Faberge Egg Hunt, Part 1

Usually Easter egg hunt is game for small kids.  There are a lot of the egg hunts for kids all over New York this year as it  was the year before. But   this year, 2014, is special!    During the month of April, over 200 massive egg sculptures will be "hidden" throughout New York's five boroughs and all adults could have fun hunting!
Easter eggs   are special eggs that are often given to celebrate Easter or springtime.   The oldest tradition is to use dyed and painted chicken eggs.
The early Christians of Mesopotamia  stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ.  The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection  in 17th century.
Easter eggs are a widely popular symbol of new life in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and other Central European countries' folk traditions. A batik (wax resist) process is used to create brilliantly colored eggs, the best-known of which is the Ukrainian pysanka and the Polish pisanka.I have an excellent book with “pisanka” photos published in 1966 in Kiev.

 The word comes from the verb pysaty, "to write", as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax. Traditionally, the designs are chosen to match the character of the person to whom the pysanka is to be given. A bowl full of pysanky Easter eggs  was   kept in every home and  served not only as a colorful display, but also as protection from all dangers.
The most famous and expensive  Easter eggs in the world are Imperial Fabergé eggs.
Bolshaia Morskaia
Gustav Faberge  was born in province of Livonia (now Estonia) and moved to Saint Peterburg, Russia  in 1830. In 1842, Gustav Faberge founded  The House of Fabergé  and opened his own retail jewelry, "Fabergé", in a basement shop in Russia, in St. Petersburg on Bolshaia Morskaia street. 

In 1869 his son  Peter Carl sold the first pieces to the St. Petersburg Hermitage. In 1885, Tsar Alexander III commissioned the House of Fabergé to make an Easter egg as a gift for his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna.  The Czar gave his wife an egg every year during the Russian Orthodox Easter festival. From 1895 to 1916, his successor, Nicholas II, gave two Easter eggs each year, one to his wife and one to his mother.  A total of fifty Imperial eggs were made for the Russian Czars and 42 have survived.  The House of Fabergé was nationalised by the Bolsheviks in 1918.  
After the Revolution, the Fabergé family left Russia.  Carl Fabergé left St Petersburg in 1918  on the diplomatic train  but his two  sons were  imprisoned. Alexander managed to escape from prison when a friend bribed guards. He  and his brother Eugene opened  Fabergé et Cie in Paris in 1924. They used the trademark FABERGÉ, PARIS, whereas the Russian company's trademark was just FABERGÉ. Fabergé et Cie continued to operate in Paris until 2001.
The last two eggs two were planned for Easter in 1918, but because of the Russian Revolution the eggs were not delivered. One of these not finished eggs  is in the private Russian-owned museum outside of Russia in Baden-Baden. 

Imperial Constellation
Easter Egg
in Baden-Baden
 The founder of the museum  in Baden-Baden art collector from Moscow Alexander Ivanov has one of   the  largest Fabergé jewelry collection  in the world with more than 3,000 items.   
Faberge eggs in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Malcolm Forbes, publisher of Forbes magazine,  had the largest privately owned collection of Faberge eggs.   After he died in 2004 his heirs authorized Sothebys   to auction off his large Fabergé collection.  But before the auction took place, a private sale took place and the entire collection was bought by  the third richest person in Russia  Victor Vekselberg, the chairman of  Tyumen Oil, and taken back to Russia.  Vekselberg is the single largest owner of  Imperial  eggs in the world (11 eggs). In a 2013 BBC Four documentary, Vekselberg told he had spent just over $100 Million purchasing the 9 Fabergé eggs.  In December 2013 Vekselberg  opened a Faberge museum in the Shuvalov Palace in the  center  of  Saint Petersburg, Russia to display his  collection.
Faberge eggs in Metropolitan Museum

The Metropolitan Art Museum in New York is exhibiting the Fabergé collection of Matilda Geddings Gray, on long-term loan for the next five years.  Collection includes three magnificent Imperial Easter Eggs. Museum does not have its’ own Faberge egg!   
If you’d like to know about the lost egg recently  found  and  how to win one of three Fabergé prizes in New York Egg hunt- read my next post!

