The Scene: Mass MoCA celebrates art and artists at NYC gala

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NEW YORK — It was a celebration of art and the artists who make it in North Adams. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art honored artists Paola Prestini, and Nick Cave and Bob Faust with its quinquennial Clocktower Awards at its annual benefit in New York City.

The benefit, held Tuesday at the Edison Ballroom, raised more than $750,000 to support the museum's programs in art, music and education. Museum Director Joseph Thompson notes,

"It was among the most successful benefits we've ever hosted, raising more than three-quarters of a million dollars, or about a quarter of our annual programming budget," Director Joseph Thompson said. "Just as important, the house was filled to capacity with friends and supporters."

Clocktower Awards are presented to individuals who have made a lasting contribution both to Mass MoCA and to our nation's cultural heritage.

"I love this institution and have developed and honed my interdisciplinary craft during my residencies there over the years: three of my most important works have been incubated there, 'Oceanic Verses,' 'Aging Magician,' and 'The Colorado.' I consider my residencies there to be amongst the best R&D experiences I've had, where space, time, technical resources and a great audience come together to advance new work," said Prestini, a composer, arts entrepreneur and co-founder of National Sawdust in Brooklyn.

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In an emotional speech accepting their Clocktower Award, Nick Cave and Bob Faust — the creative partners who realized Cave's largest-ever exhibition, "Until," on at MASS MoCA in 2016— credited the museum and Senior Curator Denise Markonish with elevating their practice.

"Ask Denise Markonish what 125 percent means. Because that's what we all gave for this monumental installation at Mass MoCA," the artists said.

Photographer Gregory Crewdson, who created his "Twilight Series" in one of the museum's first-ever artist residencies in 2000, and artist Glenn Kaino, who is creating a major installation for the museum's Building 5 gallery in 2020, introduced a video highlighting a selection of works that were created at the museum, with a soundtrack by Wilco.

Grammy Award-winning vocal octet Roomful of Teeth, which spends two weeks in artistic residency at Mass MoCA each summer, performed three pieces of music throughout the course of the evening.

Director Brad Wells, who first brought his group to the museum in 2009, reflected on the evening saying: "We heard from artists tonight who reminded everyone why what Mass MoCA does to nurture both visual and performing artists is important.

"Mass MoCA helps artists take risks that can propel their practice; gives artists time to make important new work that is recognized at the highest level. The space Joe and his team have been making for artists to create and show work — for 20 years — has brought meaningful art and performance to stages and galleries all around the globe, and attracted millions of visitors to North Adams.."


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