On Monday night, non-profit organization Americans for the Arts held its annual fundraising gala in the Cipriani ballroom across from New York’s Grand Central Station. The black tie affair brought together a blue chip who’s who including RoseLee Goldberg, Agnes Gund, and Jeffrey Deitch as well as artists like Frank Stella and Will Cotton. Cocktail hour offered guests the chance to pick up a limited-edition print by Shepard Fairey to benefit the charity. “I feel like a bit of an imposter in this realm because I come from a not-asking-for-permission background,” admitted Fairey, who looked oddly at home in a suit. “But I am enjoying the company.”
The presentation kicked off with a shout out to artist Jeff Koons by the charity’s President Bob Lynch, who thanked the artist for creating this year’s award statuettes before handing the microphone off to the evening’s presenters. Highlights from the dinner included artist Richard Serra receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award and Ben Stiller’s presentation of the already tongue-twisting Americans for the Arts’s Arts Education Award to the Los Angeles-based, non-profit P.S. ARTS. “There are more arts in that sentence than in public schools,” joked Stiller, before bestowing one of Koons’ golden balloon bunnies. Afterwards, a musical interlude by recent alumni of the charity’s YoungArts program brought the house down with a jazzy rendition of Frank Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight. “Art is our first language,” said artist Richard Phillips, once the applause died down.