On Tuesday evening Publicolor held its 23rd annual fundraising benefit, Stir, Splatter + Roll, arguably one of the most colorful, high spirited and unique events on the calendar. Honored for their longtime support of Publicolor and its programs were Tommy Craig, Hines Senior Managing Director and Ed Skylar, Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs at Citi and formerly a Deputy Mayor in the Bloomberg administration. Dr. David Kirkland, Executive Director of NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, received the Catalyst for Change Awards for his research on a variety of topics related to educational equity.
The not-for-profit organization was founded in 1996 by the dynamic innovator Ruth Lande Shuman who was named a Living Landmark by New York Landmarks Conservancy in 2018. Lande Shuman, who resides in a fabulous art-filled, colorful Park Avenue apartment and has a penchant for colorful, painterly clothing, understands the psychologist impact color can have and firmly believes that “color is energy and color gives us a better life.” By using the power of color, collaboration and community the organization helps to engage at-risk students between the ages of 12 and 24 in their education by teaching them painting and life skills.
From the start, her organization’s mission has been to fight poverty by aggressively addressing the alarming dropout rate and low levels of educational attainment and youth employment in New York and 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”.
In fact, their motto is: “From Paint Can to College – Publicolor students don’t drop out,” and central to the mission is the beautification and revitalization of public and civic spaces. While the venue for this event had long been the Martin Luther King Jr. High School on Amsterdam Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets, which is a ‘publicolored’ school of course, for the past several years, the location has been the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street.
The loft-like space with high ceilings was literally bathed in color down to the colorful cocktails. There were 13 painting stations set up (Tyvek jumpsuits were provided) and guests, many of them colorfully attired (like Barbara Flood, Tziporah Salamon, and trend forecaster Philip Fimmano) could paint alongside the students and some of the city’s leading artists, architects, and designers (fashion designer Nicole Miller, a longtime supporter of the organization was once again on hand).
Art was all around, and there was a live auction that included items from Chuck Close, The Stephen Colbert Show, Christo, Philip Glass and more. Last year approximately $200,000+ was raised. and expectations were high last night that more would be raised this year.
Jeffrey Banks, a huge supporter of Publicolor and a past honoree (2013), reprieved his role as Master of Ceremonies for the festive gala dinner for the fourth time. I asked the talented multi-tasker which designer he will put the spotlight on in his next best-selling book (his most recent was “Norman Norell: Master of American Fashion”). He smiled and said it’s been suggested to him by many, that he write a book about his own life. While there are no specific plans at the moment, he did say he has already ‘interviewed’ his chic 98-year-old mother.