Mary, Wendy, and Lynn at Society of the Four Arts Palm Beach FL
Making the three hour trip from Fort Myers to Stuart last Sunday I drove through the flat and scrubby middle of Florida. I passed fields of cattle, broken down greenhouses, dilapidated buildings, and a few small, dreary towns. Just as I was feeling particularly depressed I came upon Lake Okeechobee, some nice RV parks, and more interesting topography. Past the lake there’s a stretch of road covered by a canopy of trees that’s quite pleasant. It reminded me a little of the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland. Definitely not as dramatic, or as beautiful, but a pleasant change from the frankly ugly scenery of central Florida.
I was taking a few days to visit old friends Lynn and Jim who are living on their sailboat in Stuart’s Sunset Bay Marina for the winter. The marina is well named – sunset every night (just add the cocktails and good company). Actually they have a tradition they call “docktails” sharing drinks, apps, sunset, and stories with fellow boaters. Most civilized.
After spending three days of retail therapy, sightseeing, and lazing on the boat drinking Rumchatas! Lynn and I were off to Palm Beach to spend the day with two of Lynn’s childhood friends. The drive from Stuart is an easy 50 minutes south, but Palm Beach could be a different planet. More on this later.
Our first stop was at the Mounts Botanical Gardens of West Palm. We were there to see a special exhibit called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea. The exhibit consisted of 10 impressive sculptures interspersed throughout a lovely garden. The sculptures were made entirely of plastic collected by volunteers from the ocean and beaches. Children’s beach toys, boat parts, nets, bouys, flip-flops, umbrella handles, sunglasses and so on were artistically attached to a frame. The sculptures were amazing and it was fascinating to see people (us included) spend several minutes on each sculpture identifying the various parts. Most people were shaking their heads at the amount of plastic we each consume,. Much of it ending up in our oceans, not recycled. Let’s try to buy less plastic, be sure to recycle, and let’s get companies to use less plastic on packaging!
After quality time at the botanical garden we headed for Palm Beach. It IS a different planet and Worth Avenue is the capitol. Cars, oh yikes, cars – we first stumbled on a Rolls Royce illegally parking, Mercedes, Bugattis, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys were everywhere! Then there are the woman, lots of plastic, dressed to the nines, perfectly coiffed and made up, I wondered at their uncanny ability to walk with an air of “notice me”. The whole picture reminded me of the Rodeo drive scene from “Pretty Woman” – and I was Vivian. The little boutiques were positively threatening. (smile)
We ate lunch at restaurant Bice, it was lovely, with all the trappings, but frankly the food didn’t match the decor, or the address. The people watching was good though.
After lunch we drove the short distance to the Society of the Four Arts a few blocks from Worth Avenue. We were there to see an exhibit of Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art Through Paper, I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be fascinating. Everything was made of paper, not only the dresses but the jewelry, shoes, hats, and even the gloves.
The description from the Society Website … “Five hundred years of fashion are explored in the breathtaking art of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. Painting and manipulating mere paper, she creates historic fashions that are trompe l’oeil masterpieces. Each sculpture is inspired by depictions found in early European paintings or fashion collections from around the world. Rarely seen in the U.S., this exhibition presents quintessential examples in the history of fashion—from the Renaissance finery of the Medici family and gowns worn by Queen Elizabeth I, to the creations of the grand couturiers of the 20th century such as Frederick Worth and Paul Poiret. Borchgrave to create a gown inspired by a painting from Peter Paul Rubens, “Portrait of Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Condé,” from ca. 1610. Both the dress and the original Rubens portrait will be on view at the Four Arts. While de Borchgrave’s work has been seen throughout Europe for more than 20 years, this is the first time American audiences can see her Les Ballet Russe series. In addition, organizing partner Frick Art and Historical Center commissioned de Borchgrave to create a gown inspired by a painting from Peter Paul Rubens, “Portrait of Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Condé,” from ca. 1610. Both the dress and the original Rubens portrait will be on view at the Four Arts.”
The work was huge and amazing.
After a quick tour of the city (the Breakers, oh my!) we headed back to the marina, our little heaven. Glad to be back to reality.