Text: Kevin McGarry
Last Wednesday, SculptureCenter stepped out of the shadow of it's Long Island City neighbor MoMA PS1 and into the limelight of Times Square for an anything but scrappy gala honoring legendary gallerist Paula Cooper. Generations of supporters gathered at The Edison Ballroom where the superlatives flowed: brave and ingenious, as evidenced by a trailblazing career spanning five decades; beautiful and authentic, as both her turn at the podium and the backing Powerpoint memory book confirmed.
The most telling word was said by artist John Baldessari, whose own legacy (and stature) towers over most in today's art world. During his remarks he called Cooper one of his few true role models, and, above all, "ethical"—a word that seldom rises to the surface when discussing the cutthroat ecology of Manhattan art dealers.
But it was not all adulations. The newsy moment of the evening was SculptureCenter's announcement that a $5 million capital campaign underwriting a 2013 renovation and expansion is underway. For entertainment, Baldessari chose an eclectic assortment of records, which Cooper's son Lucas sourced and carted over to the venue earlier that day, for "The Clock"'s maker Chrstian Marclay to mix together in a dissonant DJ set. That was "fun."
The real fun began about an hour later when they opened the floodgates and a surge of artists rushed in for the karaoke after party. Perhaps emboldened by the popularity of her first show, SculptureCenter's new curator Ruba Katrib gave the room a thrill with her best Lana Del Rey. To many's disappointment, Baldessari did not follow suit with his own conceptual warblings.