Sunday, May 2, 2010


Jean says: This week we are shamelessly promoting two New York City artists working in different media at very different points in their careers: dancer/choreographer Stephen Petronio and painter Nic Rad.

Stephen Petronio is a dancer, choreographer and expander of horizons. This year, his modern dance company celebrates its 25th anniversary - a major milestone for any company in any economy but even more of an achievement in our current recession. After weeks of anticipation, the opening night gala celebrating his New York season finally arrived Tuesday evening, April 27th at the Joyce Theater. (Photo courtesy of

Dance is one of my great passions. I can't remember a time that it hasn't been a big part of my life in some way:
Like Maria Tallchief (photo courtesy of, I took classical ballet lessons from an early age (starting at the age of 3) until I was 17 and have taken lessons sporadically in New York City at Alvin Ailey and H.T. Chen. Spending more than a decade en pointe eventually took its toll: total foot reconstruction on both feet sequentially (lengthening Achilles' tendons and repositioning all the tendons on the tops of the feet) in 2005-2006. As my mother used to say: "It's all fun and games 'til somebody puts an eye out." And I'm here to say, it's all still fun!

Growing up in D.C. and its suburbs, I was lucky enough to see Maria Tallchief (photo courtesy of, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Barishnikov perform when they were in their prime. When Barishnikov made the shocking switch to become one of the world's leading modern dancers, I began to expand my own dance horizons and embraced the new techniques. For nearly a decade until 1993, I was on the board of Kate Thomas' B. Muse Dance Theatre.

I met Stephen Petronio in 1982 at a New York City anti-nuclear rally and we've been friends ever since. He was dancing in Trisha Brown's Company at the time (and was the company's first male dancer) and stayed with her company until 1986, when he started his own. I'm proud to say I've attended every New York City opening performance of the Stephen Petronio Company (SPC) since its founding. (Photo by Stephen's tattoo in Latin translates to "now I know what love is" in English. I love Stephen's work. He collaborates with visual artists and musicians to produce magical works of art on the stage. My all-time favorite piece is MIDDLESEXGORGE, with music by Wire and costumes by H. Petal, which premiered in 1990 and was reprised in the 25th anniversary show. It encompasses everything I love about Stephen's choreography and staging and leaves the audience (and his dancers) positively breathless. (Valerie says: I agree. MIDDLESEXGORGE was stunning.)

I was thrilled to see this Petronio poster for the Joyce show on St. Mark's Place. It features the dancers in H. Petal's costumes for MIDDLESEXGORGE which recall Nijinsky's famous faun.

As all good fans do, I shamelessly harassed my friends to purchase tickets for the gala performance at the Joyce Theater on Tuesday, April 27th and the after party at the legendary Casa La Femme in the West Village. My friend George Telmany (pictured here with Caitlin and Arlene, two New York City dancers at the after-party) flew in from Tampa for the event.

And my New York City contingent of friends and family came through like champs! Joining me on opening night were (left to right) Nancy Ng (who's on the board of H. T. Chen and Dancers), Valerie (my blog-mate and partner in crime), my ever-loving husband ('nuff said), Jim Gillson (who persuaded me in 1977 to move to the wilds of Soho from the Upper East Side - which transformed my life) and Kirsten Hawthorne (East Village artist and jewelry designer). (Valerie says: LOVED her LOGO coat by Moshino.)

Following is a free form, stream of consciousness run through of the board members and benefactors, dancers and fellow fans:

Here's Justin Terzi, whom I also have known since that infamous anti-nuke rally, showing off his Palm Beach tan in front of the theater.

Ken Tabachnick, long-time Petronio collaborator, lighting designer and board member, in the lobby before the show.

Channeling my inner Anna Piaggi, I met stylist Martin-Christopher Harper in front of the Joyce Theater after the show, before he headed off into the night.

Stephen Petronio, sporting a black and white striped tuxedo, arrives at Casa la Femme and greets John R., another sartorial peacock.

Project Runway fans will no doubt recognize Jillian Lewis from season 4 of the show (pictured here with fiance Lewaa Abdulkhalek and Ori Flomin who first joined SPC nearly 20 years ago). Jillian designed the magically ethereal costumes for the world premier of GHOSTOWN, which closed the show: the transparency and shapes of the fabrics combined with the nude and grey color palette helped to create an illusion of invisibility.

This party guest, who snuck out for a smoke, was wearing killer heels which were my nominees for best shoes of the evening.

Gino Grenek (Dancer/Assistant to the Artistic Director) and Jean-Marc Flack (Stephen's partner and member of the board) and a friend pose for the camera.

Photographer Sarah Silver, who has been collaborating with Stephen forever, and her gorgeous, tall assistant (whose name escapes me).

I table-hopped over to visit June Poster (Managing Director) and her husband and Laurie and Dr. Roberto Tuchman (board members) and share a relaxing moment.

Dancer Natalie Mackessy and friend.

