The Hamptons are peaking. Right now: flowers, in bloom; daylight, forever; evenings, for sunset drinks. Water is warm and inviting. So are hostesses. In a month, the lilies will fall and Nikko hydrangeas fade. So, seize the day. Embrace the night. Say yes!
We did — to parties for art, animals and healthcare, from wood to beach to manicured lawn.
“Say Yes,” was, in fact, the theme of the LongHouse Reserve 2021 Summer Benefit, where LongHouse Reserve Co-President Co-President Dianne Benson invited us to “be kissed by the evening sky” and enjoy “tremendous good vibes.”
We got there via a winding path through entry ways of colored streamers, servers with fizzy cocktails, sculpture gardens, specimen foliage and a Buckminster Fuller Geodesic Dome.
More turns revealed an art auction featuring Ai Weiwei, Laurie Anderson, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith (and more); and Maria Bacardi with Dusti, a sweet dachshund blanketed in a Red Riding Hood type basket at her feet. “He’s eighteen, blind and cries so much when I leave him home,” said this longtime LongHouse friend. She had spent much time with its recently departed LongHouse founder, Jack Lenor Larsen. “Tonight, I think I’m seeing Jack everywhere,” she told us. “He’s looking behind the bushes.”
We moved beyond said bushes and then, voila, an open area ringed by hedges. Couches, faux grass platforms, and four-top tables circled a bar with CBD oil spritzers with a dash of — well, we’ll circle back to that. Let’s just say it was pretty hip.
Dianne Benson walked over to Robert Wilson and Watermill Center artist Laurie Lambrecht. “Did you have a CBD cocktail?” she asked. “Over there is a big band, (Reggae band ROYAL KHAOZ), a barbecue and Rasta Pasta.”
“Omigod,” Bob said. “What is it?”
“I don’t know,” she laughed. “I told them they can make anything they want. Just call it Rasta Pasta.”
Wow, there was more to this party? Dianne gestured past a hedged wall: “There’s a raw bar with all kinds of things. There are synchronized swimmers and mermaids in the fountain.” She and a special host committee were wearing fanciful floral headdresses by Joshua Werber. After dark, there was a SOUNDWALL music and light show. Dancers performed with peacock feathers. A lone performer danced in the dunes.
And there was a tribute to Jack Lenor Larsen. The much loved, famed textile designer lived at LongHouse until his death, last December, at age 93. Prominent since the early ’60s, his designs remain part of the Cowtan and Tout collection. He had shows at MOMA and the Louvre. Now, displays of his fabrics, theatrical clothing, even the tribal wooden seats he used as dinner party serving bowls, filled the first floor pavilion. “I can still hear his voice in these walls,” someone sighed. Actually, anyone could still hear his voice: in the video loop playing of him talking.
The hatted special committee: Caroline Baumann, Andrea Karambelas and Essie De Kwiatkowski, Ellie Libby, Lys Marigold, Cati Van Milders, Michael Pollack, Faith Popcorn, Temidra Willock, Tanya Willock, and Victoria Wyman.
Others in the crowd: Laurie Anderson, Bill Caleo and Megan LeFauve, Bonnie Comley and Stewart Lane, Sherri Donghia, Ralph and Cornelia Heins, Sylvia Hemingway, Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper, Fitzhugh Karol and Lyndsay Caleo, David Neville, Ralph, Ann and son Michael Pucci, Cindy Sherman, Lee Skolnick, LongHouse Reserve Executive Director Matko Tomičić, Suzanne Vega, Ulrike and Dieter von Lehsten, Gucci Westman, and Robert Wilson.
The same night, at the Wölffer Private Estate, Liev Schreiber helped Stony Brook Southampton Hospital fete their biggest donors. There’s been a big drive to create an East Hampton Emergency Department. And some fresh faces have stepped up to that plate. As Chair of the East Hampton Emergency Department Campaign Committee and new SH Hospital Board Vice Chairman, Jim Forbes with wife Hollis have been instrumental in raising $31 million and counting. Other big ticket new Board members include Elena Ford, Andrew Davis — who has given $7.5 million — and Howard Lutnick.
To kick off this big hospital season, Jean and Martin Shafiroff opened their home for a party featuring friend Alex Donner’s band and Cornelia Guest bites. Since the annual summer party will, once again, be spread out across Hamptons estates (with catered meals and decorative trimmings), this party will be the hospital’s largest.
It brought together such past party chairs, honorees and friends, as: Laura Lofaro and James Freeman, Alan and Barbara Glatt, Julie Ratner, Patricia Stewart and Frank MacNamara, Melanie and John Wambold, Lydia and Rudy Touzet, and Allison Morrow, Rebecca A. Seawright, Fern Mallis, Peter Thomas Roth, Robert Zimmerman, Jay Schneiderman, Judith Kasen-Windsor, and Jill Stuart.
Chatting up all were Chief Administrative Officer of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Robert Chaloner, and Chief Development Officer Mirella Cameran-Reilly.
Chaloner’s the guy who continues to transform the place. Reilly is the one who gets the word out and the fundraising events happening. Lots of little ones these days. Once upon a time the hospital was literally the subject of a running gag on the TV show “Royal Pains.” The premise: if you needed top-notch medical care, you called the series star, a concierge doctor exiled from the city.
No more. Today we are all exiled to Main Street. And thanks to Bob, health care out here is no longer a joke.
