The arts on full display

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Looking north on Bowery. 8:00 PM. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023. We got some Sun in the morning yesterday, along with the temps a warmer 60 degrees than it’s been lately. And no rain. Rain is good; we all know, but it’s nice when it stops too.

The city is very busy and you see it in the traffic. I looks/feels like there are more cars in Manhattan than ever before. Midday the streets and avenues are jamming the lanes. That may be partly because of the “brilliant” re-designing of the streets. Uh-huh. It’s done wonders for the double and triple parkers of which there are quite a few as well as the two-wheelers on jet skis which can be hazardous – which is a nice way of putting it.

However, that’s New York right now, and it’s more than enough to keep your mind working. Glancing back at theday, I’m reminded that it’s the birthdate of Jack Paar who back in the middle of the last century, was the most famous man on television for fifteen minutes – he was in his 40s and 50s. Famous for his wit in telling stories to us, We, the People. Finally when he had enough, he quit and left it to his successor, Johnny Carson. 

Jack Parr — always a leg up.

I had the pleasure and the privilege of getting to know Jack after he’d left the spotlight. He was relieved to be out but he loved the pleasure of recalling it, and especially the people he came to know. 

One day in our conversation along those lines, he said to me: “you know kid, I actually used to sit up in my office on the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and think I was the center of the world!” The irony of the illusion still amazed him decades later.  He’d grown up.

Today’s Diary is just here to convey “the world” out there and what they are doing for us people and for each other. Last Friday night Marc Rosen gathered friends and neighbors together “A Musical Salute to Spring” at his Fifth Avenue apartment. 

Marc, who is by nature a worker in life, wanted people to meet two remarkable musicians — Eganam Segbefia on Trumpet and Tianyu Deng on Piano. The program included works by Shostakovich, Alexander Goedicke, Maurice Ravel, Aaron Copland and Jean-Baptiste Arban. 

Marc Rosen with Tianyu Deng and Eganam Segbefia.

ÉGO, which is the nickname of  Mr. Segbefia, was born in Nigeria to Ghanian parents, one of nine children. He is an up and coming (and enterprising) musician who also often plays concerts just inside the Park near the James Michael Levin Playground on Fifth Avenue and 76th Street. He came here with his family at age 10 and was educated in New York schools. He got his Classical Trumpet Masters Degree at Manhattan School of Music.

Eganam, aka “ÉGO,” playing inside the 76th street entrance to Central Park.

The neighbors all know him and the small children, too. He got his start busking — the term for performing out in public — at Grand Central Terminal as a member of MTA’s Music Under New York program. ÉGO is naturally ambitious and committed to his work. It’s a charm that enhances his great talent.

Tuenu “Tina” Deng began studying piano at the age of 5 in Gwangzhou, China. Growing up, she studied and performed in China and in Europe. She came to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music. Still studying, Tina plays all over the world and also explores various activities such as learning French, snowboarding, surfing, and playing tennis. Two talented young musicians making their way in the big city and making each day brighter for its citizens.

Eganam Segbefia and Tianyu Deng wowing the guests at Marc’s.

Last Wednesday night, Poetry & the Creative Mind held its 20th annual benefit. The organization’s signature National Poetry Month reading, the event (held virtually) raises funds to support the Academy of American Poets Education Programs, which serves over 100,000 K–12 students each year; empowering the Academy of American Poets to champion poets at every stage of their careers.

This year’s event was a poet lover’s dream, featuring readers such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai; Academy Award-nominated actors Liam Neeson and Ethan Hawke; Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor John Lithgow; Emmy Award-winning actor Alan Cumming; U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón; actor, comedian, and author of the memoir Hello, Molly! Molly Shannon; Indie rock multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Andrew Bird; Award-winning actor Daniel Dae KimNew York Times cooking columnist and author of the New York Times-bestselling Korean American Eric Kim; Award-winning visual artist Shantell Martin; and U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón.

John Lithgow read “Passers-by” by Carl Sandburg and “sorrows” by Lucille Clifton.

