Friday, February 23, 2018


One of the men looked straight ahead with a confidence bred from conceit while the other twisted his head and glared with jealous contempt.  There they remained frozen in a moment captured in a prison of oil paint. Their age difference apparent through the wrinkles on their faces and the thickness of their hair, the years between them twisting their love affair into a complex battle where youth seemed to trump wisdom.
The two observers stood staring at the portrait, their souls slipping into the shoes of their painted surrogates. She knew her power was with her age while he seethed with want and lust he had no power to control. The gulf between them was as wide and unbridgeable as the inability of the two painted figures to get up and move their chairs closer together. Neither pair of lovers could fight their destinies. Neither one of them could reach out extending the arm of love. Neither pair could give up what was their reality, one set had youth while the other had the sage wisdom of experience. Each thought they wanted what the other had. They either coveted those things that had passed them by or were too far in the future to manifest. The painted pair would remain young and famous forever in their canvas coated world. The other couple would walk on to the next painting. She would still be younger than he, cloaked in her own insecurities of deserving his love. He would still be the one questioning his ability to remain appealing and relevant when all each wanted was an extended hand of comfort and exceptance.

He folded his arms in regret and shame. As much as the man in the painting screamed from behind his Plexiglas window he could do little to help him. He remembered the scene. It was a flashback to his youth, sitting in front of the black and white television in his aunt's living room watching his father inside the sound proof booth. His Dad was a contestant on the $64,000 Question. His aunt's living room was abuzz with the clink of cocktail glasses as all of his parent's relatives and friends sat on the arms of couches or crouched forward in one of the two Eames chairs that they had swiveled toward the TV. As a boy of six he was too young to understand the intricacies of the show, all he could see was his Dad standing inside a glass box dressed in a sports coat and shiny tie his glasses seeming to be steamed up giving him a foggy appearance. Everyone in the room stopped talking and leaned into the set as Hal March got out his note card to ask his Dad his $32,000 question. He could see the sweat start to beat up on his father's forehead. None of the relatives or friends sitting in his Aunt's living room knew that his Dad had been prepped before hand. His Dad had a reputation of honesty. He had always been a good man. None of them could have predicted how much this lie was tearing him apart. None of them knew what was hidden in his heart or what he had been concealing these past few months. Not even his mother was aware of the how isolated and alone his father had been. None of them knew he had been embezzling from his clients. None of them knew his desperation. Certainly as a boy of six he knew nothing more than the sweat he could see on his father's forehead. None of them knew that this time he didn't know the answer to the question until he pressed his hands on the Plexiglas wall and started screaming.

Booty, bum, derriere, fanny, buttocks, butt, heinie, caboose, tush, tuchus, ass, the words were running through her head as she debated what would be the most appropriate term to use to begin the explanation of the meaning of this painting. Bottom was the first word that came to mind but perhaps a bit to juvenile for a precocious three-year-old who was after all at a David Hockney exhibit. She had to discuss penis in the other room so this image didn't look as if it was going to be as difficult. New York children grow up with an anatomical knowledge far beyond their Midwestern counterparts. As New York City parents they had purposefully been very open with their bodies to help their kids have a healthy relationship with their own private parts. It was still a bit titillating to a preschooler to imagine another adult's hehind other than her own parents. The questions came pretty hard and fast
"Where are her underpants?"
"Is she asleep?"
 "I think she's just pretending to be asleep like Daddy does sometimes"
"What happened to her other hand?"
To settle the first two questions she settled on a story of having fallen asleep having taking off the wet bottoms of her swimming suit after coming back from the pool.
The Daddy issue was met with a terse "I don't think Daddy pretends to be asleep" knowing full well he does do that as his way of avoidance. As to the missing hand she decided best to leave that one alone.  It was a David Hockney painting after all.

I quickly identified him as out of my league but the impulse to stare was too strong for me to overcome. I stood like a pillar of stone my feet unable to move closer or turn and flee from my desire at an unlikely affair. How long would the man in the beige coat stay where he was? When he turned away would he even notice me? There was such confidence in the way he stood upright, erect, shoulders square and boldly self-assured. In the pool of my imagination I wanted to go up and put my hand on his shoulder, ask him where he thought that crazy red road might lead.  Would he want to travel there with me? I'd pay for the opportunity to spend a day, an hour, a minute sitting next to him driving on that red road on the way to a hidden retreat on top of that magenta mountain. I was as giddy as the colors in the painting fantasizing about a relationship as impossible and confusing as the drawn perspective distorting that painted landscape into a bizarre joyride of lust. What was he thinking? Was he fantasizing about a white BMW convertible driving up that same zigzagging mountain road? Was he dreaming of LA or Tuscany or the French Alps?  A million opportunities for getting him to recognize me popped up and disappeared in my head the way they say your life passes when death unexpectedly happens. I died and lived a thousand deaths in the seconds I waited for him to turn around. I just wanted to catch his face, stare into his eyes in a way that let him know I wanted him.  I willed him to turn toward me. For a split second I squeezed my eyes shut hoping I could summon the powers to make him pivot in my direction and in that fraction of a second like my imaginary road trip to his lips he was gone.

