uptown/downtown winter weekend in nyc


Just off the gaggly tourist train of Fifth Avenue, chestnut roasting circuit and red-double decker glimpses of The Chelsea Hotel, do Audrey or Edie proud…

…immersed in art, architecture, antiquing, style, luscious eating and relaxing and take in the full contrast treasure that is this American City. Surf the dichotomies that are Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Edie Sedgwick in “Ciao! Manhattan,” the winter literary chill of Gogol’s Overcoat or the hotness of Gogol Bordello or contemplate the purchase of pedigrees via Pulled Pork Crepinettes downtown or the contents of a Pulled Park Ave pad of collectibles uptown…

I literally cut my baby teeth on The Big Apple. My uptown/downtown New York Stendhal syndrome began early on nibbling and savoring little, cold-from-the-suitcase, semi-sweet, dark chocolate candy slices of the “Big Apple” my Father always brought home from his NYC business trips. At age 7, when my needlepointing aunt took image requests for a pillow, I closed my W magazine, (for which I already had a subscription and could name all the habitues of Studio 54) paused only a second before putting in my order for Warhol’s red and white tomato soup can on a Factory-esque field of downtown prescient-Stephen Sprouse-ish lime green.

A lifetime of really biting The Big Apple and breathing in all its style, I have found the best way to absorb New York is a deep dive focus, prowling a full day in one neighborhood to feel the lifeblood of the city.  For a song on a winter weekend in New York you will emerge to the manner born. Here is just a taste of my secret favorite places, for uptown, the Upper East and Upper West Side and for downtown, Chelsea. Delve with me into each through their style icons, art, architecture, eats, places to relax and where to take home the style via the best spots, stylists or hidden jewel-box antique shops.

UPTOWN . Icon Creds Art Architecture Eat Home Relax Sacred Space Style.


Living for 10 years uptown, my creds are not to the manor born, they have been bred. I love it all. I’ve dabbled with the socialites, the posh services and poseurs. I’ve heard the babble of the doctors and the pill poppers. I wander the hallowed halls of The Met and The Met and The Bridal Path of Central Park. My soul and soles have many times grazed the red carpets, lobby, halls and inner sanctums of Elaine’s, The Frick, The Carlyle, Studio 54, Daniel, The Pierre and the like. I have designed for the runways of quintessential New York society designers such as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Mary McFadden. I love …


The serene and spacious hush in an uptown gallery is a meditative exercise, clearing the visual palette of the street, everyday cares and inviting a reverent viewer into a timeless space to contemplate the thread of humanity. Marlborough Gallery’s roster of artists uptown at 40 W 57th Street, is solid, ranging from humorous Tom Otterness animal bronzes to the serious spirituality of Art’s Grande Dames, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Michele Oka Doner. A show of Hans Silvester photographs of Ethiopians in “Natural Fashion: Art & the Body,” were perfectly paired with Blackberry-attached and angst-filled businessmen figures in paintings by Stephen Conroy which rung the gallery like Stonehenge figures. Prime human psyche-surfing here.

Meanwhile downtown at Marlborough in Chelsea,

a surprise were folk tale, stone figure groupings by Grisha Bruskin, reminding me of the unearthed solemn Chinese warriors of the Terracotta Army, a sense of the monumental yet vulnerable, poignant perhaps due to the history of Gotham over the past ten years from 9/11 to the recent financial crisis on Wall Street.

Han Silvestri until January 8, 2011 Stephen Conroy until January 15, 2011.

A little Magic Winter, Pre-Spring lore for your uptown creds … Tom Otterness’ Crying Giant and other sculptures lit up Broadway in 2005, the same time as Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude’s orange Gates flew in Central Park. Photo by Gabriel Benitez, here is the map to all the sculptures and a loving tribute unearthed via the recent blizzards by Allan M. Jalon, for the Huffington Post. Tom Otterness’ show, “Animal Spirits” runs from February 23 to March 26, 2011.


Lights in the trees and cold light on buildings on the side streets uptown, here at St. Bartholomew’s and…

…the cafe at Alice Tully Hall at 65th and Broadway, which I never tire of.  Closed on Mondays, when you can really see the space without the lively crowd, definitely put this on your roster uptown Tuesday through Sunday, for afternoon coffee, filling food and lingering in the vitality that is Lincoln Center. As dusk settles, watch the music, ballet and dance students, the fashion crowd during Fashion Week and tourists via the wide window unto the street.


