Thursday, October 25, 2018. Moving into Autumn, yesterday was another beautiful one with temps in the 50s, cool but comfortable. Meanwhile, the weatherman is forecasting lots of rain and cold over the weekend. I love that kind of weekend. You’re forced to stay in. And read. And there are a lot of wonderful new books to take in.
I started out the day at Michael’s. There was a “bomb scare” at the Time-Warner complex including Whole Foods and CNN. This was going on about the time I was going to lunch in the general area (Michael’s is five blocks south and two over) but there was no sign of disturbance beyond the actual site.
I was there to have lunch with Anabel Kingsley whose column “Ask Anabel” is going to be appearing with regularity on the NYSD. Anabel is a trichologist, the heiress to her late wonderful father Philip Kingsley who was often referred to as the Hair Doctor of London and New York. In his long career Philip developed a clientele unrivaled of actors, models, socialites — be they dowagers or young heiresses — politicians, royalty and executives at the corporate top, not to mention the rest of us with our own private relationship with our hair (or lack thereof).
The topic in a lunch conversation is nothing short of fascinating on many levels as well as sensible, practical, and healthy. But that’s for another day because I could go on and on about it.
But there was more on my calendar. And a lot more across the city. I had a couple of destinations for friends and the remarkable. I went first to the D&D Building where on the 14th floor where they were holding a booksigning for Paige Rense and her new book, “Architectural Digest: Autobiography of a Magazine 1920-2010.”
This big beautiful book, full of examples of the world she covered as well as her experiences of her life, was four years in creating and putting together. Beautiful and interesting to look at and even more interesting to read.
Paige is a legend in the magazine publishing world, one of the very greats of the 20th Century. I first met her when I moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s. I was familiar with her magazine Architectural Digest, which was at the time published out of Los Angeles by The John C. Brasfield Publishing Company. Paige was already a legend there and here in New York. She had taken old established black and white interior design magazine of the same name and transformed it into the most popular shelter/interior design magazine in America. What gave it its uniqueness publishing-wise, was that it was as popular with men as it was with women. It was that popularity that transported the shelter magazine business and the interior design business.
She was a force then and for the next (total) forty years at the helm of the magazine. In other words she was the magazine. When Si Newhouse bought it, she moved East where she moved into the East Coast life of her husband, painter Kenneth Noland. Paige now resides in Palm Beach. She was here in New York for the publication. Bunny Williams and John Rosselli hosted a big reception for her on Monday night at John’s shop on East 61 Street.
The Bustle. From Paige’s party, I walked with Maury Perl and Dan Scheffey from the D&D on 58th and Third over to the Fuller Building on the northwest corner of 57th Street and Madison Avenue. It was about 7 p.m. and midtown was getting chillier and bustling. We were all going to Alexandra Penney’s exhibition of “Vanishing Portraits: 100 Movers, Makers and Friends in the Arts and Letters” at the Jason McCoy Gallery at 41 East 57th Street.
The place was wall-to-wall friends and spectators. Alexandra, besides being a bustling artist and photographer herself, was also another one of Si Newhouse’s prized publishing possessions having started SELF magazine among her other achievements.
The exhibition of portraits were taken in Alexandra’s studio with a basic Apple iPhone XS Max. She wrote: “The photographs are manipulated digitally and finished with a ‘deterioration algorithm’ in which each subject seems to be coalescing into a larger universe.”
That’s the official explanation but truly, you had to be there. The untethered, ghostly space (the hard to even see) that appears speaks to the importance of and emphasis on the disappearing of the arts in today’s dislocated cultural world. Yet it simultaneously underscores the power of individuality.”
I put those words in quotes because they are Alexandra’s and express her thinking and objectives. I am one of those portraits. I took a picture of Alexandra standing next to it. If you can’t quite make it out, doesn’t matter; I couldn’t quite make it out myself. However, without reading her “explanation,” I know her to be the sharp thinker that she is and that like all great art, she was telling us something. To me, it was like trying to see my image, my face. Which is what happens to all of us when we look in the mirror. The image may be clear but the face of the person is always disappearing in our thoughts.
The faces are all very difficult to see clearly. One must focus as sharply as possible, and even then its entirety escapes you. Alexandra began the Vanishing Portraits five years ago and it remains an ongoing body of work for her. At the inception she focused solely on close friends. Now the project has grown into a series of 138 portraits including her extended personal network of famous New York society ‘movers and makers” in the art world of yesterday and today.
Leading contemporary artists, museum directors, curators, writers, collectors, art dealers and philanthropists make up a cohesive synthesis of talent and drive. Penney’s subject list seen in the photos includes Amy Fine Collins, Duane Michals, Agnes Gund, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Thelma Golden, Darren Walker, Patti Harris, Anne Pasternak, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Marilyn Minter, Adam Gotnick, Robert Caro, Laurie Tisch, Nina Griscom, Stellene Volandes, Stefano Tonchi, Victoria Newhouse, Laurie Beckelman, Adam Weinberg, Daphne Merkin, Roz Chast, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Rashid Johnson, Nina Chanel Abney, Rob Pruitt and many others. The show runs through December 1st.
Back on the Avenue. Last Wednesday, October 17th, at Doubles, the private club in the Sherry-Netherland, they staged their 2018 FALL SHOPPING BOUTIQUE. Doubles became a fun filled ‘Shopping Mall’ for members and their guests who came for shopping, enjoying the fabulous Doubles luncheon, along with complimentary Champagne and cookies at 3:00 p.m.
The shoppers and vendors (can’t have one without the other) included: Eileen Powers, Paticia Maglicco, Diana Feldman, Kate Pickett Davis with PICKETT’S PRESS, Kamie Lightburn with POP BAG, Kathryn Beach with UPLAND BESPOKE, Jennifer Powers with MERRICHASE, PAMELA SCOTT with Catch-All Linens, Jacqueline Segura with REDI-PEDI, Christina Addison’s jewelry, Susan Knappa Cocke with PK COLLECTION, Lisa M. Taylor’s LOCKET JEWELRY and Lisa Crawford’s ESTATE JEWELRY … everyone shopped non-stop.
Which, speaking of, I was telling my friend Diana Feldman – who loves to shop – she’s actually a pro, a kind of connoisseur of the chic, the corny, the sensible and practical. That’s what I mean by connoisseur. I was telling her about the alpaca sweater jacket that someone gave me from the Peruvian Connection. I was telling her how when I first got it, I wasn’t sure I’d wear it – a cross between a jacket and a cardigan. I’ve got enough of both. But on a cool day without any heat a couple of months ago, I put it on. Now it’s as useful and used right along with the jeans, practically 24/7. Or whatever. I even take naps in it.
“Oh, I have things from the Peruvian Connection,” Diana interjected. “Beautiful things.” Oh, so you’ve been to the store? “No, I got them online.” Diana didn’t know there was a store here in Manhattan at Columbus Avenue and 76th Street. Beautiful things.
Photographs by Annie Watt (Doubles)