Palm Beach Social Diary: Art + RR @ PB + Orty’s Party + Spellbound

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Beth Rudin DeWoody and Firooz Zahedi welcomed guests to this weekend's opening of exhibitions at The Bunker Artspace, an invitational highlight of the Palm Beach New Wave Art Wknd staged as part of Miami Beach’s Art Basel summit.

On Saturday afternoon several hundred of the art world’s collectors, dealers, appraisers, artists, arbiters, Instagram followers, consultants, and cardinals, having recovered from Art Basel fatigue, joined Beth Rudin DeWoody for the opening of this season’s exhibitions at The Bunker, her private Artspace housing much of her collection in West Palm Beach. Unlike many of today’s voluminous institutional venues designed by starchitects that tend to upstage artworks, the scale of DeWoody’s Midcentury Streamline building provides a compatible setting to enjoy artworks. Then a look at Rolls-Royce’s “Architecture of Luxury” before celebrating Orty Woodward’s 86th birthday and one of my historical rambles – Under the Spell of Palm Beach.

December 7, 2019 / 2PM -5 PM
The Collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody
West Palm Beach 

The Bunker Artspace.

For this exhibition, DeWoody and her resident curators Laura Dvorkin and Maynard Monrow, were joined by guest curators Simon Watson and Firooz Zahedi. Inner Space/Outer Space is Watson’s multi-dimensional composition of more than 75 paintings, sculptures and photographs. Watson describes Beth Rudin DeWoody’s collection of 15,000 artworks as “… a spirited synthesis and beacon of inspiration, signaling the energy and visionary impulses of many of the most important artists of our time.” For Dvorkin and Monrow’s tableaux Fatale Femme, a wide range of femininity viewpoints are explored from A to XXX.  The Art in Architecture is Zahedi’s curatorial montage featuring the works of architects and photographers as well as illustrators’ and sculptors’ representations of architecture.

Guest Curator Simon Watson shares the finer points of Paulo Nimer Pjota”s Black Paintings Part Two, 2017, one of the highlights of his Inner Space/Outer Space exhibition.
Inner Space/Outer Space. Foreground, Beth DeWoody’s Lucite collection, described by Watson as where “… the show reveals its disembodied yet spiritual core, its heart … a ghostly installation of geometric Lucite objects … the poignancy and fragility of life, of our lives and that of the planet.”
Molly Kaminsky, Anna Boop, and Rosalyn Boop photographed with Naotaka Hitro’s work Untitled (Crawl #5), 2018.
Lawrence Luhring.
Merle Goldstein.
Amanda and Charles Burch.
Royal Jarmon, Eric Firestone, and Sam Keller.
Hermann Nitsch. Das Letzte Abendmahl, 1983.
Artist Keith Tyson’s 2005 work Geno Pheno Painting:”The Preservation of Symmetry in the Annihilated Pair.”
Artful fashion.
Peter LaBella and James Murphy.
Rachel Barrett and Capucine Milliot.
Bruce Erhard and Nikki Trammell.
New York gallerist Jane Lombard takes a look at one of Maynard Monrow’s rooms, walls papered with newspapers.

Art in Architecture
Firooz Zahedi, curator

Along with Boym Partners Inc.’s Building of Disaster Series and Missing Monumentsmodels, Art in Architecture features the work of Richard Neutra, Ezra Stoller, Bevan Davies, Julius Shulman, Buckminster Fuller, and Oscar Niemeyer. The installation offers “a double dose of creative energy …” both celebrating “the artistry of a variety of notable architects …”  as well as showcasing the photographers and illustrators who interpret the architect’s work.

Art collector and Curator Beth Rudin DeWoody lives within the LA-NYC-PB vortex. President of The Rudin Family Foundations and EVP of Rudin Management, she serves on the board at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Hammer Museum, The New School, The Glass House, Empowers Africa, New Yorkers for Children, and The New York City Police Foundation. She is an Honorary Trustee at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and on the Photography Steering Committee at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. She has curated exhibitions in addition to her collection being the subject of exhibitions at the Norton Museum of Art, Parrish Museum, and the Taubman Museum of Art, among other institutions.

Fatale Femme
Laura Dvorkin & Maynard Monrow, co-curators

For Fatale Femme Monrow and Dworkin have included works from DeWoody’s collection by Diane Arbus, Ann Collier, Betty Tompkins, Zoe Buckman, Mickalene Thomas, Don Doe, Hillary Harkness, Harry Benson, Man Ray, and Andre Kertesz.

Fatale Femme includes the work of Barbara T. Smith, Mat Collishaw, Jimmy Wright, Karen Finley, and Karl Wirsum.
Aaron Fowler’s Juicy, 2013.
Liz Renay, Reclining Nude, 1973.
A tableau vivant features portrait artist and her model at work.
An environmental assemblage in the elevator.
Bill Sofield.
A 2nd floor gallery.

On the Mezzanine

Of note.
Of note.

