LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZA

LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZA

th-17

Crowds fill the streets in front of retailer windows in New York City as the stores vie for viewers of their Christmas displays. Macy’s started the tradition in 1883 when it debuted an animated shop window. This was followed by stores in other states across the country, but we’re only talking New York City here. This tradition is also in lobby’s of major hotels and office buildings: the Palace, the Harley, the St. Moritz and the Park Lane hotels and the Park Avenue Plaza and Gulf and Western office buildings.

Rockefeller ice skating

Rockefeller ice skating

We strayed up and down, round the town, all the way to Rockefeller plaza . . . and wouldn’t you know it, right across the way was the most spectacular lights extravaganza  in the city, on the facade of Saks 5th Avenue.

The famous tree at Rockefeller Plaza

The famous tree at Rockefeller Plaza

Click here: Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas Light Show 2015

ABOUT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

For years, it’s been rumored that a Yeti lives on the roof of Saks Fifth Avenue, making snowflakes during the holiday season. He’s inspired Yeti trackers around the world. He’s reportedly been spotted by security cameras. Now, he’s a holiday superstar, with a starring role in Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows and light show, a plush toy ($55) and a furry book by Stephan Bucher ($25).

Saks decor

Saks decor

And just in case you didn’t know Saks Fifth Avenue, it’s one of the world’s pre-eminent specialty retailers, renowned for its superlative American and international designer collections, its expertly edited assortment of handbags, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and gifts, and the first-rate fashion expertise and exemplary client service of its Associates. As part of the Hudson’s Bay Company brand portfolio, Saks operates 41 full-line stores in 20 states, five international licensed stores, 72 Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH stores and saks.com, the company’s online store.

Do you have a favorite something about the holidays?

Rockefeller Plaza

Rockefeller Plaza

th-15

MUSIC ABOVE THE HUDSON RIVER

MUSIC ABOVE THE HUDSON RIVER

Cadet Chapel

Cadet Chapel

Not far from the Verazzano Bridge, I went to a school in the Fort Hamilton area in Brooklyn, New York, a school of the same name, ‘Fort Hamilton’, overlooking the Hudson River. Looking back, I didn’t appreciate the privilege to be at such a beautiful location everyday.

Part of the score

Part of the score

This past Sunday, I visited another school, fifty miles from New York City, West Point,  also a beautiful location, in the mountains that overlook the Hudson River. I think the whole world descended upon the Cadet Chapel at the US Military Academy to hear Handel’s Messiah. Cars were parked end to end, far as we could see. There was not one small space left. Tom dropped me off, thank goodness, and finally found parking, but he had to walk miles uphill in the pounding wind. westpoint red 1200px

All the red seats in this picture were overflowing with guests (we saved one for Tom) to hear the Cathedral Choir with other choirs, and the West Point Academy singers, perform.

Gail, Joanne, Tom, Paul, Stephen

Gail, Joanne, Tom, Paul, Stephen

The sounds of the music filled the spaces of the cathedral as it wound in and around the massive, majestic neogothic architecture. Our daughter-in-law, Joanne (in the white blouse) participated in the Cathedral Choir. She invited lucky us.

West Point, from Phillipstown. engraving by W. J. Bennett showing the original buildings of the United States Military Academy

West Point, from Phillipstown. engraving by W. J. Bennett showing the original buildings of the United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, The Academy or simply, The Point, is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in West Point, New York. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites, buildings, and monuments. The majority of the campus’s neogothic buildings are constructed from gray and black granite. The campus is a popular tourist destination complete with a large visitor center and the oldest museum in the United States Army.

The Continental Army first occupied West Point, New York, on 27 January 1778. It became the oldest continuously-operating Army post in the United States. If you love American history, here’s a boat load full.

Where’s your favorite place to hear Handel’s Messiah?

