May 10, 2012
Courtesy Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
Paso Robles is one of California’s largest and most scenic wine regions, with 26,000 vineyard acres running up the Central Coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Once a year the area comes together to celebrate its 180 wineries and 40 varietals—from heritage Zinfandel to French Viognier. And this year promises to be especially festive as Paso Robles marks its 30th annual Wine Festival, from May 18 to 20. The weekend kicks off with a reserve event on Friday, where the region’s top wineries will showcase their reserves and futures, offering eager oenophiles the opportunity to bid on vintages while they’re still in the barrel.
The festivities continue Saturday with a tasting from 60 wineries in downtown Paso Robles, where holders of premium tickets ($75) can enter early to enjoy a more personal experience. Then there are the events—more than 150 of them in all—at the wineries themselves. Choose from cave tours, live music, a tri-tip barbecue at Eberle Winery (the 2011 Winery of the Year), a four-course, farm-fresh feast (with wine pairings, of course) in the garden at Harmony Cellars (3255 Harmony Valley Rd.; 805-927-1624; harmonycellars.com) and more. May 18–20; reserve admission, $125; vineyard events, ticketed separately; pasowine.com.
May 10, 2012
After successes in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Kitchit, which allows users to hire award-winning local chefs to create customized in-home dinner parties, launches this week in New York. The service collects information on budget, head count and desired cuisine, and then suggests a variety of chefs from New York’s hottest restaurants. The chosen chef will arrive at your home with ingredients and equipment (no food processor? no problem) to craft a multicourse meal. Need a mixologist or sommelier on hand for cocktail or wine pairings? That can also be arranged.
“Kitchit’s bespoke dining services take the stress and guesswork out of the dinner party, and makes it possible for our members to have access to the best chefs in the region,” explains Brendan Marshall, founder and CEO. The company’s West Coast roster includes top-tier chefs like Traci Des Jardins, executive chef of Jardinièe; Damon Stainbrook, former sous-chef at the French Laundry; and Ryan Baker, a Delfina alum. Kitchit’s migration to New York promises similar star quality, including Dan Kluger (ABC Kitchen), Anita Lo (Annisa) and Harold Dieterle (Perilla). From $30 per person; kitchit.com.
May 07, 2012
Ladies in a Garden, John Singer Sargent, 1910 / Courtesy Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi
For more than 100 years, Americans have been drawn to Tuscany and its villas. Edith Wharton enthused about “Italian garden-magic”; historian Bernard Berenson created the ideal Renaissance garden at Villa I Tatti; and countless Americans rented or bought villas dotting the hills overlooking Florence. “Americans in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists” at Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi (through July 15) invites visitors to discover Florence through the eyes of the painters, like John Singer Sargent and James Abbot McNeill Whistler, who flocked to the city at the end of the 19th century. Not only does the exhibition show the impact of the landscape on the artists, it also reveals the lasting effect they had on Florence’s cosmopolitan cultural life. palazzostrozzi.org.
Read More: The Top Villas in Tuscany
May 07, 2012
© Courtesy Jarlsberg & Wild Hibiscus Flower Company
The fascination with cocktails shows no signs of stopping, and the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, from May 11 to 15—a showcase of memorable libations, mixology talent, drinks lore and good times—aims to keep it that way. Tickets are still available for a host of interesting, and appropriately spirited, events held throughout Manhattan. Head to a rum-fueled celebration of Havana, Cuba, at Mother’s Ruin in Nolita, or embark on the Gentleman’s Cocktail Crawl (ladies are also more than welcome to attend)—a black-tie-optional bar crawl involving some of the borough’s finest hotel cocktail spots, like at Andaz Wall Street’s Bar Seven Five (75 Wall St.).
You can also enjoy getting to know boutique alcohol brands from around the world at the classic’s Indie Spirits Expo at Crimson (915 Broadway), which capitalizes on the popularity of all things artisanal. “Bar owners, mixologists and cocktail fans can taste and learn about these fine spirits and the dedicated and passionate individuals who work so hard to bring them to the marketplace,” says expo producer David Schmier. And if you’re in the mood for a real jolt, enjoy The Darkest Night: an evening of whisky punch and a performance of the surreal interactive play Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel (530 W. 27th St.). Bowmore will provide the single malt Scotch; Sleep No More will deliver more than a few chills—and not of the ice-cold-cocktail variety. May 11–15; manhattancocktailclassic.com.
