Gang Shebang

Kaitlin Phillips at Art Production Fund’s “Gangs of New York” gala

Left: Steven Weiner, Fab Five Freddy, Art Production Fund cofounder Doreen Remen, and Stuart Sundlun. Right: Artist Leo Villareal and Art Production Fund cofounder Yvonne Force Villarreal. (All photos: Billy Farrell Agency/bfanyc.com)

LAST TUESDAY, I listened happily as a woman expounded on the “civilizing effects” of socializing in a taxidermy-friendly room of “people over thirty-five.” We both had had enough of parties full of “so-called young collectors.” Then I tripped over a small, obviously feral child. (In his mother’s defense, which I will not come to, he was wearing a suit.)

Still, the Art Production Fund’s “Gangs of New York” gala was satisfyingly stacked with representatives from all the heavy-hitting cliques, and not just the art world’s. Liv Tyler! Cathy Horyn! Even AOL’s mascot Shingy. No one had heard of the event space, the Down Town Association—once a men’s club for maritime lawyers—but they’d certainly heard of one another. Not that any of our guests-of-record would go on the record as to which art-world “gang” they belonged to. Artists—always thinking they’re in a class to themselves.

A smattering of men and women tried to dress in theme, despite the obvious handicap: Was it a reference to the Scorsese film? Person-about-town Meghan Boody favored this theory, strapping a round of bullets around her midriff; her ex, the artist Randy Polumbo—wandering what seemed a safe distance away—donned fluorescent nipples of his own extraterrestrial design, situated like wingtips on the shoulders of his suit jacket. (No theme there, but a fine personal advertisement.) Too bad the couple didn’t pan out; few others expressed such willingness to engage the night’s possibilities.

Left: Designer Lazaro Hernandez and artist Rachel Feinstein. Right: Art Production Fund director Casey Fremont.

I cozied into a leather couch with Susan Feinstein (of the New Museum gang). We gave each other fake Sean Landers–designed tattoos; she chose a cat with large female breasts for our upper arms. “I feel sexy!” she giggled, and rightly so, in a flirty ’20s-style flapper dress. (“Just a little thing from Paris.”) Dealer Sandra Gering, seated opposite, declined to participate. We knocked over a couple of glasses of champagne and talked about her newly acquired Warhol sketch, then I excused myself to check out the Haim Steinbach installation, sequestered in a side room.

A similarly inspired couple joined me and we three alone stared at the steel shelf, rather certain that none of us was going to be moved. Two pairs of high heels with long, grasslike tassels were placed, archly “haphazard,” on the display. (The other guests of honor were Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of fashion house Proenza Schouler.) “This ‘art’ is not for me,” said the woman, downing her glass, “but I’d wear the shoes.”

In search of my table I realized, quite on accident, I hadn’t spoken to a single man. Thank God I was seated between two at dinner. Fab Five Freddy was on my left. “You can Google me,” he said after introducing himself. I smiled gamely, only to realize he wanted to watch me Google him right then. I waved my BlackBerry in the air as an excuse. He was undeterred. I was saved by the ever-polite Frank Benson, responsible for the show-stealing glossy-green 3-D sculpture of Juliana Huxtable now in the New Museum’s triennial. He watched a documentary on Fab Five Freddy “last night!” Huxtable herself floated over later in the evening, her famously fab braided locks (Google them) churning as she hugged him hello.

Left: Artist Juliana Huxtable. Right: Rose Dergan with artists Will Cotton and Sean Landers.

The only thing that separates the art world from high school is the ability to leave the lunchroom for a smoke break, so I exercised my status as an adult in control of my whole entire thing. Never mind. It was raining. I’m the only smoker left in New York. What does one expect in the middle of dinner? Sometimes we must look within ourselves and accept the clique to which we’ve been assigned by God, or, in this case, a random PR underling. I returned to my table and spotted the shaggy-haired, tonight disenchanted-seeming artist Jonah Freeman, heretofore opposite me at dinner, and we shared chagrin about our table’s empty seats (two!). Stella Schnabel either was a no-show or had finagled a better spot.

On my way out the door I ran into the always-chic Sarah Morris—in a crisp white pantsuit, black hair cropped and slicked back—repairing to Lucien with her entourage. I failed to convince Marilyn Minter to join—she had “to go home and feed the dogs or they’ll shit all over the rug.” At coat check, the painter Garth Weiser and I realized we’re both from Helena, Montana, and…know a man named Laughing Water, etc. We decide to form our own gang.

“Well, that wasn’t too nauseating,” said a woman, dumping her Kiehl’s gift bag out on the counter. It really wasn’t. What a world where that’s our only requirement for a night out. 2015, my friends, 2015!

Left: Artist Haim Steinbach. Right: Artist Hanna Liden (left) and artist Sarah Morris (right)

Left: Artists Meghan Boody and Marilyn Minter. Right: Artist Cindy Sherman and New Museum director Lisa Phillips.

Left: Annelise Peterson Winter, dancer David Hallberg, Indre Rockefeller, and Teen Vogue editor in chief Amy Astley. Right: Bettina Prentice with artist Adam Pendleton.