New York Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed from the stage of the Plaza Hotel Dia de El Museo del Barrio at El Museo’s 50th anniversary celebration, May 2, 2019. “The creation of El Museo is one of the moments where history started to change,” said the Mayor as he presented an official proclamation from the City. This was only one of the surprises in a Gala evening that honored Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, Craig Robins, and El Museo’s founding director, artist Raphael Montanez Ortiz and raised in excess of $1.2 million.
El Museo board chair Maria Eugenia Maury opened the evening with spirited remarks invoking Latina activist Dolores Huerta who said, “Walk the streets with us into history. Get off the sidewalk.” The evening was MC’d by WNBC TV Lynda Baquero with nearly 500 guests dancing in black tie. Executive director Patrick Charpenel expressed the feelings of many when he shared, “El Museo del Barrio is a museum created by and for the community in response to the cultural marginalization faced by Puerto Ricans in New York…Today, issues of representation and social justice remain central to Latinos in this country.”
Artist Rirkrit Travanija introduced longtime supporter Craig Robins who received the Outstanding Patron of Art and Design Award. Craig graciously shared, “The growth and impact of this museum is nothing short of extraordinary.”
El Museo chairman emeritus and artist, Tony Bechara, introduced Ella Fontanals-Cisneros who received the Outstanding Patron of the Arts award, noting her longtime support of Latin artists including early support Carmen Herrera, both thru acquiring her work and presenting it at her Miami intuition, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO). With her family around her, Fontanals-Cisneros accepted the award elegantly in Spanish.
Sisters Ela Troyano and Carmelita Tropicana Troyano warmly welcomed their friend, Raphael Montanez Ortiz to the stage and read from a message from Chon A. Noriega that noted his importance to the Latinx community as well his remarkable body of work in many genres. From a seat on the stage the handsome 85 year old artist led guests in his signature audience participation concert first activated in 1966. With the assistance of Executive Director Patrick Charpenel, the entire Plaza Ballroom audience took white paper bags, wrote on them “whatever garbage or worries they have,” inflated the bags and “popped their worries away.”
A live auction was conducted by Gabriela Palmieri, Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s, and daughter of legendary jazz artist Eddie Palmieri. Gabriela made a loving donation on behalf of her mother Iraida Palmieri. Guests enjoyed magnums of Moet & Chandon at every table, danced to Latin music by Avenida B and a special performance by La Voz contestant Manny Cabo.
El Museo del Barrio, founded by a coalition of Puerto Rican educators, artists, and activists, is the nation’s leading Latino/Latinx and Latin American cultural institution. The Museum welcomes visitors of all backgrounds to discover the artistic landscape of these communities through its extensive Permanent Collection, varied exhibitions and publications, bilingual public programs, educational activities, festivals, and special events.
On April 30, CIVITAS held its Annual Benefit at the beautiful Ukrainian Institute at 79th and Fifth Avenue. The evening cocktail party honored The Frick Collection and its Director Ian Wardropper as well as a group of local businesses in recognition for their major contributions to the quality of life on the Upper East Side and in East Harlem.
Executive Vice President Joanna Delson opened the remarks with a warm welcome to about 200 guests. She was followed by CIVITAS President Mark S. Alexander who shared that an art competition was held this year involving students at a number of local middle schools, with a display of their depictions of The Frick Collection serving as a backdrop for the event (as well as the cover of the invitation).
In his remarks and the program for the event Mark Alexander discussed how the Frick merited being this year’s honoree: as an institution that represents a cultural gem of the Upper East Side, and, most particularly, how the museum and library responded to community feedback on its building renovation proposal. He characterized the Frick as a good neighbor in its willingness to listen to feedback and respond with a considered revision and a renewed plan, this time by Selldorf Architects.
He added, “After a series of meetings and presentations by Frick staff and consultants, CIVITAS decided to offer its full-throated support to their new expansion and renovation plan. CIVITAS, tonight, honors The Frick Collection and its leader Ian Wardropper for their exceptional effort to listen and learn from their biggest fans and critics in their neighborhood.”
Ian Wardropper then joined him and accepted the 2019 August Heckscher Founder Award for Community Service on behalf of the Frick, as well as a framed “Extension of Remarks” from Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. This additional form of recognition of considerable community spirit will be entered into the Congressional Record and permanently held in the Library of Congress.
Ian Wardropper offered a few words about the major goals of the project, notably opening up more of the Frick’s historic buildings for the display of art—including the second floor of the mansion. The plan will also create a special exhibition gallery and dedicated education center, and provide a new auditorium with greater seating capacity and state-of-the-art acoustics to support spoken word and music programs. Wardropper also spoke about the importance of access for all visitors, including those with disabilities, and how the plan will make critical upgrades towards that end, and finally how it affords the institution the opportunity to address critical infrastructure issues affecting the mostly 80- to 100-year-old buildings.
CIVITAS then presented awards to local businesses: Logos Bookstore, Island, Ann Crabtree, Maz Mezcal, Rosenthal Wine Merchants, Isle of Capri, Sisters Caribbean Cuisine, Ponce Bank, Wankel’s Hardware, and Jerome Florists.
Advisory Board member Stephen S. Lash, gavel in hand, then led a spirited auction of various prizes. The evening ended slowly and enjoyably with a return to conversation with kindred spirits over cocktails in this wonderful setting.
CIVITAS is a Not-For-Profit organization founded in 1981 to address citizens’ concerns for the quality of urban life in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and East Harlem neighborhoods along the East River. Its mission focuses on contextual Planning and Zoning, Historic Landmarks Preservation, efficient Transportation, improving our built Environment, and waterfront access along the Esplanade.
On May 1st at the Core Club, the Couture Council in partnership with the Core Club hosted an evening of “Cocktails and Couture.” Zac Posen and Valerie Steele talked for almost an hour about How fashion has changed since 2001, when Zac first launched his eponymous company. They discussed Zac’s love of high fashion and the work of designers such as Charles James, and looked at images of some of Zac’s most famous Red Carpet moments when he dressed stars from Uma Thurman to Rihanna – many of whom are long-time friends of his. Zac’s life and career were the subject of a documentary film, The House of Z, and he discussed this as well.
Among the enthralled guests in attendance were Couture Council members such as Jessica Barber, Marisol Deluna, Karen Eckhoff, Jeff Fowler, Adnan Ege Kutay, Ann Mailly-Long, Sarah Sulzberger Perpich, Lois Robbins, Darcy Rigas, Hannah Rokes, Jean Shafiroff, Marie Smart, and Christine Smith, along with Core Club members and guests.
The Couture Council is a membership group that supports The Museum at FIT, the only museum in New York City that focuses exclusively on the art of fashion. Couture Council members receive invitations to private events, such as the recent conversation between fashion designer Zac Posen and Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT.
The Museum at FIT is located on 7th Avenue and West 27th Street. It is open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 8 pm, and Saturday, 10-5. To join the Couture Council, visit: www.fitnyc.edu/couturecouncil
Photographs by Krista Kennell/PMC (El Museo); Aurora Rose/PMC (Civitas); Eileen Costa (MFIT)