Alan Cumming reciting “Broadway” by Mark Doty. He also read “Love is Not All” (Sonnet XXX) by Edna St. Vincent Millay and “Protest” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Shantell Martin reciting “Flux” by Afaa Michael Weaver from “Pink Waves” by Sawako Nakayasu.

Poet Hosts included Ellen Bass, Richard Blanco, Tyree Daye, Kwame Dawes, Carolyn Forché, Kimiko Hahn, Juan Felipe Herrera, Marie Howe, Adriana X. Jacobs, Eunsong Kim, Dorianne Laux, Airea D. Matthews, Sawako Nakayasu, Naomi Shihab Nye, January Gill O’Neil, Willie Perdomo, and Diane Seuss.

Ada Limón reading “Trees at Night” by Helene Johnson. She also read “Salvage” by Ada Limón.

Ethan Hawke reading “As I Walked Out One Evening” by W. H. Auden.

Liam Neeson reciting “Scaffolding” by Seamus Heaney. He also read “Carbon Dating” by Billy Collins and “Once in the 40’s” by William Stafford.

Eric Kim reading “A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg. He also read “The Dream of Knife, Fork, and Spoon” by Kimiko Hahn.

The “Poetry & the Creative Mind” benefit has raised more than 3.2 million dollars total over nineteen years for the Education Program of the Academy of American Poets, a nonprofit organization founded in 1934, which organizes National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world. It fosters the appreciation of contemporary poetry; and supports American poets at all stages of their careers, annually awarding more funds to individual poets than any other organization.

As Ada Limón put it, “We need poetry—in order to reveal ourselves to ourselves and to remind us that we are in relationship, with nature and with each other.” Indeed, we do.

Click here to learn more.

Molly Shannon reciting “Naming the Heartbeats” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. She also recited “Why We Oppose Pockets for Women” by Alice Duer Miller.

Daniel Dae Kim reading “Note to Self Work” by Beau Sia.

Andre Bird singing an original song, “Orpheo Looks Back.” He also read “A Book of Music” by Jack Spicer, “Mirabeau Bridge” by Guillaume Apollinaire.

This past Thursday, the ABAA held its annual New York International Antiquarian Book Fair (NYIABF), produced and managed by Sanford L. Smith.

More than 1500 visitors attended the evening at the Park Avenue Armory to see what the nearly 200 exhibitors from around the world had to offer. Interestingly, in a world where fewer and fewer individuals actually “read” much more than headlines and cell phone messages, this year’s fair had a 15% increased in attendance and was the most successful fair  in terms of sales and attendance in the last ten years!

Major sales, and there were many, from various dealers during opening night included:

Ursus Books, Ltd. sold a whimsical children’s book signed El Pintor that was a success in the Netherlands during World War II. It was created by a Jewish couple who used the proceeds to help the resistance. The purchaser, a Dutch collector plans to donate the piece to the National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam. 

B&B Rare Books sold an original drawing by E.H. Shepard of “Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows” and a first edition of “Mary Poppins Opens the Door” by P.L. Travers.

Honey & Wax Booksellers sold a copy of Andy Warhol’s 1962 artist book “25 Cats Named Sam and a Blue Pussy,” from the library of George Balanchine. The collection sold to Peter Harrington, a dealer-to-dealer sale.

Kate Mitas sold an archive of a civil rights activist who worked with CORE in Mississippi in the mid-1960s, who then became involved in the women’s and gay liberation movements in San Francisco.

Henry Sotheran, Ltd. sold about $9,000 to trade, $2,000 to private clients and received interest for the $67,000 set of Winnie The Pooh books.

Autographes des Siècles sold an assortment of French literature letters and received strong interest in two offerings: a set of drawings by late designer Karl Lagerfeld and his letter of René Descartes, priced at $200.000.

Imperial Fine Books sold items with prices ranging from $4,500 – $20,000,
including a signed and illustrated copy by Kay Nielsen of Hansel And Gretel and a set of Nicholay and Hay’s Abraham Lincoln Works and Benjamin Franklin’s work.

