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parties

President Obama Talks Architecture at the Pritzker Prize Dinner

In case you missed it last Thursday, Barack Obama returned to Chicago on one of the rare occasions that a sitting American President has spoken at an official award ceremony for the annual Pritzker Architecture Prize, which you’ll recall went to Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura this year. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearances were brief, just long enough to stop by to make a statement, which you’ll find in full below. The Chicago Tribune picks up on the rest of the politically star-studded evening (at least locally star-studded, though Frank Gehry was also in attendance). Here’s the President’s speech, with the remainder after the jump:

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please — please, everybody, have a seat.

Well, thank you, Tom, for that introduction. Thank you to the entire Pritzker family for your friendship and incredible generosity towards so many causes. I want to welcome as well the diplomatic corps that is here, as well as Secretary Arne Duncan.
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Frank Gehry All Smiles at Star-Studded 82nd Birthday

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Remember back around this time in 2009 how bummed Frank Gehry seemed to be about turning 80? Granted, that’s right as the architecture industry was struggling through one of its worst periods in decades, and in turn wasn’t treating the starchitect too well at all either. Between canceled projects and mass layoffs, it likely would have been a rough patch for most anyone. But what a different a couple of years makes, huh? The good people at Curbed have info on and a handful of photos from Gehry’s 82nd birthday bash. Held at the top of the Manhattan building baring his name, the Nicolai Ouroussoff-melting New York by Gehry, the guests included Bono and Ali Hewson, director Mike Nichols, artist Chuck Close, fellow starchitect Robert A.M. Stern, and many others. And in at least half the photos, he’s even offering up a big smile. So bravo for happier days and here’s to many more.

Giddyup! Doug Aitken’s MOCA Gala Raises $3.2 Million


(Photos: Getty Images)

Doug Aitken knows how to throw a party—although he prefers the term “cultural ambush.” The artist envisioned Saturday’s gala at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, which added approximately $3.2 million to the 31-year-old institution’s coffers. Dubbed “The Artist’s Museum Happening,” the bash included everything from a band of acoustic drummers and a ceiling-mounted light sculpture by architect Barbara Bestor to oven-roasted grapes and Jennifer Love Hewitt (who we like to imagine making small talk with some of the other approximately 900 guests, such as Frank Gehry and Chris Burden). MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch praised Aitken’s “extraordinary vision which brought together the worlds of art, design, Hollywood, and music in support of MOCA,” while Eli Broad, the museum’s founding chairman, was even more effusive. “The Artist’s Museum Happening has redefined museum galas,” he said.

Aitken took a cue from MOCA’s current exhibition featuring the work of 146 L.A. artists and went western for “WE,” an evening-long experiential artwork. Dramatic drumming welcomed guests into the gala’s tent, which featured interior walls covered in specially commissioned posters by artists such as John Baldessari, Catherine Opie, and Raymond Pettibon. Then came a series of linked performances by a string quartet, Devendra Banhart, Beck, and Caetano Veloso, with each singer featured in turn as accompanist and lead vocalist. After guests had polished off their mesquite-grilled, open-pasture-fed rib eye steaks and organic vegetables came more Aitken touches, including six rural farm auctioneers, the Los Angeles Gospel Choir, and a cattle whip performer (pictured above). Guests left with a copy of The Idea of the West, Aitken’s new artist’s book, and the taste of chunky almond-cornmeal butter cookies still fresh on their tongues.

Friday Photo: Living Landmarks


New York Landmarks Conservancy honorees Graydon Carter, Phil Donahue, Marlo Thomas, Larry Silverstein, Bunny Williams, Jonathan M. Tisch, and Howard Dodson with gala co-chair Liz Smith (Photos: Ben Gebbe/Patrick McMullan)

Renowned interior designer Bunny Williams was among the honorees at this year’s New York Landmarks Conservancy Living Landmarks Celebration, held earlier this month at the Plaza Hotel. The annual celebration recognizes New Yorkers who have made outstanding contributions to the City. Joining Williams on the dais to accept their awards and offer heartfelt (and occasionally musical) tributes to New York and its landmarked buildings were Vanity Fair editor-in-chief and restauranteur Graydon Carter; real estate developer Larry Silverstein; actor, author, producer, and philanthropist Marlo Thomas and her talk show icon husband Phil Donahue; Loews Hotels Chairman and CEO Jonathan M. Tisch; and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Director Howard Dodson, who received the Lew Rudin Living Landmark Award for Public Service. Hosted by New York Landmarks Conservancy president Peg Breen and Conservancy board chair Stuart Siegel, the event drew approximately 400 guests and raised just over $800,000, a twenty percent increase from last year’s $640,000 tally. Meanwhile, Williams is not one to rest on her laurels. She’s been busy as a bee (her signature insect) creating buzz around her new book, A Scrapbook for Living (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), a room-by-room approach to creative and practical interiors. And, of course, she’s on Twitter.

