Category Archives: Arts

Old Westbury Gardens Winter Holiday – Now & Then

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)
December 23, 2017

Last Sunday, while entering the snowy grounds of Old Westbury Gardens with my friend Bob, I thought back to 2007, when I visited the Gold Coast estate during a biting, heavy snowfall.

Past

That day 10 Decembers ago, I stayed outside capturing photos until I absolutely had to go to Westbury House, beg mercy from staff in the Entrance Hall, take off my gloves and boots, and stand toasty close to the fireplace.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. Dec. 5, 2007. At Westbury House, the Entrance Hall window with black wrought iron grill gives hazy glimpse of snowstorm. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 5, 2007. At Westbury House, the Entrance Hall window with black wrought iron grill gives hazy glimpse of snowstorm. (© 2007 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Slowly defrosting in the impressively elegant wood and marble hall, I imagined myself back outside the mansion, but during the Great Blizzard of 1947, when the John and Margarita Phipps family lived there….

Fantasy ’47

I was a trespasser with a noble mission – wielding my Kodak in the snowstorm to capture ghostlike images of trees – and, alas, flirting with hypothermia.

Without warning, a tall stranger swept me off my numb feet and whisked me to the mansion. As we took off our coats, I noticed he, too, had a camera strapped around his neck.

We sat in front a fireplace surrounded by books, and he put his hand to his chest. “Victor, Victor Hasselblad – a… a husgäst of Phipps,” he said softly and with a melodic accent. “And you, lilla frusen lövsångare?”   

“Oh my,” “I said, “You’re THE Victor Hasselblad!” The genius nodded. “You’ve just GOT to develop a Hasselblad camera for civilians!” I said, then started to tell him why….

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. A lighted Christmas tree decorates the formal dining room of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens during its Winter Holiday event. (Ann Parry/˙ 2017 Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. A lighted Christmas tree decorates the elegant dining room of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens during its Winter Holiday event. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Present

Now I’m at times better about coming in from the cold before losing feeling in my extremities.

But I always do my best to protect my camera. So last weekend when Bob and I arrived at Old Westbury Gardens and stepped out of the car on to slippery icy snow-covered grounds, we headed straight to Westbury House.

Once inside, we heard what sounded like live music coming from the Ballroom just ahead. We were right, for in a far corner of the vast room, pianist ANGELINA FUSCO was playing traditional Christmas music on a Steinway grand piano, backlit by large windows. Capturing the atmospheric scene was a fun challenge.

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Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Pianist ANGELINA FUSCO plays Christmas music on Steinway grand piano to entertain visitors at Old Westbury Gardens museum, a former estate of John Shaffer Phipps, during snowy winter holiday weekend on Long Island's Gold Coast. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)


Old Westbury, New York, USA. Dec. 17, 2017. Pianist ANGELINA FUSCO plays Christmas music on Steinway grand piano at Old Westbury Gardens museum during Winter Holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

The Main Hall was not to be missed, especially for families with children, since that’s where Santa sat surrounded by a Christmas tree, fireplace that was a great setting for holiday photos, and stairway strewn with stuffed animals looking as if they’d spilled out of Santa’s bag as he made his way up to the Children’s Quarters on the Third floor.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Santa sits ready for visitors next to a Christmas tree on second floor of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens museum during snowy winter holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Santa sits ready for visitors next to a Christmas tree on second floor of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens museum during winter holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Bob lingered longest in the bedroom with a large-scale model train traveling around the room, disappearing for a while each lap as it followed tracks under the bed.

Children (of all ages) also enjoyed the charming scene in Mrs. Phipps’s bathroom, where deer and penguins watched a fawn take a bubble bath in the green and white bathtub.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. In the Westbury House children's sunny bathroom of Old Westbury Gardens museum, deer and penguins watch over fawn taking a bubble bath. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Deer family and penguins watch over a fawn taking a bubble bath in Mrs. Phipps’s bathroom at Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens, a Long Island Gold Coast estate. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

As closing time neared, we visited the Porch facing West, with its three walls of windows, and enjoyed hot cider and the panoramic, ungilded dusk view.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. At Westbury House, two Christmas trees flank the Porch facing West, with panoramic view of snowy grounds during Winter Holiday event at Old Westbury Gardens. (© 2017, Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. At Westbury House, two Christmas trees flank the Porch facing West, with panoramic view of snowy grounds during Winter Holiday event at Old Westbury Gardens. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

And when it was time to go, we made our way through the snow once again.

