A La Carte

'Hopper in Paris' at The Phillips Collection

October 18, 2020

Now through January 10, 2021, The Phillips Collection is featuring Hopper in Paris,11 works by Edward Hopper exclusively on loan from the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. These defining works were created during the iconic American painter’s early career while he lived in and visited Paris. 


In 1906, following his artistic training with William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri at the New York School of Art, Edward Hopper (born 1882, Upper Nyack, NY; died 1967, New York, NY) lived for a year in Paris, later returning for shorter sojourns in 1909 and 1910. The works on loan from the Whitney—quiet, urban scenes devoid of people—are critical early examples, painted before Hopper returned to the US and began creating his images of American life and identity. In Paris, Hopper enjoyed observing and capturing everyday life on the streets and visiting exhibitions to see the latest expressions in modern art. His picturesque views of the Parisian landscape are rendered in stark contrasts of light and dark, framed from high vantage points and striking angles, presaging elements that would become the hallmark of his mature work.


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A Conversation with NIAF Chairman Patricia Harrison

October 12, 2020

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) will celebrate its 45th Anniversary Gala virtually on Saturday, October 31, 2020, and honor Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who will be presented with NIAF’s 2020 Leonardo da Vinci Award for Leadership in Health and Science live during the Gala.


Since 1984, Dr. Fauci has advised six presidents on domestic and global health issues. He has been at the forefront of U.S. efforts to meet the challenge of viral diseases such as HIV, SARS, the 2009 swine flu pandemic, MERS, Ebola, and COVID-19.


Throughout this NIAF Gala evening, special appearances from “friends of Dr. Fauci” will include: Francis Ford Coppola, Tony BennettAlan AldaMichael DouglasPatti LuPoneJoe Mantegna, Isabella Rossellini, Paul Sorvino, John TurturroMario AndrettiMike PiazzaFranco HarrisLeon Panetta and other surprise guests who will provide their personal tributes to Dr. Fauci and appreciation for his service to the nation.

NIAF Chairman Patricia de Stacy Harrison and NIAF Chairman Emeritus Joseph Del Raso at the 2019 Gala VIP Reception (Photo by: Andy DelGiudice) NIAF Chairman Patricia de Stacy Harrison and NIAF Chairman Emeritus Joseph Del Raso at the 2019 Gala VIP Reception

The Georgetown Dish had a chance to sit down with NIAF Chairman Patricia de Stacy Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to learn more about her Italian heritage, empowerment and NIAF.


DISH: Along with Anita Bevacqua McBride, you recently were awarded the Italian honor of “Cavaliere” of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, the highest-ranking honor of the Italian Republic. While you’ve received many awards for your public service,  this one, equivalent to British knighthood, must have been quite special. 


Harrison: It is hard to articulate how much this specific honor means to me, my family, and  my extended NIAF family. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.  Every Sunday we would get in the car and drive for about 15 minutes to my nonna and nonno’s house for after church lunch that turned into dinner.  My aunts and uncles were always there and as a child I listened to how they talked about family, work, and life.  I grew up believing that the most important part of one’s life was family. The family always came first and whatever you did reflected bad or good on the family. 


This meant that when someone came to your home, you had to have so much food on the table that one would not hesitate to take seconds, thirds, that you dressed for the respect you wanted to receive, that the goal was to work hard and at the same time approach life with gusto, joy.

My nonno came to the US at the age of 15, he became a barber and dispensed advice to all the kids who came to his shop. Stay in school, get an education. Don’t be stupid.


He told me I had a choice: you can be a turtle all of your life and hide in a shell or you can be the eagle and soar higher and higher. Then he would pause and ask: so Patrizia, which is it gonna be?  I think about all those people, who shaped my life, long gone and I want to say you helped me fly. These medals are for you.


DISH: Is there a person (or place: I’ve read Brooklyn) who has been a mentor to you during your early career?


Harrison: Yes the neighborhood shaped my life early on. The rules of loyalty, truthfulness, strength. Never back down. But if you have to, learn to run fast.


