Friday, January 31, 2014

Artists for Conservation

Linda Fell, Linda Morse, Judith M. Hoffman, Sergey Gordeev, Gary Brandt, Barbara Brandt, Irene Shen, Carla Johnson, Margot London, and Irene Minkoff at Youth America Grand Prix's "The Making of an Artist."
The African Rainforest Conservancy (ARC) hosted its 23rd Annual Artists for Africa Benefit at The Bowery Hotel in New York City this past Wednesday. Executive Director Whitney Larkin welcomed over 200 guests including Cassandra Seidenfeld, Renee Adrienne Smith, Bravo’s ‘Shah’s of Sunset’ star Mercedes “MJ” Javid,  Bravo TV star Chanel Omari and model Morgan O’Connor.  

Host Carter Coleman kicked off the evening alongside Master of Ceremonies Tom McGrath to honor Thomas Kaplan with the New Species Award and Sarah Collins with the Environmental Award.
This year's African Rainforest Conservancy benefit was dedicated to the late-Advisory Board member James Gandolfini. For the past two decades, over $1 million has been raised to support grassroots community development projects and conservation in East African rainforests.

Highlights of the night included an a cappella song in Zulu by Thuli Dumakude, an African dance by Manekadang African Dance and Drum, with a DJ set and performance by Cary Nokey. 
Cary Nokey
The evening was sponsored by The Bowery HotelExtraordinary Journeys, Gardenia OrganicHahn Family WinesIndustry City DistilleryNihiwatu Resort, Peak OrganicTirado DistillerySelous Safari CompanyCoastal Aviation, and Paddle8.

For more than 20 years, The African Rainforest Conservancy has worked alongside its field partner the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) to support a network of 140 villages in eight mountain and coastal regions throughout Tanzania that are protecting 3,000 square kilometers of forest – an area 1,000 times the size of New York’s Central Park. For more information on the African Rainforest Conservancy please visit
Whitney Larkin and Thomas J McGrath Suzanne Murphy and Cassandra Siedenfeld
Quentin Jones, Gary Carrion-Murayari, and Joyce Sitterly
Sammy Kingsley and Elizabeth Ernery
Thuli Dumakude
Orianne Kaplan, Thomas Kaplan, and Leonardo Kaplan
Renee Adrienne Smith, Kellen Harrison, Mia Berg, and Noah Becker
Curtis Young and Jenna Landry Oliver Clegg and Natasha Clegg
Neyiz Cereb, Sangmi Lee, Andrew Heid, Shaokao Cheng, and Niki Cheng
Whitney Larkin, George Haddad, and Lisa Applebaum
Jessica Hodin, Felicity Sargent, Caleb James, and Daniela Ciocca
Laura Hunt, Adam Yarnold, Elizabeth Gordon, Jared Holz, and Samantha Siegel
Renee Adrienne Smith, Carter Coleman, and Cassandra Seidenfeld
Carol Beckwith and Lisa Fox Allison L Wade, John Dalsheim, and Whitney Larkin
Andrew Heid, Mebrak Tareke, and Thomas Amdemariam
Ruth Katz, Tamae Ishii, Bennett Galef, Marc Mantais, Ashley Dawyot, A Franklin, and Chris Patterson
Sophie Plimpton, Patrick Meagher, and Ann Lee
Mikaela Bradbury and Sarah Collins
Judith Fifield and Jim Lyons
Devon Windsor, Morgan O'Connor, and Olivia Greenfield
Spencer Tunick, Katia Aurora, and Gerald Forster
Beth O'Donnell and Caleb James
On Monday, January 27, Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) presented "The Making of an Artist" moderated by Barbara Brandt at New York City Center Studios, Studio 5 (130 West 56th Street, NYC). American Ballet Theatre's Marcelo Gomes created new choreography on renowned ABT dancers Misty Copeland and James Whiteside live for 145 guests. Through discussion and demonstration, their creative evolution unfolded.

YAGP founding Board Chair, Barbara Brandt, "wanted to give the audience an opportunity to join the dancers and choreographer, in the studio, as we explored the question, "What is an artist?" The evening concluded with an informal reception.
Marcelo Gomes, Misty Copeland, and James Whiteside
James Whiteside, Barbara Brandt, Marcelo Gomes, and Misty Copeland
All proceeds from the event went to YAGP's Scholarship Fund, which provides young talented dancers with scholarship auditions and performance opportunities.

