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Monday, July 26, 2010

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Patricia Attoe, Art Expert Extraordinaire

Born on the West Coast in Seattle, Washington, Patrica Attoe only lived there for three years before moving to Denver, Chicago, Boston then New York. Her father was a trouble shooter for United Airlines, so wherever there was trouble within United Airlines, they relocated to that city. This started her love affair with travel and hotel living.

Along with her family, Patricia lived in Hotels until their new home was ready. Pat felt like Eloise living at the Plaza!! Her sisters and she would have breakfast at the Top of The Fairmount Hotel in their revolving restaurant, where Pat loved watching the waitresses with their black net stockings serving orange juice and eggs!!! Flying was another strong influence in her life, as they always flew first class which in the days of “Mad Men” was the pinnacle of glamour. The night before they traveled, Pat along with her sisters polished her Mary Janes with petroleum jelly (to make them shiny), put her hair in curls and laid out her dress with matching shoes/handbag for the trip. Oh yes, don’t forget the “white gloves too!!!” These sound like young girls destined to be Movers and Shakers on Whom You Know!

Once on the plane, the girls were served a wonderful lunch on silver (albeit plated) trays and dishes with white linen. After a delicious lunch of lobster or beef Wellington, Pat and her sisters would ask the stewardess if they could walk up and down the plane aisles offering packets of gum and small packets of cigarette’s YIKES!!! Ahhhh those were the days.

Pat's mother was also a strong influence in her love of Art. When they would arrive at their new home, her mother would paint, wallpaper and stencil to make the house a home. Each sibling picked a bedroom and decide how it would decorated. Pat remembers coming home from school and watching her mother paint at her easel, and she looked so happy and at peace.

As Patricia grew older, her interest in Art moved into Art History once she realized she did not have raw talent as a fine artist. Pat studied Art History at Mary Mount College in New York City and then received her Masters at Iona College in New Rochelle New York. After completing her education, Pat went to work at Sotheby’s in the bid department. This was an exciting time at Sotheby’s, when Dee Dee Brooks ran the company and Studio 54 was alive and well.

After several years at Sotheby’s, Pat decided to teach an art-based curriculum at Christ Church Pre School on Park Avenue in New York City. Pat enjoyed teaching the children social skills and art appreciation which she did for seven years. She then decided that she would like to learn the Gallery side of the Art Business, so now Patricia Attoe is with Wally Findaly Galleries in New York City. Pat collaborates with Wally Findaly Galleries and the most favorite restaurant of Whom You Know, Swifty's, where her husband Stephen Attoe, previously featured as a Mover and Shaker, is the chef:  Pat changes the art in the back room at Swifty’s each month to coordinate with the art they feature at the Gallery.

Pat has been married to her husband, Stephen chef/restaurant owner/workaholic for 32 fascinating years. Between the two of them, they live with delicious food, beautiful art, interesting and loving friends and family. They both share a love of intense gardening, kayaking, travel, reading, skiing, and noir movies, on and on…….and we are SO pleased to present Patricia Attoe as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Patricia Attoe for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What did you enjoy the most artistically as a child?
Patricia Attoe: I remember as a child painting with mud and using flower pedals for color. I loved the tactile feeling of the mud and the freedom of getting dirty and making “art”.

Is there a specific airline experience you had as a child that stands out?
Yes, my Father would take us (his daughters) on a birthday week-end just the two of us. I did not want to go on a trip BUT desperately wanted to see the Rockettes at Radio city Music Hall. My Dad promised we would see the Rockettes after he checked the plane (wink-wink) then off to see the Rockettes. Well a few minutes turned into up in the air, three hours and Puerto Rico. I was so disappointed I cried all the way and refused to eat my favorite meal (which my Dad ordered special) lobster. So sad, please don’t judge me too harshly I was young.

