Sunday, October 20, 2019

An Abundant Life - Exquisitely Tasteful

New York City is for many people a City of Dreams, and to my mind, it is the most beautiful city in the world. I love to travel, and I appreciate the art and architecture, cuisine and culture of everywhere I go, but there is something about New York City that always draws me back again, that makes me feel like there's no city on earth that can compare with it. I grew up in Massachusetts, but my family was from New York, and because they had lived there for so long and their roots had gone deep into the infrastructure of the streets and buildings and city life before they moved to the town I grew up in near Boston, we traveled back often to visit friends and family, and go shopping and dine and have adventures in the places where they loved the most.

My father was born in New York Hospital, and he grew up in Westchester County, going to Yale and spending summers in East Hampton, taking the train from Grand Central and stopping off at the Oyster Bar and at other landmark places, some long gone, that I still have the match books from that he kept all his life. New York City was a different place then, in some ways seemingly more glamorous, with men in suits and ties on a regular basis and women whose hats and shoes showed the refined and painstaking care that being fashionably well dressed used to take in those days. My mother and my father were a glamorous couple who met at a mixer between Sarah Lawrence and Yale, and they shared their early first dates in candlelit restaurants on the Upper East Side and bohemian haunts in Greenwich Village. Both of my grandmothers were so stylish that the clothing they wore then could be worn again now with little alternation. As my mother always said, a good design is always a good design, and pearls are never out of style. Even the flapper dresses my mother's mother wore when she was in her early dancing days when she met my grandfather are still things I love to try to recreate, and when I wear the accessories she sent me over the years, I always get compliments because they are as lovely now as they were then.

The Pierre is part of the beauty and history of New York in a way that is so integral to my own memories and feelings of what New York City is. Opened on October 1, 1930, it is part of my own family's history in the way that places where you've always known and loved are. A friend had her 21st Birthday there, and other friends have stayed there and lived there, and so many wonderful people have passed through its doors for events and small gatherings and special occasions, stopping by for tea or a bite to eat, to visit a friend or to meet when "in town" as the saying used to go. There was a time when going into Manhattan even from Westchester County or the Hamptons was considered to be too long a trip to do in one day, and so a stay at The Pierre would be planned for shopping, visiting, seeing shows or just taking some time away from the every day because a place like The Pierre is so special, then as now, that it is where anyone would want to be if they needed to find a place to stay that was comfortable, elegant and peaceful in the way that only a fine hotel can be.

I had the opportunity to visit with a friend whose Art was being shown in the Two E Lounge at The Pierre recently, and it's a friend who I've known for so many years but don't often have the chance to visit with because he lives outside of the city and travels often. So when he told me he would be showing at The Pierre, I was ecstatic, and I looked forward to seeing him and celebrating our friendship and his beautiful work. At the show, which was lovely, I had the opportunity to meet with the two lovely women who organized and were hosting the event, Mary Beth O'Connor, the Director of Sales and Marketing, and Janet Bartucci who is the Founder of Strategic Communications, and as I spoke about my own family's history in Manhattan and my love for historical places like The Pierre, they told me about a new project that had started in advance of the upcoming 90th Anniversary of the Hotel's opening. Pierre Stories is an ongoing collector's dream - a way for the Hotel to celebrate its history while including and encouraging people who have memories and memorabilia to share it with the Hotel and others. Any item that people have saved over the years from The Pierre's history they are welcomed to return, and that includes things like towels, silverware, and crystal. No questions asked, and all are welcomed, with prizes and raffles for things like stays and dinners and exclusive hotel events.

When I visited the museum that has been created for the collection of Pierre Stories, I was met by Janet Bartucci and the General Manager, Francois-Olivier Luiggi. Both are so knowledgeable not only about the history of The Pierre and the collection that is part of Pierre Stories, but also about the history of art and design and fine cuisine that is reflected in the variety of eras that have been spanned in the 90 years since The Pierre first opened its doors. The information they were able to share with me was enhanced by their own histories that have included years of experience in the luxury hospitality industry and in working with some of the finest Artists, Designers, and Chefs, and at some of the greatest Hotels and Residences in the world. The Pierre Stories collection is astonishing and so lovely that I could have spent hours there talking to these gracious hosts. Years of history have been carefully curated in a way that takes the viewer through changes in style, interior design, and cuisine, and shares memorable moments of the illustrious guests and celebrities, performers, fashion icons and notable politicians who have walked through the doors and made The Pierre their home away from home.

And the history of excellence continues to this day with special Art events at the Two E Lounge, holiday parties and special occasions such as a Halloween Afternoon Tea, a community Trick-or-Treat neighborhood event, a celebration for Diwali, the Indian Celebration of Lights, and a special Tea With Santa among other events that encourage celebration in ways that can include the whole family. On a daily basis tea is served in the Two E Lounge, a tradition that is so near and dear to my heart because of my own memories of how special an experience that can be in so lovely and tranquil a place.

