At Saturday night’s Brooklyn Rail Benefit, hosted by SVA at the Visual Arts Gallery, the uniting theme among the brief speeches delivered by Irving Sandler, Chuck Close, and John Elderfield was that it’s a mystery how Phong Bui runs the venerable publication, now more than a decade old. There’s, like, no money in it!
Sure, the writers gladly contribute for free; but what about overhead? And lord knows the new Congress won’t be sending any helpful funding. If anybody deserves to try a little help from his friends, it’s Phong, an accomplished artist, writer, curator, teacher, and publisher. And what friends he has!
Grog, a string instrument ensemble consisting of five artists, including SVA instructor Bill Komoski (on bass), performed throughout the evening…
…providing a music score to the deliberations of one hundred minds wondering if their budgets could accomodate a Lynda Benglis abstract drawing, or a James Castle landscape, or a James Hyde painted print, or Wolf Kahn pastel tropicalia, or a Lisa Yuskavage lithograph (“You have to be a real masochist to make lithographs,” I overheard from a nearby artist), or even a near life-size aquatint nude by Philip Pearlstein.
Alas, ’tis the season to cut spending, so I did not bid on the enchantingly Pythagorean Abby Leigh smoke-on-paper, nor the gonzo Peter Saul colored pencil sideshow. I know I’ll kick myself later, especially for the latter, because that guy is a messiah!
Good looking crowd, right?
It was also a warm, amiable congregation, rich with real-deal artists who have built an intergenerational community as generous as it is brilliant.
P.S. Thanks to artist Jessica Hale for the tip and invitation!