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Honoring Art at the Whitney

June 10, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT

Whitney Museum of American Art's American Art award Whitney Museum of American Art Monday, 06.03.02, 7 PM to 10:30 PM
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There were hanging plants and hanging table centerpieces, but no art hung on the walls when patrons gathered at the Whitney Museum of American Art to celebrate the 11th annual American Art award.

Rather, the black-tie gala dinner transformed the museum's Emily Fisher Landau galleries into a fantastic fuschia and blue wonderland. The decor, courtesy of David Beahm Designs, was “inspired by the word 'dream,'” Beahm said. “I like designing here. You can be avant garde.”

Beahm used a pink and blue theme throughout, starting with subdued pastels in the lower gallery for cocktails. Then in the dining area the color exploded in bright blue and fuschia. Blue tablecloths had squares of fuschia cloth in the center, with square centerpieces of bright pink roses and pink votive candleholders on top. Silver bowls of colorful rock candy flanked two sides of each arrangement. The chairs had matching slipcovers trimmed in blue and pink. And above each table, hanging strands of geometric-shaped mirrors dangled from the ceiling. When Bentley Meeker's lighting hit the mirrors, the effect was rather magical—as if confetti was suspended in mid-air.

After the award presentation, 40 violinists from Orion Music circled the 260 seated guests and played as everyone ate. Glorious Food's menu included cold.phparagus soup with lobster, roasted breast of capon with Morel mushrooms, sautéed spinach, sweet potato fries and individual angel food cakes with lemon glaze, spun sugar and black cherry sorbet.

For the award itself, every year Cartier commissions an original piece of art to be created by an American artist whose work is in the Whitney's permanent collection. This year's artist was Sooja Kim. Event co-chair Leonard Lauder presented the award to Pfizer chairman and CEO Henry A. McKinnell Jr., Ph.D, in honor of Pfizer's support of the arts, in particular its support of the New York Public Library, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Whitney.

--Erika Rasmusson

Read about the Whitney's circus-themed fall gala...

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