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Contents September/October_CT-NY-FL Edition
The wearable art of Christy Klug > pg. 23
Appetite > pg. 54
People + Ideas
17 Entrepreneur - Edward Beiner has an eye for style
30 Local Talent - Horsin’ Around with Nina Bentley
23 Jewelry Design - The wearable art of Christy Klug
32 Gallery - Jennifer Sabella at Troy Fine Art
27 Business Partners - Innovative Display & Design, Inc.
Golf Resorts > pg. 44
34 Gordon’s Good Reads
Events + Gatherings
36 Parties, exhibitions and activities to attend in and around the region
44 Golf - The ST. Regis Punta Mita Resort 43 Travel - Cover Story: In Cuba People live on their doorsteps and dance 52 Travel - Into the Heat in Egypt
54 Go “nuts” this Fall at The National CONTEMPORARY CULTURE
September/October_CT-NY-FL Edition $5.99
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Desert Heroes > pg. 56
Contents September/October_CT-NY-FL Edition
56 Desert Heros in Marfa, Texas 60 Dancer, Interrupted - Alice De Lamar
62 Decor - Celebrity Homes: Manny and Juliana Ramirez
Celebtity Homes > pg. 62
69 Decorative Arts - On the Block 64 Architecture - From Mid-Century to 21st 70 Motoring - The Ferrari FF Century: Updating Architectural Icons 72 Boating - SY Vertigo: Grand Scale, Fine Detail
68 Hot Properties
75 Music/icon - Neal Smith Back on the Beat 77 Arts/Marlene Siff - Elements of Peace 81 Film + Entertainment - Celeste and Jesse Forever 83 Film + Entertainment - The Resurrection of Garbage 85 Stage - Westchester’s Backyard Theater
Music Icon Neal Smith > pg. 75
Subscribe to Venü Venü Magazine Subscriptions 840 Reef Road, 2nd Floor Fairfield, Connecticut 06824 Telephone +1 203 333 7300 Fax +1 203 333 7301 Email email@example.com or subscribe online www.venumagazine.com SY Vertigo, Grand Scale > pg. 72
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Showcasing local Arts, Culture, and Style without any contrived formality. VENÜ is published six times a year as a fresh yet discerning guide to art, culture and style throughout Connecticut and beyond. Not too artsy or too fussy, we’re thoughtfully written for the curious, the acquisitive, and those devoted to the one-of-a-kind and hard-to-find.
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15 September/October_CT-NY-FL Edition
President, Creative Director: J. Michael Woodside Vice President, Executive Director: Tracey Thomas Copy Editors: Cindy Clarke, Brian Solomon Senior Arts Editor: Philip Eliasoph Film & Entertainment Editor: Peter J. Fox Decorative Arts Editor: Matthew Sturtevant Publisher: Venü Media Company Art, Design & Production: Venü Media Company Contributing Writers: Bristel Bowen, Cindy Clarke, Laura Einstein, Nancy Helle, Patricia Hoyos, Lorenz Josef, Janet Langsam, Mike Lauterborn, Cynthia MacGregor, Ryan Odinak, Bruce Pollock, Bari Alyse Rudin, Charles Ruger, Lisa Seidenberg, William Squier, Monica Suleski Business Development: Reed McMillan Legal Counsel: Alan Neigher, Sheryle Levine (Byelas & Neigher, Westport, CT) Distribution: Thomas Cossuto, Man In Motion, LLC Office: 840 Reef Road, 2nd Floor, Fairfield, CT 06824 +1.203.333.7300 Tel +1.203.333.7301 Fax venumagazine.com Advertising Sales: firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Contribution: email@example.com Subscriptions: Call 203.333.7300 firstname.lastname@example.org
The small print: No responsibility can be taken for the quality and accuracy of the reproductions, as this is dependent upon the artwork and material supplied. No responsibility can be taken for typographical errors. The publishers reserve the right to refuse and edit material as presented. All prices and specifications to advertise are subject to change without notice. The opinions in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. Copyright VENÜ MAGAZINE. All rights reserved. The name VENÜ MAGAZINE is copyright protected. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without written consent from the publisher. VENÜ MAGAZINE does not accept responsibility for unsolicited material. This is a bimonthly publication and we encourage the public, galleries, artists, designers, photographers, writers (calling all creatives) to submit photos, features, drawings, etc., but we assume no responsibility for failure to publish submissions.
PEOPLE + IDEAS
An Eye For Style
He has an eye for style, a passion for innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit, fine eyewear designer Edward Beiner has created a brand that is synonymous with quality. by Patricia Hoyos
PEOPLE + IDEAS
“We stand for exceptional quality design and technical expertise. With designs available for both single vision and progressive lenses, our digitally manufactured lenses offer clarity in its purest form.”
His designs can be spotted on today’s aspiring lifestyle-oriented customers. Over the last 30 years, Beiner has helped shape the high-end customer segment with his innovative specs. Born in Brazil and raised in multiple cities worldwide, the source for Beiner’s inspiration is limitless. His most recent collection, the Spring - Summer 2012 Collection, was launched earlier this year, fusing vintage styles with a contemporary twist. Beiner is a “curator” of beautiful eyewear frames, carefully sourcing from around the world the very latest in both design and fashion. His eyewear is handmade by artisans in the French Alps. Frames are in-
tentionally manufactured in limited quantities, exclusively for the Edward Beiner Purveyor of Fine Eyewear Boutiques. Today, Beiner’s visionary commitment to creativity and excellence ensures that Edward Beiner remains at the forefront of the eyewear market. But there’s more than just aesthetics to Edward Beiner eyewear, offering unique collections of superior eyewear frames as well as technologically advanced lenses and sunglasses. The visionary has taken a creative and scientific approach to his designs, utilizing the latest technology available and developing exclusive lenses for optimal quality. The digitally manu-
factured, state-of-the-art collection allows for lenses to be lighter and thinner for a wider field of vision and increased clarity. “We stand for exceptional quality design and technical expertise. With designs available for both single vision and progressive lenses, our digitally manufactured lenses offer clarity in its purest form,” says Beiner. The Single Vision HD lenses provide a wider field of vision compared to that of a traditional lens. These lenses are also available in a Full View Wrap, which creates less peripheral distortion. Other notable features include the Clarity HD characteristic that puts the entire design on the back of the lens closer to the eye, creating a wider field of vision and increased clarity. The digital manufacturing’s advanced precision allows the lens to be ten times more optically precise than the traditional progressives, resulting in lenses that are optically correct at every point. Since opening his first store in South Miami in 1981, Beiner has steadily grown to 10 boutiques throughout Florida’s most exclusive zip codes. Aside from carrying the Edward Beiner collection, Edward Beiner Purveyor of Finewear Boutiques also carries a wide array of exclusive lines such as Chrome Hearts, Cartier, IC Berlin, Dita Oliver Peoples, The Row, Super, Illsteva, Thom Browne and Moscot among many others. His client list has grown to include A-listers such as Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wayde and LeBron James, model Heidi Klum and popular musicians like Alicia Keys and Jason Derulo. Despite already being recognized as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the eyewear industry, Beiner’s quest to bring clients one step closer in the pursuit of perfect vision is not over. His commitment to staying ahead of style trends and producing the most technologically advanced lenses is ceaseless.
KEY TO THE CURE Get the shirt. Shop the weekend. Show your support. Join Saks Fifth Avenue in the fight against women’s cancers. Get the shirt, designed by Carolina Herrera, available exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue this October. Then shop October 18 to 21, when Saks will donate 2% of sales to local and national women’s cancer charities.* Special thanks to Penélope Cruz, the 2012 Ambassador for EIF’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund and Saks Fifth Avenue’s Key To The Cure.
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PEOPLE + IDEAS
An inside look at the wearable art of Christy Klug Studios. by Bristel Bowen The union between fine art and craft has never been simple and is often misunderstood. Fine art is by nature luxurious, contemporary, and seemingly unattainable for most. While craft is considered a form of creation for the people—it’s simple, classic and candid. When Christy Klug, a self-taught metal smith, took on the world of wearable art, she wasn’t under any illusion that it would be easy. “I strive to bridge the gap between fine art and craft,” said Christy. “It’s an intersection that has always intrigued me because of the challenge of producing pieces that are contemporary yet timeless. I’m constantly evolving to marry the intimate scale and personal quality of jewelry with art. ”
Christy was inspired to design jewelry after studying stained glass at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In discovering how the stained glass artists of post-World War II Germany manipulated the lead between their panes in such a way that the lead itself became a central artistic element, she was driven to explore the power of tension and line and apply it to other things. She eventually found a medium to express that power in a way that was feminine and wearable for everyday. Using her skills as a sketch artist, she could create pieces of art that could be worn as a form of expression. For Christy, the act of creating is very intimate and personal, much like the act of purchasing a coveted piece of
Photo: Sam Klug
Artist Christy Klug in her Austin, Texas studio. She uses charcoal sketch and stained glass as a form of inspiration for her work in metals.
jewelry for most women. In her Austin, Texas studio, Christy creates very small quantities of finely crafted pieces that are contemporary, yet calm and subtle. Her collection includes earrings, necklaces, pins, rings, cuffs and pendants. Each is a piece of art that becomes more interesting the longer you wear it. “One of my clients shared a story with me about the experience of wearing my jewelry. She said she saw another woman wearing one of my pieces while out at a restaurant, and the two of them were immediately drawn to one another. They knew right away that they had something in common, and it became an instant point of pride and conversation,” Christy said. “I’m always so amazed and flattered to hear those stories—it really speaks to the power of wearing something you feel truly beautiful in, something you know is uniquely strong and intimate at the same time. That’s what wearable art is to me.” While most of Christy’s clients are women, many men approach her during shows and have
PEOPLE + IDEAS
Jewelry DESIGN Photo: Joelle Andrew
From top left clockwise: Christy’s initial sketches compliment the finished pieces on her workbench. Christy uses a tree stump as the perfect work surface for her craft. Works in progress in Christy’s studio.
Despite the rigor and discipline it takes to master the craft of metal-smithing and enamel work, Christy never lets the technique determine the look of the finished piece. even commissioned custom pieces. Often, other artists will seek her out to commission a piece as well. For example, the Choral Conductor for the Grant Park Music Festival at Millennium Park in Chicago purchased a pin from Christy at a show and then commissioned a second piece to wear on his lapel while he conducts. A friend of that conductor then commissioned a third piece to present as a gift to honor his 15th year conducting. The conductor loved Christy’s sketches so much that she included them with the custom pin. For many, it’s that fully-transparent, almost narrative creative process that goes into each piece that makes Christy’s work so appealing. “Metal and enamel work has a strong, masculine element to it—it feels down to earth in way that appeals to men as well as women. I love that men can use my work to accessorize in a way—to be fully, individually expressive—and still feel like themselves. Women, on the other hand, feel feminine and honest. The experience of wearable art is fluid, and that’s what makes it art.”
Photo: Hap Sakwa
Christy’s work is currently on display in galleries across the country, including Patina Gallery in Santa Fe, De Novo Gallery in Palo Alto and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
Photo: Joelle Andrew
For Christy, the act of creation is intensely personal. She visits museums, peruses art books and magazine, draws and sketches. In the end, it is important to her that the work feel good on, be beautiful, and be feminine—none of which would come easy, for most, when manipulating metal and melting enamel from it’s roughest form into stylized, custom pieces. But for Christy, it has become innate—a quality that shows in every piece. Because of its surprising universal appeal and unrivaled technical merit, Christy’s work has been showcased in galleries and shows across the country and internationally, from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Montreal, Canada to Sante Fe, New Mexico and New York, New York. She has won numerous awards, and will participate in the upcoming SOFA Exposition in Chicago in October, as well as the Smithsonian Craft2Wear show and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Despite the rigor and discipline it takes to master the craft of metal-smithing and enamel Photo: Artist
Photo: Sam Klug
Christopher Bell Pin
work, Christy never lets the technique determine the look of the finished piece. That’s where the fine art element of her work constantly reappears; the ultimate goal is to create something beautiful and subtle, not something that is overworked and impersonal. “Perhaps because I’m self-taught, it has been pure artistic passion that’s driven me to master the technique, materials and design of handcrafted jewelry. Even in this stage of my career, I feel that I’ve recently crossed a threshold of technical execution that allows me to pursue my creative vision without limits.” “I’m constantly rewarded by the creation of wearable art—it’s an organic process that celebrates the confident individual who seeks out and selects jewelry to highlight her own sense of style and drama. Everyone craves that type of honest beauty, and I’m inspired to craft it.” For more information on shows and galleries where you can view Christy Klug’s work, visit www.christyklug.com.
Split Bomb Choker
October 19-25 2012 The Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street, New York Preview Party Benefitting The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, October 18
New York:+ 1 212 642 8572 London:+ 44 (0)20 7389 6555
Sweet Peas, Oil On Canvas, 36" x 60"
JULIE LEFF FLORALS . ABSTRACTS . PORTRAITS
PEOPLE + IDEAS
Big Ideas, Complete Execution
A trade show exhibit displays business concept launched in the mid-1980s by three fellow industrial design students has flourished into a $16-million-dollar-a-year enterprise. It has branched into multiple industry categories and has been ranked as one of the most up-and-coming urban businesses in the nation. by Mike Lauterborn
Innovative Display & Design, Inc., is The Business. Leading this 65,000-square-foot facility located in Bridgeport, Connecticut at 1452 Barnum Avenue, is Newtown resident Gene Shapiro, Fairfielder Donna Shea and Old Saybrook denizen Andrew Pandiani. The three were classmates at the University of Bridgeport pursuing industrial design and, some six months after graduating with degrees in that field, they formed their company, in 1986. At the outset, each had “just $150 dollars in our pockets” as 49-year-old Shapiro described it, but with some borrowed funds from family, they landed in a 1,600-square-foot space at the Bridgeport Innovation Center, a collaborative supporting new business – “a business incubator if you will” Shapiro said.
Fueled by entrepreneurial spirit and an initial focus on experiential marketing, the trio feathered the empty nest with cabinet making equipment, drafting boards (this was before computers became mainstream) and a couple of telephones. “We were truly kids out of college,” mused Shapiro. A plus was that they started with clients, which got them going. “Over the course of time, we grew and grew,” said Shapiro. By 1999, they hit the radar of Harvard Business School and Inc Magazine, which declared Innovative one of the fastest growing inner city businesses in America. The firm hovered in the rankings for the next couple of years, until the events of September 11, 2001,
when terrorists slammed passenger planes into New York’s World Trade Center, changed the general business climate. Despite world events, Shapiro said Innovative fared well. The firm grew from $250,000 in annual revenue to $16 million, the level it maintains today. “We were modest, humble and reinvested in our company and processes,” Shapiro said. “We stayed focused on doing great work.” Those ideals have helped Innovative keep a stable of over 600 customers, led by clients like Pentax medical instruments, United Health Group, Given Imaging, Dun & Bradstreet and Konica/Minolta. Within three years after they founded the business, Innovative moved into a 9,000-squarefoot space in the same Bridgeport Innovation
PEOPLE + IDEAS
Center. Then, in 1997, they moved to their current home at 1452 Barnum Avenue, a 65,000square-foot space that was formerly a railroad distribution center – an old industrial building that they refurbished. Today, 50 full-time employees and 15 seasonal helpers “run the show”, pun intended. “We started just doing exhibit design, then evolved into sets, scenery, talent, event management and corporate meetings,” Shapiro said. “It has become about the experience. We don’t just sell parts but look at our clients’ horizontal and vertical markets to determine their objectives.” Innovative has five designers on staff, who start the process by brainstorming ideas. Then they render 3-D models and mock-ups before going to contract and beginning the execution work. Innovative’s services are very comprehensive. “We do metal fabrication, plexiglass fabrication, cabinet making and work with a lot of fabric to create our 3-D displays,” said Shapiro. Beyond the fabrication, Innovative has a dedicated department that manages a client’s events – the building, traveling, parts, execution, set-up and breakdown. “We just did a private client event in December in Las Vegas that had a 30,000-squarefoot footprint,” said Shapiro. “They wanted to focus on different vertical markets, including
“We created a theme wherein you’re walking through a park, with boardwalks and paths. We hired a Hollywood prop manufacturer that brought in a forest and a waterfall wall. The setup promoted relaxation and technology working together. Grass, stone paths and office spaces were all features. It was really just an experience.” schools, hospitals and legal firms. So we built a university environment, a medical facility and a courthouse setting. Then we brought in talent to work it and supplied scripts. We designed all the graphics, built it, produced it and transported it.” Innovative likes to focus on customer service to the extent that their clients walk into their event environment and everything is set. “We’ll have Cokes in the fridge, literature out, talent in place, etc.” explained Shapiro. One of the most exceptional displays Innovative has ever built was for United Health Group, at the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in December 2011. “The client was there to promote how to use technology to better your health – they weren’t selling a product,” said Shapiro. “We created a theme wherein
you’re walking through a park, with boardwalks and paths. We hired a Hollywood prop manufacturer that brought in a forest and a waterfall wall. The set-up promoted relaxation and technology working together. Grass, stone paths and office spaces were all features. It was really just an experience.” An experience that was very popular, it turned out, with CES visitors. “We tracked the time visitors spent in our client’s exhibit and, whereas they were spending two to three minutes elsewhere, they were spending nine to 12 minutes in our client’s exhibit,” said Shapiro. “We tripled the interaction.” Innovative is geared to handle future challenges given its comprehensive range of services. “We handle all our own digital printing,” said Shapiro, as an example. “But we are also branched out into other areas. For instance, we also design and build corporate interiors like offices and lobbies, we produce and direct videos, and we have a proprietary online program management system that we can oversee or clients can tap into directly. We also offer secure, protected storage areas to house a clients’ materials.” While other companies have struggled during the country’s latest economic downturn, Innovative continues to fare well. “We stayed with our roots, and we still have the original three owners,” Shapiro said. “We constantly evaluate our business model to be sure it’s responding to industry needs and demands. We still focus on design, but don’t let it get in our way. Our aim is to deliver fair value, and everyone benefits from the product.” Often, service providers make good doctors but are not the best patients. Not true in Innovative’s case. The company has just completed an overhaul of its website, www.innov-8.com, redesigning it to be more user-friendly, better showcase its services and feature greater content.
SPOTLIGHT: LOCAL TALENT
Left: First visit to the installation in front of the Stamford Library... Nina stands with a passer-by. Right: Lucy Zuckerman (granddaughter), testing her strength with engineer husband Richard Bentley working in the backround. Below: Casale Auto Body located in Norwalk, CT prepped and painted "BOOK ENDS" with love (alas no motor was installed).
A Horse Is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course, Unless It's a Bentley Horse! by Laura Einstein Nina Bentley’s recent project has been designing a horse for Horsin’ Around Downtown: Art in Public Places, Stamford Downtown 2012. Each year, Stamford, Connecticut, hosts an outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Artists are invited to submit designs for sculptures that will be on exhibit all summer throughout downtown Stamford. Design submissions for this year’s subject – horses – are reviewed by a jury that selects a pool of final designs. At the end of the exhibition period, the horses will be auctioned and a portion of the proceeds will go to selected charities. Nina Bentley has been involved in several past projects for which she designed A TRIPLE SAL COW for Cow Parade, A LEMON & A Cattelac for Car Parade, and two felines named, PiCATsso & CATSON Pollock for the Cats and Dogs Parade. For Horsin’ Around Downtown, three styles of horses were offered as possibilities to participating artists: Running Horse, Grazing Horse, and Rearing Horse. Bentley’s design is a running horse that measures approximately 6’ 2” by 8’. The horses are manufactured from a fiberglass polyester mixture. The sculptures are then secured to a base and remain outdoors from June 6, through August 23, 2012. Nina’s horse will stand outside the Ferguson Library. The genesis of Bentley’s design was a weeklong family vacation on the island of Nevis. The front half of "Book Ends" in the paint booth at CASALE Auto Body.
In true grandma Bentley style, Nina brought sketches of running horses for her grandchildren and the adults who brainstormed ideas for that entire week. May the Horse Be With You, A Gift Horse, with the horse sporting a gift ribbon and rhinestones on the eyes and hoofs, and A Horse with No Name, wearing the ubiquitous convention-type name tag, Hello my name is… are some of the ideas that the family came up with. Nina’s son, Andrew, a graphic designer studying in London, prepared the final sketches to be presented to the Stamford Downtown jury. The version temporarily titled, Book Ends is the selected horse. Nina states, “The horse design that was chosen ends up being the hardest to make, and one I couldn’t possibly have done without a lot of help from my family, and the craftstmen, that we have met and worked with throughout our twenty years in this area.” The horses were shipped to the artists as unpainted fiberglass blocks ready to be transformed by the selected artists. Bentley’s husband Richard developed a design to separate the fiberglass
horse into bookends, separating the two halves of the horse to form an actual gigantic bookend. He directed two carpenters to do the “open horse surgery.” The horse was cut into two parts by Rafa Mendanca, a craftsman who regularly works for the Bentley family. This bookend, however, is gigantic and might suit the home of Gulliver in the land of Lilliput. From the “open horse surgery,” two trucks and five men moved the two-part horse to Casale Auto Body, in Norwalk, Connecticut, where the halves were put into separate spray booths, sanded down, and primed with four coats of paint primer to cover the holes often found in fiberglass, sealing the surface. The two pieces were sanded again after each of four primer coats and sprayed, with a metallic bronze followed by a final clear coat. Bobby Frabrizio at Casale, who was in charge of the project, and provided the work gratis, stated that their process created a lustrous surface that Nina states is “astoundingly beautifully producing a horse that has the color and sheen of the finest automobile in any car show.” When Fabrizio was asked what he might name the horse, he stated, “Split Decision!” Nina states, “There were so many terrific people involved in the project ‘it takes a stable’ and we will all be going to the big kick off party.”