April in New York: Festivals, Parades and Javits Center Events


The 69th Regiment Armory at 68 Lexington Ave, NYC Admission $5 per day.

 MoCCA Fest is an independent comics showcase that   includes artist booths, slide shows, and educational panels.   It was named "Best Small-Press Comics Nexus Anywhere" by The Village Voice. Beginning in 2013, the MoCCA Fest was produced by the Society of Illustrators, following their acquisition of the Museum the previous year.

Wednesday- Friday,April 2-4, 2014. Inside 3D Printing Conference  Javits Center

Inside 3D Printing is the largest industry event in the world. Under one roof all levels of 3D Printing interest are covered whether an attendee is interested in the future of bioprinting to making custom jewelry. Inside 3D Printing brings together the 3D printing universe and prepares you to take advantage of "The Third Industrial Revolution".You can register here for free

Saturday, April 5 International Pillow Fight Day.  Location TBA!

Pillows fly and teddies soar as you converge for a giant urban pillow fight! 
 Bring a soft pillow and wait for the signal. Dress as your favorite superhero or villain from comic books, movies, anime, the internet, or your imagination.
The largest pillow fight flash mob  took place on March 22, 2008. Over 25 cities around the globe participated in the first "international flash mob", which was the world's largest flash mob to date. 
Last year the Fight day was at Washington Square Park.

+ Soft, feather-free pillows only!
+ Swing lightly, many people will be swinging at once.
+ Do not swing at people without pillows or with cameras.
+ Remove glasses beforehand!
+ Deposit pillows in donation boxes or take them with you.
+ Pajamas welcome.

April 18th – 27th, 2014  Auto Show  in Javits  Center 
Monday - Saturday: 10am - 10pm , Sundays: 10am - 7pm 
114th anniversary of the New York Auto Show

Adult: $15 for ages 13 and over, Child: $5 12 and under, 2 and under free
The Dub Show Tou rof  Custom and Exotic Vehicles on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 26-April 28)

Sunday, April 20, 2014 The Easter Parade

The Parade  will go along Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th Streets.
Revelers will march  along Fifth Avenue   dressed in their Sunday best, and donning extravagant, colorful hats and bonnets. The parade tradition began as a 19th-century gathering of New York's social elite in their Easter best after church services — along with similar parades around the nation that took off after the Civil War. New York's version has become a semi-secular feast.The street is closed to traffic for parade participants and people watchers from roughly 10am until 4pm.

Saturday April 26 - Sunday 27, 2014 Cherry blossom festival Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Sakura Matsuri features 200 blossoming cherry trees and 60 events and performances celebrating Japanese culture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Sakura Matsuri features 200 blossoming cherry trees and 60 events and performances celebrating Japanese culture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 
 Advance tickets to Sakura Matsuri will be available in April. Members and ticket holders skip the lines. Members always enter for free. 
April 25-27, 2014  Annual Food Book Fair

Wythe Hotel 80 Wythe Avenue  at North 11th Street  Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Friday, April 25th   9:00AM – 7:00PM
Saturday, April 26th 10:30AM – 9:00PM
Sunday, April 27th 10:00AM – 7:00PM

The Third Annual Food Book Fair brings together food enthusiasts, chefs, artists, writers, designers and publishers to celebrate the intersection between food culture and food systems. This year’s three-day fair spans more than 200 books, 20-plus food magazines, 60 visionaries, panel discussions, a film screening, pop-up brew pub AND a pop-up farm, an entrepreneurial resource clinic, and our second annual Pitch Competition.
$15-$30 per event
All-Access Insider Pass: $225
The Weekender Pass: $100
The Foodie Pass: $50
The Entrepreneur Pass: $45

Society of Illustrators -a club, museum and a restaurant

For those of you who are looking for a hidden gem in New York City, the Society of Illustrators is certainly one of them.  It is located at 128 East 63rd Street in a graceful, five-story townhouse on a quiet residential block on the Upper East Side. 

