South of the Border Spirit

By Salma Abdelnour Posted March 02, 2007

Art openings aren't generally known for their joie-de-vivre vibe. From my experience (granted, not very extensive), parties at art galleries involve standing around stiffly, hoping you're dressed fabulously enough to withstand the once-overs, and praying you don't drip the cheap wine down the front of your blouse. But when the folks who run Mexico's über-chic Grupo Habita hotels blew into Manhattan over the weekend, they threw a bash at West Chelsea's David Zwirner gallery that probably beat just about any other party in the city on Saturday night. The event was a simultaneous celebration of Habita’s gorgeous new La Purificadora hotel in Puebla, and of Collección Jumex, Mexico City’s renowned contemporary-art collection, whose co-owner Eugenio López was in town for the Armory Show art exhibit. As hundreds of people swarmed around the gallery sipping hibiscus margaritas, the remarkably mellow chef Enrique Olvera and his staff turned out a slew of dishes that were triumphantly delicious (again, not a description normally applicable to art-opening food) and that previewed the menu he's about to launch at the La Purificadora restaurant. After a few rounds of crunchy duck empanadas with mole, cups of the signature four-corn soup Olvera serves at his Mexico City restaurant Pujol, and beautiful little bowls of tortilla foam, avocado and red-salsa jelly, the stereo started blasting “I Will Survive” in Spanish. The gallery space turned into an instant dance floor, with everyone moving as freely they could in the crammed room. I had dragged some gallery-weary art-industry friends to the party, planning to stay 20 minutes. Three hours later, we were still there—and the party wasn’t even close to winding down.

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