Pratt Honors Ellsworth Kelly, Tommy Hilfiger, Emily Fisher Landau at Legends Gala

Pratt Institute raised a record-breaking $522,000 last week at the school’s annual Legends scholarship benefit, held at 7 World Trade Center in Manhattan. More than 400 guests turned out to honor artist Ellsworth Kelly, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, and philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau (pictured at left), who were selected as “distinguished individuals whose accomplishments and values resonate with those of Pratt.” The healthy take from ticket sales got a surprise boost from on-the-spot pledges that brought the total amount raised to $560,000: Pratt Trustee James D. Kuhn donated $28,000 in honor of his wife and event co-chair Marjorie Kuhn while Larry Leeds, chairman of Buckingham Capital Management, donated an additional $10,000 in honor of Hilfiger. When it came time to hand out the awards, designed by Pratt industrial design undergrad Klara Varosy (who also got to present them to the honorees), Kelly looked back on his own student days at Pratt in the 1940s. “I want to thank Pratt for putting me on the road to becoming an artist,” he told the crowd, which included architect Robert Siegel, art director George Lois, artist Mickalene Thomas (Pratt alums all); Pratt Trustees and event co-chairs Kurt Andersen and Amy Cappellazzo; and artists Francesco Clemente, Glenn Ligon, and Edward Mapplethorpe. Later, Landau spoke of her legendary eye for artistic talent. “You could take me into any gallery with art around the room and I could tell you which was the best,” she said. “And that was usually the one the artist wasn’t selling.”

Cory Arcangel Plays with Printer Test Patterns, Creates Tangible Tribute to Printerless Future

Artist Cory Arcangel, who you may know best for having hacked Super Mario Bros. to create a meditative cloudscape free of crusading plumbers, is gearing up for a solo show at the Whitney next year. In the meantime, he’ll join the likes of Claire Danes, Lily Donaldson, and Jessica Stam in hosting the museum’s Studio Party on October 26. Like any good host, he’s whipped up some treats for the guests. Arcangel has created “HP Photosmart C3180 All-In-One Test (Forward and Back Again)” (at right, click image to enlarge) a print that will be given to the first 50 people who purchase Artist Sponsor ($500) tickets to the party. “There are certain parts of our technological lives which tend to come and go without ever having the chance to be archived,” says Arcangel. “My print for the Whitney is inspired by these missed opportunities.” The work consists of the test pattern that his printer (an HP Photosmart C3180) initiates automatically when a new ink cartridge is inserted. The pattern is printed twice, once upside down, on a sheet of letter-sized paper. “To make the edition, ink cartridges had to be taken out and inserted into my C3180 100 times thus forcing the test pattern to print twice for each print,” he adds. “In the future when printers have different, or no test patterns—or even when there are no more printers—it is my hope that these prints will serve as a reminder of how far we have come and at the same time what little progress has been made.”

AOL Throws 25th Birthday Bash with Chuck Close, Launches ‘Project on Creativity’

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Chuck Close and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong with artists selected to participate in AOL’s new Project on Creativity

chuck-for-aol.jpgRare is the 25-year-old who can say that Chuck Close attended his or her birthday party (not to mention created works especially for the festivities), but then, AOL is no ordinary twentysomething. The indefatigable Internet company made Close the guest of honor last night as it celebrated its silver anniversary at the mesh-covered, SANAA-designed New Museum in New York City. The museum’s window-walled top floor was lined with a new series of portraits by Close, who AOL commissioned to aim his mega-Polaroid at innovators and creative visionaries including the Dalai Lama, director Gus Van Sant, artist Kara Walker, and himself (at right). Look for the photos to appear in a forthcoming AOL media campaign.

