With an affinity for gems from 1835 to the 1980s, and having been involved in this trade for nearly two decades, Lara Kornbluh entered the retail business in 2013. Much of her focus is on Egyptian revival jewelry, and the serpent emblem even appears in the Icon Styles logo, but rare finds from well known designers and intriguing pieces with a breadth of color, texture and design also make their own statements.
"I can only sell things I truly like," Lara expressed, sporting tasteful vintage accessories including one of her many sets of whimsical eye glasses. With a degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Metalsmithing, she certainly has an eye for unique finds and understands how to properly care for and restore them.
Beaded bags bask with a one-of-a-kind glow and precious jewels sit behind restored glass cases from the 1920s, relics of the location's former life as an apothecary. Lara entertained me for quite some time as she removed stunning and fascinating pieces from her collection, including butterfly wing jewelry from the 1920s that appeared to come straight out of a fairytale, glistening a stream of colors when set to the light. I was in awe of a pair of gold Georgian earrings from the 1850s that were finished with a rose cut diamond, and a Victorian French jet snake wrap-around from the1880s that Lara told me symbolizes eternal love.
Included in Lara's charming boutique are elegant dresses from days gone by. But now, each piece can be reborn, expressing new generations and new venues. I could only imagine the types of occasions these ornate garments and accessories had experienced - jazz clubs, dances, and nights out on the town. They come from a period of less consumption, when each purchase was regarded as an investment into one's projected image.
Sweet aromas lure one into this tiny coffee and tea shop on west 70th. Originally founded in 1976 across the street, the Sensuous Bean moved to its current location in 1990 and is now co-owned by partners in life and in business, Lucretia La Mora and Tom Wilson. "People follow their noses, " explained Tom of the cafe's success. And even horses cannot resist - he recalled one peeking its head through the door as an officer grabbed a cup. "We blend to taste, " Tom added. Each day, beans are grinded on site and brewed in three roasters for a hot cup. And although small, the place is stocked with a large selection of coffees and teas sourced from a variety of regions. The chai spice tea comes from India and the Mexican Vienna brew from Zimbabwe. The assortment of flavorful tisanes includes intriguing names like red velvet cupcake or bella coola lemon lime.
Amber Upper West relocated from Columbus Avenue to this dimly lighted, intimate side street enclave in 2015. A wood-beamed ceiling and whitewashed walls are organically accented with well-illuminated hanging plants and a graphic, black and white tree painting. With a menu featuring a large selection of rolls, grilled dishes, and sushi to be shared in either the conventional dining space or well-stocked bar, this side street gem offers more than just lovely decor.
When Henry Clay Frick passed away in 1919, he had placed in his will that his residence be turned into a museum forever open to public access, featuring the impressive collection he had assembled over a span of forty years. In addition, his will provided a fifteen million dollar endowment for maintenance. In 1935, the Frick Collection was opened in the expanded Gilded Age mansion originally designed by Thomas Hastings for residence, and initially transformed into the museum by John Russel Pope. The interior features spectacular selections of Old Master paintings and European sculptures in sixteen permanent collections that integrate Italian, French and Spanish works, allowing cohesive interactions from multiple regions and time periods - the way Henry enjoyed viewing art. In the center, the Garden Court, which had been Henry's driveway, is considered the museum's heart, ornamented by rushing water, a bounty of plant life, impressive sculptures, and an intriguing skylight. Today, it is the only room in which one is permitted to take photographs. I remember visiting the Frick for the first time as a teenager and declaring it my favorite museum in Manhattan. I can easily state that it remains so to this day. I never tire of introducing visitors from out of town to The Frick and I continue to appreciate each new exhibit. For me, it remains a tranquil setting to walk, contemplate and unwind as I am surrounded by art and beauty.
Established in 1904, The Explorers Club is centered on scientific discovery in all realms - land, sea, air and space. Its original headquarters were located at the Studio Building on West 67th Street, and it moved to this location in 1965. In 1918, a signature flag was introduced, capitalizing on historic routes and unabated curiosity. Since then, the flag has been proudly carried on hundreds of expeditions as members of the club were the first to make it to the North and South Poles, the summit of Mt. Everest, the deepest point in the ocean, and the surface of the moon. The club first allowed women in 1981. To this day, it is a meeting spot for all kinds of explorers, scientists and students.