Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Samantha Hunter

Samantha Hunter is carrying a giant box on her shoulder. It’s filled with the fruits of her most recent undertaking, which are not actually fruits, but wines. And not wines made entirely from fruits, but dandelions. Based on a historical tradition, Samantha seeks to update botanical wines like dandelion wine (traditionally just fermented dandelion roots) for a new audience by combining it with red and white grape varietals from upstate New York and California. She hopes her company, Born Dandy, will eventually be an urban botanical winery based in Brooklyn with a 100-seat restaurant and tasting bar, sustainable rooftop vertical farming (of dandelions, botanicals, produce for the restaurant, and more), space to incubate other brands, a wine cellar, and more. It’s ambitious, Samantha says, but she likes to dream big. Today is one more step toward this idea: a tasting. We meet outside Vine Box in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to do a tasting with the store’s owner, a knowledgeable man Samantha has known for a few years now. He tasted the first batch and gave her constructive criticism on how to move forward, she says. Today he is tasting another batch of what is right now seven different dandelion wine varietals: Dandelion Red, Dandelion White, Dandelion Rose, Dandelion Sparkling, Dandelion Honey Mead, Chamomile, and Dandelion Coffee. The latter is made with roasted dandelions, so it tastes like coffee but actually isn’t made with any. Samantha’s hope is that it could take the place of mimosas or bellinis at brunch because of its taste properties. Each wine is sampled, their tasting notes on each label. Feedback is important at this stage because it will help her move forward with production in the future. She’s pleased with the outcome--the store owner offers to sell four of seven wines in the future and packs up the box. We drive to the Lower East Side and stop for a drink at Wassail, a cider bar. Beginning Born Dandy has affected the way Samantha drinks wine, especially the way she pauses to smell everything more than she used to, she says. The food and beverage space is not unfamiliar to her, however--she directed food and beverage operations for the W Hotel Times Square and W Hotel St. Petersburg (Russia), in addition to opening 19 Starwood Hotels around the world and partnering with chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Alain Ducasse. She also has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Working in hospitality for over 20 years, she now owns her own consulting firm, Hospitality Sprout, which includes projects with the Rainbow Room and Untitled Art Fair, among others. We finish our drinks, then head over to the shop Taste Collection not far away. There’s a party tonight held by Diego Leon of the blog Dandy in the Bronx. Samantha is looking to meet dandy dressers from all over New York in hopes of collaborating in the future. Diego is interested. They shake hands and smile: one more step to Born Dandy being on its way.

Follow Born Dandy on Instagram.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Subscribe to Miss Manhattan Hangs Out

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Window Shopping VI

This year, the windows at Bergdorf Goodman were themed "To New York with Love," dedicated to celebrating beloved New York institutions like The New York Botanical Garden, The American Museum of Natural History, The Museum of the Moving Image, The New York Philharmonic, and more. The Natural History window was covered, but COVERED in zillions of tiny rhinestones; the New York Botanical Garden window featured tons of felt and embroidery, and the New York Philharmonic window grew brighter and brighter as more neon instruments glowed red every second. And, as ever, elegant mannequins in gorgeous gowns and red lips perched in all of them. I had my favorite windows, of course, so I documented them for you below.

Happy holidays and a lovely new year to you all! May your season be merry and your future bright.


Miss M

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Steve Silberman

Steve Silberman has the unusual distinction of having chosen for nearly two years a partner who is a photographer (that is to say, me) despite not really wanting to be photographed all that much. This week he was kind enough to put these feelings aside, however, and permit me to document some of our time together. “It’s for your art,” he says.

“This is a strange experience of narcissism and self-consciousness,” he tells me, laughing. My lens is pointed at him as we walk into Tal Bagels on the Upper East Side, his bagel joint of choice in the neighborhood. Steve was born and raised in Brooklyn, Sheepshead Bay/Gravesend to be exact, before the borough gained notoriety for overusing the word “artisanal.” “Everybody wants a piece of Brooklyn today but nobody wants to give anything back,” he says. “When I had nothing left to give, I left.” He moved to Manhattan five years ago. Since 2015, he’s been involved with the charity ORT America, an organization which helps provide educational opportunities to students around the world. For ORT, Steve is the Next Gen NYC Board Chair, or the chair of their New York young professionals division. He and his board spent 2017 raising money at a school in Israel, for at-risk and underprivileged youth, that focuses on sustainability and STEM education.