Rolls Royce at Palm Beach
1925 & 2019

Synchronicity when you least expect. I was planning a historical snapshot of Rolls Royce at Palm Beach during the 1920s, so when I saw RR sent several of their latest Ghost, Dawn and Wraith models for The Bunker’s opening, I added them to the feature. While there are probably just as many Rollers on PB today as in the 20s, there are probably not as many chauffeurs, who back then were most likely the only ones who drove them.

In 1906 the first RRs were imported to the US. Fifteen years later, RR acquired the American Wire Wheel Co. plant in Springfield, MS. and began assembling cars there, advertising them as produced by “British mechanics under British supervision.” In 1921 a Silver Ghost model launched Rolls Royce America, priced at $11,750. During the first year, 135 cars were manufactured.

Palm Beach, c. 1925.

Motor cars in 1920s Palm Beach were known for their display of “special bodies and beautiful fittings,” and none more apropos of the resort’s standing than a Rolls Royce. Golfview Road residents, when Ned and Marjorie Hutton were encamped at Hogarcito, were reported to own more RRs than any other street in the world. The Mayfair model, a full cabriolet, was the most popular. The Mayfair, “painted black of course,” was upholstered with Bedford cord.

Each season the Preston Satterwhites and Ralph Strassburgers brought a new RR Brougham model for their drives to the Everglades Club. Jesse Livermore only brought one of his five RRs; Flo Ziegfeld and Billie Burke settled for one of their six RRs for their back-and-forth to Bradley’s Beach Club. Buffalo’s Seymour Knox needed two RRs to survive a Palm Beach season. Among other RR enthusiasts, Joshua Cosden, Earle Charlton, A. M. Frost, Joseph Riter, and Raymond Lewis. So great the demand, that RR established repair garages on Peruvian Avenue and Royal Palm Way along with their showroom.

Rolls-Royce 2019.
Palm Beach, 1929.
“The Spirit of Ecstasy” the signature Rolls Royce bonnet sculpture.
Ready to Roll …
Designed for your pleasure …
Sunning at the The Bunker Artspace.

27 November 2019
Happy Birthday Orty!

In 1950 teenager Orator “Orty” Ernest Woodward’s mother gathered 100 of Orty’s school pals and family friends to celebrate his 17th birthday at her 251 El Bravo Way home. Seven decades later Orty and his wife Maureen Woodward gathered a houseful to celebrate OEW’s 86th at their home, the same house he celebrated his 17th. During the early 1920s Woodward’s father Orator Frank Woodward was among the first to commission architect Addison Mizner to design his winter home, Villa dei Fiori at 165 Seminole Avenue. DPC & JH had the pleasure of staying at Villa dei Fiori when DPC spoke about Palm Beach at the Coudert Institute.  (Disclosure: My first venture taking iPhone photographs.)

Orty’s dossier. A lifelong PBer, Orty first made news when he was 26 months old and won his first boxing bout at the Seaspray Beach Club’s boxing ring. He became an adept boxer, a popular Palm Beach past time. Tony Biddle, who managed a strong of professional boxers, set up a boxing ring at the Bath & Tennis Club with one of Gene Tunney’s trainers as the club’s Boxing Director. The Oasis Club featured weekend boxing matches in the club’s courtyard on Main Street.
Orty Woodward and Stefania Conrad.
Birthday bounty in the entrance hall.
On yet another beautiful Florida night, tables were set on the patio, in the gardens and around the pool.
Guests scattered throughout the house.

Palm Beach, 1929. “Young Richard Cox Cowell.” A pleasure meeting Dick Cowell who I had only spoken with on the telephone several times. Another Palm Beach lifer, Cowell’s first father-in-law C V “Sonny” Whitney was marrying his fourth wife Marylou Schroeder Hosford when his daughter Gail married Cowell. Although the marriage lasted only 18 months, Cowell has been an El Vedado Road resident for 90 years.
Guests (“We love you Orty! Paula & Bob”) unable to attend sent this tropical arrangement from Tom Mathieu & Company.

Under the Spell of Palm Beach

At Palm Beach, Chilean was once Chilian; today, coconuts are aka cocoanuts. Marjorie Merriweather Post was aka Mrs. Edward Close, the 2nd Mrs. E. F. Hutton, the 2nd Mrs. Joseph Davies, and the 2nd Mrs. Herbert May. Perhaps weary of being anyone’s Mrs., she legally changed her name back to Marjorie Merriweather Post. Imagine a time at The Breakers when there might have been the possibility of three guests registered as Mrs. William Randolph Hearst Jr. While these quirks further the resort’s incomparable character, they do cloud Palm Beach’s social and architectural history. The barrier island’s past is often more of a chronological zigzag than a coherent timeline.

Before beginning my own research through the minefield of available Palm Beach historical records, I sourced what other writers named Palm Beach houses, assuming they knew. Several years ago, when digging for material on the Kingsley house at 1200 South Ocean Boulevard, now Jeff and Mei Sze Greene’s home, I discovered I could only track the popularly used name La Bellucia on Internet search engines from the 1970s. After Willey (Bill) L. Kingsley died, his wife Lucy married Alexander H. Rutherford in 1934. The marriage announcement contained a reference to her Palm Beach home as La Billucia not the more translatable Bellucia. A search for “La Billucia,” an acronym for their names Bill and Lucy, then brought up the numerous articles from the 1920s-1960s.