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4/-.QVM)Z\+WVT\QVOZMXZM[MV\[\ITMV\MLPQOPY]ITQ\aKWV\MUXWZIZaIZ\Q[\[ XZW^QLQVOIZ\KWVT\QVO[MZ^QKM[IVLKWTTIJWZI\QVO_Q\PU][M]U[IVL OITTMZQM[\WXZMXIZMIVLQV[\ITTM`PQJQ\QWV[ CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE
Left: Guests Mr. and Mrs. Carlo Ciardi speak with artist Jennifer Sabella. Above: The owners of Troy Fine Art, Troy Amuso (right) and Denise DiGroli Amuso (left) with artist Jennifer Sabella. Bottom Right: Two of several paintings by Jennifer Sabella, Color Streams #21 and #22, Acrylic on Board.
A lively installation, energetic and orderly, yet not so symmetrical! by Barbara Sharp The visual rhythms in Jennifer Sabella’s paintings created a lively installation for a well attended summer’s opening eve at Troy Fine Art Services Gallery in Southport. With over 19 pieces on view, there was a seeming endless flow to her work. A controlled naturalism may characterize Jennifer’s Color Stream paintings, energetic and orderly at the same time, yet not so symmetrical – abstract modernism and geometric, with barely perceptible differences in the thicknesses and color tones. As a supreme colorist, Sabella’s fascination with color places her in the company of Gene Davis, Frank Stella and Mark Rothko. However, what sets her apart is the strength, depth and heavy dimension in each Color Stream painting. Every piece has hundreds of subtle, and some not so subtle, color variations – some hues hidden behind so many other streams of color that they are barely detectable, yet they stand out, making the piece vibrant and mesmerizing. Each richly colored piece pulsates with energy – one needs to view her work from afar for the overall effect, yet you are drawn in to see how she does it, inspecting each line and each color within that line and the one next to or behind it. Many different influences inform the artist’s choice of colors from her intuition to master paintings. Sabella is a native of Westport, Con-
necticut. As the daughter of Broadway dancer and actress Bambi Linn, she grew up surrounded by art, artists, theater and actors. Jennifer absorbed all the creativity and eventually as an adult, sifted through her life of observation, creating her own artistic vision using different techniques and mediums. After many years of experimentation, her own style emerged using colors, pigments, canvas and other materials, as well as with different approaches to painting and constructing. The artist’s process is simple yet exhaustive: she mixes each color individually for every line that is streamed, and starting at the top, she pours her paint down endlessly until the entire piece feels ‘done.’ There are no rulers or painters tape involved – it is the gravity and the weight of the paint itself that makes each line unique. Her work is in private collections around the globe and is represented by Troy Fine Art Service in Southport, CT. “There is an endless quality to Jennifer’s meticulous work, a sense of fluidity that just can not be described until you experience it in person,” said Denise DiGrigoli Amuso, Principal Troy Fine Art. "With a discerning eye for our clients and our love of contemporary art, we continue to cultivate our gallery with some of the best national and regional emerging artists. Jennifer
is a great asset to our group and our clients love her work," said Troy Amuso, Founder and Principal at Troy Fine Art. Troy Fine Art offers a spectrum of fine art services to complete the beauty of homes in the tri-state area: art consultations in the convenience of client’s homes and offices, a fine art gallery located in the quaint waterfront community of Southport, CT with conservation picture framing, art installations, art & frame restorations by artisans and trained professionals. Experienced in handling all types of art, all levels, work is done on premise in Southpor. Hours: Monday - Friday 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Saturday, 10 to 2. In home or office, by appointment. Troy Fine Art, 3310 Post Road, Southport, CT The gallery can be reached at 203-255-1555, or please visit us at www.troyfineart.com.
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GORDON’S GOOD READS The place to find a good read...
by Gordon Hastings
In this issue of VENÜ, Gordon’s Good Reads is including its first guest review. Please enjoy the evaluation of Chad Harbach’s debut novel The Art of Fielding. We encourage guest blogs at gordonsgoodreads.com as there we have unlimited capacity to post well-written overviews on many books chosen by a variety of readers with many different tastes. This review of The Art of Fielding is an excellent example of the concise wording that we look for. It is our belief that the most authentic views of books come from individuals like you, who simply love to read, whether it be a new release or a classic. I hope to hear from you at www.gordonsgoodreads.com.
Eisenhower In War and Peace Another Great Victory for Jean Edward Smith The passage of time is the greatest gift to the biographer possessing the brilliance and patience to seize upon that window to bring to readers a modern-day perspective of iconic historical figures and events. Jean Edward Smith has accomplished in EISENHOWER IN WAR AND PEACE, exactly what he offered his readers in his remarkable works Grant and FDR. Historian and biographer Jean Edward Smith is rightfully in the company of historians Robert Caro, Edmund Morris, David McCullough and Max Hastings. EISENHOWER IN WAR AND PEACE, places Eisenhower in an objective perspective within his military career, the presidency and his personal life. Don’t look for an in-depth history of D-Day. While there is plenty of detail of the European Theater in WW II, this book steps back to place the enormity of the impact of Eisenhower’s approach to leadership in a sweeping overview of the war in Europe. Smith takes a similar approach to the eight years of Eisenhower’s presidency and the manner in which he organized and staffed the White House, dealt with both political supporters and opponents and world affairs. There is vivid detail on decisions, relevant today, (The building of the Interstate Highway System as a stimulus to help reverse a post Korean War recession), school desegregation in Little Rock, Vietnam, Formosa, China and the Cold War.
Readers of EISENHOWER IN WAR AND PEACE will be left with no doubt about Ike’s intimate relationship with Kay Summersby and the impact on his marriage to Mamie. Smith writes this narrative in a most factual manner and details the openness with which Eisenhower and Summersby were together publicly and privately throughout the war. Smith also details Eisenhower’s changing relationship with his wife Mamie over the course of four decades. The book clearly reveals that Eisenhower’s brilliance as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces was in his political dexterity in contrast to his grasp of battlefield strategy. With the exception of marginal success ( that may be a generous assessment) in the North Africa Campaign, Eisenhower had no battlefield command experience prior to D-Day! However, his ability to bring discordant bigger than life individuals together and promote cooperation (Churchill, FDR, Montgomery, Patton, Bradley, de Gaulle) was exactly why FDR chose Eisenhower over Marshall to lead the European Campaign. I have previously read considerably about Eisenhower, but just as in Smith’s biography Grant, I now have a view through a twentyfirst-century lens of the two famous generals who became two-term presidents. Many popular conceptions and misconceptions are clarified. Smith peels away the Eisenhower myths and reveals his brilliant mind and the thought processes by which as a leader, not a battlefield commander, Eisenhower established his legacy. Some interesting insight from EISENHOWER IN WAR AND PEACE: Ike was not the first president to embrace golf. Actually Woodrow Wilson secretly played more rounds during his presidency than Eisenhower! However, Eisenhower made no secret of his love of golf and is credited with the explosion of the national popularity of the game. In his first term in office, Eisenhower increased the budget of the National Institute of Health ten-fold. Eisenhower may have prevented World War III by forcing Britain and France to withdraw from its invasion of Egypt over the closing of the Suez Canal. A coalition of Democrats led by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the passage of most of Eisenhower’s domestic programs. Ike was considered “too liberal “by the old guard right-wing of the Republican Party.
It was Eisenhower who carried out Harry Truman’s earlier attempts to desegregate all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. At the end of the war Ike wrote in a letter to his boss General Marshall that he planned to return to the U.S., divorce Mamie and marry Kay Summersby. Marshall in the strongest terms admonished him not to destroy his reputation and career! Eisenhower took the advice. Later, out of respect for Eisenhower and fearful that if the letter became public it would become a campaign issue in 1952, President Truman, who was at that time at political and personal odds with Ike, ordered the letter destroyed! There is much, much more! Look for many literary honors for EISENHOWER IN WAR AND PEACE.
The Passage of Power Historically Impeccable, Relevant Today My immediate take-away after completing all 605 pages of Robert Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson The Passage of Power is both awe and marvel at Lyndon Johnson’s accidental presence at the pinnacle of power from November, 1963 through 1965. If Lyndon Johnson was president or senate majority leader in today’s political environment, for better or worse, there would likely be no gridlock in Washington D.C. Never in the modern presidency has more of significance been accomplished in such short period then what transpired in the year and a half of the Lyndon Johnson presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
www.gordonsgoodreads.com This incomparable work by Caro illuminates, for both the student of history and the observer, that regardless of a like or dislike of his tactics or the man himself, Lyndon Johnson’s accomplishment in moving historic legislation through a grid locked congress is beyond comparison. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 turned years of political rhetoric and decades of delay into law, and Lyndon Johnson made that happen during a most improbable time in American history. LBJ with all of his ruthlessness, cajoling, bravado, insecurity, impatience and meanness did what no other president had done. Deeply seeded in the memory of the poverty of his youth, LBJ’s empathy for the poor and underprivileged surfaced, often with a vengeance, to overcome the impossible obstacles standing before these two pieces of landmark legislation. For this reader, understanding how the aforementioned was accomplished became the centerpiece of this Pulitzer destined work. But, there is so much more. The mutual hatred that existed between Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy and the inordinate effect that it had upon a functioning government is made manifest throughout the book. Robert Kennedy’s unsuccessful multiple efforts to convince Johnson to withdraw from his brother’s selection of Johnson as the vicepresidential candidate in 1960 depicts a near maniacal RFK. The relegation of LBJ’s vicepresidency to a meaningless and often humiliating position often punctuated by RFK’s“corn pone vice-president” references are almost unimaginable and would normally be thought relegated to a school-yard bully. While LBJ is often lionized in Caro’s pages, Robert Kennedy is given faint if any praise at all in this carefully researched book. Caro details the brilliance with which Johnson handled the passage of power upon Kennedy’s assassination. How LBJ managed the emotional devastation of the Kennedy team is a remarkable story in itself. He convinced the great majority of them to stay on because,“ I need you, the country needs you and John Kennedy’s legacy needs you.” The overnight transformation of the ruthless master of the senate and insignificant, irrelevant vice-president to become the nation’s hope, healer and steady hand is so magnificently detailed by Caro, so real, that it places the reader in the midst of a current event, not a bygone era! You will learn from Caro’s research sources that it was widely speculated that Robert Kennedy’s inability to move beyond the grief over his brother’s death may have been tied to a feeling of self guilt; that he and the president’s pursuit of Fidel Castro in Operation Mongose and of the Mafia may have in fact been a direct retaliation that killed President Kennedy. Caro, despite the Warren Commission report, raises that speculation to the level of plausibility. The Passage of Power at times elevates Johnson to the heroic level but the narrative is equally balanced with the reality of the often brutal, threatening and unforgiving methods by which LBJ accomplished his goals. From Johnson’s euphoric highs and the compassion demonstrated for minorities and the downtrodden surrounding of the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, Caro, con-
cludes Passage of Power with bombs dropping upon helpless villagers in Vietnam. That era is left for another telling. This is the fourth in Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson. The Passage of Power will have even greater meaning if you have already consumed The Path to Power (1982), Means of Ascent (1990) and Master of the Senate (2002). However, Caro does such a good job in placing The Passage of Power in the context of Johnson’s lifetime that it is easily a standalone read. Throughout the book, Caro makes numerous references to another great work on Lyndon Johnson which I wholeheartedly commend to you, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I also recommend This Time,This Place, by Johnson aid and confidant Jack Valenti, who later left government for a distinguished career as the president on the Motion Picture Association of America. (Check Gordon’s Good Reads Archives). A Robert Caro book of equal substance and a Pulitzer honoree is his The Power Broker, Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Use of power to accomplish common good or abuse of power for personal gain; both books in a different time and place tell a significantly similar story.
The Art of Fielding A most welcome guest blog I was honored a few months back when Gordon asked me if I would be a guest blogger on Gordon’s Good Reads. I am, however, a young adult school librarian by trade and as a result I spend most of my time reading young adult fiction and nonfiction. The Hunger Games? I’ve probably read the first book in the trilogy six times. I have always been an avid reader and I do read an adult book every third book or so I just had to wait for the right book to come along in order to honor Gordon’s guest blogger request. Well, it has. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach is a stunning book. It’s got everything phenomenal characters, a little Moby Dick and Melville lore, romance, and baseball. I don’t even particularly like baseball, but I longed to be a member of a baseball team while reading this amazing novel. It all starts with Mike Schwartz, aka Schwartzy. He’s a born leader, or more accurate-
ly a natural coach from a hard-knock background. He also happens to be a sophomore at Westish College, a small liberal arts college on the shores of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan, when he spots Henry Skrimshander playing baseball at a summer tournament. Henry is a shortstop, small and rather scrawny, but with an uncanny ability to field a baseball. Schwartz recruits the recent high school grad for the Westish Harpooner’s Division III baseball team. Henry is not much of a student, in fact the only book he has ever truly read is his dog-eared copy of The Art of Fielding by Aparicio Rodriguez, where Rodriguez, the greatest defensive shortstop who ever lived, manages to successfully equate the act of fielding a baseball with a Zen-like practice. Henry has committed to memory most of the numbered bits of advice, such as: 59. To field a ground ball must be considered a generous act and an act of comprehension. One moves not against the ball but with it. Bad fielders stab at the ball like an enemy. This is antagonism. The true fielder lets the path of the ball become his own path, thereby comprehending the ball and dissipating the self, which is the source of all suffering and poor defense. When Henry arrives on campus and meets Owen, his beautiful, biracial, gay roommate, we, as readers, are reassured that Henry will survive his new circumstances when he spots Owen’s own copy of The Art of Fielding on his meticulously kept bookshelves. It is on the Westish campus that we get to know Mike, Henry, Owen, President Affenlight and his daughter Pella (escaping a failed marriage), as well as the entire Westish baseball team. And lest you think that baseball is the only glue that holds the novel together, Harbach has had fun incorporating myriad literary references. Although Westish could be any struggling small liberal arts college, Harbach created a singular, distinctive institution. The Westish Harpooners are a purposeful reference to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. It was President Affenlight, as an undergraduate at the college, who discovered a ream of papers in the library which turned out to be a transcript of a speech given by Herman Melville when he visited the college in 1880. Westish College made the most of the Melville association, as did Afflenlight himself, who went on to become a renowned academic, the pinnacle of his career being the widely acclaimed scholarly book called The SpermSqueezers. His career come full circle, he is back as president of the college where he began his academic pursuits. The characters, both on and off the team, intersect and cross paths, with the meteoric rise of the Harpooners in the league standings serving as backdrop. Henry’s career is on the rise as well. Scouts flock to game after game, promising vast sums of money when he gets signed to the major leagues. But then Henry comes down with Steve Blass disease (named for the infamous Pirates pitcher who, all of a sudden, could no longer throw the ball accurately). Henry has fallen off his path, he has lost The Way. As he struggles, the other characters meander along their own paths, each trying to field their own game, so to speak. This is one baseball story that left me wishing there were a few more innings.
events + gatherings
FCBUZZ THE ARTS ARE BIG BUSINESS NATIONALLY AND IN FAIRFIELD COUNTY
Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County
Front row left to right: Steven A. Wolff, Founding Principal of AMS Planning and Research Corp. and AMS Analytics and chair of the Arts Committee of the Fairfield County Community Foundation; Senator Bob Duff; Ryan Odinak, Executive Director Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County; State Senator Toni Boucher. Back Row: Senator John McKinney; Congressman Jim Himes; State Representative Kim Fawcett; State Representative Jonathan Steinberg; Elisabeth Morten, President of the Board of Directors, Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County; State Representative Tony Hwang; and State Representative Dan Carter.
he Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County recently announced the national and Fairfield County results of Arts & Economic Prosperity IVTM, a national research study conducted by Americans for the Arts, America’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts. Fairfield County legislators were out in force at the launch event including State Senators Bob Duff and John McKinney and United States Congressman Jim Himes. In his remarks, Senator Bob Duff sang praises for the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County. “The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County has become a very important umbrella group to advocate for the arts, and one of the reasons why it’s so important is because especially over the last few years as we have been in this great recession, where you see governments cutting back on things, one of the very first places that many times governments go to cut, which I think is unfortunate, is in the arts,” he said. “By having organizations like the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County and others advocate for arts and tourism and other types of funding is very important because that means that those organizations have a voice, and have
a strong voice for continuing to plow ahead with things that are so important.” The Arts & Economic Prosperity IVTM study evaluates the impact spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences has on the economy. Nationally, the arts and culture industry is an economic engine, generating $135.2 billion dollars of economic activity, 4.1 million full-time jobs, and $22.2 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments. Findings for Fairfield County for the seventy-seven organizations surveyed, reveal $130,000,000 in spending, 3,972 full-time jobs and $10.5 million in local and State government revenue generated. Visitors to Fairfield County spent an average of $25.84 per arts and culture event they attended excluding ticket costs. State Senator John McKinney stated, “The evidence of the economic impact of the arts is obvious on the first level. On the second level, which your study shows so powerfully, is all of the other jobs it creates in the economic spinoff. This is a very powerful tool as we go, whether it’s to local, state, or federal governments, to argue for money for arts organizations.”
State Senator Bob Duff, Assistant Majority Leader, sang praises for the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County’s work in advocating for arts and culture organizations.
Congressman Jim Himes, who is a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, added his voice to that topic. “The hard reality is that we all see and acknowledge and respect the fact that perhaps unlike at any other point in our lifetimes, our various budgets at the state of Connecticut, the municipal budgets within the County of Fairfield and certainly at the Federal budget face pressures unlike anything that we have ever seen, and that need not and should not and must not translate into the gutting of budgets for the arts,” he said. Himes went on to say, “We can do this. A great society can, through adversity, nonetheless hold itself up as an advocate for the arts.” Fairfield County is one of 182 regions across all 50 United States and the District of Columbia that participated in the study. As a study partner the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County and the Housatonic Valley Cultural Alliance, coordinated the gathering of detailed economic and event attendance data from nonprofit arts and culture organizations. Major funding for the Fairfield County study was provided by the Betty R. and Ralph Sheffer Foundation.
Looking to add a little culture in your life? FCBuzz.org is the place to go for news on theater, exhibits, music, history and more. Visit FCBuzz.org to enrich your life and benefit from all Fairfield County has to offer. Created by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County. www.CulturalAllianceFC.org. For more information contact the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County by emailing info@CulturalAllianceFC.org, calling 203-256-2329 or visiting the Web site at www.CulturalAllianceFC.org. 38 36
CONTEMPORARY CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE CULTURE//MAGAZINE
Fine Art Gallery | Framing | Installation
Troy Fine Art Services, Inc. 3310 Post Road, Southport, CT 06890 Secrets of the Forest by R.J. Ichter Pastel on archival suede 32” x 40”
On Hudson: Highlights from the
White on White:
The Art of First Lady
Albany Institute of History & Art
Churches of Rural
Ellen Axson Wilson:
Generously supported by Connecticut Humanities, Imagineers LLC, and People’s United Bank
Generously supported by Connecticut Humanities, Bouvier Champion Insurance, and the George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation.
Sponsored by The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. Venü Magazine is a media sponsor of the On Hudson exhibition.
through September 23
October 5, 2012 – January 27, 2013
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Florence Griswold Museum 96 Lyme Street Asher B. Durand, An Old Man’s Reminiscences, 1845. Albany Institute of History & Art;
Old Lyme, CT
Steve Rosenthal, York Street Baptist Church, York Village, Maine, 1971; Robert Vonnoh,
Exit 70, off I-95
Portrait of Ellen Axson Wilson and Her Three Daughters, 1913. Woodrow Wilson House, a National Trust Historic Site, Washington, DC.
events + gatherings
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Greenwich
photography by: Jason Thorgalsen
On June 27th Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Greenwich was proud to reintroduce a new era in their history of selling Rolls-Royce’s in Greenwich, Connecticut. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Greenwich, a division of Miller Motorcars has been selling Rolls-Royce since 2002 and was proud to show off their newest model, the Phantom Series II. Thomas Roach, sales manager of the brand was recently appointed Rolls-Royce Sales Manager Worldwide by Torsten Müller-Ötvös.
McLaren Greenwich On June 1st McLaren Greenwich, a division of Miller Motorcars recently opened its door s to clientele and automotive collectors. The unique and modern architecture for the new home of McLaren in the Northeast was showcased along with their first model, the MP4-12C. Representatives from McLaren Automotive such as Anthony Joseph, Director of North America were present along with Richard Koppelman, President of Miller Motorcars, and F. Bailey Vanneck, General Manager of Miller Motorcars.
David Archibald, President of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America gives award to Richard S. Koppelman, President of Miller Motorcars
Westchester Neuroscience Research Foundation’s 3rd Annual Charity Golf Outing
photos: Jason Thorgalsen
estchester Neuroscience Research Foundation’s 3rd annual charity golf outing. Although no golfer was lucky enough to score a hole-in-one and win a 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera, the guests enjoyed lunch, cocktails, friendly competition, a raffle, and a beautiful day on the course. Proceeds of the event will help the foundation support potentially life-saving research and clinical trials to fight brain tumors. The foundation helped to launch the Westchester Brain Tumor Program with the Cancer Center at Northern Westchester Hospital and Brain & Spine Surgeons of New York last year to make national clinical trials available in the Westchester area. John Abrahams, M.D., Founder and Director of the WNRF, said that the foundation is ready to expand its scope into research for spinal cord and head injuries. “We look for researchers who are cutting edge and may find it hard to find traditional funding because they are the ones leading the innovative work of the future,” said Dr. Abrahams.
