Blog: Doing Art Together 2016
The pristine views of the west side skyline in Columbus Circle from the top of the Mandarin Oriental never cease to be breathtaking. And on Monday evening, nonprofit organization Doing Art Together welcomed a ballroom filled with supporters of the arts for their 31st Annual Benefit. Following a week long March heatwave, the sudden drop in temperatures made arriving at the posh venue something of a challenge, but once inside, the festivities and celebration managed to warm our hearts as we were greeted by hardworking young students crafting works of art of their very own.
Focused on a citywide initiative to increase art classes in the classrooms of underprivileged youths, Doing Art Together has worked to support area children as well as their parents, empowering them to be more engaged in the lives and activities of their kids. After another year of hard work now in the rear view mirror, Monday evening was a night to celebrate the efforts and successes of the organization, its friends and family and its assisted children, amid a particularly ritzy setting. The sprawling space was adorned with a variety of artistic works from paintings and water colors to clay sculptures and beaded designs, showcased in eye-catching fashion despite the aura of the dimly lit setting. A live three-piece band would welcome hundreds of philanthropic guests into the ballroom where a bar on each side of the space would be stocked with a multitude of beers, wines and cocktails for those choosing to imbibe.
Once inside, it was time to take in some of the sights, sounds and tastes as attendees stocked up on a spread of Italian fare- and some dishes from Tribeca restaurant The Greek- before grabbing a seat at a nearby table surrounding the sizable dance floor. The evening would be punctuated by inspiring speakers who served to remind attendees of the importance of continued education and the joy that the participating teachers can bring to the lives of the children touched by Doing Art Together’s efforts. As has been customary in past years, the organization welcomed several celebrity guests to be honored during the program portion of the Annual Benefit, hosted this year by NBC 4 weekday traffic reporter, Lauren Scala- no stranger to local charitable events.
2016’s honorees would include television host and personality Alicia Quarles, whose touching acceptance speech focused on using creativity to teach both people to look at the world differently, and Merrill Lynch executive Umesh Trikha, who regaled the audience with stories of sitting and drawing with actual second graders and recounting his own experience of learning from children, even as an adult. Both speakers were touched to be honored by Doing Art Together, and their remarks were both poignant and motivating to the listening crowd. While the evening certainly had its serious moments, a live graffiti art demonstration would take place throughout the affair- the finished products of which would be sold for some $500 in a live auction on site. Meanwhile, guests with drinks in hand spent a considerable amount of time perusing the silent auction tables with a litany of noteworthy fashion, jewelry and experiences, all of which would serve to increase the final tally raised during another successful event.
To close out the evening, Doing Art Together President Elena Sarkissian would be awarded with a painting for her tireless dedication to the organization, now celebrating more than three decades of local service. No Doing Art Together benefit would be complete without an all out dance party to end the evening on the highest of notes- and this year’s festivities were clearly no different, evidenced by our photo gallery.
Looking back at our own lives, it’s easy to take for granted those classes and programs that we goofed our way through, given the fact that they were always so available to us. But Doing Art Together reminds us each and every year that some families and children don’t have it so lucky- and the ability to gain exposure to the arts at a young age has the potential to give a new collection of artistic geniuses to the world, who might not otherwise have the chance to discover their own greatness.
- Alexandra Fetsey