Lenox Hill Spring Gala Table

        Tulipomania Through the Lens of a Turkish Sultan

I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to create a table at Lenox Hill's Spring Gala event this past spring. The overall theme this year was "A Spring Affair".  Designers were asked to create a table inspired by this theme.

Remembering an enchanting tale I had read in Michael Pollan's  "Botany of Desire", I decided to base my table on the elaborate Tulip festivals he had described.  They were held by the 18thc. Turkish Sultan Ahmed every April during the evening, under the full moon.  The Sultan placed caged songbirds along the perimeter of his enclosed garden to provide music. Large tortoises were affixed with grand candles on their shells so they  would illuminate the tulips along their meandering way.  Mirrors were placed strategically to echo and double the tulips in their grandeur.  Each of these elements were incorporated in my table design as motifs and many became a character seated at the table.  

I was very grateful to have Emily Thompson and her team on board for the collaboration and execution of the floral centerpiece.  Emily is a seasoned pro at this event and encouraged me to dream big and build high as even tall centerpieces are easily dwarfed by Cipriani's vaulted ceilings. In her flower genius, she concepted a plan to manipulate the necks of the tulips in effect emulating the mania of the Sultan's obsession. I was so lucky to have Joshua Werber and Sophia Moreno-Bunge on the scene, courtesy of ETF to create the enchanting garden greenery and make the center piece bloom. You can follow both Joshua and Sophia's work on Instagram @controlledchaosllc and @wafflesoph.  

I constructed a tulip shaped vessel using paper mache and a round stacked cake-like base that acted as a support for 18th century gilt frames provided by Lowy Framing and Restoration. I fit them with antique mirror and placed them, as the Sultan had, each with a tulip in front to double their reflections.  Within the "leaves"of the tulip vessel I created portraits of the characters stories, in the style of Levni, the court painter during the reign of Sultan Ahmed. 

The Sultan presides over the table on one side, flanked by the ladies of the court on either side, the Falconer and in one scene, the illuminating tortoises can be seen meandering by.  

I found the perfect plates which were, not surprisingly, by my favorite designer of all time, Tony Duquette. They were red "tortoise" print with ocular & star center, and absolutely divine. Hutton Wilkinson was every so kind and generous as to recommend the lovely people at Mottahedeh to allow me to borrow these for the event.  If that weren't enough magic for one table, L'objet graciously loaned me a set of their golden bird place card holders. My friends Oskar Torres-Lam and Jimmy Herrera Ariza at Antique Textile Gallery loaned me a BEAUTIFUL 19th c. suzani to use on the table.  The generosity in this community is overwhelming. It just doesn't get any better than this folks.  

 

I found several brass tortoise candle holders on Etsy that I strategically placed around the table and we even installed a softly lit "moon" hovering over the table during which we found ourselves asking that age old question, "How High the Moon? (no really, how high?)

Black fans with golden ornamentation were placed on the back of each chair.  I designed a table top frame accented with Turkish Tulip motifs.  The frames were created  by Lowy and hand painted by artist Alex Spinney.  Each guest at the table took home one of the frames as well as  Lowy's book, The Secret Live's of Frames. 

The event was an amazing success with so many innovative and striking tables and I happily met many new friends throughout the evening. The event way raised $1,300,000 for Lenox Hill Neighborhood house and their many programs. I am so amazed by what can be accomplished when people come together. I am so grateful to have been able to play a small part in bettering the lives of so many in the community!  

Many thanks to:  Virginia Pittman, Warren Scharf, Emily Thompson Flowers, Lowy, Hutton Wilkinson, Mottahedeh,  l'objet,  Antique Textile Galleries, Alex Spinney, Rachel Pridgen (photography) , Joshua Werber & Sophia Moreno-Bunge (flowers) and Scott Solberg (who brought me the moon!)

 

January 22, 2015  /rebecca vicars

Lenox Hill Spring GalaHutton WilkinsonTony DuquetteSuzaniAntique Textile GalleryEmily Thompson FlowersTurkish SultanTulipomania

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Maria Calandra's Pencil in the Studio

Yesterday evening I had the long awaited pleasure of viewing Maria Calandra's "Pencil in the Studio" drawings.

These delightful selected works chronicle Calandra's  studio visits to other artists' studios.

Calandra's drawings are captivating on multiple levels. The observance and commemoration of the artists workspace, seems to denote it as sacred space. As Calandra poignantly selects the portrait compositions, each artists' space and practice is illuminated with distinction. The rich pencil renderings feel simultaneously studious, intimate, reverent and playful. There is a dual revelation; what we learn about each artist through the composition of their studio, and also the reflections of the person behind the pencil.

Maria's works are currently on view in a solo show at Sardine gallery in Bushwick
I highly recommend getting over to the gallery to check them out in person if at all possible, but you can also take a look at the works here.

 

Studio Visit: Chris Way

Waaayyy, way back in, oh, 2007? (I think it was) my friend Liz and I just happened to end up sitting beside Mr. Chris Way at a Joan as Policewoman show at Bowery Ballroom. 

We ended up chatting in between sets, found out we just lived several blocks apart, and now, 5 years later remain to be good friends. 

Chris is an unremitting force of creativity, crafting gems of poetry, music and painting at what seems to be an incessant pace. 

Recently he stopped by my studio to sit for a portrait and catch up on recent happenings. There are many!

Most recently, Mr. Way had 5 of his paintings featured in the Spring 2013 issue of Cambridge-based online arts & literary journal Printer's Devil Review. 

http://pdrjournal.org/arts/Chris_Way.html

For his other endeavors, check the following links.  

