Wednesday, July 19, 2023. The weather’s still the story in New York. Heavy rainstorms that suddenly push away the sunny and very warm (humid) air, delivering a powerful rainstorm filling up the gutters almost instantly making you wonder what’s next. What’s next is after about seven or ten minutes, it just stops, the clouds part and the Sun comes out again. Doesn’t seem like much but it catches us unexpectedly getting soaked even if you have an umbrella. It’s not so bad and interestingly dramatic if you’re inside (and cool) throughout.
Meanwhile, the city is its quiet July self. Although out-of-town is where the action is attracting the crowds. Let’s start with the 27th Newport Flower Show drawing thousands of visitors during the weekend of June 23-25. Newport is a beautiful and interesting but small coastal city with a population of 25,000 or so. “Thousands” indicates a lot of visitors from elsewhere.
A sellout crowd flocked to the Opening Night Reception, an event that signals the start of the Newport summer season. Hundreds mingled under clear skies on the oceanside back lawn of Marble House, enjoying cocktails, cuisine from a variety of stations, live music and a lifestyle marketplace for shopping.
This was also first time in a quarter century that it was held at Marble House (1892), a Gilded Age jewel inspired by the Alva Vanderbilt’s idea of the Petit Trianon of Versailles. The show’s usual location is Rosecliff, another stately seaside palace (built about 10 years after) owned by another heiress, Tessie Fair Oelrichs, whose father was a partner in the Comstock Lode, the first major silver lode discovered in Nevada in 1860.
Newport still retains its glittering history of a century ago thanks to the preservation of the architecture of that era and its relationship to America’s booming 19th and early 20th century.
Rhode Island Governor Daniel J. McKee and First Lady Susan McKee were present making the rounds throughout the evening. There was a special ceremony held to honor Robert Bartlett Jr., the chairman and CEO of Bartlett Tree Experts which was the presenting sponsor of the Newport Flower Show and a longtime supporter of the Preservation Society.
The event was chaired once again by Pat Fernandez. The Show took its name and inspiration from “The Grand Tour,” the Gilded Age tradition of an extended voyage of immersion in the art and culture of Europe.
It was worth the trip for the shows visitors. They experienced a colorful and beautiful voyage through the floral world, all within the spectacular rooms and back terrace of Alva Vanderbilt’s palace, as well as The Chinese Tea House she had built on the grounds of this famous Newport landmark.
Highlights included Creative Mixed Planters interpreting such iconic destinations as Versailles, the Alps and Venice and Botanical Arts that showcased intricate objects and jewelry created from dried plant materials.
All proceeds from the Newport Flower Show benefit The Preservation Society of Newport County — a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties — seven of them National Historic Landmarks — span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.
Visit NewportMansions.org for more information.
Meanwhile, this past weekend out in East Hampton, a Preview Benefit Cocktail Party for the 2023 East Hampton Antiques & Design Show was held on the beautiful, historic grounds of Mulford Farm in the heart of East Hampton Village.
Guests had the opportunity to meet the dynamic Honorary Chair Liz Lange, American fashion designer, entrepreneur, author, podcast host, you-name-it. She is also most interestingly the current owner of the fabled Grey Gardens estate in East Hampton.
Meanwhile, guests of the evening enjoyed an early buying opportunity of the impressive array of antiques, art, jewelry, timelessly chic furniture, accessories and collectibles. Ticket proceeds benefited the East Hampton Historical Society.
Guests included Aerin Lauder, Richard and Lauren DuPont, Jenny Landey, Laura Doyle, Katharine Rayner, Annette Cumming, Mike Clifford and Robert Levy. The design community came out in full force, including David Netto, Stephen Sills, Scott Sanders, Marshall Watson, Tom Scheerer, Steven Gambrel, David Kleinberg, Tom Samet and Nathan Wold. East Hampton Historical Society Trustees attended, included Debbie Druker (Event Chair), James Blauvelt, Paige Daly, Andrew Davis, Dorian Fuhrman, Arthur “Tiger” Graham, Lys Marigold, Jackie Mitchell, Frank Newbold, Coco Shean and Executive Director Steve Long.
The Antiques & Design Show continued on through Saturday and Sunday, with surprise visits from Joy Behar, Christie Brinkley, Jill Rappaport, and Alan Patricof!
