The spirit of philanthropy is in full bloom and very much alive and well on the east end this summer. It is an annual Hamptons ritual. Cocktails and check writing in grandiose settings filled with beautiful people, dressed in the finest clothes, casual but stylish. I prefer it myself over the urban black tie. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are distilled to an art form in the Hamptons. From Southampton to Easthampton the most affluent who regularly compete against one in another in the game of life on the streets, boardrooms, court rooms and exchanges of the big city bring their friendly competition to see who can give away the most money on the east end of Long Island. From Memorial Day to Labor Day the social calendar is full with a multitude of worthwhile common causes, community and charitable events benefitting those less fortunate. (photo; Betsey Johnson & Lulu Johnson modeling Michelle Farmer designs)
The challenge to the social and charitably minded consumer is how to choose from and between an array of grandiose parties, many of which would shame the Great Gatsby. The social calendar was jammed last weekend. I decided to narrow my social menu to that which was a bit more intimate. On Saturday afternoon, Pebbles Jewelers at 79 Main Street in East Hampton hosted a Champagne Reception & Trunk Show to view Michelle Farmer's New 2005 Jewelry Collection.
The Group for the South Fork hosted a grand opening reception of the Ezair Gallery on Main Street in Southampton last Saturday night. Friends and supporters included Nicole Miller, Cynthia Rowley, Debbie Bancroft, Douglas Hannant, Gillian Hearst-Shaw, Lydia Hearst, Annie Churchill, Tinsley Mortimer, Luigi Tadini, John Flanagan, Ann Colley, Mary Walker and the Group’s President Bob DeLuca. The opening celebrated artist Wanda Murphy’s premier solo show entitled “The Connection”. Lydia and Gillian Hearst-Shaw bought two of her colorful, linear paintings, which the artist says are a “celebration of life”. The abstracts works the sisters purchased are entitled, “I Think I Know” and “Stillness of My Heart” respectively. (Photo: Lydia Hearst, Amanda Hearst & Gillian Hearst Shaw). To see all photos from the evening, click here
An eclectic array of New York fashionistas, artists, socialites, models and media folk were in attendance including Lisa Gastineau, Nina Griscom, Antony Todd, Jamee Gregory and Peter Gregory, Mai Harrison, Somers White, Bettina Zilkha, Jackie and Francois Astier, Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper, Gwen Rivers, Amanda Hearst and Winston Lapham, Christian Currie and Kathryn Jennings, All My Children’s Jacob Young, Camille Duvall Hero, artist Michael Perez, Melissa Berkelhammer, event planner Harriette Rose Katz, lighting guru Bentley Meeker, Eva and Brendon Dillon, Ann Washburn, Santiago Gonzalez, Campbell Robertson, Nello Balan and models Ines Misan, Heidi Albertsen and Sonja Wanda, the star of the new Mac cosmetics ad campaign. (Photo: Debbie Bancroft & R Couri Hay)
The reception was followed by a cozey dinner at Nello’s next door to the gallery, the new outpost of Nello’s restaurant on Madison Avenue. On one of the busiest evenings in the Hamptons this summer, in an upscale restaurant in Southampton, the bold, the beautiful and the buzz was most certainly here. Proceeds from the sales of the artist’s works from the run of the show are being donated to the Group for the South Fork, the Hamptons only local professionally-staffed environmental advocacy and education organization committed to the preservation of natural resources in East Hampton, Southampton, and Shelter Island since 1972.Murphy’s figurative paintings are a celebration of her own spiritual journey. Her abstract works have been compared to Chagall and Modigliani. Murphy’s ethereal figures express the struggle between human desires and spiritual evolution. The paintings explore the intimacy between the dream state and reality, expressing a direct connection with divine energy. The nurturing female figures float in a state of grace bathed in the white light of hope, healing and love. (Photo: Nicole Wright, Melissa Berkelhammer & Wanda Murphy)
Wanda says of her art, “I’m trying to bring abstraction and linear together to form what’s called linear abstraction.” She says she is trying to connect people, their passion, and the universe together as one in an attempt to deal with the struggle between spirituality and desire. Murphy feels it is important to live, love, and enjoy each day because life is a great gift. “We ought not to look back at the past or look forward to the future. We should live in the present.” Murphy brings the universal message: You are loved. Murphy has exhibited her paintings across America and Europe. Her paintings are on permanent display at the Ezair Gallery at 136 Main Street, Southampton, N.Y., the gallery’s flagship at 905 Madison Avenue, New York City, and both the Kenneth Raymond Gallery and the Galleria Royale, which she owns, in Boca Raton, Florida. Murphy is set to open her second gallery in Miami this winter. For more information, please call Murphy’s dealer Marianna Bego for an appointment at 631-204-0442.
