Scene Last Night: Sarah Jessica Parker, Liv Tyler, Brooklynites

Brklyn Artists Ball
Sarah Jessica Parker, Lorna Simpson, and Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum. Photographer: Rob Kim/Getty Images

Sarah Jessica Parker left early for the opening of “The Normal Heart” on Broadway, but other guests stayed for the Brooklyn Museum’s “Brklyn Artists Ball” last night and then departed with table decorations.

Criterion Collection President Peter Becker grabbed a brick covered in a green fabric with an aquatic scene and signed by Shinique Smith.

Smith and 15 other artists with Brooklyn roots were recruited to decorate the dinner tables. Her contribution involved colorful bricks.

“When you’re a host, you display wealth and generosity,” Smith said earlier in the evening, standing next to one of the mushroom sculptures by Situ Studio in the museum’s Great Hall. “My guests can take what they want. It’s social sculpture.”

The table decorations were the talk of the event as guests sat down for a dinner including timbale of avocado and quinoa, and grilled hanger steak with fingerling and purple Peruvian potatoes.

Ball Chairman Stephanie Ingrassia and her husband, Tim Ingrassia, co-chairman of global mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., sat at the center table. Artist Brian Tolle had decorated it with patches of Astroturf.

“We got to meet the artists at a reception at our house three weeks ago. It was wonderful,” said Tim Ingrassia when he entered the dining room. He had stopped to admire the work of Dustin Yellin: rows of boxes made of acrylic, paint and collage, consisting of images cut out from old books.

“He was worried the tables wouldn’t be strong enough so he made his own table for this event,” Ingrassia said.

Yellin, who has a studio in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, built his table of steel. He said the installation weighed more than 2,000 pounds.

Comfortable Artists

The goal of the evening was “to make Brooklyn artists feel comfortable here,” said retiring Brooklyn Museum board chair and real-estate developer Norman Feinberg, right after posing for photographs with Liv Tyler, an honorary chairman along with Parker.

“Absolutely, I saw people I know from Brooklyn,” said artist Lorna Simpson, on her way to the dessert reception and after-party. Simpson was one of the artist honorees of the event and has an exhibition at the museum.

“You were also representing,” added Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem.

“Yes, I was born in Brooklyn, and I live in Brooklyn,” Simpson said. “I’m so provincial.”

“In the best way,” said Golden.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

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