(Left): WNRF Founder and Director Dr. John Abrahams of Scarsdale, NY enjoys the day with Dennis Bolger, Bryan Guss, and Jan Strack (Right): Stephanie Rosenthal of Hopewell Junction takes aim while Nancy Kelly of Brewster and Barbie Kolba of Woodbury, CT look on.
potted Horse and Grey Goose restaurants are pleased to announce the celebration of Broken Shed Vodka’s US launch in Connecticut. Broken Shed Vodka (www.brokenshed.com), a super-premium vodka made in New Zealand, recently debuted in the US and has focussed its initial launch in Fairfield County, Spotted Horse and Grey Goose restaurants have been early adopters of Broken Shed Vodka and helped start the momentum behind the new vodka brand from New Zealand. “We are excited to celebrate our launch with Spotted Horse Tavern and The Grey Goose Restaurant,” said Mark O’Brien, co-founder of Broken Shed. “We have been making and selling vodka for a couple years in New Zealand and when we planned entering the US market we honestly hoped to attract the attention of such elegant and interesting restaurants such as the Spotted Horse and Grey Goose restaurants. We have been humbled by their enthusiasm and early adoption.” Broken Shed Vodka first launched in the US in early June. It has enjoyed quick adoption in Fairfield County. Broken Shed attributes its success to its unique features in a crowded vodka market. As the only premium vodka in the US that is distilled and bottle in New Zealand, Broken Shed is crafted without using any additives that many vodkas use. It is also four times distilled from New Zealand whey (the excess sugar generated from milk production). Broken Shed also uses two distinct water sources from New Zealand which has some of the purest water sources in the world. “We believe our clients enjoy learning about new artisan beverage products in the market,” said George O’Connell of Spotted Horse. “We are careful to only introduce authentic and honest products and Broken Shed Vodka fits that bill.”
events + gatherings
Westchester Photography Show: Celebrities: We Remember Them Well By ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam
ho among us doesn’t love to go behind the scenes? I know, I do. It’s like that wonderful moment in the Wizard of Oz when the curtain is ripped away to reveal, not a wizard but an ordinary man. It is the secret glimpses we savor. And, when it comes to intimate moments, the new photography show at ArtsWestchester will not disappoint. Timeless snapshots – the last ever taken of John Lennon and Yoko Ono together – are some of the intimate portraits
included in our fall exhibition Celebrities: We Remember Them Well, opening September 20, at our Arts Exchange building in downtown White Plains. Renowned photographer Allen Tannenbaum, on assignment for the SoHo Weekly News in the fall of 1980, takes us inside the famed couple’s home just ten days before Lennon was shot outside his New York apartment.
These precious images will be shown along with portraits of a wide range of influential public figures taken by some 25 photographers. Westchester curator and collector Milton Ellenbogen has assembled a trove of rare candid photographs and exquisite studio portraits of such prominent figures as Marilyn Monroe, Louis Armstrong and Spike Lee, and famous artists the likes of Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollack. Some photographs of visual artists are of particular interest as we see the creators
Clockwise from top left: Allen Ginsberg, photo by Myles Aronowitz; De Kooning Painting, photograph by Tony Vaccaro; John Lenon and Yoko Ono, photo by Allen Tannenbaum; Bob Hope & Jinx Falkenberg in Berlin, photography by Tony Vaccaro; Pete Seeger, photo by Susan Rutman
touch here or there. We share his studio space – a private, calm moment in the life of a legend. Then there is a photograph of Jackson Pollack mid-stride against a backdrop of three of his large paintings. The floor is splattered with Pollack’s paint; he is even stepping in a dried (I assume) puddle of it. In another, he stands with his wife Lee Krasner, opening the door to what appears to be a barn or country home. She laughs to herself, as Pollack holds the door open. A cigarette hangs absently from his mouth. In another by Vaccaro, we see Frank Lloyd Wright giving himself a haircut! He holds a small round mirror in one hand, a pair of scissors in the other. Also there is a notable color portrait of feminist Gloria Steinhem, taken by photographer Barbara Alper. Steinhem, smiling, rests her arms on the side of a bed as a fluffy gray cat sits atop the bedspread. And of course there are the John and Yoko portraits, which are deeply personal– the couple in bed together, undressed amidst the sheets, laughing, playing – a stark contrast with the grief to come. He was hers, but he was also ours, and you cannot shake the feeling that you are witness to a soul bared mere weeks before that soul was lost to the world. Some of the pieces in the show come from Ellenbogen’s own collection, as well as other private collections including the Howard Greenberg Gallery in Manhattan. All photographs exhibited will be for sale, and ArtsWestchester will host weekend family workshops, a panel and a series of lectures by photographic experts, offering insight into working alongside famous photographers. Yes, we remember them well, but we will now remember them better.
at work. In a series of shots of Willem de Kooning taken by photographer Tony Vaccaro in 1953, the artist sits in contemplation of his own painting. His back is to us, as if we sit directly behind him. In another shot, he has risen from the chair and is hunched in front of the same painting, adding a
“Celebrities: We Remember Them Well” opens on Thursday evening, September 20, with a reception from 6-8:30pm, and runs through November 10, 2012. The Arts Exchange is located at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5pm.
Be in the know! Visit www.artsw.org THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE ARTS IN WESTCHESTER Like us on Facebook
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events + gatherings
MAY ART GREENWICH Proves an Experience for Distinguished Collectors May 24, 2012
packed crowd of 1,100 VIP collectors and guests attended the opening of Art Greenwich on May 24th, aboard the 228-foot mega-yacht SeaFair. The distinguished crowds continued through the holiday weekend and despite the sometimes less than ideal weather, dealers and attendees were in high spirits, unanimous in their praise of the inaugural May event. The spring edition boasted 25 contemporary galleries and special installations. Art enthusiasts were not left wanting, with three decks of international artists’ works to peruse including works by pop art and post war icons Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg, Tom Wesselmann, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, Marc Chagall, Adolph Gottlieb, Louise Nevelson and Robert Motherwell.
ART GREENWICH September 21-24, 2012
Sue Lapsien, Jadu
Steve Hartman, Fernando Luis Alvarez
Elizabeth Orlov, David Datuna, Narina Shuster, Adriana Shuster
Gernil Lydecker, Lee Ann Lester, Hamilton Bunge, Ann Lydecker, Chris Vroom
eaFair will return in September for a fall sister fair. Docked at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor at 500 Steamboat Road, September 21st – 24th, with a VIP Opening Night September 20th. Art Greenwich in September will feature an exhibition of original works by Andrew Wyeth (1912-2009) America’s best known master of realism in the 20th Century. The exhibition will be presented by Gerald Peters Gallery of Santa Fe and New York, and curated by Peter Marcelle Gallery, Bridgehampton. Chris Crosman, former director of the Farnsworth Museum will present a lecture “The Man who Loved Islands: Andrew Wyeth in Maine”, Sat. Sept. 22 from 1:30-2:30. Gary Snyder Gallery/Projects , New York, will present an exhibition that will focus on the American artists associated with the Museum of Non-Objective Painting—first opened in 1939 and now the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Featured artists will include Emil Bisttram, Werner Drewes, Raymond Jonson, Irene Rice Pereira, Hilla Rebay, Charles Shaw, and Jean Xceron, among others. They will also present an important selection of sculptural jewelry by the painter Rolph Scarlett. Although seldom seen, Scarlett’s jewelry received significant attention in Judith Natsby’s recent monograph on the artist, Rolph Scarlett: Painter, Designer, Jeweler. Also among the program highlights local art virtuoso Philip Eliasoph, Professor of Art History at Fairfield University and Senior Arts Editor of VENÜ Magazine, will present “The Girl with the Pearl Earring vs. the 12 Million Dollar Shark: What Gives Art Value?” at 1:30pm, Sunday afternoon in the SeaFair Society Lounge on Deck Three. 44
Jean-Marc Bara, Marianne Bara, Barbara Timon, Cray Timon Marilyn Simon, Paul Master-Karnik
Ryan Odinak, Tracey Thomas, Suzanne Dache
Kirsten and Rich Reynolds
Brooke Stahl and Tracy Schmidt
Ivan Jankovsky, Paul Nakian, Gernil Lydecker
Photos: ELAINE UBIÑA
Media Partner: VENÜ Magazine
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DONA MENTON VENÜ Magazine rally's the troops to CELEBRATE Dona Menton's first ”and spectacular“ Solo Show hosted by Frank J. Gaudio, Senior Vice President of The First Bank of Greenwich. July 11, 2012.
n award winning photographer, Menton’s unique photography captures the unexpected, often focusing on angles or simple details, offering a new viewpoint or unusual perspective. Dona has taken top honors and exhibited at many local venues including The Rowayton Art Center, University of CT at Stamford Art Gallery, The Bendheim, The Fairfield Museum, Stamford Center for the Arts and Carriage Barn at Waveny Park. She has been published in Stamford Today, VENÜ Magazine, In the Mainstream, The West Conn Manifest, Gifted Travel, Awakenings, Westport Today, Town Planner calendar, and other local publications. Rarely without a camera, and always keeping an eye out for the change in light, unexpected shot, or an angle that makes an unusual photo, she enjoys nosing around Norwalk and elsewhere looking for the unique, off the beaten path or hidden surprises that abound in the small details. In addition to photography, Dona enjoys writing about local attractions to entice natives and visitors alike to enjoy what CT provides. Although always excited to find the extra hour to “go out and shoot”, she spends her weekly hours as a Physician Recruiter matching physicians with hospitals and facilities nationwide.
Jessie DelVecchio, Brenda Curcio, Frank Gaudio, Beverly Tuma
Dona Menton, J. Michael Woodside
Lorna Smith, Tracey Thomas, Kristine Kucej, J. Michael Woodside
Photos can be viewed at www.dmentonphoto.com
John Howland, Michael Metter, Frank Gaudio
Meghan Gerety exhibition Opens October 13th at ARC Fine Art LLC ARC Fine Art LLC is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition of new work by Fairfield-native, artist Meghan Gerety. The exhibition will open October 13, 2012. Meghan Gerety's newest body of work departs from her large graphite drawings, leaving behind her obsessive, labor-intensive drawings for a deliberately more spontaneous and immediate process. The new work continues to use the landscape as it's source, but in this show, Gerety uses the landscape as a departure point from which to make looser abstracted paintings and drawings. The work is rooted in minimalism and abstraction. The exhibition will consist of drawings and paintings on paper, large woodblock prints and paintings on linen. The new body of work is spontaneous and immediate, full of color, gesture and accident. Rather than depicting a place, her paintings approach the landscape as color and form made flat, in a deliberately non-sentimental view. Instead of being seduced by the romantic sentiments inherent in our experience of nature, Gerety creates bold, colorful paintings derived from the formal aspects of her experience in the natural world transcribed into her language of contemporary painting. Gerety has exhibited her work internationally. Her work has been featured in publications including Domino Magazine, House and
Guests “Shake Their Grooves” for WAC
ven the heaviest rain couldn't keep more than 125 people away from Shake Your Groove—an 80’s Dance Party hosted by the Westport Arts Center at Shake Shack on Thursday, July 26. Guests donned neon legwarmers, Madonna-esque bras, and torn college sweatshirts to get in the spirit of the 80s, and dance to support the nonprofit organization. While the final totals have yet to be calculated, sources indicated that WAC reached its goal and raised valuable dollars for its education programs, which reach 4,000 students each year. “Even with a tornado warning looming in Connecticut 30 minutes before the start of our party, it was amazing to see so many people arrive with huge smiles on their faces ready to support the Arts Center and dance the night away,” reported Danielle Ogden, director of education. “The venue was packed and the energy was high. Through ticket sales and our robust silent auction, we raised funds to help deliver high-quality
Meghan Gerety, 5.12.12 (detail), 2012, acrylic and graphite on paper
Garden, Traditional Home and Men's Vogue. She was recently awarded a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. For more information please contact Adrienne Ruger Conzelman, ARC Fine Art LLC at email@example.com programs, especially for our new programs for children and adults with special needs.” Sponsors of Shake Your Groove included Deirdre Price and Michael Delgass. The not-for-profit Westport Arts Center is a visual and performing arts organization dedicated to creating arts experiences that enrich the lives of area residents and the entire community. The WAC gallery is open free of charge, seven days a week, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Event Chair & WAC Board Member Deirdre Price; 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., at 51 Riverside WAC Director of Education Danielle Ogden; WAC Teaching Artists Jessica Jane Lynch Avenue, Westport, CT
LEISURE: GOLF RESORTS
Luxury South-Of-The-Border Style
T h e S T. R e g i s P un ta M i ta R e s o r t Bahia Golf Course, 17th Hole
Las Marietas Resraurant and Family Pool
Pacifico Golf Course, Hole 3B An old song from the 1940s sang of falling in love “South of the Border, down Mexico way.” And if you go to Mexico—specifically, to the St. Regis Resort in Punta Mita—you’ll fall in love too…with the resort, its two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses, the service, which the resort describes as “bespoke,” with the indescribably delicious food, and with the many other amenities and activities that the resort has to offer. Watch a polo match, indulge in world-class tennis (in a center nestled in a palm grove), delight your body with pamperaing in the luxe Remède Spa, and above all, engage in as much golf as you can cram into your stay. Of course, all that activity demands you fuel your body with food, but at the St. Regis Resort, food is much more athan just energy fuel— it’s an Experience. It’s a gastronomic indulgence. It is pure heaven on a well-filled plate. AAA gave its prestigious Five Diamond Award to the resort’s signature restaurant, Carolina. The cuisine is international, with an emphasis on seafood…which is hardly surprising, given that the resort
is nestled on the Pacific shoreline. There is also a distinct reliance on Mediterranean-style cookery, but with flavorings uniquely Punta Mita’s. Discerning palates will recognize the touch of a master chef. Indulge yourself in Caribbean Lobster, roasted with spices and served with fennel mousseline with a touch of Papantla vanilla and coriander vinaigrette, or Canelón, a stuffed artichoke with lobster, foie gras, and truffles. If the marvelous golf courses weren’t reason enough to visit the St. Regis—and, truly, they are—the divine food at Carolina would, by itself, be worth the visit. But the food isn’t even the only thing to applaud at Carolina. While you wait for your dinner, enjoy the breathtaking views. Or avail yourself of the romantic outdoor terrace, perhaps as the venue in which to sip après-golf cocktails as a prelude to your dining experience. Exquisitely appointed, the Carolina boasts lush blackand-white velvety textureswith silver accents, and unique handcrafted lamps. The atmosphere is best described as casual elegance in a luxurious, sophisticated setting. If your tastes run to something more casual, the Sea Breeze Beach Club’s restaurant and bar offers a predominantly Mediterranean eclec-
By Cynthia MacGregor
Altimara Reflecting Pool
tic menu spotlighting only the freshest ingredients, seasonal organic produce, prime Black Angus beef, local seafood, and homemade pasta. Open for lunch as well as dinner, the restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The bistro atmosphere is relaxed, the dress code casual. If your tastebuds are crying out for Mexican food, you’ll find authentic regional Mexican cuisine along with breathtaking views of the Pacific at Las Marietas Restaurant and bar. Named after the nearby islands— which offer outdoor adventures as well as breathtaking beauty, should you care to make a brief foray across the water—the restaurant features such dishes as free-range chicken mole stuffed with dried fruits and smothered in red mole sauce with toasted sunflower, almond, and sesame seeds. Are you a fan of ceviche? At Las Marietas, it’s marinated in lemon and scented with fine herbs. Suitably, for a restaurant located next to the resort’s family pool, Las Marietas is casual in its ambience. Here you can get your fill not only at lunch but at breakfast as well. Like the atmosphere, the dress code is casual. Fancy a post-prandial drink or a before-dinner cocktail? The Altamira Lobby Bar not only serves alcoholic beverages but is the venue for the resort’s Afternoon Tea. It is also the site for the weekly St. Regis sunset Champagne Ritual. But no matter how good the food is—and it is exquisite—you won’t want to spend all your time eating. Certainly not with all the other activities the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort offers. Of course there’s the golf—a very big reason to visit the St. Regis, for sure—but you can’t golf from dawn till dusk, either, and besides, you may be traveling with a nongolfing compaion…or children. What can your companion, your kids, and you yourself do when you’re not on the links? Plenty! For starters, we already mentioned the Remède Spa, but picture this: It offers a full menu of sumptuous pampering and revitalizing in nine
Pacifico Golf Course, 18th Hole
Luxury Suite with a Private Terrace and Pool treatment rooms, couples suites, and other facilities. The resort is located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, but should you prefer to swim in a pool, there are three infinity pools on the beachfront. Or take to the beach for snorkeling or scenic excursions. That far from exhausts the list of possibilities, however. Your ventures and adventures can encompass bike tours, Mexican cocktail or guacamole classes, Spanish lessons or dance lessons, various tours and excursions... and especially for kids there’s La Tortuga Children’s Club. The resort offers personalized butler service, 24-hour private dining, Internet access, and still more, but there comes a time when you want to retreat to your room, whether to sleep or just to enjoy some private time. The accommodations at the St. Regis are, to say the least, superb. They range from deluxe rooms with enchanting ocean or garden views and floor-to-ceiling windows, private terraces and outdoor showers, all the way through junior suites, with private entrances, deluxe suites, luxury one-bedroom suites (which include Jacuzzis and outdoor showers), a luxury two-bedroom suite (located in a private beachside villa, complete with a grand living area and fully appointed kitchen with a service entrance, as well as a private pool,outdoor shower, and Jacuzzi with a view, at a sumptuous total of 2,490 square feet), up to the Suite Amanacer (a/k/a the Presidential Suite), also in a separate villa, with three full bedrooms, a grand living area, and even more amenities. Fall in love south of the border – St. Regis Resort in Punta Mita. CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE
Travel: Destination Cuba
In Cuba People live on their doorsteps and dance
Now open to Americans
Written By Cindy Clarke Photographs by Kathleen Muller CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE
Travel: Destination Cuba
Knowing a bit about Hemingway the man, whose eye for beauty, taste for pleasure and quest for adventure was legendary, one can understand why Havana pulled him to Cuba.
