I love the promise of a night in New York. May has ushered in warm weather, outdoor parties, late nights with little clothing, weekend retreats, and more recently, the premiere of Sex and the City (more on that later). Escaping from work last night, with what feels like miles of hours to play before me, I step out of the cab into the cool spring evening on 22nd Street. Before me is the historic Dia Gallery where Lola New York, SelfPortrait.net, and BlackBook are feting emerging artists at Fingerpaint, a silent auction event, the proceeds of which go to Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Foundation.
It’s no secret that the New York art scene has the capacity to calcify Manhattan social order. Art seems to pair well with air kisses, posing gallerinas, and rousing games of name-dropping. It’s a cause for concern as I climb the cement staircase to the second floor. But, upon entering the yawning gallery space, all said stereotypes evaporate, along with the Svedka drinks attendees are perilously trying to down before their ice melts. The enormous space is sweltering hot, but the energetic crowd doesn’t seem to notice. Air kisses are replaced with sloppy hugs, gallerinas forego posing for playing, and the name-dropping is swapped with pointing, as Scott Buccheit, Timo Weiland, Leven Rambin, Erika Christensen, Kristian Laliberte, Eva Amurri, and Daniel Merriweather excitedly peruse the art, hug, and lounge on a large car installation while talking animatedly despite the uncomfortable heat.
The luminous Patti Hansen emerges to support daughter Alexandra Richards’s first art showing. “I’m proud of her,” she says simply, as a glowing Alexandra looks on. Behind the pair, Eva Amurri inspects the installations and hanging art, looking fresh in a white eyelet dress. Socialites mingle with NYU students, actresses, artists, the famous and the infamous, the epitome of uptown meets downtown, all the while dashing every preconceived notion I had regarding the snobbery of the art world. Photographer Ruvan Wijesooriya agrees, as we contemplate the state of photography in the industry. I ponder how commercialism and recession has affected the art world. Wijesooriya doesn’t miss a beat. “I think it produces a real challenge for artists. Not only do they have to portray advertisers and brands in editorials, but they have to do it creatively. Art is always changing, the challenges are always different and that is what is so exciting about seeing young artists interpreting these changes,” he says.
As attendees begin to dissipate, I stand alone in the center of the space soaking in the “scene” or lack thereof. Just as I turn on a heel to leave, I see her. Charlotte, er, Kristin Davis is just north of me, beautiful, petite, and radiant in a gorgeous Grecian style dress. With the week’s frenzied Sex and the City premiere, I think for a second that the heat has caused a serious hallucination. I move closer to hear her fawning over artist Trevor Owsley’s work. “I’m so glad you are here,” I say instinctively. She turns to me, smiling demurely, “Of course!” I ask her what she thinks of the collection—at least, I think I manage to squeak out something akin to that. “I think it’s so important to support young artists, and I think the cause is so respectable. I really admire what you guys are doing here,” she says brightly. She poses for pictures, humors admirers, and then she’s off, absorbed in the art, speaking genuinely to the artists, devoid of air kisses, posing and name-dropping.