As the full Holiday Season kicks-off in Palm Beach, the town is certainly looking more festive, but the harsh reality is that it’s still Holiday 2020. So while the Worth Avenue Tree has been lit, it was done virtually this year, shoppers still seem to be making most of their purchases online and holiday events are happening, but still in small groups.
One such event was the Chamber Music Society of Palm Beach, who launched its 8th season with a star studded line-up of classical musicians live from New York City — and broadcast to an enthusiastic audience in Palm Beach.
Organized by Founder Vicki Kellogg and Executive Director Douglas Evans, there were two options: come and enjoy with friends donning masks in one of the lovely ball rooms at Eau Palm Beach; or enjoy from the comfort of your home. Either way, we all enjoyed the world class talent Artistic Director Arnaud Sussmann brought together for an evening of chamber music in memory of Susan Gottsegen.
50 local Palm Beach residents attended the cocktail party in person while many more joined the evening online. The 2020-2021 season continues on December 14, 2020 at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Hotel and on January 14, 2021 at The Breakers Palm Beach. Given the pandemic, the season is by membership only. The complete season is available at www.cmspb.org
Speaking of music … Hillie Mahoney’s son Bob Merrill now has his own radio show, Legends After Dark, weeknights at 8 p.m. on Legends Radio 100.3.
Meanwhile, Swifty’s Pool continues to buzz with a cocktail reception given by Lynn & Robert Mackle for author and former society columnist Beatrice Fairbanks deHolguin Cayzer Richards. Bea was the Shannon Donnelly of The Shiny Sheet back in the day with a column in the Palm Beach Daily News called the Buzz with Bea. The author of now more than 25 books, including The Secret Diary of Mrs. John Quincy Adams. Kennedys in Love, and the reprinted and republished book (in 2018) about her neighbors that first was published 50 years ago called New Tales of Palm Beach, which included chapters on Dina Merrill; Donald Trump; Edgar Mitchell; Rudy and Judi Giuliani; Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster; Christopher Plummer; William and Bridget Koch; Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix; Hilary Geary and Wilbur Ross; and George Hamilton and his mother, Anne. Her latest book is titled Kidnapped in Jerusalem. The peripatetic Annie Watt was there to capture the guests.
Bea, accompanied by her delightful husband Bill Richards at the Bath & Tennis Club, told us, “The book unfolds with the story of a child who nearly drowns. It’s me!” Meaning the passage is autobiographical, as she recalled swimming in the ocean as a child and nearly drowning if not for the kindness of a stranger who rescued her. She said she still remembers the feeling of being pulled up and out to safety to this day. A photograph of Bea, at just three years old, along with some other swimmers, hangs on a wall of the club where she is now one of the longest standing members.
There was also a wonderful art exhibition called Sleep of Reason curated by Debbie Dickinson at the Paul Fisher Gallery featuring the work of Anthony Haden Guest and Keith Kattner. The event, which benefited the American Red Cross, was attended by Dragana and Richard Connaughton, Lizzi Connaughton, Doug Dechert, Pamela O’Connor, Nicole DiCocco, Dr. Robert Morgan, Amy and Woody Michleb, Jamie and Charlotte Zahringer, Leonore Stern-Morris, Cindy Guyer, Lawrence Hurvich, Diane Johnson, Carol Calicchio, Leslie Weinberg, Hailey Feldman, Bobby Zeitler and others -including Renee and Carlos Morrison, by Zoom! Sponsors included Kevin Condon of Sotheby’s international Realty and Dassault Aviation.
Haden-Guest and Kattner collaborated in this exhibition to demonstrate how art reflects and responds during times of fear and uncertainty. Kattner, over a five-year period, produced a body of work that began with his ”Reflection” series. These artists’ ideas are reminiscent of Goya’s early work of people involved in scenes of leisure and pleasure.
As Kattner’s work proceeds through the ”Classical” and ”Entropy” series, there is a progressive tension of the sublime and sort of an unnerving feeling of foreboding that is just over the horizon. The final painting that was completed before the pandemic is titled ”Embarkation” and is perhaps his darkest artwork. This collection is a look at a totally rational society that is organized and functioning without any idea of the looming crisis that the artist’s subconscious felt.
Haden-Guests’ work presents his recently completed series that includes from ”Cartoonery”, “Apparitions”, ”Lucky Stiffs” and “Neons.” As the Dada artists of the 1920’s responded to the horrors of WWI, Haden-Guest’s work clearly identifies the irrationality of a society under extreme strain. The absurdity is masterfully captured with the epitaph on one of his grave-stones in “Lucky Stiffs: I Should Have Had More Fun‘.
It is a reminder that life is finite and during the times when we face our own mortality, we are reflective with regret. His bitingly critical statements on society in general remind us of a later Goya, who lived through constant societal and personal tragedies; the Goya that produced the 1792 etching ”The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.”
The exhibition is a reminder that if we don’t appreciate history it will repeat itself and there will be artists to record it!
And finally, Cancer Alliance of Help & Hope hosted a special Thanksgiving Food Giveaway during this holiday season to more than 100 of their clients who are battling cancer. These families gathered at North Fire Rescue Station where each picked up a turkey, ham, apple pie, $200 gift card, as well as stuffed animals to help bring cheer. Six of Palm Beach’s finest firemen were on hand to make sure the more than 60 children had a good time.
The event was held in partnership with the Town of Palm Beach United Way, which provided funds for the gift cards from their Covid-19 Emergency Grant. Janet and Mark Levy underwrote the 20-pound turkeys, hams and stuffed animals. “The Levys have been a godsend to our families during the pandemic providing more than 1,500 meals to local families in need,” said Stanton Collemer, CEO of Cancer Alliance.
These are just a few of the events that happened in Palm Beach over Thanksgiving week 2020. We hope everyone continues to stay safe as we move into the full Holiday Season!