Friday, April 20, 2018


The tulips have drooped and the hydrangeas have all wilted. Another chapter of Macy's Flower Show has been tossed into waste bins and the aisles of the main floor in Macy's Manhattan store have been swept clean of any evidence of its springtime flower show.
It was a show of knights and dragons and castles all part of  the imaginative theme "Once Upon a Springtime".
Inside the Herald Square store a botanist's dream dropped petals between purses by Michael Kors and perfumes by Channel.
Dragons blew fireballs of golden blossoms over a packed horde of shoppers more mesmerized with the decorations than the product.
Gypsy caravans rumbled through the fragrance aisles bearing more varieties of spring's bounty than one would expect to find anywhere else but at Macy's.
No fairytale would be complete without it's villains and haunted woods. Macy's fairytale was not without its wicked witches and scary skulls.
But one could also count on the appearance of the knight on shining armor at the ready with sword and shield to slay the lurking evils
Inside the brass front doors off of Broadway it was a thrill for children and adults alike to cross the castle's drawbridge and enter "Once Upon a Springtime" creating a lasting memory of awe for all.
Once outside it was a fairytale come to life in a series of windows that appeared like pages out of a storybook where knights on green horses fought orange scaly demons.
Gingerbread houses with thatched rooves made you imagine the damsels soon to be found in distress abducted and locked up in a castle's tower or poisoned by a bright red apple..
Boughs of spring blooms broke through the glass walls of the outdoor displays and hung over your head while huge green cuddly monster most kids would love to find under their bed lurked beneath a floral covered bridge.
Finally there was the princess herself dressed in a floral gown in conversation with a fleet of magenta butterflies
One has to hand it to Macy's and the effort they put into every holiday making lifetime memories for everyone who has had the opportunity to experience their beautiful displays. I may not be a full-time Macy's customer but as much as I can I want to support them in the hopes that they won't end up having to go the way of so many brick and mortars and end the magic they've provided me and millions of others.

Herald Square, 34th and Broadway, Manhattan, 1936
Berenice Abbott
Represented by


It’s no longer at The Tunnel or the Hammerstiein Ballroom. It’s no longer “the” event of the season but Dining by Design’s star still hasn’t been extinguished, it’s only slightly dimmed. For the past several years the event has moved to a new home in Pier 92 linking it’s carriage to the Architectural Digest Show occurring at the same time in the adjoining Pier 94.
9507Pier 92 doesn’t hold the same cache as previous venues but the tables make a valiant attempt at holding up the prestige of former dinners from years gone by. After all, the event this year celebrated its twenty-first anniversary. It’s grown after having spawned sister events in such cites as Chicago, Kansas City and Los Angeles. 
In 2018 New York is the sole survivor as far as I know, the grand dame that still generates revenue for a total cure of a disease that continues to affect millions worldwide. This table designed by Gensler + Knoll = Evenson Best chose to fold a thousand origami cranes in honor of the 123,887 New Yorkers currently still living with HIV/AIDS.
One thousand cranes in a rainbow of color fluttered over their poignant and touching table.
Some of the big contributors who have produced tables year after year were here again
Ralph Lauren set an exquisite table in a manor distinctively Lauren with the perfect restraint and cool ambiance of an alfresco dining tableaux
David Rockwell, one of the founding members of the event was back again with a table ringed in carpeting strands from the Rug Company 
Interior Design Magazine, a long time sponsor of the event was again on hand with its very architectural construction placed at the very end of the space, a fitting period to the event’s many designs.
Over the past several years design schools have been asked to participate usually under the mentorship of an established designer. This striking red dining room was designed by the School of Visual Arts under the mentorship of Tyler Wisler
And this elephant in the room was the design entry by the Pratt Institute with the mentoring of Barry Richards. 
Tables ranged from the deco inspired black and white of  Hok + Florim + Teknion/Studio TK/Luum + FCI
To the more colorful table designed by Wesley Moon for Luxe Interiors + Design creating a bouquet of springtime behind panels of translucent drapery
There were tables that were destination inspired like this Moroccan table designed by Alessandra Branca for Benjamin Moore.
Or this Southwest version put together by One Kings Lane for the New York Times, a table that captured the real heat of the event
As always there were tables that zinged and stabbed with their boldly aggressive approach. Jeffrey Beers International + Akdo + Maya Romanoff + Walters made a lasting memory with this dynamic table
And Arteriors tableaux of scarabs in their art and wallpaper was creepy and beautiful all at the same time. As appealing as their design was to the eye I’m still not so sure how it would set with my stomach if I were to be seated there for a three course dinner.
Even though the show has thinned out over its twenty-one year run I’m still hoping for a year twenty-two. The cause is still very relevant and still needs its advocates. You go DIFFA. Your work saves lives and what could be more important than that.

Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield, 1957
Joe Shere, photographer

Friday, April 6, 2018


It was the day after the fourth nor'easter in New York. The street snow was already melting making getting around a slushy mess. It was also the first day of the Architectural Digest Show out on Pier 94, a walkers trek to the far west side under the best of conditions. I'd expected a light attendance, the weather scaring away most of the perspective attendees, but the event was still bustling with activity.
The venue is physically divided into a "T" formation with the long stem of the "T" directly in front of the entry and the two smaller arms branching off to the right and left.
Once I had picked up my badge I headed to the right where most of the bigger name furnishing vendors were located. It's always good to see old friends and I count the New Traditionalists on that list. It bewilders me why more of the showrooms from the D&D and 200 Lex don't avail themselves of this event and produce booths showing off their product lines since the main thrust of the show is to introduce the design trade and consumers to new products.
One of the few major players that did make an appearance at the show with a big splash of color was Benjamin Moore. Granted they are a paint company but they put color out there in a way that made you take notice.
Benjamin went big, beautiful and hot introducing their new colors for the year. They made their new color, caliente, sizzle on the walls of their chic booth.
The lengthy trunk of the "T" forming the aisles at the AD show is mainly consumed by appliances both interior and exterior. A new entry for me was Hestan with it's non-traditional grilling equipment.
Bauformat, a Germany entry in the kitchen cabinetry category, had drawers within drawers and storage with shelves that moved and lit up when touched. There were more bells and whistles here than wigs in Dolly Parton's closet.
All the major appliance players were there: Subzero, Wolff, Viking, Samsung, the list goes on. Most showing a line of conventional category entries but as in prior years Smeg had something different to show and it was a lot of fun.
And if all this new technology made your head dizzy and mouth salivate then there were plenty of chefs preparing food from their newest gadgets for you to taste and savor
Included in this section of the venue was Flowerbox, a company that offered wall gardening, appropriately placed in this section suggesting that you could also grow your dinner salad right there in your kitchen on the wall behind your prepping island
The last branch of the "T" held your independent vendors and artisans. Here's where you find the furniture makers that exhibit smaller lines of, for the most part, innovative ideas in the art of furniture
Poritz & Studio showed their Tambour bar, a cabinet on legs with horizontal rolling doors and pull out drawers.
The Detroit collaboration of Aratani + Fay showed a real twist on comfort with Evan Fay's Lawless sofa. A metal frame harnesses a spaghetti plate of stuffed noodles and I mean that in the most delicious way. I can't say how comfortable this might be. I was too afraid of getting my clothes stained in primavera but the look was great.
Making a lotta noise at the show were these speakers and audio system by A for Ara. Made in Brooklyn these gramophone speakers were definitely crowd pleasers. They were oversized, loud, gorgeous and totally unusable in a normal residential setting. This said if you go to their website there's the indication of the custom work they can produce on a more individual rather than crowd pleasing scale.
The show is getting a little boring in that it's the same vendors year after year with very little new blood flowing in. I'm sure the cost of developing a booth is extremely high and this is going to drive away much of the next wave of designers and entrepreneurs. Maybe AD and the show organizers should think about some sort of juried grant to bring in some of that new blood like Mark H. Luedeman, Inc. Come on guys. If you want to be relevant and continue to entice us you've got to show us more ideas we haven't seen before

