• WhiteBox Benefit Art Auction, Spring 2015

    The crowd right before the acution takes place.
    The crowd right before the auction begins
    (R) WhiteBox Curatorial Advisor and the evening’s auctioneer, Kevin Alexander

    [fusion_text]Situated in the Lower East Side’s creative nucleus, WhiteBox is a unique space that functions at once as a non-profit organization and a contemporary art space, blending elements of activism, culture, and the avant-garde. If there was one event to encapsulate this diverse mission, it would be without doubt WhiteBox’s annual Spring Benefit Art Auction that transpired on the rainy evening of June 23rd.

    For the third year in a row, WhiteBox partnered with the Richard J. Massey Foundation to present their Arts and Humanities Award to an artist who has engaged society on levels beyond museum walls, raising important and controversial issues in our contemporary politics. Past recipients are Ai Weiwei and Martha Wilson, who passed the torch to this year’s honoree: performance artist Karen Finley. Finley is known best for her provocative theatrical pieces but has not been bound to one medium in her long and diverse exploration of such charged themes as free speech, sexual abuse, AIDS, and the female body. As she received her award, which was a specially commissioned piece by Tim Rollins and K.O.S., Finley, however, spoke not of herself or her art, but thanked profusely WhiteBox and its staff for their continued endeavors in the non-profit art space.

    (L-R) Juan Puentes, Karen Finley and Anthony Haden-Guest
    (L-R) Juan Puntes, Karen Finley and Anthony Haden-Guest
    Some of the pieces that were up for auction.
    A selection of pieces up for live auction

    Of course, such endeavors could not be continued without the generous aid of the art community. The evening’s silent and live auction helped raise the necessary funds for WhiteBox’s current and future programming. The majority of the art up for live bidding was graciously donated by past exhibitors and residents; WhiteBox founder and director himself Juan Puntes admitted to parting with a work from his own personal collection for the greater benefit of the space. WhiteBox also coupled with artnet’s burgeoning online auction platform to offer 24 pieces to remote buyers through the end of the month. The roster of participating artists included Louise Fishman, John Cale, Ivan Navarro, William Coupon, Ron Galella, David Gamble, Eduardo Gil, Leon Golub, Roberto Juarez, Komar & Melamid, Xu Bing, The Blue Noses, Anton Perich, Andres Serrano, GT Pellizzi, Lawrence Weiner and further on.

    Interspersed with the evening’s fundraising and commemoration were the works of the current exhibit The Last Party, a multi-disciplinary group show curated by writer, critic, and New York nightlife maven Anthony Haden-Guest. The exhibition was re-arranged to allow for Tuesday’s event, but the programs were not wholly separate as a number of the themed works have a place in the online auction. Finley also closed her tribute on the playful promise of an exclusive performance piece for The Last Party, in which she would likely channel old club spirits.

    As the evening came full circle and the last raffle winner was announced, some works were regrettably left unbid on, on the main wall. Neither Puntes nor the auction curator and host Kevin Alexander were too troubled however, as the evening was otherwise a success in perpetuating WhiteBox’s mission of non-commercial and humanistic engagement within contemporary art and contemporary society.

    Writing by Lisa Marsova

    Photographs by Jamie Martinez

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    Let the bidding begin
    Let the bidding begin
    Artist Karen Finley accepting the Arts and Humanities Award
    Artist Karen Finley accepting the Arts and Humanities Award commissioned this year by Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

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    (L-R) DJ Sharri, Tiffany Woodson and Sonija Baram
    (L-R) DJ Sharri, Tiffany Woodson and Sonjja Baram
    A guest enjoying photographs from the "The Last Pary"
    A guest enjoying photographs from the “The Last Party”
    Close up to a painting for "The Last Party"
    Curt Hoppe (American, b. 1950), Bettie and the LA Punk, 1978, Oil on canvas
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    WhiteBox Benefit Art Auction, Spring 2015
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    WhiteBox Benefit Art Auction, Spring 2015
    Juan Puentes from Whitebox.
    Juan Puntes, Founder and Artistic Director of Whitebox
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    WhiteBox Benefit Art Auction, Spring 2015
    Artist Noah Becker
    Artist Noah Becker in front of Ron Galella’s photograph of Andy Warhol
    Gracie Mansion, Senior specialist for Artnet auctions.
    Gracie Mansion, Senior Specialist for Artnet Auctions
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    (M-R) Last year’s honoree of the WhiteBox & Richard J. Massey Foundation Arts and Humanities Award, Martha Wilson in character as “Tipper Gore” next to Richard J. Massey himself
    Anthony Haden-Guest pointing at himself in a photo for "The Last Party".
    Anthony Haden-Guest pointing at himself in an old photo
    Photography for "The Last Party"
    Photography for the current show “The Last Party”
    (L-R) Artists Kurt Bigenho and Jon Tsoi
    (L-R) Artists Kurt Bigenho and Jon Tsoi
    Guests getting ready for the Auction.
    Guests getting ready for the auction

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    The WhiteBox Benefit Art Auction is live for bidding on artnet through June 30.

    The Last Party (The Influence of New York’s Club Culture: Mid 70s – Early 90s) is on view at WhiteBox, 329 Broome St., till August 23.

    Lisa Marsova

    Lisa Marsova

    Lisa Marsova is a financial analyst moonlighting as an art writer. She resides in the East Village and likes anything contemporary.

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