MAD Ball Draws Artists, Designers, & Philanthropists to Columbus Circle

From left: Murray Hill, Jeffrey Gibson, Michele Cohen, Cristina Grajales, Tim Rogers
Photo: BFA

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) held its annual ball on Monday, November 14th, at its home at 2 Columbus Circle, with cocktails and a program beginning at 5:30 PM. Tickets which started at $300, quickly sold out as guests enjoyed open galleries and drinks served by dancing aerialists. This year’s benefit honored Jeffrey Gibson and Cristina Grajales with a special tribute to Jerome A. Chazen (in memoriam).

Lisa Perry, Marilyn Kirschner and Nancy Weber
Photo by Lieba Nesis

A conversation between MAD’s Windgate Research Curator Christian Larsen and Cristina Grajales started the festivities with cocktails and tunes by DJ Timo Weiland on the 7th and 6th floor, along with accompanying artist demonstrations in the Luminaries Lounge designed by artist Shantell Martin and Hoek Home and later dinner at the Robert restaurant.

Jean Shafiroff, Machine Dazzle and Joanna Mastroianni
Photo by Lieba Nesis

This shindig is renowned for the attendees’ eclectic sartorial attire, and the evening did not disappoint. Colors, colors, and more colors were the night’s theme as creative guests showcased their prodigious ability to go all out. There were also a host of participants rarely seen on the social circuit, including esteemed female designers Lisa Perry and Joanna Mastroianni.

Peruvian Couture
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Mastroianni came dressed in one of her designs, and she looked fabulous. Who can forget when it-girl Zelda Kaplan passed away in the front row of Joanna’s show at Lincoln Center in 2014 at the age of 95 after telling Mastroianni she wouldn’t miss her show for anything, that’s for sure.

Casey Kohlberg, Gabby Zurrow
Photo by Lieba Nesis

Another renowned female designer and ardent art collector, Lisa Perry, has moved on from the fashion world with Onna House in East Hampton, which she started during the summer of 2021 to showcase lesser-seen female artists.

Alexander Hankin,Tim Rodgers
Photo by Lieba Nesis

An expert in textiles, Perry chose silk and bamboo artists Mitsuko Asakura, Simone Bodmer Turner, abstract painter Candace Hill Montgomery, and 50 other women to be featured in both permanent and rotating collections.

“Onna” means woman in Japanese, and this is truly a passion project for Perry, who hopes to one day develop a residency program for female artists for the entirety of the summer.

Polina Proshkina
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Heading into the elevator, I spotted a tall man with a wig and colorful outfit who goes by the name Machine Dazzle and is the first artist to receive a solo exhibition at the MAD museum featuring over 100 of his creations for stage, theater, photography, and video. His “Queer Maximalism” exhibit occupies the first few floors, and the title lives up to his otherworldly concoctions.

Jonathan Marder and Eileen Keane
Photo by Lieba Nesis

The dinner was hosted by New York comedian Murray Hill, known for his stage presence, self-deprecating humor and a symbol of the growing transgender performance scene. Colleen Keegan, Art Business Advisor of the TED Fellows program and Partner in Keegan Fowler Companies, and the celebrated American art collector, patron, curator, and philanthropist Beth Rudin DeWoody, presented the awards to multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson and New York gallerist Cristina Grajales.

Leopold Masterson and Sam Gassman
Photo by Lieba Nesis

Upholding the institution’s mission to champion contemporary makers across creative fields, artist Beau artist Beau McCall, known as “The Button Man” as he uses hand-sewn decorative buttons of various materials to create wearable visual artworks, was commissioned to design this year’s awards. They take the form of one-of-a-kind sashes which are often worn to mark ceremonial occasions, and this choice of body ornament complemented the event’s festive atmosphere.

Barbara Tober
Photo: Lieba Nesis

Philanthropist Barbara Tober spearheaded MAD’s mission to contemporary champion makers across creative fields. Her name is inextricably linked to the museum after joining its board in 1988 and becoming Chairman in 1994. Blurring the lines between art, design, and craft through artisanal and digital means has been its primary focus after opening its doors in 1956.

In 2008 the iconic building was redesigned by Brad Cloepfil, and its textured facade of terra-cotta tile and fritted glass highlight its craft heritage and permanent collections. Workshops and exhibits make it one of the must-see attractions of New York City, and tonight drew the lovers of all things cultural that The Big MAD Apple has to offer.

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Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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