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Brooke Shields, Ali Wentworth, Eric Fischl, and More Attend New York Academy of Art’s Gala al Fresco

Alexandra Talty

Brooke Shields, Bj Topol, and Ali Wentworth. (Photo: Darian DiCianno/BFA.com)

Celebrities and civilians mingled under the East End sunset last Friday night at the New York Academy of Art's annual fundraiser. Although in the midst of gala season, this one stood out for what its guests were wearing…or not.

The annual fundraiser invited patrons, board members and supporters to a night of portraiture… featuring champagne and nude models. After a brief how-to on sketching from Alyssa Monks, as well as mission statement from director David Kratz, guests were invited to sketch the NYAA models in attendance. Bolstered by Bollinger champagne and emboldened by charcoal pens, guests spent the next few hours sketching al fresco.

"It brings the mission of the school alive," said David Kratz, of the annual event. "I can guarantee you've never been to something like this before."

Founded in 1982 by Andy Warhol, the school aims to support artists in traditional art making skills like portraiture that might be lost in modern interpretations. They offer a two-year graduate program or Master's of Fine Arts, focusing on technical skills like drawing.

James Anderson, Steven Gambrel, and Rob Johansen. (Photo: Darian DiCianno/BFA.com)


"The school is such an extraordinary environment for board members as well as students," said Brooke Shields, a board member. "The school teaches you so much about figurative art and the departure of figurative art."

The eclectic crowd dined on lobster rolls, arachini balls as well as sausage and kale flat breads. Simple hydrangeas decorating the tables were a nod to the Hamptons' aesthetic. Other notable guests included Eric Fischl, Nicole Miller, Ali Wentworth, Andrew and Suzi Cohen, Steven Gambrel, James Anderson, David and Jane Walentas, BJ Topol, Eric Freeman, Jay Sures. Barry and Jill Lafer, Elyce Arons, and Jeff and Patty Horing.

"It's really challenging," said Stephanie Roach, head of the FLAG Art Foundation. "You realize the people who are doing this are so gifted."

For more information about New York Academy of Art, visit nyaa.edu.


Alexandra Talty is a Senior Contributor at Forbes. Based in Lebanon, she also writes for Outside Magazine, Playboy Magazine, Food Tank and Civil Eats, among others. She wrote an agricultural column for her hometown newspaper, The Southampton Press, for three years and is currently turning that reportage into a book about the birthplace of America’s small farms.


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