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Inside the Art and Artist-Filled Rema Hort Mann Foundation Gala

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Tuesday night, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary, albeit two years late due to the pandemic. The glittering evening made up for lost time. A dizzying array of talent gathered for an evening of reflection, conversation, and music.

The foundation was created in memory of Rema Hort Mann by her parents, Susan and Michael Hort, and her husband, Billy Mann. The daughter of collectors and a friend to many young artists, Rema died of stomach cancer at the age of 30. In 1995, RHMF launched with the goal of fostering young talent and providing direct support to cancer patients. The grant program has become legendary for nurturing the likes of Kehinde Wiley,  Mickalene Thomas, Sarah Sze, and Dana Shultz.

Five hundred guests gathered in Tribeca 360. The crowd of artists (Marilyn Minter, Dana Shutz), patrons (Beth Rudin DeWoody, Anita and Poju Zabludowicz), and dealers (David Zwirner, Anton Kern, James Cohan), wound through a labyrinth of galleries. On each wall, donated works hung in salon style—over 120 pieces in total. A QR code allowed bidders to compete for the pictures. Martinis and flutes of Champagne circulated through the buzzy room.

At dinner, the honorees— including Thomas, Mann, Marianne Boesky, and Dr. Elisa Port—gave emotional speeches. Between courses, performances by Lawrence Brownlee and BLKBOK captivated the audience.

Thomas took to the stage to reflect on the role RHMF had in her career and her life.

“I received this grant in 2007,” Thomas said.”At that time, I was at a real crossroads in my career. Of times we think of these times of award as a monetary gain but we forget that acknowledges and validates them as artists. It wasn’t about the money. It was a moment of saying, ‘we see you, M. We recognize your talent, we recognize your vision, and we believe in you. That’s what this award did for me in 2007.”

Sara Friedlander of Christie’s, served as the evening’s bold and charismatic auctioneer. She lent a light and punchy tone to a night heavy with remembrances. She successfully garnered over $1.6 million for the artworks and additional hundreds of thousands in paddle-raise donations.

A Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer, Mann brought several of his friends in the industry to support. Kelly Rowland sparkled in a LaQuan Smith dress. Other musical luminaries included Renée Elise Goldsberry and Teddy Geiger. All listened with visible emotion as their friend spoke of his loss and dedication to preserving Rema’s legacy. 

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