Monday, November 24, 2014

Bunny Mellon Sale at Sotheby's

Bunny Mellon
She Was A Sellin'
Last week my sisters, Susan and Jeanne, and I, went to a yard sale at the tony auction house, Sotheby's. Rachel Lowe Lambert Lloyd Mellon's -- Bunny to her friends -- household belonging were auctioned off to benefit her horticultural foundation and library. Of course, I don't mean that old mops and half-empty jars of cold cream were sold (although there probably were some brooms). Oh no. This was the gentile contents of her multiple houses. For instance, in Upperville Virginia, there was a little 4,000 acre place called Oak Springs Farms and houses in Antigua, Nantucket and Cape Cod and a New York townhouse.
 Copper and white-painted wood octagonal building
cupola from Oak Springs Farms.
Sold for $13,750.
 Polished floors gleam at the Upper East Side 
headquarters of Sotheby's.
The auction preview covered 5 floors.
L-R, Susan, me and Jeanne.
Elevator doors and walls were adorned with
photo-murals from the Virginia farm.
Bunny Mellon was an heiress to a pharmaceutical fortune. Her father founded the Gillette Safety Razor Company and Warner L. Lambert Company. The product that brought in the dough was so much mouthwash, Listerine. As if her own money was not enough, she married Paul Mellon, heir to a banking fortune. Her pockets were as deep as the Grand Canyon, and she could buy anything she wanted. And what she wanted were old, chipped chairs and ceramic table-top items in the shapes of vegetables. Mrs. Mellon died in March, 2014 at the age of 103 while looking for a cauliflower soup tureen on EBay.
 American, 20th century dollhouse.
Sold for $4,688.
 Bunny was a great horticulturalist and gardener.
At President Kennedy's request, she designed the
White House Rose Garden.
Many of her pieces had themes from nature.
 A painted cabinet.
There were lots of dining tables and chairs and sets of china.
Someone will have a Bunny Thanksgiving.
 Bunny Mellon is considered to have had impeccable taste
and the confidence to mix things from different periods and sources.
She owned a lot of chairs. Of course with so many
houses, there was a whole lot of sittin' going on.
 Jeanne and Susan check a price in the catalog.
 Louis XV provincial fruit wood child's chair,
18th or 19th century.
Sold for $10,000.
 Many pieces of furniture were named after English kings.
This is a George III 4-poster bed which sold for $4,375.
Embroidered Oak Tree symbols on the
bed linens.
 The Mellons bankrolled the Yale Center for British Art.
This charming painted by Ellen Meehan shows the site of the Center in 
New Haven, Connecticut.
 The ultimate Shabby Chic.
A pair of these George III armchairs, circa 1775,
sold for $6,250. And you still have to pay to have them recovered!
 Sotheby staffers in snappy black aprons, stand by to assist.
Jeanne admires a Diebenkorn painting.
Most of Bunny's art collection, which included great works by Rothko,
was sold separately as were her jewels.
A blue diamond fetched over $30 million, and the buyer was from China.
 This Victorian cast-iron umbrella stand sold for $5,000.
 The nine walking sticks, including this Bunny one,
went for $11,250.
 These two diminutive Ben Nicholson gouache paintings
were Jeanne's favorites. The top one sold for $42,500 and
the lower one, for $57,500.
I offered to forge one for her, but
she thought that was terribly déclassé of me.
 These are fruit wood tea caddies from the late 18th century.
 The lived-in look living room.
The aesthetic is:
I can buy anything I want, but what I want are objects
owned by dead English people, tureens in the shape of cabbages
 and torn upholstery.
The Ann Redpath painting over the fireplace sold for $43,750
and the two George III papier-mache fans on the table in front, circa 1785, for $6250.
A bargain, already!
 Who's coming to dinner?
Jackie Kennedy thought Bunny's taste was the cat's pajamas,
and copied her style.
 Apparently you can never have too many asparagus soup tureens.
Chelsea basket.
 This pair of Chelsea asparagus tureens and covers c. 1755
sold for $118,750.
 Needlepoint pillow which was a gift from a friend of Bunny's.
 Collection of her Louis Vuitton luggage.
 I am admiring what I believe is a Giacometti sculpture of a bunny.
Bunny herself is in the photo, pruning an espaliered tree.
Don't you love her plain, little cotton skirt?
 My favorite thing in the preview was this 20th century dressing table,
which sold for $11,875.
 A comical rendition of horses ridden by monkeys.
The Mellons bred race horses and one of them, Sea Hero,
won the Kentucky derby in 1993.
 More monkeys. 
What is it with old-family money and monkeys? 
Or should I say old-family monkeys and money?
 An unfortunate use of perspective, or maybe intentionally funny, Bunny?
After the show, we went to lunch at the Eric Kayser cafe.
The baguettes were delicious, and my
Saint Honoré pastry was sublime.

À Bientôt!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Painted Bride Art Exhibit

Painted Bride in Philly:
45 years Old & Going Strong
The Painted Bride Art Center in the Olde City section of Philadelphia was founded in 1969 by a group of alternative artists. Today it still hosts art, music, theater and dance and is an integral part of the Philadelphia art scene.

