Saturday, June 27, 2015

Paul and Robin

Part One: Paul
This past week we got together with two friends, Paul Levitt and Robin Lung. Paul and Robin live in Hawaii. We have known Paul and Robin for years. Paul studied with Richard at Tyler School of Art once upon a time.

Paul is a painter and professor of art at Hawaii Pacific University.  Robin is a filmmaker who is working on a documentary. Robin's fascinating project will be Part Two of the Paul and Robin story.

Today we are celebrating the accomplishment of Paul: a newly published memoir of his visit to the great Dada artist, Man Ray, in 1972. In his beautiful book, Gathered Reminders: A Visit with Man Ray, Paul tells how he first got the idea to visit Man Ray during a trip to Paris while on a break from the Tyler in Rome program.
The cover of the book. 
This is a postcard which
Man sent to Paul after he had returned to the United States.
The image is a blue bread or 
"Pain Peint" -- painted bread in French.
A selfie Paul took with Man using the
timer on his camera.

As Richard would say, Paul was just a young punk -- a junior in college -- when he became fascinated with the Dada and Surrealist artists.  Man Ray was an American, born in Philadelphia in 1890. He was a photographer, painter, maker of objects and films and a poet. He moved to Paris in 1921 and lived there until his death in 1976, except for the war years which he spent in Hollywood. Man Ray associated with all the great artists of the time such as Picasso, Hemingway, Dali and James Joyce.

When Paul got to Paris in 1972, he spoke no French, but did manage to get the address and phone number of Man Ray from an assistant at Man's gallery, Galleria Schwarz. After a few days, he screwed up his courage and called Man. His wife, Juliet, answered, and told Paul to call back. When Paul did call back, Juliet told him to come right over.

Paul, me and Richard at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art.
Paul is signing our copy of his book.

It turned out to be a magical visit during which Paul took lots of photos of Man, who was quite relaxed and happy to have the young student in his studio. Paul was wearing a sweater which had a large letter N on it. Man asked him what it stood for, and Paul said, "Nothing." But Man had beaten Paul to it, having already used that joke in a work of art.

Gathered Reminders is full of Paul's wonderful photographs of Man. It took Paul over 40 years to realize his idea of publishing this memoir. But the karma was right with Paul having the good luck to have Francis Naumann, the Dada scholar and owner of Naumann Fine Art in New York, agree to write the Foreword, and Dana Martin-Strebel to design the book.

I know you will enjoy reading this intimate story of a young man who loved art, and had the gumption to call on a great "Man," Man Ray that day in Paris. Man sent Paul on his way, "reeling down the cobblestones of Rue Ferou in a Dadaist reverie," calling after him, "Goodbye, Levitt!" And to this day, Paul is painting, teaching and sharing his artistic passion.
Paul and Richard in 2012.

Gathered Reminders
A Visit with Man Ray
is available at the
 Museum of Modern Art
bookstore or from Paul Levitt 
574 Paulele Street,
Kailua, HI 96734

À Bientôt!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Frida in the Bronx

A Bunch of Dames Head for Da Bronx
and see the Art, Garden and Life of
Frida Kahlo
Some years ago, the New York Botanical Garden got the idea to recreate the gardens of artists and writers in the Haupt Conservatory. For instance, we saw an exhibition devoted to the spectacular gardens of Monet at Giverny.