While I was comfortably ensconced in my own realm in the Village of Southampton, a multitude of publicists worked behind the scenes to make sure that their client's shindig did not go unnoticed. Pulling crowds from one venue or event to another seems to be the norm. My cell phone was ringing non-stop. "Chris, where should I go? "What's happening at Polo? You going to Sale Johnson's bash at Tavern?" Yeah, I know Tamie Peters and Christiaan McPherson asked me to stop by. Some group called the Elvis White Band is performing right? "Do you know about the party of the Dream Team of Doctors in Wainscott organized by Jane Scher?" Yes. "Lizzie Grubman and her boyfriend Chris Stern are up here........but while the scene is pretty mellow the booze is flowing , hors d'oeuvres are delectable and Dr. Jennifer Jablow is freaking hot!" "Who's going to the party at Madame Tong's JL Beach Club in Southampton?" "What about the Boys Harbor Fireworks?" Anyway, catch you later Chris, I gotta go get another drink. (Photo: Chris Stern & Lizzie Grubman)
The opening day for Bridgehampton Polo had to be one of the Hamptons most over hyped spectacles. I personally received essentially the same Press Release from no less than 3 different publicists hyping the upcoming festivities. Ralph Lauren with his Polo label was perhaps the first to encapsulate and package the 50's American WASP lifestyle via his "Polo" label. Similarly, Bridgehampton Polo has been pre-packaged in a seductive manner utilizing the country backdrop of the Hamptons in an effort to create a perfect picture of socialization among the affluent. The only problem is Bridgehampton Polo does not capture the essence of bygone era in the Hamptons or anywhere else. Marketeers have rather replaced the lounge or "club" with an upscale outdoor venue in the country, among horses and horsemen and a game that is not even the focus or of interest to many of the revelers. For me the Polo lifestyle is limited to having 20% of my wardrobe from my Ralph Lipschitz, aka Ralph Lauren, King of the schmattas from Brooklyn.
While I was intriqued by the prospect of logging some observation time and stomping the divots at Polo, much like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, the decision was made for me when I responded to the Press Release/Invitation for Bridgehampton Polo. First my reply was ignored. I replied again and then was advised that this was a closed "list" event. It was curious why I was repeatedly sent Press Releases/Invitations to an event which I was not invited to cover and ultimately denied access to "the list" for Polo by the social empressarios at Strategic Group (Noah Tepperberg & Jason Strauss), the Lawlor Media Group and a firm called East Side PR.
To Norah Lawlor's credit, I did actually get a phone call apologizing and was extended an invitation to another grand opening party for Madame Tong's at JL Beach Club in Southampton, yet another enterprise of Eddie Kleefield, aka Jean Luc. Only in America can a chubby guy with orange glasses change a nice yiddisha name to something a tad more euro and goyish no less and become a massive success. What the JL restaurants have become mostly known for, however, is attracting the quintessential Hamptons scene of young attractive professionals and entrepreneurs. The social vibe is paramount, and it is actually quite good. The consumption of food secondary. The food, at Madame Tong's at JL Beach Club, which I have re-confirmed with several sources is entirely average, and reminiscient of the 1980's inspired Polynesian lounges serving poo poo platters like the Hong Kong in Harvard Square or the former AKU AKU in Kenmore Square, near BU where I went to college.
I certainly have hedonistic tendencies and thus love a good party, good cocktails and beautiful women and surroundings as much as anyone. But how do you know whether to believe the hype about anything out here? In the Hamptons, if you believe the hype, you can make yourself crazy. As there always seems to be something cooler or more worthwhile than wherever you plan to be. The sad part is that some people actually believe that and spend their entire weekend perpetually in transit searching for that illusive "best scene."
Life for me is made up of the little moments. People, conversation, good libations and intimate and eclectic atmosphere. On Saturday evening, I found that courtesy of Couri Hay, my friends Mona Wyatt, philanthropic banker and urban athlete Dawn Palo and her friend, one of America's Best Doctors, Dr. Curtis W. Slipman (Director, Penn Spine Center. Chief, Division of Muscoskeletal Rehabilitation) who over dinner and drinks at Nello's gave my brother, Manhattan Society.com Photography Editor, Gregory Partanio, some well needed referrals and advice concerning repair and treatment of his herniated disks. (Photo: Mona Wyatt, Nello Balan & Heidi Alberston)
I glimpsed briefly at photos taken by social shutterbug Rob Rich, and realized that other than Owen Wilson, the Butterscotch Stallion, I did not miss much at Bridgehampton Polo . In fact, I received several emails from disappointed female contingent saying that all they saw was a bit of a busted club scene of pretenders, and "allegedly" rich guys in toupee's posing with models at Bridgehampton Polo. Oy vey! One even remarked that it was nothing like the Polo scene she had seen out at The Mashomack International Polo Challenge chaired by Bruce Colley & Camilla Hellman earlier this summer or anything like the movie Pretty Woman. So I missed nothing, essentially in enjoying a rich meal in decadent surroundings with friends and a who's who of New York's social jet set at Nello's in Southampton. All Photos by Gregory Partanio