joomla visitor

Review: The 2019 Hampton Designer Showcase House in Southampton

eti showcase house

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark


An artistic oasis in Southampton

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Photo Left: Cultural Cocktail Hour Editor-In-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez at the 2019 Hampton Designer Showhouse presented by Traditional Home to benefit Stonybrook Southampton Hospital.

What struck me about the design of this Southampton retreat on Rosko Lane was that it was simultaneously a calm, light-filled seaside escape as well as a dynamic, cosmopolitan space for entertaining guests. This moveable feast of textures and colors made both the indoors and outdoors an artistic oasis.

Showhouse designer


Many design firms were involved in creating the distinct features of the house, and I will highlight a few that caught my eye:

Alessandra Branca designed the living room that balanced tranquility with modern touches like these on the left.



Hamptons window

In the Master Bedroom by Morgan Harrison Home, a dreamy peach palette framed the verdant nature of the Hamptons outdoors; it was a very painterly, landscape portrait effect. (Photo Left)


One of my favorites was the whimsical lounge and bar designed by Betsy Wentz of design firm Studio B. The colorful, indoor bar featured sofa covered in Christian Lacroix velvet stripe and Designers Guild velvet. 

(Photos Below)


Bar Showhouse

 Christian Lacroix. Designer Showhosue











The Pool Surround designed by Brittany Bromley Interiors and Bromley Landscape Design.

The elegant soigné coiffeur of the figures on the right (looking a bit like Marie Antoinette!) were designed from seashells. Very befitting of a seaside home!

Plus showcase house Showhouse moreShowhouse 5Showhouse 3

Showhouse 8

Photo Left: Artistic Inspiration in the Salon designed by Megan Gorelick Interiors

A lovely afternoon of creative inspiration in Southampton!

All photography and text ©2019 Leticia Marie Sanchez

read more

Throwback Thursday to Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week!


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Throwback Thursday to last year at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week! A highlight for me was hearing one of the most moving pieces of classical music, “Lark Ascending” during the show, in the video clip below!

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Cultural Cocktail Hour in 2018

Greetings from Paris!

At Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week Fall Winter 2018, the uplifting strains of Ralph Vaughan Williams’sLark Ascending” played during the presentation of the ethereal designs by Azulant Akora.


 The stirring music was befitting of a collection that proved inspirational, ethereal, and exquisite.

Akron’s presentation was filled with showstoppers including a intricate floral-imbued gown and a royal green dress that was regal and perfectly showcased in the golden, classically gilded room at La Maison Champs Elysées.

info@imaxtree.comWhat was even more impressive about Akora’s collection was that her creations managed to be both dreamy and functional at the same time. Her collection was seamless, yet each silhouette was unique: with shapes alluding to Art Deco or even the resplendent ladies of Gustav Klimt.

Akora emerged onto the Australian fashion scene in 2013 where she was awarded the Australian Wool Fashion Award. She entitled her latest collection AVATAR after the film. Akora stated that her collection’s main theme is that: “ All energy is only borrowed, and one day you have to give it back. In life, everything is about balance; giving back as much as we take and respecting the Earth.”

 Cultural Cocktail Hour  Editor-in-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez had the opportunity to interview designer Azulant Akora after the show.

When asked about the inspiration behind her collection, the young designer directly addressed her generation, encouraging “Millennial to be more aware of what we do.” Akora revealed, “Fashion has a global voice. Fashion is also conscious and connects people all over the world.” Akora successfully executed her idea of connection and conscious. Her collection resonated with her audience, inspiring each of us to an elevated self.


VIDEO CREDIT: Leticia Marie Sanchez, Cultural Cocktail Hour, © 2018

Photo Below: Cultural Cocktail Hour Editor-in-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, La Maison Champs Elysées.

at Paris Haute Couture Fashion week



read more

Happy Midsummer’s Eve!

 I recently discovered this 1915 painting by

Daniel Garber which currently graces the walls of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I was struck by the translucence of the fabric, the glistening leaves, and the soft light: pure magic.

Wishing my readers a Magical Midsummer Eve!

Daniel Garber Painting


read more

Cultural Cocktail Hour visits New York!

Throwback Tuesday to New York trip two years ago!

Looking forward to visiting New York again next week!

All photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez

“If London is a watercolor New York is an oil painting”- Peter Shaeffer

Central Park, New York,  July 2016

Manhattan 3Manhattan 4Manhattan 1

Manhattan 2

read more

Get Lost! (Lost in Liberty Park, that is)

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Cultural Cocktail Hour in 2008.

In 2017, the Sphere moved from Battery Park to Liberty Park, where it now overlooks the World Trade Center site.

 Fritz Koenig’s The Sphere


Leticia Marie Sanchez

It is the stillness after the storm, a place for reflection on the violence that occurred nearby in lower Manhattan. It is what Mayor Michael Bloomberg called a symbol of the “power of art to heal.”

The Sphere, a globe sculpted by the German artist Fritz Koenig, is the only structure to survive and remain standing after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The 45,000-pound steel and brass work, its face dented, chipped, fragmented, scuffed and scratched, now rests in a quiet place in Liberty Park, a short distance from Ground Zero.

More than survivor, the Sphere plays the role of witness, a witness that bears physical evidence of the assault. According to an interview in the online magazine Echo Germanica with Koenig’s translator, Percy Adlon, “They found the innards of one airplane inside a hole that was ripped open in the top of the sculpture. They found a bible in there, an airline seat, papers from offices on the top floor.  It became its own cemetery.”

Originally, Koenig was opposed to resuscitating this small graveyard, but, later told the World Trade Center Commemoration on-line, that he eventually realized that, in its scarred survival, the Sphere “has a different beauty, one I could never imagine…it has its own life-different from the one I gave to it.”

This sculpture conveys a symbolic spiritual message. Unknown forces transcend human limitations and the struggle for power and domination. The moment when the sun hits the Sphere, casting off gold flecks, marks the transition from minor to major, melancholic cords yielding to harmony.

Confused at the panoply of memorabilia on the lawn, a little boy asks his mother, “What do we take?”

Embarrassed, his mother scolds him, “We don’t take anything. We’re just looking at it.”

 But looking is itself a form of appropriation. Each person takes away something different. Observing the scene was Asia Henderson, a Park Enforcement officer from the city, someone who sees The Sphere every day. When asked what the statue meant to her, she paused. “It’s a symbol of hope. Life goes on.”

Upon exiting Liberty Park you will find yourself on the New York streets with the bustle of cars, red sightseeing buses, taxies, sirens, and honks. Life goes on, on the streets, near Ground Zero, in Manhattan skyscrapers, in private homes.

Anyone who yearns for that moment of stillness after the storm should Get Lost, lost in Liberty Park, and visit the tree-sheltered Sphere.

read more

May I get another Cultural Cocktail, please?



Leticia Marie Sanchez

Detail from Sargeant Painting

“Is there an escape hatch down there?”

“May I get another Cultural Cocktail, please?” 

Walking by John Singer Sargent’s “Dinner Table At Night” at San Franciso’s De Young Museum. I was struck by the disconnect between the female subject and her dinner companion who are not even facing each other.

The artist’s palette is overwhelmingly red, yet, there are no sparks in this frosty tête-à-tête.

Red sconces burn on the table, but there is nary a torch burning between these two.

Instead, the woman looks out to the viewer for a possible human connection.

Detail from the Painting: John Singer Sargent; 1884; de Young Gallery 28; 19th Century AD; Oil On Canvas20 1/4 x 26 1/4 in. (51.4 x 66.7 cm); Frame: 29 1/2 x 35 5/8 x 3 1/4 in. (74.9 x 90.5 x 8.3 cm); American Painting; United States; Provenance:

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Vickers, Lavington Rectory (Near Petworth,England)V.C. Vickers David Pleydell-Bouverie, 1972
Accession Number: 73.12 Acquisition Date:1973-12-23 Gift of the Atholl McBean Foundation

read more

Review: “The Sweetness of Life” at the Norton Simon: Sweetness With a Side of Sauciness

The Sweetness of Life: Three 18th Century French Paintings from the Frick Collection

On View at the Norton Simon

June 14-September 9, 2019


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Three French Eighteenth-century ladies have arrived to the Norton Simon from the Frick. François Boucher’s A Lady On Her Day Bed, Jean-Siméon Chardin’s Lady With A Bird Organ, and Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s Wool Winder can now be viewed in Pasadena. At first glance, these paintings appear to be sweet Rococo confections, frothy predecessors to subsequent gritty images of French women post-Industrialization, like Degas’ portrait of women ironing that also hangs in the Norton Simon. Underneath the effervescent surface of these ladies of leisure, however, the paintings convey eroticism and melancholy, providing clues to the era from which they hail.