I highly recommend checking out his albums on itunes as well.  

"Body Begins" a 60 minute set of seven meditative, minimalistic works for classical guitar and occasional synth can be found at his Bandcamp site here.

My copies of his albums are on constant rotation and I quite often wake up with his songs in my head. I especially love "Macy's Girls" on "Some Songs, Volume One"

lease check out Mr. Way's creative projects and if they inspire you like they do me, pass them on to friends!

http://www.chrisway.net

http://www.buriedbranches.com/simpleviewer/chriswayart.html

http://chrisway.bandcamp.com 

http://www.snailcrow.com

Do you have stories of how you originally met special people in your life?

Drop me a line or share below.

Thanks for tuning in!

XOXO

RV

"C.Way"  (in progress)

"C.Way"  (in progress)

Becoming "The Playboy, the General and the Poet". (still in progress)

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Studio Visit: Lisa Kerr

If I had to describe my friend Lisa Kerr in one phrase it would have to be

Joie de Vivre!

She is a bottomless pit of style, inspiration, love and of course, adventure.

When we met in Antigua Guatemala in 2010, I knew I had found a forever friend. Lisa was born and raised in Boston, but can currently be found adventuring in Spain. Yes, that's right. SPAIN!!

The adventures of Lisa are too many and elaborate for me, as an outsider, to adequately express.  She spent time in the army, has traveled all over the world, owned her own boutique, taught ESL and all the while inspiring everyone she meets with her style and well, like I said, "joie d'vivre! Lisa also has THE best curatorial eye I have ever experienced and will always find any existing treasure in at least hundred mile radius.  I visited her in Boston a few years ago and she took me to the best flea markets ever!

Thanks Lisa for all the support and expression you spread throughout the world as you go.  You being you is sincerely changing the world.

It was pretty un-canny, however not surprising, when she showed up in my studio dressed like she had emerged right out of my painting!  

It was pretty un-canny, however not surprising, when she showed up in my studio dressed like she had emerged right out of my painting!  

The painting, "Struggling Phoenix" is still struggling to be fully birthed.  Maybe, if all the stars and planets align, it will be ready tomorrow.

The painting, "Struggling Phoenix" is still struggling to be fully birthed.  Maybe, if all the stars and planets align, it will be ready tomorrow.


The story of this mythological character can be traced back as far as Ancient Egypt and is now  known in popular culture as a short hand for resurrection, rebirth, renewal.  The phoenix is a universally shared mythology and is known across many cultures; Christianity, Persian anka, the Hindu garuda and Gandaberunda, the Russian firebird, the Persian simorgh, the Turkish kerkes, the Tibetan Me byi karmo, the Chinese fenghuang, and the Japanese ho-oh.  

Typically, the image depicted represents the bird fully engulfed in flames rising out of it's predecessors ashes. Bold, powerful, literally on fire! While, for obvious reasons, we focus on the "reclaiming-of-life-force" part of this story, something is missing.  Where is the struggle, discomfort (and suffering?) We are all bound by not only our plight to love and be loved but also by our grief, loss, and finding the will within ourselves (and sometimes for each other) to keep the fire going. Thus, my painting, "The Struggling Phoenix", which is proving, quite intentionally, to be a struggle itself.  The and pull of hot and cold, the flaming movements up against stalwart walls and facades. 

When the wind blows hard and the soul embers are glowing low, may the loving attention of friends and community bring back the flames of a love for living, spreading a fire of peace and understanding and embrace around the globe.

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 If you feel inspired by Lisa or the plight of the Struggling Phoenix,

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A 17th c. Beef Bourguignon in Bushwick

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Yesterday evening,  a group of 21 framing designers and artists gathered in the graceful and temple-like studio of Quebracho framing in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  

Working, not from a recipe, but from a "story" of a meal created in 17th century France, Pascal Jalabert set out to manifest a  modern day incantation of the historical narrative.  

Jalabert, one of today's most innovative framing designers, was not only the architect of this occasion, but  also for the new Quebracho space.  

When found and purchased by Marcelo Bavaros, the warehouse was only equipped with minimal amenities.  Now, having combined Jalaberts's  vision, and Bavaros stalwart support, this once neglected warehouse has been transformed into a place of reverence and bustling productivity.  It is the  hallowed ground where skilled artisans create frames that honor the works they house.  Truly a rare and nearly extinct practice to see in action.

A pleasant and elegant "shh-ing"  accompanied the evening, even as laughter of friends (old and new) abounded and Edith Piaf resonated from wall to wall. 

This was a magical evening and like the marriage of the frame to art, a brilliant melding of the senses.

Distinctive flavors, personalities, good will and good design.  I am so grateful to be a part of this lovely community.

Thank you Pascal and Marcelo! 

Studio Visit: Joleen Wilkinson

 I had the wonderful pleasure of having Joleen Wilkinson (Actress/Singer extraordinaire) visiting me in the studio today.  I recently saw her playing the lead role of Grace in David Parr's amazing play "Pluto is Listnening" and she was fantastic! 

More on that here:

http://www.theaterjones.com/2013outoftheloopfringefestival/20130309102555/2013-03-09/Loop-Review-Pluto-is-Listening

You can see a sneak peak of the portrait I'm doing of Joleen at the far right of the photo I'm posting here.  It's so wonderful to spend time looking and listening to the amazing people who drop by to sit for a painting.  Thank you Joleen!

Have you ever thought of having a portrait done yourself?  

How would you want to be immortalized?  It's fun to think of all the possibilities :)

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Sign up here if you'd like to see who stops by next or follow me on my Facebook studio page for more frequent updates!