Wednesday, October 28, 2020. A mostly cloudy, otherwise a mild day in New York with temps in the high 50s. The upcoming election is on the mind of most if not all of us, with long lines around the block waiting to cast their votes. The traffic was also very heavy with blocks and blocks of double parked trucks and vans squeezing the driving lanes (and keeping the parking lanes packed). To these eyes, coincidentally or not, I associate it with the polling places. I don’t recall another election time on the Upper East Side when the crowds were this heavy (or noticeable) pre-voting day.
There is a sense of anticipation in the air. That’s a nice word for it because since the “pandemic” set the pace, there is a lot of solitary aggravation with ordinary day-to-day of this huge and great city. It is a vibe that has been around for months now, and it has somewhat lessened. But there’s still that subconscious sense of anxiety looming. We all take it personally, and not as a group.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the night before last I had dinner at Sette Mezzo with my old friend Philip Carlson. We sat outside where there are heaters now lighting up. Many still prefer outside rather than in, carrying the concern that it might be “safer” outside. Outside or inside, I prefer the spot where I can watch and take it all in and perhaps even see a couple of friends who’ve been out of sight.
Last night while waiting for Philip, sitting there on the sidewalk with a view looking north, I see this tall and model-slender woman, blonde but under a hat all in black looking runway slender, hip and chic. I said to myself that looks a little like Cornelia Guest whom I hadn’t seen in more than a year or two. But also looked younger than Cornelia and she looked like a fashion mode. I’m not exaggerating.
As she got closer to my table I saw her eyes were on me … hmmm. Until: she came up and stopped and extended her hand and blew me a kiss from under her black masque (also chic), and hurried to her hosts’ table where she was soon joined by Peter Marino, traditionally adorned in the same black. For a moment I wondered if they had planned it that way. Needless to say, it was a great sight for these New York eyes. And took our mind off of other matters.
I spoke to Cornelia after they’d finished and were leaving. She’s been away from New York mainly for the last few years. After her mother CZ died, she decided to make a new home for herself and her (rescued) animals. Cornelia is kinda naturally chic like her great late mother. It’s second nature. But the rest of her is nature first. First was an upstate farm, and now Texas. I haven’t had the moment to ask her about it. Having seen her I’m reminded.
Moving physically in one’s life, particularly if you are traveling single takes an adventurous spirit. Cornelia has that. I don’t know Texas. I know several of its citizens because of their travels to New York. All very nice, friendly people. Thinking of its social cache, I’m often reminded of Noel Coward’s lyrics of the Cole Porter song “Let’s Do It (… let’s fall in love). One of the lines Coward wrote and recorded
In Texas, some of the men do it.
Others drill a hole and then do it.
Let’s Do It, let’s Fall in Love
Anyway, it was good see Cornelia and that energy forthright, and her beautiful, warm and familiar smile.
Meanwhile, back at the other ranch. Judy Chicago burst into tears when crowned during MAD Ball 2020. “I have gotten a number of awards, and this tops them all. What is most meaningful to me is to help MAD because my goal always has been to make a contribution. I have a long history with MAD.”
The crown itself has “a vaginal opening, pink velvet center, snake symbols which are the archetypical phallic motif, and spoons referencing Judy’s The Dinner Party,” explained artist Trulee Hall, who created the award made of heatform moldable thermoplastic sheets.
The MAD BALL virtual benefit brought something new. They were connected to people everywhere via Zoom, even gathering safely for watch parties at homes and restaurants. MAD is now a discovery for people here and in other places who never kenw about it.
The action-packed evening kicked off with a warm introduction from MAD’s Chair Michele Cohen live from East Hampton and was hosted by MX Justin Vivian Bond, live from their home in Hudson, New York (and with a special guest appearance by their cat, Leather).
Rosanne Cash performed a heartfelt song and praised Chicago, “You’ve cleared a path for young women around the world. Not just young women but old women, as well.”
Judy Chicago was live via Zoom from the Santa Fe home of her friends and gallerists Tonya Turner Carroll and Michael Carroll, joined by friends and collectors, including Jordan Schnitzer. Sporting her trademark smoky purple hair and magenta lips, she sparked a sartorial competition; MAD’s Chief Curator Elissa Auther wore “Judy” glasses and a yellow feather boa, while MAD Assistant Curator Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy appeared with a full face of artful rainbow eye shadow.
The evening included a live conversation with Judy, a conversation between Chicago and Auther produced by Chiara Clemente, and a tour of The Dinner Party with Brooklyn Museum Curator Carmen Hermo.
Tinu Naija, philanthropist and designer, delivered a personal message to MAD Champions Award recipient Barbara Tober (in Valentino). “To my good friend … I miss you, our lunches, and your very handsome husband,” said Naija, with a big smile on her face. Also celebrated were Donald Tober and MAD’s longtime trustees—Simona and Jerome A. Chazen, and Laura and Lewis Kruger.
MAD’s young patrons group, MAD Luminaries, gathered at New York City’s Spring Place for a socially distanced gathering hosted by Trustee Alexander Hankin with attending artists Shantell Martin, Fischer Cherry, and Mia Wright-Ross.
The evening included a special tribute in remembrance of the late Nanette L. Laitman by Michele Cohen and Laitman’s granddaughter Abby Eletz.
MAD Ball guests included: Timo Weiland, Nick Hissom, Kameron Ramirez, ThankYouX, Kevin Scott Hees, Polina Proshkina and Yan Assoun, Christina Senia, Swoon, Andrew Erdos, Ralph Gibson, Sheila Pepe & Carrie Moyer, Bonnie Eletz, Cathy Seligman, Helen Drutt, Meriel Lari, Patricia Specter, Elizabeth Stribling, Cece Black, Joanna Fisher, Larry Milstein, Didi and Oscar Schafer, Sybil Yurman, and Kathy Landy.
Other members of MAD’s Board who were present included: Eric and Barbara Dobkin, Patti and Michael Dweck, Linda and Seth Plattus, Cynthia and Jeffrey Manocherian, Klara and Larry Silverstein, Marsy Mittlemann, Mike DePaola, Barbara Waldman, Angela Sun, and Ann Kaplan.
The annual MAD Ball, like MAD itself, celebrates the role of craft in history, culture, and society. Founded and nurtured by philanthropist Aileen Osborn, MAD places the value of craft at the center of its focus, promoting a view of the world unobstructed by traditional definitions of fine art.
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields and presents the work of artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill.
Since the Museum’s founding in 1956 by philanthropist Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum’s curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design, and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives.
MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving twenty-first-century innovation, and fosters a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design. For more information, visit https://madmuseum.org