Holly Block, Mayor Bloomberg,
Michèle Gerber Klein

Alice Judelson and Carlos Basualdo

Paulo and Simone Klabin and
José Alfredo Graca Lima

R. Douglass Rice and Cynthia Elliot
Mayor Bloomberg Opens
New $19 Million Building

Text by Roger Webster
Photos by Michael Callender and Scott Rudd/PatrickMcMullan


HE South Bronx is a hot place to be," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said as he cut the ribbon on the spectacular new $19 million Bronx Museum of the Arts, by Arquitectonica, the internationally renowned architecture firm.

"This museum has always had a clear and confident vision to enjoy art and to look to the future," he added. "The new addition with its eye-popping design, has been a long time coming—31 years. But now The Bronx Museum has put the grand back in the Grand Concourse."

The Bronx Museum of the Arts (BxMA), on the Grand Concourse at 165th Street, was founded in 1971 and remained the only fine art museum in the borough. The museum nearly doubles its public space with this new building, which features a major gallery, flexible events/program space, an outdoor terrace, and an entire floor dedicated to education programs and classrooms.

The event also marked the opening of the museum's second biggest show in its history. Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture, curated by Carlos Basualdo and Lydia Yee, explores one of the most significant chapters in the world's modern cultural history. It was the late ‘60s, when daring experiments in Brazilian art, music, film, architecture and theater converged, led by such well known pop stars as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil (Grammy Award winner, who along with Veloso was arrested in 1969 by the military government and is today the Minister of Culture).

The Tropicália moment produced a counterculture that has influenced generations of artists up to the present day including David Byrne.

The excitement kicked off at a cocktail party in the Soho apartment of trustee R. Douglass Rice and his wife Cynthia Elliott, to welcome the museum's new executive director Holly Block, attended by board chairman Bob Perez and trustees Michèle Gerber Klein, Allen Duan, Ruth Corn Roth, Charlie Wilcox, Elliot Brownstein and Lisa Tweedy.

Also artists Yoko Inou, Paul Henry Ramirez, Spencer Tunick, Eduardo Sarabia, Fred Wilson, Sonoko Sugiyama Anton Perich and photographer Ricardo Fasanello.

Plus such well known dealers, curators and collectorsas I-20 Gallery's Alice and Paul Judelson, Marlborough Gallery director Janis Cecil, Leon Koenig Gallery's Kai Heinze, Christie's Andrew Massad, Metro Picture's Allie Card, Havenarts Gallery's Barry Kostrinsky, Noguchi Garden Museum director Jenny Dixon, Art Dealers Association of America's Linda Blumberg, New Museum of Contemporary Art's Laura Hoptman.

And Allison Weiss Brady, Lovell Whitfield, fashion marketing wunderkind Jeff Tweedy; couturier Maggie Norris, who will be featured in London's Victoria and Albert this winter, and New York Social Diary's Charlie Scheips, whose book Andy Warhol: The Day the Factory Died comes out this fall, and Kim Jasmin and Gayle Jennings O'Byrne from JPMorgan Chase who sponsored the big opening.

Brazilians Paulo, Simone, Mateus and Maya Klabin hosted a dinner at their East Side home on the evening of the grand opening for friends of the museum, especially those who had flown up from Brazil.

Dinner guests included Ambassador Jose Alfredo Graça Lima, Consul General of Brazil; Isabella Gil, daughter of Tropicália star Gilberto Gil; Ceaser Oiticica; Arquitectonica's Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Paul Sheehan; Robert and Sylvie Fitzpatrick, of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, who co-organized the exhibit.

Also artists Eli Sudbrack, Tim Gossens, Ricardo and Pedro Fortes (son and grandson of the legendary artist Lygia Pape), Karin Schneider and Matthew Antezzo; Michael Taylor; Okwui Enwezor; Aline Slonim; Charles Cecil; Gilberto Klein and Cristiana George; Artnews' Robin Cembalest; Philippa Feigen Malkin; Alessaandra Clark; Adrian Dannatt; Andy Warhol Foundation's Yona Backer; Ethan Sklar and Emilio Kalil, director of GabineteCultura, Sao Paulo.

The Klabin's exquisitely appointed townhouse is filled with art from ancient Egyptian to cutting edge contemporary. Caipirinhas (Brazilian cocktails made with Cachaça, lime and sugar) were served on the second floor and dinner on the ground floor where guests spread out through the library into a tent built over the garden terrace.

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