Thursday, October 16, 2014


For two stunning weekends in October, the area around the Paul Milstein Pool just south of Illumination lawn and dotting a circle around a little park named for the corporate donor, Barclays Capital Grove,
craftspeople from around the globe set up their tents and display their art and crafts. For some of us attendees there's a fine line between art and craft. For others there's so much distance between the two you can push a trailer loaded with Jeff Koons creations right down the road that separates them.
This fair is and has always been called a crafts fair. There's been no pretension to call it anything else. On the weekend we went there were photographers and a splattering of painters and printmakers but the emphasis was on the wearable and home accessory categories.
When you entered the plaza and rounded the central fountain strains of Johann Sebastian Bach spun off the violin being played at the entrance to the fair. I guess if you're hosting a fair on the grounds of Lincoln Center adding a little free classical music is apropos.
Textiles were a major player at the fair. If I wore women's clothes I would have been on some of these jackets like a duck on a June Bug. I loved the multiple textures and hand-painting on this one-of-a-kind piece by Iona Loyola. It's as if it surfaced from under the Caribbean waters lapping the shores of St. Barts dripping with tendrils from the sea.
A bit more wearable was this vision in indigo. Layers of dyed cotton and linen drape and swag creating real New York sophistication. Pair this with a simple pair of black leggings and your Louboutins and you can be on your way to anywhere.
Men were not left out of the wearable mix. These scarves by Margo Petitti made from wools and cashmeres were luxurious to the touch and a little left of traditional in their patchwork construction.
Another vendor we've followed for years, C. Joseph Clothiers, had hangers laden with her fashion for both men and women. Her wools, cashmeres and tweeds woven into jackets, sport coats, scarves and shirts always seem to make it onto our Christmas must-have lists year after year. There's a definite vintage vibe to her designs that set them apart from the rest of what's out there.
Hats were another big seller at the fair and felt and felted details were showing at a very high profile, but my favorite was on the tiny side.
Traveling all the way from Key West, HATS by Judi was a visual hit with me. Everything from her graphics to her displays played with my funny bone and drew me right into her booth.
Judi Bradford's engaging personality was what kept me there.
She had stories about every hat she had placed on a mannequin or hung mobile style from the metal structure of her tent. In Key West there's a niche market for people where custom is indistinguishable from street wear. There's also the Brits willing to strap on a fascinator for any dress-up occasion.
I'm not sure how well she faired with New York based customers willing to don one of her hats but these pieces were just beautiful to look at whether you wanted to wear it or just display it.
A smattering of glass blowers took to the fair
along with a couple of painting devotees of photo realism.
On a warm day in early October before the New York leaves have had a chance to transform into autumnal brilliance the fair was a great Saturday afternoon divergence.

After the fair I took off for a solo trip into lower Manhattan. I popped out of the subway at 17th Street and Broadway in the midst of the Saturday Farmers Market. I was going to head down from there and into Soho but my direction was diverted as I was swept away by a sea of cellphone photographers following
a troupe of blind-folded mud people each one gripping a fist full of brown paper shopping bags. They were doing a Zombie walk threading themselves through the crowd and around cafe tables of unsuspecting diners trying to grab a light bite or the opportunity of sitting down for a moments rest from a day of site seeing.
The mud people seemed destined to continue up Broadway on their way to the shopping mecca of Herald Square. I'm not sure if they were a protest group trying to point out the evils of consumerism (I saw no painted protest signs) or a performance piece being taped by an incognito collection of photographers.
Once I had pried my mind off the shear magnetism of the situation and was able to disconnect myself from the throngs of entranced observers each with their cellphones held as barriers between reality and the capturing of a pixel moment, I stopped and let the mud people do their slow mechanical march around me, then I left.
One of the benefits of having moved to Madison but sharing our time with New York City is that a part of me is now a tourist in the city. Unlike many a native I can't spend down time sitting around in our apartment. There's a constant itch to capture every moment in the city. I walk around for hours and because I do I get the gift of stumbling on jewels of the city like the Mud People of Union Square.

Cheetah Who Shops, 1939
B. C. Parade, photographer
Available at

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