Tamino Autographs, Inc. sold around $72,000, including an original photo of John Lennon taken the day of his assassination.

Schubertiade Music & Arts (At “B” Dry Goods”) sold an important musical manuscript from the library of Marie Antoinette and the double signed score from Fiddler on the Roof.

Heading the last week of April was Publicolor celebrating their 24th annual gala, Stir Splatter + Roll, on April 24th, at Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. The evening started with a cocktail hour painting party where more than 400 guests painted totes and canvas panels with some of New York’s leading artists, designers, and architects including Nicole Miller, Tucker Viemeister, Saya Woolfalk, Takaaki Matsumoto, and Nikki Kule.

Ruth Lande Shuman leading the way.

Dinner began with Publicolor’s founder/president, Ruth Lande Shuman, leading a lively processional of 60 students clapping and singing “We are Family” up to the stage. This is an annual tradition speaking to Publicolor’s culture and commitment: to become a second family for the young people they support.

The student speakers truly highlight how Publicolor takes the lives of young people from low-income communities already facing immense challenges — like food and housing insecurity, from low-performing and overcrowded schools; like the pressure to join gangs, as well as teenage pregnancy, and unstable and unsafe family situations — and shows them the value of another way to depend on themselves. 

The results are awesome to the observer, but for the student it’s about moving up. It’s something to celebrate. Each year, 100% of the Publicolor students are promoted to the next grade, all of their high school seniors graduate on time, and 100% go on to college or a post-secondary accreditation program.

Publicolor Board and Junior Board.

Related Companies’ Ken Wong gave a heartfelt tribute to Kohn Pedersen and Fox’s founding partner Eugene Kohn, who sadly passed away in early March. Mr. Kohn was an ardent supporter of Publicolor’s mission, and served as the organization’s Board Chair and often shared his belief that “Publicolor saves lives.”

Ken Wong, Barbara Kohn, and Ruth Shuman.

The evening’s honorees were Patagonia, represented by Leticia de Mello Bueno, head of corporate social responsibility, Rosa Pietanza, from NYU’s department of Teaching, and architects Jean and Thomas Phifer. Each spoke about the thoughtfulness and vital nature of Publicolor’s programs.

After dinner, guests were invited back to the cocktail area to mingle with students, and enjoy delicious passed desserts, and bid on fabulous Silent Auction items.

Leticia de Mello Bueno and fellow Patagonia-n.

To me, the story is also the achievement of Ruth Lande Shuman who is Canadian born-and-raised but has been a New Yorker all of her adult life.  I’ve watched her over the last quarter century showing immediate results, the student’s satisfaction with him or herself. Ruth’s mother was by birth a Bronfman, sister of the men who were founders of Seagram’s. She was in the last century one of the most active philanthropists in Canada. She brought up her daughter by showing her the value and satisfaction out of leading others to see.The greatest gift of all.

Angelica Farias, Dana Bronfman, Natasha Seng, Gaby Gonzalez, and Ellie Levitt.
L. to r.: Aria Sundaram and Ketan Parekh; Elizabeth Rose and John Shea.
Dianne Weston, Ruth Lande Shuman, and Barabara Flood.
L. to r.: Emma Bushnell, Rohan Weerasinghe, and Oliver Weerasinghe; Charles Renfro.
Eileen Dautruche.
L. to r.: Mark Mitton and Ruth Lande Shuman; Joshua Lawson, Ruth, and Peterson Saint-Louis.
Jeffrey Banks and Millie Peartree.
L. to r.: Nicole Miller and team; Natasha Seng and Robert di Mauro.
Nicole Miller team.
Marlaina Depp, Tom Krizmanic, and EJ Lee.
L. to r.: Rosa Pietanza and Marilyn Kirschner; Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat.
The Gensler crew.
L. to r.: Ruth Shuman with Jane Lahr and Jim Richman.
Stephen van Anden, Ruth Shuman, and Anita Contini.
Henry Flynn.
Jeffrey Banks, Ruth Shuman, and Michael Shuman.

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