I know. Uptown restaurants can be sliced and diced into Tres Cher, Tres Trashy or Tres Bland. Live here for 10 years and you can find the treasures. One of mine is Jacques, on 204-206 E 85th Street. Never mind the gym across the way and the proximity to 86th Street “Mall,” surroundings, once inside, Jacque’s is a respite of a French bistro. Order the moules frite with a choice of six sauces from mild garlic, chardonnay, and parsley to Thai ginger and lemon grass, all best paired with Belgian beer. Nice and grounding after a day of art, shopping and uptown proper, even with the droning TV over the bar, which to me usually grates like needlepoint…even that feels real Sunday night in New York.

I have a feeling Audrey and George or Carolyn and John Jr. would be found here canoodling on a Sunday night…tucked away from paparazzi.


I was steered into John Koch at 201 W 84th Street, by my biz partner, Michelle Barge, who found this spot while appraising ephemerals for Sotheby’s. The mix of pedigree with kitsch was just my style and I saw an endless array of items that any tourist or diehard New Yorker could pop in a suitcase or rent a caravan to bring back to Kalamazoo.

…captivated by the tabletop tableaus of terracotta and crystal and yes, I also captured my black and white fur hat.

Billiard balls and ornate silver together have volumes of stories together.

This lamp. This vase. Whatever it is.Love.

Since seeing all the sculpture at Marlborough, this oxidized warrior lamp base appealed. There were two which is good for raising the chi and energy through a cold winter. Why do I always see this patina metal with bright yellow or purple?

These two! I have been a fan of entire walls of portraits from various eras and materials and have done these in many apartments and homes. I do have an obsession with black hats and I truly love the humor in this guy. The little miss is a little dour, but paired with some bright color and maybe a better frame, we’d include her in our posse to cheer her up.

Forget the imperfections of the photo, we are antiquing here! I would snatch these chairs up in a second, the upolstery was lush and in good condition and the rest could be distressed, repainted, patinaed, restored, glossed or gilded as your color or historic proclivities prompted you.

Relax Sacred Space

If you want to go all the way and relax uptown-style, forget all the little massage spots, the gyms, the fancy spa emporiums or the local table-toting handler your concierge recommends. There is a new on-call, bespoke in-room Thai massage service available in New York. Be a true seeker of the peace within, a real insider, and prepare to be taken away with treatments from one of the superb practitioners with Sacred Space New York.


Audrey’s Givenchy coat is an uptown classic for its orange red color, the simplicity and timelessness. I recently visited friends, Valerie Feigen and Alissa Emerson at their exquisite, townhouse shop, Edit, on 91st and Lexington to see what was new. I spotted a tan, little Cacharel raincoat for Spring with quarter length sleeves and the perfect pert shape. So new, I can’t even get a pic of it, but you should make plans to head to Edit and get the full treatment of attention and the best of the ready-to-wear collections from uptown classics like sheath dresses, for example, a Jason Wu leather bib dress to bright, very downtown hip African bead bracelets from Vanessa Mooney.


Uptown for men it’s all Bergdorf’s third floor at 58th and Fifth, especially now that Lanvin, Prada, Rick Owens and Dries Van Noten have been added to the mix. New to Bergdorfs? Troll around with a stylist. One that caters to best of the best? Barbara Flood. When we designed for the Blass and the de la Renta, Barbara bought our jewelry for her private Upper East townhouse collection catering to rock stars, actors and artists. A former model, society tripper and friend to New York men such as Rudi Gernrich, Stanley Herman, Leo Narducci, Henry Jaglom, Dennis Hopper, Valentino, and Oscar de la Renta, any man desiring a style stamp beyond Bergdorf’s mens department needs to call Barbara Flood. Here is an in-depth interview with Barbara and you can reach Flood’s Closet,  at 212.348.7257

Now you two, take that Cacharel coat downtown!

DOWNTOWN . Icon Creds Art Architecture Eat Home Relax Sacred Space Style.