 

NEW YORK’S WRECKING BALL

NEW YORK’S WRECKING BALL

Looks like one of New York City’s top museums, The Frick, could become another mammoth site. One of my favorites, is going bye, bye. Not that they are destroying the existing, but rather stretching its wings. This expansion will eliminate the prized garden on East 70th Street and revamp how this mansion is used.

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has the power to turn down the proposed expansion that will wipe out

Frick Garden

Frick Garden

the cherished garden with an inelegant addition. Our city has suffered from tearing down the old beautiful buildings from the Gilded Age and replacing them with clumsy additions. Remember the handsome historic Beaux-Arts Penn Station, built in 1910, on West 34th Street and 8th Avenue, by architects McKim, Mead and White? For the sake of New York City’s wing stretching, it was taken down in 1963 and replaced with a modern version in 1969, a characterless space. New York suffers from an ephemeral philosophy. Do we really need to continue to destroy our precious history?

Entry

Entry

In a recent article in the New York Times, by Michael Kimmelman, he said, “New Yorkers have seen the consequences of trustee restlessness and real estate magical thinking, which destroy or threaten to undo favorite buildings.” Kimmelman goes on to remind us about buildings that had additions stuck onto them, and then the use of the building flopped. “Even the New York Public Library wanted to disembowel its historic building at 42nd Street before thinking better of it.” said Kimmelman.

Dining room

Dining room

Although the Met does have a great decorative arts collection, just think of how Frick gathered his  to decorate his mansion. What the Frick has meant to me is its personal, magnificent, historic works. While studying interior design at the New York School of Interior Design, I spent many hours and days studying, sketching and absorbing history. Housed on Fifth Avenue in his former home, the private collection of Henry Frick is the perfect escape from the larger galleries and museums. This is a great spot to unwind after a long morning walking and of course enjoying the shops, the people and the architecture.

Conservatory

Conservatory

The central conservatory space can be peaceful and relaxing. Try to time your visit with one of the free talks provided. The museum staff is knowledgeable. The audio guide excellent.

In 1910, Frick purchased property at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street to construct a mansion, now known as The Frick Collection. Built to a massive size and covering a full city block, Frick told friends he was building it to “make rival Carnegie’s place look like a miner’s shack.”

Frick collection gallery

Frick collection gallery

To this day, the Frick Collection is home to one of the finest collections of European paintings in the United States. It contains many works of art dating from the pre-Renaissance up to the post-Impressionist eras, but in no logical or chronological order. It includes several very large paintings by J. M. W. Turner and John Constable.

Living room

Living room

In addition to paintings, it also contains exhibitions of carpets, porcelain, sculptures, and period furniture. Frick continued to live at both his New York mansion and at Clayton until his death in 1919.

Frick and his wife Adelaide had booked tickets to travel back to New York on the inaugural trip of the Titanic, along with J.P. Morgan. The couple canceled their trip after Adelaide sprained her ankle in Italy and missed the disastrous voyage.

What are you thoughts? Is bigger better? Should they stretch their wings and make another New York behemoth out of this charming historic mansion?

LISBON FOR THE DAY

LISBON FOR THE DAY

Oops! Latest in clothes dryers right in the middle of Lisbon, with a beautiful backdrop facade of azulejos. The azulejo (tile) is the most typical and widely used form of decoration in Portugal since the middle ages.

Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal is one of the oldest cities in the world, according to Wikipedia.

The Rossio central square

We saved running around the city until our last day. Mistake. Who could have predicted that my stomach would bubble and gurgle? There are pills for that condition. I took a couple and by the time Lili picked us up, I was able to take the tour sitting down.

Lisbon trolley car

Lili and Gigi are  family, she is Gigi’s sister and she babysat my kids ions ago in New Jersey. She drove the city. Here’s what we saw.

Who remembers trolley cars? They were in Brooklyn, (I rode those), New York City, Philadelphia,  and other American cities. There they were, moving about on the rails, filled with people.

Amoreiras Shopping Center

A typical city with people shopping, talking, walking, lovers everywhere hand-in-hand, and the scents, the wonderful scents and aromas of a busy city, the sweet-sticky-scents of bakeries and cafes ricocheted in the air.