On The Pierre's Instagram page there is a hashtag that in many ways, though simple, says it all: "#PerfectlyPierre". The Pierre is a perfect place in every way, and over the years has shown itself to be not only on the forefront of design, fashion and cuisine, but to always be relevant as it has welcomed guests through its doors in the epitome of excellent and exquisite taste, style and hospitality.

The Pierre
2 East 61st Street
New York City

A Few Glimpses Into The World Of
Pierre Stories #PierreStories

The First Gold Bonds Issued
Upon The Pierre's Incorporation
Signed By Charles Pierre

A Menu Signed By Escoffier

An Issue Of Forbes Magazine
Dated October 1, 1930
The Date Of The Pierre's Opening

Fresh Flowers
Always In Seasonal Style

From A Book Of Photographs
Showing Design And Dining Concepts
Pictured Here A Dining Experience
At The Pump Room In Chicago

At The Art Opening For "Mark Perry At The Pierre"
An Evening At The Two E Lounge

Cade Tompkins, Jannie Wolff, Mark Perry, John McGovern
Photograph Credit Janet Bartucci


Jannie Susan

Sunday, October 13, 2019

An Abundant Life - Courageous Inspiration

I met Reid Stowe about fifteen years ago through someone I knew in the sailing community in New York City Harbor. At the time when I met him he was talking about taking a sea voyage that he had been planning for several  years, and one that would break the world's record for the longest amount of time at sea on board a sailing vessel without touching land or restocking, and the time he had planned for was 1,000 days. I had thought about joining him for a part of the journey - his schooner, the Anne is a beautiful one that he had built himself and lovingly carved magical images into through meditational and shamanic practices, and the adventure sounded like the trip of a lifetime, but he was emphatic that anyone who got on board would have to be ready to commit to it in its entirety. I am always honest about what I know I can and cannot do, and I knew that though I might want to test my endurance on a trip like that and that it could be an incredibly beautiful and enlightening one, I know myself and I don't like to be landlocked or sea-locked anywhere for any purpose - I like my independence and like to be able to move about as I wish to. I also know that I don't like living with people under any circumstances - I like people well enough and there are some whose company I can enjoy on many occasions, but I also like my private and quiet time and always joke that even in my romantic relationships I would not ever want to live with anyone full time. So I didn't go on the trip with Reid, and then my life took a different course for a while so I lost track of my sailing contacts and didn't know what had ever happened with his trip.

Then one day last summer, my friend Paul Calendrillo the Gallery Owner was telling me about a project he was working on and asked if I would be interested in helping with the public relations and marketing and the planning for the opening night. He started describing the Artist and that he had taken a more than 1,000 day trip on board a Schooner he had built named the Anne, and that while on board he had worked on some of the pieces that would be a part of the show. It all sounded so familiar except for one part because I had never heard anything about art being a part of the life of the sailor I had known fifteen years before. But then Paul said that the Artist's name was Reid Stowe, and I said that I knew him and that of course I'd be happy to help publicize his work, and when Paul showed me photographs of Reid's artwork I was even more sure that I wanted to work on this project. The work even in photographs looked extremely beautiful, and as I began to read more about the art and the Artist, the story blended with what I already knew about the Reid I had met and began to build an interesting bridge between my own past and my present. We began to have conversations over the phone, conference calls with Paul and email correspondence, and the Artist began to emerge from the recesses of my memories of the Sailor I had met.

As we began the planning process, I introduced Paul Calendrillo to Aleks Veyg, who I wrote about in this blog a few weeks ago, who has a wonderful lifestyle brand company named Bolder and who as part of that company has developed BoulderArts. Aleks was such an important part of creating a special and memorable evening by connecting the event to the Liquor Sponsor Kas'tell Vodka, as a Chef providing food, and inviting the team from Awesome TV to document and conduct interviews at the opening. During this time I suggested that a friend, Aaron Paul the British Popstar, perform at the opening night, because though it seemed like a very odd mix of styles, Aaron is very much an avant garde Artist who is open to collaboration, is a beautiful person, and he is very much aware of the importance of ecology, sustainability, and humanitarian causes. Though their styles might be vastly different, at heart they spoke the same language, and in what I consider a very brave and open-minded daring leap, Reid very enthusiastically said yes. Later on I told him that his generous and open-hearted yes had been the best yes of a career because of the immeasurable publicity, good spirit and beautiful energy Aaron Paul brought to the project along with his friends who are Artists, Influencers, Photographers, Creative Directors and Stylists, that made it not just another opening night but an event that was memorable in the world of Prime Chelsea Galleries and Art shows.

Reid's work is created using recycled materials, mixed media, and in some cases the sail cloth from his own schooner and the sails from other historic ships. The paints he uses are often recycled, leftovers from other Artists or things that were disposed of. He'll add smaller paintings from his history into newer paintings of today, pieces of his schooner, photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, and charts from his voyages. There is an ephemeral quality about his work because though the pieces are substantial, Reid does not consciously strive to use archival methods and materials, and they are created with the knowledge that they will begin to change over time. One of the methods that Reid uses while he is working on a canvas in his current home with his family in North Carolina is to hang the large canvases and sail cloths from the trees to work on them and to allow them to live in nature and interact with the wind and rain and leaves, sky, air and earth.

