By Larry Ossei-Mensah
The American Federation of Arts (AFA) recently hosted their 2013 Gala & Cultural Leadership Awards at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. The AFA, whose mission is to enrich the public’s experience with art and culture, host the Gala & Cultural Leadership Awards annually to recognize individuals who’ve used their talents to create awareness about the arts. This year’s honorees were legendary art dealer and collector, Eugene V. Thaw and one of the most important artist of our generation, Kehinde Wiley.
Hosted by the AFA Director, Pauline Willis and AFA Chairman, Tom L. Freudenheim, the gala was a celebration of the importance of the arts as a platform for creative expression. During a period when the arts has taken a back seat in our public discourse, it was refreshing to be amongst a group so committed ensuring that the arts is accessible to for all to enjoy. Throughout night as guests dined and exchanged stories about their passion for the arts and culture, they perused their custom-edition Moleskine notebooks featuring a special edition print by Wiley.
A plethora of art world VIPs where were on hand to commemorate the occasion from philanthropist and art patron Agnes Gund to multimedia artist Sanford Biggers. The highlight of the evening was honoree Kehinde Wiley, whose paintings feature a multicultural tableau of individuals who’ve historically been omitted from art history. Introduced by Arnold Lehman (Director of the Brooklyn Museum, where Wiley will have a solo exhibition in February 2015), the dapper Wiley shared with the audience that he aims to continue to introduce diverse audiences to the magic of art via his work.