Fleurs, Son et Lumière at a Phototropic Garden Party

by Michael Gross Photographed by Angela Phaam, Joe Schildhorn/
Monday, June 5, 2017

On the balmy and beautiful evening of Thursday, June 1, The New York Botanical Garden raised $1.7 million at its annual black-tie Conservatory Ball, which is always a flowering of spring dresses amidst the gardens’ lush greenery, but this year, the science of plants and the arts of arrangement, entertaining and fashion shared center stage with art itself.

Five hundred of New York’s finest were awed if not completely overshadowed by the luminous and illuminated monumental glass sculptures of world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly, scattered around the grounds of the living museum and National Historic Landmark–a 250-acre oasis in the Bronx, where over one million plants–tropical, temperate, and desert flora–thrive in in the Perennial Garden, the Native Plant Garden and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and its courtyard’s Tropical Pool. Among the masterpieces of the 75-year-old glassblower’s art on view are Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower, Neon, White Tower with Fiori, Maccia Forest, Reeds on Logs, Blue Polyvitro Crystals, Palazzo Ducale and Sapphire Star.

Conservatory Ball Chairmen Alexandra Lebenthal, Gillian Miniter, Deborah Royce and Catherine Marlette Waddell and the NYBG leadership greeted guests on a royal blue carpet. The formidable group of women’s bright, intricately sequined gowns mirrored floral arrangements like a monumental urn filled with lilacs, hydrangeas, and yellow and red-orange roses. As a jazz trio played, guests enjoyed cocktails and wandered through Conservatory Plaza where they were greeted by Chihuly’s Sol del Citrón sculpture and many more beyond, scattered throughout the Palms of the World and Seasonal Exhibition Galleries. They are highlights of Chihuly’s first major garden exhibition in New York in more than a decade, a career retrospective of more than twenty installations of the artist’s magically inventive and extravagant organic shapes rendered in brilliant-colored glass.

The exhibition, sponsored by Bank of America, opened to the public on Saturday, April 22, 2017 and runs through Sunday, October 29, 2017.

The Gala was sponsored by Northern Trust, and received additional support from Verdura/Belperron and designer Naeem Khan, who not only attended but dressed Genevieve Barker, Linda Fargo, Lisa Harbert, and Suada Velija and the gala chairs. The evening’s Benefactors were Maureen and Richard Chilton, Amy Goldman Fowler and Cary Fowler, Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Johnson, and Deborah and Charles Royce. Other notable guests included Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, John and Barbara Cirvkva Schumacher, Sherrill and Muffie Potter Aston, Louis and Cece Black, Elizabeth Stribling and Guy Robinson, Eleanore and Domenico de Sole, Allesandro and Fe Fendi Saracino, Tim Harbert, Larry Milstein and Michelle Smith.


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