Ballroom Marfa Honors David Byrne & Jill Soloway With ‘Desert Bohemian’ Gala in New York

Images by Leandro Justen/BFA

On Monday evening New York’s art community took their seats before an all-female San Antonio mariachi band’s opening act, for a Ballroom Marfa dinner presented by Roberto Cavalli and tributed to both David Byrne and Transparent creator Jill Soloway’s unique achievements in creative thought and actualization.

The tone set by the pop-up aura reader, the boho city chic crowd expressed their own well-articulated commentary on what it might feel like to be a New Yorker right now, a witness to a fledgling union as uncertain as some were about Byrne’s offbeat Pictionary act.

But that’s why it worked.

“[Marfa is] a place I love, that makes me sometimes scratch my head,” said Byrne.

So what does New York’s art establishment have to say this moment of uncertainty?

Simple. What it always has said. But now more honest, more direct, more feeling. Life’s for living as art is for life, and what is life without an occasional Monday night margarita (nice to meet you, Casa Dragones), and artist Zoe Leonard’s “I Want a President” manifesto delivered emphatically by Soloway, who shared the honor of the night with Byrne: an inaugural “Off the Grid” Award, designed by Matthew Day Jackson.

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“We wanted to honor people who have redefined the idea of what’s possible,” said Fairfax Dorn, Ballroom Marfa’s Co-Founder. “David has done that through music and his own contributions to the visual arts. Jill Soloway has done that through television and directing, and transgender activism. They both in their own independent ways have really pushed the boundary of understanding what it means to be human today.”

The gala opened to a silent auction displayed by Paddle8, featuring the works of Ed Ruscha, Donald Judd, John Baldessari, Billy Al Bengston, Paul McCarthy, Rosy Keyser, Kenny Scharf and Sam Falls. The live auction, led by the charismatic Sara Friedlander of Christie’s, raised over $330,000.

“Fundraising efforts will support artists directly,” Dorn continued. “This event enables us to bring artists to Marfa and to commission new projects and exhibitions.”

One of which includes sound artist Haroon Mirza’s upcoming ‘Stone Circle’ installation, which was previewed in a video, as a part of the evening’s program.

“I think we are going to enter an age of creativity here and I’m honored to be apart of this process,” Dorn concluded. “It’s so important we come together and do not let the arts and culture dissipate or lose hope. Seeing all these people in this room, working with artists who are about the future and how we define and express ourselves is what gives us hope.”

Fairfax Dorn, David Byrne

Fairfax Dorn, David Byrne

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