Alicia Keys and Dustin Yellin. Photo by Driely Vieira.
Esperanza Spalding. Photo by Driely Vieira.
Alicia Keys. Photo by Driely Vieira.
Dustin Yellin knows he has to make the schlep to Red Hook for his annual fundraiser for Pioneer Works worthwhile. On Sunday, he stuffed all manner of entertainment into the foundation’s sprawling grounds. Saturday Night Live‘s Stefon would have been pleased. This party had everything: hula dancers inside a tiki lounge, tarot card readers, sleight of hand tricks, Monica Lewinsky. At the center of it all was a booth operated by Google of its new Tilt Brush virtual reality technology, which had artist-wannabes lining up to paint in 3D. The great wizard himself produced a piece within the VR world that looked like a colorful Transformer (or one of his holograms). “It’s the most amazing thing ever,” he said, giddy. “You’re gonna fall in love, let’s just say that.” The project came about a few months ago when Google approached the artist to make the VR art piece. “We did that separately,” he continued. “And I said, ‘This is all great, but now I want you to get involved with the foundation,'” he said. That’s Yellin for you, eyes always on the prize. Google ended up sponsoring the fundraiser and Yellin raised $1.4 million for his project, including the $80,000 that Swizz Beatz plunked down during an auction for one of Yellin’s psychogeography pieces. Pioneer Works is by now so expansive – the campus includes a radio studio, art residencies and education programs – that it was fitting for the crowd in attendance to be as eclectic as it was – there was Lewinksy in one corner – she and Yellin met at a TED talk – but also the actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, Liv Tyler, Lauren Santo Domingo, David Byrne, designers Jack McCollough and Wes Gordon, and the singers Esperanza Spalding, who performed, and Alicia Keys, one of the hosts alongside her husband Beatz. There was even Chirlane McCray. “Chirlane McCray? Who’s that?” said one perplexed guest, then somewhat crestfallen, “Oh, first lady of New York.” There was an after party, but by 9 p.m. the crowd began to thin out. There was another land as foreign and strange as Red Hook to look forward to, Westeros. Game of Thrones was about to start.