MAD About Jewelry Opening Benefit & Awards Brunch

MAD About Jewelry Honoree Lele Sadoughi – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

The Museum of Arts & Design held its annual benefit awards celebration and sale of contemporary Jewelry on Saturday. For the first time in 14 years, the opening benefit, which honored costume designer Patricia Field and accessories designer Lele Sadoughi, was held as a gala brunch in May rather than a cocktail and dinner celebration in April.

MAD Museum Chairman Board of Trustees Michele Cohen with Bryna Pomp, Director and Curator MAD About Jewelry – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

It works out even better as people are generally more relaxed on weekends. In addition to the exhibition and sale, which runs through Wednesday, May 8th, the event offers mentorship programs for participating artists. MAD is the only American museum to possess a gallery dedicated to displaying special jewelry exhibitions and its own contemporary and modern studio and art jewelry collection.

“With 50 artists from 20 countries, this year’s MAD About Jewelry lineup is an outstanding reflection of jewelry artistry worldwide. Each with a distinct point of view, the artists we’ve selected are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in this remarkable medium.”

Bryna Pomp, Director of MAD About Jewelry

Viola Pinedier, Brazil, wearing her recycled wood coil arm covering bracelet – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Featuring designs from emerging and acclaimed international jewelry artists, MAD About Jewelry has become known as the ultimate pop-up shop for contemporary, artist-made Jewelry, where collectors and jewelry enthusiasts have the rare opportunity to meet and acquire pieces from some of the most innovative creators in the field.

Jianhui, UK – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

This year’s exhibition focuses on sustainability, with the spotlight on recycled works from designers such as Amal Chao, Anna Bonino, Francesca Mo, Hillary Jackson, Isabelle Azaïs, Jianhui, Tiziana Redavid, Valérie Hangel, and Viola Pinedier. Moreover, there is an emphasis on technology and the use of unconventional materials, as seen in the works of Mariangela Murguia and Alberto Catalano, Orlando Fernandez Flores and Lucia de Conti, and Sara Ortuzar.

Anna Porcu and her cameos – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

The roster of designers usually reads more like a League of Nations. Among the other exhibitors who caught my eye is Anna Porcu, Italy, a past subject of a profile who specializes in exceptional cameo jewelry.

Hara Karamichali, and her daughter, Greece – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Then there’s Maribel Luque, Spain, who works in acrylic paint and resin; Francoise Delaire, France, who transforms fishnet into weightless Jewelry and sculptures; Hara Karamichali, Greece, whose jewelry combines crocheted brass and silver; Diana Sosa who works in horn, agate and mother of pearl; and Heidi Abrahamson, USA, whose colorful tactile sculptures to wear made of foam and brass evoke happy childhood memories.

“MAD About Jewelry is a singular force, creating a global network of contemporary jewelry artists and a legacy of unbridled creativity. We are proud to play a role in these creative luminaries’ stories and the work they will share with museum visitors this year.”

Michele Cohen, Chair, Board of Trustees, Museum of Arts and Design

Gerard Valls, Spain – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

The day started with pre-brunch shopping at 10 a.m. I arrived early, and as any avid collector can attest, shopping can work up quite an appetite. Luckily, at 11:30, there was a festive brunch and award ceremony held at the Museum’s glorious Robert Restaurant, which has a sweeping view of Central Park.

“It’s all about taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. It’s important to celebrate beauty and creativity. Thank you for celebrating me.”

Lele Sadoughi, Accessories Designer and 2024 MAD about Jewelry Honoree.

Room with a view, Robert Restaurant – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Before a first course of Burrata Prosciutto Di Parma, followed by Classic Chicken Caesar Salad, Blackberry Cheesecake, and Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, guests were treated to a performance from the Broadway cast of The Neil Diamond Musical: A Beautiful Noise.

Honoree Lele Sadoughi and Michele Cohen – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

There were remarks made by Tim Rodgers, Director of the Museum of Arts and Design, Michele Cohen, Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, and this year’s honoree, Lele Sadoughi, who said she wants to make people feel good and put smiles on their faces with her colorful, glittery Jewelry. “Smiling is contagious,” stated Lele, who made a point with her hot pink dress.

Lara Eurdolian who accepted on Patricia Field’s behalf spoke of how accessories played such a large part in what Patricia did for “Sex and the City. “If you could belt it, Patricia would belt it. If you could add a piece of Jewelry, Patricia added that piece of Jewelry.”

Mayumi Okuyama, Yookyung Song – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

It was also during brunch that the winner of the 2024 MAD About Jewelry award recipient was named. That honor went to two women this year, Mayumi Okuyama from Brazil and Yookyung Song from Korea. Coincidentally, they were seated next to each other at my table, which included Michael and Karen Rotenberg (Karen is a noted gallerist, an avid collector, and former MAD About Jewelry honoree) and Bryna Pomp, both of whom were wearing statement accessories.

Marilyn trying on a cameo cuff by Anna Porcu

In fact, looking at the many women in attendance, it was hard not to notice how transformative a great accessory can be. For the occasion, I layered my beloved gilded wood necklace from Monies with a few other pieces.

Monies, the iconic company founded in Copenhagen in 1973, was born from an interest and love for unconventional natural materials and avant-garde design. 2023 marked an anniversary of five decades and the beginning of a new era with Karl Monies, son of founders and creative minds Gerda and Nikolai Monies, as lead and creative director.

They were scheduled to be one of the exhibitors at MAD about Jewelry this year, but as of yesterday, there was a customs glitch. Here’s hoping they make it to New York!

  1. I discovered Dries 15 years ago as I was walking through Barbeys NY in LA. There was this amazing coat…

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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