In the 15 years since he took over, Chaloner helped create the Jenny & John Paulson Emergency Department, Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart and Stroke Center, Phillips Family Cancer Center, Edie Windsor Healthcare Center for the LGBTQ+ community, a Regional Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center and more. He was the architect of the merger with Stony Brook in 2017 to gain their resources. Soon, there will be that East Hampton Emergency Center and eventually, a complete new hospital facility.
How does he get the big bucks from the summer residents? “He called me and asked if the Ellen Hermanson Foundation would like to donate a breast center,” Foundation Co-founder Julie Ratner told me. “So, we raised the money.”
“Or, people come to him and he guides them,” Mirella said.
Both agreed, it’s all about relationships and diplomacy. He answered Shafiroff’s request to care for Jack Lenor Larsen near the end. He gave me his cell number for a houseguest with heart issues. He has turned this hospital from a sleepy town infirmary to a serious institution, but, he still treats everyone with the caring of a family doctor. “People trust and like him,” Mirella said. “He really is a good person.”
Hospital care is key, but, we still believe in the healing power of jewelry! Doubly healing when it’s the kind of wearable art Tiffany Dubin, artist Michele Oka Doner, Town and Country editor in chief Stellene Volandes, and art advisor Lorinda Ash addressed in a symposium on “Sculpture to Wear,” in Ilyse Wilpon’s garden.
Inside were selections from the Sotheby August 3 – 28 show. Louisa Guinness joined from England on a big video screen. A gallerist and true pioneer in the field, she has collected jewelry made by her favorite 20th Century artists, while collaborating with and inspiring others to embrace the genre, before it was “a thing.” She even wrote the book on it: Art As Jewelry: From Calder to Kapoor.
We took note of jewelry creations by Max Ernst, Man Ray, Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, Niki de Saint Phalle, Claude Lalanne and of course, a beautiful necklace Michele Oka Doner created and wore. She’s the Miami Beach born artist who created the signature Miami airport swirls on its polished concrete floor. We sported our own wearable art, a necklace by artist Mira Lehr.
“In the last 30 years nobody could have predicted how exponentially huge the growth in the art market was,” Lorinda Ash told the room, a sea of white dresses and slacks. Ash had just seen a painting that she sold in 1989 for $30,000 priced at $2.5 million in an East Hampton Gallery. Art is such a phenomenon. “It’s only natural,” she said, “that it has spilled out into … translating artist creativity into something wearable and personal.”
The audience included Sheikha Paula Al-Sabah, Candice Bushnell, Essie de Kwiatkowski, George Farias, Joanna Fisher, Cynthia Frank, Jo Hallingby, Philip Isles, Tracey Jackson, Shahrzad Khayami, Alex Kuczynski, Christopher Mason, Monique Merrill, Richard Mishaan, Wendy Moonan, Francesca Stanfill Nye, Patty Raynes, Amanda Ross, Kara Ross, Jacqueline Schnabel, Lara Shriftman, Peggy Siegal, Lesley Stevens, Madeline Weinrib, Harriet Weintraub, Victoria Wyman, Bettina Zilkha and her sister Donna Zilkha.
After that, we headed to the beach at Meadow Lane, where we kicked off our shoes, stepped into provided flip-flops and partied with American Humane supporters and the pets that love them. They called it a Dogs on the Dunes Clambake, to raise money to reunite military working dogs, usually left overseas, with their former servicemen partners. Can you imagine being in combat with your dog and then leaving it? A heartbreak on both sides. American Humane also connects service dogs with wounded warriors, including those with such invisible wounds as PTS.
There were long tables on the beach, with blankets on each seat. They served lobsters, clams, grilled corn and veggies. For desert, what else? S’mores around the fire.
Susan and Frank Cushing commandeered two of those tables. Jean Shafiroff, who has been their National Spokesperson for the American Humane’s Feed the Hungry Covid-19 Program, spoke.
It’s the longtime mission of Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane’s president & CEO, who travels around the country spreading the word. There’s even a show business component to the mission. They are a go-to presence on TV and movie sets with animals, to assure good treatment. Even Steven Spielberg turned to them when he filmed War Horse. Fittingly, for years, war hero, movie and TV star — Rin Tin Tin — showed up at American Humane fundraisers.
Among those on the beach: Essie de Kwiatkowski, Annie and Michael Falk, Christine & Brian Flaherty, Samantha Haywood, Doug Greeff, Andrea Karambelas, Marion and Phil Piro, Marilyn Pelstring and Peter Feinman, David and Meghan Rainey, and Michael Shaheen and Maryanne Horwath.
Well, there were lots of great takeaways. Still, we saved our best for last: a cocktail for these New Times. In all these years and all these galas we finally had it: CBD and a dollop of THC on seltzer, at LongHouse. No the punch wasn’t spiked. There were no “bad trips.”
You had to ask and then, the THC dose was so small no one could feel it. Or could we? We were assured it was all perfectly legal. “It’s a botanical and we are a garden,” we heard Benson say.
I say, “Hit me! And thank you G-d for allowing me to live so long to see this at a charity event!
“Hit me again,” I asked the bartender, who knew me by now. “Is that a drop of THC in your cocktail or are you just happy to see me?”
And that, as they say, is called ending on a High note!
Photographs by Patrick McMullan (LongHouse & Stony Brook Southampton Hospital); Rob Rich (American Humane).