Free Arts NYC 19th Annual Art Auction
On Thursday Night, April 12, Free Arts NYC honored legendary Conceptual Artist Lawrence Weiner at the Free Arts NYC Annual Art Auction. A longtime collaborator and supporter of Free Arts NYC, native New Yorker Lawrence Weiner is widely considered to be one of the most central figures of Conceptual Art, and is among the trailblazers of the 1960s to pursue inquiries into language as sculpture.
The special event took place at Ukrainian Institute of America—housed in the historic Harry F. Sinclair mansion—guests were treated to an exhibition of aspiring teenage artists from Free Arts NYC’s Creative Career Exploration, Portfolio Mentorship, and Museum & Studio Visit Programs. On March 4th, this group of art lovers took part in a very special workshop led by Lawrence Weiner in his West Village studio. Given the prompt “Not why I am born but now that I am born what do I do?”, the young artists created their own Lawrence Weiner-inspired text art, paired with personal ampersand designs symbolizing individuality. The project is a response to Lawrence's contribution to Free Arts NYC's A to Z Project—an original alphabet created through the collaboration of 45 artists, illustrators, and designers—for which Lawrence designed an ampersand.
Guests were then greeted by Lawrence Weiner’s text piece, “Learn to Read Art” as they ascended a grand staircase adorned with hanging floral gardens. While browsing works of art to bid on by such notable artists as Taryn Simon, Glenn Ligon, Robert Longo, Rob Pruitt, Charline von Heyl, Richard Serra, and Agathe Snow—all generously installed by sponsor Crozier Fine Arts—guests were treated to a live performance by the renowned experimental jazz ensemble, Onyx Collective. As guests sip Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut champagne and cocktails from The Sexton Single Malt Speakeasy, they discussed the artistic inspirations and practices of fellow attendees like Chloe Wise, Sheree Hovsepian, and Eddie Martinez, who all generously donated artwork to the Free Arts NYC auction, which has been live on Artsy since March 29th.
The evening was presented by acclaimed Japanese fashion label Sacai, whose Spring Summer 2018 collection incorporates Lawrence Weiner's iconic text art. On the occasion, Sacai Founder and Head Designer Chitose Abe dresssed such guests as CNN Anchor Kate Bouldan—who was the evening’s MC—actress, DJ, and style icon Mia Moretti, Internet sensation Pari Ehsan, and auction artist Zoë Buckman, among others. Throughout the cocktail hour, guests had the opportunity to see the innovative collection up close while listening to a playlist curated by Mia Moretti, and stepping away to ornament themselves with coveted Lawrence Weiner temporary tattoos.
At 8:30pm, dinner guests entered a dining room enveloped with Lawrence Weiner’s iconic wall pieces, sitting down to a meal presented by Sacai, set on top of Lawrence Weiner x Sacaitablescapes. The meal was followed by a live auction led by art advisor Aileen Agopian, accompanied by Master of Ceremonies Kate Bouldan, with special words by Free Arts Teens about how Lawrence Weiner has impacted their lives. Dinner guests took home gift bags filled with Lawrence Weiner coffee table books published by Phaidon, and Lawrence Weiner x Sacai fabric napkins.
All proceeds from the evening benefit Free Arts NYC’s educational arts mentoring programs for underserved youth and families.
Images by BFA: Mike Vitelli/BFA and Max Lakner/BFA