Thursday, July 2, 2015. Yesterday in New York was sunny, mild, and not too hot. After very heavy early morning rains to wash the streets, the sidewalks and the air. Many New Yorkers are departing today — if they haven’t already — for their vacation and/or holiday weekend retreats all over the Northeast.
Looking back. Save Venice, the organization dedicated to preserving the artistic heritage, now in its 44th year — held their biennial visit to the fabled city on the Adriatic, two weeks ago — June 14th through 17th. The intrepid photographer Mary Hilliard was there, and this is her report:
More than 150 Save Venice members and their guests made the trip of four fabulous days taking place this year during the Save Venice Biennale Gala – Contemporary Art Meets the Old Masters. This is the first SV gala held in conjunction with the famous Venice Biennale.
A wild and rainy first day in Venice kicked off the gala, thwarting the avid participants traditional city wide “treasure hunt” (as always cleverly devised by Michael LaPlaca). People were forced to find shelter in convenient restaurants and consolation in plates of pasta and bellinis, a delicious peach and prosecco mix, the informally official drink of Venice.
Aptly called “Contemporary Art meets the Old Masters,” the four days of events included a visit to the 16th century church of San Sebastiano where scholars talked about the progress of Save Venice restoration projects: Veronese frescos, paintings, termite-ridden wood artifacts and architectural elements.
The group also had private access to the Accademia Galleries to see restorations sponsored by Save Venice including the works of Paolo Veronese, Titian, and Vittore Carpoaccio. The Biennale provided the contemporary aspect with tips on the most interesting exhibits, and hints on understanding some of the more mysterious works.
In the Giardini, very cool and peaceful under the pines without the throngs of the opening days, a favorite was the French pavilion, minimal and white except for huge pine trees in their root balls which mysteriously slowly moved around the grounds in and outside the building.
Other favorites were the Japanese entry, an intricate spider web of red strings, on which hung thousands of old keys donated by Japanese people; a lyrical multimedia installation by Joan Jonas in the US pavilion; and the Canadian offering — a fascinating convenience store crammed with contemporary items behind which is a sort of artists’ workshop also crammed with things
To carry out the gala’s theme, evenings as well neatly balanced the old and the new. There was a reception and dinner at the Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal.
There was an elegant dinner in the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) courtyard in St. Mark’s Square, and a black tie Cole Porter-themed dinner in the Baroque Palazzo Ca’Rezzonico where Linda and Cole Porter resided summertimes in the 1920s. Pianist James Abbott and “Aladdin” star, the genial genie, James Iglehard delighted guests with a concert with a surprise performance of Cole Porter classics that ended too soon.
The last day included a luxuriously relaxed lunch hosted by the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in the beautiful gardens, and maybe most fun of all, a buffet dinner in the Arsenale’s Torre di Porta Nuova, a recently restored tower built in 1810 and used in building ships’ tall masts. After dinner costumed guests who yearned for Studio 54, as well as those who had never heard of it, climbed (or elevated) up the tower to disco the night away …
Save Venice galas in Venice attract, sophisticated, well-traveled, art- and Venice-loving individuals who seek unique and singular experiences in the United States and abroad. Guests hailed from across the country with primary residences in California, Colorado, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, D.C., and from Africa, Italy, South America, and the United Kingdom.
Co-chairs for the event were Jill and Richard Almeida, Adelina Wong Ettelson, Mary and Howard Frank, Elizabeth Locke and John Staelin, Bikem and Roger de Montebello, Marta and Alberto Nardi, Mary Kathryn and Alex Navab, Cat Jagger Pollan, Francesca Bortolotto Possati, Matthew White and Thomas Schumacher. Gala Benefactors were Elizabeth Belfer, Helene Comfort, Sunnie Evers and Randolph Fishburn, Bruce Horten, Sharon Kelley Oeschger, Tracey Roberts and Paul Haigney, Mr. and Mrs. David Miller Steiner.