Thursday, September 14, 2023

Paul Levitt and Man Ray - September 2023

A Memoir of Man Ray Now at The Met 

Are you a person who loves a good story about a plucky art student who bolsters up his confidence to call a famous artist in a foreign city? Then you will love my friend Paul Levitt's book, Gathered Reminders: A Visit with Man Ray. It's now available at The Metropolitan Museum of Art book store.

In 1972, when Paul was a student at Tyler School of Art in Rome, he took a trip to Paris and met Man Ray, the American Surrealist, Dadaist artist and photographer. Paul had learned of Man Ray in college and admired his work. 

By luck, Paul got Man Ray's phone number and called him when he got to Paris. Man Ray invited him to visit. Paul's memoir tells the story of their meeting and contains the photographs that Paul took of him.

The cover of Paul's book shows a postcard  from Man Ray.
 It depicts Man Ray's art work, Le pain peint.
In 2015, my late husband, Richard, and I joined Paul at The Met to see the exhibit, China: Through the Looking Glass. On this occasion, Paul signed a copy of his book for us.

Paul with Alex at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris displaying a page from his book.

When Paul, a youthful art student, called Man Ray at his Paris studio, he was invited in and spent three hours with Man Ray and his wife, Juliet. Paul shot photos of Man Ray, who was wearing a beige pajama jacket, a black beret and large, black-rimmed eyeglasses. Paul remembered a quirky detail. The artist was wearing a shoelace tied in a bow as a necktie. 

Paul's photo of himself and Man Ray. They are obviously enjoying each other's company.

Paul and Richard at The Met in 2015.

I am sure you will enjoy Paul's intimate photos of Man Ray and the touching text which accompanies them. You can purchase "Gathered Reminders: A Visit with Man Ray" on eBay by searching for the book's title or by emailing Paul at

À Bientôt!

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Lazy Girl in Paris and Orient: Summer 2023

 Potpourri - Paris to Poquatuck Park

I look up from my laptop. There are goldfinch on the bird feeder eating thistle seeds. I hear a ripe apple thump on the ground fallen from the perfectly shaped apple tree in the yard. A deer will later enjoy this apple as her two fawns cuddle against the white shingles of the garage.

I look across the lawn that the neighbor man mows every Tuesday. I see cars crossing the causeway in the distance on their way to the ferry which will take them to New London and points north. Beyond the fenced-in garden at the back of the yard, with its tall sunflowers, orange zinnias and blue Chicory, I see the "big pile of dirt". The neighbor who owns the house behind my rental has built a pool house this summer, and in doing so, has displaced a great deal of dirt to Latham's field. This BPoD with its fleet of assorted tradesmen trucks, cement mixers and cranes, has provided both visual distraction and fodder for commentary for the two months that I have been in Orient.

The beautiful pool house and BPoD.

Before I came out to Orient, I went to Paris in June. At The Picasso Museum, we saw a display by the British designer, Paul Smith, who provided decor for the exhibit.

Paul Smith's clever installation of the iconic black and white striped shirt favored by Picasso, hanging from the rafters at the Picasso Museum.

Picasso with Françoise Gilot in the South of France. Gilot died last year at the age of 101.  She was a painter, and the only woman to ever leave Picasso.

Bouquets from Deep Roots Farm, Southold, New York

A highlight of my trip to Paris was a picnic on the park grounds of Versailles where we had a catered luncheon sur l'herbe while our tour hosts, Cassidy Zachary and April Calahan, shared details about Marie Antoinette and her couturier, Rose Bertin.
"Marie Antoinette with a Rose" by Elizabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, French, 1766-1842.
Oil on Canvas, 46 x 35", 1783

Cassidy and April speaking to us about Marie Antoinette and Rose Bertin.
Madame Bertin was a French fashion merchant and milliner. She is considered the first French fashion designer. She became the couturier to the Queen as well as her confidante and friend. She was known for the extravagant pouf hairdos made from pads and pomade and the chemise à la Reine.
Fashion historian and Dressed Podcast co-host, April Calahan, in her custom-made gown à la Marie Antoinette. April attended the Grand Masked Ball at the Versailles Palace, held on the last night of our Paris tour. It began at midnight.
April ascending the steps of Versailles at dawn.

A painting that I completed during my summer in Orient with doll furniture that I found at a yard sale. It's as if I am looking at a real landscape with real people, and with a blink of my eyes, I transform it to a fantasy world.
A house in Orient which provides inspiration for my work.
Sunset at Poquatuck Park, Orient, Long Island, New York

At Le Bouillon in Paris for our farewell dinner.

À Bientôt!

Monday, August 7, 2023

Lazy Girl in Orient: August 2023

 Femme et Fleur Goes to the Gala

Lazy Girl (me) loves a gala. You get to wear a special party dress and see all the other special party dresses coming to the party. It's party time!

On the first Saturday in August, the Oysterponds Historical Society (OHS) holds their Summer Benefit. That's the technical name, because after all, they are raising money for all their great programs. I call it a gala. 