The is a gift shop in the lobby and a small two-floor exhibition space. Admission is  free   for all visitors on Tuesdays from 5-8pm. Every Tuesday and Thursday there is a  Sketch  night  from 6:30 - 9:30pm, with nude , partially clothes or fully costumed models and live music.  The price   is $15 and $7 for students/seniors. There's an original Norman Rockwell above the bar on the second floor, and a dining room.   

If you are not the member of the society you can buy a Museum Experience Package with Lunch that includes the full buffet, coffee, dessert and a glass of wine. ($30 per person , not including admission). The dining room is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday from 12:00pm to 2:30pm. From spring to early fall, the  terrace provides a rare opportunity for dining al fresco in the heart of the city.

 The Permanent Collection has of nearly 2,000 works by many of the greatest names in American illustration.
 128 East 63rd  was originally  a carriage house built in 1875 for William P. Read, a personal secretary for financier J.P. Morgan.  In the beginning of 20th century  two brothers bought the house. They converted the   building into a residence and the stable area became a squash court.

The society of Illustrators was founded on   February 1, 1901 by  nine artists and one businessman with the following credo: “The object of the Society shall be to promote generally the art of illustration and to hold exhibitions from time to time.”
In August 1939, the Society   purchased the building for approximately $33,000, which is nearly $500,000 in today’s dollars.

The Racquet and Tennis Club, private club with nude swimming tradition

2013 year photo
The Racquet and Tennis Club is a private social club and athletic club located at 370 Park Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets, New York, New York.   Construction began on December 20, 1916, and was completed on September 7, 1918. The builder was Mark Edlitz, and the estimated cost was $400,000. The building is about 200 feet by 100 feet (30 m x 60 m) and five stories tall,   with the  height twice the width of Park Avenue. The exterior is stone and brick over a structural steel frame.
The Racquet Court  club was opened in 1876 and   merged with Racquet Tennis Club in 1890. The First Club house was located on West 43 street. The Club moved to it’s current location in 1918.
In the Club Book, published in 1917, said that “The initiation fee for the members is $200 and annual dues - $150. The visitor had to pay  in advance $25  per month. The club house shall  be open up till 1AM and restaurant  from 7AM until 10PM.NO gratuity should be given to any servant” .
1930 year photo

The fee was really high - in 1917  the food costs averaged about $22 a month, which was slightly more than half the $40 average monthly salary of American workers. 
One hundred dollars in 1917  worth the same as $2000  today.  
Racquet and Tennis Club building is representative of the elaborate private clubs constructed in New York during the early twentieth century.
Inside, at the top of the stairs on the second floor was a comfortable lounge.  A dining room, bar, library, billiard room and card room were also housed here. In the floors above were racquets courts, squash courts, changing rooms, and court tennis courts. (Court tennis must not be confused with lawn tennis; it is a completely different game involving sloping walls  with bouncing balls off all four walls).
Today, there are four International squash courts, one North American doubles squash court, one racquets court, and the two tennis courts.
It is as much of a time capsule of the Gilded Age as can be found in Manhattan, and members observe a strict code of silence about all that takes place behind its thick stone walls.  The Racquet Club was able to remain all male by arguing that so long as no business was conducted within its walls, no discrimination was practiced.
The club sold its air rights on Park Avenue to a developer a number of decades ago, resulting in the unusual sight, for New York, of a glass-clad skyscraper rising in the middle of the block, immediately behind the club.
Unlike many other private clubs that once catered exclusively to men and now admit women, the Racquet and Tennis has held fast to its men-only membership policy. (Women are welcome at club social events if accompanied by a male member) 
 In 1987, the club famously refused to allow court tennis player Evelyn David, who lived “a few blocks” from the club,  to train for the Women's World Tennis Championship, citing its men-only rules. There were  only nine court tennis clubs in America at that time and Evelin had to travel 1.5  hours to Tuxedo tennis court.   
As of summer 2012 at least four private clubs In New York City  still bar women — The Holland Society, The New York Racquet and Tennis Club, The Brook Club and The Anglers's Club of New York.
Until 1980s it was a  common practice to have a most natural way on swimming- nude   in Gilded Age private clubs around New York.   Later some of the clubs were forced to admit women.
The New York Racquet and Tennis Club is a rare place where there are  after-work men-only naked swimming sessions.

