New Private Club Plans Your Cultural Year
CultureHorde offers member-exclusive concerts, art events, dinners, and more.
May 08, 2013
Sixto Rodriguez performs at a CultureHorde event
New York nights out are plagued, it seems, by an overabundance of choice—how’s a person to decide which concert to see, talk to attend, or restaurant to dine at? CultureHorde, a new organization that curates once-monthly “bespoke events” for a small membership (dues is $199 per year), will streamline your social pursuits with exclusive, members-only events put together by a discerning group of tastemakers in fields including fine arts, music, cuisine, and more.
For the company’s kickoff party, a select group gathered at the Cutting Room in Murray Hill to catch a glimpse of the reclusive Sixto Rodriguez, a musical mystery drawn from another age. A working-class child of 1950s Detroit, Rodriguez cut two albums of folk tunes in the mold of Van Morrison/Bob Dylan in the early '70s, before disappearing from the public eye for nearly 40 years.
His incredible story was recently brought to light in the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, wherein a filmmaker seeks to find the mythical man whose fame had risen to great heights in South Africa despite concerns he had died. Seeing the documentary was motivation enough for CultureHorde founder Pamela Mirels—an entrepreneur with South African roots who endeavored to bring the man to the stage, coming across a business plan in the process.
“I felt like we had to bring him to New York to do a really personal, intimate concert with him,” she says. “Once I could book him, it occurred to me that I could start a whole club of special experiences for people who are looking for that kind of intimacy in their cultural year.”
In addition to producing their curated events, CultureHorde has partnered with the Metropolitan Opera, Sotheby’s, and other cultural centers throughout the city, promising a diverse events programme for the remaining calendar year. Next up are an intimate roundtable discussion with Alan Dershowitz on May 8, and an introduction to auction culture at Sotheby’s on June 5.
“In this city there’s an epidemic of quantity over quality,” Mirels rightly suggests. Her venture promises “a little bit of music, a little bit of art, opera, politics,” she says. “If you want a really well-rounded cultural year, then this is the place for you.”
Pratt Institute Exhibits 'Flameproof'
With help from their community, students will debut new versions of works lost in a recent Brooklyn campus fire.
May 06, 2013
In the small hours of Friday, February 15th of this year a devastating fire tore through the two upper floors of the Main Building on the Brooklyn campus of Pratt Institute. The flames destroyed artwork by dozens of students whose studio spaces were ravaged as firefighters worked valiantly. The blaze grew to four alarms, eventually involving 39 fire trucks and 168 firefighters. The roof of the landmark building collapsed, completing the devastation. Since that time the smoke has dissipated and the students at Pratt, who suffered such creative losses, have gained the support of their fellow students, faculty, administrators, alums, and New York’s art community. Here, president Thomas Schutte of the Pratt Institute describes how teamwork and help from two major art world players are making this year a success in the face of loss as the students prepare to unveil their work at a new exhibition, entitled "Flameproof," opening this Thursday at the Seagram Building.
Where were you when you first learned of the fire?
THOMAS SCHUTTE: In Palm Beach on a fundraising mission. The call came in the wee hours of the morning; the fire was finally doused at 4 a.m. My first inclination was to get back to Pratt, see the extent of what had happened and assess the situation. I knew that we had to relocate students—that was critically important—and we had to communicate to the Pratt community and meet with and listen to the students who had been dislocated.
What happened after the initial shock lifted?
TS: We built temporary studios for all of our juniors and seniors who lost their spaces [by taking] one-third of our huge athletic facility and creating 10 x 10 studios for each student. They had the spaces about three weeks after the fire.
We have had donations of art supplies given to our juniors and seniors—they were the students who were hardest hit by the fire. Utrecht, on the edge of our campus, donated supplies, [and] the Parsons School, which is competitive, did something that was very nice. The painting students arranged for an exhibition of Parsons’ seniors’ work. [They] invented a sort of auction [and] proceeds went to Pratt.
How did Larry Gagosian get involved?
TS: Larry Gagosian found out about the fire and was concerned. He asked me to let him know what he and the gallery could do to help. I said, ‘If you help us find an exhibition space for our senior painting students in Manhattan or at your gallery, that would be extraordinary.’ It was thought that it might be difficult to change the schedule of the various artists showing at the Gagosian galleries. Gagosian said, ‘Let me try another idea.’ I believe that Aby Rosen and Gagosian are friends, Aby is also an art collector and is also the chairman of the state counsel on the arts. Aby told Gagosian that he would be willing to loan space at the Seagram Building. There were two floors that no longer had tenants, the 8th floor and the 22nd floor. We chose the 8th floor and that is where we are having the show.