In a lecture at the Norton Simon, David Pullins, Assistant Curator at the Frick, described this group of paintings as Genre paintings, a category which garnered popularity in the 18th century. Unlike the more prestigious and allegorically complex religious or mythological paintings, Genre paintings required no explanation. They could be enjoyed by a wider audience, leading to a robust market for the genre. However, for viewers in our century, historical context provides a nuanced lens with which to view these sumptuously painted works.


To modern viewers, François Boucher‘s 1743 painting, A Lady On Her Day Bed appears innocuous. But to 18th-century observers, aspects of the painting proved scandalous. For instance, a sofa was considered a potentially licentious piece of furniture due to the fact that a sitter could go from the vertical to the horizontal position within seconds. The cast off slipper and mysterious letter suggest an imminent rendezvous. How do we know that this portrait contained hints of impropriety? Dr. Pullins assures us that Boucher would have never consented to having his “respectable wife” pose for such a portrait. Another intriguing aspect of this painting is its embodiment of 18th century commodity culture. The watch on the wall, the teacups, the East Asian imports, and the screen underscore that the subject constructs her identity as a consumer of fashion, not unlike the self-constructed personas on social media today. Everything here is pushed up to the picture plane and put on display, like objects in shop window, including the woman’s fetching figure. Buyer Beware.


Jean-Siméon Chardin‘s 1753 painting, Lady With A Bird-Organ is subtitled “Une Dame Variant Ses Amusements,” a woman varying her amusements. In this painting, an upper middle-class woman staves off boredom by teaching her caged bird (La Serinette) to sing.

The discreet dame in this painting conveys a sense of established wealth compared to the nouveau riche subject of Boucher’s painting with its overt consumerism. Another contrast with Boucher’s painting is the lack of erotic undertone; although Fragonard used the birdcage to connect with female sexuality, the birdcage here represents restriction. In his lecture, Dr. Pullins connected the cage to a phrase from the 1740 Manual for Artists and Amateurs: “Liberty is compromised, but wants for nothing.” Viewing the painting, one is struck by the darkness of the cage and the somber palette surrounding the sitter. A melancholy aura envelops her as she sits in her gilded cage.

Incidentally, Dr. Pullins stated that, despite speculation, the model for the subject could not be Chardin’s wife. The topic of the painting itself was not risqué, but it would have been completely inappropriate for Chardin to present his wife as a subject in a painting commissioned by Louis XV.


Jean-Baptiste Greuze‘s 1759 painting The Wool Winder looks sweet and modest, doesn’t she? Modern viewers might miss the erotic subtext that 18th century viewers would have understood. The image of the cat playing with the yarn was an allusion to female sexuality, and this metaphor situates the painting in a playful way between respectability and lack of respectability.

Greuze had painted other works about “fallen women” using visual cues. For instance, in one of his paintings that is currently at the Louvre, a young woman is depicted with a dead bird to symbolize her loss of virginity.

This antiquated notion of women’s propriety extends, in this case, to the real sitter of the painting. While Boucher and Chardin’s wives did not sit for their husbands’ portrait due to social codes defining respectability, interestingly enough, in this case, Greuze’s wife is thought to have shockingly been the model for the painting. Today, in an age when Instagram stars bare themselves for profit, it may strike us as quaintly hilarious that an 18th century married woman who sat for a portrait fully clothed and donning a bonnet would be deemed immoral. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Greuze was even categorized as an adulterous woman by her own husband. In their subsequent divorce, Greuze verbally and visually painted this seemingly lovely creature as promiscuous, angry, and mentally unhinged. Were his accusations accurate? In fact, it was convenient for him to disparage her character as his strategy helped his divorce suit. Convenient, indeed. Incidentally, the letter B on the painting’s chair provides another potential clue that the sitter could have been Greuze’s wife as her maiden name was Babuti. Perhaps the embittered Greuze would have preferred to paint the Scarlet Letter A?

The clever curation of these installations from the Frick allow one to see the portraits in a “conversation” with other masterworks that you are accustomed to seeing at the Norton Simon, for instance, the work of Jean-Honoré Fragonard which is beautifully juxtaposed with these three in the gallery.