La Billucia, original Mizneresque interior, 1925. Photo Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
La Billucia, 1200 South Ocean Boulevard. Auction notice, 1962.

Casa della Porta is what everyone mistakenly calls Treanor & Fatio’s landmark in the Estate District, considered one of the firm’s best designs. Never mind that the house’s original owners William and Susan McAneeny christened their 195 Via del Mar home Casa Bella Porta. Subsequent owners also preserved the name Casa Bella Porta until the early 1950s. At that time, Shiny Sheet and Palm Beach Post columnists began calling it Casa della Porta, the name utilized today by real estate agents and historians who documented the house’s official history. Thus, if you are really interested in the house’s origins and owners, you must search for it as Casa Bella Porta.

Casa Bella Porta, 195 Via del Lago. Courtesy Historic American Building Survey.

To the south of Casa Bella Porta, the ocean-to-lake William Disston estate was known as Vista Serena before Wall Street trader E. Clarence Jones bought it in 1917. Although Jones died before his Wyeth-designed house was completed, he called it Vita Serena, anointing the surrounding subdivision Vita Serena as well.

And while Worth Avenue’s history wasn’t celebrated until Paris Singer and Addison Mizner transformed it, the iconic street was first known as Lake Worth Avenue. Speculators bought and sold lots on this undeveloped thoroughfare when it was mapped as the southern boundary of the Royal Park subdivision. When Singer faced a reversal of fortune, he endured a series of slights, retreating from Palm Beach in 1930 for a houseboat on the Nile. Among the affronts, Singer Place was renamed Middle Road. During the mid-1930s Mary (Mrs. Lorenzo E.) Woodhouse attended a Town Council meeting to demand Paris Singer’s name be removed from the street where she lived and replaced with the more generic Middle Road. When a council majority granted her request, Singer’s name was forever deleted.

Up in the North End, I wrongly assumed Playa Riente (1923-1957) the Cosden-Dillman-Dodge villa was always called Playa Riente. However, the first contemporaneous article mentioning that name does not appear until 1927, four years after Oklahoma wildcatter Joshua Cosden built it. It was then that Palm Beach’s power couple, actor-turned-social secretary-turned-real estate agent Hugh Dillman, 41, and his new bride, the Detroit widow Anna Thompson Dodge, 60 or 55, named it “Laughing Beach,” or Playa Riente.  As a footnote, news reports indicated Dillman, nee Hugh McGrew, legally changed his stage name Hugh Dillman to his real name after the couple married.

Playa Riente, 1928. Drawing, Addison Mizner, architect. Demolished 1957. Salvaged finials, as shown, Frederick Herpel Collection.

Also, along that stretch of beach Lewis Rodman Wanamaker (1863-1928) built an Addison Mizner house that wrongly has been called La Guerida for the past several decades. In September 1923 Wanamaker bought an oceanfront lot from John P. McKenna, commissioning Addison Mizner to build a house he named La Querida, meaning “the dear one.” Additionally, news reports often confused the senior L. Rodman with his nephew L. Rodman (“Roddie”) Wanamaker II (1899-1976), son of his brother Thomas Wanamaker. When Joseph and Rose Kennedy bought the house in 1933 through their agent Gurnee Munn, they also came-and-went to-and-from La Querida not La Guerida, according to contemporaneous accounts. Nevertheless, when referring to the Kennedy family’s ownership of the Wanamaker house, some even go so far as to translate the misnomer Guerida as “bounty of war.”

Between 1916 and 1940 there are 805 references in The Palm Beach Post to the misnomer Everglades Avenue and only as many as 500 to Everglade Avenue, as it was named and platted by Peter J. Mack and John S. Phipps in 1917. No sooner than the Wyeth-designed house at 70 Middle Road was completed in 1927 for railroad baron J. Ledlie Hees that it was leased and sold to Edgar Luckenback and became known as Casa de los Arcos. While in Midtown during the 1950s, architect John L. Volk and his second wife Lillian Jane Kinney Volk, used the name Casa de los Arcos for their conjoined properties on Phipps Plaza.

Whether a scrivener’s oversight that becomes standard, a misplaced name inadvertently unnoticed for decades, or women whose birth names are forever lost in favor of becoming their husbands’ socially-correct Mrs., history’s scramble can be as puzzling as it is spellbinding. Welcome to Palm Beach!

January 22, 2020 / 5:30-7:30 pm
Lost Landscapes at Palm Beach
Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens

By Reservation: 561.832.5328

Augustus Mayhew explores the once fabled jungle island. Historian and photographer Augustus Mayhew is the author of “Lost in Wonderland: Reflections on Palm Beach” & “Palm Beach: A Greater Grandeur.”

CASA ANANDA, COURTYARD 700 SOUTH OCEAN BOULEVARD. Photo Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

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