Thursday, January 3, 2024. Cold out there but not too. The weatherman, as you may have noticed, said we’re gonna get some snow this weekend. This isn’t the first time they’ve predicted snow which never came to pass; so we’ll see.
Meanwhile, down in Palm Beach, I’m told by some friends who just returned from the weekend there that it was “cold.” 60 degrees is the PB version and I suppose it gets a little chilly out there where everybody likes to sit to watch the world go by.
Chilly weather and all, artist Carol Calicchio hosted a book signing and exhibition of her paintings at a packed reception at The Colony Hotel. And, as she has spent the last twenty-five years of her life rescuing animals, a percentage of the proceeds from this show benefits the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League.
The private reception was attended by a distinguished crowd of art collectors to celebrate the release of Flower Power: The Paintings of Carol Calicchio — a handsome hardcover book written by renowned artist and critic Bruce Helander, with essays by Anthony Haden-Guest and writer Elizabeth Sobieski.
The event was highlighted by an exhibition of original canvases of tropical flora and fauna selected from the new book. The evening was “framed” by five large floral surfboards painted by the artist and made by Nomad surf shop, Florida’s oldest surf shop. The boards flanked the entranceway of the hotel lawn into the solarium — where guests enjoyed a close-up inspection of the power of the flower. Inside each book was a limited-edition hand signed giclée print of “Celestial Seasons,” which graces the cover of the new book.
Carol Calicchio’s message, in partnership with Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, emphasizes adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering your pets. She also pointed out that for every child born there are 7 cats and 7 dogs being born at the same time. So, her message for the evening was “Do Not Shop, Adopt!”
That’s what I’ve done all my life right down to this moment. In fact there are three of them sitting around my desk chair as if to ask “when are we going out for our walks.” For a long time I had adopted Shih-tzus, so when I lost the last Shih-tzu, I called one of the well known agencies for animal adoption and asked if they had any Shih-tzu.
“We have two,” was the ready reply. I decided on the spot that I’d take them both (couldn’t imagine the face on the one being left behind). I went to pick them up and they were waiting outside by the pavement curb for me. A one-year-old male and an eighteen-month-old female.
EXCEPT they weren’t Shih-tzus by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, I took them anyway since my main objective was to help the dogs, no matter.
They also came with Chinese names which were unpronounceable to this middle-American boy, which I didn’t (or couldn’t) know how to pronounce. So I named the boy “Willie …”, and I was in my kitchen getting them something to eat and rolling off female names out loud to myself.
She was standing right behind me. And I had a sudden thought of Rosemary Kennedy, the lobotomized daughter of Joseph P., father of them all. Rosemary was “put away” after her lobotomy, seeing her birth family only occasionally. But when I said the name aloud, the little female who looks like a beautiful mutt jumped up behind me, almost to my waist. And Rosemary it was. She’s the mutt in charge of the rest of us and sleeps (by choice) up against me.
More Dogs. Meanwhile back up north here in New York, the Humane Society of New York had a pampered two-year-old Blenheim King Charles Cavalier named Phantom Winston Webster Hay adopted by R. Couri Hay, who was being toasted at “A High Tea” at his house.
Couri’s guests were amused to find the outside of the house banked in “snow” that continued into the house and up the staircases. Phantom’s “father” Couri had decked the halls with pinecone-festooned garlands, branches of red berries, white poinsettias, and his greenhouse filled with Narcissus and Paper Whites.
Revelers gathered around the tree covered in ornaments that the host had collected on his travels. Couri’s chef Andrew Molen made tea sandwiches, and waiters in white jackets offered lobster rolls and “Beluga caviar bumps.”
Although the fete was billed as a “tea party,” no one, not even Phantom himself, touched a cup of Earl Grey, opting for flutes of Aphrodise, a new sparkling rosé that was recently chosen to be served at the prestigious Restaurant Association Gala at the Savoy Hotel in London, courtesy of the bubbly’s founder Frank Schilling.
After multiple rounds, everyone gathered around the Steinway to sing carols with Broadway composer Paul Katz on the keyboards and Erik Botcher, the City Councilman from the 3rd District, on the guitar.
After struggling through the 12 days of Christmas, everyone was exhausted and headed to the living room, where Botcher introduced Rebecca Seawright, a Member of the New York State Assembly, who had a surprise for Couri. Seawright read a Proclamation from New York City and NY State “to honor Couri’s promotion of the arts” and a long list of “charitable organizations.”
A surprised Couri turned several shades redder than his velvet jacket and thanked Rebecca for the Citation before announcing a donation to The Humane Society in Phantom’s name.
Meanwhile, back in the neighborhood: more paintings, too. Isabelle Bscher of Galerie Gmurzynska curated a critically acclaimed solo exhibition for renowned Austrian pop artist Christian Ludwig Attersee entitled “Beautiful Like His Paintings” in their New York gallery at 43 East 78th Street.
Max Hollein, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said of Attersee’s work, “Within the art world ever since the 1960s, Attersee has been a solitary activist for an inventive and sweeping art of life and passion, a positively provocative celebration of the artist as an inventor and beautifier of the world that we live in.”
Born in 1940 in Bratislava, Slovakia, Attersee’s artistic journey began during his youth near Linz and at Lake Attersee. He displayed early signs of creativity by writing short novels, composing music, and creating comics. His formal artistic education led him to the Academy of Applied Arts in Vienna.
In 1966, a pivotal year, Attersee, now 83 years young, adopted his iconic surname after the lake, using it as a signature in his artwork, a practice that would become emblematic of his oeuvre. This is Attersee’s first solo show in New York.
The gallery presents an extensive survey of the artist’s evolution, with work spanning from the 1960s to his most recent paintings produced this year. His pieces are characterized by a fusion of abstraction, surrealism, and pop art, all of which cemented his position as a master of Post-War European painting.
“Attersee” will be on view through January 31st.