Reflecting on these three portraits I could not help but wish for an artistic dialogue with another painter whose work has also been displayed at the Norton Simon: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. The 18th Century in France had been dubbed the “Century of Women,” and, in contrast to these three works which depict women viewed through the perspective of men and society, Ms. Le Brun proved a force both as the subject of her own works and as a painter. It would be interesting to see these three women viewed through her eyes and through her palette.

Paintings referenced above:

François Boucher (French, 1703–1770) A Lady on Her Day Bed, 1743 Oil on canvas 22 1/2 x 26 7/8 in. (57.2 x 68.3 cm) The Frick Collection, Photo: Michael Bodycomb

Jean-Siméon Chardin (French, 1699−1779) Lady with a Bird-Organ, 1753 (?) Oil on canvas (lined) 20 x 17 in. (50.8 x 43.2 cm) The Frick Collection, Photo: Michael Bodycomb

Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725−1805) The Wool Winder, ca. 1759 Oil on canvas 29 3/8 x 24 1/8 in. (74.6 x 61.3 cm) The Frick Collection, Photo: Michael Bodycomb

The video link to Dr. Pullins lecture at the Norton Simon can be accessed here:



read more

Cultural Cocktail Hour in Paris: Backstage at Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera, Part II

Backstage at Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera

Part Two

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography and text © Leticia Marie Sanchez

This article first appeared on Cultural Cocktail Hour in 2012

Charles Garnier declared, “I have two shows in my opera; one on the stage and one in the theater.”

The most prestigious box, that of the emperor, was monitored by bodyguards. 

Nobles and industrialists had private boxes equipped with a curtain that came in handy for playing cards, ordering food, and engaging in amorous intrigue.

On the ground floor stood working professionals, writers, and composers.

Ladies were not allowed on the ground floor due to the tight conditions and bumping which resulted in occasional fisticuffs. Only prostitutes stood here as very few ladies in the nineteenth century worked as writers or composers

The very high chicken box nosebleed seats were called Paradise: one was close to heaven but could see nothing.                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                        For this beautiful painting on the ceiling of the Paris Opera, Marc Chagall was paid only one Franc!

Chagall was told that he should have created the work for free, due to the honor of the commission, but Chagall insisted on being paid one franc, out of principle. The canvas pays homage to Mozart, Berlioz, Wagner, Ravel, and Mussorsgsky and is a tribute befitting the moveable feast for the senses at the Le Palais Garnier.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



read more

Kick up your heels! The “Sweetness of Life” at the Norton Simon

Kick up ur heelsby

Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography and text © Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Cultural Cocktail Hour encourages you to kick up your heels and enjoy an art and culture-filled weekend!

The mischievous detail of the slipper comes from François Boucher’s “A Lady On Her Day Bed,” one of three 18th-Century French paintings from the Frick Collection currently on view at the Norton Simon Museum.

Roccoco tables partyThe Sweetness of Life: Three 18th-Century French paintings from the Frick Collection opened on June 14th and will be on view until September 9th. The exhibit also includes paintings by Jean Siméon Chardin and Jean-Baptize Greuze and depicts an artfully constructed vision of 18th century life and fashion.

The pastel flourishes of the decor and florals are from the opening night reception for the “Sweetness of Life.”

The detail of the slipper is a sneak preview of the exhibit.

Check back on Cultural Cocktail Hour next week for a review of the exhibit!


Frick flrs




Frick party Norton

read more

LA Opera Music Director James Conlon curates and conducts A Tale of Two Émigrés-This Sat. at 3pm at the Colburn School

James Conlon photoA Tale of Two Émigrés with James Conlon

 Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.

 Zipper Hall, Colburn School

Pittance Chamber Music, known for featuring the exceptional resident artists of the Los Angeles Opera pit and stage, presents A Tale of Two Émigrés with James Conlon. LA Opera Music Director James Conlon curates and conducts a unique program that tells the tale of Jewish émigré composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Arnold Schoenberg, who left their homelands and ultimately settled in Los Angeles as a result of the Nazis’ rise to power. James Conlon is one of the world’s most important and successful advocates for the music of composers suppressed during the Nazi regime. The program will include a talk by Conlon, who will also conduct works by Korngold and Schoenberg performed by a large ensemble consisting of members of the Los Angeles Opera OrchestraTicket Information:

read more
Page 3 of 58«12345»102030...Last »