One of the first things most visitors to Cuba notice are the cars. Vintage 1950s Chevys, rocket-finned Fords, Buicks, tops down, Pontiacs with gleaming hood ornaments, Detroit icons more than 60 years old saved from the wrecking ball to chauffeur the locals and – thanks to an easing of travel restrictions imposed by the United States government – groups of culturally curious Americans who are flocking to this tropical island with select travel companies like Connecticut-based Tauck who have special authorization to visit this stalwart Communist hold out. Eyes wide, the next thing that parades into view are the signs, billboards colorful and larger than life, graphically expressing subliminal, goal-oriented government messaging and a love for hometown heroes like Che Guevara, and less often the Castro brothers, father figures to a nation of people who have learned to make do with less and make the most of what little they do have. You step off the plane into a place stopped in time, explains Katharine Bonner, a veteran travel professional who has logged more than 25 years exploring guest-ready destinations for leading tour companies. Here is a tiny island, a mere 90 miles from the glamour of the Florida 50
Keys and Miami and a boat ride away from a host of posh, neighboring island resorts that cater to the wallets and indulgences of deeppocketed vacationers, living to the beat of its own self-sufficient, albeit government-controlled, culture. Basic lifestyles notwithstanding – with a per capita annual income hovering under $10,000 in 2012, Cubans live very simply – the island is a wealth of treasures. But the island’s wealth is not founded on a traditional economic model of revenue generating exports or even tourism, although that may change soon. It’s found in a culture based on the riches of the heart – music, dance and art that speak volumes about the irrepressible spirit of the Cubanos – intangible discoveries that are luring more and more tourists to its shores and back again and again. “I’ve been to Cuba four times in the past two years alone,” enthuses Bonner, a few trips for business but most recently with her family in tow. “I couldn’t wait to share this experience with them, especially since my daughter spent two years teaching English in Costa Rica.” The added bonus being that her daughter was fluent in Spanish, giving her mother the priceless opportunity to converse with the locals on a person-to-person level, and not solely through an interpreter. What she experienced was similar to the island allure that drew Ernest Hemingway with his typewriter here in the 1939, first to Room 511 in the coral-colored Hotel Ambos Mundos, still hosting visitors today, and later to Finca Vigia, the oceanfront house where he finished writing For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, which won the Nobel prize. Knowing a bit about Hemingway the man, whose eye for beauty, taste for pleasure and quest for adventure was legendary, one can understand why Havana pulled him to Cuba – the pulsating physicality and passion of the people, the sexy sassiness of women in tight-fitting dresses, the spirit-liberating music, the drink and the exhilaration and fight of sport fishing
were just part of the appeal. What draws travelers here now is no less powerful. “It’s the people. They are friendly and open and very eager to meet Americans, long prevented from traveling to Cuba,” said Bonner. She was immediately taken with their upbeat attitude, explaining that while so many of their personal freedoms are rigidly curtailed including Internet communications, Cubans freely express themselves through art and music, which transcends the obvious socio-economic inequities between residents and visitors. “I hope that cultural exchange programs like the ones fostered by Tauck’s trip to Cuba will help the society become more open.” “Music is everywhere… A flutist at breakfast, a live trio at dinner, street corner musicians, guitars strumming, serenading and seducing… luring people into the streets, the parks, even the rooftops to dance and celebrate life itself. The fact that they don’t have much of anything only fuels the feeling of happiness that pervades their communities. You get the feeling that no matter what hand they’re dealt, they are going to make the best of the situation.” 52
And that she says is incredibly eyeopening for a child of the ‘60s whose memories of Cuba consisted of air raids, missiles and jarring conversations about Castro and communism. While we at home could only imagine what restrictive lives the Cubans were leading since the trade and travel embargo between
our countries went into effect in 1962, they were busy painting – and recycling – a new future for themselves. To say that they are frugal is somewhat of an understatement. They are “horrified” that we crush our old cars. They paint, polish, patch and power up the ones they’ve had since before Castro’s 1959 Revolution, using their ingenuity and even household appliance parts to keep them running. An estimated 60,000 vintage American classics rumble down city boulevards and country roads across Cuba, some in mint condition, others on the verge of collapse, dressed in bright Caribbean colors and every one delighting curious travelers. Restoration is big here says Bonner, giving Cuba kudos for being the ultimate recyclers. Like the automobiles, the buildings in Old Havana celebrate history too and the tourist tax imposed on visitors is helping to fund the country’s rehab efforts in this regard. Must see sites of course include Hemingway’s haunts, his hotel room and the bars he and his cronies frequented for Cuba libres, mojitos and locally produced cervesas, along with notable centuries-old Spanish colonial archi-
tecture and the neo-classical Museum of the Revolution, once the presidential palace. The city center is laced with picturesque squares lined with open-air market stalls – and art. Murals and mosaics vividly define Cuban landscapes and lifestyles. Artists, like José Rodriguez Fuster, a painter, sculptor and ceramist, are covering a lot of ground in Cuba, literally, with Fuster leaving his mark on a neighborhood transformed by colorful art installations reminiscent of Picasso and Jean Dubuffet. More than 8o residents near his studio in Jaimanitas have allowed the artist to use their homes as his canvas. Roofs, walls, doorways and benches are decorated by brightly hued mermaids, fish, palm trees, roosters and Santería saints, including quotes from Ernest Hemingway. His work has revitalized and cleaned up a community not too recently deteriorating into rubble and ruin by its struggling, economically challenged residents. But lest you think this nation to be impoverished on every front, think again. While high-paying jobs and money may be scarce, an educated work force is not. Cubans have an almost perfect – 99.8% – liter-
acy rate, and education is prized here – and free. A look inside Cuba’s university-level national institute of the arts, Instituto Superior de Arte, ISA, and the Cuban Institute of Music reveals a singular dedication and focus on arts education by professional artists on behalf of their protégées-in-training – and they welcome Americans here to share and show their visions. What Cubans lack in their wallets is more than made up in the happiness they find through the arts. They may have to put up with overly crowded buses, old cars and cramped homes – many generations of the same family live under one roof and until recently, residents could only swap, not buy or sell, homes to find bigger, better accommodations – but they find release in human expression, inherently more rewarding and enriching than material wealth. With more and more Americans now enjoying the freedom to rediscover Cuba with sanctioned U.S. travel companies like Tauck, I asked Katharine if she thought that the spirit of the people and place she found so engaging would change with the influx of well-heeled
visitors. “I hope not. The Cuban culture promotes a way of life that is refreshingly simple and incredibly inspiring. The music, the art, the genuine desire on the part of the locals to exchange thoughts, conversation, political commentary and traditions with us makes this a destination that begs to be treasured as is. There is not a ton of infrastructure in Cuba, but you’ll find scenic beauty, clean, comfortable hotels, flavorful home-cooked dishes in authentic paladore restaurants, friendly people and some of the best music you’ll ever listen – or dance – to.” Go now she advises, before McDonald’s does. Indulge your curiosity for a hand-rolled Cuban cigar (enjoy them in Cuba, but you’ll have to leave them behind, with your heart, when you leave the island), Vitamin R (that’s rum with a capital “R”, aged and bottled and ready to pour), roast pork with black beans and rice, classic cars, salsa dancing, jazz, tour guides who may have a medical degree or two, modern art and anything Hemingway. You just might want to bring a typewriter (hard to get your hands on anymore in the U.S., you can probably find one in Cuba)… and stay awhile. CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE
by Cindy Clarke & Carter McCabe
Photo: Mary F. Vaichus
Travel: On Assignment
Into the Heat in Egypt Hot times and a summer internship in Alexandria
t’s not unusual for college students to take an internship during their summer break. Some get their feet wet in politics or private enterprise. Many head to the coast to add some fun in the sun to their extracurricular assignment. Others cross oceans to immerse in cultural traditions and hands-on foreign language studies in far off lands. University of Virginia co-ed Carter McCabe opted to do all of the above, albeit in an unexpected Middle Eastern location, by heading into the heat, literally, of Egypt, a nation in the process of redefining itself after 5,000 years. To say that the situation there is tenuous would be an understatement. The eyes of the world are firmly fixed on the outcome of these game-changing events for the new Egypt, heretofore an important strategic ally of the United States and a pivotal player in the region’s political stage. The media has painted a portrait of an Egypt in chaos, a place where tourism – a critical, economic mainstay for the country – has virtually ground to a halt, where protests and demonstrations are common, and unrest and unpredictability are becoming status quo on the streets. They attribute it, in large part, to soaring poverty and unemployment rates for a highly educated population growing increasingly frustrated with their government and their uncertain future. Carter, a junior majoring in international affairs at the University of Virginia, flew into Cairo, then went on to join her father in the port city of Alexandria to begin her internship at the American School, in May, just as the climate – and its revolutionary political situation – was really heating up. Given all this, there were a few questions I just had to ask. Cindy: Were you apprehensive about your safety in Egypt as a woman and an American? Carter: As a foreign affairs major, I have taken classes focusing on the Middle East; however, everything I had previously learned and read are so vastly different than my experiences here. Honestly, I was more excited than worried about my safety, in large part because my father was working and living there. My dad would not send me into a threatening area. His biggest concern seemed to be the traffic. Sadly, I was more concerned about my clothes and my lack of knowledge about the Arabic language. I wanted to show my respect for their culture as a foreigner but I think I went overboard with the long sleeves and long pants! It was absolutely amazing to be there during the first democratic elections in Egyptian history. Postponed once, and then once again. The majority of the people I talked to were just really conflicted because they did not like either candidate and had difficultly deciding which one would be the better option of the two. Surprisingly, the event passed relatively uneventfully as the election commissioner unenthusiastically announced the election of Morsi as Egypt’s new president. That night, celebrations overtook the corniche, rendering one side of the road impassible as Muslim Brotherhood supporters cheered, waved Egyptian flags, 54
Above: Egyptians in a Cairo marketplace look forward to the return of souvenir-buying tourists. Left: Carter met Hillary Clinton in a history-making moment at the newly re-opened US Consulate, Clinton came to Alexandria to reaffirm Washington's "strong" support for Egyptian democracy.
and kids rode motorcycles up and down the road performing stunts. I hardly doubt that had Morsi not succeeded, these excited celebrations would have had an entirely different air. The extremes have also intrigued me. A few Egyptians are extremely wealthy, while many are extremely poor. Women walk around completely covered while others attend weddings and parties donning dresses more revealing than I would dare wear at home. The news often furthers the stereotypes we have of life in Egypt and not being able to communicate with the Arabic speaking populace and women restricted in dress and personal freedoms. Can you comment on this? I am constantly amazed at the scope of the languages spoken here. Almost everyone knows at least some English, and many speak it perfectly without an accent. Yes, there are women who wear burkas, people who despise US interference, and youth who want to see change in Egypt; but at the same time there are people who have second houses in Florida or California, who travel to the US or Europe to shop and wear the latest fashion. Like anywhere else in the world, Egypt is an eclectic mix of people. Members of the older generation remember a completely different Egypt, comparing the current state of Egypt to past times of clean streets, western dress, and less rampant traffic.
One girl I spent time getting to know voiced her annoyance at the belief that many people around the world think Egypt is a desert full of camels, oases and pyramids. Within the past 40 years, they have seen a rise of conservative culture, and with that, a turn away from birth control and a need for women to cover themselves in burkas and scarves. But I have made friends with women who wear the hejab (head and neck scarf) and women who do not – it seems a matter of personal preference. Lately, a lot of what we hear about Egypt today are the demonstrations, potentially violent, that seem to be taking place all over Cairo and Alexandria. Accurate or not so much? From what I read about Egypt prior to my arrival, I assumed demonstrations would be extremely prevalent, especially because of the controversies surrounding the elections, but I saw only a couple although I did see a big military presence and tanks. One was a group of young people walking peacefully down the street, shouting, waving flags and displaying their support for Morsi. Another was a protest outside the American consulate prior to its reopening for Hillary Clinton’s visit. A few tomatoes were thrown and I definitely felt my heart quicken as I walked out in the dark to a street strewn with Egyptian police, military and riot control. A few rocks were also thrown, smashing car windows. Their shouts made the group seem larger than it was. Then to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s motorcade barreling down the street prepared to stop for no one… it was definitely an exciting afternoon.
Our understanding of Egypt comes from a combination of places, including history books and movies. As a tourist to this ancient land, one imagines seeing pyramids and tombs thousands of years old, riding camels in desert and tented oasis-villages – and not modernday cities. What did you experience? I’m not exactly sure what I expected to see once I arrived, but it is definitely not what I saw. I never thought I would find driving that would rival that of New York. Then, I came to Egypt. Weaving in and out of traffic at speeds so high the car beeps every few minutes, I couldn’t help but think of a video game. Road rules are largely ignored, if existent. Even after two months, I still find myself closing my eyes and cursing silently under my breath as we swerve at the last possible second to avoid a mother and her small child. The city is hardly ever quiet, mainly because incessant honking accompanies their erratic driving. Though obviously I knew people do not ride camels down the street, I admit I still held the underlying belief that camels were a common sighting. I only saw camels at the Pyramids in Giza. In fact, many of my Egyptian friends have only seen camels in the zoo. One girl I spent time getting to know voiced her annoyance at the belief that many people around the world think Egypt is a desert full of camels, oases and pyramids – yes, it does have them – but in reality, its cities are full of western influences. So while I assumed that I would see camels, one of my new Egyptian friends asked about America’s obsession with vampires, do we actually believe in them. It is interesting to see the role movies play in shaping the image of a country. Cairo was a whirlwind of sights with some of the most opulent mansions I have ever seen, many of which were dwarfed by Mubarak’s palace. In Alexandria, high-rise, concrete apartment buildings line the roads with immense villas interspersed between them. I immediately fell in love with the architecture. The country’s history and European influence are evident in the style, detail, and ironwork of these exquisite homes. The gardens are astounding as well. One of the first things that struck me was seeing how many of these historical villas, some hundreds of years old, have fallen into disrepair. The government forbids tearing them down yet many are beyond repair, so the owners sit and wait until the house collapses. It’s discouraging that such places are not better preserved. How do you compare your summer in Egypt with a summer back at home in Virginia? Honestly, I would probably be doing exactly the same activities in a different setting had I remained in the US for the summer. I think the main difference is that at home my peers spend the evenings at bars, and though some Egyptians do, depending on how strictly they adhere to religious doctrine, for the most part students spend their evenings at cafes drinking coffee and tea and smoking shesha. They play sports, go to the gym, watch the Euro 2012, go to the movies, spend a hot day shopping at the mall, basically the same as at home. How has this experience changed your perspective about Egypt? Overall, my trip has left me with an overwhelming desire to learn more. The Egyptian culture and history is so rich that I am constantly learning. Two months is not nearly enough time to learn all I would like. Everyday I met new people whose opinions contrasted with those of the previous person. I yearn to learn the language, read books, newspapers, talk to people, listen to their ideas and opinions. I would like people to be aware of media stereotypes. It may be my lack of travel, but I was astonished at how similar people are wherever one travels. Wise words that remind me of what another traveler once wrote “Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE
APPETITE: The National
Go "nuts" this fall at The National Blend nature's bounty with the handiwork of monks and chefs and get ready for a spirited dining experience that's all about hazelnuts
You’ve got to hand it to those monks. As early as the sixth century, monasteries in Europe combined praying to the heavens with the blessings of the vine to give the world some of the finest spirits we have ever had the pleasure to savor – or revere, as it were. Take Frangelico for example. Its iconic rope-waisted bottle is reminiscent of the pious brown-robed friars who, in the 17th century, turned wild hazelnuts from Italy’s Piedmont region into liquid gold. Since then Frangelico, named after a hermit monk named Fra Angelico who is believed to have lived in those fruitful hills back then, has made its way to the bars and homes – and beverages – of devoted modern-day followers everywhere. But in September Frangelico is making its debut, and taking a bow long overdue, as it launches National Hazelnut Month, headlining on a special hazelnut menu at The National in Manhattan’s Benjamin hotel that promises to turn you into convert. Pardon the play on words, but when a talented Executive Chef like Paul Corsentino, accomplished pro-
tégée of Celebrity Chef mentor and restaurant owner Geoffrey Zakarian, pays homage to a nut, people are sure to talk and change their perspective about its use. We headed into the Big Apple to taste recipes starring the big flavor of the Frangelico hazelnut on a balmy mid-week evening, curiosity peaked for an interesting meal at a hot dining venue. Banish thoughts of a hotel restaurant that caters to travelers not knowing any better. The National is in the forefront of a new breed of exceptionally innovative gourmet restaurants that just happen to be located in a hotel. Suits, Wall Street wallets, lined the bar. Tables of fashionably dressed professionals, Louis Vuitton bags draped over chairs, spoke volumes about the scene here. A line formed at the door with hopefuls looking for an open seat. And it was only a Tuesday night. Our host escorted us to a corner table, comfortably private, for our dining review and promptly brought us a refreshing mojito-styled cocktail called Hazel and Basil. Mint leaves mingled with tones of
basil and lime to give the Frangelico and light rum drink, poured over ice, its distinctive summertime flavor. Like summer, we felt like lingering here so the memories wouldn’t end so soon. Who knew that a traditional after dinner liqueur could kick start an autumn meal like this! Next up was the chef’s appetizing Lobster and Hazelnut Cannelloni, a tribute to his shared Italian heritage with Frangelico. “I made the pasta dough with hazelnut flour, and filled it with hazelnuts and lobster.” The nuts gave a nice richness and a little bit of crunch to the dish. He added a dash of Frangelico to the filling and topped it with an apple and Frangelico vinaigrette to give a touch of sweetness to the dish and to compliment the lobster. No words
by Cindy Clarke
were needed after we devoured it in minutes, with our compliments to the chef. Beer is a great drink by itself but during National Hazelnut Month you can expect an unexpected twist. The menu’s Fran Shandy beer cocktail pairs pale ale with bitter lemon soda and Frangelico over ice and garnished with an orange slice to elevate your beer to a more heavenly level – we can thank those monks again for inspiring this recipe! The main event, Roasted Duck Breast for two of us, Halibut for another, incorporated the chef’s favorite fall ingredients – duck, pomegranate, sweet potato and of course, hazelnuts with fregola risotto. Whether glazing fish or fowl, we were really getting sweet on Frangelico. Desserts came in both liquid and ice cream form, transforming classic fall tastes into hazelnut indulgences. We each drank a Fall Basket, marrying vodka and Frangelico with cranberry juice, apple and brown sugar, kind of like a pie in a glass that recalled, perfectly, an autumn harvest. And trying to resist temptation
but failingly miserably, we dipped our spoons into our decadent Frangelico, praline and candied hazelnut sundaes, getting higher and a bit jollier with each bite. I have to admit that just one day before this dinner I was working out in earnest at my local gym to “prepare” for our upcoming feast, watching one of my favorite Food Channel shows, Chopped. If you’re not familiar with this show, it challenges rising chefs to wow a panel of celebrity chefs using a basket of unexpected ingredients. The chefs have to concoct mouthwatering, perfectly plated dishes in a crazy short amount of time to the ultimate satisfaction of their judges. This night, somewhat serendipitously, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian – yes, he also owns The National – was one of the judges. I was thinking that he had a very discerning and demanding eye and palate and was probably equally tough on the chefs at his restaurant. He is after all the winner of TV’s Iron Chef competition too so lack-luster cooking is not an option for him. To think that we
Like summer, we felt like lingering here so the memories wouldn’t end so soon. Who knew that a traditional after dinner liqueur could kick start an autumn meal like this! were going to review his restaurant, his Executive Chef – Paul is also his sous chef on Iron Chef – and original recipes using the unexpected ingredient of Frangelico was pretty exciting. I made a mental note to set the bar high for our tasting, ready to exercise my vote… and it did not disappoint. Note to Chef Paul: please keep the Lobster and Cannelloni on your regular menu! We’ll be back! For news on National Hazelnut Month, hazelnut recipes, tips from culinary professionals, chances to win a dinner at The National, Frangelico cupcakes, and signature cocktails at participating restaurants and bars, Visit Frangelico’s facebook page, www.facebook.com/frangelico.
FEATURE: Desert Hereos
Written and photographed by Charles Ruger
“I didn’t want to get into something which is played out and narrow. I want to do as I like, invent my own interests.” Donald Judd, the sculptor and de facto father of the minimalist art movement, encapsulated his approach to his work as such in 1965. This perspective also foreshadowed the subsequent and most definitive phase of his career. In the 1970s, as Judd’s place in history was solidifying, he shifted his focus from Soho to Far West Texas, resulting in what is now a permanent installation of his iconic sculpture in the town of Marfa.
Over the last 30 years, Marfa has been a mandatory destination for international curators, scholars, and collectors, bringing attention to the region that would certainly not have occurred otherwise. The idea, however, of imposing a radical artistic philosophy against the most romantic of American backdrops - that of cowboys and Indians, endless sky and the Rio Grande - may be the greatest legacy that Judd left this part of the world. Today, a cluster of ranch towns nestled within a corner of the Chihuahuan Desert now serves as home to a new wave of visionaries who, in the spirit of their artistic forefather, are pursuing dynamic interests through vehicles of unexpected design. West Texas, with its patchwork of flat, dry terrain and intermittent grassy peaks, is a vast and enigmatic region. Far removed from any populous centers, it is a road tripper's dream and just the reason Charles Mallory, an avid collector of vintage cars, first toured the region in 2004. The Greenwich, Connecticut-based hotel owner was immediately charmed by the landscape and soon began to assemble an impressive and varied real estate portfolio – an adobe compound in Fort Davis, commercial property along Marfa’s main drag, and, in what is surely his most bold local move to date, The Holland Hotel in Alpine. A 1928, Spanish Revival landmark designed by the preeminent El Paso firm of Trost & Trost, The Holland is the undisputed showpiece of the region’s largest town of 6,500 residents. Its lobby is a grand and classically southwestern affair; historically, one would imagine, serving as a welcome conclusion to a railroad journey through the black, Texas night. The Amtrak depot across the street speaks to this notion, a fact not lost on Mallory. While Net Jets does a brisk enough business into nearby Marfa's private airport, for those not so inclined, the travel time to West Texas by commercial airline and subsequent automobile is a daunting prospect. However ambitious a task, Mallory has ideas of reviving the notion of leisurely train travel through the West, with stylish rest stops like The Holland on one's itinerary. A nod to this mission is the hotel’s recently opened Century Bar and Grill, a fitting homage to Raymond Loewy and a refreshing departure from the prevailing local, cowboy aesthetic. The focal point of the Art Deco cantina is a monumental 1930s oil on canvas attributed to the noted WPA muralist
Xavier Gonzalez. A vibrant, abstract depiction of the nearby Davis mountains, the painting is on indefinite loan from The Museum of the Big Bend, a division of Alpine's Sul Ross University a few city blocks away. The region’s cultural infrastructure, which includes the Judd and Chinati Foundations, along with such residencies as one offered by The Lannan Foundation for writers, has allowed for a steady flow of progressively minded new residents for years. Virginia Lebermann is one such transplant who left graduate studies in New York to relocate to Marfa in 2001. A native Texan, Lebermann has recently completed the restoration of a sprawling, nineteenth century, adobe property there. Rebuilding of the neglected pile was approached with a sensitivity that is characteristic of the new crowd. “The way that I thought about that house was more from a historical perspective,” Lebermann recounts. “What materials would they have used in the 1880s when that structure was built and how would they make those materials? Like fermenting the cactus pads to make adhesive to mix with the local dirt for the wall plaster. I felt like that retained some of the building's soul. But for some people it’s too organic.” She continues with an infectious laugh, “I mean, that house feels like it’s literally just a piece of dirt. Which it is!” The house, in fact, is a pristine tribute to the vernacular. Perhaps as interesting, the interior is a reflection of Lebermann’s broad-minded sensibility. Each meditative room is an assemblage of commissions from the voguish, Belgian furniture designer Axel Vervoordt, fantastically ornate family silver, and important contemporary art. It is a consciously cool and decadent escape from the arid expanse outside. Lebermann is a co-founder with Fairfax Dorn of Ballroom Marfa, a non-profit cultural space situated in the center of the town of 2,000. In nine years, the two women have established the organization as an influential player on the international, contemporary art stage, despite its unlikely location. “One of the reasons we liked starting Ballroom out here was because of the austerity of the landscape and the quiet nature of it,” Lebermann explains. “It’s an incredible place for art because you have the time and the space to see it, and to feel it, and think about it.” If embracing the seemingly endless
FEATURE: Desert Hereos
A 1928, Spanish Revival landmark designed by the preeminent El Paso firm of Trost & Trost, The Holland Hotel in Alpine is the undisputed showpiece of the region’s largest town of 6,500 residents. countryside is a directive, then Lebermann and Dorn’s latest project appears quite logical. The Ballroom Marfa Drive-In will be one of the few open-air movie theaters created by a American non-profit entity. Conceived of as a gleaming, curvilinear sculpture in the desert by the architectural firm MOS, the structure will feature a movie screen as well as a band-shell to accommodate the film screenings, concerts, and performance art that are integral to Ballroom’s annual program. “It will be a game changer to see those events out under the stars,” says Lebermann. What may be most significant about the project, however, is its site, a seven-acre public park on the edge of town. “The beauty of it is that it has the potential to bring the community together in ways that we haven’t ever seen happen in Marfa," states Dorn, Ballroom’s executive director. “The public can be involved as little or as much as they want and hopefully they’ll take advantage of it.” The old friends become practically giddy as they reel off the array of events they envision there, from performances by the Metropolitan Opera to the celebration of local girls’ quinceañeras, “with images of the child’s life projected on the screen,” adds Lebermann dreamily. Sabrina Franzheim is another recent addition to the community who is perpetuating this tradition of style and innovation. Freshly divorced, Franzheim has decamped to Marfa with her young twins after years living in Singapore and India and summers spent at her chateau in southwestern France. She has blazed into the quiet town with the color and vivacity acquired from her global exposure and has
set about creating a fittingly extravagant and eclectic setting for her family in the desert. “Marfa’s great for minimalism but, you walk outside, you’ve got minimalism. I don’t like to be surrounded by that in my life - inside.” Mission accomplished. On a tour of Franzheim’s lavish, adobe lair, one is transported by a decorating approach she labels “a celestial vision.” Offsetting the appropriately comprehensive collection of orbs installed throughout the place are hand-painted de Gournay wallpaper, 1960s Italian wall sconces, a host of French Art Deco furniture, rock and roll photography, and a major, pink and blue Murano chandelier. It’s a breakout exercise lauded by Franzheim’s social group, who have come to refer to her home as “the speakeasy.” Franzheim’s enthusiasm has not been limited to interior design. As with many new arrivals to the area, she has embarked on a very ambitious project, founding the private Marfa International School, whose grades one through eight are scheduled to begin classes this month. As her friend Meghan Gerety, a Connecticut-based artist who lived full-time in Marfa for two years, says, “The town is lacking in so many ways. Out of pure necessity you have to create things in the community that are not there.” In Franzheim’s mind, what was lacking was a local education that would allow her children to progress on an equal intellectual footing with their friends left behind in New York, Paris, and Mumbai. Apart from a mandatory English and Spanish course load, amain objective of MIS is to shape the curriculum around the unusual wealth of natural and institutional resources offered in the region.
