Art is long, life is short, goes the old saying. If the New York Academy of Art’s 22nd annual Tribeca Ball last night showed anything, it’s that both are pretty fun. Held at the Academy’s building on 111 Franklin Street, the event was more than just an opportunity to dress up and eat hors d’oeuvres.
"We don't do parties with just chit chat," said NYAA president David Kratz '08. "We do parties with something to do." And what things to do! During the cocktail hour, Academy students chatted with guests and showcased their art on four of the Academy’s five floors. Acrobats bent over backwards (literally) and walked on stilts in the lobby; on the fifth floor, artists sketched birds from a nature preserve; and on the second, AVENUE found a bearded man named Matt Dallow. "I normally play the accordion, but tonight I'm playing the theremin," he said. "It's exciting to get hired for my theremin work."
And some famous faces were on hand, too; attendees included Donna Karan, Alina Cho, Zani Gugelman, Richard Mishaan, Alan Cumming, Jay McInerney, Daniel Boulud, Gretchen Mol, Martha Stewart, John Demsey and chairs Alain Bernard, Christina Di Donna, Brooke Shields and Naomi Watts.
Befrore she got involved with the New York Academy of Art, Shields had never been on an organization’s board. "This was the first event I came to that I actually felt that there was a history that I understood. It was the first place that I felt like not having an art history degree meant I somehow couldn't have taste and an opinion," she said.
The night was also a tribute to honoree Will Cotton. "It feels good to have everybody pay attention to me," Cotton said with a laugh. Every facet of the event felt like a tribute to Cotton—two of his paintings were featured in the lobby, with the model for one piece standing in front of it. At dinner, the academy announced the establishment of the Will Cotton Scholarship, and raised $55,000 for the fund in less than two minutes. Overall, the event raised over $860,000. Which is good, because the life of an artist is not always easy.
"No, it isn't," said Cristina Lucia Giuffrida, a student at the academy. "But it's the only way I can serve others. I'm a good waitress, and good at nannying other people's kids. But there's a moment in indigenous communities where somebody is recognized for their creative talent, and an elder taps their shoulder around the fire, and says, 'This is what you do now.' Nobody literally tapped my shoulder, but that's how I feel."