What Hotels are your most favorite now, and are they the same you loved as a kid?
As a child we often stayed at large hotels like the Fairmont in San Francisco, The Plaza in New York. I loved these hotels as a child but as an adult I adore small boutique hotels. In London for example the Rookery is one of my all time favorite, The SoHo Grand is wonderful in New York and the W Hotels are so stylish.

If you could have a dinner party at Swifty’s with ten artists living or dead, who would they be and why?
Ahhh so many. Henri Toulouse Lautrec a post Impressionist artist. Toulouse had a reputation of drawing/painting provocative images such as prostitutes, images from the Moulin Rouge (which had just opened at this time). He would add an element of theater to the dinner. Paul Cezanne although know to be ill at ease at social functions it would be fascinating to hear the genius behind the man that bridged Impressionism Art to cubism. Most modern art can stem directly or indirectly from Cezanne. Claude Monet One of the founders of French Impressionist painting. He also loved great food, gardening and family. Mary Cassatt an American artist in Paris. Impressionist style very friendly with Edgar Degas (rumor has it they were a couple). Would love to hear her impression as a women artist in a male dominated world, how did she navigate? Lee Krasner she was a leading abstract expressionist painter and married to Jackson Pollack. What was it like to live with Jackson really? Did she hold back her own talent because of Jackson’s enormous success? I would love to hear the woman’s side of being an amazing artist in her own right and living with “Jackson Pollack”. Edward Hopper realist painter. He created the most lonely, atmospheric soulful paintings. The light, depth, blocks of color suggestions were so moving. It would be interesting to talk with this silent, deep man. Charles Neal a contempary impressionist painter. His work is show at the gallery. He is strongly influenced by Claude Monet. It would be interesting to hear how Monet would advise, compliment, criticize Charles work. Louise Nevelson mostly made sculpture from found objects. She was known as an “abstract expressionist”. William Turner a romantic painter he was known as “the painter of light”. It would be so interesting and fascinating to hear how he created such dramatic skies. I read that he tied himself to a poll to not be blown away during a storm so he could experience the feeling of the drama of the storm to put that experience to canvas. Ambroise Vollard is regarded as one of the most important art dealers in French contemporary art at the beginning of the twentieth century. He is credited with providing exposure and emotional support to numerous notable and unknown artists, including Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, and Edgar Degas. He believed in buying low and selling high which made him a very rich man.

What would Stephen make for this hypothetical dinner?
We would start with an American cocktail in honor of Toulouse Lautrec. Lautrec loved American cocktails and would make them for all his French guests. We would start with Manhattan’s- an American cocktail in an American restaurant. As a starter in honor of Cezanne we would make his favorite soup “Salt Cod Soup” this was Cezanne’s own recipe (if you desire the recipe you can find it in Monet’s Table by Claire Joyes). Followed by Monet’s favorite Casseroled Woodcock (in the same cook-book). Monet would shoot his own woodcock and make a casserole with fresh garden vegetable to accompany the casserole. For desert chef Stephen Attoe would make a Goose Berry pie in honor of his heritage and his love of gooseberries. Filling but delicious!!!

What type of Art do you currently enjoy doing yourself?
I enjoy drawing. My husband and I have a week-end house in Connecticut with a lovely garden. Often I will take a pad and pencil or charcoal and draw a flower or a wheel barrow. I love the meditation of drawing, looking at how the light changes a particular part of a flower or how shading will shape an image. I enjoy the exploration.

Who are the hottest American artists currently?
I think Jeff Koons is quite hot and such fun. I saw his work on the roof garden at the Metropolitan museum recently. It made me smile and delight is the bigger than life size, color and imagination. I think he is FUN!!! Chuck Close- known for doing larger than life photos known as photorealism style. Ross Bleckner- Great color and design symbolic imagery that is visually elusive. His use of color is very sophisticated.

Who are the hottest International artists currently?
I like British artist Howard Hodgkin, his style is semi abstract.

What should whom you Know readers know about art in general that they may not know?
That Art is not scary. Art evokes emotion, it may be delight, sadness, disgust etc. Find the emotion that touches you and live with it. Trust your taste, eye and comfort. The art you respond to is a part of you, embrace it and live with it.

