Saturday, November 19, 2016

TRIFECTA: Sue Kreitzman, Milliners' Guild Show at the Fire Museum and Rooftop Cocktails!

We have some serious catching up to do. It has been weeks since we've blogged about what we've been up to. (For the record, we have been posting to Instagram, because, well, it's more instant.)  We have an amazing array of fun stuff in the queue. First up? A tale about the day we took the amazing Sue Kreitzman to the New York City Fire Museum on Spring Street to see a hat exhibition sponsored by the New York Milliners' Guild and to Greenwich Avenue to have cocktails and chew the fat before she headed back to Jolly Olde you know where...  Above is a shot of us at Azul, the Cuban bar atop Hotel Hugo in Soho after the hat show.  What's not to love? Spending quality time with our favorite ex-pat looking at hats in a historic setting, followed by hanging out on a rooftop while sipping cocktails overlooking Soho on an Indian Summer afternoon. Heavenly!

We ran into this young woman and her partner and little their dog on the sidewalk down the street from the New York City Fire Museum when they admired out outfits.

We had no idea what to expect when we received the New York Milliners' Guild's invitation to a show of headwear inspired by fire and fire fighters at the New York Fire Museum on Spring Street.  We couldn't exclude any of the pieces in the shows and have included all of them here. The wide range of styles and materials was amazing.  The hat below, titled Valkyrie, by Ellen Christine Couture, is a flame-colored chiffon-like creation.

Kathy Anderson's black and red creation is Hot Fire Woman from Hats by Kat and Accessories Too.

Top That Fire by Sarah Sokol Millinery incorporates an embroidered patch with a fireman's hat and tools, brass chain trim on the brim and black leather and brass buckle.

The Shield by Wanda J. Chambers Once Upon a Hat resembles a stained glass window.

Skulls appear on several of the hats, but none so significantly as on this hat titled The Faithful Companion. Signage for this hat reads: Monika Stebbins, Monika Fine Millinery, Hats by Kat and Accessories Too.

How fabulous is this multi-level feathered fuchsia Firecracker by Linda Pagan of The Hat Shop?

On the main floor of the museum is a monument to Herman, one of the fire horses that pulled the ancient hand-pumper fire trucks through the streets of old New York. Sue posed next to the statue which we noticed was also wearing a hat!  This photo does the most justice to Sue's colorful outfit.  No shrinking violet, she is hard to miss with her large beaded neckpiece, beautiful purple jacket and matching bag, signature big red spectacles and bright patent Fit Flops.  What is a source of amazement is how approachable she is to passersby -- of any and every age -- despite (or because of?) her elaborate dress.  Her good humor and positive attitude are infectious.

Linda Ashton's Silver on Midnight hat mimics the shape of a fireman's helmet.

Jacqueline Lamont LLC's bright red Safety Rules hat features a Husky safety light mounted on the brim.

Catherine by Michael McCant of McCants Originals introduces a purple base into a mix of red and black feathers.

Fire Engine Red by Amanda John Millinery features a felted red fire engine on the front of a black leather brimmed cap.

Passion by Louis Quinones LAQ Chapelier  is a deep red velvet and lace saucer shaped confection.

Dragon Fighter by Dina Pisani for Cha Cha's House of Ill Repute affixes a tiny skull head on butterfly wings at the front of this crimson creation.

Barbara Volker Millinery incorporates a red, white and blue feather on the silver and gold decoration atop the black crown of its Ode to the Bravest.

Penny Klein Millinery's Phoenix is aptly named for the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes.

Evetta Petty's Harlem's Heaven Hats' entry is this stylish red Leather Topper.

Known for Kentucky Derby hats, Polly Singer Couture contributed the glamorous Gilded Flames to the show.

In an ode to classical literature and sculpture, the helmet shaped piece from Lisa Shaub Fine Millinery is called For Palas Athena.

Fire Dragon by Sally Caswell Millinery combines sequins, netting and feathers.

The Curl by Jennifer Hoertz Millinery is a minimalist's take on the exhibit's theme.

Gemini, a red and black bi-color felted wool hat ,is by Lisa McFadden Millinery.

On Fire! is the frothy, elaborate black and red feather and netting fascinator by Mary Ann Smith of The Tipsy Topper.

Smolder by Judith Solodkin of Solo Impressions, Inc, is encased in what looks like melted plastic.

Anne DePasquale's Flame is a dramatic pinkish red felted wool hat accented with a bright red and black curled feather.

Controlled Burn by Conney Borda of Eggcup Designs looks anything but controlled. Black and red feathers wildy spring like flames from its net base.

When we finished viewing the show (actually, when they threw us out at closing time), we walked west on Spring Street and took a left on Greenwich Avenue to the Hotel Hugo. Once inside, we took the elevator to the rooftop enclosed library-like bar which looks like a wonderful spot in cold and inclement weather.  We then had to walk up 1 1/2 flights to the rooftop bar. (Note to friends with scooters, wheelchairs, walkers and canes: you cannot get to the actual rooftop area without taking the stairs.  There is no elevator.)  Once there, we checked out the views and seating facing west and the river and were approached by a number of young women for photos.  After all the ladies finished, this group of gents approached for equal treatment.  In the spirit of "turn about is fair play", the ladies took their photo with us.

