Written by Camille Tibaldeo, Fountain Gallery Communications Manager
Citi Executive Conference Center at 601 Lexington Avenue was the scene of Fountain Gallery’s Eighth Annual Celebration of Life benefit on Monday, November 9, 2009, where nearly 400 friends and collectors gathered to view more than 100 original artworks displayed for sale. This event is a remarkable collaboration of the commercial real estate industry and the New York arts community with Fountain Gallery, to benefit its member-artists. Agnes Gund, President Emerita of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and curator of the Fountain Gallery exhibition “Is White A Color?”, was a Special Guest.
The rooms of the Conference Center were beautifully lit and showed off the artworks to great advantage; the lights of Manhattan skyscrapers beckoned through the many windows. Sumptuous floral arrangements, courtesy of the Horticulture Unit, enhanced the ambiance. Guests sampled the food and enjoyed beverages from the open bars as they strolled from one art-filled room to the next. They liked what they saw: By evening’s end, a record-breaking 56 pieces had been sold.
For the second year, the husband and wife team of Sasha Nicholas and Steven Caputo, both longtime Fountain Gallery volunteers, served as curators of the Celebration of Life art exhibition. Sasha is Senior Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Steve is a Fellow of the Design Trust for Public Space. As in years past, the artists were on hand to discuss their work with guests. The distinctive Exhibition Catalogue, organized by FG Project Manager Kathleen Orzech and adorned with striking cover art by Deborah Standard, included images of the art pieces and biographies and photographs of the artists, along with supporters’ ads; it served as a guide for guests. Keith Pavia and Bernard Stote were spotlighted as “Featured Artists.”
The Esther Montanez Leadership Award was presented in honor of the memory of our great friend Esther, who was a driving force in the founding of Fountain Gallery and a tireless advocate for people with mental illness throughout her long career as Director of Special Projects for Fountain House, until her death in 2006.
The 2009 recipients of the Esther Montanez Leadership Award were: The Honorable Charles B. Rangel, Member of Congress, and Alma Rangel, Vice-Chair, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens; The Honorable Christine C. Quinn, Speaker, NYC Council; Elizabeth Szancer Kujawski, Art Advisor and Curator, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.; and Suzanne Lemakis, Director, Department of Fine Art, Citi. Over the years Ms. Kujawski and Ms. Lemakis have purchased artworks by Fountain Gallery artists for their companies’ corporate collections (and we were impressed to see several of these pieces installed at the Conference Center). Anthony Newton and Martin Cohen assisted in introducing the honorees.
A stalwart supporter of Fountain Gallery and officially known as the benefit’s Founding Chair, Dario Gristina, CEO of Genergy, along with the entire Committee, worked with special diligence this year to ensure the benefit’s success in these tough economic times. Co-Chairs of the event were: Peter L. DiCapua, Matt Duthie, Rick Froio, Carmel W. Fromson, Leslie Harwood, John McGinley, Lynn Nicholas, PsyD, Richard D. Parsons, Bruce C. Ratner, Betsy Seidman, Andrew Stenzler, and
Henry P. van Ameringen. Ms. Harwood and Messrs. DiCapua, McGinley, and Stenzler are past recipients of the Esther Montanez Leadership Award.
Celebration of Life 2009 was a rousing success, thanks in large part to the dedication of FG Director Jason Bowman and the staff and volunteers of Fountain Gallery and Fountain House. Kudos to the Development team (Jeff Aron, Robyn Marks, Guinevere Johnson, Kathy Fiess, and Nina Okun) for their tireless efforts. We offer special praise to the gifted artists of Fountain Gallery, without whose talents this magical evening would not have been possible.
The Celebration of Life exhibition artists are: Leonard Aschenbrand, L.B. Berman, Ekaterina Borisov, Elizabeth Borisov, Maria Bronkema, Martin Cohen, Michelle Cohen, Carleton Cordier, Osvaldo Cruz, Ricardo Delmar, Kathryn Fazio, Bonnie Fisher, Nelia Gibbs, Jonathan Glass, Leonard Guidera, Justine Hall, Gary Brent Hilsen, Iaeden Hovorka, Rita Iashaieva, Paula Isaac, Penelope Josephides, Mercedes Kelly, Anna Kuchinsky, the late Glenn Moosnick, Anthony Newton, Vladimir Nikolski, Eloise Ockert, Keith Pavia, Ivy Riekstins, Susan Robinson, Randee Savage, Barry Senft, Gail Shamchenko, Jasmine Soto, Deborah Standard, Bernard Stote, Bradford Stringfield, and Derrick Williams.
Photo credit: Photos by Leslie Barbaro Photography