My First Tribeca Ball, 2012

By Amanda Scuglia, MFA 2013
Photography by Maria Teicher, MFA 2013

In the weeks leading up to the ball, there was a lot of buzz going around the Academy. Party planners came in to discuss the look of the evening and the entertainment. The students cleaned up their studios and displayed their best work. The walls throughout the building were curated by the faculty.

The evening of the ball, students arrived dressed in cocktail attire. This was different from how we are used to seeing each other, with old clothes covered in paint. Franklin Street was blocked off and security was high. Masked models were dressed in bodysuits and exquisite Van Cleef and Arpels jewelry. Celebs and art collectors were met in the lobby by red carpet photographers. We mingled in and around our studios once the guests arrived.

Live music was performed on all 6 floors. All bars were fully stocked with top-shelf liquor and personal-size champagne bottles. Entertainment was occurring in each designated room. No matter which door you chose, something fun was happening. You could witness a performance piece or get your photograph with a Frida Kahlo or Rene Magritte painting. (photography at these artists booths, including the shot below of Jessica Augier and I, courtesy of
Celebrities like Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber, Julianna Margulies, Solange Knowles, Kim Cattrall, Nora Zehetner and Carla Gugino walked through our studios. Artists like Will Cotton and Jeff Koons were also spotted. I was lucky enough to be greeted by some curious art supporters with questions about the content of my paintings. I got to explain to interested viewers the process of my work. I received some great feedback and I even sold a piece! It was such an exciting night for all of us.

After the cocktail hour we were rushed out of the building and onto the after-party at bar M-15 on Walker Street. The class of 2012 and 2013 had many drinks and many dances. Meanwhile, back at the Academy, Robert DeNiro was being honored at the Tribeca Ball dinner for his years of continued support of the arts. He was met by friends like Harvey Keitel and Mary-Kate Olsen, among others. See some selected photos, featuring some artist studio shots, from the night below. See full set of photos by Maria Teicher at on our flickr page here.

Adam LaMothe, MFA 2012
Nic Bandy, MFA 2013
Holly Sailors, MFA 2012
Kristy Gordon, MFA 2013
by Kaitlynn Stubbs, MFA 2012

Nicolas Sanchez, MFA 2013
Ramona Bradley, MFA 2012
Rob Plater, MFA 2013

Sherry Di Filippo, MFA 2012
Elana Baziz, MFA 2012

Does Painting Still Matter?

The best way to make a dramatic leap as an artist is to stop working. After Hilary Harkness' show at Mary Boone Gallery in 2011, she laid down her brushes for a full month and went to southern India. Personal transformation aside, she will never evaluate art the same way again.  Here are some ideas for ways to push your practice forward from the subcontinent.

Not at the Taj Hotel in Kovalam, India. Kovalam is a tropical vacation town at the Southern tip of India. I normally think resorts are jail, but I was feeling good since we had been upgraded to a suite with a private pool. There were paintings throughout the hotel, but the owner or management must not have looked at them.
In contrast to the beautiful d├ęcor, there was a watercolor painting of an airplane going down in flames hung on the living room wall. Later, in the restaurant, I noticed a painting with floating, disembodied eyes. What mood was the designer going for? Was he feeling vengeful? Why was no one interested?
Kovalam is also on the Kerala side of the Tamil Nadu border, a state with human inhabitation dating from 500,000 BCE and former stomping grounds of the separatist militant organization Tamil Tigers. This was the first insurgent organization to use concealed explosive belts and vests, and a member assassinated the former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. The FBI has described the Tamil Tigers as amongst the most dangerous and deadly extremist outfits in the world. They were guilty of human trafficking, sea piracy, ethnic cleansing, and credit card fraud.

Later in the trip, vigilante civil war broke out between the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu over an old dam that had never been safety tested, and was now feared to be unsafe. The Keralans wanted it taken down, while 100,000 Tamil Nadu farmers were dependent on the dam for water. Civilians were ripping each other out of cars and the violence was becoming widespread. We flew out shortly before the airport was shut down. The Federal government of India declined to get involved, because what good could they do?
Maybe I was wrong about the paintings at the hotel, maybe they weren’t aggressive but merely apt reflections of reality hidden in a fantasy land.