Sadie, a Cotton Mill Spinner, Lancaster, South Carolina, 1908
Lewis Hine, photographer
Represented by Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC

Sunday, March 25, 2018


The hallway was lined so thick with canvases only one person at a time could navigate their way back into Sandra Caplan and Ray Ciarrocchi's studio. The walls were covered with more work and what would have been a bedroom was now a storage room with stacks of additional paintings some stretched and others rolled or slung over the backs of waiting frames. Their output of work was Picasso-esque with so many pieces it was impossible for them to think about cataloguing them . All this was the product of a life spent at pursuing their passion - producing art.
Last Sunday Westbeth Artists' Housing opened its doors for an afternoon with the theme looking at the 60's. Artists, many of whom had been living in Westbeth since its inception in 1970 as an affordable housing complex for people in the arts, allowed the public inside their eclectic homes and active studios.
Like many of the residents that had opened their homes for this 60's themed open house Sandra and Ray were residents in the major age demographic of Westbeth. Over 60% of the current residents are over sixty-years old and many of the participants in this open house were even older and still making art.
I asked Sandra who was representing their art, what gallery must be handling the exhibition and sales of all this art.
Sandra replied as she thumbed through one of Ray's sketchbooks that lay displayed on a small worktable "Right now we don't have anyone representing our work".
"Well who sells your work?"
"Oh Ray hasn't sold a piece in fifteen years but we're painting more than we ever have. Life wouldn't be worth it if we couldn't paint."
Their work consisting of beautiful landscapes from Italy and Upstate New York by Ray and vibrant still life table settings of summer lunches next to the Baltic Sea continued to amass for the artists own pleasure and inability to stop doing what they had to do to continue living.
William Anthony greeted everyone at his door and drew us in like a barker at a carnival. He had curated his small apartment to reflect the lifeline of his artistic journey. The walls were hung with much of his work. Bits of paper written in black marker identified each piece with a title or date. He started his career as a master figure drawing expert but the bulk of his work now distorts his figures in a way making them on first impression seem childlike and amateurish. It's the content that wags his artistic dog.
Anthony, that's how he signs his work, tottered the group of us around his apartment reveling in his titillating and totally politically incorrect discourse.
With a wry smile he pleasured us with an early anecdote: "I remember when I was in Josef Albers drawing class. If a young lady made a drawing that pleased him he'd bring her up in front of the class and joyfully paddle her behind". From there the stories only became more salisious. The satire behind his work was mystifying and engrossing at the same time. I still can't figure out if the woman sitting mute on a lounge chair in the middle of his room with her arm in a cast and a black eye was his wife or a plant.
At the end of his tour he handed out packets fat with copies of his work, reviews, old opening announcements and pages from his books that been published years ago.
Some of the artists seemed still vital and invested in their art. You could see it in their Westbeth homes; in the way they lived and flourished.
There was a bit of senility at play as you moved from apartment to apartment confusing artist colony with assisted living quarters. It manifested itself in the artifacts of their living conditions. Piles decades high of both work and materials almost too daunting to tackle rose in several apartments along with art that would most likely be carted away when these artists were no longer alive.
Ninety-one year old John Peters' room wasn't littered or disorganized. It was neat and dressed in thousands of paper collages. When I first walked in he was sitting in his leather chair, his hands shaking, his concentration sharp as he cut apart magazines with an exacto blade and arranged them on sheets of matboard.
Stacks and stacks of these compositions were arranged by subject on tables around the room as if for sale. There were piles devoted to timepieces, others to body parts and all of them neat and tidy.
I couldn't find his name in any anthology or listing of artists. He didn't possess a resume I could find. He just sat, cut, pasted and piled.
There's a sadness in seeing so much art with no where to go, artists locked into little boxes their lives stretched out on canvas and paper,
but there's also so much hope. The hope of creating and not letting go of a dream if only to please their own passion.

Diane Arbus with Her Mamiya Camera, 1967
Tod Papageorge, photographer
Represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery