One of the more colorful, spirited, and unique events on the calendar is Publicolor’s 15th annual Stir Splatter + Roll benefit and fundraiser which took place last evening (www.publicolor.org). Really, what could be better than something that combines fashion, art, and design, all for a good cause? Their mission is to “engage students in their education, targeting the most underserved communities and underperforming schools with the most seriously disadvantaged middle and high school students in New York City”. Using the “power of color, collaboration and community the event helps to engage at risk students in their education by teaching them painting and life skills”. In fact, their motto is: ‘From Paint Can to College’- Publicolor students don’t drop out.
Central to the mission is the beautification and revitalization of public and civic spaces. The venue for this event has long been the Martin Luther King Jr. High School on Amsterdam Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets, which is a ‘publicolored’ school of course (even the loos have been given an artistic and colorful makeover — so much so that I found myself taking pictures!). Most importantly, all the money raised (over one million dollars), will go towards Publicolor’s mission to engage disconnected students in their education while reinforcing strong work habits that will prepare them for college and life.
|A painting station|
The not-for-profit organization was founded in 1996 by the very creative Ruth Lande Shuman who was on hand last night, along with Co-Chairs Gene and Barbara Kohn, Elissa and Greatneck Richman, Sascha Bauer, and Jeffrey Banks. Guests ( civic minded New Yorkers representing the worlds of business, fashion, politics, design, education, and philanthropy) Claes Oldenburg, Borough President Gale Brewer, Stan Herman, Ann Bass, Lydia Fenet), are asked to dress in “colorful and festive attire”, and during the cocktail hour, get to paint alongside some of the city’s leading artists, designers and architects – Tyvek jumpsuits are provided. In addition to a sit down dinner hosted by renowned professional magician Mark Mitton, there was a silent auction featuring specially designed tote bags by some of the worlds’ best architects, artists, and designers. Included were those by Francisco Costa, David Rockwell, Calvin Tso & Zack McKown, Kyle DeWoody, Michelle Smith, Ross Bleckner, Betsey Johnson, and Patricia Underwood.
|Tote bags for auction|
Each year, a worthy honoree is selected (past honorees are former Mayor Bloomberg, Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien, the Kate Spade Corporation). But since the event is more than anything else a testament to the transformative power of art, it could not have been more fitting that this year’s honoree was the ground breaking visionary contemporary art gallerist Paula Cooper (www.paulacooper.com). Sho has exhibited a lifelong commitment to contemporary artists and to social activism. The Paula Cooper Gallery is now located in Chelsea (534 West 21st Street), but it was the first art gallery in Soho opening in 1968 as a benefit for the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. One of the artists whose work has been prominently on display there is the late Sol LeWitt (he died in 2007 at the age of 79). The minimalist and conceptual artist was known for his democratic approach to art and for his bold, colorful, geometric wall drawings. This year, Ms. Cooper collaborated with Mr. LeWitt’s Estate, and were able to re-create two of his wall drawings which have a home in an “underperforming” school in New York City.
|Sol LeWitt at the Paula Cooper Gallery|
By the way, it’s not lost on me that it seems to be all about art these days. On Wednesday, The New Museum (www.newmuseum.org) held its Spring 2015 Gala at Cipriani Wall Street; next Monday, the New York Academy of Art (www.nyaa.edu) will hold its Tribeca Ball at 111 Franklin Street, during which time art collector extraordinaire Peter M. Brant will be honored; and on Tuesday evening, the Public Art Fund (www.publicartfund.org) will hold its 2015 Spring Benefit (which will be co-chaired by Cynthia Rowley).
|Jamie Diamond, Carolina Alvarez-Mathies, Patricia Underwood,
Norma Lujan, and Devon Caranicas
And, on May 14th, El Museo (www.elmuseo.org) will hold its 2015 Gala. It will have a cinematic theme inspired by its current exhibition on the great Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, and ladies are asked to dress in black and white with gloves and veils. This past Tuesday, there was a kickoff party at the U.N. Plaza apartment of two of its Gala Chairs, Maria Eugenia Mary and William Halestine, and Patricia Underwood, the official Gala Milliner, was on hand to sell a selection of her veils.
While I’m on the subject of art, there is no question that Manolo Blahnik has created shoes that are bona fide works of art. Fittingly, he will be this year’s recipient of the Museum at FIT’s Couture Council Award for Artistry in Fashion (www.fitnyc.edu). The benefit luncheon will be held on Wednesday, September 9th, at the David Koch Theatre. The well turned out attendees (who always dress for the occasion AND the honoree), will no doubt be paying more attention than usual, to their choice of footwear (it will be all about what’s on your feet!) and it promises to be a wonderful ‘retrospective’ of the 73 year old Mr. Blahnik’s unapologetically flattering and feminine single soled, pointy toed designs which thankfully remain trend free. He famously detests heavy shoes and platforms, and even his men’s shoes: classic oxford brogues in brown and black leather, and 12 shades of suede (which are available at Savile Row tailor Anderson & Sheppard in London), are tapered, elegant and un-cloddy.
|Manolo Blahnik men’s brogues|
FYI, this luncheon unofficially kicks off New York Fashion Week, However, for the first time in 5 years, the shows will be no where near Lincoln Center. Its new home will reportedly be the General Post Office/Moynihan Station on West 33rd Street.