"Middle Eastern" Matters

Readin,’ Revitalizing and Renovating are the 3 “R’s” of new activities around town all linked by Middle Eastern influences.

Joanne King Herring signs her book at New York City's Bulgari store

Friends gathered to celebrate an author devoted to finding peace in Afghanistan. Texan socialite Joanne King Herring, portrayed by Julia Roberts in the film Charlie Wilson’s War, has written an account of her adventures titled Diplomacy and Diamonds: My Wars from the Ballroom to the Battlefield; and where better to celebrate her book launch than among cases of pave diamond Parentesi openwork earrings, necklaces and rings at Bulgari’s 57th Street store in New York.

Among those listening to Herring’s anecdotes about entertaining presidents, ambassadors, artists, and gaping at the glittery pins, bracelets and watches were Hilary and Wilbur Ross and fellow Texans Cece Cord and Katherine Bryan.

New galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art display artifacts from the Middle East and Arab lands

They tell us they’ve always been there, but now a formerly hidden suite of galleries on the Metropolitan Museum’s second floor have been transformed into a treasure trove of artifacts named the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. When visiting the galleries onlookers can observe a magnificent bright turquoise 14th century mihrab (prayer niche) from Iran, illuminated manuscripts with elaborate calligraphy picturing Mohammad on a winged horse, delicate ceramic prayer bowls and an 18th century reception room recreated from the home of a wealthy Syrian.

Fifteen rooms have been decorated with appropriate mosque lamps, marble fountains and lattice window screens as backdrops to the artifacts, which are arranged more geographically than chronologically. The rich and elaborate history of this important region has never been more dramatically displayed.

pictured on left above: Moroccan Court in the newly revitalized Galleries for the art of teh Arab Lands Turkey Iran Central Asia and Later South Asia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Arabesques dance over visitors in City Center's renovation. ©Aislinn Weidele / Ennead

Its original name was Mecca, once an auditorium in a Shriner’s Hall that was saved from demolition and transformed into New York City Center. First opened in 1943, this performing arts center was dedicated by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia who performed the Star Spangled Banner at the premiere opening. The performance was dedicated to the public and cost each guest a $1.50 to attend. The original home of the City Opera and the New York City Ballet, the theater suffered wear and tear over the years, but has undergone a complete renovation, including bright paint and gilding elaborate Moorish designs on the walls, ceilings and hallways.

At the reopening concert, Mayor Bloomberg conducted the Encores Orchestra, which went on to accompany dancers and singers, including Patti Lupone belting out Everything’s Coming Up Roses.

pictured on right above: Middle Eastern motifs survive from City Center's origins as a Masonic Hall. ©Aislinn Weidele / Ennead


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