The Coalition for the Homeless: Benefit Auction this year was the 25th Anniversary ARTWALK NY. It was held at the glam at Spring Studios. and honored Katherine Bernhardt and philanthropist Michael Platt.
ARTWALK NY was presented this year by the Italian fashion house Max Mara and chaired by Maria Giulia Maramotti with over 700 guests!
It brought together scores of artists (of which I was one) as well as generous art-loving New Yorkers. The night celebrated the role of “artist-as-activist,” to raise awareness about the crisis of mass homelessness, and to support programs that directly help homeless men, women, and children.
Every night nearly 62,000 New Yorkers (including 22,000 children) are in homeless shelters and thousands more sleep on the streets. Since their founding in 1981, the Coalition has given more than one million homeless New Yorkers a way off the streets.
Executive Director David Giffen, said,
“The remarkable turnout and high energy crowd made this a hugely successful event.It was really moving to see so many compassionate New Yorkers come out to support our homeless neighbors.”
It really was a fun night that raised lots of money. (Just under $750,000!)
I got there early and while the volunteers got organized I had a nice chat with legendary rock photographer, Bob Gruen and his artist wife Elizabeth. We had all been at World of Wonder‘s HBO premiere screening of Liberty: Mother of Exiles last month and Bob told me a story of shooting video of Yoko Ono in a helicopter (as one does) in front of Lady Liberty, a tale he neglected to tell filmmakers Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato as he was just. remembering it. Bob was in the HBO documentary with his iconic shot of John Lennon in front of the state of Liberty.
His photograph in the auction was of a 70s Freddie Mercury onstage. I noticed the crotch area of his tight fitting jumpsuit was quite smooth, so I asked if he’d done any “retouching” to that area, to which he said,
“I don’t even think about that…”
Neither do I, usually, except as I pointed out to Bob, there was a mic stand pointing right to “it”.
So much great work in the show. I wandered around with my old pal, celeb chef, Cary Richardson, running into my former art dealer Cheryl Hazan and her wife, designer Marti Sagar. I ran into fellow artists Jordan Eagles and Nir Hod, along with his wife. We all sampled food from some of the city’s best restaurants like Indochine and Café Luxemborg and some top shelf liquor. (I think I might have had one too many shots of Milagro Tequila… but no one was counting.)
After the silent auction, came the live auction and speakers. I (almost literally) bumped into old pal, actress Debi Mazar who was in the front row in a huge foot cast (don’t ask) but was still her fiesty, funny self. She told stories of her recent interactions with a homeless man she knows and introduced auctioneer Aileen Agopian who got those generous NYers in the room to open up their wallets.
One heated bidding war was between a buyer the room and my friend, curator Natalie Kates, who was on the phone with another buyer. The lot in question was Ed Ruscha‘s Says I, To Myself, a tiny piece (7 3/8 × 9 1/8″) from 2019 that was bid up to just slightly under $100,000. This might have been due to the record-smashing auction price at Christie’s of a Ruscha a few nights before for over $52 million!
After that part, some more delicious cocktails and I chatted up old pal Patrick McMullan and we both managed to get a few free prints from photographer, Ruvan Wijesooriya, so I didn’t go home empty-handed.
Photos, Trey Speegle, Patrick McMullan)