Old Westbury Gardens Winter 2017:  SLIDESHOW | GALLERY

SYLVIO is Simply DiVine at Hofstra

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry  (ann-parry.com)
October 31, 2017

Q:  Where does a 180-pound gorilla sit?

A:  If he’s the gentle gorilla who’s the title character of SYLVIO – the fantasy film based on “Simply Sylvio” Vine videos – he wants to sit on the floor behind a table he uses as a stage to act out scenes of “Quiet Times with Herbert Herpels” with his hand puppet Herbert.

Hempstead, New York, USA. October 30, 2017. Film event of screening of SYLVIO, a fantasy feature film, and Q and A with ALBERT BIRNEY, KENTUCKER AUDLEY, and mdoeraotr RUSSELL HARBAUGH, is hosted by Radio, Television, Film Department of Lawrence Herbert School of Communication of Hofstra University.

Hempstead, NY, USA. Oct. 30, 2017. SYLIO screening and Q&A with (R-L) ALBERT BIRNEY, KENTUCKER AUDLEY, & moderator RUSSELL HARBAUGH, is presented by Herbert School of Communication, Hofstra. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Before Twitter shut down Vine, “Simply Silvio” had over 500,000 followers. But when I heard Hofstra’s Herbert School of Communication was having a screening of SYLVIO, followed by a Q&A with ALBERT BIRNEY and KENTUCKER AUDLEY – the film’s co-directors & more – it was the first time I’d heard of the character.

Based on the movie poster, I could tell Sylvio was a gorilla who wore clothes and red sunglasses, and that’s about it, so I was curious.

Hempstead, New York, USA. October 30, 2017. At screening of SYLVIO, a fantasy feature film, Sylvia the gorilla has Harold the puppet act out scenes of

Hempstead, NY, USA. Oct. 30, 2017. At Hofstra screening of SYLVIO film, Sylvio the gorilla uses hand puppet Harold to act out scenes of “Quiet Times with Harold Herpels.”  (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

SYLVIO

Sylvio, who doesn’t speak, works at a debt collection agency and must make an outside call to collect a debt from a man who hosts a talk show in his basement.

When Sylvio arrives, he’s mistaken for a juggler and sent onstage, where he ends up dropping things that break, loudly.

The talk show audience loves this, and Sylvio ends up chained to a wild on-air persona the opposite of who he wants to be, so he has tough decisions ahead of him….

Hempstead, New York, USA. October 30, 2017. Film event of screening of SYLVIO, a fantasy feature film, and Q and A with ALBERT BIRNEY, KENTUCKER AUDLEY, and moderator RUSSELL HARBAUGH, is hosted by Radio, Television, Film Department of Lawrence Herbert School of Communication of Hofstra University.

Hempstead, NY, USA. Oct. 30, 2017.  Sylvio reluctantly becomes the “What’s the Ape Gonna Break?” TV personality, in SYLVIO, screened at Hofstra. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Q&A

After the SYLVIA screening, Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley and Prof. RUSSELL HARBAUGH held a Q&A.

VIDEO: Panel discusses the central concept of the movie,  what’s most important to Sylvio the gorilla, and more in this excerpt:

Birney is the creator of the “Simply Sylvio” Vine character, and he and Audley are the film’s directors, and, with Meghan Doherty, its screenwriters.

The gorilla who doesn’t talk and the talk show host make a solid team.

Wordlessly, Birney expressively plays Sylvio Bernardi, who at least gets to grunt a few times. I’m not surprised I didn’t figure out on my own who played Sylvio, but I didn’t even realize Audley co-starred as Al Reynolds, the financially strapped talk show host, until he talked about it.

Hempstead, NY, USA. Oct. 30, 2017. After SYLVIO film screening and a Q&A, KENTUCKER AUDLEY and ALBERT BIRNEY chat with Prof. WILLIAM JENNINGS, of Radio, Television, Film Department of Lawrence Herbert School of Communication of Hofstra University. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Hempstead, NY, USA. Oct. 30, 2017. After SYLVIO film screening and Q&A, (L-R) KENTUCKER AUDLEY & ALBERT BIRNEY chat with Prof. WILLIAM JENNINGS at Hofstra University. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

PEACE & QUIET

Sitting in the audience at Hofstra’s Breslin Hall that night, I was so moved by Sylvio and his quest to lead a simple, peaceful life that I have a feeling he’ll quietly be with me for a good while.

Sylvio twitter:  @simplysylvio   movie:  SylvioTheMovie.com

My SYLVIO at Hofstra event photos:  SLIDESHOW | GALLERY