Tuesday, November 27, 2018. Lots of rain in New York beginning yesterday afternoon with temperatures dropping into the high 30s.
One of the great things about New York life is the museums. Once upon a time, museums were steadfast presenters of Art and Culture. Their visitors were those who had specific interests in terms of time, history and society. The interest was not common.
When I first came to New York in the early ‘60s, I discovered the Frick on a Saturday afternoon. The atmosphere itself was another world from the frenetic Manhattan life. It was peaceful, classically elegant, and awe-inspiring. Mr. Frick’s sense of art and culture were the things we first learned about in Art History classes.
It was also built as a home for a (very rich) family expressing the values and solace of another time. Indeed, for this kid, familiar with only the images in art history textbooks, the masterpieces in the Frick were a wonder. And beautiful. And so was the lifestyle it reflected historically and authentically.
All these years later the Frick is even more interesting, and with a greater collection and regular special exhibitions as well as concerts, and seminars. If you go there on a Saturday or a Sunday you won’t be one of a few because it’s a house of treasure and its allure has reached out the to the world of everyman. The number of visitors reaches into the hundreds of thousands every year. The Frick is expanding to accommodate the interest.
The same with the Met. I remember when the Met resembled the Frick — although much larger of course — in terms of the public atmosphere. The students, the connoisseurs, the “educated” were there in this vast monument to collections. Maybe a couple of dozen. Maybe in the hundreds, maybe. Because the Met’s attendance was frequently sparse, as hard to believe considering today’s visitors.
Sometime back then a man named Tom Hoving took over as Director, and the Met began to flourish in the public’s perception to what it is today. Now when you go to the Met, any time, any day, it is a mecca. There are already several hundred gathered on the steps and thereabout, coming, going, taking in the atmosphere.
Museums, all museums in New York, are centers of social activity, be they lectures, seminars or special tours, or openings. I use the word “social” to reflect the general atmosphere. People now go to the museums the way they go to the movies. They are gathering places now, and huge attractions. Their visitors are there to learn, to see, to hear, and to share in the company of many others, strangers sharing an experience.
I was reminded of this when I learned of a cocktail and shopping event at The Store at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) a couple of Wednesday’s ago. MAD is one of the newer (post-mid-century) museums and it is as flourishing and popular with the public as the aforementioned.
Located on Columbus Circle and Broadway, their The Store was hosting its fifth seasonal edition of RE:FINE, a highly curated showcase of 19 forward-thinking international artists who offer a refreshing alternative to the conventional world of fine jewelry.
This season’s collection features, for the first time, Bahina, Cevherun, Chris Davies, Jennifer Dawes, Anthony Lent, and Jean Prounis, alongside Estela Guitart, Marc Monzó, and Noon Passama of MISUI, Barcelona. The returning artists are Stephanie Albertson, Lika Behar, Elizabeth Garvin, Moritz Glik, Joan Hornig, Tony Malmed, Marian Maurer, Erica Molinari, Todd Pownell, and Ana Swarup.
During the event, artists were on hand to present their work to guests. Their work can be seen through the New Year. Many artists will remain as part of MAD’s ongoing stable of artists. The hosts of RE:FINE Holiday 2018 were Michele Cohen, Mike De Paola, Marcia Docter, Joan Hornig, Barbara Tober, Andi Potamkin and Barbara Waldman.
Formerly known as Redefining Fine Jewelry, RE:FINE spotlights artists whose jewelry reflects the ethos of MAD’s mission: which is to present work at the intersection of art, craft, and design.
The jewelers featured in RE:FINE Holiday 2018 infuse design with excellence in craftsmanship, incorporating innovative techniques along with the highest quality precious metals and non-traditional gemstones. Their work is shaping the tastes of today’s jewelry collectors — those who embrace creativity and self-expression in defining their personal style.
For more information, visit: https://thestore.madmuseum.org
Meanwhile down at the Museum at FIT, Dr. Valerie Steele presented a conversation with author Michèle Gerber Klein as part of the nationwide tour for Michele’s new book Charles James: Portrait of an Unreasonable Man: Fame, Fashion, Art. More than 300 turned out to listen to Valerie and Michele explore the life of America’s first grand master of fashion, the man Christian Dior named as the inspiration for the “New Look” and Cristóbal Balenciaga called “the greatest couturier in the world.”
If you never heard of Charles James, whom Balenciaga and Dior both praised on the highest, well, that’s part of the story too. Michele explained it succinctly:
“It is impossible to talk about Charles James without discussing his clothing, but one also cannot talk about the clothing without mentioning art, music, architecture and above all sex.
“James was known for pushing the boundaries of fashion, but also for his sharp tongue, drug problems, and grandiose ego … One of the questions he asked himself, ‘How can I make a dress one could wear to make love in a taxi?’ The answer came as the first wrap dress. It was just one of his many significant innovations.”
Ironically the idea made someone else both rich and famous, unlike the man with the original idea.
In addition to her talk at FIT, Michèle Gerber Klein has led conversations about her book at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and the National Arts Club among others. In her life of fashion Michèle is the founder of joan vass U.S.A., Vice President of the Liberman Foundation, and ia member of The Couture Council of the Museum at FIT. She has also written about art, fashion and arts de vivre.
Charles James: Portrait of An Unreasonable Man: Fame, Fashion, Art is her first book, published by Rizzoli ex Libris.
A personal centennial. Marianne and John Castle hosted a family dinner at Morton’s here in New York to celebrate the 100th birthday of Mrs. Castle’s aunt, Regina Sherman. It was a festive evening and the Castle family came in from across the country to celebrate in coordinating red dresses, shirts and neckties. In attendance were Dr. James Castle and Amanda Castle with their children Kyle, Owen and Daniel who all flew in from Chicago; William Castle and Tracy Castle with their children Charlotte and James who came up from Washington, D.C.; and John Castle and Rosanna Castle with their children John Carter and Calista.
Many close friends were also in attendance including Dr. John and Ingrid Connolly and Father Boniface Ramsey.
The guests dined on many of Morton’s specialty dishes complete with a lovely birthday cake.
Photographs by Annie Watt (MAD)