“What West Texas has to offer, very few places in the world have to offer. It’s not just art. There's geology, desert research, water conservation, solar energy, astronomy, and with Jeff Bezos’ place,” she muses, referring to the Amazon founder's commercial rocket launching facility in Van Horn, “if we can get some workshops on rocket science, that’s what we're going to focus on.” It’s worth bearing in mind that 70% of Marfa’s residents are Hispanic and the town’s median household income falls in at just over $24,000, so one may ask where the children will come from to fill these heady classroom seats. Franzheim is well aware of that issue and is hoping to make MIS as accessible as possible to interested parents from the community. It appears, though, that much of MIS’s objective is to appeal to the apparently endless stream of international artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians who visit Marfa each year and would like to return to create work in this uniquely surreal environment. Their children’s education has always been a deterrent and a program on this level and one that allows for sporadic matriculation - say, as long as it takes to shoot a movie or write a book - may remove that obstacle. Not all of the dynamic new breed discovering this part of the world arrive with a mission. Trey Laird had visited Marfa only two isolated weekends before he and his wife Jenny spontaneously bought a place there. “I came back with a hangover and a house, "he laughs, recalling his most recent trip. Laird, the head of an international advertising and branding agency he founded in 2002, probably won’t be leaving New York for good anytime soon, yet the allure of a particular property was too great to pass on. This took the form of a compact, 1920s Mediterranean villa built along an unusually verdant knoll on the edge of town, creating an atmosphere more resonant of the Hollywood Hills then West Texas. Though Laird stresses that the goal is to keep the house “simple,” this is a man who has the professional ear of Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, and Karl Lagerfeld, so the concept is relative. Annabelle Seldorf, the architect responsible for the renovations of The Neue Galerie in New York and Williams College’s Clark Art Institute, has been enlisted to create the backdrop for the Lairds’ collection of African, Turkish, and Indian textiles. Laird’s rightful excitement about his new house is palpable. Yet, in an easy, melodic tone that reveals his Louisiana ancestry, he tells how Marfa’s people are its biggest draw. “There aren’t that many places in the world that have the remoteness and the sophistication at the same time and that attracts a certain type of person. It’s like a self-selecting kind of group and it’s this not-for-everybody mind-set that holds the town together.” When considering the question of whether he and his wife will attempt to make an impact in the spirit of his new neighbors, he adds, “We’ll try to figure out what makes sense for us. Part of buying into that community is becoming part of it as much as you can.” Sitting at lunch one day at his Delamar Hotel in Greenwich, Charles Mallory is similarly thinking about the people he’s met since making West Texas a second home. He recounts a recent evening hosted by J.P. Bryan, a Houston oil executive and owner of The Gage Hotel in tiny Marathon, a town that makes Marfa seem bustling by comparison. An original ranch headquarters blending Mexican, Spanish and Native American styles, The Gage is a perfect oasis if there ever was one and Mallory was pleased enough just to be invited there to dine. As it turned out, Bryan would present a lecture on a colony of 1920s El Paso artists of whose work he is a dedicated
collector. “I could not have been more blown away,” regales Mallory. "I thought I was at a PhD lecture at The Courtauld Institute in London. I mean this was so over everyone’s head it wasn’t even funny.” As a fellow hotelier, Mallory is as much in awe of Bryan’s commitment to preserving the captivating inn as he is of the man’s scholarship. “He has really done the right thing by The Gage. He has spent a lot of money and a lot of time making it into what I think is a really very nice place. There has been no economic return on that. But he has made a real gift. "Mallory pauses and reflects for a moment. Then, alluding to his own intention with The Holland, he continues, “We are going to have to be smart about what we do. Hopefully, we can make a go of it. But, you know, the people doing things out here now – they want to share it and articulate it. What they are doing, they're doing from their hearts.” The Hit List: A Few Days in Far West Texas Hike Big Bend National Park (www.visitbigbend.com) and paddle down the Rio Grande (www.desertsportstx.com), but don’t miss these other local phenomena.
MARFA Sleep Thunderbird - www.thunderbirdmarfa.com Hotel Paisano - www.hotelpaisano.com El Cosmico - www.elcosmico.com Eat Cochineal - www.cochinealmarfa.com Maiya’s - www.maiyasrestaurant.com Padre’s - www.padresmarfa.com Visit Chinati Foundation - www.chinati.org Ballroom Marfa - www.ballroommarfa.org VALENTINE Visit Prada Marfa - www.ballroommarfa.org/archive/event/prada-marfa ALPINE Sleep The Holland Hotel - www.thehollandhoteltexas.com The Maverick Inn - www.themaverickinn.com Eat The Century Bar and Grill - www.thecenturybarandgrill.com Reata Restaurant - www.reata.net Visit Museum of the Big Bend - http://www.sulross.edu/museum MARATHON Sleep The Gage Hotel - www.gagehotel.com Eat 12 Gage and White Buffalo Bar http://www.gagehotel.com/dining.html FORT DAVIS Visit McDonald Observatory - www.mcdonaldobservatory.org Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center - www.cdri.org Fort Davis Historic Site - http://www.nps.gov/foda/index.htm
STYLE: Decor FEATURE
Neighbor of Alice De Lamar and friend to Jerome Robbins, the exquisite Tanaquil Le Clercq lived in seclusion – after a tragic illness ended her career “If you are not born with luck, don’t bother being born” That’s a saying from the old country. Famed ballerina and former Weston, Connecticut resident Tanaquil Le Clercq was born in the old country, or at least on the continent – in Paris on October 2, 1929. Her father was a French intellectual and poet and her mother an American debutante who named their daughter for a Roman Goddess of Fire. She seemed to be blessed with great luck – she had the long legs and the slender but muscular torso required for success as a classical dancer, and an unworldly stage presence that set her above the rest. Described as a “shimmering tensile dragonfly’’, Tanaquil was going to be a star. Selected at age 12 by legendary impresario George Balanchine for the exclusive School of American Dance (which became the American Ballet Theater), she became his protégé, lead dancer and eventually his wife – marrying him when she was 24 and Balanchine, 48. “Tanny” as she was called, was actually wife number four for the imperious Russian ballet maestro, who had the habit of bedding and/or wedding all of his young, usually teen-age, lead dancers. Two years later, her luck ran out. Performing with the Company on tour in Copenhagen, Tanaquil Le Clercq performed “Afternoon of a Faun,” a lyrical piece choreographed by her close friend (and rumored lover) Jerome Robbins. The audience went wild for the spirited young dancer. On the tour’s last day, she was overtaken by intense fever and horrific pain. She had polio. After that day, she would never dance or walk again. It‘s a captivating story and the starting point of “The Master’s Muse,” a fictionalized account of the dancer’s post-polio life by author Varley O’Connor. Le Clercq died in 2000 and was known in any case to be understandably private after her departure from the dance world. Consequently, O’Connor has made an imagined scenario of what Le Clercq might have been ruminating about all those years. An intriguing premise that certainly tests the limits of artistic license. A personal confession: I was hoping the book was more about her life in Weston. She 62
by Lisa Seidenberg
was my neighbor – or would have been if she were still alive. O’Connor told me by phone that Tanaquil had lived on Ridge Road. A call to the Weston Library confirmed that her house had been #10. Unfortunately, if you drive down Ridge Road these days – ignoring the less than welcoming “private road – no outlet” sign – you won’t find anything like the one-story house that the famous dancer once lived in. The couple first came to Weston on the invitation of heiress Alice De Lamar who lived around the corner on Newtown Turnpike and frequently invited the artistic elite to stay in the one of rustic cottages on her property, presumably for weekend parties. A prodigious gardener, Tanny most certainly would have shopped at Weston Gardens, the capacious nursery on the corner of Goodhill Road, still owned by the Gilbertie family as it was then. She would have gone to the Post Office and Peter’s Market and most certainly to the town library, where she had been a generous donor. And while the book frequently describes Weston as a rural sort of place, the proximity to Manhattan meant that it was never really rural, not - shall we say – in the Oklahoma sense. Riding my bicycle down Lyon’s Plains Road, I stopped in front of the Emmanual Episcopal Church and walked around to the weedy cemetery in the back. There, near some bushes which I hoped were Rose of Sharon – said to be her favorite – I found the gravestone marked simply: “Tanaquil Le Clercq, Ballerina.” In the end, her own muse. My interview (by email) with Varley O’Connor:
You portray “Tanny” as rather upbeat, while she was, in fact, suicidal for many years. Did you try to make her more sympathetic for readers? Late in her life, Tanaquil Le Clercq said in an interview that it took her ten years to decide not to die after the polio. But I don’t think that means she was constantly depressed during those ten years. If she had been, she would not have rallied as she did and worked so hard to ad-
just to life in a wheelchair. Nor would she have written two books or coached other dancers during that time. All of my research portrayed Le Clercq as a very proud and determined woman, a fighter and a person of great dignity. People also said that she never lost her gracefulness in public and her sense of humor and love of life among her friends. I think that probably she fought very hard to present this façade, but that it was also her goal: to somehow go on in the face of the incredible tragedy polio brought her. In the novel I depict her depression after losing the use of her legs as mainly part of her inner life, a dark struggle in her own soul, one she seldom revealed to others. I was fascinated to learn in your book that in the 1950’s, celebrated choreographer Jerome Robbins testified before the witch-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, naming names and causing many dance colleagues to be black-listed as suspected Communists. How was Robbins able to keep on working after betraying his friends? Jerome Robbins’s testimony did damage the lives and careers of colleagues in the Broadway dance world. Unlike the more rarified world of ballet, the highly visible world of Hollywood, TV, and Broadway in which Robbins first made his name was especially vulnerable to HUAC. It is important to note that Robbins resisted attempts to cooperate with the committee for a long time. But as a bisexual man in the 1950s, Robbins finally feared that further resistance would bring to light his relationships with men and destroy his career. Only later, in the face of his knowledge of the destruction of other careers, did he feel the full impact of what he had done; and many people, understandably, never let him forget it. It is documented that Robbins regretted what he had done for the rest of his life. “The Master’s Muse” begins surprisingly around the time Tanny is stricken with polio, skipping over the earlier happy period. Why start at the most tragic point in her life? Because I decided to write a novel and not a biopic, I structured the story around the most determining moment of Le Clercq’s life: her contraction of polio. I did funnel in earlier happier times, and later post-polio happier times are depicted in my version of her story. But, as well, I feel this: the drama of the illness and disability that ended her career has, in a way, eclipsed her legacy as a dancer. Of course, she only danced for ten years. Nonetheless, most experts say she was truly one of the giants. So I wanted to tackle the polio head on, in fact by starting with what she is unfortunately most remembered for. Then of course the book goes on, as she did, beyond the polio. I hope it gets under the polio finally, and shows us her accomplishments across her life, both as a person and an artist.
In your book, George Balanchine (her husband) sounds like an arrogant tutu-chasing creep. Your thoughts? Ha! That’s exactly what I felt about him at first. Initially, I even wondered if I could write about Le Clercq effectively because of her persistent love for Balanchine. But during my research I began to understand him better, although understanding doesn’t excuse some of his behavior. I guess I felt empathy for him, the more I read. He was a complicated character, and he wasn’t the only powerful man of his time who behaved as he did. He also suffered terrible privations as a child and a young man in post-Revolutionary Russia, before he emigrated to the West. I came to feel that his own suffering gave him the ability to empathize with and help Le Clercq after the polio. He quit New York City Ballet for a year and devoted himself to caring for his wife. He even invented exercises in an attempt to enable her to regain the use of her legs. He finally betrayed her, but they were married for thirteen years after her illness. People who knew them both have said that in addition to his achievements in the dance, the other significant achievement of Balanchine’s life was helping Le Clercq reconstruct a life for herself after her dancing was over. Much of the book focuses on the years that Tanaquil spent in her Weston, Connecticut home. Can you tell us more details about her life there? Balanchine already owned the property in Weston before he and Tanny, as she was called, were married. But after their marriage, they put up the house — a modest pre-fab — and revamped the grounds; they planted mountain-ash trees and cultivated roses in their garden. After the polio, Balanchine built wheelchair ramps at the house, and he and Tanny spent most summers together in Weston, often entertaining other dancers from New York City Ballet who came out for an afternoon or a weekend to escape from the city. Weston was a balm for the couple. Balanchine prepared for ballets there and restored himself by cooking and working outside. Once he and Tanny were divorced, she continued spending summers at the house, and as time went on she also spent New Year’s there. She had good friends who lived nearby. She was a big reader and got stacks of books from the Weston Library. She liked to dine out and was fond of Maria’s in Norwalk, The Three Bears, and Le Chambord in Westport. She lived to be seventy-one years old, and though she kept an apartment in New York, she never stopped going to Weston. Not only were they neighbors, but I understand that Alice Delamar gave or sold part of her property for the house on Ridge Road. It is my understanding that Balanchine bought his seven acres of land on Ridge Road from Alice De Lamar in 1946, for $8,500.00. CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE
(Inside Scoop – Manny and Juliana Ramirez)
Celebrity Homes Celebrities are trend starters – we all look to them to see the latest styles in fashion and décor and there’s no better place than the glittering, sun-kissed shores of Miami to see what’s making waves “inside” the world of the rich and famous. One of the hottest, sexiest places in the world, Miami boasts some of the most luxurious celebrity homes, anywhere. Here you’ll find sprawling oceanfront mansions, virtually dripping with glamour, inside and out, parading regally along the shore and in canal-lined enclaves that speak volumes about the lifestyles of its famous residents. Behind the doors of some of the most beautiful homes, you’ll find the work of talented designers who help their clients turn their dreams into living paradises. As the owner of my own design firm, Eclectic Elements, I have been privileged to help my clients achieve a celebrity home look in a short period of time – on virtually any budget. You’d be amazed at how many celebrities have come to me throughout the years to design their homes, knowing that I am able offer them access to designer brands at affordable prices. Luxury does not have to come at a great expense, nor does a great designer look. Beginning with this column and in future issues of Venü Magazine, I will offer you the inside scoop on designing your home to celebrity standards. I will provide you with my personal design tips so you can feel like a celebrity in your own home – working with the items you already own and without having to move or completely refurnish your house. In Miami, many celebrities choose a tropical modern look to blend in with the naturally beautiful Florida setting. Modern design is mainly based on simplification of forms. Predominant features are vertical and horizontal straight lines and clean-cut shapes. Tropical modern design incorporates natural elements, such as rocks, wood and water.
Monica SUleski Photography by Geraldine Palvin Written by
Designer Monica Suleski, left, Model and Homeowner Juliana Ramirez, right.
How to achieve this celebrity look: Design Strategy Simplification is the key. Focus on making each room flow into the other. Having one concept for the whole home is more successful than trying to mix many different styles in one space. Color Use light colored walls to make your space appear larger and airier. Avoid dark colors that create the illusion of smaller spaces. Add accents of bright colors to attract the eye. Furniture The translucency of glass furniture creates an amplified and open feeling in the space. Armless chairs and low back sofas help you feel there is more space around the furniture. The layout of the furniture “can make or break the home, just as a bad
fitting pair of jeans makes or breaks the girl.” Think of furniture as fashion. Your home is like the outfit you wear; it is an expression of you. And just like fashion, it can change as quickly as trends do. That’s why I recommend buying furniture that is designed timeless.. Lighting The main lighting needed in a space is an ambient light. There should also be moments of emphasis in which fixtures are added to accent certain spaces; for example, a chandelier over the dining room table. Incorporate a “play of brilliants” where the light is used in a playful manner to give the space glamour. Candles are a good example of this type of lighting, as are various small lamps that hang from the ceiling to create a warm glow.
1. Dining Room - The dining room has a glamorous transitional decor, bright contrasting yellows, bronzes, and blacks are used emphasize this design. The furniture and accessories are radiant and luxurious, with Swarovski crystal chandeliers, glass finishes on the dining table and exquisite patterned curtains. 2. Master Bathroom - There is a contrast of color created with the bronze mosaic tiles and the black marble floors and walls. The patterned mosaic tile is added to create a moment of interest in the bathroom. The lamps and the tile are added to create a feeling of glamour. 3. The modern outdoor architecture is emphasized by the rectilinear forms, wood and water are used to add a tropical look to the home. The enormous pool is used as an illusion of the ocean. 4. White decor helps lighten and enlarge the space.
Accents and Accessories Add mirrors to reflect light in the room and make the space appear larger. Colorful artwork, patterns and prints are a great way to create contrasts and points of interest in your home. You want to create a weightless feeling in the space; this can be achieved by getting rid of all heavy rugs, blankets and dark colored curtains that block the light from entering your home. Add flowing shears instead of heavy curtains. Flooring Hardwood flooring and natural stone are gaining more ground in the tropical modern design.
4 Equally popular now are slate, bamboo floors, and glass tile. Outdoor Another architectural aspect being done to accent the tropical modern look is working with the outdoors. The outdoors can work
as an extension of your home; you can bring in nature and bring out the design. Rooftop patios with water features are being added to various homes. Whether it is ponds, swimming pools, fountains, lakefront, oceanfront, intercoastal waterway or waterfront,
For more design tips, visit www.eemiami.com or call me, Monica Suleski, at 305-773-7467.
water is a calming and peaceful feature for any home. Think about using Resysta on your decks. Resysta is a great alternative to real wood as it has the authentic look and touch of natural wood but does not require the maintenance. As an added benefit, it is a “green” material and contributes LEED points to your investment. Putting it all together Let’s look at one great example of a tropically modern Miami home owned by fashionista Juliana Ramirez and her husband, baseball player Manny Ramirez, a two-time World Series champion. Its modern architectural design provides a perfect showcase for its glamorous transitional interior. The first thing you notice when you enter the home is the grandness of the space, emphasized by the tall ceilings and striking white marble floors. The walls have a Venetian plaster finish which helps reflects light throughout the space. Patterns and prints add moments of interest throughout the house. A mix of dark, bright and light colors enhance the contrasts from room to room. In the dining room, pictured here (opposite page), patterned curtains and bright yellow accent chairs create visual excitement. Notice how the furniture has been laid out using the concept of creating smaller spaces from larger spaces. That same concept has been used outside as well where the Olympic-size swimming pool has effectively created the illusion of the ocean. When you have a workable design plan and palette for your home, you can create the look you want by working with what you have, without an extraordinary amount of expense.
From Mid-Century to 21st Century: Updating Architectural Icons
By Nancy Helle
iving in a house designed by an acclaimed architect is like living in a work of art, asScott and Susan Belmont realized when they bought the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired “Hemicycle House” in New Canaan, designed by Wright’s top apprentice/draftsman, John Howe who worked with him at Taliesin for over 30 years. As Scott says, “When acquiring a home like this, you’re signing on to its unique qualities. In any renovations you need to stick to the basic principles of the architect to avoid defacing the original work.” This is sound advice whether simply restoring a home to its original glory, updating, renovating and reconfiguring space within the original footprint, expanding the space by extending walls or, most challenging of all, adding a new wing or two. Here are four examples of significant mid-century modern homes designed by renowned architects, their associates and apprentices. All have been beautifully updated for today’s lifestyles while retaining their architectural integrity.
They were featured on the 2012 “May is for Moderns” house tour, sponsored by William Pitt Sotheby’s of New Canaan to spread awareness of the modernist heritage and illustrate how well the historic moderns can be adapted to contemporary lifestyles. Three of the homes are currently on the market, awaiting new owners who will appreciate their architectural significance.
