The Phillips Collection, a small gem of a museum tucked away just north of Dupont Circle, held its annual fundraising gala on May 10, just days after the Cinco de Mayo festivities. This year, the gala highlighted Mexican art and culture in a bash geared towards the “Contemporaries,” those in the age range of 25 to 40.
“Maravillas de Mexico (Wonders of Mexico),” gave that demographic an opportunity to give philanthropically to benefit the multifaceted educational programs that the museum holds in its facility and at other venues in the city.
The “Contemporaries Bash,” held at Dock 5 at Union Market, was co-sponsored by the Embassy of Mexico, and featured Mexican Margaritas and Mezcal, Mexican finger foods and Latin beats. Held in the event space/warehouse just behind the main market, the patrons wore all manner of formal wear to party in the appropriately decorated warehouse.
This year’s gala honored four Mexican artists: Jose Dávila, Aliza Nisenbaum, Bosco Sodi and culinary artist Pati Jinich. The 2019 Congressional honorees are Texas Reps. Joaquin Castro (D) and William Hurd (R).
“Mexico and the United States are inextricably linked by a rich common history in which there has been immense creative and artistic exchange,” said Dorothy Kosinski, the Vradenburg director and CEO of The Phillips Collection. “Our gala honorees are Mexican artists. But our space at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus, Phillips@ THEARC drives engagement with D.C. Public Schools and East of the River residents. This campus offers southeast D.C. residents, especially caregivers and older adults, free arts and wellness programs and also arts integration programs for teachers and students.”
The gala also supports other outreach programs such as “Arts Integration with Prism K-12,” and makes the connection between art and wellness and the enhanced museum experience.
In focusing on Mexico, The Phillips Collection is also ushering in new, more diverse exhibitions and collections.
“The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement” features historical and contemporary artworks by 75 global artists from places such as Algeria, Bangladesh, Ghana, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Belgium, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Vietnam and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States, whose work “poses urgent questions around the experiences and perceptions of migration and the current global refugee crisis.”
The Phillips Collection also announced a major new acquisition of five Gee’s Bend Quilts from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, created by African American female quilt makers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, among other recent acquisitions. These new acquisitions reflect the museum’s collecting strategy to prioritize works from artists of color and women as part of an ongoing effort to diversify the collection. Furthering this effort, recent acquisitions include works by Angela Bulloch, Amy Cutler, John Edmonds, Sam Gilliam, Helen Lundeberg, Nara Park, Ellington Robinson, Bosco Sodi and Regina Pilawuk Wilson.
In addition, Kosinski has used a discretionary fund established in 2015 to acquire works by artists including Zilia Sánchez, McArthur Binion, Alejandro Pintado, Renée Stout, and most recently, the purchase of Simone Leigh’s faceless bust entitled No Face (Crown Heights) purchased in December 2018. Leigh, the recipient of the prestigious 2018 Hugo Boss Prize, “creates exquisitely crafted ceramic sculptures informed by her ongoing exploration of black female subjectivity and ethnography.”
The Phillips Collection is located at 1600 21st Street NW. Call 202-387-2151 for more information about exhibits and other programs at the museum and around the city.