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Seventh Annual Artists Ball at Brooklyn Museum

Renee Minus White | 4/13/2017, 12:44 p.m.
What a ball! Last week’s Artist Ball at the Brooklyn Museum was a complete success, raising more than $1.7 million ...
This year's honorees Alicia Keys and museum trustee Kasseem " Swizz Beats" Dean Phot by Kevin Mazur' Getty for Brooklyn Musuem

What a ball! Last week’s Artist Ball at the Brooklyn Museum was a complete success, raising more than $1.7 million for the Institution. The event was completely sold out, drawing a crowd of more than 1,200 people from the worlds of art, entertainment, finance and more. This year’s honorees were Alicia Keys and museum trustee Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean. This much-anticipated annual artist-centric affair is the museum’s

biggest fundraiser.

Shelby White and Leon Levy Museum Director Anne Pasternak kicked off the evening and rapped the names of all artists present at the event. Onstage, they introduced shared comments about the honorees. “Kasseem’s visionary scope of music and amazing support of artists through The Dean Collection, and Alicia’s commitment to nurturing healthy communities and providing creative mentorship underscores the Brooklyn Museum’s important message,” they stated. It’s all about the Brooklyn Museum’s belief that individuals and organizations can come together to produce the change that they want to see and be in the world.

After receiving their honors, the award-winning duo of Keys and Dean expressed their thanks to the Brooklyn Museum. “It’s the first time we have been honored together,” Keys said, opulent in a long black gown with fitted bodice, nipped waistline and patent-leather belted gathered skirt. “Everyone is an artist. At this time in the world, art is the most important thing we can do.”

Turning to her husband, Dean, Keys asked, “Do you want to take over?”

Dean said, “The hardest job I have tonight is making the cane look good. The only cane I knew until now was Big Daddy Kane from Brooklyn.”

During the ’50s and ’60s, The Isley Brothers always showed up styling to shows and events, sharply dressed with their canes, fabulous suits and furs. Even today, you can catch Ronald Isley smartly attired. Dean is simply carrying on the tradition of well-dressed African-American men, setting a standard for today’s young men.

The opening reception included cocktails in the museum’s lobby. DJ Runna rocked the place and filled the space with swinging sounds throughout the evening. Some guests were treated to specially created hair accessories, hair styling or body painting appointments in artist Swoon’s Pearly Beauty Shop. The Norm, the museum’s restaurant, doubled as a VIP lounge, where guests snapped up shots at a Polaroid photo opportunity with Philip Leeds. The delicious dinner was served in the Beaux Arts Court, designed by David Stark. The environmental design atmosphere was created in varying shades of blue that tied into the event’s theme, “Infinite Blue.” During dinner, there was an entertaining performance by singer/cellist, Kelsey Lu. After dinner, folks danced the night away. Of course, DJ Runna was joined by co-honoree Swizz Beats for some ’90s hip-hop and house music.

As a nod to the museum’s “Infinite Blue” exhibition, folks were dressed in their best blue vines. In the house, VIP guests included Lenny Kravitz, David Byrne, Janet Mock, Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite, Sarah Jones, Maxwell, Kelsey Lu, Anja Rubik, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Sharon Lombardo (head designer for Anne Klein), gallerist Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, artists Dustin Yellin, Marilyn Minter, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Stephen “Espo” Powers, Swoon, Brian “Kaws” Donnelly, Derrick Adams, Timothy

Curtis and Adam Fuss.

Philanthropists and social figures included Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Shelby White and Andrew Cogan, CEO of Knoll, along with event chairs Sarah Arison, Henry Elsesser, Miyoung Lee and Carla Shen.