May 04, 2012
The literati has descended upon Manhattan for a week of readings, performances and panels at the PEN World Voices Festival, which will gather 100 writers from 25 different countries to celebrate the power of the written word around the world. Poet Tracy K. Smith, who was recently awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her latest collection, Life on Mars, will speak on the Memory in Harlem panel (515 Malcolm X Blvd.). Departures sat down with Smith to talk about the festival and her recent work. Memory on Harlem panel on May 5 at 5 p.m.; pen.org.
Q: Congratulations on winning the Pulitzer! What does this mean for you and for your work?
A: It’s gratifying and humbling at the same time, in large part because it feels like my poems have been invited into a more public conversation with the poems and poets who have always inspired me as a writer and a person. It’s also a profound honor to join the four other African-American poets to have received the Pulitzer since the prize’s inception: Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa and Natasha Trethewey.
Q: What poets have influenced your work?
A: That list is constantly changing. I return again and again to Elizabeth Bishop, whose poems are just so perfectly made. I love Lucille Clifton’s moral and social conscience and the spare, poignant impact of her lines. I love the largeness of vision of Jack Gilbert, whose poems, to me, feel a lot like Platonic philosophy.
Q: Life on Mars is pretty wide-ranging thematically. Did you have a sense of how you wanted the poems to cohere in the reader’s mind?
A: I always put a lot of thought into the architecture of a collection of poems. I want each of the individual poems to play an important role, but I also want the reader to move through the book with the sense of being taken on a journey. With that goal in mind, I look at the ways poems seem to speak to one another, and I use arrangement to heighten that sense of conversation.
Q: Why do you look forward to the PEN Festival?
A: I have such respect for PEN’s commitment to literature and freedom. As a writer, I don’t know what is more important than the kinds of questions that literature teaches us to ask, and the freedom to go in pursuit of their answers.
Q: What festival events are you planning to attend?
A: This is a situation where I wish I could be in more than one place at once! I’m very interested in the Doon Arbus, Michael Cunningham, Francine Prose and Diane Arbus event, because the relationship between photography and poetry has been important to me for such a long time. I’m also quite curious about the Writing from the Domestic Workers United workshop. It’s going to be an amazing weekend.
May 04, 2012
© Linda Nylind / Courtesy Frieze Art Fair
It pays to be good-looking, and Frieze is in the business of looking good. A cut above other art fairs, Frieze is unique because it’s focused on the presentation of actual artwork. The serpentine white shell that houses the fair, designed by New York-based SO - IL architects, is part nod to the curved glass of Berlin’s Central Station, part blow-up stadium but mostly covered art market. On Thursday, the vast space was swarmed with dealers, critics and collectors for what they, unfortunately, call the “VVIP” previews, each looking to beat the crowds of more, shall we say, average art lovers sure to descend in the days following.
“What fairs do is create a marketplace,” confides Jane Cohan, the cofounder of VIP Art Fair, who attended Frieze yesterday with her husband James, who owns the James Cohan Gallery. “In the art world, marketplace is sort of a dirty word, but the Frieze organizers aim high.” Which is why it’s such a struggle for galleries to get approved by the secretive international panel of gallerists. Lucky for you, it’s the selectivity that makes your time there worthwhile. Of the 43 galleries that made it to Frieze for the first time, here are four favorites. friezenewyork.com
Cheim & Read
Representing the likes of Jenny Holzer, Louise Bourgeois and William Eggelston, Cheim & Read are hardly movers and shakers. But their emphasis on showing only the most tasteful work stands out. On their outer wall hangs a beautiful embroidered canvas by Ghada Amer—one of their lesser-known artists—and the Lynda Benglis melting in the corner is a soft, unobtrusive gray. The gallery’s calming display showcases the commercial art world at its best.
Misako & Rosen
A young gallery by any standards, Tokyo-based Misako & Rosen was founded in 2006. Exhibiting as part of Frame, the international single-artist section of Frieze for fledgling galleries, they introduced New York to the Japanese painter Shimon Minamikawa, who has managed to translate the buzzword “temporality” into something beautiful and compelling—with drawings that suspend time.
mother’s tankstation, Dublin
Also exhibiting as part of Frame, mother’s tankstation, was founded in 2006 in a renovated factory on the edge of old Dublin. Its exhibition of Matt Sheridan Smith’s ambiguous but arresting installation work stands out for its physical simplicity and the complexity of their evocations. Mundane objects become curiosities—silver-plated bread, a timeline drawn in rows of vases of purple irises—and shed light on the philosophy lurking behind the everyday.
