The Bronx Museum of the Arts celebrated their annual gala and art auction at Capitale on April 9, 2019, which raised over $1 million, making it the most successful gala in Bronx Museum history. The evening honored leaders in art and social justice Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman of For Freedoms, Junko Kobayashi, President of the Stan Lee Foundation, and art journalist, curator and playwright Carey Lovelace. The evening was emceed by MOCAD senior curator Larry Ossei-Mensah.
This was the museum’s first gala under the leadership of Executive Director Deborah Cullen. The annual benefit and auction supports the museum’s programming and exhibitions, free admission, and educational programs that reach more than 16,000 Bronx youth every year.
As the evening commenced, guests from the worlds of art, fashion, business, and philanthropy mingled and enjoyed cocktails while previewing the auction artworks. Auction artists included Sanford Biggers, Zoë Buckman, Tara Donovan, Rashid Johnson, KAWS, Eddie Martinez, Marilyn Minter, Angel Otero, José Parlá, Dana Schutz, Katie Stout, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Fred Tomaselli, Betty Tompkins, and Kehinde Wiley.
Following cocktails, guests entered the dining room for a seated dinner with a specially-prepared menu. The tables were adorned with stunning centerpieces designed by artist Iva Gueorguieva. During the dinner, guests enjoyed a special performance by activist, fashion icon, and musician TK Wonder.
Attendees gathered to celebrate the evening’s honorees, where Swizz Beatz presented the Art for Justice Visionaries Award to Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman for their pioneering work through For Freedoms; Karen Robinovitz presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Junko Kobayashi, President of the Stan Lee Foundation, honoring her pioneering work championing Stan Lee’s vision to provide equal education and access to literacy, education, and arts in underserved communities throughout the nation; and Joseph Mizzi, Chairperson of BxMA Board of Trustees presented the Visionaries Pathmaker Award to acclaimed art journalist, curator and playwright Carey Lovelace.
Following the dinner was a successful live auction — in which all auction works were sold — led by Christie’s auctioneer Sara Friedlander. The gala’s silent and live auctions raised crucial funds for the museum to continue to offer free admission to its internationally recognized exhibitions and educational programming.
Since its inception in 1971, the Bronx Museum has focused on serving the underserved communities in which it sits and connecting diverse audiences to urban experiences through world-class exhibitions and educational and public programs. The Bronx Museum’s programming is a manifestation of that cultural and community wealth. The Bronx Museum defines itself as an open and inclusive place, where all people feel welcome to participate and where marginalized voices, particularly of the youth, can be heard. Always free and open to the public, the Bronx Museum greets approximately 100,000 visitors of all ages each year, including 12,000 K-12 students from neighboring Bronx public schools.