Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Notes on the Aperture Benefit

Last night, we joined a bubbling throng of collectors, gallery owners, artists and supporters at the annual Aperture Benefit and Auction (here). Held at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, it was an elegant event in a chic space, with some of the best food we have had at a gala in quite a long time. Honorees included photographer Joel Meyerowitz, gallery owner Howard Greenberg, and trustee Susana Torruella Leval.

While the cocktail hour was a mob scene of short conversations between passing glances at the various auction lots, the dinner allowed for some more relaxed socializing. We enjoyed catching up with collector extraordinare Joe Baio and gallery owner Rick Wester (here), as well as meeting three photographers we hadn't known before: Meghan Boody (here), Touhami Ennadre (here), and Gerald Slota (here). Slota even made a wild, red-infused portrait of us with the Polaroid camera on the table, somehow taken through the twisted bonzai centerpiece and then scratched up with the back of fork.

While we didn't come home with anything from the auction, we certainly came away impressed with the Aperture organization, and our car ride back home was filled with a discussion of how much organizations like Aperture need the support of the surrounding community if they are to survive and thrive. Imagine we told you we had an idea to start a new business in today's fast paced, immediate gratification media world, and that our idea was to publish a top quality quarterly magazine on paper (with superlative production values no less), and that as a second idea, we wanted to publish relatively small run art books, again with meticulous attention to quality and detail. Given the recent demise of Gourmet as an example of the current environment, you'd think we were absolutely nuts.

And yet Aperture is a cornerstone of the photography community, a vibrant resource that needs to be protected for the good of all. At some level, it's easy to take such a wonderful organization for granted, but if we consider an alternate reality, where Aperture is missing from the conversation about fine art photography, I think we are all worse off by a meaningful margin. Last night's event was good reminder for us that even in tough economic times, we all need to force ourselves to think more creatively about how to support those non-profit organizations that really make a difference. While we certainly enjoyed ourselves at last evening's festivities, the deeper purpose of the event and what it represents to Aperture were certainly not lost on us.


Dave Rudin said...

I would have liked to have attended last night's event, as well, but the price tag for a ticket is beyond what I can pay for such things. I put the money instead into an absentee bid, which I still don't know if it was successful.

I am glad that the event was well attended, and I do plan to be at the Friends Without a Border event next month.

dlkcollection said...

It's perhaps a fitting comment on the importance of this organization that early issues of Aperture (the magazine) have become extremely collectible in their own right. Gallery owner Joseph Bellows sent me an email this morning letting me know that he has a complete, unbroken run of the first 10 years of the magazine (1952-1962) available for sale. Follow up with him directly as appropriate.

Mike @ MAO said...

MAO was there!! And I totally agree with your analysis about Aperture.. this is an organization that needs to be there for the community.

We're happy to do my best to support it.

Ah.. and.. I can't believe we didn't get to meet you at the Aperture event!

It would have been nice to connect!