Art Production Fund Goes Overboard for Its Cruise-themed Gala

Art Production Fund knows how to commit to a theme. This year, the public art organization brought a cruise aesthetic to The Pool and Grill at the Seagram building in Midtown Manhattan for its annual gala, presented by Saks. The theme was “overboard,” and attendees leaned into the nautical theme with shell-adorned headbands and earrings, striped ensembles, and shades of blue. One attendee toted a rhinestone clutch in the shape of a cruise ship; Andi Potamkin had a sailboat perched within the frothy tulle of her headpiece.

“The day after our last gala, and I said, oh my god, that was so much fun — what are we going to do next year?” said executive director Casey Fremont. “We were in a restaurant that sort of had porthole windows. And I was like, ‘what if we did a boat theme?’ We like a theme that people can interpret in many different ways.”

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There were even a few mermaids in the room — one was perched in a lounge chair set up next to buckets of Lallier Champagne, one of the evening’s sponsors, and spa-style slippers on the “upper deck” of The Grill. Servers, all donning captain’s hats, were passing trays of piña coladas and blue margaritas, each adorned with a Saks-branded paper umbrella. Round gala-branded life preservers adorned the walls above the room’s banquettes, where Art Production Fund cofounder Yvonne Force Villareal caught up with Sarah Hoover during cocktail hour. Nearby, Zoe Buckman was admiring Derrick Adams’ earring — both artists have shown projects in collaboration with Art Production Fund — while Drew Barrymore, with her daughter in tow, chatted with Stacey Bendet by the oyster station.

Other guests included Olivia Wilde, Dianna Agron and Harold Ancart, Sophia Bush, Paul Arnhold and Wes Gordon, Jennifer Fisher, Mickalene Thomas, Todd Snyder, Cynthia Rowley, and Kennedy Yanko. Debbie Harry was one of the first to lead the way into The Pool for dinner, where embroidered sailing jackets served as seat markers.

As guests settled into their appetizer course of raw bar selections, a trio of performers made their way toward the central pool, climbing over the edge and into the bubbling water. Like most things involving Art Production Fund, this was an art moment: the organization had commissioned Shikeith to create a performance for the evening. Titled “Visiting Hours,” the piece paid tribute to the queer communities that congregated at the Hudson River piers in the ’60s and ’70s.

Afterwards, Fremont turned the room’s attention to the roll of paper tucked into a shot glass at each setting. “Sarah Hoover has once again curated tonight’s menu. It’s our little message in a shot glass, and as always, it’s delicious.”

After dinner, the live art auction raised $250,000 in support of upcoming Art Production Fund projects including a Rockefeller Center commission with Joel Mesler and installation with Maia Ruth Lee in New Orleans.

Derrick Adams , Francesco Bonami and Michael Chuapoco
Derrick Adams, Francesco Bonami and Michael Chuapoco.

Inside the Art Production Fund Gala

Jenny Mollen Biggs, Stacey Bendet, Huma Abedin and Nicky Hilton Rothschild
Jenny Mollen Biggs, Stacey Bendet, Huma Abedin and Nicky Hilton Rothschild
Sarah Hoover
Sarah Hoover
Yvonne Force Villareal and Cuatro Villareal
Yvonne Force Villareal and Cuatro Villareal

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Launch Gallery: Olivia Wilde, Dianna Agron, and More at the Art Production Fund Gala

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