Richard and I moved to Philadelphia in 1966. I had just graduated from college, and Richard was starting a job teaching at Tyler School of Art. After a couple of years in Germantown, we moved downtown to a 2-floor loft on 10th Street, a few blocks from Chinatown. Our rent was $40 a month, but before you get too excited, let me tell you that we did not have a proper bathtub or a shower. We bought a galvanized tub and filled it from the sink in the tiny bathroom, for baths. It was a lot of work, so sponge baths were more the order of the day. And I cooked on a hot plate. The Reading Terminal Market was near, and we did our shopping there at the great stalls for meat, fish, produce and Basset's ice cream.

Richard's parents came to visit, and his mother took me aside, and said, "Don't worry, someday you will have real appliances."

I got myself started on Philly because we were there recently.We are in a show at the Painted Bride. Our friend, Paul Santoleri, the world-renown muralist, curated the show and asked us to be in it. On the first Friday of November, we went down to Philly to see the show.
 Paul drawing on the wall at the Painted Bride.
Paul can usually be found drawing.
He's the drawing man.
My work on left is a drawing and collage
with marker and paint-chip samples from
Benjamin Moore. Richard's work is an automatic
drawing called "Police Bird."
 Christina May, who helped hang the show .
You know that guy in the green jacket.
Paul with an artist named Candy.
 Richard with Tyler grads Nancy Stroud and Matthew Turner.
 Richard looks like the guy with the pressure cooker on his head.
 Paul started drawing the pattern on Richard's shirt.
 I wore one of my hats! 
Clowning with Paul and Steve Garr.
 With our buddy, Sir Paul.
Steve Garr with his giant saw.
Very Fargo and a great work.
Steve is brother to our friend, Michael Garr, 
a Tyler grad who lives in Minneapolis with his lovely wife, Natalie.
 The Terrible Trio.
RC, Brian Cote and Charles Burwell.
Brian and Charles are great painters.
This is some story. We were walking in the door to our hotel in Philadelphia, and I see this guy on the right giving Richard the side-long glance. This can only mean one thing: a student of Richard's has recognized him. And he was trying to go incognito. Fat chance with the green jacket. This is Morgan Craig, Tyler class of 2000, who was having dinner at the hotel's Red Owl Tavern. I hope the name of the tavern is a tip of the hat to Temple: colors are red and white and their mascot is an Owl. But even if it's just a coincidence, it was great to have these two connect because Morgan was dining there.
He's a wonderful artist, and was in Richard's famous urban landscape class.

Painted Bride -- such memories!!
And new experiences too.

À Bientôt!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Patrick Kelly at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Buttons, Bows and Boas!
This past weekend we travelled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to meet some friends and to see the Patrick Kelly show. If you could bottle and drink it, you would be inspired for the rest of your life. That is if you, like me, are passionate about color, imagination and frantically fun fashion.
The lobby of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
 The Patrick Kelly show is in the Perelman Building,
across the street from the main PMA.
 This used to be the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Co.
where I worked for 11 years.
Some kind of justice that it now holds great fashion.
Take that, you gray ghosts.
 Patrick Kelly was an African-American designer who used his
Mississippi roots for inspiration,
along with knowledge of fashion greats like
Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Yves Saint Laurent.
 There are 80 ensembles in this show, and thank you
PMA, for letting us take photos.
Kelly worked in New York and Paris in the
urban milieu of the 1980s.
 Bold color was paramount -- which was so
beautifully showcased on a woman's body with
graceful draping.
 Details like this over-sized,
collaged bangle, intrigued me.
 Lucky for us that Patrick's business and life partner,
Bjorn Guil Amelan, and Bill T. Jones,
donated these ensembles to the museum.
Large buttons adorn the dresses
in the most playful way.
"I want my clothes 
to make you smile"
said Kelly.
 How a bride should look.
Kelly used iconic symbols like this valentine-box hat,
and the lips below, to great effect.

 Kelly moved to Paris in 1979. 
 In 1988, he was the first American and the first black designer
to be voted into the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter
des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode.
 Note to PMA.
Please reissue that tee-shirt!
 Kelly was also influenced by club and
gay culture scenes.

 He created his own take on "pretty"
fashion looks.
The satin ribbon is luscious.

Too me, this is pure Dior rose.
 Kelly's "uniform" of overalls.
 His golliwog logo.
The golliwog was a black character
in children's books in the late 19th century.
Kelly pushed racial and cultural boundaries
with his designs.
 Kelly at one of his runway shows.
Kelly exuded sheer energy and wit.
 Homage to his beloved Paris.
I met this lady at the show who was traveling around
the U.S. on Amtrak. We helped each other
take pictures.

 Love the orange, satin ribbon!!
 Ethnic basketry.
 Brick motif -- sheer genius.
 BIG buttons.

 Kelly's muse was Josephine Baker,
the great dancer who entertained Paris
with her banana-skirt dance.

 It was a huge loss to fashion
when Kelly died from Aids in 1990.

 Golliwog dress.
 Kelly's collection of black toys.

 This dress is smokin'.
The show continues to November 30.
More from our Philadelphia trip next time on
Femme et Fleur.

You can see a trailer for the show here.

À Bientôt!!