The bash—where we spotted artist Will Cotton, Kate and Andy Spade, and the perpetually impeccable Glenn O’Brien, among many others jostling for drinks from gentleman bartenders in shiny silver suspenders—doubled as a launch party for AOL’s Project on Creativity. Conceptualized with Partners & Spade, the broad-based initiative will include collaborations between AOL and Close on exclusive content, a program that will award $25,000 scholarships to 25 young people in creative fields, and a conference focusing on creativity and technology. “I’m very excited to be collaborating with AOL on this project,” said Close. “Since Tim [Armstrong, AOL chairman and CEO] joined the team, they have been rapidly evolving and intelligently investing in the global creative community.” One such investment was on display last night as AOL unveiled a new crop of 41 artworks—among them a “scribble scratch” scrabbled by Wolff Olins and photographer James Wojcik‘s mouthwatering strawberry—that will appear behind the company’s logo on the AOL homepage. Learn more about the artists and their artworks here.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Chuck Close, the Movie
  • Rebranded AOL Will Offer Something for Everyone, Period.
  • Who Designed the Identity for AOL’s Owl?
  • For Milan Party, Ico Migliore Plays the T Card

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    (Photos: Sara Scamarcia)

    vezzoliT.jpgRemember the quintet of artist- and architect-designed covers of T: The New York Times Style Magazine in celebration of its fifth anniversary? Architect and exhibition designer Ico Migliore transformed the five special T logos—created by Frank Gehry, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Doug and Mike Starn, and Francesco Vezzoli—into giant playing cards for a T party at the Bulgari Hotel in Milan during the city’s fashion week. The evening was hosted by Janet L. Robinson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company; T magazine editor Stefano Tonchi, and Vezzoli, whose own T (at left) riffs on Man Ray‘s iconic “Tears” photo. Guests such as Tomas Maier, Frida Giannini, Neil Barrett, and Giambattisa Valli tried not to interpret the giant houses of cards as a metaphor for the media industry. Click “continued…” for an overhead shot that smacks of Alice in Wonderland—if Wonderland was full of gentlemen in expertly tailored suits.

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    Mark Your Calendar: Fashion’s Night Out

    FNO.jpgUsually, we at UnBeige devote September 10th to celebrating the birthday of Georges Bataille (he would be 112 this year), but this year we’ll dispense with the eye-shaped gâteau to take part in Fashion’s Night Out, a Vogue-sponsored global initiative “to promote retail, restore consumer confidence, and celebrate fashion.” Surely Bataille, who had much to say about consumption and festivals, would have approved.

    “It was an idea that was generated during the [fall] Paris collections in response to the tidal wave of negativity and uncertainty that Anna Wintour perceived among people in the industry and among her colleagues in retail,” explains Sally Singer, Vogue‘s director of fashion news and features. “She called a meeting of all the major editors of Vogue—for all the major editions of Vogue around the world, of which there are about a dozen—and said, ‘Let’s get people out and about, and if not shopping, then at least enjoying the pleasure of stores.’”

    Stateside, the Fashion’s Night Out fun will also usher in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which will pause the opening-day Bryant Park action to allow for celebrations at stores throughout the city. The list of participating designers and retailers is vast, but among the events we’re most looking forward to is the bash at Barneys, where Simon Doonan and his team have lined up events including a book signing with Ruben and Isabel Toledo, trunk shows from Barbara Tfank and Zero + Maria Cornejo, and appearances by Narciso Rodriguez, Thom Browne, and Jonathan Adler, who Doonan promises will actually be throwing pots in the store (live-action potting!). A few blocks away, Assouline is keeping its sublime bookstore at the Plaza open late, serving champagne, The American Fashion Cookbook, and a scavenger hunt based around the tasty tome. Down in Soho, Michael Kors has recruited Billy Norwich to draw caricatures of guests, while famed photographer Arthur Elgort will be snapping away at the Dior flagship on Fifth Avenue. Smile and say “Galliano!”

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    Death and Dementia in Burbank

    poe grimly.jpgFresh from their collaboration with author Neil Gaiman at Comic-Con, the gothic fragrance mavens at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab are gearing up for their next ghoulish meeting of the minds. On the afternoon of August 23, Black Phoenix teams with illustrator Gris Grimley for a party at Dark Delicacies in Burbank to celebrate the launch of Tales of Death and Dementia (Atheneum), a new book that matches the spine-tingling tales of Edgar Allen Poe (in this, his 200th anniversary year) with Grimley’s darkly whimsical drawings. Original artwork from the book will be on display and for sale, along with silkscreened event posters and t-shirts. Partygoers will also be treated to the debut of Black Phoenix’s new line of scents inspired by Grimly’s illustrations of Poe’s prose. The four fragrances are under wraps for now, but we’re hoping that “The Telltale Heart” has inspired a chilling chypre.

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