Edie Sedgewick’s style and expensive taste (lady hipstar tips further on here) were part of the manufacture of timeless signature style of men pals such as Warhol and Bob Dylan. For the best “downtown goes global,” go all black like Andy (and never go back) and go straight to Barney’s Co-op on 18th Street. For classic “downtown artiste” Dylan or today’s “downtown wild child,” Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, go unfailingly straight to color and pattern accessories like hats, wrap scarves, sunglasses or cigarettes. There is only one place for color, Paul Smith on Fifth Avenue at 16th Street. Cigarettes, around the corner.


Oh, do things like dancing at Danceteria, The World and Paradise Garage, exhibiting in the Gracie Mansion gallery and the “old” New Museum, parties on the rooftops of friends, back when living in Williamsburg meant squatting, throwing art/film/live music parties pre-Meatpacking at The Cooler with naked girls covered in chocolate as art give me creds as a downtown girl? I sure hope so. I love…


My new double Art Icons: Keith Duncan and Keith Tyson. The Cue Art Foundation recently presented new wall size paintings by Mr.Duncan created in his small apartment in Gretna, Louisiana, a place where neighbors stop by and consider themselves part of the art and the mythologies at once horrific, awkward, spiritual and historical painted in a monumental comic-book style. For me, Keith made visual the incongruities between history, fiction and reality that can only be summed up with the reference to the People cover of Sandra Bullock adoring Baby Louis with all his curls, lifetimes in his glance and graduation hat while American flags of Union and Un-Union point nearby. Canvases entitled “Kings of Nostalgia” and “Rise of The South” respectively. Grand… and the kind of art that can Make-My-Day. At 511 W 25th Street, the show closed January 15, forever collectible.

I love art, color and multiples, it’s my gypsy heritage. Easily amused by one or combos of all three, I adored Keith Tyson’s “52 Variables,” on until February 5th at The Pace Gallery. The cards flip actual imagery from decks collected all over the world on green felt-like walls. Tyson lays out mirror sized images of chance, branding, speculation and symbolic imagery from the Mandelbrot set fractal to a Twitter icon. Like Twitter, the seemingly random ephemera of life reveals deep value only with a complete dive-in to its madness and serendipity.  Playing cards originated from Tarot cards, designed to activate the synchronistic divination power of the psyche and even our decks carry this tradition. Consider 52 Cards = 52 weeks, 4 suits = 4 seasons, 13 cards in each suit = the 13 lunar cycles (full and new moons), 364 / 7 days in the week = 52 cards in a deck.  Did I take the dive?

The paintings go for $35,000. each but there is a limited edition of playing cards for $15. I bought.

Next was McDermott & McGough: “Of Beauty and Being” at Cheim & Reas Gallery at 547 W 25th Street until February 12, where you can determine if you are a “Sex Snob” or if you are using sex as a Communist weapon. The artist’s libertine weapons here are archetypical women airbrushed and re-touched in the same tri-color carbon photographic process perfected for advertisements back in the day.

Beguiling for their artifice and starkness, I would mix the gloss of these Mad Men women and their plastic, diamond lacquered accessories with Hans Silvester’s Ethiopian beauties and some antique portraits arranged like windows of a building or a blog on a green felt wall gladly, inspired by the dual-windows of Warhol’s film, “Chelsea Girls.” Oh, how New York!

Ghada Amer‘s “100 Words of Love” was the opening of Cheim & Read’s space…

The sphere of Arabic words in splashy color simultaneously felt aggressive and delicate, especially with a spotlight shining a lacy pattern on the wall. The often silenced voices of women in Arab cultures and these words of love whispered in the ear of the current American culture, it felt like a wishing egg of delicate and powerful potential. This steely contrast of steel and shadow gets echo’ed on every corner outside the galleries in Chelsea’s current architecture craze, at every turn there is a masterpiece, often passionately juxtaposing with a remnant of the past, The High Line, the Frank Gehry, The Standard, the pace and boldness is staggering.


A new obsession of mine, the Della Valle Bernheimer at 245 Tenth Avenue references abstract steam clouds from the trains that used to travel the High Line, now the elevated park. More on that here in a post on a previous uptown/downtown roam, that time in the flush of Summer.

Neil Denari’s HL23, glimpsed here first between buildings and next in full fishbowl cgi “cultural sustainability” glory will set any jaded city-dweller or bored tourist instantly on their toes. Is it the smaller base and ballooning structure, like a beautiful foot in a stiletto or just really smart small footprint design or the Pompidou done one better? Read more here to get real geeky on it.


