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Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Final Goodbye

Merce Cunningham Studio at the Westbeth Artist Housing Building
Photo Courtesy of Banu Ogan (also past Cunningham AMAZING dancer)

I remember the first time I stepped into the beautiful studio of the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio.  I had just moved to New York City, with hopes of becoming a dancer or choreographer.  No one had prepared me for the genius that I would find and become so entranced with.  Nor the experiences I would have.
With Merce, ever stylish in his ascots, and long time Board of Trustees member, Sage Cowles: 1999 -
Gala that I directed at the Argentine Consulate in NYC
Today was the final technique class to ever occur at the studio.  Yes.  It's sad.  Merce was one of those special humans that had the gift of creating something completely original.  And anyone that has ever taken his class knows that it was nearly impossible to do correctly.  His dancers were equally as special.

Packed house at the last of the "sixes"
Photo Courtesy of Banu Ogan
Funnily enough, I was more than excited to attend the World Premiere of American Ballet Theatre's Firebird on Thursday night.  More excited, I was able to see ABT perform Merce's work, Duets (originally choreographed in 1980) on the same program.  As with fashion, I prefer my art to be simple and clean powered by bewilderment and awe...

ABT dancers at Segerstrom Center for the Arts opening

The art will live on.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flames for Firebird

Leon Bakst: Firebird, Ballerina, 1910
In preparation for American Ballet Theater's performance of Alexei Ratmanski's world premiere of Firebird, I've decided to don Prada's nearly sold out and most wanted Flame shoe.
The performance is tonight at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA.  It is sure to be as big a hit as the Prada shoe!

If you're desperate for the flame look and having no luck with the shoes, look for one of the Flame clutches.
The perfect pairing for the flames?  Amber Erin Jewelry's Black as Night, Red as Ruby earrings.  Stunning!
All of the above: enchanting indeed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Naughty and Nice: Valentino

Last night I attended the opening of the new Valentino Beverly Hills Flagship with friend Laura Kate Brandstein.  This is the first of three new Valentino concept stores designed by world renowned architect Sir David Chipperfield.

The red carpet was flooded with stars - all wearing Valentino.
Alice Eve
Rachel Zoe 
Rose McGowan

Also part of the celebration was the unveiling of the 50th Anniversary Capsule Collection, available only in select stores.  I have always loved the work of Mr. Valentino, and his successors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli have kept his aesthetic alive and lovely while also being able to have their own voice to the line.  The Capsule Collection is inspired by Mr. Valentino's "anamalia" prints, used in creative and unexpected ways.  
The black panther dress is my favorite from the small and hard to get collection.

After the party, we headed to the Sunset Tower for a "strolling supper" in honor of Chiuri and Piccioli.  Again, it was star studded, and like any decent fashion event, it had little supper to speak of!
Cameron Silver with his beautiful swans: Galina, Paula Dimarco and Christine  Chiu
With Maria and Pier
The real stars of the evening were of course Chiuri and Piccioli.  They are so gracious and elegant - it was a real treat to not only celebrate with them but also have several chances to speak about their work.  They surely had big shoes to fill, and they have succeeded in keeping The Last Emperor's vision alive.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Final Goodbye

Photograph by Annie Leibowitz, 1997
I found myself back in New York this week in order to attend the final meeting of the Board of Directors for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.  Merce, the Artistic Director and sole choreographer for the Company, passed away two and a half years ago after his 90th birthday.
Changeling, 1957
Occasion Piece, 1999, with Mikhail Baryshnikov
 It was his wishes that the Company complete a worldwide legacy tour and then close.  December 31, 2011 was the final performance of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Final Event at the Park Avenue Armory, 2011
Closing a non-profit is complicated and slightly messy.  Still waiting on invoices and monies to come in, it's also tedious and slow.  But, after the end of the third quarter, it was clear that the Board could begin to dissolve.  Our meeting was melancholy, with stories from Board members who had been with Merce since the beginning.  Everyone in that room had a special bond with our raison d'ĂȘtre, and I enjoyed the regalia and camaraderie.  At the end of the meeting we signed a letter of resignation from the Board. With my signature, 15 years of commitment and adoration to a genius came to an end.  

