Sunday, December 30, 2012



An interior is forever a work in progress. The most important touches are those that come as we, its creators, see more deeply into its soul. I've recently added two works on paper of my own, both in blue hues. The upper one, from 2011, is my favorite from a series of Ws and Ms, no longer letters but merely gestures in symmetry. The lower one suggests palm fronds, perhaps right for Palm Beach, but they are not leaves at all and were never intended to be, they are simply the trails of gestures.

The framed photographs are from a 1992 portfolio by Charles Perini. They are studies of Villa Massei, our Italian home, and they show a house that is still mostly untouched by time. The lamp is by David Easton, and the chair is from the 1940s, made to be easily disassembled to transport in military campaigns. The cotton rug is hand made in India. The inclusion of orange, a color I've never particularly favored, is inspired by Terry Kemper.

The Hollywood Regency desk is embellished with carved stone pulls that we found in an antique shop. The wicker stool is from Crate and Barrel. The ottoman is from Hickory Chair.

The white slipper chairs are from Lee Industries.

The rattan chairs are from McGuire. Years ago, in our California days, we were rather friendly with John and Elinor McGuire, a gracious and talented couple. The seat is from Hickory Chair and the woolen rug is Indian. The walls are gray and not at all blue as this photograph would suggest.

The kitchen is a stylized wet bar/coffee bar, but I manage to get a meal or two out of it. The photograph is a portrait of me done at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, where we spent a winter in the early 90s. The light is from Restoration Hardware. The coffee machine is by Illy.

I chose to have a single shelf above and not the commonly used upper cabinets which might have stored the contents of the free standing china cabinet to the right, which I bought online.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Holiday Aphorisims 2012


Shear brilliance in itself is not enough to achieve great results, you need a good dose of stupid in the mix.

He who cultivates aristocratic qualities is far more noble than the aristocrat who lets his ancestral fields go fallow.

If self-effacement is considered a virtue then never drop a name unless it reflects very badly on you.

Delusions of grandeur are far preferable to those of insignificance.

You know you've had a good vacation when you come home with bed sores.

Only a fool does not judge a house by its furniture.

When you go out to a restaurant the last thing you want it to be about is the food.

I enjoy the company of stupid people who know they are.

I'm far too lazy to have domestic help.

The last thing I’d ever presume to make in life is a difference.

Enjoying yourself is all well and good but what if nobody else does?

I’m a failed gossip; I can never remember the material.

Viewing a contemporary art installation is a bit like rock climbing: you almost hope you’ll loose your grip and end the pain.

I admit to having a drinking problem: so often the wine really sucks.

Describing yourself in a brief meeting is a bit like rescuing your three favorite possessions from a house fire.

At least Kindle books can’t be used as kindling.

I’d never thought I’d see the day when there was too much art in the world.

Humility and modesty at a cocktail reception barely get you a second glass of wine.

The only explanation for a “rich eccentric” living like he’s destitute is that the money’s all bullshit.

No matter where you live in the world there’s always going to be someone to tolerate.

I don’t insist that friends share my political point of view but I prefer that they at least pretend to.

The world is full of malice and envy, and those who harbor such feelings should band together and put those lucky sons of bitches in their place.

Nothing could be more idiotic than common sense.

I enjoy meeting people but not when they seem to think that’s all I’ve got in mind.

Why pay to belong to an exclusive club when all the fun is happening among the excluded?

Treating everybody with the same level of kindness and respect is a virtue I’ve always aspired to, but then along comes that goddam son of a bitch.

Self-restraint is one skill I’ve definitely never sought to refine.

All of the above is of my authorship. All right reserved.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Breakers Redo


A hotel has to change with the times. Old isn't the look that attracts most guests these days. We live in a different way now, we dress differently, we need to feel comfortable even in a t-shirt.

I first saw this grand room, at The Breakers in Palm Beach, two years ago when it was still in its Florentine incarnation. Here it is now, just a couple of weeks after reopening with a new look. A major hotel designer did this, I can't recall his name. Something with a Th... As you can see, the ceiling and the chandelier are from the original decor. The contemporary designer is quoted as saying (more or less), "The old and the new are in dialog with each other, creating new energies..." To me it looks like they couldn't reach the ceiling and said, Oh the heck with it. The long gallery beyond the columns to the right has not been redecorated. In that these two spaces share a ceiling and are in full view of each other you might ask, But why did they stop here?

True, the guests can now let their hair down (as if they'd needed such extravagant encouragement). But to my mind a little bit of what's up there should have found its way down below. Those tripod lamps have been around for quite a while now; do they still suggest cutting edge? Or the 90s? The furniture and colors chosen might have been more aptly placed in a South Beach neo-deco residence where the context is less jarring; it shows a great insensitivity to the bigger, more noble picture, even if those colors, if you look hard enough, might very well show up on the roof beams. I believe you can go contemporary in a classic room: witness the Wolseley in London, but to me, this looks like a casino, done up fifteen years ago, on the down-slope of Monte Carlo.

The Wolseley, lovely!

Your eye wants to shut out one thing or another: what's up there, or what's down below.

As for my eye, it's not the ceiling that doesn't work.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Playa de Palma Evolution


As you apply touches over effects, layers over style, your goal is to achieve a balance in which the overall message is clearly that which you'd chosen to send. That's the sea, a mile or so away as the osprey flies, reflected in an old Moroccan bone inlay mirror

We've been doing a little gardening lately as you can see. I hope living room palms are easier than orchids, which we've found a bit tricky.

The osprey makes regular visits and sits on our balcony railing and gazes, with his yellow eyes,  into the room above. He seems to like it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

New Acquisitions


We're surrounded by walls here in Palm Beach, having brought to this recently empty apartment only the clothes on our backs. And walls need filling. While I'll be hanging a bit of my own work here I like a mix of styles and genres and so does Gil. The above detail is from an early 19th century gouache that we bought yesterday at the famous Kofski Estate Sale, a feeding frenzy which attracts buyers from far and wide who get in line at the crack of dawn in hopes of finding a bargain when the doors open at nine.

This a China Trade painting, originally produced for export to Europe, one of a series of 12 or more which illustrated the process of making and exporting tea.
The sale tag said "A Japanese watercolor of basketweavers." But we knew what we had found. I'd often admired these wonderful minimalist/modernist paintings in museums, particularly at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. But I'd never imagined I'd actually own one. It fits beautifully into our tropical/colonial atmosphere here, it's perfect.

These men are indeed making baskets, but more importantly, they're packing bales of tea for export.

I acquired this watercolor with pen and ink a few weeks ago from a source I won't mention. It's a Royal Poinciana, or flamboyant tree, found often here in the sub-tropical climate of South Florida, though they're originally from Madagascar.

The artist is Emma Cheves Wilkins, of Georgia, and it was painted most likely in the late 19th century. She'd lived and studied in Paris and you can see the European-trained hand at work here with the leaves drawn just as they were done in similar drawings of the 18th century. It arrived in a horrible bamboo frame which suggested that it must have once hung in a Florida home. I reframed it "archive style," just as a Turner watercolor might be mounted at the Tate, and the end result is perfect. We've saved and conserved, in this effort, a deserving drawing and this gives me great joy and satisfaction.