Breakfast or lunch must be Chelsea Market, which never disappoints for a sit-down at Nicole Farhi’s 202 to a whole market stroll and graze.

Trestle on Tenth is a spot for lingering. I was so gallery-tired one Saturday, by the time we settled in for the cheese plate and vino at lovely, unpretentious Trestle my pictures were really blurry so I had to go to seriouseats.com blog, where the above Crepinette du Pork comes from, a favorite of all the reviewers. Take a look at Ed Levine’s review on this blog for all the mouth watering images that only a foodie could conjure. I am a downtown art-groupie who loves my food but I am not a foodie! I will however heartedly vouch for the glass of Vernaccia Montenidoli, San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy, 2007 and the award-winning Barely Buzzed cheese, which did me well with its unusual accents of coffee and lavender!  Trestle is at 242 Tenth Avenue at 24th Street.


The huge lit elephant skull in the window is how I discovered Mantiques Modern one evening. A city should surprise you like that.

If you’ll pass on the skull but Machine Age barstools from a Parisian Bistro or a rare Jaeger Le Coultre clock would make your wish list, then stop by 146 W. 22nd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues to indulge a man-centric collection that is also a favorite of the girls, including uptown interior designer, Celerie Kemble.

Relax Sacred Space

For years, for me, one of the best deals in the city is the Far Eastern oasis and super-relaxing spa at Essential Therapy on 23rd St. between Park and Lexington. Do I love the candle-lit, low ceiling tapestry waiting room where you could sit for an hour to meditate, write in a journal and just think and no one minds? Do I love the full ranges of massage options in soft lit rooms? Do I love the clean,clean changing room with full spacious showers, pristine robes, slippers and towels, private lockers before and after a round of hot tub, Finnish dry heat sauna, steam rooms and five-person Jacuzzi…all for $20? That’s 1/5th of a tip in other places. I love it.


“Tata” met me for a Chelsea gallery crawl one Winter Saturday on her bike from the Lower East Side. Tatjana Tatalovic, aka “Tata,” is a newly arrived to New York, Elle magazine-celebrated designer from Serbia, looking like a twin to Uma Thurman, hand-rolling her cigarettes with industrial strength tobacco and bequeathing hilarious, stoic witticisms. I do believe she is the next Balkan superstar, beyond Eugene, so get her to make you something original and very Downtown. Now! Go to her site and send her a message, before she is discovered here!

We saw this flowery Hans Silvester-like bike in the snow, a testament to impromptu NYC beauty, hope for Spring in 12 inches of snow and the trans-cultural primal desire for beauty and form, even…
in the middle of Winter.                                                                                                (photos by Jelena Vukotic)
Does this Tata top/dress/cool piece not feel like new Chelsea architecture to you? A cocoon and a butterfly awaiting Spring release? Does it not have the potential to do uptown/downtown really well depending on how you work it?
Let me know how you fare as your feet echo the dreams of timeless uptown and downtown trawlers. Can you sense the earliest Manhatta Indians and Seneca Village residents of Central Park uptown flash forward to the certain world of Rossettis, Ferragamos and Louboutins clipping by on Park Avenue? Let me know if you too, feel the former apple orchards of Chelsea underneath the new plumped up and proud Big Apple Architecture, the clash of cultures and earnest experiences of European immigrants in tenements or Warhol and Edie in the Chelsea Hotel.  Walt Whitman wanderings in Winter just might transport and bring you home, to Manhattan, to the manner born.
“Cut off as I am, it is inevitable that I should sometimes feel like a shadow walking in a shadowy world. When this happens I ask to be taken to New York City. Always I return home weary but I have the comforting certainty that mankind is real and I myself am not a dream. ” Helen Keller

Notes: Galleries are open on Saturdays, not Sundays.

Many images photographed by Jade Dressler, others may be claimed and credits duly bestowed.

3 Responses to “uptown/downtown winter weekend in nyc”

  1. 1 H Dressler

    You know everything

  1. 1 Baby Pregnancy
  2. 2 Kickin’ Delicious.Spring City + Country Trippin’ NYC, USA. « Jade Dressler

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