Seeing Stars at Pioneer Works’ Village Fête

by Wendy Sy Photographed by Leandro Justen and Matteo Prandoni/
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The concept of outer space was brought to earth on Sunday night at Pioneer Works’ fourth annual Village Fête. Held in the organization’s Civil War-era brick and timber building, more than 350 guests gathered to support the non-profit cultural center, which is devoted to fostering creatives in art, music, performance and science.

Hosts of the celestial-themed event included founder Dustin Yellin and director Gabriel Florenz as well as Alexa Chung, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, Lauren and Andrés Santo Domingo, Sarah Arison and Thomas Wilhelm, John Hockenberry, Maxwell, and Dr. Mike Massimino. Fab 5 Freddy served as the master of ceremonies.

“We’re living in a very strange time politically and spiritually. Culture, science and humanity can come together to build the future we would all like to see,” Yellin noted. “We’re working to change the paradigm of cultural production. Museums cost $25 now—that ain’t accessible. Hope you come here on a less expensive and fancy night and meet the people who are here every day.” 

Spotted during the cocktail hour was socialite Polina Proshkina admiring works on display during the silent auction by Paddle8. “This goes out to a very important cause, especially today, where the resources and budgets for art education are being cut off,” she says. 

Following, guests (many dressed in festive attire by supporting brands Kate Spade New York and Jack Spade) enjoyed meals by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events, cocktails by Tequila Don Julio, and wines from Vidon Vineyard by former NASA astrophysicist Don Hagge. Tables were dressed with hand-dyed silk shibori runners by Brooklyn-based designer Kalen Kaminski of Upstate.

CK Swett held a thought-provoking speech during the live auction. “Think about your responsibility—what is the task in front of us? Is it just to make beautiful objects?” Swett asked. “Even though we’re at an art incubator, art can’t just be for art’s sake. Without community, and focusing on the local, what do we have?” Exceeding expectations, more than $75,000 was raised to benefit Pioneer Works’ yearly programming. 

“All of the art featured tonight are by our dear friends and supporters. I’d say about 80 percent of them have been or are currently in our residency program,” says Florenz. “We’re always trying to be on the vanguard of what’s happening in the world and be a platform for different fields. We have this community of the most creative, amazing individuals in the world and hope that as we grow, we’ll keep being supported in a stronger way.” 

Florenz then reveals the surprise musical guest, Moses Sumney, who performed later in the evening. “He’s a rising star. I saw him at a friend’s festival about six months ago and fell in love with his voice.” 

The party continued upstairs, as guests virtually ventured out of the world through a deep space immersive dome pod by META.


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