DISH: As the author of two books, A Seat At The Table: An Insider’s Guide for America’s New Women Leaders and America’s New Women Entrepreneurs, you know first-hand the challenges women face in the workplace. How have things changed since you started a PR firm in the 70’s?


Harrison: At the time I wrote those books, it became clear to me that if you waited for a seat at the table you will wait forever.  Instead build your own and that’s what so many women did in the early 80’s, start their own businesses. Then we began to understand how important it was to run for office, to have a voice and help the voiceless along the way. Today we are still addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion but the difference is we have increased numbers of qualified, committed women at all levels of achievement working as change agents.



DISH: This year’s Gala is virtual because of COVID. What other changes have had to be made because of the pandemic? And how did you get such an impressive list of celebrities to participate by ZOOM?


Harrison: The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” has never been truer.  The pandemic meant we could not gather, but we are Italian Americans and have a built-in DNA to be among people, to celebrate, to connect. Technology has made this possible and for the past year NIAF has provided virtual programs attracting thousands of people, Italian Americans and those who love Italy.  We are connecting to one another on so many issues.


One of our most popular virtual programs is ‘How to buy a home in Italy.’ NIAF is the leading Italian American Foundation working with American and Italian leaders from business, industry and government. We were particularly focused this past year on responding to need in Italy and the U.S. regarding the pandemic.  Early on, we provided virtual programs on safety measures and our Board members connected to business, research, health and science contributed their support to both countries.

DISH: For many of us, Dr. Fauci is a natural choice this year, but what is the selection process for the NIAF Award? 


Harrison: Nominations are received by the Board and the Executive Committee. When we were able to physically gather we had nominations in the areas of business, government, commerce, the arts, civil society—several honorees. This year ,we knew we were not going to be able to host the same kind of event.  Dr. Fauci has been a hero to NIAF for years—through the 9/11 anthrax scares, HIV AIDS, MERS, Ebola. His nomination was accepted with full acclaim and approval prior to Covid 19.  In terms of the dozens of celebrities and government and business leaders who wanted to add their voices in congratulations to Dr. Fauci, we were overwhelmed by the outpouring.


DISH: Can you give us a preview of your interview with Dr. Fauci (to be aired during the Gala) and about the Fellowships being established in his name.  


Harrison: He talks about growing up Italian American in Brooklyn with strong family values, loyalty to friends and family, telling the truth as a measure of your character, caring about your fellow human being, and generally striving to be a good person.


The scholarships in his name will go to a young male or female researcher in science and health, one here in the United States, and one in Italy.

(Photo by: niaf.org)

For more information, and to register for the NIAF Gala, click here.

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A Conversation With Country Mouse, Simon Jacobsen

September 30, 2020

Since the 1970's when I first set eyes on Hugh’s Georgetown 'Tuscan Villa' remodel on Q Street, I've been in love with Jacobsen Architecture


Late last year, Simon moved his family to the country. I had a chance to sit down with the world-renowned architect to learn more about the dramatic transition.

The Piedmont (Photo by: Jacobsen Architecture) The Piedmont

DISH: You’ve resided and had your architecture practice in Georgetown for the past 54 years. Now that it’s been almost a year since you traded in your navy blazer for overalls and moved to Delaplane, Virginia, how does it feel?


SJ: This is a very special part of the world. Its rolling hills and green pastures are very reminiscent of Vermont. It is peaceful and quiet and our closest neighbor is 1/8 of a mile away. The air is sweet and smells of flowers and not a Metro bus. Birds are always singing and there are no gunshots or sirens. Madame, I do not wear overalls. A jaunt through town will often reveal more Guccis per capita than Washington.

(Photo by: Simon Jacobsen)

DISH: What a perfect time to practice social distancing. What’s it been like for you and your family to shelter in place in the country?


SJ: It was not by design that we moved out here just before the pandemic struck and the economy went into a slide. Ruth and I have always admired our friends who had pastures in the country and took up residence there.