The Bridge House: Timeless Enchantment
Even staunch traditionalists find themselves captivated by “The Bridge House” in New Canaan. Its architect, John Johansen is the last living member of the Harvard Five Architects which also included Philip Johnson, Marcel Breuer, Landis Gore and Eliot Noyes. The house, once known as Villa Ponte, spans a branch of the Rippowam River in New Canaan, a site chosen by Johansen for clients who had commissioned him to build their dream house and find the ideal property. The house was a revolutionary design in the late fifties and is still unique
Bridge House Photographs by Susan Miller
today. It could never be built again, due to wetland regulations. And thanks to a very sensitive updating by its new owners, it is not only timeless but also luxurious for 21st century lifestyles. Johansen, who studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard and began his career as a draftsman for Marcel Breuer, turned away from the Bauhaus style of Gropius to embrace Palladian neo-classicism in creating the Bridge House in l957. Johansen called it his “Renaissance House”, as it blends two diverse currents: the rational Palladian influence of geometric symmetry and balanced design is complemented by romantic elements, the warm stucco exterior walls reminiscent of a Tuscan villa, and the central core, a glass pavilion which forms the bridge is crowned with the curved roof lines of the triple- barrel vaulted ceiling. The glass pavilion is anchored at each end with a pair of identical sized cubes or wings, one on each side of the river, reflecting classic Palladian symmetry. The river flows underneath the living and dining areas in this pavilion which is a stunning “great room” in today’s parlance, and the dancing movement of the water is reflected in the burnished gold leaf finish of the vaulted ceiling chambers. The sliding glass doors on either side open to balconies with spectacular views in all directions, including a wooden footbridge over the river, a free form Wagner pool with stone terraces and a series of mini waterfalls, created by the original landscape architect to avoid flooding during a storm. The new owners, Michael Fedele, a 20th century New York decorative and fine arts consultant and his partner, Douglas, a global asset manager for a major financial institution, were not originally seeking a modern house after they had targeted New Canaan as a favorite location for a country home. “We just knew we were seeking a very special house,” said Fedele who looked at about 30 houses over six months, both modern and traditional. But once he saw “The Bridge House”, Fedele says he couldn’t get it out of his head. “I thought the house was extra-ordinary, but it needed a new owner and some changes to make the transition into today’s lifestyles.” For the past year Fedele has been engaged in a thoughtful renovation and updating of the Bridge House while maintaining the integrity of Johansen’s architectural design, keeping not only the original footprint of the house but also the interior functions intended for each
The river flows underneath the living and dining areas in this pavilion which is a stunning “great room” in today’sparlance, and the dancing movement of the water is reflected in the burnished gold leaf finish of the vaulted ceiling chambers. of the four cubes or wings. However, some of the spaces within those wings have been reconfigured. And although everything was state of the art when the house was built in the fifties, the bathrooms, cabinetry, doors and windows needed replacing. But the changes look as if they belonged; the new mahogany doors and windows honor the original style and bear the original hardware. The first change is evident as you approach the front entrance. The former driveway and parking area by the front door has been replaced with a beautiful lawn and a stone path, as there was plenty of parking space to the side of the house. This has provided more inviting views from the refurbished kitchen designed by Poggenpohl of Germany and the adjacent breakfast room which has also been revamped in the east wing at the front of the house. A spacious entry foyer/gallery connects the kitchen wing to the guest wing on the west side, where three small former children’s bedrooms have been replaced with two larger bedrooms and a charming sitting room with two glass walls and river views. At the rear of the house is the master suite in the west wing, connected by a gallery corridor to its twin sized wing on the east where space has been reconfigured to include an office/den and a sunny library with glass walls on three sizes and magnificent pool and river views. Separating the two areas is a handsome mahogany room CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE
divider containing closets and cabinets on the office side, and a wet bar and large TV screen facing the library. This large unit was originally in the entry foyer. Since it was way too large to move through doorways and turn corners inside the house, it was carefully loaded onto a flatbed and hand pulled down the driveway, over the wooden bridge, past the pool and back into the house through the large sliding glass doors of the library. Another change was to enclose an open porch, adding a skylight to the roof to create an informal sun room between the two rear wings. It is separated from the gallery corridor connecting the two areas by a faux stone wall with contemporary fireplace using biofuel (clear ethanol). The exterior of the home has been enhanced by cladding the triple barrel vaulted roof in copper. As Fidele says, “The roof is a major focal point from the driveway and one of the home’s distinguishing features, so we decided to highlight it.” Reflecting upon the renovation process, he says, “I believe there is a real value in restoring Johansen’s Villa Ponte as a type of personal legacy, as well as a gesture to the community and the next generation. It’s a bulwark against the banality of contemporary life. And I take pride in being a guardian of the utopian spirit and humanistic values that it represents. My experience has been a balancing act between a commitment to the ideology and aesthetics, without a slavish devotion to materials or methodology.”
In the Wright Tradition: The Hemicycle House
Scott and Susan Belmont had lived in contemporary houses in California and when searching for a home in New Canaan, they encountered an image of the Hemicycle House on the internet, designed by Frank Wright’s to apprentice/draftsman who was with him at Taliesin for over 30 years. Scott said, “We gravitated toward the property’s scale, bucolic neighborhood, and the unconventional style and apparent warmth of the home, but were skeptical that what we saw online would translate as positively in ‘3D’. However, when we saw the house in person, it was love at first sight - a diamond in the rough, full of potential!” Nestled into a gently sloping, tranquil seven acre woodland property overlooking three acres of wetlands, the home is beautifully sited at the end of a private lane. Completed in l982, by Howe, known as “the pencil in Wright’s hand” and Edgar Tafel, Wright’s top engineer apprentice, the residence was then a “cutting edge” contemporary. Howe’s design utilized one of Wright’s last innovations – the “hemicycle” or semi-circular curve as well as his use of organic building materials. Both interior and exterior are of honey cypress and Delaware River stone, combined with soaring walls of glass to maximize spectacular views. The Belmonts wanted to preserve the good bones of their original 3,200 sq. ft. home, but to support their current lifestyle, it made sense to expand. The first priority was to replace the original carport with an attached garage. Next, a larger state-of-the art kitchen was at the top of Susan’s wish list and Scott wanted a music room as he plays several instruments. The major renovation and expansion completed in October, 2008, has satisfied the goals of both preservation and expansion.
Two new additions, carrying out the hemicycle theme on each side of the house and expanding total space to 7,000 sq. ft., evolved through a very positive, stimulating collaboration between the Belmonts, architect Gary Stluka of Studio 3 in New Canaan and general contractor James (Jim) Pelicano of JRP in Fairfield, who had a track record of working with Stluka and being onsite daily for major projects. One of the reasons they choose Stluka was that “he had considered acquiring the house for himself, so we knew he had an appreciation for the architecture,” Susan said. The Belmonts tracked down copies of John Howe’s original blueprints and elevation renderings at the University of Minnesota. In developing the expansion plans, Scott recalls “many rounds of discussion on possible footprints –some harmonious, some percussive. We wanted to plan not only for the present but also allow for future projects like a pool site.” Landscape architect Frank Mushak later joined the planning process. As Susan notes, “In the end it all came together. We were a team and the creative tension resulted in something with which we were all very pleased.” Stluka warmed to the challenge as he had grown up in Chicago and always loved Wright’s architecture. He says, “The main room of the original house - the stunning two story living room with its curved wall of glass - gave me the angles to duplicate the curves of the hemicycle roof. We tried to place the new wings so they don’t overpower the original house, and we found a way to hide the garage. We kept the same kind of details, such as bands of clerestory windows and the same materials - more Delaware River stone and the honey cypress. It was important to find a builder like Jim Pelicano who could replicate the custom redwood windows and masonry. It was a labor of love to expand the house and keep it true to Wright’s vision.”
One of the new additions contains a spectacular elliptical shaped kitchen and dining room. A second, two story addition provides a four car garage, laundry and storage/mudroom plus an elliptical shaped office/recording studio. Above is a large music/family room with curved window wall, a deck, and guest suite. The core of the original home was not changed; it includes the two story living room and original master suite cantilvered over it, plus a first floor master suite added in the 1990’s. The original kitchen is now a spacious butler’s pantry, ideal for catering parties. The infrastrucure of the house experienced a complete overhaul including a state of the art HVAC. Now poised for 21st century lifestyles, the Hemicycle House is listed with Rita Kirby of William Pitt Sotheby’s in New Canaan.
Sophisticated Wilton Retreat
The Columbus of the Modernist movement in New Canaan, Elliot Noyes was the first of the Harvard Five to arrive in l947 and begin challenging the concept that “colonial” was the only architectural alternative. In 1966 his associate, Rob Graf of Eliot Noyes Architects designed a home for his own family on two totally private acres nearby in Wilton. The site was a rocky hillside with sweeping lawns and woods, overlooking a pond and abutting 100 acres of privately held land. His home reflects the Noyes legacy of interior spaces with minimally partitioned open floor plans and walls of glass to take advantage of magnificent views. There is a “great room” with dining and living areas, fireplace and floor to ceiling walls of glass. Below the great room the walk-out lower level has a family room with fireplace, master bedroom suite, and office. Two subsequent owners have sensitively updated the home, making it more luxurious for today’s lifestyles. The first expanded the footprint’s length in back, installing a steel beam to support the glass walls, enlarging the great room and lower level by several feet. He also purchased a quarry in Litchfield, to provide an array of beautiful stones for the two stunning fireplace walls, and installed new granite kitchen counters and marble bathrooms. The current owners added a more dramatic entry courtyard with deck, embellished the foyer with stunning gold leaf wallpaper and installed a gunite pool with mahagony deck. The four bedroom home is listed with Susan Blabey and Inger Stringfellow at William Pitt Sotheby’s in New Canaan.
Idyllic Weston Getaway
The “Wright tradition” is also alive and well in a perfectly restored modern Usonian home in Weston, designed by another of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin apprentice architects, Allan J. Gelbin, as his own home/studio in 1965. The setting is a very private, peaceful two plus acres on a hillside overlooking the Saugatuck River. Gelbin recreated Wright’s concept of Usonian homes, an attempt to develop a style that was intrinsically American - not transplanted from Europe as in the Bauhaus moderns - and both practical and affordable for the public. Looking to the site and surrounding landscape for inspiration, he opened up the tight plan of traditional houses into overlapping spaces with window walls that extended around corners. Like Wright, Gelbin used natural materials both inside and outside, with interior walls of wood and craftsman style details adding warmth to the home. Meticulously refurbished by its current owners with attention to authenticity and detail, including the installation of new tempered glass low energy windows with solid mahogany casings, the Gelbin house is in pristine condition. Replete with some original interior furnishing of the period and Gelbin artworks including a painting on board, Japanese silk screen and lamp, it is also listed with Susan Blabey of William Pitt Sotheby’s in New Canaan.
REAL ESTATE: Hot Properties
Highgrove Set to Redefine Stamford’s Luxury-Rental Market Stamford, Connecticut may be home to leading corporations such as Xerox and Pitney Bowes and located within easy commuting distance of Manhattan, but renting there used to mean settling for fewer amenities, lower-end appliances and less-desirable addresses. Beginning in September, it will mean something entirely different. Highgrove, a 18-story luxury condominium tower designed by a legendary architect, is poised to redefine what the market offers for executive renters. Located at 70 Forest Street, the Highgrove includes a mix of two- and three-bedroom units that range from 1,238 to 3,900 sq. ft. And they are all lavishly appointed, featuring SubZero refrigerators, Asko dishwashers. Wolf ranges, custom Beaubois cabinets and vanities, hardwood floors, marble baths and 11-foot ceilings. Common areas are just as luxurious, including a retractable-roof pool, yoga and fitness centers with saunas and steam rooms, concierge and valet service and a host of other amenities and features, including views of Long Island Sound and the New York City skyline from some units.
The Full Service-Concierge building also features above-ground garage valet parking, elevators with private-entry foyers, and even 100-bottle wine cellars for each residence. And it’s all in a building designed by Robert A.M. Stern, the dean of the Yale School of Architecture. His work is the subject of 15 different books and has been featured in major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. “Highgrove will set the standard for luxury living within Stamford and Fairfield County,” said James Schumaker, VP-Marketing at ST Residential. “We’re excited to bring a new level of service and quality to the area.”
Those amenities have been a long time coming. Originally set to open in 2006, with residences priced up to $3 million, the project has now been repositioned as a luxury rental with new owner ST Residential. ST Residential, a consortium of investors that includes Starwood Capital, TPG, Perry Capital and WLR LeFrak and boasts a nationwide portfolio of luxurious, design-driven homes, subsequently took over and stabilized the project, bringing new investment and expertise. ST is teaming with Lincoln Property Company, an acclaimed manager of luxury buildings, to offer renters a lifestyle worthy of the building’s sterling pedigree.
Silverthorne Luxury Property For Sale If you're looking for elegant living in one of the most conveniently located areas of Summit County, Clorado look no further than Silverthorne luxury real estate. Silverthorne offers a plethora of luxury single-family homes over $1.5 million. Locations include the prestigious Raven Golf Club at Three Peaks community, property near national forest land on Wildernest Mountain, and the valley near the Gold Medal Blue River. Some homes even have views of Lake Dillon. Luxury living in Silverthorne means log or massive wooden beam architecture, state-of-the-art kitchens, expansive windows and spacious private decks that look out onto manicured golf course greens, jagged mountain peaks, ponds and even babbling streams. They provide plenty of garage space and living area - usually averaging between 4,000 and 5,000 square feet. More and more people are retiring to Silverthorne because of its recreational opportunities that range from golf and fishing to hiking and biking, and they are seeking luxury homes to complement the fantastic views and opportunities that surround them. Contact Resort Real Estate, Natasha Bassova at (970) 389-8899, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Beach Penthouse Report The Miami Beach real estate market is FLOODED with luxury Penthouses like NEVER before. There are about 20 to 22 units in South Beach that could command the title of a true Penthouse. There are 15 Penthouses on the market for a total list price of $234,109,000. The Apogee Penthouse, 800 S. Pointe Drive, PH #A, has been listed almost a year to the day of last year’s purchase for an astounding $25,000,000.
INDULGE: Decorative ARts
On The Block :
Image courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2012
London Calling... by Matthew Sturtevant
The summer in the auction world is mostly a quiet time for reflecting on the highlights of the spring and fall seasons. Not so in London, All the major houses are recording record sales across the board. From decorative arts to fine art there is not an area that is not represented. The Royal Prince Returns To Holland
RECORD SALES Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction totaled £132,819,400 ($207,331,083), selling 98% by value and 87% by lot. This is the highest total for any auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art in Europe. The top lot of the sale was Yves Klein’s Le Rose du bleu (RE 22), which sold for £23,561,250 ($36,779,111), a world record price for any French post-war artist at auction and only surpassing an Yves Klein sold Christie’s, New York mentioned in our previous issue by $296,111. In total, 4 lots sold above £10 million / 21 lots sold above £1 million and record prices were established for David Altmejd, Jean-Michel Basquiat; see above, Marcel Broodthaers, Yves Klein and Beatriz Milhazes.
Sotheby’s Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale realized a total of £32,268,650 ($50,600, 470), comfortably within the presale estimate of £26.7 - 40.4 million. The evening’s top lot was a historic naval scene by Willem van de Velde the Younger, The Surrender of the Royal Prince during the Four Days’ Battle, 1st- 4th June 1666, which sold for £5,300,000m ($8,300,000) after nine minutes of intense competition among four bidders. This fascinating example of a war artist at work 350 years ago was considered of such
national importance that the precursor of the Rijksmuseum attempted to buy the painting when it was offered for sale in 1800, but was outbid. The battle, the largest of the second Anglo-Dutch war, at first was considered as inconclusive while both sides retreated from the battle having expended all their ordinance. It is considered that the Dutch who had crippled the English fleet by sinking 10 of their ships won over all. It was bought by a private Dutch collector, and so will return to Holland.
Willem van De Velde The Younger Leiden 1633 - 1707 London The Surrender of The Royal Prince DuringThe Four Days' Battle, 1st-4th June 1666 Oil on Canvas 75 1/2 by 106 cm.; 29 3/4 by 41 3/4 in. Estimate 1,500,000-2,500,000 GBP Lot Sold: 5,305,250 GBP
Lot 31 – Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), Untitled Acrylic, oilstick and spray paint on canvas, 78.1/2 x 72in. (199.5 x 182.9cm.) Painted in 1981, Estimate upon request Price Realized: £12,921,250 /$ $20,170,071 / € 16,138,641 World Record Price For The Artists At Auction
Goodwood Festival of Speed – Bentley Breaks Sales Record Bonhams came in first with their Chichester, Goodwood Collector’s Motor Cars auction on the June 29th, 2012. The eyes of the world were on Bonhams on Friday June 29 as its Goodwood Festival of Speed sale broke several world records on its way to £22,000,000 ($34,153,005) in the festival’s 20th anniversary year. Leading the pack was the ex-Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin 1929 4 ½-liter supercharged ‘Blower’ Bentley single-seater, which when new raised the Brooklands Outer Circuit record to 137mph. It sold for £5,042,000 ($7,827,247), the highest price achieved for a British car sold at auction. The next highest sale price was achieved by “The Corgi”, a 1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp ‘Silver Ghost’ Double Pullman Limousine, which sold for a record-breaking £4.7 million. Robert Brooks,
Chairman of Bonhams, said: “We always believed that the Goodwood Festival of Speed was the perfect place to sell two of Britain’s most iconic cars. “Bonhams has sponsored this event from its inception 20 years ago.”
Lot 204 – Ex-Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin, The Hon. Dorothy Paget-owned, Brooklands Outer Circuit Lap Record Breaking 1929-31 4 ½ liter supercharged ' Blower' Bentley single seater £5,041,500
The Thinking Man’s Ferrari
Wow!! Ferrari recently introduced a car that I was most surprised to see. The new car is called the Ferrari FF, where the first F stands for four as in 4 Wheel Drive and the second F means four,as in 4 Passengers. Plus it has a rear hatch!
Writer: Lorenz Josef
I wanted to see what it was all about, so I scheduled some time to visit with one of Ferrari's leading dealers in North America for 25 years. I learned a lot, but before I tell you about the FF, I think a little history on Ferrari is necessary. In 1947 Enzo Ferrari started his eponymous company in a little agricultural town in Northern Italy called Maranello. Enzo wanted to go racing and sought out the best engineers to develop a brand new race car with a twelve cylinder engine. All the hard work paid off and Ferraris started winning local races right away. Despite these early victories, Enzo quickly realized that money was going to be an issue. Therefore he decided to make cars for the road in order to generate the necessary revenue to keep racing (his first love). These road cars were typically two seat coupes and convertibles. Ferrari built them and turned to the renowned automobile stylists and coach builders of northern Italy, to design and build the fabulous bodies. The strategy worked, but racing was getting increasingly more expensive and after about a dozen years in business Ferrari had barely built 500 road cars to support his racing program. That is when Mr. Ferrari quickly realized that he needed to expand his model line up into 4 passenger cars so that he could capture a bigger slice of the exotic car market. For the next 50 or so years, Ferrari usually had a 2+2 model in their line-up. These 2+2s were nice, but were not very versatile. For example, while a Ferrari 2+2 owner could take his friends out to dinner, most of their friends were not willing to ride in the very tight back seat for too long. In addition, the small trunk space was always a challenge. People used to jest that for a long weekend trip a Ferrari owner might have to ask his Chauffeur take the luggage ahead in the Range Rover.
Well that was then and this is now. The all new Ferrari FF significantly raises the bar for comfortable, high-performance, four passenger motoring. To be specific, the primary difference from past Ferrari 2+2 cars is the FF’s emphasis on “very” comfortable and “extremely” high-performance! As I walked around the FF which, was waiting for me in front of the dealer's showroom, I could quickly see that its styling was once again entrusted to Ferrari’s longtime collaborator, Pininfarina. Uniquely they came up with a superb design package which not only provides the much needed interior space but instinctively captures the unmistakable Ferrari family resemblance in a new, updated and aerodynamic style. Pininfarina cleverly developed the FF in what the British call a “Shooting Brake” style to increase its utility even further. The key feature is a rear hatch which allows quick access to almost 16 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats. Incidentally, by folding down the back seats one can almost double that space! As a teenager, we condescendingly called this style a “grocery getter”. Once they entrusted me with the keys, I opened the doors and was surprised to see that the FF is very roomy for every
The FF’s agility was definitely sports car like, and the acceleration out of a corner was awesome. The more hooked up the car felt, the more I pushed it, but it did not break loose.
one of the four passengers on-board. I later learned that it can easily accommodate front passengers up to almost 6’ 5’’ and rear occupants to 6’1”. I believe these figures because I actually tried out every seat. In the driver’s seat I checked out the FF’s unique steering wheel. It is very much like a Formula-1 race car wheel (i.e., virtually every control is mounted on the wheel itself). Later, during my drive, I really came to appreciate the main control which Ferrari calls the Manettino. With a twist of the wrist I was able to dial in five different driving settings depending on road conditions. The FF wheel also has a big red engine start button, a separate button to soften the suspension on a rough road while still keeping an aggressive engine setting, plus signal, fog and headlight rocker switches. Needless to say, the FF includes all of the requisite multi-media entertainment features. More importantly the multi-adjustable front power seats are very comfortable and also provide heating and ventilation. Frankly, there are many more features than I can remember. The truth is that I never even turned on the radio… I just drove. Initially, I was a bit intimidated (probably by the $300,000 + price tag). However, about a mile into my drive, I was totally oriented and very comfortable. In fact, I thought I was driving a much
smaller car as I pointed the wheel and stabbed the gas pedal into every turn I encountered. The FF’s agility was definitely sports car like, and the acceleration out of a corner was awesome. The more hooked up the car felt, the more I pushed it, but it did not break loose. When I returned to the dealership I learned that it's all due to the FF’s new, patented four wheel drive system. The dealership informed me that it is an on-demand system and unique in that the front wheels are driven off the front of the engine unlike any other 4 wheel drive system in existence. This not only makes the drive system 50% lighter (remember Ferrari is always about weight savings) but allows it to kick in just at the right moment to allow for such surefooted high-speed driving. Under the FF’s hood lies an incredible 6.3 Liter, twelve cylinder engine putting out 660 horsepower. Plus, the engine torque from this massive motor is available from 1,000 to 8,000 RPM further enhancing its drivability. Power is delivered via the world’s first 7 speed dual clutch transmission to be used in a twelve cylinder car. The results speak for themselves as the FF can take you up to an unbelievable 208 miles per
hour top speed and rocket from standing still to 60 mph in under 3.7 seconds! I probably shouldn’t admit this, but during my drive I started to daydream. I dreamt that I owned this FF and I imagined driving it on the twisty, climbing, mountainous roads of Colorado. If it were mine I would definitely give the Chauffeur the day off and this Winter I would take my friends and their bags up Route 145 to Telluride in my Ferrari FF. The bottom line is that the new Ferrari FF is no “grocery getter”, but rather a nimble, versatile and very rewarding sports car that can definitely haul the freight and three of your closest friends. It is the thinking man’s Ferrari!
grand scale, fine detail
For a yacht of this magnitude, the level of detail and refinement inherent in every perfectly-completed component of SY Vertigo almost defies belief. The astonishing, minute details could almost be lost in the sheer scale of this stunning superyacht which designer Philippe Briand describes as being “a worthy descendant of the great seafaring ships of the past.”
