
The 24-carat gilt-copper flatware service, “Gocce Oro” (“Dripping Gold").
Signed Gabriella Crespi.
One of Louis Bofferding's set of 12 Fornasetti dining plates titled "Stovilglia" ("crockery") which are dated 1955 and show various gold antique dining implements on a faux malachite ground.
After my visit to Billy Rayner’s exhibition as well as being impressed by the story of Louis Bofferding’s “find” of Gabriella Crespi’s work, I hiked over to the Metropolitan Club on 60th and Fifth where the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House was hosting its Associates Benefit.

This was a black tie affair and they were honoring Doug Steinbrech and Jeff Sharp. The evening began at Max Mara up on the corner of 68th and Madison. I missed that part on my travels. At 8:30 the party of more than 200 moved down to the Metropolitan Club for dinner and then dancing to DJ Daddy Dog’s “magical music.”
Randy Takian, Kamie Lightburn, Christopher Spitzmiller, Lacary Sharpe, Othon Prounis, and Kathy Prounis.
This was a fundraiser for one of the great non-profit institutions of New York community life, a savior for hundreds of thousands of lives and their dignity. The Lenox Hill Neighborhood House was started in 1894. It continues 123 years later to provide an extensive array of effective and integrated human services – social, educational, legal, housing, mental health, nutritional and fitness services – all of which every year significantly improve the lives of more than 15,000 people in need (from ages 3 to 103) on the East Side of Manhattan. Really. Amazing.

This evening drew a lot of dynamic New Yorkers. After the dessert and music got underway and it was a good party for the guests and a great day for the LHNH. We’ll have more on it tomorrow.
Richard Leonard, Dr. Douglas Steinbrech, Jeff Sharp, and Emily Leonard.

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