MoMA’s Garden Party Honors Joan Jonas, LaToya Ruby Frazier and Refik Anadol


Around this time last June, an orange dystopian sky loomed over the Museum of Modern Art’s Party in the Garden as wildfire smoke from Canada made its way to New York City.

While this year’s event wasn’t exempt from air quality alerts (a health advisory was issued on Tuesday), a mildly humid day in the high 70s seemed like a more tempered environment for the nearly 1,500 artists, curators, art patrons and supporters of MoMA to gather for the museum’s biggest annual fund-raising event.

“I enjoy seeing all the people — it’s a celebration, and it’s different every year,” said the artist Joan Jonas, one of the honored guests.

MoMA’s Party in the Garden, which has been attracting influential figures for decades, raised more than $5.5 million to fund its general operations and learning and engagement programs, among other things.

Other artists honored alongside Ms. Jonas included the digital artist Refik Anadol and the photographer and activist LaToya Ruby Frazier, who have also recently graced the museum’s gallery walls. Ronnie Heyman, the former president of the museum’s board of trustees, was also honored. Ms. Heyman, who will officially step down from her role in July, will be succeeded by Sarah Arison, a board chair at YoungArts and MoMA PS1.

Mr. Anadol, who is from Turkey, said he first came to the United States in 2011 as a student, and one of the first things he and his wife did in New York was buy a MoMA ticket. He described his road to an exhibit at the museum as “magic.”

For Ms. Frazier, being recognized was “confirmation that the work I make is much bigger than me,” she said.

After cocktails, dinner guests inched their way into a carpeted space filled with colorful tables with floral centerpieces and navigated the crowd as they searched for their seats. Between speeches presenting the honorees, guests passed around family-style dishes of pea risotto and grilled artichokes.

Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, sat at the head of a table that included Ms. Jonas; Gayle King, the broadcast journalist; Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Elizabeth Alexander, the president of the Mellon Foundation; and Agnes Gund, a MoMA trustee and president emerita. At a separate table, the artist Mickalene Thomas arrived just before opening remarks began.

Also in attendance were the artists Lorna Simpson, Sarah Sze, Glenn Ligon and Maya Lin; Dasha Zhukova, an art collector and socialite (who recently became Rupert Murdoch’s stepdaughter); Andrew Jarecki, a filmmaker; and Jeffrey Deitch, the art dealer.

“This party has remained fresh because it, like MoMA, has evolved,” said Mr. Walker, who was an honoree last year and has attended the event for many years.

Many dinner attendees dispersed around 10 p.m. as others walked toward the thump of loud music from an outdoor sculpture garden for the after-party, which catered to a younger crowd.

On the dance floor, under a mirror ball and flashing lights, there was a collision of two contrasting worlds: one where guests screamed and swayed while Fletcher, the pop artist, performed, and another where security guards towered over a handful of climate activists, arms linked, staging a sit-in.

Their chants throughout the set were drowned out by the music. As security personnel took photos of the protesters, who have been a familiar sight at the museum in recent months, other guests danced around them.



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