A Connecticut Artist in New York

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The New York Sun

Large cutout figures greeted visitors Friday at the Roger Smith Lab Gallery, a converted storefront that features experimental artists and specializes in 10-day exhibitions. The energetic female shapes were made by Danielle Mailer, who is exhibiting in a show and who is the daughter of Norman Mailer.

At the reception for the show, which included collages by Ilisha Helfman and paper and wire figures by Amelia de Neergaard, a substantial Connecticut contingent was present. Ms. Mailer has opened a gallery in Goshen, Conn. and one could be forgiven for thinking that the entire area had headed south for her New York show.

Seen was Debbie Helck, who owns two of Ms. Mailer’s paintings and is a former colleague of the artist when she taught at a Montessori School in Litchfield, Conn. Ms. Helck was talking with fellow teacher Debby Deguire, also from Connecticut.

In from Wolcott, Conn. was sculptor Joe Yeno. He described one of Ms. Mailer’s cutout figures as illustrating menopause through the image of a woman gambling with her future. The work has a “sense of color and motion and sexuality. It’s about her life,” he said.

Standing before these modern dreamscapes of bright colors and night-sky bodies, artist Charles Mingus III described them as “psychotropical.” Cartoonist and editor Annie Nocenti described the work as “metaphysical porn.”

Others at the packed gallery included Ella Clark of West Cornwall, Conn., who works in social services.

Nearby was Tom Walker of the Living Theater who was born in Connecticut. He said the Living Theater might open on Clinton Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Also seen was drama critic Millicent Brower, whose grandfather owned cottages next to the Starboro hotel in Long Branch, N.J. Norman Mailer’s aunt, Becky Shapiro, owned the Starboro. Ms. Brower, who is author of the novel “Ingenue,” was talking with George Sullivan, who is at work on a photo-biography of Joe Louis.

Notably present was Mr. Mailer himself, seated facing his daughter’s work. The Knickerbocker asked in if the arts ran in his family. He proceeded to describe the occupation of each of his children: psychiatrist, writer, actor, movie director, two painters, and two playwrights.

Enjoying the show also was Danielle’s mother, the actress and artist Adele Mailer. Also among those seen was Mr. Mailer’s wife, author Norris Church Mailer.

Mr. Mailer recalled the intricate art his daughter had made at age 14. He said his Danielle was always very talented, but he said with a twinkle in his eyes, “If you say proud things about your daughter, who’s going to believe you?”

* * *

POLAND AND AMERICA The ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Janusz Reiter, addressed the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America recently at Hunter College.

Mr. Reiter, who a decade ago founded the Warsaw-based Center for International Relations, said the red-hot love affair between his nation and America has grown more mature and entered a less naive phase. America is still a lover but perhaps not the knight in shining armor of yore, although he underscored that “we support the global leadership of the United States.” Mr. Reiter, whose academic background includes the study of German philology, was pleased to report that despite the situation in Iraq, anti-Americanism has not gained a foothold in his country. America, he said, shares a common history with Europe but not its historical obsessions. Therein, he argued, lies America’s indispensability as a force of equilibrium. He was less sanguine about Russia, which he characterized, as posing “many open questions which create uncertainty.”

* * *

MORGAN MOMENT The Sterling Professor Emeritus of history at Yale, David Brion Davis, regretted this nation’s often disinterest in the past and reminded his audience at an inaugural Gilder Lehrman Institute of American history lecture at the Morgan Library of how “a consciousness of history distinguishes us from other animals.”

* * *

PASTEUR PRIDE The guest of honor wasn’t able to attend. She had just returned from her Paris apartment and she was feeling a little under the weather. But back in bed, Liz Fondaras’s ears must have been burning. “I remember her in Paris in the ’60s,” Tiffany’s John Loring reminisced, “and she was so glamorous and elegant.”

“I always thought she was French,” confessed decorator Mario Buatta. “She’s done so much for the French in so many ways,” remarked Edward Lee Cave.

On this particular night last week she was being honored at the Pierre hotel for her efforts on behalf of Paris’ Institut Pasteur, the biomedical research facility that isolated the AIDS virus and is currently investigating the root of the Avian flu. The chairman of the foundation, Francois Ailleret, expressed the group’s gratitude: “As founding chairman, Liz really started this whole American support group.” Cabaret artists sang songs from “An American in Paris.”


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