Out among the crowd

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Cloud pastels. 8:15 PM. Photo: JH.

Monday, July 20, 2020. Very warm days over the weekend, with high humidity and none of that wonderful passing rain we’ve been experiencing almost daily for the past couple of weeks. 

It was a quiet weekend in New York. The park by the river was especially sparse which is unusual because it’s frequently used by those who aren’t leaving town and like to catch a few rays. It was the humidity that went into nightfall.

The lockdown/shutdown has been so widespread that it’s affected not only our movement but also our thinking.  Isolation from each other has been the most influential ingredient. Fear has dominated everything. People are now getting out again. I dined at Sette Mezzo, on the sidewalk both Friday and Saturday. You could see how everyone was re-orienting (with pleasure). I hadn’t imagined how much people love this current table service outside. It’s a group experience – separated of course.  It’s being out among the crowd that’s the real pleasure. And reassurance.

However, I can attest that we ain’t done yet. The last four months have cleaned the calendar to blank pages. It’s odd but good. I noticed that East River is green on the sunniest days. I wonder if I’m imagining it but I’m a water-watcher, living so close to it as I do, and I’ve often been troubled seeing those waters a sludge-brown and putrid.  That’s the good news — and for all of us.

Today we’re running a couple of “community” events — one in the Hamptons and one in New Jersey — that are getting people (their supporters) either out and about or working solo to assist the organizations. And this week there are a couple of “virtual” events coming up. These are events that are prominent on the social calendar and ordinarily would be fully attended by supporters.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 7 p.m., the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Fund (ADDF) is holding its virtual Memories Matter evening. You will read more about it here, after the fact.  And then on Thursday, the China Institute, a 95-year-old charity that promotes Chinese culture through the teaching of the Chinese language, music, art exhibitions, food, dance and business dialogs, is hosting a China Fashion Gala. This annual event is always at the Plaza where they’d have 400 guests. This year, the “virtual” allows untold numbers of guest for the bilingual one-hour taped program in both China and here and Europe. It’s going to be some show, provided the “opening” will be Kenny G. and Lang Lang.

LongHouse Reserve held a small, private outdoor celebration last Saturday for their new installation by Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Head: Bronze. 30 donors and board members gathered in the East Hampton garden wearing masks and making socially distant air kisses.

LongHouse founder Jack Lenor Larsen created a unique installation of the 12 large sculptural heads by burying their marble bases around the perimeter of LongHouse’s outdoor Albee Amphitheater, allowing visitors to experience the sculptures at almost eye level.

Jack Larsen.  

Guests included LongHouse board members Dianne Benson and Lys Marigold, Sherri Donghia and Roger Eulau, Peter Olsen, Suzanne Slesin and Michael Steinberg, Jo Ann and Lee Skolnick, Matko Tomicic, as well as Susie and Michael Gelman, Nina Gillman, Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper, Deborah Nevins, and Ellie Warsh, to name only a few.

The enormous distances the Zodiac Heads have travelled can be compared with the experiences of the artist. In April 2011, Ai Weiwei was detained for 81 days and later released from secret captivity by Chinese Authorities, but his passport was confiscated and he remained under house arrest until July 2015. For the duration of the Zodiac Heads: Bronze exhibition in Chicago in 2014, the sculptures were hooded as a reminder that the artist was still held in China. He now resides in Berlin and Oxford.

Yuka Silvero, Christofer Walsh, and Angela Witte.
Sandy Perlbinder, Lee Skolnick, Dianne B, and Jo Ann Secor.
L. to r.: Matko Tomicic and Ellie Warsh; Armann Ortega and Aaron Owen.
Selena Rothwell, Chrissy Habian, and Mickey Brennen.
Julie Jensen, Armann Ortega, and Aaron Owen.
Rebecca Chapman, Selena Rothwell, Nina Gillman, Sherri Donghia, Roger Eulau, and Holger Winenga.
Carol Steinberg, Frank Namad, and Jane Johnson.
Deborah Nevins, Nina Gillman, and Ellie Warsh.

This exhibition is the third time the celebrated Chinese artist has participated with LongHouse; in 2013, he was honored with the LongHouse Award. At the time under house arrest in Beijing, he sent a video as an acceptance speech. In 2013 Ai’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold was also exhibited at LongHouse Reserve.

LongHouse Reserve, a 16-acre sculpture garden, is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. See: www.longhouse.org

Ben Milstein.
Dianne Benson, Peter Olsen, and Lys Marigold.
Matko Tomicic and Roger Eulau.
Sandy and Steve Perlbinder, with Peter Olsen.     Longhouse Reserve photos by Richard Lewin.

On the last Sunday of last month, Monmouth County Historical Association invited members, supporters and friends to a Zoom Bloom celebrating its 45th Annual Garden Party. Many guests gathered in their own gardens to safely “bloom where they are planted” honoring a cherished tradition, and joining in a virtual toast to the Association and its mission to preserve and celebrate the history of Monmouth County for all.

MCHA has hosted the annual Party on the last Sunday evening in June for more than 40 years. Over the years the event grew into a summer institution with close to 400 guests enjoying the beautiful vistas from many of the grandest riverfront homes in the County. This year, because of Covid, they were not able to host the event. So the Association invited people to come together with family and close friends in their own gardens and backyards, (while observing social distancing), and then tune in to the Zoom Bloom to share their love for history and the Garden Party with the community.

Nora and Knny King and children. They made lemonade out of lemons and celebrated the Garden Party  in their own yard.

The program featured a greeting from Linda Bricker, President of the MCHA Board of Trustees.  Executive Director Meg Sharp Walton then took to the screen, highlighting the rich 120 year old legacy of the Association and its role in understanding and navigating the challenges the country faces today.  

Spotlighting the Association’s esteemed collection of historic sites reflecting 350 years of American heritage. This included diverse exhibitions ranging from the paintings of 19th century artist Micah Williams to Springsteen: His Hometown and innovative programs including a garden project based on Thomas Jefferson’s horticultural records and the newly launch “Remembering Covid-19” campaign to gather and archive personal reflections on the pandemic.  Attendees then joined 2019 Garden Party Honoree and past Interim Director Charles “Chuck” Jones in a toast to the Garden Party and the future of MCHA.

Shea Jones, Charlie and Hope Jones, and Chuck Jones III

l to r: Kathy Jones, Lisa Klem Wilson, Ross Millhiser. L to R backrow Ross Millhiser, Michael Parent.

L to R: Kara Short, Linda Bricker, Meg Sharp Walton

Seated, l to r: Elizabeth Knopf-Romano,  Claire Knopf, Stephanie Cheney; back row l to r: Michael Romano, Woody Knopf, James Knopf              Photo credit: Lynne Ward

The evening’s Zoom Bloom kicked off a two-week fundraising drive and previewed the new commemorative brick campaign.  For more information and ways to donate to MCHA please visit www.monmouthhistory.org.

Screen shot of Zoom Bloom toast to Monmouth County Historical Association.

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