The next day I got a call from one of our trustee emeritus. He said to me, ‘Tom, I am so thrilled with your story. I will give you a check for $50,000 for out of pocket expenses in connection with the Seagram space.’
How has the spirit of the campus been affected by these events?
TS: I think this experience convinced our students of how generous society, New York, the school, and others have been. I also think it was a great lesson for students to learn that when disaster strikes it is important to pitch in and to help.
From Baguettes to Banquettes
Fendi Casa home collection opens its first New York retail location on Madison Avenue.
April 29, 2013
For New Yorkers wanting to peruse the latest from Fendi interior design, the places in town to see the Italian label’s line of residential furniture and accessories were limited to several suites at the Trump Soho, a penthouse last fall at 400 Fifth Avenue, the luxury condominium atop the Setai Fifth Avenue hotel, and a small display at the OC Concept Store. Come August, however, Manhattanites will finally be able to shop the Fendi Casa collection at the brand’s new 10,000-square-foot retail space on lower Madison Avenue—its third in the US (after Miami and Los Angeles). “Fendi Casa expresses the pleasure of luxury,” says Raffaella Vignatelli, president of Luxury Living—Fendi Casa. “The style of desire is to surround oneself with beautiful things that give pleasure, whether it’s a loft in New York City, a country house in Tuscany, or a Paris apartment.”
When developing its interior line more than 20 years ago, the house of Fendi, pioneers in translating a luxe fashion sensibility for the home, relied on the fundamentals that made its fashion lines so well received—artisanal craftsmanship and extensive research into developing new treatments and materials for furniture, fabrics, and wallcoverings. Fendi Casa, today under the design direction of Alberto Vignatelli, CEO of Luxury Living—Fendi Casa, has attracted a glitterati clientele, including Sofia Vergara and Alex Rodriguez. Embossed leathers, specially treated stone and glass, and hardwoods with exotic finishes and lacquers reference the spirit of the sumptuously nuanced textures of the brand’s fashion line. Sofas, armchairs, and poufs are upholstered in runway-worthy velvets and silks, many woven by hand on centuries-old Italian looms. Details popular in Fendi’s fashion accessories are replicated in pillows and throws, which are embroidered with the iconic double- F logo, while the clasps of the Spy Bag are translated into drawer handles
Inside the new retail space, visitors can browse the Contemporary collection, including the sculptural Columbus coffee table and Agadir sectional sofa (pictured), designed by French-born, Milan-based designer Toan Nguyen, a frequent collaborator. Also on display will be the company’s year-old kitchen line, Ambiente Cucina, which was unveiled at the Salone del Mobile in April 2012 before making its US debut in September. 135 Madison Ave.
photography courtesy of fendi casa
Spring Sojourn: London’s The May Fair
Sumptuous suites, splendid afternoon tea, and Ottoman-inspired cuisine—you deserve this.
April 19, 2013
NYC Not Tiring of 'Sleep No More'
Chelsea’s McKittrick Hotel holds its fair share of secrets in the ever-expanding experience that is Sleep No More.
April 19, 2013
Actors perform in front of a masked crowd at Sleep No More
What more is there to say about Sleep No More, the mysterious immersive theater drama occupying a set of otherwise-unmarked Chelsea warehouses playing to sold-out audiences of enthralled visitors nightly?
For the uninitiated, the show is set at the fictional McKittrick Hotel, a series of dimly lit hallways and a creepy elevator ride away from a noir fantasia playing out around you. Since its inception in March 2011, the experience has garnered truly universal acclaim—visitors are quite literally dropped into the most fully realized, theatrical drama the city has ever seen.
Imagine awaking in Oz and walking along the Yellow Brick Road, standing alongside the longshoremen in On the Waterfront, or schmoozing late into the night in Jay Gatsby’s Great Neck mansion. Here, you can pour yourself a drink from the various vessels scattered throughout the “hotel.” Craft a cryptic message for other visitors to find at a typewriter. Flip through the pages of a picture book in a child’s bedroom. What’s fair is…well…fair…and in Sleep No More, everything is.
Throughout more than a hundred distinct rooms spanning over 100,000 square feet, cast members act out a highly-stylized, mostly wordless mash-up of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and various Hitchcockian themes while hundreds of guests—equipped with stark white masquerade-style masks—stream through the space around them. It is stage and hype-craft to the utmost degree. Since opening two years ago without any advertising, shows are sold out weeks in advance.