Portrait of David Hockney
Cecil Beaton, photography
Represented by Staley-Wise Gallery, New York City

Friday, February 16, 2018


The New York Gift Fair more recently know as NY Now feels more like an obligation than a true hunt for something really great and new. We used to spend days doing every aisle, miles and miles of aisles. I've now limited my hunt to the home section although that is somewhat of a misnomer. There are aisles within the Home Section that seem more directed toward the jewelry industry offering body ornamentation over décor for a client's coffee tables. The plus side of this shortened hunting grounds means I can now scan the show in about two hours tops and my feet appreciated that.
I can't go away without pointing out a few highlights even if some of those highlights I've pointed out time after time before.
I'm going to start with Bunakara. They've been a tried and true favorite. One I've highlighted every time they've appeared at the event.
Their upholstered furniture definitely travels way outside the proverbial box. These armed side chairs with a single dip-painted leg blow me away every time I see them. The way they've incorporated the upholstered frames is genius.
Now add to their furniture collection their incredible linens and you have a real winner. It takes the right client but you can bet once we cross paths I'll be dialing up Bunakara with a big order!
I also want to get this one out of the way up front. I've shown Joe Cariati's work several times. His glass forms are absolutely surreal.
There's such richness to his color choices. These teal decanters with their golden baubles were showstoppers. Joe's work is pricey but if you've got the coin these pieces are a great investment.
It's been harder and harder to find new blood at the NY Now show but there were a few new gems that caught my eye, r.Lusk Studios was one of them. It's the artistry of the owner who has designed wall panels and printed fabrics that are inspiring and gorgeous. It's his use of cultural motifs that he hand draws using gold and silver gilding applied to fabrics that makes his product unique. His next step needs to be fabric and wall covering and then I'm in.
Another new find of a first time exhibitor that I took a real shine to was Anchal. They have a line of fabric products that they produce out of Asia. I love their color palette. I love their designs and I love that all of their pieces are hand sewn in beautifully done embroidery stitches.
You're all going to see where my personal tastes lie with this entry into my book of likes. Taylor Linens was my first stop in touring the Home section this year. Detail is everything to me and Taylor Linens had it in spades. The first thing I feel in love with was the pleating on this duvet cover.
Then they cinched the deal with their quilting and the use of these button closures on these beautiful linen pillowcases.
Outpost Original is the product design child of South African Charlotte du Toit. It's now a Montreal based firm specializing in a breadth of decorative objects and home décor.
There's a clear sense of Charlotte's origins in the product line and that gives Outpost Original the edge and niche market share it deserves.
There's no reason to tell Go Home to Go Home. I welcome them to the show every year with their steady and strong product line. Each year they've upped the ante with new additions to their line that speak directly to their customer base. It's a line that's traditional in a good way. You know you can count on them to have just what you need.
Most of my clients know how I feel about Jonathan Adler but I need to give him kudos when the kudos are deserved. His booth this year was pure joy.
Color always plays a role in his booth and this time the palette was more delicate making the whimsy much more inviting. Let that end my tour until next August when the winter show begins.

Hyper #16
Denis Darzacq, photographer
Represented by Laurence Miller Gallery

Saturday, February 10, 2018


Flu or not I bought a ticket to the Downton Abbey exhibit sponsored by Viking Cruises that's now showing on 57th Street in New York City. We're a family of Downton weenies. For all six seasons Sunday evenings were spent in the family bed, dinner on our laps and our PBS station set and ready for that next episode.
Tears for Edith would freely flow, we'd laugh hysterically at the Dowager's witticisms, our hearts would break for Bates and Anna and we'd cheer for Daisy as she found her intelligence and her voice.  It was almost like a death in the family when the series finally came to an end.
Clearly we weren't alone as one little surprise followed another as books and exhibits revolving around the series found their way stacked on the shelves of bookstores, onto our TVs as specials and into museums around the country.
We bought them, watched them and went to them - all of them or at least most of them,
the latest one being the Viking Cruises sponsored rendition now in New York. Stacked on three floors in a building that had long ago been striped of its interior details the downstairs and upstairs life at Downton Abbey have been artificially recreated in a way that holds up much better in a photograph than it does in real life. If you detect a bit of disappointment I'm not very good at hiding it.
Maybe if I hadn't seen a similar show at the Paine Museum in Oshkosh, Dressing Downton, I wouldn't have had the ability to compare that exhibit with the New York exhibit and it would have been just fine.
But I did see the Oshkosh presentation sponsored by the costume design firm that did the gorgeous costuming for the PBS series in a museum that once was a lumber baron's grand home designed and built to reflect a time similar to the time that the Downton Abbey series was to have taken place.
The Paine was a gorgeous venue perfectly tooled for displaying the costumes and artifacts of the BBC series.
Here the dining room really was a former formal dining room.
A dressing room was perfectly suited to displaying the aristocratic gowns of the Crawley women along with the sedate uniforms of the staff
You could feel the anticipation of an outing as the family readied themselves in the conservatory
The exhibit that was so beautifully presented at the Paine had also appeared at the Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina. Given the magnitude of the Biltmore in comparison to the Paine I can only imagine that the exhibit at the Biltmore was that much more impressive but I was thankful to have had the opportunity for getting to the Paine.
And that brings me back to New York. The quantity of costuming available to the Viking exhibition was impressive and lush.
The third floor of the venue was given over completely to the dresses and menswear of the show. Many of the ensembles are actual vintage pieces while other are made to look like the fashion of the time.
Many of the most famous pieces can be seen layered on mannequins.
Who can forget Lady Mary's "Oh my!" exclamation upon viewing this piece with the naughty culottes.
And then there were the wedding dresses and veils. Unbelievably constructed of Belgian lace and vintage fabric they are the images that will float in many a visitor's memory bank.
But what was disappointing was the construction and faux nature of the original Highclere Castle.
I would rather they had left the kitchen bare of food rather then having propped the prep tables with clearly plastic fruit and vegetables.
Even the dining room with its intricate mantle and period paintings still couldn't disguise the acoustical ceiling. It broke any sense that you were entertaining the idea of entering the world of the Crawleys.
Now for my purposes I could crop out the acoustical ceilings and the back lit windows from my photos and like the television crews give the appearance of the real thing but when you are there in the midst of the exhibit you can't block out all of pieces of reality that let you know you're just in a room with a bunch of fake fruit.
I don't regret paying the $35 entry fee. Any chance to get that close to Downton and its characters is worth the price.
Maybe they'll do the movie and we can all have one more chapter in its soap opera legacy.

Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, 1955
Photographer, Unknown

Friday, February 2, 2018


It was Friday morning, early but not too early. The C and B lines are right around the corner from our apartment. I could feel the flu seeping into my bones as I walked down the two flights of stairs from our apartment and into the street on my way to an already arranged client meeting. It's a half block to the corner and then a right turn onto Central Park West to get to the subway entrance. My steps were labored. The ache of a self-diagnosed malaise forced my gait to appear a bit hunched against the January cold, the onset of the flu and a troubling workload. I almost didn't catch the flower flash snaking around a random park bench set against the stone retainer wall across Central Park West. If it weren't for the heaviness of my feet stumbling over a small crack in the sidewalk I might not have been jarred into lifting my gaze beyond the tips of my shoes and across the street.
It was just enough to see the dramatic burst of color against the grayness of the day and that otherwise inconspicuous bench, but there it was, a garland of roses, peonies, hydrangeas and orchids, a tableau of joy.
I had to stop. I had to wonder. It was beautiful. Not even the most hard-hearted Upper Westside commuter could help but pause on the corner of 88th and CPW and for just a few seconds forget about getting down to the dark tunnel beneath the city that would get them to their job. There was already a small crowd. Some stood there just admiring. Others crossed the street to get closer. Some of us pulled out phones and took pictures to share with friends and family and maybe even the world.
There were hints about its creator stenciled on the ground around that ordinary bench that had been transformed into a fairy princess' throne. Whoever it was had labeled it a "flower flash" in a chalk stencil on the sidewalk. Another note read, "LMDXNYC", a cryptic set of letters leaving a petal trail of clues in the flower flash mystery.
It didn't take me long to google "Flower Flash" and "LMDXNYC". Turns out this wasn't a one off. These "Flower Flashes" have been going on for a while and have even been highlighted in Vogue. The culprit or Robin Hood of the flower flashes is a New York floral designer, event planner and his team of merry cohorts.
Their sole goal has been to brighten up our early commutes by creating infernos of color in the most unexpected places.
Lewis Miller and his crew have taken trash cans and park benches and turned them into bouquets you'd normally only see at society events where the men wear tuxedos and the women are draped in diamonds and pearls.
"Gifting flowers to New Yorkers is a simple idea that I have been thinking about for years," Lewis says. "I am in the business of fantasy and flowers, and it's my job to transform key moments in my clients' lives into joyful, everlasting memories.
I wanted to recreate a similar feeling for the everyday city-dwellers and tourists of New York City."
Without a whispered word of where their next flash is going to occur Lewis and his crew meet at a designated location with a call time of 5:45am. They lay out their design with the goal of finishing just before sunrise.
The flowers are mostly culled from a previous evenings event, flowers that might otherwise end up in a dumpster make their way to famous city icons, random hallways
and even construction sites.
The concept is simply, to bring beauty to the average New Yorker or tourist but every so often it has a more consequential purpose.
I'm still holding the scent of all those beautiful flowers on my subway stop park bench in my olfactory memory bank and all that's due to a man and his merry band just wanting to bring a bit of unexpected joy into the lives of a great many of us New Yorkers.
It was Lewis, our New York floral Robin Hood, who said, "Who doesn't love to get flowers? They are such a luxury, and New York City is a very gritty, fast-paced town. If we can bring nature-something wild and sumptuous-to New Yorkers and make them smile, the way people smile when they witness a random act of kindness, then that is a great thing.
That is my goal. It's a really simple vision but powerful I think, to try to create an emotional response through flowers."

Vanitas VI (Reliquary), After D.B., 2015
Paulette Tavormina, photographer
Represented by Robert Klein Gallery