The 21st Annual ACRIA Holiday Dinner
Last week, ACRIA’s Executive Director Benjamin Bashein along with Francesca Amfitheatrof of Tiffany & Co. and InStyle’s Laura Brown hosted the 21st annual Holiday Dinner honoring Michael Ward Stout & The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, actress Judith Light, and Art Production Fund Executive Director Casey Fremont.
Notable attendees in addition to the hosts and honorees included:Zachary Quinto and Miles McMillan, artists Ryan McGinley, Ross Bleckner, Jack Pierson, Nan Goldin and Jordan Wolfson, Peter Marino, Jill Stuart, Sean Kelly, Barbara Gladstone, Cleo Wade, Maria Baibakova, Zani Gugelmann, Valerie Boster, Calvin Klein, Ulla Johnson, Roopal Patel, Sarah Hoover, Pippa Cohen, Shelly and Vincent Fremont, Adam Weinberg, Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict, Bonnie Morrison, Jane Keltner de Valle, Maria Giulia Maramotti, Dini von Mueffling, Ann Dexter-Jones, Laura de Gunzburg, Bettina Prentice, Luis Morais, Zachary Booth, Terrence Meck, George Sotelo, and Amy Astley.
ACRIA has continually galvanized the art and fashion world to support HIV research and education programs. The 21st Annual Holiday Dinner marked the first gala since ACRIA acquired Love Heals: The Alison Gertz Foundation, the largest provider of HIV and sex education in New York City schools. The merger enables ACRIA to have an even stronger impact on HIV youth prevention.
Held this year in the 69th Regiment Armory, the evening’s theme was reconciliation and healing, for which timing couldn’t have been more fitting. The design of the event took the military space as a departure point highlighting the building’s industrial elements and using enclosed lush floral displays rooted to the ground and encased in plexiglass as tables. Florals were further highlighted in hedges that separated the cocktail space from dinner. Cocktails including a pink peppercorn martini with pomegranate seeds were served along with canapés and music was by Javier Peral.
The evening honored The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation with its annual “Artists Ending AIDS” Award; Judith Light with the Elizabeth Taylor Award (presented by Taylor’s grandchildren); and Art Production Fund Executive Director Casey Fremont with the “Alison Gertz Young Leadership” Award.
Having supported ACRIA for a decade, Casey Fremont stated “I can only hope to make a fraction of the difference than Alison [Gertz] made in her 26 years”.
ACRIA’s Benjamin Bashein commented “Looking around the room at all you beautiful people, it's very easy to forget the ones we've lost”, noting “all of you are partners in the fight against AIDS and know that the fight isn’t over”.
Presenting Judith with her award, Zachary Quinto commented that he has “met very few people who live up to their name as well as Judith Light”.
Judith Light was honored to be presented with an award named for one of her heroes, Elizabeth Taylor, and felt there was no better opportunity for the words of George Bernard Shaw’s poem, A Splendid Torch:
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
Judith remarked, “We are [Elizabeth’s] future generation and it is my hope and intention that each of us in this room and across this country will be a splendid torch lighting the way”.
Tables were accented with gestural ikebana-style arrangements of calla lilies in palettes of chartreuse and burgundy evoking Mapplethorpe’s body of work. Guests dined on a winter root vegetable “corona”, Boeuf Bourguignon, a butternut squash carpaccio with wild mushroom and passed éclairs for dessert.
The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation generously donated the iconic Flower, 1986, which was sold in a live auction led by Sara Friedlander, Vice-President and Head of Evening Sale at Christie’s. The silent auction on Paddle8 featured works by notable artists including Donald Baechler, Carlos Betancourt, Nan Goldin, Jasper Johns, and Herb Ritts, all of which were donated in support of ACRIA.
ACRIA is a leading research and education organization that works across New York City and State, nationally and internationally to help people with HIV and AIDS live longer, healthier lives. ACRIA tests the newest HIV therapies; undertakes cutting-edge research to understand better who has HIV and how to best care for them; provides life-saving HIV health information to disadvantaged communities around the world; and strengthens community-based AIDS groups across the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean through training and technical assistance. Additionally, through its ACRIA Center on HIV & Aging, the organization is recognized as a global leader on the emerging issue of older adults and HIV.
The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation-
Robert Mapplethorpe established the not-for-profit Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation on May 27, 1988, some ten months before his death, to protect his work, to advance his creative vision, and to promote the causes he cared about. He established an initial mandate of furthering the recognition of photography as an art form of the same importance as painting and sculpture. During the last weeks of his life, he added the second mandate of supporting medical research in the area of AIDS and HIV infection.