Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Know Thyself

Looking towards the Manhattan Bridge from Dumbo. 7::00 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018.  Bright, sunny day, yesterday in New York with temperatures in the low 70s.

Book party. Pia Lindstrom and Isabella Rossellini hosted a party for their sister Ingrid Rossellini  and the publication of her new book “Know Thyself: Western Identity from Classical Greece to the Renaissance.” Among those attending were Maria Cooper Janis, Warrie and Jim Price (Warrie was a classmate of Pia's and a close friend of Lynda Bird Johnson), Justin Daly, Elettra Rossellini Wiedman, Marianne and John K. Castle, Paige Peterson, and Jim Mitchell. The guests then enjoyed dinner at Primola in New York City.

The three sisters are daughters of the late legendary actress Ingrid Bergman. Ingrid and Isabella are twin sisters. Those of us who were old enough to comprehend in the mid-20th century recall Ms. Bergman as a very famous Swedish-born actress who played opposite Humphrey Bogart in the 1942, now classic Casablanca.
By the time of that film she had become an internationally famous Hollywood star. In what would become a long career, Bergman won 3 Academy Awards, 2 Emmys, 4 Golden Globes, a BAFTA Award and a Tony.  Ironically, her fame acquired a kind of Puritanical notoriety when she divorced her first husband, and father of her first daughter Pia Lindstrom, to marry the Italian film director Roberto Rossellini.
Ingrid Bergmann and Robert Rossellini in Paris, 1950.
What seems like a commonplace marital matter sixty years later was such a media scandal in 1950's faux-straight-laced America, that it effectively ended her American film career for quite some time. As absurd as it seems in retrospect, the national press at the time, with some added razz-matazz of the U.S. Congress, blew it all out of proportion, all of which clearly inflicted pain on Ms. Bergman, her motherhood, and thus her family. Ms. Bergman went on to have two more daughters (as well as a son) after Ms. Lindstrom: Isabella and Ingrid, scholar and author of “Know Thyself ...” 

Ironically, fate had better things to say about their mother than the tabloids would have imagined, as all three carved out substantial careers for themselves – Pia, as a television network reporter and personality; Isabella as a well known actress; and sister Ingrid as a highly respected scholar with a doctorate from Columbia University.
Ingrid Bergman with her children Isabella, Roberino, Isotta Ingrid and Pia.
Kirkus Reviews puts the matter succinctly:  in “Know Thyself” she “shares the fruits of her broad knowledge of literature, philosophy, art, and history in this dense yet highly rewarding work in which readers ‘return to the early times of our history with the intention of rediscovering the building blocks of our contemporary personality.’”

“Know Thyself” begins with the ancient Greeks and works its way through the eras of the Romans, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. It points out that collaborating (my itals) with others is an innate human characteristic, and few civilizations illustrated that trait better than the Spartans and Athenians. 
Isabella Rossellini, Ingrid Rossellini, and Pia Lindström holding copies of Know Thyself: Western Identity from Classical Greece to the Renaissance. Click to order.
From the Greeks to the Romans, to the rise of Christianity when the church became our “temporal” leader, “Know Thyself” ends with humanism and the Renaissance.  Kirkus calls it “a highly satisfying journey across centuries of culture” that provides “illuminating classes in art history, Western civilization, philosophy and religion, all rolled into one book that must be read closely and pondered fully.” (my itals also)

Reading that sentence my thoughts returned to
the vaguely recalled drama of the author’s mother’s life, and how beyond her professional awards she produced three daughters of personal achievement including her namesake, who found answers to the larger questions that matter in all our lives.

After sister Pia’s book party for her sister, Paige Peterson also gave another which I was unable to attend. Paige told me later that 70 people came, and what surprised her was that most all came on the dot, so as not to miss hearing the author’s words about her discoveries.
John Castle, Ingrid Rosselini, Gerald Howard (Random House Senior Editor), and Susan Howard
Maria Cooper Janis and Marianne Castle
Jack Carley and Jim Price
More authors. Last Tuesday night, a week, the Ucross Foundation hosted its inaugural New York Gala & Awards Dinner at The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The evening was filled with performances and readings by notable award-winning artists — all Ucross alumni — including Ricky Ian Gordon (Grapes of Wrath, opera), Steven Lutvak (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), bestselling author Tayari Jones, author and Vanity Fair contributor Elissa Schappell, composer/pianist Dylan Mattingly, trumpeter Frank London, and singer-songwriter Kate Schutt. Special guests included Broadway stars Laura Benanti and Nancy Anderson. A collection of artwork from Ucross visual artist alumni was on display and available for purchase. The emcee was former journalist and current film and television screenwriter William "Bill" Broyles.
Ricky Ian Gordon
Laura Benanti and Nancy Anderson
Vanessa Londoño, Elissa Schappell, Sigrid Nunez, and Tayari Jones
Richard Hammond and Kate Schutt
William Broyles
At the heart of the evening was the presentation of the Ucross Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts, which was given to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx, presented by David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. Proulx is widely recognized for many of her literary works, notably Brokeback Mountain, which was first published in The New Yorker in 1997.

In the early stages of her writing career, Ucross granted Proulx the solitude and inspiration to become a literary legend. She acknowledged the impact and continuing growth of the Ucross residency stating, “I have watched Ucross grow from a remote place that offered a few writers and artists shelter and solitude become a highly regarded and important resource for creative people: writers, painters, filmmakers, sculptures, all the rest. Ucross has developed real clout in the intellectual ethos of this country and beyond. What happens in this little corner of Wyoming matters to the way we all think, see and interpret the world and ultimately how we solve our problems.”
Nina Wiener and Laurence Schiller David Remnick and Annie Proulx
The evening began with a cocktail hour featuring a visual arts exhibit and sale by Ucross alumni. One of the paintings, by artist Pamela Talese, was presented as a gift to philanthropists Jesse and Cathy Marion, who received the Outstanding Patron of the Arts Award. 

Philip Himberg, Artistic Director of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, was also honored with the Outstanding Creative Partnership Award for his years of collaboration with Ucross.

Ucross Foundation is located in northeast Wyoming in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. Its objective is to foster the creative spirit of deeply committed artists and groups by providing uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, and the experience of the majestic High Plains, while serving as a good steward of its 20,000-acre ranch. Residencies are awarded to nearly one hundred artists each year. Ten artists are in residence at one time, typically a mix of four visual artists, four writers and two composers.
Jozette Urso, Pamela Talese, Ilene Sunshine, Nancy Manter, Lisa Hatchadoorian, and Daniel Wiener
Since its establishment in 1981, Ucross has provided over 2,000 residencies to writers, visual artists, and composers, including such distinguished fellows as Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Colson Whitehead, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, Bill Morrison, Theaster Gates, Anthony Hernandez, and recent Academy Award and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Other Ucross national partners include the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the Alliance of Artist Communities, and the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction. The Ucross Foundation Art Gallery is a significant cultural resource for surrounding communities and beyond. For further information, visit
Robert L. Freedman, Philip Himberg, and Steven Lutvak
Gay Talese, Pamela Talese, and Nan Talese
Amy Fleischer, Chip Fliescher, William Ivey Long, Michael Jackson, and Jon Fox

Contact DPC here.