With its formerly temporary residency now entrenched for the foreseeable future, Emursive and Punchdrunk, the companies responsible for bringing the concept to New York, have built up their program around the epic Sleep No More experience. Pre- and post- show, guests gather in the Manderley Bar, a highly stylized 1920s-style bar with blood-red walls, black banquettes, and period décor. Local bands play the bar each night after the Sleep No More performance cycle ends, and the space has been attracting more national touring acts in recent months for unique performance opportunities
Last summer, an addition came in the form of Gallow Green, a woody rooftop bar (named for the town within the production itself) set to reopen with an exclusive Herb Festival gala on April 20. Both bars serve appropriately themed cocktails ,from absinthe-infused martinis to flaming bowls of punch.
On a recent night, singer Jim James (frontman of the successful Southern rock quintet My Morning Jacket) emerged onto the ballroom stage wearing a white mask of his own before throwing a flower into the audience and performing songs from his appropriately haunting new solo record, Regions of Light and Sound of God. James’ ephemeral falsetto warped and twisted around the layered synths of the songs, filling the ballroom with yet another new apparatus of stagecraft. James, who had taken part in the experience a few times before arranging the performance, called it “one of the most emotional artistic experiences of my life. I didn't know where or who I was anymore,” he said. On this evening, James was the one holding the audience in his thrall, though the magic of the space obviously played a role.
With even more promised surprises on the horizon, the McKittrick is looking more and more like the city’s most complete and unique night out. As you step off into Sleep No More’s world of wonder, a hotel staffer whispers a final message into your ear that serves as a mission statement for the project and advice for an unforgettable theatrical adventure—fortune favors the bold.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Matthew Craig
Rolls-Royce Wraith Debuts in Geneva
The British auto brand takes a 1938 model for a modern spin.
March 13, 2013
It’s symptomatic for Rolls-Royce to look backwards before moving forward when the time for contemplation of a new model is imminent. With a storied history—founder Charles Stewart Rolls was in his twenties when he co-founded the company and, as a young pilot, became the first man to double cross the English Channel non-stop—and a reservoir of creativity at its disposal, the British automaker proudly staged the world debut of its dynamic new Wraith recently at the 83rd Geneva International Motor Show.
Wraith, titled after a mystical Scottish spirit, represents new potential direction for Rolls-Royce and extends its level of luxury, refinement, and hand-craftsmanship, but also presents unique positioning defined by power, style, and drama. Originally conceived in 1938, the rebirth of the current fastback and its perfectly engineered features and technical contour introduces a younger demographic to the Rolls-Royce brand. The sleek and vigorous Wraith is purely driver oriented with its Ghost-based 6.6-liter V12 that now outputs 624-horsepower (European spec), allowing it to reach 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds. With this in mind, the majestic gran turismo becomes the most powerful Rolls-Royce in the history of the company.
Hallmark coach doors open into the Wraith’s rich cabin, which is composed of Phantom-grade leathers and Canadel Panelling wood veneers. A bespoke touch of imagination is displayed by way of the lustrous night roof lining, conceived by the hand stitching of 1,340 fibre optic lamps. For enthusiastic owners who position themselves directly behind the wheel, innovative technology dubbed Satellite Aided Transmission applies GPS mapping algorithms to forecast the driver’s next move using current location-base and drive characteristics. The system then pre-chooses the most suitable gear from the 8-speed automatic ZF transmission appropriate for the impending topography ahead.
Expect deliveries by the end of the year to early 2014 with a current European price of €245K. Further pricing details for additional markets such as the U.S. will be revealed at a later date. It’s currently a moment of introspection for Rolls-Royce as they position themselves for supplementary growth, heightened levels of performance, and inflated expectations from their loyalists.
The Met Examines Art's Effect on Fashion
A new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a look back through the archives to reveal the centuries-old love affair between art and fashion.
February 25, 2013
Lady with Fans (portrait of Nina de Callias) by Édouard Manet, 1873.
In late 19th century Paris, even the minute details of fashion and dress were indicative of social status. Susan Alyson Stein, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s curator of “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity,” which opens February 26, explains that what to our eyes might be the subtle clues—an unfastened button, the shape of a bustle, or too much décolletage—were conspicuous signals to a viewer of that era.
In the exhibition, Parisian styles from 1860 through 1880 are brought to life by pairing more than 80 major canvases by important Impressionist artists such as Gustave Caillebotte, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir with examples of the costumes and accessories, including side dresses, hats, shoes, and parasols, worn by their models. There were strict formulas for dress, dictating that women change throughout the day, and the installation animates this rigid system. In one extraordinary example, Albert Bartholomé’s portrait of his wife is displayed with the polka dot and violet striped dress she wore in the painting.