Because the setting sun was right in our eyes, we moved to the east side and settled into very comfortable sofas to enjoy delicious frozen cocktails and Cuban appetizers.

Daniel Bernstein was among two couples seated in adjacent tables and when he asked to take a photo of us, we insisted that the picture be a photo of him with us. Needless to say, we didn't have to ask him twice. If this is a new trend, we say "bring it on". Getting and being older is so much fun, why not spread it around?

Despite an iffy weather forecast for rain, we had sun for most of our outing. Luckily, the clouds didn't start to roll in until the evening was drawing nigh, which are visible in our parting shot of the Freedom Tower. Sue headed back to London very shortly after this get-together and we anxiously await her return.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Roz Chast Show at Museum of City of New York

We recently went to see cartoonist Roz Chast's Cartoon Memoirs show at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibition of almost 200 works, some never published, was originally organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  A co-presentation of the Museum of the City of New York and the Norman Rockwell Museum, the show highlights the artist and cartoonist's keen eye for the absurdities of New York City and suburban daily life.

Born in Brooklyn in 1954 (read: Woman of a Certain Age), Ms. Chast has become one of the foremost comic voices of the New Yorker magazine, producing more than 1,200 published cartoons in that magazine, children's books, collaborations with other authors and her award winning 2014 visual memoir "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant." Her approach is distinctive, sometimes bordering on a female version of an early anxiety-ridden Woody Allen persona: eccentric, stressed out, plagued by self-doubt and often apparently in dire need of psychiatric help. Her droll chronicles of the follies of everyday life, like the motley crew on the subway below, have now entertained two generations, most often in The New Yorker magazine.  (To see a high speed video of the artist making this life size drawing on the wall outside the exhibition, click here.)

(Chast puts us in mind of Maira Kalman, another Jewish female artist known for her ability to imbue her work with her own signature quirkiness and humor, and currently on New Yorkers' radar screens. Kalman and Chast are both plowing some of the same ground, from somewhat similar vantage points. Unlike many cartoonists who never personally appear in their own work, both figure prominently in many of their stories. When we went to the Jewish Museum last year, we got a chuckle when we discovered Maira Kalman's Jewish Mother Gum for sale in the museum shop. Under the legend is an illustration of a New York Jewish Mother, complete with beret and glasses.  On the front of the box is the statement "Fruit - Shmoot" and on the back is "8 pieces no less." One side of the box says "Go. Rot your teeth." and the other says "Again with the gum?" What more can we say? Classic Maira Kalman artwork and humor in the palm of your hand.)

Roz's cartoons have kept pace with her life over the past four decades. Her early work often traced her life as the dutiful but beleaguered daughter of a besieged mom and dad.

Roz moved on in life and in cartoons to her role as a suburban mother herself when she and her family moved out of the city, away from her parents. Still later, she returned to tackle the serious side of life head-on in her cartoons, fearlessly depicting her parents' aging and inevitable descent into disease, dementia and death.

It is a testament to her unwaivering voice that she didn't ignore or shy away from the harsh realities of life, but rather viewed them through her unique cartoonist's lens.

In the wonderfully witty What I Hate from A to Z (2001),

the caption to "The Undertow" illustrates her twisted (yet totally relatable) sensibilities: "Beware -- even in ankle-deep water, a little tug could be the ocean 'pulling you to your watery grave.'"  The people in the backgrounds of her illustrations are often as interesting as the main character.

From the same series, in X-Rays, we get to see the technical side of the artist.  If you look closely, where she has written Need I say more? you can see a little pentimento - where something went wrong and the artist carefully covered her tracks by overlaying a small piece of paper carefully cut to the right size.  Did she get distracted, and write Need I say mre?  Was it a different phrase entirely, that she changed her mind about?  Did she accidentally smear the lettering?  These pentimenti appear here and there throughout the show, including in some of the originals of cartoons for the New Yorker (where the transitional lines are completely invisible in the final published product).

Although Chast is known for her cartoons, the exhibition shows her many other talents as well.  Below is a tender and sensitive drawing of Chast's mother near death.

We had no idea that Chast also designs and hooks rugs.  Below is one from the exhibition.  For more on Roz Chast and her hooked rugs, click here.

Chast has also turns her hand to decorating pysanky  (Ukrainian painted eggs) in her traditional style.  The Paris Review wrote this article on a gallery exhibition  of Chast's eggs.