Afterwards, we attended a dinner in the beautiful studio at the top of the Westbeth building in the West Village.  Tables were arranged on the dance floor - something Merce would never have allowed!

Dancers from over the years attended along with long-serving patrons and staff members.  It was like a large family reunion celebrating the life and work of our beloved Merce.
Dancer Daniel Squire, right
Dancers Jamie Scott (left) and Lisa Boudreau
Dancer Holly Farmer with her husband
With Executive Director and great friend, Trevor Carlson.
Trevor and I started working for Merce at the same time 15 years ago!
One of the cool things about Merce was his idea to collaborate independently with other artists.  Artists like  Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garcons for Scenario (1997).  No one could ever forget these costumes that made this work so special.

Or Roy Lichtenstein who did the haunting decor for one of my favorite works, Pond Way (1998), along with the calming music of Brian Eno. 

Andy Warhol even got into the scene with his decor of Mylar pillows that floated around the stage during RainForest in 1968.

And even in his eighties, Merce was still young at heart, collaborating with Radiohead and Sigur Ros in the work Split Slides (2003).

For his last work to ever be choreographed, Nearly Ninety (2009), dancers shared the stage with Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and Sonic Youth.

Merce was special indeed.  He was a rare exotic bird with talent like no other.  And I am still amazed and honored that I had the tiniest of part in sharing Merce's brilliance with the world.  Goodnight Sweet Prince.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2 Days, 2 Cities, 2 Fundraisers

This past week I was in New York for a couple of days.  I went for the sole purpose of attending the Books for Kids Laughing for Literacy Luncheon.  

Photo courtesy of Sue Barr Photography
Books for Kids is an organization that I've been familiar with now for just about ten years, entirely because of my good friend and Executive Director, Shawna Doster.  The mission of the Books for Kids Foundation is to promote literacy among all children with special emphasis on low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children.  They create libraries, donate books, and partner with literacy programs.  

An example of a before and after of what Books for Kids makes possible
Shawna Doster, Executive Director, a gracious and passionate speaker
This year the luncheon took place at Caroline's on Broadway, a comedy club in the heart of the theater district.  With lunch followed by 3 comedian acts, this fundraiser was not only creative and different, but fun.  All with the great success of raising money for this important and focused non-profit.  
The ultimate hostess and funny girl, Kareth Foster. Photo courtesy of Sue Barr Photography
With friends Pamela Balk and Susan Rockefeller.  Photo courtesy of Sue Barr Photography
Photo courtesy of Sue Barr Photography

The next day I headed Down South to Augusta, Georgia - the Garden City and my hometown.  
Augusta is best known for the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National.  But a hidden gem lies in downtown Augusta, The Morris Museum of Art.  The first museum to dedicate itself to art of the American South, The Morris (as its known to locals) is a treasure of water colors, oils and sculptures all located on the Savannah River on Augusta's Riverwalk.

This year, I had the distinct honor and privilege to Co-Chair the Morris Museum of Art Gala 2012.  I co-chaired with Dr. Alan Whitehouse, the powerhouse in charge of the corporate and individual sponsorships who raised over $200,000 for the museum.  The evening was exquisite, celebrating the opening of the exhibit The Working South: Paintings and Sketches by Mary Whyte. Detailing the essence of the vanishing blue collar trades of the South, Ms. Whyte captivates and compels with her watercolors.  The eerie silence of vanishing trades that were once so vital to the South are a must see for any art lover.  
Mary Whyte, Trap, Crabber, Pinpoint, Georgia, 2008
Mary Whyte, Pilgrimage, Funeral Band, Miami, Florida, 2009
And then there was the party.  Greg Boulus of Charleston Street, an Event Designer  - not to mention proprietor of the boutique, Charleston Street, is a man of many talents and good friend.  As a guest of mine from New York declared, 'these were the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen at any event...'

And the people watching in Augusta rivals any city 
around the world! 
With Molly McDowell, Executive Director of the Westobou Festival -
 a first class arts festival that takes place in Augusta every fall
Amber Hacket (front) of Amber Erin Jewelry adorned ladies with jewels for the event
and donated a piece for the raffle

New York to Augusta.  I can't think of more complimentary bookends...