"The world is divided into two groups -- artists and everybody else," I told my friends in the early '60s, and sometimes my non-artist friends got so angry at me and my elitist statement they wanted to hit me on the head. I could see it in their eyes.
Times have changed. Today the world is one, everything has changed as Earth is a smaller planet in the endless expanding universe and ART and its ARTISTS are spreading everywhere and joining forces as fast as the freedom demonstrators in this Internet ruled world.
Fashion and art are also finally becoming one. I decided to join up with childhood friend and acclaimed New York painter, Ed Baynard to cover the New York-Paris art-fashion scene. Dear Ed named our collaborative blog, NOODLE, after his New York City cat. His black and white found cat Noodle looks exactly like my New York alley cat Picachoo. We were meant to join up again.
Ed had designed my Paris dress shop Mia and Vicky, that opened in 1968 with now artist Mia Fonssagrives and actress-art collector, Elizabeth Taylor. He did our collectible, hippie Mia-Vicky poster and our nude greeting cards. We found each other last year on the Internet and I was enchanted with the direction of Ed's new work, so much so that I want to make handbags from his hot pink and gold-colored canvas.
I decided to write about it, and Ed decided to photograph different art-fashion scenes, and share our thoughts and feelings. Ed began the first NOODLE with a list of 300 galleries on 22nd Street in Chelsea from which he chose 10. Ed has lived and painted nearby and he knows his patch.
We were welcomed as "insiders." Ed Baynard is a celebrated painter and print maker, who has been showing paintings of flowers and still life since 1971. He is in many collections globally: the Tate as well as the Met, MOMA and the Whitney. He visits the art scene regularly and knows everybody, and everybody knows Ed. Surprisingly, I was also known by the dealers for my Parisian dress shop and my thirty years in Bergdorf, and they actually came out of their posh modern offices to greet us. Some handed me a gift of their artist's current book.
Anybody can walk into an art gallery. It is a free place to learn and to dream. Join us on our tour and become "insiders "with us and let's have fun.
NOODLE Friday, April 27: Ed and I met for breakfast in the local Westway Diner on 9th Avenue and he pulled out our gallery-list that we would visit today. I was wearing my latest Parisian silver lame patchwork tennis shoes with red, vinyl heels, a coral, melon and turquoise Hermes scarf, and a black vinyl jacket and slacks. I own twelve Hermes scarves, one for each month, 12 in all... so French! Ed was in black pants; I told him the men in Paris wore coral pants and so did Robert Verdi on HSN TV, hosting with me the night before, as I sold my dresses. In one month, the coral pink pant has gone global!
We started our Tour de Chelsea at Julie Saul Gallery. Julie was having a Brian Ulrich show with eye-popping electric colors in the shocking neon painting "Candy Store." I also swooned over the Jeff Liao photo of the Flatiron building, that houses my publisher, Macmillan. It was a montage of 120 photos all Photoshopped, no easy task. When I introduced myself, Julie mentioned that she loved Bergdorf, but had moved over to Uniqlo. Their clothing captures exactly the item you are looking for today and hooks you in with the $25 price tag. Of course you can't wear it to a party or to marry your daughter.
The late Robert De Niro Sr.'s paintings from the '60s were being shown at the DC Moore Gallery. His Matisse style corps et objects in happy colors reminds me of my mom's oil paintings of that time and also reminds me of the incredible inspiration Matisse had on modern art, the color and the stroke as well as the composition.
The hot find of our day was in the back passageway of DC Moore, where I fell in LOVE with Romare Bearden's, Circe's Domaine. The color-block background of this naive dreamscape paper collage, his happy perfect world is the big movement of fashion color today. The color-blocked pattern clothes and accessories are edged in black detail much like the late sixties, St Laurent's Mondrian dresses. That color block look is here again in clothes, in decor, and maybe soon in cars! I now wear hot pink or lime green socks with my color block shoes and neon shoe laces (introduced by Chris Martin of Coldplay). I have also added a wide piece of purple silk cut velvet across the cushions of my chrome yellow couch in my mountain cabin, just to feel the joy of the shocking colors.
A visit to Pace Gallery where Claes Oldenburg and his late girlfriend, Coosje van Bruggen presented works from Il Corso del Coltello performance art in Venice 1986, was a must see as he has not had a New York exhibit for seven years. Claes was a leader in the world of pop art and a BIG influence on Everything is Art, allowing many emotional artists who can't draw to express themselves merely by calling attention to their art, often by its size. I do feel, coming from Paris (where my dress shop is in the middle of the art world on Rue Bonaparte) that smaller art is coming back.
Sheila Hicks works from the last 50 years were at Sikkema -Jenkins, a female artist that lives in Paris as well. Ed respects her art. He and other artists and critics petitioned MoMA to include many more women -- taking their art from the permanent collection, and then installing them in the exhibition spaces. They felt the exhibitions presented too few women artist's work. The history of art is no longer men's history alone. And they made their point, as MoMA changed their curatorial policies. He was mesmerized by Hick's multi-thread, multi-color wall hanging, as I was by the grey sculpture made of fibers looking like a monster from The Thing. Hicks' woven textiles in the small frames, were timeless textures, her colors changing with the times.
We both loved Polly Apfelbaum's "Flattened Funkytown "at D'Amelio Gallery, a full floor-based collage made up of crushed creme colored panne velvet that Polly hand dyed and cut out in organic pieces she placed as they exploded onto the floor. I can imagine tie-dyed, hippie, crushed velvet pants returning for fall. I want a pair, I want Polly's look exploding on my thighs.
A trip to see Brancusi was a must-not miss. We ran over to 24th Street to see the Brancusi photographs at Bruce Silverstein. I remember visiting Venice as a kid and seeing Peggy Guggenheim's home and the Mariano Marino sculpture in front of the Grand Canal -- falling in love with him and Brancusi. Venice was the place to fall in love with CONTEMPORARY art, as it was so OLD and the art was so young! The woman in the photo, Lizica Codreanu, is wearing a modern fashion statement, pleats and safety pins and whatever it takes to shock and destroy the beautiful body for the sake of getting noticed. Amazed that she could wear it today.
How many award winning dress designers do anything to be noticed, to get fame, yet sell next to nothing? Then we wonder why they self destruct! Fashion-art is meant to be profitable.There are not many Yves St Laurent's who could draw, sew, and understand the challenge to interpret art into fashion and sell it!
Late lunch was a stop at Poseidon on 45th and 9th. We ate spanakopita, a Greek spinach-filled light pastry and the owner made us real French espresso. Dessert was homemade halva, baklava, and a second coffee. I bought a prune-filled pastry for tomorrow's breakfast and jumped on a train to my mountain cabin.
We had fun... tonight we are young! Join us again.
VICKY TIEL began designing clothes forty years ago in Paris and still owns a boutique there, as well as dedicated mini-boutiques in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. In fall 2010 she launched a line of cocktail dresses and special occasion wear sold through department stores nationwide. Her memoir, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE DRESS: What I Learned in 40 Years about Men, Women, Sex, and Fashion was published by St. Martin's Press in August 2011.