Life Imitated Art as a Stylish Crowd Raised $570,000 at The New York Academy Of Art’s Tribeca Ball

Ahead of the annual Tribeca Ball gala, The New York Academy of Art had been given a spring clean that Marie Kondo would be proud of. As President David Kratz joked, thankfully it’s the one time of the year you can walk through the school and get up close with over 100 artists and their work, without the risk of ruining your outfit with paint splatters.

Ergo, it was a welcome excuse for patrons and enthusiasts to dust down their finery and head to the Franklin Street art school institution to cast their eye on ones to watch, purchase a piece, support the Academy, and, in this instance, raise a glass to a maverick of twentieth-century American art, Neil Jenney.

Known for his seminal ‘Bad Paintings’ of the 1960s and early 1970s—named with tongue firmly in cheek, as they were conceived as a reaction to the Pop Art craze which dominated at the time—Jenney is the archetype figure that the school recognizes each year. Presenting him with an honorary doctorate, Kratz praised Jenney’s independence, individuality, steadfast commitment to his vision, and ability to create his own luck and success. “You’re the real deal, Neil, and you’re the embodiment of everything we stand for,” Kratz said.

Founded in 1982 by artists, Andy Warhol among them, the NYAA has humble origins as a free drawing class hosted in a church basement. One such live model who could be found posing for future art world stars back in the day is Brooke Shields. “Will Cotton convinced me! He told me it was something I should do for my career, obviously,” the actress said warmly, with an eye roll and knowing wink. She was referring to the painter sitting nearby, smiling in return in his vintage Thom Browne suit.

The evening saw the launch of the Neil Jenney Artist Scholarship Fund and Kratz egged on the crowd to get the fundraising rolling in by bringing longtime Board member Shields, who was wearing a one-sleeve color block knit dress by Victor Glemaud, to the podium with him. Sequin-clad stilt walkers from Brooklyn’s House of Yes soon appeared, brandishing posters with Kratz’ phone number splashed on them. Keen to support, audience members texted with their generous donations, and they’ll soon be thanked with personal portraits by students of the school.

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