Tribeca Ball: From the inside

By Jonathan Beer, MFA 2012Artist,
Director, Blind Artists Society
Left to right: Richie Fine, Jessica Beck, Jon Beer, Kaitlyn Stubbs, Aleah Chapin, Lily Olive & Nic Holiber
Every spring the Academy puts together one of the most exclusive and exciting events of the year, TriBeCa Ball. Imagine an art opening, a cocktail party and a ball all rolled into one, and you've got TriBeCa Ball. The best part is that at the heart of the evening is our artwork. As a student its an incredibly rare chance to have your work viewed by so many people, many of them happen to be artists, collectors, actors and tastemakers from all over NY.

The school gets totally transformed in just a few short days before hand. Everyone seems to be involved with preparation and the excitement is palpable in the air. The walls are given a fresh coat of paint and every available spot taken to hang artwork. The studios become galleries for the evening and each floor becomes an exhibition space.The building gets turned upside down as students, staff, and decorators work to make the theme of the party come to life. 

The night finally arrives and the excitement keeps building as all the last minute details are attended to. 6 pm arrives in a heartbeat and the guests begin to roll up. The lobby is an ocean of people, all dressed in their finest.  After making it past the press the guests are brought throughout each floor, and they see just about every studio. Staff and alums circle on each floor to make sure that the students are having fun and that the guests are happy. 

Art is sold and connections are made, but that isn't the whole point of the night. It's also about having fun with all the people that make up the great community at the NYAA and about showing off the artwork you've lovingly labored on all year.  It's a great evening and one of the best perks of being part of the NYAA.

Escape from Studio Lockdown: An Allegorical Tale of a Backpacker in Alappuzha

The best way to make a dramatic leap as an artist is to stop working. After Hilary Harkness' show at Mary Boone Gallery in 2011, she laid down her brushes for a full month and went to southern India. Personal transformation aside, she will never evaluate art the same way again.  Here are some ideas for ways to push your practice forward from the subcontinent.

From Love is What you Want
  Word is that you don’t need to look outside yourself for creative inspiration, and that the more personal a work is, the more universal it is. Think Tracey Emin’s tampon piece. This is great advice for the first decade out of school, and for intermittent periods later in life- even Louise Bourgeois took breaks from showing while she reconnected and reorganized her work in relation to her inner life.

Janus Fleuri 1968
After leaving Yale, I painted for myself for three years with no one looking, and no thoughts of showing at a serious gallery. When I moved to NYC, I had no choice but to work long days, often around the clock, to keep up with deadlines for shows. I believed that if I had no life, I would live through my paintings, making them come alive. And if I put all my care into making paintings, then my paintings would go out into the world and take care of me. (I didn’t realize that my paintings couldn’t take care of networking). My dealer Mary Boone has been a champ in that she is hands-off when it comes to my creative process and doesn’t grouse when I turn away collectors. Outside of casual visits from friends, I’ve done only a handful of studio visits in the past decade, and it’s saved me from having to keep up appearances in my studio, explain anything, or otherwise waste time.  I was able to be vulnerable and truthful in my work because I wasn’t bracing myself against dismissive criticism (I was still worn out from surviving Yale).

Since I’m blogging about escaping from my studio,  I want to tell you about meeting a lovely blond backpacker in Alappuzha, Kerala after a night on a rice barge cum houseboat. She was 29 and looking for adventure, hanging in bars (I wondered for a minute if she was going to scam me in some way, instead, she gave me a nonfiction book about the state of healthcare in India). She had spent a night on a houseboat with five backpacker guys she hadn’t known previously, and when she pulled out her camera to show us photos of a foggy Taj Mahal she found that unbeknownst to her the guys had taken photos of their pasty asses and equipment for her to discover later. 

She told me that she had been in India for three weeks and that it was all the same and boring. She was off to Vietnam where she had heard that there were more backpackers.  She was more interested in backpacker monoculture than the culture around her. There’s a time in life for living in your own world, but after a while you’re missing out on much more interesting and important stuff.
Without healthy engagement in reality, I believe artists become unmoored and their creativity shrivels from lack of mental input. 

Genitals, Forrest Bess

Only a few of us can be Forrest Best, the penultimate outsider artist, but with genital mutilation on the docket (a belief in sacrificing everything to creativity, including ejaculation), it’s better to “sell out” and join the fray.

Untitled (No. 5), Forrest Bess, 1949

What dogma about creativity has you by the throat?