Organized in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay and the Art Institute of Chicago, the installation is timely and topical, harnessing scholarly interest and our contemporary fascination with the intersection between fashion and high art. “I honestly believe that it presents such a vivid sense of the material culture that stimulated and inspired artists’ creativity,” says Stein.
Fashion plates and magazines, commonly used by consumers to order their wardrobes, are also included. “The proliferation of magazines and the rise of department stores at the time just heightened the awareness of fashion,” notes Stein, “and the viewer would have had an immediate understanding of identity from the dress.”
It was during this period that Manet, the foremost painter of modernity, asserted: “the latest fashion, you see, is absolutely necessary for a painter. It’s what matters most.” As Stein emphasizes, using this quotation, “fashion mattered.” “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” is on display February 26 through May 27 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., 212-535-7710
photography courtesy of musée d’orsay, paris
New Book Channels '50 Shades' and 'Gatsby'
Charles Dubow talks about his sexy new book, Indiscretion, set in the Hamptons.
February 13, 2013
Charles Dubow recently released his debut novel, Indiscretion, a sultry tale set in the Hamptons. A New York native, Dubow was a founding editor of Forbes.com. His story of love, lust, and betrayal is told in a powerful voice, and Dubow is poised to make waves among our current literary landscape.
Your debut novel, Indiscretion, was just released. What inspired this intimate story? CHARLES DUBOW:I had the idea back in 1997 when I first started working at Forbes.com. I imagined a happy couple spending a golden summer in the Hamptons surrounded by friends. It was a very happy time in my life, I was recently married and my family’s house in East Hampton had an old barn on it that had been converted into a guesthouse. This was when most of our friends were just starting out in their careers and didn’t have weekend places of their own yet so everyone came to mine. But, of course, that alone wouldn’t make a very interesting story. There needed to be an element of conflict. It was obvious to me back then that it had to do with infidelity—a beautiful young stranger thrown into the mix. I wrote up a brief synopsis and tucked it away, planning on getting to it someday. Every year I’d look at it and think about it again but I could find neither the time nor the courage to write it. Finally, I realized there were no more excuses.
Give us your elevator speech on the setting/plot of Indiscretion?
CD: My editor called it a mash-up between The Great Gatsby and 50 Shades of Grey. I am not sure anyone is being especially well served by that comparison, but it does have a certain pithiness to it.
How did living in Manhattan and spending summers in the Hamptons shape the novel?
CD: There’s good reason why people say you should write what you know. I was inspired to write the book based in large part on my summers in the Hamptons. We had a house there for decades, on Georgica Pond before it became fashionable. It wasn’t until the 1980s when people like Calvin Klein and Steven Spielberg moved in. When I was a child it was pretty sleepy. I was very jealous of my friends who lived closer to town or to the beach. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized just how lucky I was.
Given the monster success of 50 Shades of Grey, and your novel’s sensual plot, why do you think America is obsessed with such voyeuristic reads?
CD: I’m not sure that voyeurism is an especially American or even 21st century obsession. After all, authors have been writing about the private lives of the well-to-do since the ancient Romans. Look at Petronius’ Satyricon, for example. However, I do think that the main reason for this is that people have always wanted to see how the other half lives—what their pleasures are, their peccadilloes. It’s fun to snoop, right?
What books are currently on your nightstand?
CD: I’m reading the third volume of William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion: Winston Churchill: Defender of the Realm. It’s a brick of a book but deeply engrossing. I am also reading Transportation, a collection of short stories by Nancy Rommelmann, an old friend from Wesleyan, and A House of Gentle Folk, by Ivan Turgenev.
CD: I’ve never encountered a word I dislike, even if sometimes the connotations might be distinctly unpleasant.
Which authors do you most admire?
CD: I’ll answer with those authors I most admire as opposed to those I most like reading or who I would most like to emulate. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a genius but I sure wouldn’t want to have his life. Ditto Evelyn Waugh, whose work I adore but he was apparently a real shit. Therefore, those authors would be Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekhov, Balzac, Austen, Graham Greene, Le Carré.
Master Drawings New York
Galleries on the Upper East Side are playing host to Master Drawings New York, a weeklong event that attracts collectors from around the world.
