The city is beginning to heat up …

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The Central Park Conservancy Women’s Committee hosted a cocktail reception at the newly restored Belvedere Castle after a 15-month comprehensive renovation.

Friday, September 13, 2019. Overcast with rain threatening yesterday with temps in the high 70s, and not much moisture until the evening, with temps in the high 50s. The classic seasonal social activities are beginning to heat up although it’s still quiet time on the calendar.

Nevertheless: This past Monday night, the New York Public Library held an opening of an exhibition of over 50 works by watercolorist and travel writer William P. Rayner. 

During his three-decade career as editorial business manager at Conde Nast, and on his trips with family and friends, Billy —as he was known to many friends and acquaintances — trekked across Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and North Africa. He assiduously kept notes on his journeys, as well as drawings, postcards, clippings, and ephemera in his diaries and travel journals.

Billy Rayner, his studio in East Hampton, and his view from the studio painted by him.

The sketching and painting began as a way of quickly recording his first impressions of a place. In the beginning, he did it as an aid for his writing, but the watercolors eventually became Billy’s pastime and passion.

Billy, who died last year at age 89, was the original Hail fellow well met. He wrote about his work: “Traveling and painting in watercolors have always been the twin pastimes that have given me the greatest pleasure and been the most rewarding part of my adult life. To put a watercolor kit on my back, stowed with a diary and to set off for foreign lands is a pleasure for me that has never grown stale. It has been my recreation as well as vocation. It has been my life.”

Billy and Kathy Rayner at a reception for an exhibition of Billy’s watercolors in 2017.

Monday night, Billy’s wife Kathy Rayner and William Kelly, Director of the Research Libraries at the New York Public Library, hosted an opening reception of his watercolors at the Library in the Katharine J. Rayner Special Collections Wing.

Among the guests attending were Peter Marino — who made brief remarks about his love for Billy and Kathy — Roger Alcaly and Helen Bodian, Caroline Weber, Alexandra Foreman and Jonathan Burnham, Cathy Graham, Janine and J. Tomilson Hill; Paul LeClerc and Judith Ginsberg, Earle and Carol Mack, Peter and Brittany Melhado, Aysha Schomburg, Darren Walker, Khalil and Stephanie Muhammad, Daisy Soros, Martha Stewart, Lulu Wang and Sheila Wolfe.

Also on Monday evening over in Central Park, the Central Park Conservancy Women’s Committee hosted a cocktail reception at the newly restored Belvedere Castle which is located in mid-Park at 79th Street. It was a celebration of the castle’s summer reopening after a 15-month comprehensive renovation.

Belvedere Castle.

Hosting the cocktail event were Women’s Committee President Alexia Leuschen with her husband, David Leuschen; along with Melanie and Jordan Fowler and Lauren and Kevin Kenny. Guests included Amanda Ross Bacon, Anna Chapman, Vanessa Cornell, Carolina de Neufville, Amandine and Stephen Freidheim, Tabitha Simmons, and Chai Vaserhelyi and Jimmy Chin.

Everyone was mesmerized by the sweeping views of Central Park. Anyone visiting the Park (millions and millions of visitors) has seen and admired the castle as it sits on its majestic knoll near the Delacorte Theater, but few ever get around to visiting it. Monday evening, tours of the Belvedere were highlighting the newly restored features that were original to its historic design, and modernized systems for long-term sustainability.

Melanie Fowler, Amanda Ross, Carlos Mota, and Alexia Leuschen.
L. to r.: Alexia Leuschen, Melanie Fowler, and Lauren Kenny; Catherine Fraise and Evrard Fraise.
Katherine Holmgren, Carolina De Nefville, and Annie Taube.
L. to r.: Juliana Jereissati and Priscilla Zoullas; Samhita Jayanti.
Lara Meiland-Shaw, Lauren Kenny, and Carolina de Neufville.
L. to r.:Tom Kempner and Betsy Smith; Chai Vasarhelyi and Carolina De Neufville.
Amadine Friedheim and Alexia Leuschen.
Tabitha Simmons and Anna Chapman.

Meanwhile out in the Hamptons, The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) held their annual gala at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. The summer benefit supported the 15th Annual PCF Pro-Am Tennis Tournament, and celebrated the more than $788 million raised in the past quarter-century for prostate cancer research. 

Founder Michael Milken and the gala in the Hamptons weekend hosts and sponsors welcomed guests to enjoy, engage and be entertained while helping to fund the next groundbreaking discoveries in cancer research.

Bryan Adams and Michael Milken.

Among those attending were founder Michael Milken, U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy, Stewart Rahr, Rob Citrone, Tom Lee, Roger and Roxann Taylor, Arthur Becker, Bonnie Pfeifer Evans, Leon and Leesa Wagner, Howard Lutnick, David and Sybil Yurman, Larry Leeds and Lauren Vernon, Jeff and Mei Sze Greene, Tiffany Trump, Dr. Jonathan and Plum Simons, John Lloyd, Nicki Rabin, James Coleman, Nouriel Roubini, Alison and Jay Bernstein, Glenn and Jenifer Myles, Peter Brant, Jr. and Harry Brant.  Tennis professionals: Denys Molchanov, Treat Huey, Scott Lipsky, Daniel Nestor, Alex Bogomolov, Jr., Cyril Saulnier, Robert Kendrick, Jared Palmer, Rick Leach, Amer Delic, Chris Haggard and Ashley Fisher.

