Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Joseph Perella had his smart phone out last night at the Studio Museum in Harlem gala, showing a photograph of Raymond McGuire’s newborn son, Leo, when Mom one-upped him.
“He was so tiny then,” Crystal McCrary said, taking out her smart phone. “Here’s a super cute picture at the doctor’s - - he looks like a real human being now.”
Will Leo, now 11 weeks old, grow up to be an artist or a banker?
“It’s too early to tell,” said Dad McGuire, global head of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup and the chairman of the Studio Museum in Harlem. “He’s certainly got the creative sentiment. My own artistic abilities are severely limited.”
“He can be whatever he wants,” said Perella, chairman and chief executive officer of Perella Weinberg Partners LP.
That sense of possibility is very much a part of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Through a residency program and exhibitions of emerging artists, the museum has supported the careers of many black artists. Julie Mehretu, Glenn Ligon and Lorna Simpson were all in the ballroom of Cipriani Wall Street last night, dining on spring chicken at tables covered in black sequins and white tulips.
Studio Museum’s director and chief curator, Thelma Golden, came to the museum 13 years ago from the Whitney Museum of American Art. “It’s amazing to see how all the artists have developed,” Golden said. “It speaks to the role of the museum in nurturing artists.”
Njideka Akunyil completed the residency program last year.
“I had a huge beautiful studio space looking out on 125th Street, with 24-hour access even on Christmas,” Akunyil said. “There was a stipend that, used carefully, was enough to live on. I started at 10 in the morning and went ’til 11 at night. If you put that much time in, your work will develop rapidly.”
The gala drew Thomas Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Scott Rothkopf, curator and associate director of programs at the Whitney; and Christopher Lew, assistant curator at MoMA PS1.
“What Thelma has done,” said adviser and dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, “is put black artists into the mainstream. We all look to her vision.”
Along the way, the gala has evolved from an event raising $30,000 to one raising seven figures and attracting a power guest list. J. Michael Evans, vice chairman at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Charles Patton of Oak Hill Capital Partners LP, Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express Co., and Star Jones were in attendance.
“I’ve always loved coming to this party, the way everyone looks, it’s a treat,” said Agnes Gund, who was honored and spoke easily of her affection for the museum.
“Its work is as complicated and cross-cultural as the city itself, where there are more racially mixed families, including my daughter’s,” said Gund, an art collector, board member of several arts institutions, and founder of the arts-education program Studio in a School. She noted the Studio Museum’s proximity to the Red Rooster, whose chef, Marcus Samuelsson, was sitting at her table.
Jennie C. Jones, who was in Golden’s first exhibition, “Freestyle,” received the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize.
“I had a wall drawing in that show, and I remember an artist told me he felt like he could hear the drawing,” Jones said. Since then she’s become known as a conceptual sound artist.
“Tonight is kind of a full circle moment,” Jones said.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Jeffrey Burke on books, Frederik Balfour on wine.
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