Putting our best foot forward

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Raining down on Central Park. Photo: JH.

Thursday, June 10, 2021. Another hot one. Probably the same as, but felt like worse than Monday’s. Real Feels in the 90s and the air thick with the heat. The great thing about the weather is that it is a voice that we have to listen to if we’re still living on the planet. Yesterday’s heat was like that. Nothing you could do about it.

I had dinner last night with the old friend I’ve known since the early ’70s. All those years in between are like a mini-series in my head. The world has changed so much more dramatically that a lot of it is hard to digest or even comprehend. We meet three, maybe four times a year. Often for lunch. She’s a reader; so am I.

The zucchini fritti at Sette never disappoints.

So last night we met at Sette Mezzo, sitting outside. They give me a spot so I can see them all coming and going. The NYSD’s existence has trained me to always be on the lookout for anything that I can put in print that might interest the reader in a million ways. I was concerned about the heat but my friend didn’t mind at all and was stylishly (yes) dressed for the casual occasion. That’s what used to be called the Best Foot Forward.

The weather had forecast some thunderstorms like the night before — which cooled things off outside. No such luck last night. Outdoor dining is a big hit in New York. Many are reminded of Paris and when remembering they always get a smile of retrospect, a grin. We’re not there yet but the other thing about it is “we’re all together.” This is my notion of the experience. It’s a natural high. It’s the most important fact/reality of our existence. And ironically lost in our technological relationships of today.

So the night before at Sette Mezzo at that table, there was a quick raining, wind rushing moment (with overhead protection), and the tables full. Cooling us off. Reminding how fortunate we all were to be there.  Also there’s a restaurant next door (Bella Blu) and another next to that (Cognac) with a pizza parlor in between (very good), so the block has a lot of foot traffic, with many stopping to kibitz with others passing by or with those at table. It’s the New York version of neighborly. And the dogs. I love the dogs, naturally, and it’s fun to watch them passing through, taking it all in, and curious; far more serious than any of us would ever dream of being.

Tuesday night, some of the guests were exiting while we were at our outside-by-the-door table, when Gigi and Harry Benson appeared. That was a surprise; I hadn’t seen them since last winter. They’ve been in Palm Beach this whole time. Then last night, there they were again, exiting after dinner. Harry told me he was 92. He suggested in his enthusiasm that we do something together. He’s got the photos/he’s got the stories. And I’ve got a keyboard. He’s been here there and everywhere, up down and all around for the last 70 years and he not only took their photographs but he got The Message/Who They Really Are.

My dinner last night started at 7:15 and we were finished at 8:30. My friend’s an early-to-bedder. It was still hot out. I opened up the top of the Mini and put down the windows so we had some breeze driving her home.

Although, this is New York, and there’s always something significant for someone happening every day. For example: To celebrate Alex Rosenberg’s 102 birthday last week, his wife Carole chartered a yacht and invited 50 friends, family, and colleagues. I was not present. I only heard about it afterwards. I love these stories. I’ve been on those yachts around Manhattan at dinners; it’s all magnificent just to see and feel apart of.

As the Manhattan II leaves Chelsea Piers, the birthday boy Alex Rosenberg and his wife Carole pose with Teresita Zucker (middle left) and Hatun Aytug.

It was a beautiful early evening. Departing Chelsea Piers at 6:30 they cruised first up and down the Hudson, around the Statue of Liberty, and up the East River. Champagne and hors d’oeuvres were served in the sunlight, followed by dinner.  And then as the Full Moon rose over Manhattan and its rivers, a fabulous cake arrived.  

The birthday boy, one of the City’s most respected art appraisers, goes to the office every day. He recently hired more staff. He’s also just back from a working trip to California, and next plans to visit Mexico City. He’s a travelin’ man.

Joan Kahn and Ellen Wiesenthal enjoy champagne as the yacht cruises along the Hudson River.
Carole with her son, photographer Michael Halsband.

In a speech before blowing out the candles he said, “I am happy that  so many friends have come to celebrate my long life, which has been unexpected and surely not a result of anything I have done … but primarily the product of Carole’s love and devotion. She has insisted … and apparently believes that with her super effort and the assistance of 12 doctors I will outlive her.”

Since becoming an appraiser of fine art almost 50 years ago, Alex Rosenberg, Sc.D., AAA, ASA, has dedicated himself to codifying the education, skills and ethics involved in appraising.  His professional career in the arts started in 1968 when he began publishing original limited edition prints working closely with artists including Salvador Dalí, Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Rufino Tamayo, Marino Marini, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Tom Wesselmann.

Alex takes a stroll around the boat to chat with his guests. Pictured on either side of Alex are Jason Zucker and Barbara Zand.
The sun sets behind Jonathan Marder, Suzy Slesin, Michael Steinberg, Al Festa, and Sandy Martiny.

Over the next 20 years he published approximately 650 original editions by over 60 artists. From 1971 to 1988 he represented the work of some of these artists, and others, as Director of the Alex Rosenberg Gallery in New York.

Rosenberg served as president of the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) in 1994 and 1995. He has written extensively on the subject of appraising, and co-authored the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) for the AAA. A founder of the Salvador Dali Research Center in the U.S., he currently serves as Chairman Emeritus.  His many credits are too numerus to include here… But he loves his work and so with Carole at his side, he’s blessed with a great life.

Eduardo Castro, Diana Vargas, Giovanni Quinche, Samantha Choos, Carole, and Eddie Muentes enjoy the scenery as the Manhattan II rounds the southern tip of Manhattan. Behind them the Statue of Liberty stands tall in the approaching twilight.
Fellow art appraisers Vivian Ebersman, Robert Simon, Jane Willis, Linda Selvin, Dale Kaplan and Ken Ritvo chat as the yacht passes under the bright lights of the East River.
Guests gather around Alex and Carole to sing “Happy Birthday.”
Alex’s family joins him; sons Larry and Andy Rosenberg, Alex, Carole, grandson Kyle Rosenberg, and son Michael Halsband.
Alex gives a poignant speech remembering those who are no longer with him, celebrating those who are, and urging us to keep fighting to make the world a better place.

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