Today a group of us took Metro North to the Garden to the see the "Art, Garden and Life" of Frida Kahlo. For ladies such as ourselves, who like to "dress creatively," this trip presented an opportunity to commune with the spirit of Frida.
My dress is perfect for this occasion. I made and designed it using the traditional techniques of Mexican dressmakers. It is a simple rectangle. Most Mexican garments are based on a geometric shape. I learned this method last summer at a workshop I attended at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It was led by Carla Fernandez, an artist who works with indigenous peoples of Mexico using their traditional methods, but adding her own distinctly avant-garde twist. I painted the pockets with textile paint.
The hat is a Borsalino straw which
I trimmed with a big, paper flower, leaves
and yellow beads.
Left to right: Nonnie Balcer, Debra Rapoport,
Marsh Carlin, Sherry, Elke Kuhn, Leslie, Diana Gabriel and me.
 Mia D'Avanza, who curated the "Art" portion of the exhibit
which is in the Mertz Art Gallery,
gave us an informative tour of the show.
Photos were not allowed, but we could take
a photo of these sculptures depicitng 
"The Two Fridas," which are paper and wire constructions.
 This little girl did not want to budge. 
Note how her dress relates to the "Frida" on the left:
 Debra, Marsha, Elke, Nonnie and Leslie.
 Lina Plioplyte, the director of the documentary, Advanced Style, joined us.
She is the lady in black.
As you might expect, we attracted a lot of attention at the Garden.
 At the entrance to the recreation of the
Casa Azul, Frida's house in Mexico City.

 We had the perfect 80-degree day.
 Diana's pristine white looks so beautiful against the yellow.
The Garden recreated a pyramidal structure similar
to one in Frida's garden at the Casa Azul.
 Marigolds were in abundance.

 Debra and Sherry.
 Nonnie in the Garden gift shop.
 Elke could not resist this beautiful
fern. In fact, she bought two.
I hope you made it back to Brooklyn with these, Elke!
It was a fabulous time.

À Bientôt!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Mad Tea Party

There was a table set with tea things,
and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it.
Because Carol had popped through the Looking Glass and spent a good deal of time setting a table with finery, including some very large, Chintz, floral-patterned fabric samples which she had been given to her by her friend, Dyan. Out came the china dessert plates which she had given to her mother, having purchased them on a trip to visit her Aunt Peggy in Canada one summer many years ago. She had stayed at her Aunt's lake-side cabin reading old, water-logged copies of Reader's Digest, and had been forced to endure the shenanigan's of her boy cousins who took glee in dropping frogs in front of her face as she tried to relax on the wharf extending out in to the lake.

For the tea repast, which included no actual tea, but rather a liquid of a rather more intoxicating ilk, Carol made Coronation Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches from a recipe supplied by Tea and Sympathy, a tea salon in the West Village. The sandwich uses both British and Indian flavors and was created as a way to celebrate the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Chicken-Salad Queen
Carol's party clothes:
Cacharel blouse purchased
at their shop in the Bourse Building
in Philadelphia pre-1988.
Paper-flower necklace
by Begoña Rentero of Madrid.
 The recipe which includes mango chutney,
curry powder and dried apricots.
The bread from Orwashers Bakery on the Upper East Side.
 The Tea Table.
 A boatload of cherries,
The sandwiches 

The tea party was in honor of two lovely women, only one of whom Carol had already met. This was Judith Boyd, a perfectly charming woman from Denver who not only writes a blog titled, ironically, "The Style Crone," but who also has a collection of hats so enormous that she must dedicate an entire room in her quite sizable house as "The Hat Room." 

Judith in a Japanese robe
and a froth of green tulle.
The second tea-party honoree was Jean Barrett, who is from Atlanta, and who writes a blog called Dross into Gold. Jean is a former model, and it shows as she gracefully poses with Valerie on her left and Diana Gabriel on her right. She wears a skirt, scarf and hat of her own design.
Jean models her "infinity-style"
scarf which may be worn in many ways.
Three fashion bloggers.
Flanking Judith, Jean (left) and Valerie (right)
who are The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.
 Elegant Joyce Carpati
 Judith with photographer Feda Eid.
 Marsha Carlin on left, wearing a robe
from Viet Nam with Judith and Nonnie Balcer.
 Elke Kuhn with a great red hat
and vintage "Apple Polisher" bag.
 A gift to Carol from Judith:
a Pucci blouse.
 Debra Rapoport and Stan Satlin
Debra and Carol wear scarves which
were gifts from Jean Barrett.

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"At any rate, I'll never go there again!" said Alice
as she picked her way through the wood.
"It's the stupidest tea party I ever was at
 in all my life!"

À Bientôt!