Scene Brunch: Podestas Show Off Alligators, Lots of Eliassons

An Armory Brunch
Heather Podesta, founder of Heather Podesta + Partners, and Tony Podesta, founder and chairman, the Podesta Group. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Among the highlights of Armory Week in New York are the brunches in collectors’ homes. On Friday, lobbyists Tony and Heather Podesta opened up their loft in the Flatiron district to a just-barely-awake crowd of art-world insiders.

The coffee and orange juice flowed as guests poked into the bedroom and the kitchen.

The main attraction was the work of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, who in 2008 endeared himself to New Yorkers by erecting waterfalls in and near New York Harbor.

The Podestas like Eliasson so much that he is the only artist on their New York walls: Obsessive series of nature photographs hang in the front hallway, the corridors and above the beds in both the master suite and guest room. The dining room features an oil-on-canvas color wheel; the living room, a light sculpture.

“We decided that unlike our home in D.C., we would always install one artist in depth,” said Tony Podesta, chairman and founder of the Podesta Group. “Olafur is our first. His work plays with ideas and materials and color and light, always in challenging ways.”

Compared to many art-fair events, this one was calm and quiet enough for real conversation. The Podestas caught up with Maurizio Rigillo, of Galleria Continua, whom they described as their favorite art dealer in Italy.

Two Washingtonians huddled: Conrad Cafritz, chairman and chief executive of Cafritz Interests and Potomac Hospitality Services, and Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Hamptons Report

A Hamptons report came from Terrie Sultan, director of the Parrish Art Museum. During the summer, the museum will host an exhibition based on the book “The Landmarks of New York” by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel (who recently became an adviser to the Port Authority on integrating art and architecture at the World Trade Center site). And Sultan promised the museum is on track to move in the fall to its new Herzog & De Meuron-designed building in Watermill.

Holly Block, director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts, brought news of the museum’s 40th anniversary gala on March 27, honoring art dealer Bonni Benrubi and architect Daniel Libeskind, among others. Its next show, “Bronx Baseball,” opens April 13, to coincide with the New York Yankees’ home opener against the Los Angeles Angels. It will feature contemporary and historical photographs submitted by members of the public -- the deadline is March 16.

Cookbook author Ted Lee and artist E.V. Day checked out the buffet, offering kale salad, miniature bagels and lox, egg burritos and fruit, all from City Bakery.

For most of the affair the chair by brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana made of stuffed-animal-variety alligators remained empty. Finally artist Janaina Tschape settled in and declared it “very comfortable.”

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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