Images: Chris Lewis and Brendan O' Hagan Photographers
fter all, at the time of her launching, at 220ft (or 67.2m) in length Vertigo is the largest yacht ever to be designed by Briand, the naval architect; the largest yacht ever to be built by the shipyard, Alloy Yachts; and the single largest sailing yacht ever to be built in the Southern Hemisphere. Undoubtedly Vertigo is magnificent from the tip of her 67.9m ketch rig to the bottom of her 9.1m daggerboard, from her near-vertical bow along the long clean, sweeping deck line to her short transom. Vertigo’s purity of line reflects the kind of simplicity that comes only from huge attention to detail. Yet she is powerful and sensitive to sail, traits virtually unheard of in a vessel of this size which reflect well on the down-to-the-millimetre approach taken by her owner, designers and builders. At the time of her launching, at 220ft (or 67.2m) in length Vertigo is the largest yacht ever to be designed by Briand, the naval architect; the largest yacht ever to be built by the shipyard, Alloy Yachts; and the single largest sailing yacht ever to be built in the Southern Hemisphere. Undoubtedly Vertigo is magnificent from the tip of her 67.9m ketch rig to the bottom of her 9.1m daggerboard, from her near-vertical bow along the long clean,
sweeping deck line to her short transom. Vertigo’s purity of line reflects the kind of simplicity that comes only from huge attention to detail. Yet she is powerful and sensitive to sail, traits virtually unheard of in a vessel of this size which reflect well on the down-to-the-millimetre approach taken by her owner, designers and builders. Brief overview The Vertigo project started with preliminary designs by UK-based naval architects Philippe Briand Ltd in December 2004. Initial discussions with yacht builder Alloy Yachts, in Auckland, New Zealand took place in 2005 with the design completed in 2007. Construction began in 2009 and more than 800,000 man-hours later, she was launched in February of last year. Vertigo is an ultra-luxury, performanceoriented 67.2m ketch with a beam of 12.53m and draught of 5.05m (with daggerboard down 9.1m). Her very modern hull design and ‘urban at sea’ interior provides
The complete harmony of the exterior and the interior design makes the yacht unique. Nowhere is there a line, an angle or a feature that could not be placed next to any other anywhere onboard. owner and guest accommodation for 12 and cabins for 11 crew members. Customized technology features inside and out. High definition entertainment and information systems include unique options such as the custom Google Earth interface where, onscreen in each cabin, a 3D model of the yacht follows Vertigo’s exact location. Vertigo carries five tenders, four in custom-built storage facilities in the teak foredeck with a dedicated garage in the transom for an 8m limousine. In fact, all utilitarian equipment is out of sight; submarine anchors, mooring equipment and fairleads are hidden and the massive captive winches – 16 in total – are concealed. At 837 gross tonnes, Vertigo is the first vessel that Alloy Yachts has built to the over 500 gross tonne classification rules. Her 5037 m² sail package from North Sails New Zealand broke new ground by having a roach on the main and mizzen sails much larger than any other sail of this size. The roached mainsail and mizzen required the development of an entirely new mainsail track and batten car system by mast and rigging specialists Southern Spars. Vertigo also carries a Southern Spars’ pat76
ented Southern Furl Boom in-boom furling system on each mast. Under sail, she can attain speeds in excess of 20 knots with a true wind speed of 20 knots. Using her twin 1450hp Caterpillar engines, the yacht can reach a maximum speed of 18 knots and maintain a cruising speed of 13 knots with an estimated range of over 4,000nm. Comments on behalf of the owner At the start of the project we had a vision to create a large scale yacht that delivered comfort, safety and a route to experiences that we could not begin to imagine at the time. Now Vertigo is complete, she is everything we dreamed of years ago. The complete harmony of the exterior and the interior design makes the yacht unique. Nowhere is there a line, an angle or a feature that could not be placed next to any other anywhere onboard. We gained inspiration from the experience of operating an earlier large scale yacht where we saw that comfort, style and functionality need not be compromised as previously has been the case in large sailing yachts. The objective then became to
produce a vessel that not only provided a vehicle to allow the guests to find experiences otherwise out of reach. The vessel itself should also be a modern work of art, displaying craftsmanship, design and engineering at the level where the line between technical object and artwork becomes blurred. Watching the worldwide development of systems and controls that allow the massive sailing loads to be safely managed gave the team the idea that sailing at this scale was not only possible, but that it could be performance-focussed. Highlights of the project include the way in which the designers, the yard and the contractors were able to see the single vision of the yacht. Discussions never lost focus from the end goal of simply building the best boat we could. The inspiration The aim was to create a luxury performance yacht, 60m in length, which could be used for worldwide cruising in absolute comfort and safety. The project team drew on the positive experiences of the owner’s former yachts which featured very comfortable saloons on the main deck and extensive flybridges. The design brief was formed by enhancing what worked with these aspects from the earlier vessels, along with the desire for a contemporary design that would still be cutting edge in ten years’ time. The addition of a mid-ship lazarette – hull sections that open up on both sides to create boarding/swimming platforms – created yet another dimension to the design and engineering briefs. Performance was critical – not only is the vessel expected to handle adverse weather fronts, she also needed the power to outrun them, and thus designers of the hull, spars, rigging and sails all had vital roles to play in making sure this 67.2m yacht could meet the agreed performance objectives. She also needed enough sail power to perform well in light air, rather than simply resorting to firing up the twin engines. Overlaying these elements were the physical constraints of ensuring the vessel could travel safely through the Suez Canal (maximum air clearance 68m) and access marinas without restraint (most have a maximum depth of approx. 5.25m).
Neal Smith Back On The Beat
Writer: Bruce Pollock Photos: Len DeLessio/delessio.com
It was a revelation, back in ’72, as stunning as finding out your favorite WWF wrestler liked to knit sweaters between bouts. Rock and roll’s leading heavy metal ghoul, Alice Cooper, was an ace golfer on his days off! Therefore, it shouldn’t be much of a shocker to discover that the heavy muscle behind Cooper’s music, drummer Neal Smith, gave it all up in ’85 to become a real estate agent in Fairfield County. “I’m a Libra, so I balance art and business very well,” said Smith, during our interview at his tastefully decorated condo overlooking the third tee at an upscale residential community in Stratford, Connecticut. As devout believers no doubt remember, Alice Cooper the band settled in Greenwich in 1972, to be near their New York City manager, in a mansion that eventually burned down months after the band moved out. It was their accountant who advised them to pick Fairfield County overWestchester County, due to Connecticut’s lack of a state income tax. That perk would soon disappear, but Smith, an Akron, Ohio native, who grew up in Phoenix, before moving to L.A., has been living in Connecticut ever since. After leaving Greenwich in 1978, he bought Eartha Kitt’s house in Weston, which as lineage goes, is pretty cool, but nowhere near as impressive as the house where their first mentor in the music business, Frank Zappa, lived in Laurel Canyon--just ten miles down the road from the band’s Topanga Canyon address–where Tom Mix’s horse was buried under the bowling alley in the basement. Smith remembered Zappa’s cabin well. “It burned down, too,” he recalled. Their career in the late ‘60s on Zappa’s weird label, Bizarre (home to Wild Man Fischer), nearly did the same. “Our first album sold 12,000 copies and our second about 8,000, when bands were coming out selling hundreds of thousands,” said Smith. “But it provided a great segue to Warner Brothers.” This is where Alice Cooper found their groove, accounting for five Top 10 albums, including the Number One, Billion Dollar Babies, and ten Top 40 singles, including the massive hits “Eighteen” and “School’s Out,” both of which were co-written by Smith.
These days Smith can recall his first million selling real estate listing as well as any of the band’s million selling albums. It was a house dating back to the Revolutionary War, located along the historic route taken by the British from Compo Beach to Danbury. “It had the thickest front door I’ve ever
seen,” Smith said. “About waist high in the door is a perfectly round hole. During that march, the British fired a round musket shot at it that had lodged in there for 200 years. Back in the ‘60s, when the Boy Scouts were looking at historic landmarks, one of them cut it out with his pocket knife and took it
PULSE: Music/ICON home with him. But the hole is still there.” Smith got into real estate in 1985, just in time for a couple of plush years. “Back when we were having hits, our accountants put us into real estate tax shelters--hotels in Minnesota and Florida. I took a personal interest in those investments. In the early ‘80s I was dating someone whose mother was in the business. After I got my license, the mother said a desk just so happens to be available in our Wilton office. Within the first month or so I had a closing and was on my way.” So did Smith then become the go-to broker for the swelling ranks of New York City, Detroit, and L.A. rock and roll expatriates looking to settle among the literary and theatrical elite in Fairfield County? Not exactly. “Most of the time I didn’t tell anyone who I was,” he said. “There were people I knew for years who only found out later on. First of all, I sort of wanted to step out of the music business and when I step out of something I step out of it big time.” Smith immersed himself in real estate for the next ten years, until a life-changing epiphany brought him back to his first passion. In 1997, Alice Cooper’s original band reunited for a gig in Houston, including guitarists Glen Buxton and Mike Bruce. “We were out there for two weeks,” Smith said. “We played a showcase at Area 51 and the place was packed. Six days later, Glen passed away in Iowa, just short of his 50th birthday. At that point I started realizing my mortality more than I ever had before.” One of the main outcomes of this realization was that Smith dove into rock with a heavy metal vengeance. He taught himself guitar and began writing songs. Around 2005, he and Peter Catucci, who lives in Weston, recorded them in Catucci’s studio, with Smith on vocals, drums and guitar and Catucci on bass. And thus the first Killsmith album, Sexual Saviour, was born. Killsmith 2 came out last year, featuring the single “Squeeze like a Python,” all of which can be
found at his website, nealsmithrocks.com. Apparently, however, the real estate market is now coming back. “William Pitt is my company and this year we had two of the best January-February periods in three or four years. As I get a little bit older I’m more into the real estate business than music and always will be, but .....” He hesitates, reflecting on March, 2011 and perhaps the high point of his rock and roll career, when Alice Cooper (the band) was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As it happened, the band was together when they learned the news, invited down to Phoenix by Alice Cooper (the man) to play the Comerica Theater, at his 10th Annual Christmas Pudding charity event to benefit the Alice Cooper Solid Rock Foundation. “We were out there for a week beforehand and two days before the show they made the announcement that of the 15 acts nominated, unbelievably, we were one of the five chosen,” said Smith. “Naturally, the news went through Phoenix like wildfire. The band originated in Phoenix in high school and college. So everybody knew about it. We were supposed to rehearse that day but we were all in different rooms talking on the phone doing different interviews.” At the Hall of Fame ceremonies the following month, the band played “Under My
Wheels,” “Eighteen,” and “School’s Out.” They were inducted by Rob Zombie, who sang a verse of “School’s Out” with the band. “He and Alice are pretty good buddies,” said Smith. “He was with us the whole weekend. It was a great party.” A month later, they played four songs at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, where they received Revolver Magazine’s Golden Godz award. The next morning they were busy performing a four-dimensional set, hired by Jagermeister. The seven song CD came out in the U.K. a couple of months later. “In order to get the 4-D effect we couldn’t make a mistake and stop,” Smith said. “We had to do it right from the first note to the end of the show. We ran through it two times to get the sounds. Garth Richardson, who produced Rage Against the Machine, mixed the show. At the end of the show cannons shot out confetti and streamers and balloons in 4-D. We ran through it twice and filmed it twice. Someone asked, How do we know when we have a take? We were told, You’ll know we have a take when we fire off the cannons.” All in all, with Alice Cooper records selling in bunches once again, 2011 was a big year for Neal Smith. “I’m 63 years old, playing like I’m 25,” he said. “It was fun, but I was at the chiropractor for three months after that.”
PULSE: ART/Marlene Siff
Elements of Peace Artist Marlene Siff likes to take on provocative subjects, such as global issues which challenge her viewers to think. The universal quest for peace – the ultimate but elusive goal of mankind throughout history is a subject that has intrigued her for many years.
by Nancy Helle
Fallen Heroes/Afghanistan, 2010; 56 ½ x 76 ½ x 5 ¼ in., Mixed Media, (Detail)
PULSE: ART/Marlene Siff
“Inspired and frustrated by all the troubles in the world, I decided to create a new body of work entitled ‘Elements of Peace’ as a personal way of involving myself with issues outside of painting, with the hope of making a difference and creating cultural awareness through art.”
or the past five years Marlene has been collecting words and phrases – both verbal and written - which inspired her to think about peace and evoked images of that concept. Some of the ideas were written on paper napkins, others on hotel stationery around the world. This collection of contemporary sound bites has evolved into a body of 47 paintings, works on paper and sculpture which will be featured in her solo exhibition, “Elements of Peace” in the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery at the Quick Center of Fairfield University from September 20th through December 9th. Also included in the exhibition are mobiles and maquettes of the large multi-dimensional constructions. The paintings range from vivid explosions of color to quiet white meditative constructions, which Siff describes as metaphors for the range of emotions that war provokes and the complex search for alternative solutions.
While the exhibition features many of the abstract geometric multi-dimensional paintings for which Siff is well known, the keystone of “Elements of Peace” is a radical departure from her usual style. “Fallen Heroes/Afghanistan”, is an extraordinary, compelling assemblage commemorating all the servicemen and women who died in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan through December 2009. The inspiration came on August 7, 2008 when Siff read the New York Times story with a three page “Roster of the Dead” from the war in Afghanistan. First she wept. Then she had an epiphany, realizing that she must do something to keep alive the memory of these individuals who had sacrificed their lives for their country. She spent two years researching and collecting names and photos of the nearly 1,000 servicemen and women which she embedded in the six foot white stripes of a three dimensional flag she constructed. Layers of hand painted torn
paper form the red stripes which protect the images. A border of sand suggests the terrain of Afghanistan and bullet casings acquired from the US Military Academy at West Point are a solemn reminder of the consequences of war. The words “Fallen Heroes/Afghanistan” are repeated like a prayer in handwritten gold script around the black border. “Fallen Heroes” was selected by Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes of Greenwich to hang in his office in the nation’s capital in 2010. It is on loan to the Walsh Gallery for the “Elements of Peace”Exhibition. Another of Siff’s paintings in the exhibition referencing the 1996 suicide bombings in Israel entitled “Peace/War” is on loan from the B’nai B’rith National Jewish Museum in Washington DC. Additional Siff paintings are on loan from private collectors in New York.
iff’s newest works in “Elements of Peace” also represent a departure from her vibrantly colored paintings which normally juxtapose many brilliant jewel tones. She says, “Color has been my muse for years, but the concept of this show inspired a more restrained palette.” There are seven new multi-dimensional paintings in shades of white and three in black. Siff sees white as “suggesting peace as well as harmony… soft, unadorned, spiritual and full of infinite possibilities.” She also adds that “white is made up of all the colors of the spectrum. When you take a prism and refract white light you get all the colors of the rainbow. This is a conceptual image for me. White is my metaphor for all the peoples of the world coming together for peace. I had to restrain myself in not using color because I felt the concept of peace would be stronger in white.” Powerful examples of this are the sculpturesque paintings “History and Geography” which portrays the two as totally intertwined, and “Shifting Balance”, another multi-dimensional construction featuring a circle which can rotate within a square frame. Siff says the circle represents closure “as peace represents coming full circle.” She has named the black painting constructed of diamond shapes, “Neo Gothic”, suggesting what we must go through to achieve peace. Young looking, fit and trim at 75 (and celebrating her 76th birthday on September 20 at the opening of the exhibition), Siff has lived through World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Israeli Palestinian Conflict and the Gulf War before the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In thinking about peace, she finds inspiration in her garden. “My garden represents all species of plants living happily together,” says Siff. Art has been her lifelong passion and obsession; she claims she was “born with a paint brush in her hand”. After attending the High School of Music and Art in New York City, she went to Hunter College where she was an art major and adored studio fine art classes with William
Baziotes and Raymond Parker, and Art History courses taught by William Rubin, who later became head of Painting and Sculpture at MOMA. After college she had a successful career designing signature collections for the bedroom, bathroom, dining room and kitchen for JP Stevens and JC Penney before pursuing fine art as a full time career since 1980. Over the years, inspiration has come from Matisse, Cezanne and Kandinsky as well as more recent artists Mark Rothko, Joseph Cornell, Louise Nevelson and Elizabeth Murray. Siff works in a beautiful spacious studio that she designed, a wing of the Westport home she shares with her husband, Elliott Siff. As recent years of work come to fruition in the “Elements of Peace” exhibition, Siff is hoping that the theme and provocative titles will inspire viewers to think about freedom, courage, justice and peace. “Abstract Art requires that you look at it, study it, and interpret it for yourself. An artist’s goal Is to engage you in a dialogue,” says Siff. “Elements of Peace” asks difficult questions from a macro lens CONTEMPORARY CULTURE//MAGAZINE
PULSE: ART/Marlene Siff
Per Aspera ad Astra,2005 65 ¼ x 81¼ x 16 ¾ in. Acrylic on Linen and Wood
Humanity, 2011 36 ½ x 46 x 18 ¾ in., Acrylic on Linen
Full Spectrum, 2011 18 ¾ x 64 x 17 ½ in., Acrylic on Linen
History and Geography, 2011 63 x 57 ¾ x 15 ¼ in., Acrylic on Linen
perspective – is war inevitable? Is peace something that exists only in moments of time? Can peace ever be the natural state of the world?” “The metaphor of a perfect union is the pulse of the show – a union between people of all races, creeds and religions is necessary for contemporary society to experience peace – just as a union between all colors is necessary for the color white to be experienced. My intention for the entire series in ‘Elements of Peace’ is to create spaces and gateways for people of all walks of life to come together to reflect on war and peace, and to commemorate our fallen heroes.” Complementing the exhibition is a Catalogue Raisonné with full color reproductions of Siff’s entire body of work. In the forward,
Neo Gothic, 2011; 45 x 75 ¾ x 13 ½ in. Acrylic on Linen
Diana Mille PHD, curator of the exhibition and former director of the Walsh Gallery says of Siff, “She challenges us to consider difficult questions – what is the human cost of war and sacrifice and when will the senseless killing stop?” Also included is a quote from British writer/art critic/art historian Edward Lucie-Smith who compares Siff to Robert and Sonia Delaunay of the Parisian avant-garde: “One of the ways in which the Delaunays differed from their rival and contemporaries was that their work expressed a radiant faith in the future that remained unshaken by world events. I think Marlene Siff’s work offers an equivalent, and now rare, optimism about human possibility, and this is one of the things that gives it its special flavor.”
The Opening Reception is on September 20, 6 to 8 p.m. in the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery at the Quick Center at Fairfield University: (203) 254-4242 82
PULSE: FILM + Entertainment
Fox on Film
& Entertainment by PETER FOX: about.me/foxonfilm
Left to Right: Rashida Jones as Celeste and Andy Samberg as Jesse Photo: David Lanzenberg, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Celeste and Jesse Forever Romantic stories which illuminate the pleasures and terrors of domestic bliss, and feature characters who are young, good looking and bright are always great vehicles for comedy. But when genuine heartache reaches either one or both of the main characters, the comedy is transformed into a wider genre; something that reaches us with humor but resonates with poignancy. Rating:
tarring Andy Samberg as Jesse and Rashida Jones as Celeste does exactly that. “Will and I grew up with romantic comedies, but the ones we love are all about heartbreak,” says the luminous Rashida Jones, who co-wrote the screenplay with actor Will McCormack and also stars as Celeste. “We wanted to invert what everybody expects from this kind of story. Of course we’re all completely familiar with the archetypes and structures and story points of romantic comedy—so we wanted to flip it. To keep the humor and the audience’s
emotional connection to it but get something new.” There has never been any doubt that Ms. Jones could carry a leading role in a feature film. But since these roles always seemed to go to franchise actors such as Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz, Jones decided to team up with screenwriter Will McCormack and director Lee Toland Kriegar to create the film. Celeste and Jesse seem like the perfect romantic Hollywood couple. After we follow them through the first act, correcting one another’s shortcomings with sharply crafted inside jokes, we are
not prepared for the news that the cutesy couple is divorcing. The catch is that Celeste and Jesse think that they can still just kind of hang out and remain best friends. Having met in high school and married young, they have grown apart, but cannot face up to the fact that their childhood friendship is over. Celeste is the ambitious owner of her own media consulting firms. Jesse is unemployed, but in no rush to do anything about it. As she is convinced that Jesse is going nowhere, Celeste has rationalized that the decision to end the marriage now, while they are still young,
will enable the couple to remain supportive friends. Initially, Jesse passively supports the decision and accepts this transition into friendship, even though he is still in love with her. As reality sets in, Celeste realizes that she has been cavalier about their relationship and her decision to end the marriage, which, at first, seemed mature and progressive, but now seems impulsive and cruel. But she finds that her timing is less than fortuitous. The tone of the film moves from comedic to melodramatic when each of them meets new people. As the couple move into new situations, the comedy does begin to take a back seat to the drama of their situation. And it works, perfectly well. As writer Will McCormack puts it: “After dating for three weeks in the late 90’s, we realized we were better suited as friends—and eventually, as writing partners. After several failed attempts, in the summer of 2008 we agreed upon an idea of Rashida’s that we both felt could be approached with honesty and a fresh take. What if a young married couple, who grew up together, realized they should get divorced but didn’t want to lose their friendship? Is it possible to stay friends after separating? Can you preserve the best parts of a relationship without taking time to process the worst parts? Can you love someone to the moon and back but still not be ‘right’ for each other? These were questions that seemed to be common amongst people in our generation. Ultimately, we wanted to make a comedy about a broken heart. What it’s like to endure real heartbreak. How devastating it can be, how funny, and how you feel like the whole world is ending. But the world doesn’t end. You don’t die. And you do grow.”