We came to a point last year where we just asked ourselves, “If not now, then when?” At the time we were not even certain if this would only be a weekend estate, but we purchased Margo and put our toes in the water, and then we decided to stay and stay for good. We enrolled our son in school in The Plains and our 18-year old daughter shot off to college in Virginia. (In state tuition is something new to me now and I like it.)

(Photo by: Simon Jacobsen)

DISH: I may have lost count, but I think you have four ducks, two turkeys and a wrangled calf his mother wasn’t keen about. For a minute there, also seven rescued kittens. What’s it like on the ark?


SJ: For awhile it was like that. Every time time we would take our country walks down a peaceful lane, we came home with some animal in tow that needed attention. The count so far has been four baby ground hogs, nine abandoned kittens, four ducks, two white turkeys, a Black Angus calf. All have been repatriated to the mothers or to good homes except for the fowl. They are just too funny to watch and have become family.

(Photo by: Simon Jacobsen)

DISH: We’re all working from home at the moment. Any adjustments now that you are truly remote?


SJ: I have to admit, it was very strange at first and slightly panicky as this was something new to me and everyone else, however, the business stays in operation and my weekly trips across the country have stopped, and it is for the better. I never thought it could be this way; it’s easier and not so chaotic. 


Zoom meetings, texts and calls with clients and staff seem normal now, and I am not worried about getting mugged. 


The first order of business was to install a whole house generator as the power goes off without reason and no real anticipation of a return to normalcy can be expected. This is country life for sure and looks remote but really, it isn’t. 


Everything we need is 5-10-20 minutes away such as excellent restaurants, grocery stores, etc. The area has some of the best specialty food stores like artisan butchers, bakeries and organic produce all within arms reach. Driving to these places is half the fun as it so beautiful. 


Our neighbors are fantastic and there is a feeling of fellowship with each other out here. We do need each other because small problems can become bigger ones right quick. But the funny thing is, many of the people here are either Washingtonians, or DC expats. Many still commute into town for their businesses. Several are members of The Metropolitan Club. This particular area makes for a quick and reasonable trip into Washington because our proximity to I-66. Fifty-five minutes on a good day.


Business has been exceptionally surprising. Jacobsen Architecture will be opening an office in Middleburg and Los Angeles. Our Washington HQ will remain.

(Photo by: Simon Jacobsen)

DISH: Can you tell us a little about the history of your homestead. Have you made any design changes since you moved in?


SJ: The house is a series of white gabled country vernacular forms all joined together at different times starting in 1941 and is very “Jacobsen” in nature. It was an active horse farm prior and has stables and barns and substantial grounds and a pond that is stocked with Large Mouth Bass. It has an elegant pool over looking the pond. That is where we quarantined over the summer.


The house needs some minor adjustments which we are drawing now (I know an architect who works for free in this case.)

(Photo by: Simon Jacobsen)

DISH: What surprised you the most in making a dramatic lifestyle change?


SJ: The biggest surprise was how much we love it out here. Ruth is from a small agricultural town in Washington State so this is close to her heart. The children and I had no real experience in the country unless it was a rental house in the South of France. I realized that we had always wanted to live like this. Fifty-five years of living in Georgetown and other cities had blinded me to the possibility of something else.


DISH: Porsche or John Deere?


SJ: This is fancy horse country so you will see on the highway an assortment of combines, tractors pulling hay mixed in with Bentleys, Teslas, etc.

(Photo by: Simon Jacobsen)

DISH: Maybe it's not the best time to ask, but what do you miss most about DC?


SJ: We have many friends in Washington that we miss, but the virus has sent us all indoors or apart, so we could not have seen them safely anyway. I do miss my old haunts such as The Prime Rib, Martin’s, Milano, La Chaumiere. We will be back as Covid will not last forever. 


Like a sick friend, I just hope they can hold on until we do.

(Photo by: Simon Jacobsen)

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