Scene Last Night: Rahm Emanuel, David Karp, Chanel Models

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, at the David H. Koch Theater in New York last night, got to talking about events that take place in venues other than buildings with donors’ names on them.

“We started Night Out in the Parks last year,” Emanuel said. “Every group that gets public money must perform for free in the parks -- it’s seven events a night, May through June. Shakespeare, puppet shows, live music, movies.”

President Obama’s former chief of staff then described another free culture offering in his city, the Chicago Dancing Festival in August. It features dance companies at venues including the outdoor Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

Emanuel’s town is also home to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which performs at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance and the Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In New York last night, its dancers performed at the Koch, on a bill with other companies, while Emanuel was on hand to present an honor to Chicago couple David Herro, chief investment officer of Harris Associates LP, and Jay Franke, a dancer and founder of Chicago Dancing Festival.

The occasion was not a fundraiser for Hubbard or the Dance Festival or the Koch, but rather another theater altogether, called the Joyce, in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Founded as a venue for dance, the Joyce hosts touring and New York-based companies, runs education programs and funds new work.

Ballet Student

What the Joyce cannot do is host a major black-tie fundraiser where the meal is served steps away from the theater. That’s how Emanuel ended up at the Koch, an ideal venue for such occasions.

Emanuel fit right in with the assembled balletphiles. He said he took up ballet as a kid to improve his soccer game, then studied seriously, earning a scholarship to Joffrey Ballet. He turned it down for college, where he moved into politics.

What did dance teach him about his chosen profession? “Dance requires a lot of discipline and the ability to handle criticism,” Emanuel said.

David Karp, the founder and chief executive officer of Tumblr Inc., fiddled with a paint brush last night at the fundraiser for Publicolor, held at a public high school near Lincoln Center.

Tumblr Paintr

“It’s pretty amazing to walk in and immediately see the impact of their work all around you,” Karp said, glancing at walls painted orange, yellow and green.

Painting a wall is only the beginning of Publicolor’s intervention to lift inner-city children out of poverty. Academic support, job training and design-based curriculum keep children advancing. Last year, 100 percent of the Publicolor high-school students remained enrolled in school.

For a while now, Publicolor has celebrated its accomplishments and those of the kids it helps by holding its fundraiser in a high school. Guests can paint during cocktail hour, followed by dinner in the gym.

Karp, who didn’t finish high school, got to the event as a guest of Publicolor board member Deven Parekh, a managing director at Insight Venture Partners and one-time Tumblr investor before the company’s sale to Yahoo! Inc. He said his favorite color was Gentleman’s Gray.

“It’s Tumblr blue,” Parekh interjected, “though they can’t call it that!’”

Benjamin Moore, the Warren Buffett-owned company that donates all the paint Publicolor uses in schools, offers the decidedly blue-tinged Gentleman’s Gray, though the brighter Publicolor palette consists of Yellow Marigold, Lucky Charms Green, Aruba Blue, Oreo and Jewel Peach, to name a few examples.

The paintmaker’s top executive, Michael Searles, was honored. “This is my first event as CEO. They don’t allow you to paint until you’re with the company for a year,” Searles joked.

Tribeca Festival

Sophia Loren, whose son Edoardo has a short in the Tribeca Film Festival, set a high bar for glamour when she arrived at Balthazar last night wearing yellow-tinted glasses, a navy lace blouse and billowy pants.

Before night’s end, though, Chanel, the host of the film festival dinner, took to Twitter to assign “look of the night” to another guest: Victoria’s Secret model Lily Aldridge. Her outfit: a leg-revealing sequined dress from the cruise collection.

Other guests included Lauren Santo Domingo and models Joan Smalls and Anja Rubik. Also, singer Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and political consultant Audrey Gelman, without her oversized eyeglasses.

Chanel sponsors the Artists Awards Program, which presents the festival’s winners with pieces of art. This year’s selections include a Tony Bennett painting of Central Park and a black-and-white photograph of Stanley Kubrick’s director’s chair by Matthew Modine.

At the Faberge Big Egg Hunt auction last night, Sotheby’s showed it could egg on bidders. Jeff Koons’s half seal, half walrus, with a ball balancing on its nose, went for $900,000.

Proceeds will benefit Studio in a School, which places artists in schools in New York, and Elephant Family, which protects the Asian elephant.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.