Brooke Shields Celebrates Rashid Johnson at Free Arts NYC Benefit Auction

The evening's benefit auction raised over $1 million.

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Bettina Prentice, Brooke Shields.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
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Rashid Johnson, Free Arts NYC executive director Liz Hopfan, Hank Willis Thomas.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Rashid Johnson, Free Arts NYC executive director Liz Hopfan, Hank Willis Thomas.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Waris Ahluwalia, Max Snow.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Waris Ahluwalia, Max Snow.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Artwork in the silent auction at the Free Arts NYC benefit.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Artwork in the silent auction at the Free Arts NYC benefit.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Massimiliano Gioni, Cecilia Alemani.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Massimiliano Gioni, Cecilia Alemani.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Paul Gondry, Michael Avedon.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Paul Gondry, Michael Avedon.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Bettina Prentice, Brooke Shields.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Bettina Prentice, Brooke Shields.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Atmosphere at the Free Arts NYC benefit.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Atmosphere at the Free Arts NYC benefit.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Daniel Arsham, Claire Distenfeld.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Daniel Arsham, Claire Distenfeld.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Rashid Johnson, Thelma Golden.Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.
Rashid Johnson, Thelma Golden.
Photo: David X Prutting, courtesy BFA.

What:  Free Arts NYC’s 16th Annual Art Auction with Gucci and Beats by Dre honoring artist Rashid Johnson

Where: New York City Department of Records at 31 Chambers Street New York, which you might recognize from its appearances in long-running television show Law and Order: SVU.

When: Wednesday April 30th

Why: The annual benefit auction support the art education non-profit, which works to provide arts programing to New York City’s underserved youth, working with 1,500 children and families every year. With donated artworks from Ed RuschaCindy Sherman, Alex Katz, Kiki Smith, and Christopher Wool for sale, the evening’s proceeds totaled well over $1 million, including a $410,000 dollar sale for one work by Christopher Wool.

This year’s event honored Johnson (who has an upcoming installation on the High Line—see New York’s 10 Most Beautiful Public Art Shows for Spring), who recently invited the children of Free Arts to spend a day making art at his studio. (The organization recently held a similar event at Pioneer Works in Red Hook with Dustin Yellin—see Dustin Yellin Makes Art With Homeless Kids at Pioneer Works.)

Who: The artsy crowd included Peter Marino, Cecilia Alemani, Massimiliano Gioni, Thelma Golden, Richard Phillips, Bill Powers, Michael Avedon, and Shinique Smith, as well as actresses Brooke Shields and Kelly Rutherford. Hank Willis Thomas and Todd Eberle took shifts running a high-end photo booth, selling prints of party guests printed on large format Polaroids.

The Moment: Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Shields and Wes Anderson favorite Waris Ahluwalia (see Wes Anderson Commissions a Surrealist Theme Park) were several children who are part of the Free Arts NYC, holding court in front of a wall of textured works they had created in Johnson’s signature black soap.

“We want the kids to know, if they want to pursue a career in art, there are people who can actually make a living doing that,” explained Free Arts executive director Liz Hopfan to artnet News.

“It was a magical day, for an incredible cause” Casey Freemont of Art Production Fund told artnet News of her recent trip to the Brant Foundation to make art with Dan Colen and the children of Free Arts NYC. “It was great to see how proud they were to taker home their art and show it to their parents.”

Johnson also got a lot out of his experience: “It was a blast,” he told artnet News. “I learned a lot—nothing like the brutal honesty of children to give you some real perspective!”


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