On Monday, April 3, The Brooklyn Museum’s seventh annual Brooklyn Artists Ball drew a crowd of more than 1200 people from the worlds of art, entertainment, and finance to honor Alicia Keys and museum Trustee Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean. The annual event is the museum’s biggest fundraiser, bringing in more than $1.7 million for the institution.
Guests, most of whom wore blue as a nod to the museum’s exhibition “Infinite Blue,” included Lenny Kravitz, David Byrne, Janet Mock, Fred (Fab 5 Freddy) Brathwaite, Sarah Jones, Maxwell, Kelsey Lu, Anja Rubik, Eric Adams (Brooklyn borough president), Sharon Lombardo, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn; artists Dustin Yellin, Marilyn Minter, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Stephen (ESPO) Powers, Swoon, KAWS, Derrick Adams, Timothy Curtis, and Adam Fuss; Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Shelby White, Andrew Cogan, along with Anne Pasternak (The Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum) and event chairs Sarah Arison, Henry Elsesser, Miyoung Lee, and Carla Shen.
The evening began with cocktails in the Museum’s lobby after which guests made their way up to the sold-out dinner in the Beaux Arts Court to the sounds of a gospel choir. The David Stark-designed space was developed to underscore the evening’s theme ‘Infinite Blue.”
Museum Director Pasternak gave a speech about the honorees achievements citing Kasseem’s visionary scope of music and support of artists through The Dean Collection, and Alicia’s commitment to nurturing healthy communities and providing creative mentorship.
Then Alicia and Kasseem took to the stage to thank the Brooklyn Museum for the honor, pointing out that it was the first time they had been celebrated together. Alicia spoke about how everyone is an artist adding that, “At this time in the world, art is the most important thing we can do.” She then kicked it over to her husband, Kasseem, asking “Do you want to take over?” Lamenting the cane with which he was walking, he said that “the hardest job (I) have tonight is making (the cane) look good….The only cane I knew until now was Big Daddy Kane from Brooklyn.”
After dinner, guests headed to a KAWS hosted dance party with music provided by DJ Runna, who was joined by co-honoree Kasseem. Post dinner, Swizz jumped into the DJ booth with Runna, and kicked off an epic call and response with the crowd. People swarmed the floor, cellphones in the air, and danced to the 90s hip hop and house. He called for a Soul Train line and exclaimed, “Are you all about artists changing the world? I wanna see you dance all night.”