Monday, June 11, 2018

Angels among us

Concrete jungle. 4:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, June 11, 2018. Here in New York we had a sunny very warm Friday, sunny not as warm but nice Saturday, and grey, much cooler, rain-threatening Sunday which came in the late evening at the time of this writing.

DPC and Richard Ayoub.
Last week I had dinner with an old friend from Los Angeles, Richard Ayoub.  Richard and I met back in the '80s and although we rarely see each other we keep in touch occasionally, and whenever we meet up, it is like only yesterday. When I met him he was in the media business which is probably what brought him to L.A. in the first place. Last week he was in New York on a kind of week’s vacation, staying with his friend (who is also his neighbor in Los Angeles), the best-selling mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, and taking in a  numbers of shows on Broadway.

Several years ago, Richard left his last media job and took over as Executive Director of Project Angel Food. The “project” was started a number of years ago by Marianne Williamson, the spiritual guru who inspires a lot of good works and well-being for a lot of us. Project Angel Food is similar in objective to God’s Love We Deliver, as well as CityMeals on Wheels and those organizations which work to provide food for those of us in need.
Richard (3rd from right) with the Project Angel Food team.
Richard was probably born for this job because he is one of those rara avis who by nature tends to generosity, kindness and empathy. He's a congenial and humble man, which is also his strength (as it is anyone’s strength if they can cultivate it). When we get together I always make a point of airing all my trivial complaints about life because it provokes laughter in Richard who has a clear eye for reality beyond our personal issues.

Project Angel Food is similar to all of these organizations helping people today.

Since 1989, Project Angel Food has prepared and delivered more than 11 million meals — currently 11,000 per week — free of charge to men, women and children living with critical illnesses. It has expanded its initial mission from serving people living with HIV/AIDS to include medically tailored meals, prepared by the staff and volunteers, for those combatting cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, congestive heart disease and other illnesses.
Richard at the 23rd annual Bowling for Angels event last month.
The mission, which has always remained intact, is to feed and nourish the sick, by delivering healthy, nutritious meals throughout 4,400 square miles of LA County. More than 97% of their clients are living below the poverty level, and Project Angel Food is their lifeline. It fills a vital need in all communities. The client demographics are testimony to this: 37% Latino, 29% African-American, 22% Caucasian, 6% Asian/Pacific Islander, 1% Native American and 5% Multicultural.

These organizations, as you may already know, are the real heroes in our communities where hardship is a creeping crisis, ignored by many of us who do not have the specific problem.

Back to New York. Last week, as I noted here on Friday, I was a guest of Geoffrey Bradfield at Doubles where Leila and Henry Heller were among the guests. Leila, as many people in the art world know, has a very successful gallery here in New York.  She had just started when we met almost three decades ago.  She now has galleries in Chelsea (at 568 West 25th Street), and in Dubai, and literally serving collectors across the world.
Rachel Hovnanian and Leila Heller.
She was telling me about her latest exhibition which is that of Rachel Hovnanian, the contemporary artist who had an opening last week of “Part III” of her “Women’s Trilogy Project.”  Coincidentally, I have known Rachel about as long as I’ve known Leila. Both women were very active socially when I first started covering the scene in New York in the early 1990s. They are very much women of their generation, wives, mothers, professionals with a dynamic eye to the future.
Rachel Lee Hovnanian's exhibition, PART II of The Women’s Trilogy Project.
Leila was telling me this is the first time an artist will have had three sequential exhibitions in a gallery over the course of six months. It will also be Rachel’s third solo show with the gallery.

In her first two exhibits, playing off the themes in PART I and Part II, Rachel explores the social constructs of consumerism and societal pressures through interactive installations, as well as a series of original marble sculptures. 
PART III of The Women’s Trilogy Project.
PART III is entitled PURE, and is the final deliverancefor this ambitious exhibition series. It focuses in on the iconic Ivory Soap bar (99 and 44/100 % pure was the slogan Americans grew with). Part III represents mass consumption and our obsessions with “purity” in American culture. Like her previous exhibitions, Rachel invites the audience to activate the work and confront the battle between decade old social constructs.
 
The Women’s Trilogy Project includes three thematically related installments. Each expands on the familiar themes explored in the artist's previous body of work -- which include addiction, gender roles and our relationship with technology. Rachel’s work is challenging the viewer to question gender barriers and the struggles women still face. They are also the struggles that men still face, although it is not always so noted.
 

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