Now in its 17th year, the East Hampton Antiques & Design Show is widely recognized as the premier antiques & design event on eastern Long Island, a highlight of the East Hampton arts and social calendar.
More than 50 top art and antique dealers participated, with a diverse selection of rare and unique items for the home and garden. More than 1,500 visitors attended. The 2023 East Hampton Antiques & Design Show was made possible in part by the generous support of Ralph Lauren, Veranda Magazine, and Landscape Details. It was managed by Green Tree Events.
The weekend before, on Friday, July 7th, Jean and Martin Shafiroff entertained more than 100 guests at their home in Southampton to celebrate the launch of the fundraising season of the Southampton Hospital Foundation.
Among the guests were: Fern Mallis, Candace Bushnell, current owner of the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach Sarah Wetenhall with her daughter Amelia, Media Takeout CEO Fred Mwangaguhunga and wife Notoya; former Real Housewives of New York City member Ramona Singer; Hospital trustees were out in force including Ladd Willis with his wife Cindy, John Wambold with his wife Melanie, Laura Lofaro Freeman with her husband Jim, Alan Glatt with his wife Barbara, and Elena Ford and Mitch Seldin; and artist and board member J. Oscar Molina with fellow artist Patti Grabel.
With Alexei Ratmansky’s recent West Coast premiere of a new Giselle, dance became political, as it was performed by the United Ukrainian Ballet (UUB) at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, in Costa Mesa.
“Hope is what the United Ukrainian Ballet is all about,” declared the choreographer, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made these dancers refugees, but it also brought them together. They found strength to create something beautiful out of their pain.”
The evening was a benefit for BlueCheck Ukraine; the organization created by Liev Schreiber, to vet, verify, and fund Ukrainian-led frontline organizations providing humanitarian aid to victims.
The evening was made possible by Elizabeth Segerstrom, Ratmansky’s longtime friend and major supporter of his work at the American Ballet Theater and through the Henry T. and Elizabeth Segerstrom Foundation. Mrs. Segerstrom attended the evening surrounded by friends and hosted a reception following the opening night.
Born in Leningrad, Ratmansky’s father is Ukrainian and his mother Russian. He was raised in Kyiv, where much of his family still lives. So, for him, the conflict is personal.
Elizabeth Segerstrom offered these words, “Despite insurmountable obstacles, these dancers, who have all been displaced because of this tragic conflict, have remarkably come together to create a world-class company which demonstrates the transcendent power of the arts. This evening is dedicated not only to these dancers and their spirit but also to you, whose presence tonight demonstrates your commitment to the cause.”
A star-studded audience, including Cheryl Burke, Veronika Dash, Mario Lopez, Nigel Lythgoe, Gleb Savchenko, and Montana Tucker as well as Los Angeles Ballet’s Artistic Director Melissa Barak and Chair Jennifer Bellah Maguire, who joined the Artistic Director and Founder of UUB, Igone de Jongh, who said, “Tonight is an historic occasion, made possible by the Henry T. and Elizabeth Segerstrom Foundation through her tremendous generosity and humanitarian spirit. Elizabeth has brought us here to this magnificent theater, to share with you the transformative power of the arts.”
ABT’s Christine Shevchenko starred the title role on opening night, with a cast that also included Alexis Tutunnique, Elizaveta Gogidze, Oleksii Kniazkov, Iryna Zhalovska, and Denys Nedak with the Pacific Symphony under the baton of Gavriel Heine.
Ratmansky explained, “This Giselle is an interpretation of one of the greatest romantic ballets in the classical repertoire. The end is surprising. Traditionally, the hero is left alone with his pain. Our ending gives hope.”
After the final curtain for Giselle, and rounds of standing ovations, UUB returned to the stage with Ukrainian flags as Pacific Symphony played the Ukrainian National Anthem. When the curtain rose again, Ukrainian soldier Oleksander Budko Teren took the stage performing Airlift, choreographed by Emma Evelein. Both his legs have been amputated after a tragic war incident. Now fitted for prosthetics in the US (thanks to the Revived Soldiers Ukraine Foundation), UUB invited him to attend their performance in Washington and he fell in love with the company.
UUB dancers surrounded Teren as the emotional crowd at Segerstrom Center for the Arts rose to their feet again when the curtain fell the final time.