Monday, June 5, 2023. A cooler weekend we’re leaving behind, although often sunny and bright with temps ranging from mid-70s to mid-60s and the high 50s at night.
The town seems quieter traffic-wise. The Carl Schurz Park is the next block north from me. It’s beautiful with the greenery and flowers with a children’s playground for the little ones only, and the grownup’s activities in the court with hoops and nets and two dog runs (for large and small). And right on the river with the world passing by, coming and going. It’s small but overlooks the wide open space of the city in its boroughs, from the northern tip of Roosevelt Island and the RFK Bridge, all the way south to the Manhattan Bridge off Canal – with the park benches facing it all.
At the northernmost point, adjacent to the park, is Gracie Mansion, the Mayor’s mansion. It has been occupying the spot that Archibald Gracie acquired for his country house 225 years ago. Its location commands the beauty of the park which provides just the slightest bit of the countryside that can settle your city nerves on any day. Just sitting on one of the many benches along the walk.
Which speaking of parks, I got a mailing soliciting membership in The Park from the Central Park Conservancy. And in the copy there was the following list of how your gift helps care for all that Central Park has to offer, which includes: “9 bodies of water, 21 playgrounds, 26 ballfields, 58 miles of paths, 250 acres of lawn, 843 total acres; 10,000 benches, 18,000 trees!” All for our personal pleasure.
And it is so beautiful right now (and always), so beautiful that it sounds like I’m making it up. But in reality it’s donors’ dollars that have paid for its beauty and its upkeep. It’s kind of a miracle at this point in our metropolitan life. Some good news along the way. And proof that It Can Be Done!
And while we’re on the subject.
Last Wednesday the Frick Collection hosted its annual Spring Garden Party for the Collection’s most loyal supporters – the Fellows and Young Fellows. You may be familiar with it because we’ve covered it a number of times when it was held outdoors in the gardens on the Fifth Avenue side of the mansion.
Incidentally, if you happened to have read my Diary a couple of weeks ago about Ludwig Bemelman’s memoirish short but brilliant biography To The One I Love The Best about living in Beverly Hills during the WWII in the temporary home of Elsie deWolfe, Lady Mendl. It’s a very satisfying read on several levels.
Lady Mendl, back in the day when she was simply Elsie, was a Broadway actress of a short period who turned away from it to become the first female designer/decorator. Two of her early clients who put her reputation on high forever after were Anne Morgan, J. Pierpont Morgan’s daughter who hired Elsie to do the interior design and decorating of the first Colony Club – at 120 Madison Avenue at 30th Street; and Henry Clay Frick. Elsie did the interior design of Mr. Frick’s new home and his now internationally famous collection — and the reason for this year’s Garden Party.
Meanwhile back to the Frick which is involved in creating more space for its work. No doubt Mr. Frick would have been proud. However, the now-museum had to be closed for the duration and, as many now know, the Frick transferred operations to a temporary home — Frick Madison on 75th and Madison, which is now in its final year.
It is there that guests can experience the museum’s masterpieces, all reframed for Marcel Breuer’s modernist design. They can encounter highlights from what is now one of the world’s foremost collections of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts — ranging from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century. Ongoing right now is the once-in-a-lifetime temporary presentation including works by celebrated artists such as Bellini, Degas, Fragonard, Gainsborough, Goya, Ingres, Rembrandt, Titian, Van Dyck, Vermeer, and Veronese.
Even if you are familiar with these paintings from your visits to The Frick, you will see them differently in the space created by M. Breuer, and there’s a thrill in the observing. This year’s event provided a preview of the new special installation, Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera. This is the museum’s second installation inspired by a volume fom the popular Frick Diptych book series.
The display features a site-specific pastel murl by Swiss-born artist, a response to the Frick’s Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim’s Costume by Rosalba Carrier, the renowned 18th century Venetian pastelist.
So there was no garden in the beautiful outdoors overlooking Fifth Avenue and Central Park where this event is usually held at the Frick on a beautiful late Spring evening. But there were cocktails and seasonally inspired hors d’oeuvres and desserts which were served in the lower garden area of the museum; and there was music provided by New York City-based jazz quartet, The Flail.
The early evening’s leadership committee included Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director Ian Wardropper, Ayesha Bulchandani, Emily T. Frick, Casey Kohlberg, Arielle Patrick, Matthew Christopher Pietras, Rochelle and Mark Rosenberg, Alexa Davidson Suskin, Mr. and Mrs. J. Fife Symington IV, Douglas Dockery Thomas, and Catherine Wang.
Among the noted guests: Bosilika An, Helen Clay Chace, Elizabeth Eveillard, Emily T. Frick, Cassie Griffin, Alexander Hankin, Christian Keesee, Casey Kohlberg, Karen Gray-Krehbiel, Andrew Kreps, Michael Horvitz, Doron Langberg, Siniša Mačković, Bach Mai, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Nicolas Party, Arielle Patrick, Marc Payot, Keith Powers, Chiara Repetto, Jesse Wine and Margaret Zayer.
Photographs by Yvonne Tnt/BFA.com & George Koelle