Dancer Julian De Leon (left) and friend sitting pretty.

Laurie Tuchman in a "Roberto Sandwich" between her husband and their friend, both named Roberto.

Karen Erickson (President of the Board), Jean-Marc Flack and a friend pose for my roving camera.

Justin Terzi and I ham it up in front of the hearth at the restaurant.

My husband and dancer Julian De Leon hanging out.

Jillian and her posse.

Party guests and friends of Barrington.

Hangin' with my peeps: Jean-Marc, Craig Hensala (board member and organizer of the May 18th art auction and benefit at Milk Studios) and Liz Gerring (choreographer and board member).

Dancer Joshua Tuason and friends.

Jean-Marc and Fred (Claire's sweetie).

Me and my peeps, Kirsten, Valerie and Nancy.

Gino Grenek and I and a friend.

Dancer Barrington Hinds.

Barrington and a friend looking positively other-worldly as my camera acts up!

Esme (right) and her friends.

Claire Flack and Jean-Marc Flack.

Two long-time fans of Stephen who are also mother and daughter.

Kirsten, Valerie and Nancy prepare to call it a night.

What we're wearing:

Valerie wore an Elizabeth Arden coat and Junichi Arai scarf, vintage gray velour hat (no label) with a pin by Danielle Gori-Montanelli, jacket by Hiroko Koshino, bracelet of fossilized trilobites from Evolution, black dress in patchwork silk panels interspersed with flexible 'bones' by Donna Karan. Huge hand-painted silk scarf by Margot Rozanska. School marm expression (left) inherited from two New York City high school teachers.

Jean (pictured here with Laurie Tuchman and her friend Roberto) is wearing an Ignatius hat, DKNY neoprene jacket, black and white polka dot Kedem Sasson skirt (made in Israel from Rosebud on Thompson Street in Soho), Donna Karan black t-shirt and charm necklace, black coral ball and brass bird earrings (by Kirsten Hawthorne), bakelite cuff, Angela Caputti black resin alligator cuff, black plastic Calvin Klein eyeglasses chain and Moss Lipow glasses. She also wore a black faux goat fur jacket by Spanish designer Amaya Arsuaga.


The second artist whose work we are shamelessly touting is painter Nic Rad.

Valerie says:

One of the great things about getting older is that you learn how much you were conned in early life, and that you have the ability to unlearn all the silly habits your well-meaning elders forced upon you. Among the habits we are unlearning are the virtues of restraint (one of the four cardinal virtues) and humility (one of the seven heavenly virtues). After all, it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. It's a slow process, and one we may never completely get the hang of, but it's fun trying!

Early in April we went to a night of art gallery openings in Chelsea. You might head out for one specific opening, but wind up seeing a dozen others, because the galleries try to coordinate, and all stay open late the same night to feed off one another's crowds.

This worked out for us better than we could ever have expected when we followed the crowds to Rare Gallery, and found countless small but powerful portraits by artist Nic Rad all over the largest wall of the gallery (above). Nic (left, with Jean) is young enough to be a son to either of us, and cute enough and talented enough that any parent would want to claim him as their own.

Nic had decided to paint the faces of well known media personalities, from (shown here) Edward R. Murrow (a WWII correspondent and one of the founding fathers of radio and tv journalism) at one end of the spectrum to Tavi Gevinson (fashion), Rush Limbaugh (self-serving mumbo jumbo) [not surprisingly, at right, below], Jerry Saltz (art) [below left] and Anderson Cooper (world news) at the other end. These are interspersed with a few of his friends. You can see all of the paintings on Nic Rad’s website. In this digital age, Nic had not only uploaded the paintings to the walls, but had also uploaded the images to an on-site computer that displayed all the paintings in a very well thought out way. (So even Luddites like us could enjoy the web version as much as the real paintings right in front of us.) But what made Nic Rad's exhibition particularly rad was that he was giving away most of the paintings. The catch was you had to explain why YOU should be the one to receive the painting you requested, rather than any other petitioners in competition with you.

The paintings show a broad range of styles, so even though there are close to one hundred, one never feels they are repetitive. Each figure has been treated in an individualized manner. They are serious, humorous, mysterious, lugubrious, true to life or exaggerated, depending on the subject. The paintings are fairly small, but this makes them perfect for small New York apartments, and also enabled Nic to paint as many as he did. Nic explains the project in a very interesting manner, as well. (The concept behind the project, and some great reviews, are on the website.)

As the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, naturally we felt we had to put in a bid for Tavi (left). We have in common that we blog about style, but Tavi is something of a fly in our ointment. (Google Tavi to see the amount of controversy she has raised, just for being young and upsetting the pecking order.) If Tavi did not exist, we might have a better chance of getting invited to Tokyo to see the Comme des Garcons show. (And we would wear better hats, although more likely they would be vintage than hand made by us.) Jean volunteered to write to Nic on our behalf. Fortunately for both of us, despite her rigorous Catholic school education, Jean can periodically shake off the humility thing and turn in a really good show of shameless self-promotion. (The nuns would still be proud of her though - it might be shameless self-promotion, but absolutely all of it is true.)