The party takes place in Poquatuck Park overlooking Orient Harbor. A tent is put up with flags flying. There are picnic tables, a bar with lavender-colored cocktails, and toe-tapping music by the Peconic County Ramblers. Dinner is provided by Maple Tree Smokehouse Barbecue in Riverhead.

A big part of the evening is the live auction. Orient artists generously donate art work and other donors give exciting events, like four tickets to a Saturday Night Live show. 

I am wearing a Lisa Corti silk dress, beads of my own design and a knit bag with wood beads by Everyone's Mother. My shoes are Chinatown Mary Janes. That's not a brand. I actually bought them in Chinatown, NYC.
Jeanne Markel is wearing a dress by Ace&Jig.

Alison Ventura, Executive Director of OHS, lovely in a white, lacey dress.

An auction item from North Fork Flower Farm
Paula Marra in a striking ensemble from an Argentinian designer
Carl and Jen Valentino
Carl was co-chair of the benefit with Michael Ventura.
Jeanne Markel and Frank Passanante
Suzanne Gluck and Madeline McIntosh in floral frocks.

Christine Arthur (left) and Jessica Frankel
Two ladies with dress selections from the
same section of the color wheel.
Amy Schatz (left) and Elizabeth Gordon
Margaret Newman
Amnon and Kate Bar-Tur
Ian Fried and Irem Turner
Angela Meredith-Jones
Laura Weil and E.J. Camp
(left to right) Sarah Burnes, Elanna Allen and Emily Bellos
Sylvia Newman
Picnic on a hay bale
Gail Barlow
Ambriel Floyd wearing a charming 60's style dress.
Chris Wedge and Bea Lalli
The Webb House in Poquatuck Park

À Bientôt!

Monday, July 31, 2023

Lazy Girl in Orient, New York: July 2023

Meeting Melita

As in summers past, I am renting a cottage in Orient, New York on the north fork of Long Island. This tiny village, with only a post office and a couple of stores, is home to the Oysterponds Historical Society. OHS is an outsized presence in the village. Its multiple museum exhibits and active programs bring a rich, cultural texture to life in Orient. 

Built in 1798, Village House is one of the OHS museum sites. It started out as a boarding house for summer visitors who would arrive via steamboat from New York City. It has been beautifully restored with period rooms on its first floor, and six exhibition spaces on the second floor.

On view this summer at Village House is the work of Melita Hofmann, an author, illustrator and naturalist and the first curator of the Oysterponds Historical Society. The exhibit was curated by Alison Ventura, the Executive Director of OHS. 

Village House on Village Lane, Orient, NY

Alison Ventura with an illustration by Melita Hofmann: Evening gown, Lace Over Chartreuse Silk, 1959.

Melita was born in 1907 in Toledo, Ohio. She moved to New York City and studied at the Parsons School of Design and New York University. She held various positions over her career. She taught art and was an art director at the publishing company, Grosset & Dunlap, where she designed books and book jackets. An accomplished illustrator, she did fashion sketching for magazines such as Harper's Bazaar. At its founding in 1944, Melita and her sister, Tabea, became "custodians" of OHS. Melita eventually was named curator and held that position until 1963.

Melita Hofmann in front of Village House. 
Self-portrait by Melita.

"People said she was wonderful," Alison told me. Melita brought her vibrant personality and creative talents to OHS, staging exhibits, handicraft shows, theatrical evenings and history lectures. 

Charming examples of Melita's art and writing are displayed in the exhibition. I particularly love her delicate drawings of women in period costumes done in watercolor and colored pencil. They are pretty in the best sense of the word. She seems to have been a true romantic with the ability to express herself through beautiful art work and writing.

I can imagine a moonlit summer evening at Village House some time in the 50s. Perhaps Melita has staged a tableau vivant against a backdrop of painted scenery with local residents playing the parts of sailors in Orient Harbor or square dancers in Poquatuck Park.

Melita's Lady in a Blue Evening Gown with a Tea Cup.

Pearls of Ferrara, published in 1943, by Melita Hofmann.

In its review of Pearls of Ferrara, The New York Times said, "She dreamed herself back so thoroughly into the days of the Italian Renaissance at the height of its splendor that her story of the two sisters reads like the account of an eye witness."

Original drawing for the book jacket of Pearls of Ferrara.

In the 60s, Melita also wrote and illustrated two books about nature: The Big Book of Birds and A Trip to the Pond.

Melita's bicycle built for two illustration.

The OHS holds a collection of over 60,000 items from Native American times through the 20th Century. The collection is managed by Willam McNaught, Curator and Amy Folk. Collections Manager. I was thrilled to take a peak into this trove when Alison offered to show me the archives, especially for the costume collection. Everything is neatly labeled and accounted for in archival boxes. What fun!

Thank you OHS and Alison Ventura!

Also on view in The Old Point Schoolhouse: Folk Art

Through the lens of visual appeal, artistic merit and

local interest.

Please visit the OHS museums when on the North Fork of Long Island. Here is their website:

A Bientôt!