Michael Milken, opening the benefit dinner, asked a series of icebreaking questions covering topics discussed during the weekend’s festivities. This created a relaxed atmosphere and gradually eased attendees into the evening ahead of them.

Bryan Adams performing.

Every year, the PCF Pro-Am Tennis Tournament raises awareness of prostate cancer and supports the foundation’s efforts to eradicate the disease that strikes one in nine American men. PCF’s President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jonathan W. Simons touched on the progress made through their life-changing research. Immunologist and Nobel laureate, Dr. James P. Allison, dazzled the crowd with an impromptu harmonica performance. Celebrating everyone’s efforts, Grammy award winning musician Bryan Adams performed and ended the night in high spirits on the dance floor.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world’s leading philanthropic organization dedicated to funding life-saving cancer research. Founded in 1993 by Mike Milken, it has funded nearly $800 million of research by 2,200 scientists at 220 leading cancer centers in 22 countries around the world.

L. to r.: Plum Simons and Dr. Jonathan Simons; Lauren Vernon and Larry Leeds.
L. to r.: Christine Jones; Mei Sze Greene and Jeff Greene; Robert Citrone.
L. to r.: Bonnie Pfeifer Evans; Artie Rabin.
L. to r.: Kevin McCarthy; Monica and Andrew Weinberg.

And up north in the Berkshires, Mass MoCA is happening! And Jill Lynne is present. She writes:

Art may not be able to save the world, but it has an indisputable power to heal, and inspire. On this, my second visit to MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) – perhaps now my most favorite museum – I experienced this:  When I entered the museum, my mind was preoccupied by the disturbances transpiring in our country and world. Multiple hours later I emerged feeling refreshed and more hopeful.

MASS MoCA’s sixteen acres encompass a vast complex of 26 19th century mill buildings in North Adams Massachusetts — the Berkshires. Since the Revolutionary war, the site had been used for manufacturing until the founding of the Museum in 1986. 

The staff of the Williams College Museum of Art, led by its director, Thomas Krens — who would later become Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was seeking economic space to exhibit large works of contemporary art that would not fit in conventional museum galleries. MASS MoCA arose for the need. It is a world unto itself with myriad dynamic exhibitions and installations, and a nightly performance program.

My dream for next season is to install myself close to MASS MoCA for at least a week and totally immerse myself in the Museum …

Upside down trees welcome all to MASS MoCA.
Whimsical backwards signage announce the location.

A historical Photo Exhibition, “A Place Removed,” by Nicholas Whitman, who began photographing the site pre-museum in 1988, highlights its most recent incarnation and closing of the Sprague Electric Company — where small transistors were reportedly manufactured in secret for the U.S. government.

The formidable Sprague Gate. Note that the original configuration of buildings has respectfully been preserved.
Self-explanatory sign demanding worker rigor.
Architectural elements such as the covered bridge between factory buildings were innovatively transformed.
The wondrous “in Harmonicity, The Tonal Walkway” by Julianne Swartz, while waking through one is surrounded by emotionally-charged sounds using the human voice, and 24 singers (both professionals and amateurs) from 7 years old through 75, Here she references a 19th century music from called “Tonic Sol-Fa”… The experience is transformative and mood-altering.

The enormity of the available space at MASS MoCA allows for the simultaneous presentation of many dynamic exhibitions and installations. Over five exhibitions revolve around music …

Singer/songwriter Annie Lennox of Eurythmics fame, activist and philanthropist, poses in front of her exhibition, “Now I Let You Go…” (Photo courtesy & (c) Mass MoCA)
Details from the mound juxtaposing personal artifacts with award “objects from birth to the grave.”

Lennox’s musica mound is topped off by a piano.
A truly self-reflective installation showcases her many gold records and awards in a large mirrored room.
Parting words by Annie Lennox.
The brilliant multimedia & performance artist Laurie Anderson as photographed & enhanced using the first computer process for photography, which I pioneered.
A virtual reality installation.
Acoustical sound room with Inflatable mats & headsets for listening.
Sign on The Handphone Table for Two created in 1978 for MOMA and recreated in 2017 utilizing bone conduction & electronics to transmit sound.
Demo by Laurie Anderson.
Painting by rock and roll musician Chrissie Hynde from her exhibition in which she notes she was a visual artist distracted by music.
From the wonderful photography exhibition “The Bright and Hollow Sky.” The image of Jean-Michel Basquiat with Debbie Harry at 106 Perry Street in West Greenwich Village with reflections of MASS MoCA (c) Victor Bockris, 1986.
“My Blondie.” Computer-enhanced portrait of Debbie Harry utilizing new technology.

Occupying one of MASS MoCA’s vast spaces — seemingly the size of a football field — is “mind of The Mound: Critical Mass,” the awesome installation/exhibition Trenton Doyle Hancock. Just as in the Annie Lennox Exhibit, where there was an accompanying catalogue identifying the objects on her mounds, the Hancock Exhibit is accompanied by a guide, glossary and map. Within the exhibition, Trenton Doyle Hancock dreams a Magical Universe …

“Mounds are gentle plant/human hybrids born in fields of flowers …. They help us see the world in a more colorful way…”
Undom Endgle — The most powerful being on the Moundiverse — reincarnated soul of Mound #1.
Halloween House. A replica of Hancock’s grandmother’s house.
Brilliant graphics are interspersed throughout the three-dimensional constructs.

Photographs by Aria Isadora/ (CPC); Patrick McMullan (PCF); Jill Lynne (MoCA)

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