Wednesday, November 1, 2023. Cold over here yesterday, although the weatherman claimed it was in the low 50s. I took the dogs out, wearing just a jacket and not that extra sweater. The dogs didn’t mind but we moved a little faster which never bothers them because there is a “treat” at the end of the walk, no matter how long it takes or doesn’t.
I grew up in a household that was rife with my father’s Irish temper and my mother’s concern for a roof over our heads. This was not, and is not an unusual domestic situation (in America, at least). I won’t say “common” but we are, after all, just creatures acting like ‘em all.
I mention this today because of the state of the world rampant with violence and opinions. I consider it all knowing full well I have no power over any of it. It eludes us, or maybe most of us, that we tolerate the violence and opinions. I tend to think that just in recalling my own childhood. In that frequently speculated-upon possibly roof-less existence, the thought of which created actual raging tempers (my father’s), kept us in the tolerating department, at least with a roof over our heads.
A few years ago, in a documentary about my life (for those who haven’t yet watched it — and are somewhat interested — go here!), we traveled up north to Mass. where the house still stands. It’s probably the oldest house on that street, built first as a farmhouse in 1836 before there was electricity, telephones, automobiles, radio, television, outer glory or even roads or footpaths, let alone trips to Mars and the Moon.
Whoever owns the house now has completely restored it to its simple New England farmhouse elegance. At the sight of it you might not believe it has been standing there for 187 years, despite the human dramas (like the Columbias) that infested the place at certain times in its history. The dramatists have long since been forgotten, although the dramas maintain their appeal in future lives, as they should be. We’re still in the process of learning, alas, alack and all that.
It was the walk with the dogs with not enough protection from the cold that inspired all that.
Now, back to the basics of NYC on the first day of the eleventh month of what will soon be the old year — along with everything else going on in our world — are the recent social events, many of them philanthropic fund-raisers and a good glance at the better intentions within us.
This past Saturday, October 28th, the Holland Society of New York held its 133rd Dinner Dance at the Lotos Club. The Holland Society was founded in 1885 as a historical and genealogical society to honor and preserve the history of New Netherland, the Dutch settlement which became New York. The Society annually awards a Medal for Distinguished Achievement for civic, cultural, or social contributions to New York. This year’s medalist was Peg Breen, the President of the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
The Landmarks Conservancy was founded fifty years ago in 1973 dedicated to “preserving, revitalizing, and reusing” historic structures in New York, there to remind us of both the Past and the Future.
The Conservancy provides expertise, grants, and technical support to private and public owners of prehistoric properties. Since its founding, the organization has provided more than $60 million dollars in loans and grants to more than 1,300 restoration projects throughout New York.
Peg Breen joined the Conservancy in 1994 and she has led the organization’s efforts in saving the buildings, neighborhoods, and landmarks that matter to New York. From her role in saving the 9/11 “Survivors’ Staircase,” helping nonprofits recover after Superstorm Sandy, supporting the Moynihan Train Hall, and saving the country’s largest Picasso that for decades hung in the Seagram’s Building, by facilitating its donation to the New-York Historical Society. Peg’s work has helped keep New York the unique and wonderful city we all know and love.
The Society welcomed nearly 80 guests to the Dinner Dance, including Len Berman and Lori Zeltser, Max Cadmus, Tessa Dikker, Scott Dwyer and Jonathan Doucette, Ashley and Steve Ganz, Emil Janssens and Janneke van Geuns, Sally Quackenbush Mason, Francisco Montero and Susan Libby, Anne Teasdale, David and Marcia Welles, and Clara Hemphill.
In advance of dinner, the traditional toasts were made. Holland Society president Colonel Adrian Bogart III (Ret.) greeted the guests and thanked the evening’s sponsors, First Manhattan and Heineken. After dinner, President Bogart presented Peg Breen with the Society’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Contributions to the City of New York.
In thanking the Society Ms. Breen spoke about the importance of the Landmarks Conservancy’s work. Following Ms. Donhauser’s acceptance speech, President Bogart shared his plans for the Society’s future, including greater collaboration between organizations that focus on the history of New York. He then introduced the long-running Holland Society tradition of the Parading of the Beaver, the mascot of the Society in honor of the beaver trade that supported New Netherland. Guests retired to the Library for dancing, with music by the Peter Duchin Orchestra.
A few days before, on October 24th, The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art hosted its annual gala celebrating American art at the Rainbow Room. The gala recognized the Keith Haring Foundation, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Ruth Fine for their transformative contributions in the field of American art.
Guests included Barbara Castelli, Paula Cooper, Nicholas de Kwiatkowski, Sidney Felsen, Garth Greenan, Ellen Grinstein Perliter, Ayn Grinstein, Julia Gruen, John Hays, George and Lauren Merck, Joan Agajanian Quinn, Amanda Quinn Olivar, Barbara Tober, Gil Vazquez, and Migs Wright; artists: Elsa Flores Alamarz, Neal Ambrose-Smith, LeKela Brown, Abigail DeVille, Anna Bogatin and Beau Ott, Howardena Pindell, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Charles Simonds, Frank Stewart, and Joey Terrill; art historians: Rafael Barrientos, Avis Berman, and Ruth Fine.
Board Chairman George Merck in welcoming guests announced the evening’s fundraising initiative to support internships at the Archives of America Art. Archives Director Anne Helmreich spoke about how “The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art safeguards and shares stories that tell the complex, ever-evolving story of American art, culture, and society—searching out and lifting up the voices and stories that define the American experience.”