When I first arrived at the gallery for the opening I was stunned by the beauty I could see from outside the door. And as I began to walk around the space and look at the work I was enraptured. I've never seen work like this that was so layered with meaning and energy, life and light. Images of faces look out of some, and thick layers of paint create worlds within worlds of others. I started taking photographs in almost a trance-like state because I was so drawn into the experience of the paintings. And then people started to arrive and the party became a big party and then a bigger one, and the opening night was in full swing. But even then those paintings still took on a powerful presence in the room - there is so much energy in them that is powerfully full of light and life that they seemed like benevolent guests of honor at a celebration.

There is another reason why I am so happy that everything came together so beautifully to give Reid an especially memorable opening night and great press and publicity. The art is gorgeous and his journey on board ship astonishing and memorable, but the one added touch that in my mind is the most glorious is that years ago when I met Reid, nearly everyone around him said that it wouldn't be possible for him to take the trip and that he was just talking and dreaming about something that would never materialize. But the proof of his vision was not only in the completion of a sea voyage that lasted more than 1,000 days but also in the stunning artwork that greeted me when I arrived at the opening, with some pieces that were from his 45 year history as an Artist. He's been painted by Basquiat, had songs written about him, and he's sailed over the world in a schooner he created and built with his own hands, but to me one of the most beautiful things about Reid Stowe is the courage he had to follow his vision despite the doubts that anyone else had.

The person who had introduced me to Reid Stowe the Sailor years ago at a harbor event was at the gallery on the night of the opening. I hadn't seen him in years, and though he didn't say it in words, I could see the amazement on his face that spoke louder than any words ever could and seemed to say, "He did it." Not only did Reid do it, but he made it back with stories to tell, a record that is so far above the previous record that it may never be broken, and a heart and mind that are open to possibility, to new ideas, and to going forward with hope. While I was talking with Reid after the opening, the passage from 1 Corinthians 1:27 came to mind, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise," and I also thought of the image from Isaiah 62:3 "You will be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, a royal diadem in the palm of your God." There are people who talk about things that they are going to do and then never do them, but that is not the way of a heart like Reid Stowe's. I knew that night that I met him almost fifteen years ago that he was serious about what he said he would do, and that's why I could not with good conscience say that I would commit to his journey because I knew I could not. And nearly fifteen years later I had the opportunity to see his life and his work as an Artist and a Sailor be celebrated, and the sea voyage of over 1,000 days be recognized for the courageous act of physical strength, endurance and integrity that make up the man and the Artist Reid Stowe.

Reid Stowe
At Paul Calendrillo New York
548 West 28th Street
New York City

With Eileen Kaminsky
Founder of the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation
And Artist, Writer and Curator Gregory de la Haba

On Opening Night
Photograph Credit David Warren Images

Selected Work From The Exhibition
"Reid Stowe: Art Transformations
From The Longest Sea Voyage In History"
Following Photographs Credit Jannie Wolff

Selected Photographs From
The Opening Night VIP After Party
Following Photographs Credit David Warren

With Photographer and Filmmaker Richard Holmes

Artist, Photographer and Influencer
Luciana Pampalone

Creative Director and Stylist Shelly Bromfield

Photographer Benjamin Oliver

Dancer and Actor Lestat Watley

British Popstar Aaron Paul

Jannie Wolff, Gregory de la Haba, Paul Calendrillo

Artist Linus Coraggio And Jannie Wolff
Following Photographs Credit Richard Holmes

With Linus Coraggio
Following Photographs Credit Jannie Wolff

Anthony Haden Guest
Following Photographs Credit Richard Holmes

Artist Jean-Antoine Norbert, Jannie Wolff

Producer, Philanthropist and Speaker Lucia Kaiser
With Luciana Pampalone

Celebrity and Art Photographer David Warren

Jannie Wolff, Content Creator Jamie Rose, Chocolatier Milene Jardine
Photograph Credit David Warren Images

Artist Anthony E. Boone
Following Photographs Credit Artist Alberte Bernier

Jannie Wolff Interviewing Reid Stowe's Sailmaker
For Awesome TV

Following Photographs Credit Richard Holmes

Reid Stowe With Aaron Paul

Aaron Paul And Lestat Watley
Photograph Credit Jannie Wolff

Jannie Wolff And Aaron Paul
Photograph Credit Richard Holmes

Film Producer Pamela Lubell
And Land Speed Racer James Hammond
Photograph Credit Jannie Wolff

Paul Calendrillo
With Kas'tell Vodka Sponsor Vice President Carlton Howard
Following Photographs Credit Richard Holmes

Jannie Wolff With Benjamin Oliver

 Marian Calendrillo, Jannie Wolff, Benjamin Oliver

Reid Stowe With Artist Bill Blast
Following Photographs Credit Jannie Wolff

Reid Stowe With The Artists
Lestat Watley, Linus Coraggio and Aaron Paul
After The Closing Reception
For Linus Coraggio's Solo Show
At Howl! Happening


Jannie Susan