Read more: The Tao of Skinny-Dipping ( new York Times)

American Venus - the first naked lady in Hollywood and a fountain near the Central park entrance

Pulitzer Fountain, Grand  Army Plaza
The 22-foot-high ornamental  Pulitzer Fountain sits in the middle of the Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan, near the south-east corner of the Central Park.  Behind it stands Bergdorf Goodman, one of  the most elegant department store in NYC, and in front of it- Plaza Hotel.

Joseph Pulitzer was the 19th-century Hungarian-American Jewish journalist and newspaper publisher whose will established the Pulitzer Prizes "for the encouragement of public service, public morals, American literature and the advancement of education."Pulitzer left $50,000 for the fountain, to be erected.   His instructions were to create “a fountain like those in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.”  

Place de Concorde in Paris

Pulitzer probably got the idea to locate the fountain in Grand Army Plaza from Karl Bitter, the Austrian sculptor, who proposed a symmetrical plaza for this area. To make the plaza symmetrical, the Sherman monument was moved 16 feet west to its present location.

The bronze sculpture is of Pomona, the goddess of fruitful abundance in ancient Roman religion and myth   is on the top of fountain. Her name comes from the Latin word pomum, "fruit," specifically orchard fruit.  Ponoma is mostly nude, except for a cloth draped across one leg.  
Ponoma statue in Russia, St. Peterburg,
Summer Garden
The fountain was finished in 1916 and at that time the Bergdorf Goodman  was not built yet- there was a grand Vanderbilt's mansion sitting on the corner of 5th Avenue,  so Mrs. Alice  Vanderbilt had an unobstructed view of the naked goddess from here bedroom. The legend told that Alice ordered to her  bedroom to be moved .

Vanderbilt Mansion on 5th Ave (demolished)
The Vanderbilt Mansion on 5th avenue was completed in 1882 and demolished in 1927 to make way for the upscale department store, Bergdorf Goodman.
Karl Bitter chose Audrey Munson   for the model of Ponoma. Audrey Marie Munson was born in 1891 in upstate New York.    After her parents divorced, Audrey  ( she was 15 at that time) moved to the city with her mother. Soon she was discovered by a photographer and became the most popular, in-demand artist’s model in the city.

USS Maine Memorial

Audrey Munson
 Audrey posed for at least 15 statues in New York City alone, including "Civic Fame" atop the Municipal Building and the figure of Columbia on top of the Maine Memorial ( read about the  memorial in one of my posts) .  Andrew posed for the memorial sculpture in Straus Park at 107th Street and Broadway.  It honors Ida and Isador Straus who died on the Titanic in 1912. Isador Straus was the owner of Macy’s . I wrote about him in one of my posts.
Memory by Daniel French
There are two sculptures by Daniel Chester French in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for which Audrey Munson posed. These are "Memory" and "Mourning Victory from the Melvin Memorial".
By 1915, Audrey was so popular as a model that she was chosen to be the muse for almost all carvings at the Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco. Her face and body adorned virtually every building at the fair, and she became an overnight sensation.
Audrey  Munson was the first woman to ever appear nude in a film,  “Inspiration”.
Pulitzer Fountain
When Audrey returned from Hollywood,  she found that  The Beaux-Arts construction boom was over  and she is forgotten. Andrew lived with her mother in a NYC boarding house where she had an affair with their married landlord. Landlord kill his wife to free himself  for Audrey.  Andrew was cleared and the landlord was convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair, but he hung himself in his prison cell.
Audrey returned to the small town in upstate where she was born.  Feeling like an outcast, she attempted suicide, but failed. She was   confined to a the Saint Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, New York and remained there for the rest of her life. In 1996, Audrey Munson died in that institution. She was 104 years old.
In the spring of 1915, before the fountain  was complete, Karl  Bitter was hit by a car and died. He had never seen his work on location with the fountain. The fountain was dedicated in 1916.
The 12-foot central basin was replaced with a granite basin in 1970 and   with a second granite basin in 1996.