PULSE: FILM + Entertainment
Incredibly, Celeste and Jesse Forever is the writing duo’s first ever effort at the craft. Indeed, Celeste offers a twist on an archetype that movies love to scorn: the alpha woman. “Yup, Celeste is the high-powered career driver and Jesse is the passive guy who won’t grow up—all the makings of a cliché,” says Rashida. “But the balance between them keeps shifting out of Celeste’s control, which kills her as a controller. When the reality of losing Jesse hits, she’s just blindsided.” Celeste’s ambitious striver is given more compassionate dimensionality than the alpha woman stereotype is usually afforded. “Personally, I can relate to a line like ‘The father of my child will own a car’” says producer Jennifer Todd, herself a professional dynamo with both studio blockbusters and independent dramas to her name. “Celeste is a very, very recognizable presentday woman. But by the rules of studio comedy, she would have to lose her job, have a comeuppance. And she would also have to fall down in high heels a lot. Embarrassing things would happen to her. An ambitious woman has to become a loser to be likeable. Rashida didn’t write her or play her that way.” Director Lee Toland Krieger remarks that “Even in 2012 you rarely see an ambitious Type A woman onscreen who’s more than a caricature.
Left to Right: Rashida Jones as Celeste and Andy Samberg as Jesse Photo: Lee Toland Krieger, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Rashida’s character can be tough and very serious about her career and also have a sweetness and sadness.” Krieger’s first feature, The Viscious Kind attracted Todd and the writers for its sinewy drama; “Just reading the script I understood that they didn’t want a fluff piece. They wanted a story about what heartbreak is really like. I was thinking Husbands and Wives and I could see how a lot of other filmmakers might be thinking of something broader. It’s maybe harder to take at times and a bit more gut-wrenching,
Rebecca Dayan as Veronica Photo: David Lanzenberg, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
but I think people will respond to that honesty.” “It was a really tricky tone to find,” Rashida points out. “There are so many turns in the movie that are so hard and so quick, and it goes from being funny and broad to really sad and hopefully truthful—it needed somebody who got that range to find what the thread is." Emotional truth notwithstanding, the goal is entertainment—hard to miss with the likes of SNL alum ANDY SAMBERG as Jesse, and an ensemble featuring Emma Roberts, Chris Messina, Elijah Wood and the rest of the supporting cast. As bad girl pop star Riley, Emma Roberts’s sulky stoner is the antithesis of Celeste’s uber-functional know-it-all. “Riley lives in a totally different world than Celeste,” says Emma, “So it’s hilarious to see when their worlds meet and they are forced to interact. Riley is oblivious but she isn’t stupid. I think she just doesn’t know how to behave appropriately in certain situations. I think they both are kind of fascinated by each other because they are such opposites."
In the end, the film takes the position that former soul mates who decide to divorce can indeed, remain friends. Though I found that I could not agree with that position in the context of this story, the film is still very entertaining and engaging. Samberg gives his most mature onscreen performance to date, and there is no doubt that the role of Jesse will lead him to more diverse, less comedic onscreen opportunities. At one moment in the film, after they have split but gotten together for an evening, he asks: “Can’t we just lay here for a bit?” and his sincerity and vulnerability are sure to make women in the audience sigh. The moment is truly powerful. Jones’ performance renders her a bit unsympathetic, but not to the point where it takes the audience out of the story. Celeste and Jesse Forever will be noted as Samberg’s “all grown up now” vehicle, and for its well crafted screenplay. This is the smartest romantic comedy that I have seen in a long while, and deals with heartbreak, not high-jinx, as the central conflict, in a mature but very entertaining way.
PULSE: FILM + Entertainment
Photo: Alexis Fox
The Resurrection of Garbage I am always amused when people use the term “alternative” to describe any form of art. It makes me reflectively retort (not aloud): “Alternative to what? Stuff that doesn’t suck?” Rating:
nd so, I find it curious that anyone could ever describe the band Garbage, comprised of guitarists Steve Marker, Duke Eriskon, Eric Avery, (former Jane’s Addiction bassist), drummer/ producer Butch Vig, and the positively divine front-woman/ songwriter and ultimate diva, Shirley Manson) as an alternative rock band. Though this is how they are often described, they sounded anything but at a recent show on one of the early stops of their first tour
in almost ten years at Atlantic City’s House of Blues. The band, who have just released Not Your Kind of People, their first collection of original compositions since 2005’s Bleed Like Me, came charging onto the stage and did not let up for the duration of their performance of 21 songs, and opened with ‘Supervixen," from their first album. To their credit, they did not robotically force-feed the audience music from their new album, performing only three new songs from that collection.
The packed house arrived early and was well greased (lit?) by the time the show began. As such, there were two stoppages during the performance due to an over packed, alcohol fuelled mosh pit. At each occasion, Ms. Manson transformed from commanding, hard rocking front woman, to the most compassionate, yet authoritative presence I have ever witnessed in this situation during a live show. A young, overzealous teenage woman, was, at Ms. Manson’s behest, brought back into the
theater by security: “She is just a bit too excited. I recognize her from our Facebook page.” After the band signed autographs for the woman to the delight of the crowd, another stoppage occurred when a man punched another fan. With the fury of a parochial school nun, she instantly stopped the show once again. After directing security staff from onstage, she shared with the audience the story about the band’s decision to reunite, and how Garbage was always the band of choice for the school geeks, outcasts, and the disenfranchised. I mention this here because of the humanity that she displayed in that moment, and the effect of that humanity on the audience. With her presence and her words, she brought the crowd back to order where the house security (sorry, guys) could not. From the moment that order was restored, the songs came one right after another, with very few breaks in between. The band then proved to the audience why they might be the most underrated rock and roll act in the world today. In terms of sheer stage presence, musicianship and range, Garbage is simply an amazing live band. They tore into “Stupid Girl”, and then “Only Happy When It Rains” during which Manson encouraged the audience to begin the song slowly, without music from the band, before taking it back onstage for a powerful climax to the song. The 21 song set then came to a finish and was capped by a threesong encore, comprised of “Automatic Systematic Habit,” “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing,” and “Vow.” Scottish sensation Shirley Manson has the stage presence of Mick Jagger, and her ability to interact with the audience, while staying within a song as a member of the band, is equal to his. She has the beauty and charisma of Madonna, but without the monolithic sense of selfimportance. Guitarists and
PULSE: FILM + Entertainment
synth masters Steve Marker and Erikson were a well-oiled machine and brought their A-game to the stage. There was no need for an overproduced stage show with props and visuals, because this unit can still bring it home; powerful, well-constructed live rock and roll in the raw. Supported by bassist Avery
and drummer Butch Vig, there was not a miscue among them all evening. Ironically, I was a bit disappointed that the set did not include more songs from Not Your Kind of People. Their latest effort contains every bit of the powerful conventions that set them apart from other 90’s bands; production that is slick
and sophisticated without being intrusive, Manson’s powerful vocals, accessible lyrics that convey themes to which we can all relate; only more grown up. Just about every song on Not Your Kind of People, would have been a hit single in the 90’s. The powerful guitar riffs on “Blood for Poppies” would have been the perfect fit for alternative rock radio, as would the discordant electronic gurgles and distrustful lyrics on “I Hate Love”. ‘Battle In Me," currently on the British charts, has the same feel as early Garbage material with its unrelenting staccato tempo and elegant production. When Manson sings, “Let’s take a torch to the past and the future,” we know that she is not really serious. Their past is currently the larger part of their bread and butter. But, this is not to say that they are not on the verge of being bigger and better than ever. You’ve read it here first… That said, though the new album will probably not gain Garbage any new ground in terms of airplay and new
listeners, it is still among the best work that they have ever done. What the new album does not accomplish in terms of airplay and record sales, their blistering tour schedule– 58 dates in sixteen countries in five months – certainly will. There is no doubt that their powerful live shows will gather Garbage lots of new fans. The band, formed in the early nineties when producers/session musicians Vig, Erikson and Marker had the idea for Garbage and then found songstress Shirley Manson, know their way around the recording studio and the concert hall, and inhabit either locale with a commanding presence. Garbage will be back in the U.S. and Canada for a few brief moments during the summer, and will be in Los Angeles for two sold out shows at the Wiltern Theater in October. If this is alternative music, I’ll take it any day. Garbage, with their truly original sounds and live show, are great when enjoyed through a set of headphones, but are even better in concert.
By William Squier
Westchester's Backyard Theater: The White Plains Performing Arts Center Photo: Contributed
“I grew up in Florida,” says Jeremy Quinn, Producing Artistic Director of the White Plains Performing Arts Center (WPPAC). “And people always say to me, ‘I’m sure you lived on the beach.’ Not really! When something is in your backyard, you don’t always take advantage of it.”
hat’s a truism that must have occurred to Quinn when he officially stepped into the role of the theatre’s Producing Artistic Director last June. For nearly a decade, WPPAC has struggled to build a loyal, local audience for their professional productions of play and musicals. And the Arts Center’s Board of Trustees is no doubt hoping that Quinn can provide the magic mix of programming that will at last lure the
residents of White Plains to WPPAC’s home in the City Center shopping mall. The White Plains Performing Arts Center opened to great fanfare in November of 2003. It was built in the heart of the downtown area as a part of the City Center’s 600,000-squarefeet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space. The theater features all of the “bells and whistles” that you’d think would generate local enthusiasm. It has a sleek, modern interior with
410 stadium-style seats that are steeply raked, generously padded and blessed with wide aisles that are a godsend to long-legged patrons (like me!). While it lacks an orchestra pit, the ability to fly scenery and the wing space on stage left is cramped, the onstage playing area is roomy enough for a musical, yet intimate enough not to overwhelm a play. The theater sits on the mall’s top floor, next to a 15-screen cinema, so it enjoys plenty of foot-traffic. And parking for the facility is on the same level just across an enclosed walkway in a covered garage. But, finding the right person to run WPPAC wasn’t easy. Leadership of the Arts Center began as something of an experiment. At first, it was jointly run by Tony Stimac, then the Executive Director of the Helen Hayes Theatre Company in Nyack, NY, who served as its Producing Director, and Jeffrey Rosenstock, the Artistic Director of Queens Theatre in the Park in Flushing Meadow Park, NY, who filled the role of Executive Director. The two men split the tasks involved in overseeing the thePhoto: Contributed
ater while continuing on at their original jobs and occasionally sharing both staff and productions with White Plains. A year into the team’s three-year contract, Rosenstock began to reduce his role to a fewdays-a-week, pro bono commitment, citing the demands of QTP as his reason for ultimately stepping down. He was replaced as Executive Director by Ray Cullom, whose experience included the management of NYC’s Theatre Row complex of five Off-Broadway Theatres on 42nd Street. Unfortunately, Cullom only stayed in the position for two months. So at the end of 2005, Stimack was faced with the loss of his second Executive Director and of his home base, the Helen Hayes Theatre Company, which went bankrupt and folded. To make matters worse, WPPAC’s third season ended -- as had seasons one and two -- with a financial loss that had to be offset
with funding from the city and City Center’s real estate developer. All the same, Stimac finished his run as Producing Director in the summer of 2007 having managed to produce or present more than 100 events including the world premiere of a musical written by Kathy Lee Gifford. But, at that point, WPPAC’s Board of Trustees opted for a more traditional approach to running the facility by hiring the Tony Award nominated Jack Batman as the sole Executive Producer. Over the next two years, Batman mounted such reliable chestnuts as the musicals Camelot, Oliver and Man of La Mancha and WPPAC’s audience began to grow. Unfortunately, America’s economic crisis in the fall of 2008 undercut ticket sales and the theater’s ability to secure the grants that were needed to cover the shortfall. So, Batman was forced to cancel his second season’s final offering, Hello, Dolly!
It was during the first year that Batman was in charge that Jeremy Quinn was tapped to head up the theater’s educational program. Quinn had directed a successful production of Sweeney Todd for the Helen Hayes Youth Theatre that had been mounted in White Plains when the two institutions were sharing personnel. And he was well remembered and regarded by the staff members that were still working at WPPAC. In the interim, he’d also overseen a short-lived educational department at the nearby Westchester Broadway Theater. So, Quinn arrived with a following among parents in the area whose children were interested in acting. Westchester Broadway’s program had been discontinued a year earlier, however, and Quinn had been out of work since. “These were very lean times,” he recalls. “I was going to have to pack my bags and move back to Florida.”
Then, he learned that WPPAC was looking to turn their existing educational program – which was functioning as an outreach program aimed at at-risk youth – into something more along the lines of a professional training academy. “I went to the board with a five-year plan and a training schedule for four years,” Quinn recalls. “I created a conservatory structure that emphasized the importance of product as well as process – the training aspect as well as the productions.” The board was impressed and he was hired to develop his proposed classes along with producing and directing conservatory shows that feature student actors. Jack Batman parted company with WPPAC after his second season and the theater was without artistic leadership for 2009-2010. To help fill the gap in mainstage programming, Quinn decided to mount larger conservatory shows than he had up to that point simply because the stage was so readily available. “We did Aida, A Chorus Line and Fame,” he recalls. “And we made a splash.” The popularity of the conservatory also helped the theater to improve the bottom line. In 2010, the WPPAC Board of Trustees decided to try yet another tact by bringing in the trio of Annette Jolles, Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman to create a season of all new plays and musicals. Jolles is a director, writer and producer with New York experience and Holzman and Needleman are musical theater writers whose collaboration has won them, among other things, the highly competitive Kleban Award given out annually by the heirs of Edward Kleban, one of the authors of A Chorus Line. The new team’s thinking was that WPPAC might stand a better chance of competing for the area’s theatergoers by presenting brand new works from emerging writers. Unfortunately, it became quickly apparent that their ambitious plans weren’t going to pan out. The final production of the 2010-2011 season was once again cancelled and the theater continued to operate at a deficit. When the management team and WPPAC went separate ways, Quinn finally felt compelled to speak up. With encouragement from the theater’s staff, he presented the board of trustees with a 14-page proposal for programming 2011-2012 as the Art Center’s administrative head. “I figured that it worked once,” he jokes. “I outlined what was working, what wasn’t and what I thought that we could do better. My approach was that, in order for the institution to survive, that the budget had to drive the artistic vision. That was something that the board had never heard before. I was extremely fortunate that they listened.” In a way, Quinn had been preparing to lead an institution like WPPAC since he began acting as a child. “My entire professional life was spent working in different departments in the theater,” he explains. “I’ve worked in mar-
Outstanding performances at the Westchester Performing Arts Center: Opposite page; Cats. Clockwise from left; The Secret Garden, The Rocky Horror Show, and Lend Me A Tenor.
My entire professional life was spent working in different departments in the theater -- In a pinch, I can pick up a paintbrush, put together a prop or sweep the floor -- whatever it takes to get it done! keting, group sales, box office, set construction, costuming, lighting, directing, acting and teaching. In a pinch, I can pick up a paintbrush, put together a prop or sweep the floor -- whatever it takes to get it done! So, I feel like I have ideas that are founded in experience.” Quinn got the go-ahead to mount a mainstage season of three shows, plus several presented events like concerts. “Every choice we made was financially driven,” he insists. “It had to be. If you’re not realistic, you’re not going to be able to deliver what you’ve promised. You can’t count on grants. Grants are gravy. You have to create something that’s a little bit more commercial.” When we sat down in June for an interview, the last of the three fully produced shows (Cats, Lend Me A Tenor and The Secret Garden) has just finished its run and it appeared that Quinn was going to bring his inaugural season in under budget and within a couple hundred dollars of the project income.
On Jeremy Quinn’s shortlist of changes that he feels will improve the viability of the theater is moving set construction offsite. At present, the scene shop is located just off stage right. “It’s vitally important, as a performing arts center, that we present other forms of entertainment,” he says. “But, if we’re building a set in the space we can’t.” Quinn’s immediate attention, however, is focused on finalizing the plays and musicals that will be mounted beginning in the fall. “It’s our 10th Anniversary Season,” Quinn points out. “So we have to do it up a little, without getting behind the eight ball again.” Under consideration for the mainstage are The 39 Steps and the Westchester premieres of August Osage County and The Color Purple. “We try to get the rights to shows that have had a recent run in New York so that we can ride their marketing coattails,” he explains. “Things that have a clear following, are economically efficient and have a contemporary bent.” Also in the works are fully staged concert versions of Tommy, Chess or Sunday in the Park with George, presented with an onstage orchestra. “We’re going to bring back Rocky Horror as a special event,” Quinn adds. “And the Conservatory will have its own shows.” “It’s going to be challenging,” Quinn concludes. “But, the whole idea is to keep trudging forward. For people to know that we’re here and know what we’re doing. Once a person comes into the space, sits in these chairs and sees what’s possible on that stage, they’re sold!”
PULSE: Comic Relief
and that’s immensely satisfying. My kids write my setups and I write my punch lines. They are in on the joke and they get that the punch lines aren’t real but are for fun.
by Bari Alyse Rudin
Following Karen Karen Bergreen had one of those typical stories of how she became a stand-up comic: high achiever, grew up in Manhattan, went to Harvard, then to Minnesota for law school and found herself bored in a law office pushing documents around. She went to a New York comedy club to give a try at her smart, funny, relatable humor onstage and never looked back. After having two sons, Karen had less time and found herself doing less comedy, but wanted to keep performing and to continue writing comedy. So, being one of small ambitions, she wrote her first fiction book Following Polly which was recommended by both O Magazine and the New York Times as must read books, and she also manages to continue teaching stand-up comedy classes for the Manhattan Comedy School.
Bari: Was it more fun writing Perfect is Overrated than Following Polly? Karen: Well, Following Polly was fun because it was my first book and that was so exciting and I love coming up with characters and dreaming up people. Bari: After fifteen years of doing standup, what do you love the most about it? Karen: I still love getting up in front of audiences… I almost like it more than when I started because now I know it so well. I know what to do with an audience that isn’t so into me, or a heckler, or just about any situation comedy throws at me. Bari: Karen, how can you juggle being a mom of two young children, a standup comedian, an author, a comedy teacher, a wife, and an extraordinary cook all at the same time? Karen: I can’t, I do what I can. Bari: Does the title of your new book Perfect is Overrated come from the inner drive of perfectionism? Karen: I don’t know that I ever seek perfection but I have the self-criticism that nags at me certainly, but then I look around and think good enough. I see the mothers of the year who hold a full time job, look great, seem to do it all with ease and finesse and rather than let that make me feel bad about myself, I look at shows like “Tiara and Toddlers,”and I say hey, I’m not putting my kids in pageants, I’m doing ok. Bari: Your new book Perfect is Overrated is about the world of mothers and some of the insanity that goes with that. Was it cathartic for you to write? Karen: It’s fun because it’s fiction and farce. I can take the qualities I don’t like about myself and others and I can kill them off in this book. Bari: How much has your stand-up comedy changed since you’ve had kids? Karen: Well I do rag on my kids in my standup, but they totally get that it’s untrue and they are jokes. They are in on the jokes. In my books I rag on the other parents so since it’s a murder mystery I can kill all the parents off that I don’t like
Karen’s comedy is honest, real, relatable, clean, smart but not overly intellectual where it would intimidate. Karen feels that comedy is a way for women to show their power. 90
Bari: What’s your technique for those situations? Karen: If an audience isn’t into me, I turn it more into having a funny conversation with them. I am funny on my feet so I can usually win them over – and I like the challenge of trying to do that. Bari: All comedians have philosophies on why this happens and what’s happening when an audience isn’t coming around. What’s yours? Karen: Often it’s not me they don’t like, but the fiction of the jokes that they aren’t buying into or they came to the show with an idea of the type of character they wanted to see and it’s not what I do. So I will stay in the moment, but try to get the upper hand. Bari: Is your husband funny? Karen: My husband is hilarious and he finds me hilarious, but I am more hilarious than he is…. Bari: What’s the best part for you when doing standup?: Karen: The best part of performing is that I love writing new jokes, and I love the unscripted moments in a show based on something unexpected that happened… highlights when you go into a dead room and can turn it around. They may not like you, but it can only get better… Karen also teaches stand-up comedy classes at the Manhattan comedy school. Look for “Perfect is Overrated” and “Following Polly” on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other fine book sellers. She is available to come to your book club and loves speaking to groups. Find and follow Karen at KarenBergreen.net
Walk up the stairs. Turn right. Relax.
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