Chast's drawings often feature forlorn figures on a sofa in front of old wallpaper, so the volume of hilarity at the exhibition was raised by the presence of an actual sofa, and a blow up of one of the artist's wallpapered walls, complete with Chastian nuggets.  It proved to be an extremely popular feature of the show, and we monitored it closely for our chance to memorialize ourselves.  We were finally able to snag seats on the sofa, and with childlike enthusiasm became part of the living cartoon.  While the innocent fellow visitor on the left is seated under the speech bubble whining "Can't we talk about something more pleasant?", and Valerie sits under the thought bubble harrumphing with a hint of sarcasm "Everything is my fault," Jean is smugly perched under the punch line thought bubble: "Everything IS your fault."

Why is it that Jean gets such an inordinate kick out of this? Is it because life is imitating art? Hmmm.

(Valerie waves this away.  Mere detail, she says.  For the best visual effect, of course the red outfit goes in the center, balancing the two black outfits.  One must sacrifice for one's art.)

Go see the show before it closes on October 16th!  Go sit on the sofa, and get your picture taken with someone you love!  (Choose your spot carefully.)


Sunday, September 11, 2016

In Which We Visit a Sanatorium and a Prune

Aided and Abetted by the Inimitable Sue Kreitzman!

We started off our long Labor Day weekend with a bang!  To be precise, we had an adventure with Sue Kreitzman, artist, author, documentary film star, ex-TV cooking star and woman-about-town visiting her native New York City from London. First stop on our adventure: Sanatorium, the newest establishment by the legendary Austrian mixologist, Albert Trammer, and his son Jakob, just opened at 14 Avenue C in the East Village. The tag line alone is with the price of admission:  "healing through alcohol"! We had admired Albert's creativity at his previous Manhattan outpost, Apotheke, located in a former opium den on tiny, crooked little Doyers Street in Chinatown. Longtime readers may remember that we took Style Crone there in April 2012 for our first ever get-together. While geting to know each other, we sampled beautifully presented drinks with unusual flavorings in a setting fitted with the accoutrements of an old apothecary shop. That experience was amazing, so we were thrilled to invite Sue to accompany us on our maiden voyage to Sanatorium.

Loosely based on a medical clinic setting, Sanatorium features stylish, verrrry comfortable seating among various medical instruments and equipment. Under the beautiful glass top on the table above are a number of medical and surgical instruments. In the shot below behind Sue, you can see the industrial green walls and ceilings of the bar and lounge areas.

Oversized, glistening, low hanging Austrian crystal chandeliers in the lounge are in stark contrast to the various operating room lights over the bar area work space.

Here is the handsome team running the joint on the evening of our visit: Jakob Trammer (l) and Chris Nolan (c) are Bar Chefs/Managers and Jan (r) is our attentive waiter. We were there on the night before Jakob's 22nd birthday, so there was a holiday mood in the air. One of the big New York stories about Albert Trammer was his arrest at Apotheke by the New York City Police Department for violating Fire Department rules with his famous flaming drinks. Jakob not only confirmed the veracity of the story but added that he had flown into New York the same day and was left stranded at the airport: his father was not available to meet him since he was cooling his heels in jail.

Sue Kreitzman never fails to amaze and amuse.  She wore an African fabric jacket of her own design on which she collaborated with her trusted tailor. Her neckpiece is by outsider artist Anothai Hansen. The large face is hand-painted on a mirror from a Harley Davidson cycle.

Bottles of homemade elixirs and infusions take pride of place at the front of the marble-topped bar.

The tongue-in-cheek menu, also in institutional green, resembles a medical chart, with individual pages for cocktails, wines and spirits.

Valerie studied all of the ingredients of the drinks listed in the menu and consulted with Jakob on the creation of a customized concoction.

After discussing Valerie's likes and dislikes and possible combinations of ingredients, Jakob took it upon himself to come up with something to "surprise" her.  (We all tried each other's drinks, and Valerie figures she got the best of the lot, but doesn't quite know what she got.)

Truth be told, the names of the drinks are hilarious. Sue ordered "IN THE AMBULANCE" which combined gin with thyme elixirs, lime-infused sugarcane, fresh rosemary and orange peel.  Jean opted for "TURN YOUR HEAD AND COUGH" which added California strawberry, lime, vanilla elixir and sage to tequila.  Below is a shot of Jean's drink, in a beautiful crystal coupe.  All too soon, the time of our reservation for Dinner at Eight (ten points if you saw the movie, can name the stars, and summarize the main plot points) loomed large, so we bid our hosts a good night and headed east across East 2nd Street.

Our final destination of the evening? Author and celebrity chef Gabrielle Hamilton's Prune, of course. Where else would one take a former TV cooking show star?  (Yes, we said author.  Read her fascinating book Blood, Bones & Butter.)  It was a balmy night and the doors to the small restaurant were opened out onto the street.  We scored a table with a great view of passers-by, the open kitchen, the serving staff and other diners (of course).  Over delicious meals (linguini and clam sauce for Jean, corn on the cob and a zucchini tian  for Sue, branzino for Valerie, and after dinner coffees for all), we chatted, solved the problems of the world and vowed to meet again soon.

Final tally?  We think we went two for two. Both locales were winners.