Former Model Behind the Camera

Art Around Town

By LIZZIE SIMON
May 2, 2008

More than 400 friends of Lora and Fred Drasner gathered at the Marlborough Gallery on Wednesday night to celebrate “Sunsets,” Ms. Drasner’s book of 80 photographs. The images were shot during the couple’s three-year trip around the world on their 165-foot yacht, Andromeda la Dea. The former model turned self-taught photographer and her husband, a former co-publisher of the New York Daily News and part owner of the Washington Redskins, had met on Valentine’s Day 1999 in Antigua on another yacht (named Destiny). Five years later, they married in Venice, Italy, and after the wedding, an extended honeymoon began. Shortly into their Atlantic Crossing, Ms. Drasner began capturing nature’s glory as day turned to night.

This is the first book for Ms. Drasner, who lived in New York City for 12 years before moving with her husband to Miami. As she helped a small gang of assistants set up her books for signing and sale, Ms. Drasner — at almost 6 feet tall in heels — was an effervescent presence, her bright blond hair reaching halfway down her back, and her many diamonds, as well as her minidress, sparkling away.

“I’m really happy that Marlborough Gallery let me use their space,” she said, hastening her nails to dry before signing autographs. “This is just the best gallery in New York, so I was really lucky.”

As the well-heeled and high-heeled began to arrive, the couple beamed before the 12 photos that were on view for one night only. Among the works on the walls were “Kayaking Moorea” ($14,000), a shot of rowers against a red sky, and “Central Park” ($5,000), a more local sunset. In honor of the publication, the Drasners donated $10,000 to Literary Partners Inc., a program that teaches New York City adults reading, writing, and math skills.

Columnist Liz Smith came to the event with low expectations. “I’m surprised,” she said. “At first I thought, ‘This is something made possible by money,’ but it certainly transcends itself. They’re extraordinary. She’s very talented.”

Marlborough Gallery president Pierre Levai had praise for Ms. Drasner’s work as well. “She has a very good relationship between the size of the photo and the subject, and she has a great sense of light. The photographs are about happiness, and about nature, and about traveling around the world. It’s nice to show that in New York City.”

“I feel refreshed,” a guest, Sherry Margolin, said while gazing at “Whale Tail” ($6,000). Ms. Margolin worked for Davis and Warshow, a plumbing distributor that supplied all of the fixtures for the Drasners’ homes, including their yacht.

As the party continued, Ms. Drasner had an irrepressibly warm and sunny disposition, much like her photos. “She’s easy to get along with,” Mr. Drasner said. “All of my friends said that if they spent three years with their wives on a boat, only one of them would be getting off. But we both set off to have an adventure.”

Ms. Drasner agreed that there was peace at sea. “We never fought,” she said. “We don’t fight. I’m not a fighter. And if there was something, I would just smile and get a massage or something and then later forget that anything happened. It just brought us closer.”

In addition to the photographs, “Sunsets” contains quotes from sources as disparate as Alice Walker, Michelangelo, Charles Darwin, Anne Frank, and the Dalai Lama. “When we were on the boat,” Ms. Drasner said, “I had a lot of time. So I went through the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, and I would just highlight the ones that I thought were wonderful.” The photos and quotes are organized in five groupings: Enlightenment, Nature, Beauty, Happiness, and Journeys. Ms. Drasner is currently planning a sequel to “Sunsets” with photos from the couple’s most recent trips to Hong Kong, Vancouver, and Europe.

“My love was always sunsets,” Ms. Drasner said. “Even as a little girl. Everything I drew had a sun with a smiley face. And my husband, when he was in preschool, the first thing he made was a little clay dollar sign. Isn’t that funny?”

Before the night was over, Ms. Drasner sold five photographs — including “Kayaking Moorea” and “Central Park” — and had been invited by Mr. Levai to show her work again at Marlborough Gallery.