Steve orders a flat everything bagel with cream cheese for himself and asks what I want (a whole wheat flat bagel with melted swiss cheese, please). Mid-bagel Steve’s best friend of 16 years, Josh, calls. They saw the new Star Wars mere moments before Steve and I met up and now briefly discuss its pros and cons. I wait patiently and eat my bagel. “Listen, Josh, I have to go because I’m doing my Miss Manhattan Hangs Out and my girlfriend is photographing me because I’m on the phone in my natural state,” he says. It’s true, Steve has often joked that he talks for a living, and he has done it in every aspect of the business world, from marketing to public relations to sales. But soon Steve finishes his bagel instead of talking and we depart.

Our next stop is the dog park at Carl Schurz Park. It is quite possibly one of Steve’s favorite places in the city (he brought me here on our second date) because the man loves dogs. All dogs. But especially the largest, fluffiest ones you’ve got, like Goldendoodles, Golden Retrievers (his all-time fave) and Bernese Mountain Dogs. By some stroke of magic, we happen to see all of these breeds in the park that day (along with a very friendly Weimaraner), from the small dog park to the large one. They almost flock to him, coming up to say hello and sniff, practically smiling at him. He is a dog whisperer of sorts, able to calm even the yappiest yappers into relaxation. But I am not entirely surprised. I have always believed that animals know where the kind hearts are.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Subscribe to Miss Manhattan Hangs Out.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Angelo Madrigale

When I arrive at Doyle, an art auction house here in New York, Angelo Madrigale takes me around the space as it’s being set up for a new show. Angelo is the VP/Director of Contemporary Art at Doyle and, while his auctions are done for the season, he’s kind enough to let me poke around a new photography show that’s being installed. There’s an incredible series of images hand-printed by Ansel Adams that will be sold at auction on December 14. Inky black and in high contrast, they’re somehow lushly textured and vibrant despite being devoid of color.

Angelo often works with paintings, especially those in the realm of street art and graffiti. In fact, he was the specialist for the first street art/graffiti auction at Doyle in 2012, which incidentally was the first of its kind in the U.S. He’s happiest when he can propel a newer and/or deserving artist further into the art world by successfully selling their work at auction, he says--it’s something that can really change someone’s life for the better if it goes well.

In 2005, Angelo decided to change his own life. He was previously the drummer in punk band Sadaharu, which released five albums between 2003 and 2007 (you can check out the music video for their song “It's Not Paranoia If They're Shooting Live Bullets” here). Angelo and his wife Lisa decided to reinvent themselves as gallery owners and later art dealers after they got married. It was a natural choice as both had grown up around art and design. They created Metropolis Gallery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in which they showed contemporary art alongside design elements, the space remade each time so viewers could experience each show in context. Though now closed, Metropolis was named a Top 100 Gallery by Juxtapoz Magazine in 2010. Angelo brought his punk sensibilities to the art world, doing what felt right and not waiting for permission. He arrived at Doyle in 2012. Angelo’s first book, a survey of pop artist Oliver Hibert’s career called Eye See You, was released on October 30 of this year and features a foreword by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.
On the day I meet with Angelo, we head to lunch at Cafe D’Alsace, a French restaurant on the Upper East Side. He patiently answers all of my questions about art and punk and how those things still blend together in his life. We head to a few galleries afterward, first to the Gagosian Shop on Madison Avenue--Angelo loves art books and has a great collection that informs his work at Doyle--then to an Alexander Calder show that holds a piece so big the gallery cut a hole in its ceiling to fit it, and finally an Albert Oehlen exhibition of gray paintings. At one point I notice Angelo’s socks: great white sharks with teeth bared. He laughs. “I never wanted to be the tie guy,” he says. “Those piano key ties are just so lame.”

Follow Angelo on Instagram.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Subscribe to Miss Manhattan Hangs Out.