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Going Up

Emerging Artists and Power Patrons Mingle at the New York Academy of Art's Tribeca Ball

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Mary Alice Stephenson and Jamie Tisch   
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Parker Posey comes to the Tribeca Ball "just to be inspired," she explained last night, as the New York Academy of Art's annual fundraiser swirled around her. "We're in New York City. Belly dancers, people with top hats with lights on their head—I mean, why not?"

Traditionally, the stars of the downtown art school's vibrant open house are the students, who sell their work at bargain prices, but plenty of secondary attractions—including accordionists and saxophonists, a quick-sketch artist, and the aforementioned people in top hats—were spread throughout the building's six floors. On one level, guests dodged a printing press that was churning out free linoleum cuts; on another, they voted on a drawing contest organized by the evening's sponsor, John Hardy. (The winning artist is rewarded with a residency at the jewelry maker's design studios in Bali.)

Circulating were some of the creative world's power couples, among them downtowners Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts and Leelee Sobieski and Adam Kimmel. "We started at the top—took the elevator up, Guggenheim-style—and have been making our way down," Will Cotton reported. A faculty member, he was checking up on his students and showing Andy Spade around in hopes of helping the branding guru find the sort of match he did last time: an artist Spade liked so much he signed her up to do a portrait of his daughter, a rendering of a hotel he's working on, and a J.Crew campaign.

Speaking of satisfied customers: Yigal Azrouël was about to take his dinner seat next to Rachel Roy when a guest approached him, started raving about a dress of his that she owned, then leaned in and added, "I had someone tear that dress off me!" Without a doubt, one of the better consumer reports he's gotten.

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