Lisbon has some of the largest shopping malls in Europe. Armazens do Chiado is the most central, Colombo is the largest, and Amoreiras is the oldest, updated to post-modern. They all house well-known international retailers such as Zara and fast food restaurants such as, yes, McDonald’s. They’re ideal for some shopping on a rainy day in the city. It broke my heart, we did not have time to shop. I made up for it in the airport. Well, sort of. The airport shops cannot replace shopping in Lisbon.

Castle of São Jorge

Lili took us to the top of the city where we could see the Castle of São Jorge, the highest point of the city. This place reminded me of a waterfront park in San Francisco, where you find the young people playing instruments, singing, resting, lovers and the interested.

Top of the city. Lili and Gail on the right.

Aquaduct

On the morning of our departure, I took photos from our Marriott Hotel and got a foggy shot of the famous aquaduct. An obvious nod to the ancient Roman influence in Portugal, this massive 18th century aquaduct once delivered water to the entire city from the Mãe d’Água reservoir. Covering a span of some 18 km, about 11 miles, the aquaduct is no longer in use but still serves as an iconic feat of Portuguese engineering on display in the city.

According to the Tenth addition, AAA Europe Travel Book,In an early 19th century dispatch, the Duke of Wellington said “There is something very extraordinary in the nature of the people of the Peninsula, The most loyal and best-disposed . . .” It has not changed.

Donna Emilia (Gigi and Lili’s mother) We were her guests in Sao Martinho.

The heart of Portugal is the people. They are warm, friendly and accommodating. Here’s one of the best, the mother of our hosts.

Red sunshades of cafes in Ribeira Square, Porto

Do you like wine, do you like coffee? Those are serious beverages in Portugal. Next week, cafe’s of Portugal.

QUEST TO FIND YOUR OWN WAY

QUEST TO FIND YOUR OWN WAY

I thought passion pushed the artist. A gargantuan gut tumult right in the center of your body and words whirling in your head.

Threads of Wisdom by Gail Ingis Claus 36x36 Oil on canvas

“I must paint, I must write, I must sing. The drive is all consuming.

In last Sunday’s April 22, Connecticut Post, was the article, Art, religion collide in ‘My Name is Asher Lev.’ The article addresses the Chaim Potok novel “My Name is Asher Lev.” It tells the story of a Jewish boy determined to pursue a life in the world of modern art despite the opposition of his parents and the New York City religious community within which his family lives.

Potok set the novel in a very specific time and place, but the tale of a son having to battle his father to find his own way in the world has resonated with readers of all faiths since the book was first published in 1972.

Asher’s deeply religious father is puzzled and then outraged by his son’s fascination with drawing – from a very early age – ultimately forcing the boy to choose between his religion and his passion for art.

Hasidic praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

You don’t have to be Jewish or an artist to identify with Asher’s quest to be his own man and the result is a coming of age classic that has been added to many high school reading lists over the years.

My issue with this article are the words “quest to be his own man.” The passion to do art and the quest to be your own person are two separate issues. Writers must write, painters must paint, sculptors must sculpt. But growing up, finding your way in the world, the quest to be your own person is part of life. I am an artist, I must paint, I must draw, I have a quest to do art in some form, design, create, fill the negative space, but I am still finding my own way.

The recent stage adaptation, written by Aaron Posner, will be receiving its Connecticut premiere at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Starting May 2.

Hasidic with Shawls

“It’s a universal story. It’s about Hasidic Jews and a painter, but I think  you could substitute almost anything you want,”

Actor Ari Brand

actor Ari Brand said of the way so many diverse people have related to the Potok tale for the past 40 years.

“The stronger the pull of the parents and the stronger the pull of a child’s passion, the greater the conflict,” Brand said of the battle so many young people have to go through over their career paths.

The quest to find your own way is a lifelong ambition. So tell me, are you still finding your own way? How, where, why?

Pin It on Pinterest