YAGP's 2014 New York City Finals will take place April 3-8. The gala will be held Thursday, April 10 at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. For more information, visit
Richard Kielar, Robert Schulman, and Christian Zimmerman
John Sills, Elizabeth Papadopoulos, Sammi Seltzer, Scott Seltzer, and Franco DeVita
Elise Zealand and Leslie Kirschenbaum Franco DeVita and Stephen Limmer
Skylar Brandt, Gary Brandt, Taylor Brandt, and Barbara Brandt
Victoria Matus, Andrew Martin-Weber, and Larisa Saveliev
Robert Schulman and Hal Witt Mina Takavol and Terry Zucker
James Whiteside, Kathleen Murtha, and Kathleen Kirchgaessner
Lloyd Williams, Sara Khalifa, and Joel Kaye
The frigid weather didn't keep people from attending An Evening of Cocktails and Dance on Wednesday, January 22, 2014, benefitting The Children's Storefront, a tuition-free private school in Harlem. The annual event was held at The Ailey Studios/The Joan Weill Center for Dance (located at 405 West 55th Street) from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

More than 100 guests attended the event, which raised nearly $90,000, an unprecedented amount for this annual event. The evening featured a special performance by young artists enrolled in the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program and The Ailey School's Professional Division. The dancers performed Aspects Of A Vibe, choreographed by Darrell Moultrie, Synergy, choreographed by Kirvin Douthit-Boyd, and Passage, choreographed by Jennifer Archibald.
Hiroko Murase, Amanda K. Low, and Saturo Murase
Red Rooster Harlem's signature Yes Chef cocktail was featured thanks to the Storefront's longstanding partnership with this important landmark Harlem restaurant and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.

Co-chairs of the evening were Anne-Marie Embiricos, Reby B. Gulcan, Amanda K. Low, Christopher Moore and Maria Vecchiotti, and members of the committee included Jamie Bahar, Jill A. Davis, Amy Hudson, Hiroko Murase, Noreene Storrie, and Cathy Trentalancia. Many generous underwriters made the evening possible, including corporate sponsor Morrison and Forrester, LLP.
Andrea Forbes, John G. Forbes, Jr., and Wendy Reynoso
Joan Ai, Karen Beyer, and Ellen-Jane Moss
Barbara Feldon and friend Bernie and Elsie V. Aidinoff
John G. Forbes, Jr., Dorian Brown, Lauren Marrus, and Ray A. Cameron
Hassan Turner, James Amodeo, and Candace Cardwell
Jo Taglianetti, Jackie Jones, Maria Vecchiotti, Diane Hanan, and Dr. Anthony LaBruna
This past Wednesday night, at the powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, more than 300 of New York’s most acclaimed writers, translators, editors, agents, and pubishers gathered at the power/House Arena in Brooklyn under the auspices of the PEN American Center to celebrate new books published in 2013 and the fruits of free expression.

The diversity of PEN’s membership was reflected in the event’s co-hosts: Poet Laureate of Brooklyn Tina Chang, Jezebel founder Anna Holmes, novelists Mitchell Jackson and Dani Shapiro, and author Gary Shteyngart, whose new memoir was published earlier this month. Distinguished and longstanding PEN Members such as Ron Chernow, Elissa Schappell, Roxana Robinson, Lev Grossman, and Elinor Lipman mingled with up-and-coming writers including B.J. Novak, Marie-Helene Bertino, Paul Rome, Patty Chang Anker, Caleb Crain, Mark Binelli, and Dina Nayeri. New PEN Member Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO original series Girls, curated the music for the evening, while Rosie Schaap, author of last year’s memoir Drinking with Men, created literary-themed cocktails courtesy of liquor sponsors Hendrick’s Gin and Zyr Russian Vodka. Brooklyn Brewery donated the beer.
Lev Grossman of Time Magazine with wife Sophie Gee
Co-hosts and new members offered touching and often hilarious testimonials of their experience as PEN members. “I grew up in a totalitarian society where I was not allowed to express myself,” said Shteyngart. “ I’m talking about Hebrew school in Queens!” He continued, “PEN helps writers in all parts of the world, from Vladivostok to Kew Gardens Hills. And that is something that you are helping to support right now. The people who you are helping are forever, forever a part of what you do."

PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel ended the night with a call to action, encouraging all in attendance to send a postcard or email to Chinese President Xi Jinping demanding the freedom of PEN member and poet Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest in Beijing since her husband, jailed writer and Independent Chinese PEN Center President Liu Xiaobo, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.
Madeline Caldwell of Alfred A Knopf, BJ Novak of The Office, Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan, and Annie Eggers of Alfred A Knopf
PEN American Center is a community of 3,500 writers working to bring down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, and Susan Sontag. To learn more, visit
Elissa Schappel of Vanity Fair's Hot Type, Roxanna Robinson, author of Cost, and Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion Zoe Triska and Maddie Crum
Elinor Lipman, author of Then She Found Me, Avra Wing, author of Angie I Says, and husband Mike Wing
Greeted by the glitter of butterflies, the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts 2014 Gala chairs, committee, and its supporters, were treated to a kickoff event at Neiman Marcus Palm Beach.  Gala leadership, including chair Monika Preston and honorary chair Kathryn C. Vecellio, were on site to welcome guests and thank them for their support.
Guests were treated to a fashion show including designs by Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Naeem Khan, Balenciaga, Valentino, Chole, Lavin, Peter Pilotto, Erdem and as a special treat the finale was Oscar de la Renta's Spring 2014 collection. The show highlighted popular spring trends, including pinks, layered bracelets and mint greens.
L. to r.: Stella McCartney Blouse, Alexander McQueen Pants, Marco Bicego Jewelry; Naeem Khan Blouse, Valentino Pant, Estate Jewelry; Lela Rose Blouse, Akris Punto Pant, Manolo Blahnik Pump, Givenchy Handbag, Laura Munder Jewelry.
Prior to the exclusive fashion show, Beth Pine, vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus Palm Beach welcomed guests and then introduced Mrs. Preston who greeted the crowd and thanked them for their generous support with special mention given to the junior co-chairs Cameron Preston, Angela Vecellio and Tara Vecellio. She shared that their, "youthful energy and spirit has been instrumental in helping to plan the Gala, and I am so appreciative of their time and support."

Mrs. Preston continued by stating, "Alvin Ailey is currently the hot ticket in New York City and we are thrilled that they will be the entertainment for the 2014 Gala.  The Kravis Gala is a fun event, with a young group of supporters and everyone is invited to join us at this year's gala, which is predicted to be one of the most enjoyable of the season."
Cameron Preston, Katie Vecellio, Beth Pine, Monika Preston, Angela Vecellio, and Tara Vecellio
The annual black-tie affair will begin with a reception in the Shapiro Founders' Room at the Kravis Center, followed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance in Dreyfoos Hall and a dinner dance in the Gimelstob Ballroom located in the Cohen Pavilion.
Gala committee members include Michael Bracci, Mark Freitas, Robert Fromer, Irene Karp, John Kessler, Ted Mandes, William Meyer, Laurie Silvers and Dom Telesco.
Irene Karp, Laurie Silvers, Garrison duP. Lickle, and Judy Mitchell
Gala sponsors include Martin Axman, The Breakers, Stephen Brown and Jamie Stern, Alec and Miriam Flamm, Diane and Bruce Halle, Henni and John Kessler, Dorothy and Sidney Kohl, Ingrid and David Kosowsky, Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund, Jane M. Mitchell, Neiman Marcus, Helen K. Persson, Monika and John Preston, Sabadell Bank & Trust, SBA Communications Corporation, Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein, Kathryn and Leo Vecellio; Tiffany & Co. for special support, and Classical South Florida and Palm Beach Illustrated for media support.
Tickets for this year's Gala are $750 for the Gala Patron, and $375 for the Young Gala Patron (45 years old and younger).
For more information and to purchase tickets visit or call (561) 651-4320.
Gina and Jeff Sabean with Caroline Harless
Beth Pine, Bill Meyer, and Diane Bergner
Mona Zapper and Hayden Hosford Margaret M. Damen and Miriam Flamm
Stirling McCracken and Kelly Kirkpatrick
Lizzi Bickford and Caroline Rafferty Terri Mersentes and Shani Core
Tara Vecellio and Hilary Jordan
Judy Mitchell and Jane Mitchell
Ann Sommer, Elaine North, and Nancy Parker
Marilyn Berman and Zelda Mason

Photographs by Patrick McMullan; Corby Kaye's Studio Palm Beach (Kravis Center)