Flying to the sun

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Tuesday, February 1, 2022. A sunny, cold day, yesterday in New York with temps in the 20s. Cold enough to keep most of the snowbanks to continue as New Yorkers begin to shovel out (the snowbanks into the roadway) their cars.

First. It wasn’t much of a snowstorm, compared to many I’ve seen in New York. But it briefly did the trick and turned  everything into a beautiful piece of art as confirmed in JH’s photos of After The Storm. And then we finished up with a sunset (last Saturday night) taken by Ellen Easton from her Upper East Side apartment. The orange-pink skies at this time of year are new to me. Were they always like this (and I never noticed?). Anyway, they look like the work of a great artist.

Our friend and neighbor Ellen Easton captured this beautiful sunset sky (looking southwest)  right after the storm died down on Saturday night.

Secondly. As cold and inconvenient and slushy and freezing as it was, in another part of the world, namely Palm Beach, our friend and Arts and Architecture contributor, Augustus Mayhew, sent us evidence of another world in photos taken while he was “checkin’ on the surfin’” along Reef Road. Cowabunga Palm Beach!

And while we’re in Palm Beach. Last Thursday our contributor Paige Peterson went down to hear her friend Priscilla Rattazzi speak at the Society of the Four Arts about her photography.

The following is Paige’s report of the visit and the lecture of her great friend:

When New York is an icebox, you don’t need much of an excuse to fly to the sun. Mary Pfaff-Stengel, Susan Calhoun Moss, and I didn’t have an excuse. We had a reason, the best of reasons — Priscilla Rattazzi, our friend of thirty years, was giving a lecture at The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach.

The topic of Priscilla’s lecture was her long and distinguished career as a photographer. Her listeners marveled at the range of her work, which began with intimate portraits and, in her recent pictures of natural shapes in Utah, is intimate on a spiritual level.

Priscilla Rattazzi gave a lecture at The Society of the Four Arts Palm Beach on her career in photography, and what moved her to fix her lens on the region around Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.
Priscilla’s portrait of her mother, Susanna Agnelli, Foreign Minister of Italy, and her brother, Gianni Agnelli, head of the Fiat Motor Company.
In 1977 Priscilla was photographed by Richard Avedon, who introduced her to Japanese photographer Hiro. Priscilla spent the next year working in Hiro’s studio.
Sophia Loren.
Italian artist Alighiero Boetti leading member of the Arte Povera movement.
Italian beauty Raimonda Lanza for Italian Vogue..
Bill Cunningham’s portrait of the young photographer Rattazzi on Park Avenue in the early 1980s.
Priscilla’s photograph of Diana Vreeland for the cover of New York Magazine.
Lisa Fonssagrives, Irving Penn’s wife, with her greyhound, Melilotus. Lisa was the original supermodel.
Luna & Lola: The Kiss.
An expecting Paige Peterson with her daughter Alexandra at the Museum of Natural History.

On Election Day 2020 The New York Times did a feature piece on Priscilla’s show of photographs of Hoodooland, where they laud her for “bringing to life the amazing Hoodoo rock sculptures of southern Utah.” Pictured here is Stud Horse Mesa, toward Grand Staircase.
Thunderstorm, Wahweap Creek.
Tenaja, White Pocket.
Hoodoo, Yermo Canyon.
Yermo Canyon II.
Wahweap Cliffs II.
Guardian Ghost I. All hoodoos that lose their caps are called Ghosts.
Ghost, Wahweap.
Priscilla’s work is a simultaneous homage to a magical landscape and an impassioned retort to the 2017 Presidential order to reduce the area’s protected lands by half.
The land reduced by President Trump’s Proclamation from 1,880,561 to 1,003,863 acres would leave over 877,598 fewer acres. I like to think that Priscilla’s show and the New York Times piece had an impact on the reversal of the decision that is now pending.

There’s another lecture Priscilla could have given, and it might have been even more impressive. That subject would be friendship, which may be the hardest art of all to master. It comes naturally to her — no one makes you feel more immediately at home.

I’m not talking about her Palm Beach cottage, with its peaceful walled-in garden, or the fruit bowl on the kitchen island, or the soft pastels of her rooms, or the way light rests gently on the bamboo furniture, though all of that sets the scene. And I don’t mean the way she shows you to your room, checks the pillows, teaches you how to turn on the television for the Australian Open, and then says, “I make the best Sea Breezes — who wants a drink?”

Priscilla Rattazzi and guests post-lecture at Four Arts.
Robin Baker Leacock, Eleanora Kennedy, Pamela Taylor Yates, and Katie Carpenter.
Kelly Klein, Gloria List, Priscilla Rattazzi, and Melissa Altunashvili.
Robyn Joseph and Lynn Tishman.
Anna Polk and Beau Polk.

Those are the hallmarks of a great hostess. Priscilla’s real gift just begins there.  Hers is the art of friendship, which is all about empathy — listening without judging, accepting you as you are. I’m told that the Dalai Lama, takes as much time as each person needs. He never cuts anyone short or interrupts. As we know, he’s had many lifetimes to perfect this way of being. Priscilla has mastered it in just one.

At a certain time in the day, every day, Priscilla herds us and her beloved dogs, Tito and Leo, off to the beach for a walk and a swim in the ocean.

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