Thursday, March 24, 2022. Yesterday was kind of overcast; didn’t look like much was going to happen except dull. I realized The Sun is what makes New York the glamour girl. The grey: duh. And the temperature is early Spring which like last winter on a warm day. I was invited last night to a small dinner party (ten) at Majorelle in the Lowell Hotel. I put on a jacket and a tie and some leather shoes like all used to wear. And my best Paolo Martorano blazer. Very pleasant and good food. Thank you; don’t forget. A gift.
However, in real New York life, this week is about Asia Week New York. I came to New York to start my life as an adult in 1961. New York was the center of the world for this kid, and definitely the most sophisticated of American cities because it had a strong and thick population of Europeans, Africans, South Americans, and Asian — Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, and on and on.
At that time — early ’60s — New York had long been a landing point for people from all over the globe. But the new ones, unless sponsored by their financial assets, were the laboring classes. The ones experienced the real struggle getting started. Asians, to this American (Irish/Polish) related boy, I was entirely an American. I avoided the link to the Irish and the Polish. Set me free please. And I knew No Chinese or any of the Asians. None. They weren’t around. Yes, many were around in the major cities and thereabouts but they remained sequestered within their own boundaries. And white boys like me didn’t even know.
I was a young man when John D. Rockefeller III created the Asia Society and built its headquarters on Park Avenue and 70th Street. To build it, they tore down a mansion some of which is now a “courtyard/two stories” on the first floor of the Metropolitan Museum. To us New Yorkers, spectators all of this impressive “headquarters” that was the brainchild of Mr. Rockefeller, this was very new, very classy, and very important.
As I got older naturally I began to see the importance of this institution in our naturally ever changing world. I am one of those people who still believes we can get along and live together and help each other.
I am also old enough to know about the Emperor Mao, which for a long time in a short life was scary to us American boys and girls. The Asia Society has been very important in reducing the impression of that past to something more realistic.
Now, in New York it is a major force culturally, reflecting the changing forces of the population. The world is a much smaller place. We are on this rocket ship together whether we like it or not. Last week was an excellent example of who and where we are.
After a two-year absence Asia Week New York got off to a roaring start last week, when 26 galleries, 6 auction houses — Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle, Heritage, iGavel, and Sotheby’s and 16 museums opened their doors to collectors, curators and connoisseurs who came here to get their fill of the myriad activities taking place all over town through March 25th.
To celebrate the occasion, the gala reception was co-hosted by The Asian Art Department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Asia Week New York. Andrea Bayer, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration, Dessa Goddard, the chairman of Asia Week New York and Mike Hearn, the Douglas Dillon Chairman of the Department of Asian Art welcomed the crowd of over 500 attendees comprised of international collectors, curators, gallery owners, and scholars who are in town for the exhibitions, auctions, and museum shows.
Galleries from China, England, Italy, Japan, and the U.S. — have set up shop all over town offering their eye-alluring array of the rarest and finest Asian treasures — from 2000 BC to the present — of porcelain, paintings, photographs, ceramics, sculpture, bronzes, prints, photographs, textiles and jades from different Asian countries.
Guests were also treated to curatorial tours of The Met Museum’s major exhibitions now on view including Contemporary Japanese Ceramics in Historical Context; Japan: A History of Style; Masters and Masterpieces: Chinese Art from the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection; Shell and Resin: Korean Mother of Pearl; Companions in Solitude: Reclusion and Communion in Chinese art; Celebrating the Year of the Tiger; and Bodhisattvas of Wisdom, Compassion and Power.
Among those seen in the crowd were: Mike Hearn, Andrea Bayer, Dessa Goddard, Christina Prescott-Walker, Margaret Tao, Joan Mirviss and Robert Levine, Soyoung Lee, Oscar Tang, Michael Feng, Jeffrey and Jaime Appelbaum, Tang Shifun, Carol Conover, Mary Wallach, Sanjay Kapoor, John Carpenter, Beatrice Chang, Katherine Martin, Michael and Dana Cohen, Erik and Cornelia Thomsen, Francesca Galloway, Christine Ramphal, Bingyi, Mee-Seen Loong, Craig Yee, Edward Wilkinson, Wendy Moonan, Michael C. Hughes, Henry Howard-Sneyd, Josheen Oberoi, Wynne Zalewski, Eric Zetterquist, Nana Onishi, Oliver Forge, Brendan Lynch, Miyako Yoshinaga, Natsu Oyobe, Jinyoung Anna Jin, Younghye Huang, Alice Chin, Margo Thoma, Tom Murray, Fu Qiumeng, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Chang, Jonathan Yukio Clark, Elizabeth Hammer, Freda Murck, Shawn Ghassemi, Suneet Kapoor, Giuseppe Piva, Kurt Behrendt, Jeff Watt, Miwako Tezuka, Shahzia Sikander, William Griswold, Hiroshi Yanagi, John Weber, Lark and Erica Mason, Lark Mason III, Andrea Feick, Doug Frazer, Richard Waldman, Steven Chait, Xiaojin Wu, Janay Wong, Jane Debevoise, Christopher McKown, Laura Bishop Matson, Eliza McKown, Colin Mackenzie, Wang Tao, Ling-en Lu, Joseph Chang, David Frank, Kristina Yang, Ed Nagel, Joe Earle, Shaofang and Cheryl Wang, Florence Li, and Marilyn White.
Continuing as Presenting Sponsor for Asia Week New York is Songtsam Hotels, Resorts & Tours, the award-winning luxury boutique hotel group with thirteen properties (twelve hotels and one glamping site) located in the Chinese provinces of Tibet and Yunnan. Founded by Baima Duoji, in 2000, the Songtsam Group is the only collection of luxury Tibetan-style retreats found across the Tibetan Plateau that offers guests sophisticated elegance, refined design, modern amenities, and service in places of natural beauty and cultural interest.
Photographs by Barry Williams/Annie Watt