January 14, 2013
L’Offrande à Pan (The Offering to Pan) by Jean-Jacques François Le Barbier, circa 1770 at Richard A. Berman Fine Art
A rendering by Tiepolo at $12,000? Maybe a Degas for less than $50,000? No, these aren’t figures from an auction catalog half a century ago, but rather entry-level pricing for old master drawings today. “The starting point could even be $1,000 for lesser known artists of the period,” says Gerald Stiebel, a fourth generation art dealer who will show at Master Drawings New York with 26 other exhibitors. Now in its seventh year, the eight-day event, which begins with an additional preview night Friday, January 25, takes place in galleries located on the Upper East Side. It draws an international coterie of collectors, who also come to town for the late January master drawings auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
While master drawings—works created on paper or vellum in chalk, ink, charcoal, silverpoint, or watercolor, between the 15th and 19th centuries—haven’t seen the price run-ups that have inflated the contemporary art field, the high end can reach well into the stratosphere. Several years ago, Sotheby’s auctioned a Raphael drawing, Head of a Muse, for close to $48 million. This past July, a Canaletto architectural sketch sold for $3 million at a Christie’s auction in London.
“The market is erratic,” says Mia Weiner, a dealer for 33 years who will be showing at the January event. “While there are so many collectors today with deep pockets, we’re seeing significant appreciation. But old master prints are still significantly undervalued in comparison to contemporary prints and paintings.”
No one subset of old master market is significantly hotter than others according to the dealers, although Monroe Washaw, another participant in the show, mentions the usual French and Italian standouts. As in other areas of art, marquee names—for example, Raphael, Bruegel, Guercino, Parmigianino—generate the most interest. “But in a collection, you can’t fully evoke a period only with star artists,” says Warshaw.
Considering the contemporary art boom of the past decade, David Tunick, who is one of the few participating dealers selling modern drawings, isn’t surprised that there is a greater audience for 20th-century works now. “People today are more familiar with names like Picasso, Braque, and Dalí than they are with the old masters,” he says.
2013 Audi S8: An “S” for the Best
Rev up the new year in a car that perfectly pairs style and power.
January 04, 2013
Audi aficionados knew exactly what was expected when the German purveyor of luxury cars announced their new line of “S” performance vehicles including the S6, S7 and S8, which is the company’s four-door breadwinner in terms of power output and performance. But how could that be with the fierce and mighty V10 being supplanted for a smaller, more efficient twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8? It’s called German evolution.
Audi changed degrees with enhancements to their renowned quattro all-wheel drive technology, presented fascinating new products like the Q7, R8, and A7, enriched their interior cabins from an already stellar platform, and introduced magnificent engineering technology to ensure that the driving experience is pleasurable and safe. Now, the 2013 S8 is a new topic of conversation. The twin-turbo, 4-liter V8 produces 520 horsepower, helping the aluminum space frame go from 0 MPH to 60 MPH in 3.9 seconds. Mate the powerplant with Audi’s 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and the vehicle achieves 15-city MPG and 26-highway MPG. Cylinder on Demand also aids in this mileage by transitioning eight cylinders to four cylinders when full power is not required. For example, fuel reduction at 55 MPH is 12%.
As for the interior, I felt special to say the least as the 22-way, diamond cross-stitched sport seats massaged me pleasantly. My mocha leather cabin was infused with a plethora of carbon fiber to intensify the level of craftsmanship of this German touring sedan, including the gear selector, seatbacks, dash, and center console. As I gripped the thick 3-spoke leather wheel and ignited the red Start/Stop button, the needles on the gauges rotated, the LCD screen rose from its embedded position, and the acoustic lenses from Bang & Olufsen’s big-ticket, concert-themed sound system emerged out of the dash. LED lights can also brighten up the cabin when needed.
Audi Connect, launched in the “A” cars, uses an array of various multi-media technologies along with Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) for driver convenience. MMI is one of the most advanced telematics systems in the auto industry. When inputting the address in the Google Earth navigation system—which displays from the aforementioned LCD screen—superior visual computing takes over and guidance is enhanced by displaying satellite and 3D images of buildings and places of interest, as well as “Street View.” Online searches also come from Google, just as on your smartphone or laptop, and you receive weather, gas prices, RSS news feeds, and sports scores. Speaking of your smartphone, up to eight devices can connect wirelessly and search the web by way of the S8’s T-Mobile-provided hotspot. The first six months of hotspot ownership are free, with a separate monthly fee charged thereafter.
Once you reach your destination and step out to look back at the vehicle, you know you have properly arrived. With a massive grille that dominates the fascia and front air intakes, the larger 21-inch 5-star bladed rims and matching aluminum optic side view mirrors, and quad exhaust, this is not a typical A8 but an “S” driven by the very best. All you need to justify your $110,000 purchase.