Sculpture on Park Avenue

Maelstrom ( by Alice Aycock)  on Park Avenue
In the nineteenth century  Park avenue was not the prestigious address at all. Trains ran up and down the avenue at street level. The avenue was dirty and noisy.

Park Avenue in spring
When the steam power trains were converted into  electric power trains and the tracks were moved  underground, wide center medians (now referred to as the malls) were created above them.  Over the years, the width of the malls was reduced in order to accommodate more traffic lanes.  In early 1950s Mary Lasker  began planting begonias, tulips and flowering trees on some of the malls to demonstrate to the City that plants could survive amidst all the traffic and pollution.  In 1970   landscape architect    redesigned  the malls.  Fences and tall hedges were removed.   
By 1980 the  city was no longer able to maintain  flower beds   without support from the community. In 1980, with Mrs. Lasker’s encouragement, the Park Avenue Malls Planting Project, the privately-funded beautification program  “The Fund for Park Avenue “ was created. The buildings along the avenue agreed to share the annual cost of planting and maintaining the malls. 

Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture
on Park Avenue in 2012

Exhibitions are presented by The Sculpture Committee of The Fund for Park Avenue and the Public Art Program of the City of New York’s Department of Parks & Recreation in collaboration with arts organizations and artists.  The first exhibition was in 2000. One of the best from my view was in 2012 when more than 15 works of the French sculptor  Niki de Saint Phalle, commemorating the 10th anniversary of her death,  were presented.  The Park Avenue installation features a mix of music- and sports-related larger-then-life  sculptures with vivid and eye-catching colors.

This year all six sculptures by American artist Alice Aycock  are plain white.  Ms. Aycock, whose work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, made her name creating a hybrid of architecture and sculpture. She  was born in Harrisburg, PA  and had been   exhibited in major museums and galleries nationally as well as Europe and Japan.

Alice also completed an outdoor sculpture for the new The Star Sifter, a large architectural sculpture for the rotunda of the new Terminal One at JFK International Airport.  Alice cited Vladimir Tatlin’s unbuilt tower, “Monument to the Third International” (Tatlin’s tower)   as an influential work.
Tatlin’s Tower  was a design for a grand monumental building by the Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin, that was never built.  It was planned to be erected in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, as the headquarters and monument of the Comintern (the third international).

Tatlin Tower

Alice’s  largest sculpture “Maelstrom”  stretches for some 70 feet near the Seagram Building  It is   the largest (longest?)   sculpture in the history installed on the mall. All the works will eventually be sold, as will smaller versions of each piece.  
“Honey, I am in heaven,” said Ms. Aycock, 67 to “New YorkTimes”   “When does someone my age get something like this?” she added. “This is like the Piazza San Marco of New York.”

Read more:
 ALICE AYCOCK  web page
Park Avenue Arts history

"The Catcher in the Rye" and the Pond in Central Park

In the “The Catcher in the Rye” by American writer Jerome David Salinger,  Holden Caulfield asked "You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?"
 J.D. Salinger was born and raised in New York. He  grew up on Park
Avenue. The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951. A best seller for life, the book has sold over 120 million copies all over the world. The main settings for the Catcher in the Rye is New York City. 

“The little lake”  is located several hundred feet from  Grand Army Plaza and 5th Avenue.
The Pond is one of Central Park’s seven naturalistic water bodies. It’s hard to believe that this setting – like almost all of Central Park – is completely man-made.  It is one of my favorite  places in the Central park.  I had been working in midtown Manhattan for 13 years and visited this place at least once every month.  The pond  is pretty in every season.   When Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed Central Park, they imagined a  direct reprieve from the city’s busy street.

At the northeast end of the Pond  there is Gapstow Bridge. If you're a fan of Home Alone 2, you know that  this  is the area where Kevin meets the pigeon lady. Gapstow Bridge is one of the icons of Central Park, Manhattan in New York City. The first bridge was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould in 1874 and was made out of wood.  Due to excessive tear and wear, it lasted only twenty years and  was replaced by the present simple stone structure in 1896, by Howard & Caudwell. 