What should Whom You Know readers know about Wally Findaly Galleries?
The Gallery has the most extensive and amazing collection of Art. Although the Gallery is known for The School of Paris, Rouen and Normandy the Gallery also represents several gifted contemporary artists hat have diverse styles. The Gallery is also deverice in price range- there is art at the Gallery for every price point. Many people may not know that Wally Findaly Galleries is the third oldest Gallery in the United States. The Gallery started in Kansas City in 1870.

Who cooks more often at home you or Stephen?
Let me answer that question with a short story. The first meal I made for Stephen was blueberry pancakes (from scratch). As I was in the kitchen watching the batter bubble every so gently Stephen looked over my shoulder and said, “If I were you I would turn that pancake now”. End of quote and cooking!!!

Does the menu at home imitate life at Swifty’s, or is your home the inspiration for what evolves onto the Swifty’s menu?
A little of both. Stephen and I both enjoy traveling. We were having dinner in a charming restaurant in Paris (is there any other) and the table next to us ordered fresh peaches pouched in simple sugar syrup. Stephen was inspired by this simple desert and added it to the desert menu at the restaurant. At Christmas we were eating Christmas bark (dark chocolate with candy cane pieces) Stephen thought this would make a great ice cream. At Holiday time bark ice cream is served. The inspiration and ideas come from travel, friends, family, research, street vendors, reading cook books and magazines. We will often have a dinner party with friends and try a new recipe and discuss the dish.

What or who has had the most influence on you pursuit of excellence?
My grandmother Lucy. She had the most magical way of making a small bowl of potato chips look elegant. She made simple elegance, a true art. Zoë my teacher in life, she is so wise, caring and creative I have grown and flourished with her nurturing. My husband Stephen who pushes me to be brave, strong and a loving partner.

What are you proudest of and why?
My long marriage (32 years and counting) friendships and getting up every morning at 6:00 to go to the gym!!!

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
Supply the Art work for a photo shoot for Elle Décor, to work with Margaret Russell.

What is your favorite place in Manhattan?
So so many but I will pick one. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I never tire of this wonderful museum.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Mecox Gardens.

What is your favorite drink?

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Swifty’s, the food is delicious, fresh, and prepared with care. The room is sophisticated without being stuffy and the lighting is so pretty everyone looks great. The space is small and intimate and it is the best people watching show in New York. The Art work in the back room is terrific and changes every month (supplied by Wally Findaly Galleries). What more can I say! I also want to mention a restaurant I went to recently that I thought was fantastic “The Lion” the dining room is chock full of art hung in studio fashion. The food was simple and good, people watching was fun. What I enjoy most from a restaurant is great theater and both Swifty’s and The Lion have that.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Edward Hopper’s New York, by Avis Berman.

If you could have anything named after you in Manhattan what would it be and why?
The café at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. I love the design of the room, simple, clean and not too precious. I love the idea of combining my love of art/design with another love in our family, “good food.”

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Running the New York City Marathon with my husband. We trained together for months. We were both runners but had to really kick it up for the Marathon. It was very emotional to run 26.5 miles through the different boroughs of Manhattan. People were so supportive and excited. Although I would NEVER do it again it was a thrill and something I can say I did and experienced.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Walk through different neighborhoods. I loved the experience of different cultures in this amazing city. Little Italy, China town, Gramercy Park, Upper East Side, Harlem. What a walk!

What has been your favorite Art or music experience?
Diane Arbus show at Moma.

What do you think is the most underrated/overrated?
How caring people are. Street fairs.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom you know column and what do you like about it?
I love the Whom You Know videos. I like to get a sense of the people being interviewed in their environment.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 

That I desperately want to own an Air Stream, gut it, have it decorated and travel around this great country.

How would you liked to be contacted by Whom you Know readers?
At Wally Findaly Galleries.

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