Founded in 1970 by artists Gordon Matta-Clark (who cut condemned buildings in two with a chain saw) and Jeffery Lew, this gallery self-identifies as New York’s oldest alternative art space. Despite the supposed bucking of politics and administration, they managed a wonderful showing for Frieze: The fibrous, bound sculptures of Judith Scott bring a welcome sense of color, texture and process.
May 03, 2012
Peter Liversdge, WILL HISTORY BE KIND, 2011 / Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York
Frieze Art Fair, which has called London’s Regent’s Park home for the past eight years, will host its first U.S. installment this weekend on Randall’s Island in New York. To house the exhibitions, Brooklyn-based architects Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO – IL) designed a tented, snake-like structure—a signature of the past London fairs—that overlooks the East River. Inside, art from New York’s top contemporary galleries will be on display, including offerings from the Marianne Boesky Gallery, David Zwirner, Gagosian Gallery and Lehmann-Maupin.
The festivities spread to Manhattan on May 5 with Chelsea Night (6 P.M. to 8 P.M.), cosponsored by Frieze and Net-A-Porter. Chelsea galleries featured at Frieze New York will throw open their doors for a block party, transforming West 26th Street into a pedestrian plaza complete with food trucks, live music from Brooklyn electro-pop outfit Dreamshow and exclusive looks at more than 35 galleries. At Sean Kelly Gallery (528 W. 29th St.; skny.com), visitors can attend the opening reception for painter Kehinde Wiley’s “An Economy of Grace” exhibition, and both Chelsea locations of Gagosian Gallery (gagosian.com) are participating, offering works by Lucio Fontana (555 W. 24th St.) and Richard Avedon (522 W. 21st St.). May 4–7; friezenewyork.com.
May 03, 2012
The New York City Ballet Spring Gala at Lincoln Center—one of the most highly anticipated fetes of the year—celebrates the company’s storied history and evolution, with dinner, dancing and a performance featuring two new ballets on May 10. Natalie Portman, who won an Academy Award for her role in 2010’s ballet thriller Black Swan, chairs the event, but the centerpiece of the evening is the world debut of a new work choreographed by principal dancer Benjamin Millepied (Portman’s husband) to a newly commissioned score by Nico Muhly. Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, who designed the costumes for Black Swan, did the same honors for this piece.
The company will also debut a work by Peter Martins, and revive George Balanchine’s iconic Symphony in C, which French composer Georges Bizet created when he was a 17-year-old student at the Paris Conservatory. The Balanchine number will feature all-new costumes laden with Swarovski crystals. A cocktail reception and a black-tie supper ball—complete with dinner and dancing on the promenade—will bookend the ballets. Single tickets start at $5,000; tables start at $25,000; May 10; 212-870-5585; nycballet.com.
May 03, 2012
The Moth, a New York–based storytelling nonprofit, has had a lot of practice when it comes to throwing a good party. But May 8 marks the company’s biggest affair of the year: The Moth Ball, which is set to take place at Capitale in New York. The organization hosts several informal events each month all over the country, and its StorySlams, which allow volunteers from the audience to tell a story (five minutes tops, the tale must be true, no notes allowed), sell out from Brooklyn to Louisville. The Moth’s Mainstage events, which occur a handful of times a year, often feature noteworthy storytellers like Jonathan Ames, Malcolm Gladwell and Garrison Keillor.
Similarly boldface names highlight the gala, with Simon Doonan hosting; big-band leader and musician Vince Giordano (a favorite of Woody Allen) playing live music; and writer Adam Gopnik presenting the 2012 Moth Award (which honors the art of the raconteur) to Martin Scorsese. There will be dinner, dancing and, of course, stories from The Moth all-stars. The event will also feature a silent auction, where guests can bid on items like lunch with David Chang at his eatery Mà Pêche, a week in the south of France or dinner at farm-to-table restaurant Blue Hill with Gopnik himself—all rich fodder for new stories. At Capitale, 130 Bowery; tickets, from $195; May 8; themoth.org.
April 30, 2012
Photo courtesy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
We discovered Le Labo Fragrances, a New York–based perfumer that is known for its creative collection of handmade scents, at the Gramercy Park Hotel, which burns its Cade 26 candles in the lobby. The scent was so intoxicating, we bought some to burn in the office. So when bottles of Le Labo shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion—in the floral yet woodsy Rose 31, a perfect unisex scent—appeared in rooms at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, California, we had another great reason to check in. fairmont.com.