Working closely with creators of the Central Park Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, Mould designed many of the park's notable landmarks, including  Belvedere Castle,  and  a great number of bridges.

Stretching 76 feet in its full length, the arched Gapstow walkway made of Manhattan schist—rock dating back 450 million years and uncovered from the great Wisconsin Glacier about 12,000 years ago.
 If you look at the north from the bridge you see  Wollman rink which replaced part of the Pond in 1951 with an ice-skating rink.  Facing south, the bridge  offers the quintessential view of the city, with the Plaza Hotel and other towers rising behind the backdrop of trees reflected, amidst the ducks, in the waters of the Pond.
Sanremo bridge

Official site of the Central park says: "Bearing a striking resemblance to the Ponte di San Francesco in San Remo, Italy, Gapstow Bridge is yet another example of traditional architecture in Central Park".
I found at least two other bridgges in Europe that look similar to Gapstow Bridge.One of the is  Ponte di San Francesco, Subiaco, Lazio, Italy, about 45 miles east of Rome.
 And the second -Ponte medievale di Laurino, by Costa del Cilento , also on Italy.

Ponte di San Francesco
Ponte medievale di Laurino

Battery Park, City Pier. WWII story.

The last surviving historic pier in the city - City Pier A is a municipal pier in the Hudson River at Battery Park near the southern end of Manhattan.    Pier A was built from 1884 to 1886 to serve the New York City Department of Docks and Harbor Police. The pier was expanded in 1900 and again in 1919 with a clock installed in the pier's tower as a memorial to 116,000 US servicemen who died during World War I. The clock is a ship's clock and was donated by Daniel G. Reid, founder of United States Steel Corporation.
 The pier’s three-level, 38,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts building originally housed the city’s docks department and later served as a place to greet arriving dignitaries, like King George VI during the 1939 World’s Fair, according to historical accounts. Later it served as a command post for the city’s fire boats.
The New York City Fire Department used the pier from 1960 to 1992 as a fireboat station. The clock-topped building has mostly sat vacant for decades.

During Sandy the pier building wound up with 5 feet of water flowing through it, damaging the floors, doors, walls and wiring, and resulting in a $2.5 million insurance payout.  In December 2013 the city agreed to add $5 million to build a new plaza outside Pier A.
In 1991, the American Merchant Mariners' Memorial was installed on a rebuilt stone breakwater just south of Pier A, connected to it by a dock.

A group of Merchant Marine veterans initiated the effort for a Memorial in 1976. The competition for the Memorial’s design attracted more than 200 entries, with the committee finally selecting the artist Marisol’s design. The memorial was designed   based on a photograph from an actual event during WWII.
 In that event a German submarine U-123 attacked and sank an   American oil tanker  SS Muskogee, owned by a Standard Oil Co of New Jersey on its way from Venezuela to Halifax.
On the afternoon of the March 22nd, about 450 miles north-northeast of Bermuda, German submarine U-123 fired a torpedo at Muskogee. It hit the engine room, causing the tanker to sink in  16 minutes. Ten men made it onto two life rafts and were photographed and questioned by the U-boat commander before leaving the area. They were never seen again all lost at sea in the vast Atlantic.
"Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung", issue number 27 -1942, a weekly published  full page of photos and captions depicting a burning U.S. oil tanker. The page contained two photos of a life raft carrying seven men, obviously American merchant seamen. Captain George Duffy, who was a prisoner aboard the German navy's supply ship, saw these pictures.  He tore the page out of the magazine, folded it, and secreted it away.

After the war, Duffy took this page to as many of the oil tanker companies as he could find in New York. No one could identify the seven men. From time to time he published it in books he had written. At Last  F.B.I.  enhanced the photo of the men and was able to read the ship's name stencilled on one of the life jackets, S.S. Muskogee.
At the unveiling of the Memorial on October 8, 1991, Captain Duffy was privileged to be the first individual to take his place on the base of the monument, standing next to the figure of the man with his hands cupped to his mouth.

Read more:
Battery Park Memorials