The Archives of American Art Medal was presented to the Keith Haring Foundation by Chairman George Merck. Gil Vazquez, Executive Director of the Keith Haring Foundation, accepted the award and thanked Julia Gruen who now serves as the Foundation chairman and who was Executive Director of the Foundation for 30 years. Both Vazquez and Gruen were appointed by Keith Haring to manage the Keith Haring Foundation.
Artist Howardena Pindell presented the second Archives of American Art Medal to Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, a citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s ground-breaking Memory Map exhibition opened earlier this year at the Whitney Museum of American Art and has now travelled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Shelley Langdale, Curator and Head of Modern Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Art, presented artist Ruth Fine with the Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History. The Fleischman Award was established in 1998 by Trustee Emerita Barbara G. Fleischman as a tribute to her late husband, who co-founded the Archives in 1954.
The Smithsonian Archives of American Art collects, preserves, and makes available primary sources documenting the history of the visual arts in the United States. The Archives holds the papers of American art luminaries such as the Leo Castelli Gallery, Roy DeForest, Stanley and Elyse Grinstein, Frederick Hammersley, Nancy Holt, Rockwell Kent, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Roy Lichtenstein, Chiura Obata, Jackson Pollock, Leon Polk Smith, Robert Smithson, Alma Thomas, Gloria Vanderbilt Whitney and many more.
Also on the evening of October 25th, the 39th annual Alzheimer’s Association Imagine Benefit, founded and built on the legacy of the Rita Hayworth Gala by Hayworth’s daughter Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, was held at New York’s iconic Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Hosted by two-time Olympic medalist and Alzheimer’s Association Celebrity Champion, Laurie Hernandez, the evening raised more than $700,000 in critical funds for the organization’s care, support, and research programs. The evening also amplified awareness to Alzheimer’s, a disease that affects now more than 6 million Americans and more than 11 million caregivers.
Princess Yasmin was joined by event chair, Joseph M. Boitano. Prager Metis CPAs was honored with the Rita Hayworth Award for their incredible commitment to moving the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission forward.
“The incredible generosity of this room is a testament to the lasting legacy of my mother, Rita Hayworth,” said Princess Yasmin Aga Khan. She added, “Our combined efforts will help raise awareness and make the Alzheimer Association’s mission to end Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementia a reality.”
A main feature of the evening was the entertainment, which included a special tribute to Tony Bennett by Emmy and Golden Globe award winner Darren Criss, and Broadway star Colton Ryan. The two powerhouse performers played songs from Bennett’s beloved repertoire including “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Stranger in Paradise,” and “Who Can I Turn To.” Members of the Bennett family, including Susan Benedetto, Dae Bennett and Robin Baker were in attendance, expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the Alzheimer’s Association’s crucial work.
Joanne Pike, DrPH, president and CEO, Alzheimer’s Association addressed Princess Yasmin’s dedication to the Association and its mission:
“Princess Yasmin is what we consider an uber volunteer. Over three decades, she’s raised more than $86 million for the Alzheimer’s Association through the Imagine Benefit and Rita Hayworth Galas. She’s been standing with us from the beginning and has been instrumental in helping us change the course of this disease. Now, for the first-time ever, we are in an era of treatment for people living with early Alzheimer’s. While there is more work to do, we can take pride in this moment. We share this moment with Princess Yasmin and are forever appreciative of her steadfast commitment to the cause.”
Additional entertainment from Evan Drachman accompanied by Wan-Chi Su, R.Q. Tek and Ballet Hispanico and meaningful storytelling were enjoyed by the over 200 attendees throughout the cocktails, dinner program and dancing. Ballet Hispanico’s original piece was performed as an homage to Rita Hayworth, highlighting how she learned to dance from her father who was a talented flamenco dancer.
Josie Natori provided the costumes for the performance. The Mission Moment featured Emmy award nominated documentarian Emma Francis-Snyder and included a preview of her upcoming documentary entitled “Anatomy of a Life,” that highlights her trials as her father’s Alzheimer’s disease progresses through firsthand conversations with him, capturing the emotional realities of end-of-life care. The evening ended with dessert and dancing with Peloton instructor and DJ, Jess King.
This year’s Imagine Benefit Host Committee, Karim Barrada, Sharon Bush and Bob Murray, Emily and Jon Gelb, Michele Herbert, Cheri Kaufman, Brooke and Oliver Kennan, Naeem Khan, Karyn Kornfeld and Steven Kobre, Louise and Stephen Kornfeld, Fifi and Scott Leachman, Jaqui Lividini, Robin and Roger Meltzer, Douglas Meyer, Craig Michaelson, Deanna Rockefeller, Peter Thomas Roth, Michelle Rubel, Nicole Sexton, Suzanne Silverstein, Martha Webster, and Jennifer Lonnie Wollin, were joined by guests including Randy Hearst Harris, Ubah Hassan and Oliver Dachsel, Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg, David Monn, Josie Natori, PJ Pascual, and Sarah Tam.
The event is generously underwritten by Rolex. On the way out, guests received incredible gift bags donated by Santa Maria Novella and Peter Thomas Roth.
Funds raised at the Imagine Benefit 2023 will support the Alzheimer’s Association’s care, support and research programs and the local efforts of the New York City and Long Island Chapters of the Association. In addition to 410,000 New Yorkers living with Alzheimer’s disease, more than 546,000 in the state provide unpaid care to someone living with the disease.