Last Thursday, on a perfect summer evening guests were welcomed into the historic mansion of Katrina and Spencer Trask for the Yaddo Summer Benefit, providing a rare opportunity to see the interior of the beautiful home that is so often admired only from the gardens at a distance. Entering guests were enthusiastically greeted by staff and guests and offered sparkling wine as they looked at the silent auction items. One silent auction item that was of particular interest to many was a one-of-a-kind handcrafted desk by the Yaddo grounds crew using an original window from West House, the second-largest residence for artists on the estate that served as Katrina’s home following Spencer’s death and where artists Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, John Cheever, and Philip Roth visited or stayed. Another popular silent auction item was the unique experience of having dinner with ten of your friends in the mansion and the deJonghe Original Jewelers palladium Yaddo pin accented with a freshwater pearl.
Photos Courtesy of Rick Gargiulo
Shortly after guests arrived, they were escorted into the Music Room where they were treated to excerpts of “Dear Elizabeth: A Play in Letters from Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell and Back Again” by Sarah Ruhl. The young award winning artists, Joseph Keckler and Young Jean Lee, read portions of entertaining letters that were exchanged by poets Bishop and Lowell over a period of thirty years and referenced their stays at Yaddo. The audience was unexpectedly treated to a beautifully sung portion of “Ave Maria” by Keckler as part of the reading.
Prior to the performance, Kim Swidler, Benefit Planning Committee Chair, welcomed guests and President of Yaddo Elaina Richardson provided introductions. Elaina was thrilled to share that “the event is sold out and over goal!” Elaina thanked Kim Swidler for her joy and vibrancy serving as chair of the event for the past three years and Stacie Arpey, Chair of the Sponsorship Committee, for her work throughout the year. She also spoke of the importance of the support by members of the Saratoga Springs community as Yaddo moves forward with preserving its past by ensuring that its historic buildings are able to host artists for another century as well building for their future by constructing new artist spaces. During opening comments, event Underwriters Stacie and Michael Arpey and Candace King Weir were thanks as well as Leaders – The Adirondack Trust Company, Mrytle Street Obstetrics & Gynecology, Thomas Newkirk, Saratoga Casino Hotel, The Swyer Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Towne, Jr.
After the performance, guests were ushered into the dining room to taste delights from many local restaurants: Bookmakers at Holiday Inn, Sushi Thai Garden, Old Bryan Inn, Karavalli, Druthers Brewing Company, The Brook Tavern, Longfellows Inn and Restaurant, Mouzon House, the Inn at Saratoga, Roma Importing Company, Prime at Saratoga National, Putnam Market, and The Wine Bar.
Many of those who serve on the planning committee were in attendance: Susan Bokan, Tamie Ehinger and her husband George, Christine Fox, Susan DePaula and her husband Tony, Judy Soukup, Beth Harker and her husband Gary, Sue Allerdice, Sally and her husband Larry King, Tamara Becker Tepper and her husband Jason, and Maryanne Moerschell and her husband Dan.
Also spotted on the patio enjoying drinks provided by Corporate Cocktail Party Sponsor Mount Felix Vineyard & Winery as the sun set was Elisa and Mark Haworth, Stephen and Dr. Susan Dorsey, Laura Chodos, Lucy Tower, Teddy Foster of Universal Preservation Hall, Cindy and Brien Hollowood, Candace Wait, Ardie and Dan Russell, Brendan Flanigan, Field Horne, Heidi and Bob West, Judy Harrigan, Brett and Terri Balzer, Peter Nemer, and Elizabeth Straton, who recently moved to Saratoga Springs from Spain.