Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Mid-sixties and somewhat sunny, yesterday in New York. I was homebound with triple deadlines. Today’s forecast is for the mid-70s. Much better. Down there in PB, where it’s described as a tropical mob scene and so many New Yorkers and otherwise northerners have taken shelter big time, it’s raining as I write this.
Felicia Taylor, who now basically lives in PB, sent me an email saying the rain was heavy off and on. Tropical weather. Whatta those chic outdoor diners gonna do, I’m wondering. Probably go inside.
Which speaking of, tomorrow, Wednesday, the 21st of April, Michael’s restaurant is re-opening! Michael’s as a longtime reader knows, has been one of my main destinations weekdays for lunch for years! A lot of the world has arrived and departed through those doors, so it is rife with news, thoughts and interesting faces to conjecture over (and maybe write about).
I haven’t been there in more than a year!! I’m now just so glad that they’ll be there. It’s anticipating a kind of homecoming. I just learned of this a few hours ago. I don’t have a lunch date which means I might just lunch solo. That’s just as okay with me; it’s the being there that will be the one-time-only thrill. And I’m also thrilled for the staff, many of whom have been waiting for months to get back to work!
Meanwhile back at the virtuals. This past Friday at noon, ArtTable, the organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the arts, honored philanthropist Barbara Tober and cultural organizer La Tanya S. Autry. The event was also celebrating 40 years of advancing leadership of women in the visual arts.
Jessica L. Porter, ArtTable’s Lila Harnett Executive Director, noted that “ArtTable has always been a platform to collectively envision and then make possible a better art world, an art world that is just, equitable, sustainable, and relevant.”
It began as a small, informal group of professional women in the arts with the objective of “fostering a stronger future for all women in the arts.” Over the years it has grown into a national network of more than 1200 women, with chapters across the country as well as worldwide. More than 200 guests attended and they raised more than $200,000. Very impressive.
ArtTable’s 2021 Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts Award was presented to Barbara Tober. Barbara is chairman emerita of New York’s Museum of Art and Design (MAD), as well as a major force in the creation of the museum. She was interviewed by Michele Oka Doner, the sculptress.
I happen to know both women. They are two of the most ambitious and creative women I know. Barbara is the executive, literally an editor for creative ones, and Michele is the artist who throughout her enormous career has also demonstrated excellent executive abilities. And both with great success personally. Plus they’re both superior dinner partners.
Michele asked Barbara, “You’ve been generous, you’ve had multiple careers, you’ve danced on the dance floor of life, what do you think about what you’ve built at the Museum of Arts and Design and others you’ve worked with?”
When I heard Michele ask that, I thought to myself that’s what Barbara thinks about her achievements, she’s always thinking ahead, always moving things along and having the best time doing it.
Her own response to Michele’s question: “Education is terribly important. MAD puts an emphasis on this.” She said in pursuing your philanthropy you have to “settle on what you’re most interested in.” For her it’s young artists, anything where someone is just starting out and they need that extra push to get going.
Her advice that she personally follows: “Buy their art. Help them sell it. Put it in your museum. I do what I can to make a difference in their life.” And that she does in aces.
Her interviewer, the artist’s side, gets it. And returns it. A conversation with either woman is energizing and inspirational. That’s New York for you.
Also presented with the ArtTable’s 2021 New Leadership Award for La Tanya S. Autry was presented ArtTable’s 2021 New for curatorial work and for co-creating The Art of Black Dissent, an interactive program promoting public discussion about the Black liberation struggle and co-producing #MuseumsAreNotNeutral, an initiative that calls for an equity-based transformation of museums.
“Without justice, there can be no love”, Autry said quoting Bell Hooks, “Aligning my curatorial work with my social justice movement received some resistance from institutions feeling they shouldn’t be political. I was done with this narrative and created the #MuseumsAreNotNeutral campaign”.
The event also saluted the 2020 ArtTable awardees, bringing to a close the 40th Anniversary observances disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
ArtTable acknowledged 2020 recipient Susan Unterberg, photographer and founder of Anonymous Was a Woman, along with four anniversary New Leadership Awardees: Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; Erin Christovale, Associate Curator, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Lauren Haynes, Director of Artists Initiatives and Curator, Contemporary Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; and Jami Powell, Associate Curator of Native American Art, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, New Hampshire. Find more information on the 2020 Awardees, click here.
The 2021 benefit also debuted a set of exclusive limited editions supporting ArtTable’s mission and programming, including a Philanthropy Is Beautiful bracelet by Joan Hornig; a scarf produced by Alice Riot celebrating 25 years of Anonymous Was a Woman; and two untitled prints by New York City artist Sara Sosnowy.
Meanwhile down in PB American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, hosted a special gala celebration last week at the Brazilian Court Hotel where they paid tribute to recent graduates of its lifesaving Pups4Patriots program which puts healing leashes in the hands of veterans suffering the invisible wounds of war – post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
Robin Ganzert, CEO and president of American Humane said, “As we continue to face uncertain times, this celebration serves as a rallying point to bring us together to provide veterans in need with the healing power of our four-legged friends.”
I have four of those four-legged friends in residence and during these past few months of frequent isolation and introspection that it provkes, my “friends” have taught me the pleasure of feeling love. Not so much from them, which is a given, but feeling it myself for them.
Service dogs are an invaluable asset to veterans with trauma, and the annual Pups4Patriots gala literally helps us save lives on both ends of the leash. I’ve had dogs and cats all my life, as matter of course, of having pets. These times and their presence has brought something new and greater for me. I think of those veterans who, just by being there, will feel better, just plain better.
This year’s celebration featured quarantine bubble seating as well as virtual seating so all guests were comfortable and able to fully enjoy a night under the stars listening to live music courtesy of Alex Donner Entertainment. Among the guests (animal lovers all) Lois Pope, American Humane’s First Lady of Compassion; Jean and Martin Shafiroff; Herb and Sharon Jablin; Sharon Bush and Bob Murry; and Judith Miller, among many others.
Through the generous support of its donors, including the DAV Gold Coast Chapter 133 which was also in attendance, American Humane is able to provide highly trained service dogs to veterans in need.
For more information or to support these lifesaving programs, visit www.AmericanHumane.org or stop by their office at 251 Royal Palm Way, Palm Beach.