Here's how Jean beguiled Nic Rad into giving her Tavi:

"Nic, Dahling - Loved your show @ Rare Gallery! I'm Jean, the vision in black & white stripes who descended upon you at your opening. Am enclosing photos to jog your memory, since you must have been in sensory overload at the time.

Now, let's get down to business:

I'm dying to win Tavi's picture for my very own. Your painting of her image (from the widely circulated photo announcing her presence to the world at large) is both iconic and ironic. Thus, I covet it. (Photographic proof attached.) I co-author a fashion blog ( for "women of a certain age" with my silver-haired partner in crime (Valerie). Although 13-year old Tavi and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum of style and experience, we are kindred spirits -- observing and commenting and always moving forward. OK, so tell me: Exactly whom do I have to kill to convince you to dig deep into your heart and make me a happy woman? The ball is in your court, sweetie. Man up. Make me happy.

Do check out the blog and tell me what you think.


And here is Nic's response:

"Tavi is reserved for you! This is a lovely entry.

I hope you can make it out on the Gift Night (April 29th) from 6 to 8PM... (we'll be starting the give aways at 7). Please let me know if that's an issue.

Really wonderful submission and thank you. I'm so pleased it will be kept by someone who appreciates it. What a great story!

I checked out the blog and it's quite a treat.

All my best,

I make pictures

So you see being shameless has its virtues too. Had Jean not been the marvelously effective squeaky wheel, she would not have gotten the Tavi. I mean the grease. (And Nic would not have seen our website, which we also shamelessly promote whenever possible.)

Tavi will go home with Jean, since even Tavi can't be in two places at the same time (and after all, Jean did all the hard work), but I'm quite content with that arrangement. (Jean says: I'm having burglar alarms installed as we speak, to protect my, er our, art investment.)

This past Thursday, we went back to Rare Gallery, where Nic, true to his word, was wrapping up the art and handing it over to the winning bidders/writers amid much merriment (above left). Nic took a picture of each new painting owner (using the only camera still on the market that can make on-the-spot prints the way the Polaroid used to), and put the photo on the wall where the painting had been. Above right is Jean, the pin-up girl. Her mother would have a fit if she knew. (Her mother would particularly have a fit over Jean's hat, the visual equivalent of a double entendre.)

(Jean says: Nerd Alert! New tech toy! Nic shot instant photos using a camera from Urban Outfitters that uses Fuji Film. Very cool. There is definitely something to be said for instant gratification.)

But still, some of our old home training still showing through, we did not feel entirely comfortable getting something for nothing, so, not knowing what Nic might really like, we brought him a box of chocolates (trust us - at our age, we know what's good for you - chocolate raises serotonin levels). They're made by Oriol Balaguer, formerly of El Bulli, the Spanish restaurant reputed by foodies to be the best in the world. (We take this on faith - another virtue - never having been there ourselves.) For someone who set out to paint 99 media and other figures, we thought chocolates entitled "My Obsession" might do nicely. Nic, showing a little home training of his own, swore to us that he LOVES chocolate, and would start on them that night. (Jean says: Having met Nic's rather dashing dad at the closing give-away party, I can attest to the fact that he comes from good stock. But, kiddies, you know you're old when you're older than the father of the artist!)

What a nice young man! (And what a cool artist!)

At Nic Rad's opening night Valerie wore a zip up knit cotton lycra shirt from Strawberry, a woven cotton lycra shirt from Express, reproduction Hittite figure from the Norton Simon Museum, cotton pants by The Huge Apple. To the closing night, she wore a leather hat by Antoinette, Jean's mom's polka dotted earrings, onyx and silver necklace, black and white polka dotted bracelet, black and white cotton jacket by Jaeger, Issey Miyake leather suspenders and skirt, black and white polka dotted leggings from Strawberry, and white nubuck shoes by Arche.

To Nic Rad's opening, Jean wore a Zara Basic black and white knit top, Atrium turtleneck, Ronen Chen skirt, charm necklace, rows of vintage black and white bakelite bracelets and vintage '40s black felt hat by Bellini Originals. To his closing night's fetivities, Jean wore a Kyodan peplum jacket, black Ronen Chen skirt, charm necklace, Ignatius straw hat, vintage black bakelite cuff, black resin alligator cuff by Angela Caputti, black plastic eyeglasses chain, Moss Lipow glasses and Dansko clogs.

Opening Nic Rad photo borrowed from Guest of a Guest.

1 comment:

  1. You did very well indeed!
    I LOVE the painting of Tavi, almost better than the real thing..
    Hurray for lack of restraint!
    Not all it's built up to be anyway.
    Green with envy.
    Keep it up
    all the best