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Snapshot of Manhattan, August 2019 with the words of Walt Whitman 1867

Manhattan PhotoGive me faces and streets — give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!

Give me interminable eyes…

Give me such shows —

give me the streets of Manhattan!

Walt Whitman, 1867


All photography ©2019 Leticia Marie Sanchez

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The Sherry-Netherland: A welcome dose of Beauty and Civility

 Review: The Sherry-Netherland

A welcome dose of Beauty and Civility in Manhattan


 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Sherry Netherland Clock

Amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City is a place that embodies civility at its finest: The Sherry-Netherland. If you find yourself lost, a sidewalk clock on Fifth Avenue bearing the hotel’s name lets you that you have arrived.

The resplendent lobby ceiling harkens back to the Vatican. In fact, the artist who created the ceiling, Joseph Aruta found inspiration for his glorious mural in Raphael’s frescoes in the Vatican Palace.

More ceiling sherry


ceiling sherry netherland

Many of the details of this gilded building, including the walls, mosaic floors, and panels inside the elevator were originally part of the Vanderbilt mansion. White-gloved attendants lead you to the elevator, squiring you to your room where fresh flowers await. The joyful white flowers are accompanied by handwritten welcome note from the hotel management and a box of Louis Sherry Chocolates. This confectionary detail evokes the hotel’s history, as the hotel was named for Louis Sherry, a Gilded Age businessman and candy maker, whose company acquired the hotel. The Netherland component of the hotel’s name harkens back to its original name, the New Netherland. (The Dutch Republic had named a portion of the East Coast “The New Netherland,” and its capital was New Amsterdam, located at the southern tip of Manhattan.)The detail of the flowers and chocolates underscores perhaps the most memorable detail of the Sherry-Netherland: the graciousness of its first rate staff.

I was intrigued to discover that the Sherry-Netherland is also home to private residences. The hotel staff is equally attentive to its residents and hotel guests.

Lenny Sherry Netherland Julian

On my first stay at the Sherry, when my son was 2 years-old, Lenny, one of the bell captains, greeted him with an adorable toy giraffe and book, which Julian Giraffe Sherry Netherlandmade his day.









Rabbit Sheery


Then, on this visit two years later, when my son was 4 years-old, Pedro, one of the elevator attendants, kindly entertained my son in the splendid Vanderbilt elevator by making rabbit ears on the shadows of the elevator wall. He, then showed my son the figure of a rabbit etched into the wall of the lobby. The staff at the hotel’s world class restaurant, Harry Cipriani, is also superb.  Moreover, one of the drivers at the Sherry-Netherland, George, drove us to JFK on what proved to be my smoothest drive to the airport ever.

The elegance and refinement of the Sherry-Netherland building make it exceptional and the warm, gracious staff make it unforgettable.

golden ceiling sherry

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Review: Ugo Rondinone’s Buoyant “Sunny Days” at Guild Hall East Hampton

Ugo Rondinone’s “Sunny Days” at Guild Hall, East Hampton

August 10-October 14. 2019


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Guild Hall Gala

Photo Left: Cultural Cocktail Hour Editor-In-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez at the Guild Hall Summer GalaSunny Days








Guild Hall entrance

Photo Above: Tree-lined Main Street

in East Hampton

site of the Guild Hall Summer Gala

On summer nights in August, the Hamptons social season is in full swing, and the vibrant Summer Gala on August 9th at Guild Hall was no exception. The festivities marked the opening night of Ugo Rondinone’s “Sunny Days,” an exhibit which proved a balm for the soul.

Rondinone is a Swiss born, New York-based contemporary mixed-media artist who works with sculpture, painting, video, sound, and photography. ”Sunny Days” is comprised of three parts: paintings, sculptures, and a poignant, heartwarming gallery showcasing art made by children. The narrative thread linking all three components is the buoyant symbol of the sun.


Guild Gala 2

Firstly, Guild Hall’s Woodhouse Gallery contains a series of sun paintings. In these works artist Ugo Rondinone cleverly conveyed the dizzying effect of attempting to view the solar form with the naked eye. Rondinone spray painted canvases with soft concentric yellow rings. Inside the Woodhouse Gallery, I spoke with Guild Hall Executive Director Andrea Grover about the effective, disorienting nature of looking upon Rondinone’s creative work which mimics the act of gazing upon the sun itself.  Grover observed that these paintings by Rondinone are “Mesmerizing. The paintings convey the impossibility of looking directly into the sun.”


Guild Gala

Secondly, in Guild Hall’s Moran Gallery, one can view a series of sun sculptures created by Rondonine who cast vine branches in aluminum and then gilded them. The slim golden orbs symbolize the life cycle.  This metaphor in the gallery is two-fold: vines bear fruit each year on a rhythmic cycle which evokes the overarching theme of the exhibit: the sun which makes its own cyclical trek through the universe.



The third component of “Sunny Days” proved emotionally uplifting. I cannot recall an exhibit of late in which an artist generously shared his space with school children, which is precisely what Rondonine did here. He invited children to fashion their own representations of the sun in an exhibit entitled “Your Age and my Age and the Age of the Sun.” On the bright, colorful wall one can view Smiling Suns, Setting Suns, Rising Suns, Red Suns, Seaside Suns, Suns Wearing Shades, a seemingly infinite panorama of buoyant suns. These works on watercolor and paper were made by children from Leuven, Oaxaca, and Long Island. I found myself magnetically drawn back to this room again and again, revisiting it many times during the course of the evening, for an infusion of spirit healing warmth. The exhibit at Guild Hall bestows us with Sunny Days for the mind, heart, and soul.


Guild Gala WallGala Wall




gala gold







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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

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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


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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

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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.

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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

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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:



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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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



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