Out

Mad for Mad Square Park

by Wendy Sy Photographed by Astrid Stawiarz and Ben Hider
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
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“My parents met in the Flatiron Building back in the ’30s. They courted while working at the same insurance company—that’s why this neighborhood always has a soft spot in my heart,” says Henry P. Godfrey, M.D., Ph.D., member of the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s benefit committee. 


Like for many New Yorkers, Madison Square Park and the area surrounding it holds sentimental value and memories. Last night, more than 450 guests came out to support the conservancy’s goal in raising funds to achieve their mission: to protect, nurture and enhance the 6.2-acres of greenery, trails and outdoor space. The third annual gala, named Party in the Park, kicked off with cocktails and a silent auction following dinner under the stars. 


Keats Myer, executive director of the conservancy said a welcoming speech, describing the park as a place where you can find “book readers, dog walkers, babies learning to walk, lovers kissing and fighting, ice cream eaters and grandparents visiting their family.” She continues, “Seeing these moments, I am overwhelmed with the importance of what we do. Each of us—staff, donors and park users—all come together to this space and I am so grateful to each of you for being here tonight and making that possible.”


The party honored Jim Heekin, CEO of Grey Group, on the advertising and marketing agency’s centennial. His award? A mini tree, symbolic to the real-life one in the park named after him. “We’re joined tonight by Grey executives from all over the world. Madison Square Park has played a central role in our decision to move our headquarters to the Toy Building in 2009,” says Heekin. “We planned the renovation to bring the beauty and inspiration of the park into our building with huge windows, down to the plantings in our lobby and roof. The location has been a not-so-secret weapon in our recruitment of talent and our creative culture. I call the park a magical place because since we arrived, Grey has enjoyed nine years of record creative and financial performance, with 2016 our best year in history.”


The evening continued with a toast to artist and MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient, Josiah McElheny, who designed the conservancy’s thirty-fourth exhibition, Prismatic Park. Displayed from June 13 through October 8 this year, the project comprises of three sculptures made with painted wood and glass, which will serve as stage-like platforms. Each vary in architectural form and color, sharing one objective: to provide a space for the creation of music, dance and poetry. The sculptures will be open to the public when not in use by collaborative resident artists from three non-profit organizations, Blank Forms, Danspace Project and Poets House.  


Next up, Robbie Gordy of Christie’s held a live auction, which resulted in an entertaining bidding war between two guests for one of the four lots: an exclusive cocktail party for 20 people provided by Eleven Madison Square Park on McElheny’s Prismatic Park dance floor. After announcing a fair warning, the offering went to the generous Sasha Camacho and Edward Bass


In total, more than $1.1 million was raised from the gala. All proceeds benefit Madison Square Park Conservancy’s art and horticulture programs, as well as park maintenance and security. 




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