Miami Art Auction Raises Over $1 Million for Henry Street

Event Will Support Vital Youth Programs

December 6, 2012 - By Henry Street Settlement

Art works sold at the auction

The influence of last night's celebrity-studded private dinner and auction at Miami's Soho House will be felt for generations, more than a thousand miles away from the dazzling beachfront venue. The more than $1 million that the glamorous guests spent on art will be used to enhance social and educational services to the hundreds of low-income youth served by Henry Street Settlement's Boys & Girls Republic (BGR).

The funds were raised for Henry Street by the Dash Snow Initiative, a cause conceived last year by those closest to the late artist as a way to honor his legacy. BGR was selected as the beneficiary because of its location in the Lower East Side/East Village neighborhood that was so meaningful to Snow (he lived and worked there).

The New York Times called last night's event — presented by Chanel and Paddle8.com — "one of the most talked-about events" at Art Basel Miami. Celebrity guests included Lenny Kravitz, Demi Moore and Martha Stewart.

Among those who donated works for the auction were art world stars Julian Schnabel, Ryan McGinley, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince and Dan Colen. The force behind the Dash Snow Initiative were committee members Jade Berreau, Teddy Liouliakis, Yvette Quiazon, Dan Colen, Blair Hansen and Jen Brill.

David Garza, Henry Street Executive Director, is both thrilled and grateful. "During the auction, for those of us who knew how many hundreds of children and families will benefit from programs at BGR, the event had a very significant and special meaning," he said.

In life, Snow was unbelievably generous — with his time, his possessions and his friendship. That legacy of generosity is continuing, even after his death.

In 2009, Snow — already a major force in the downtown art scene — died at the age of 27, leaving behind a partner, a baby daughter and a legion of dear friends. This close-knit circle organized a memorial service, held outdoors on the Lower East Side, and later produced a CD of his favorite songs by the Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. But they felt it wasn't enough. 

"We needed to find a way to memorialize Dash in a positive way," said Liouliakis, whose East Village apartment, shared with artist Ryan McGinley, was the de rigueur hangout for emerging artists at the time, a place for partying, experimentation and, most importantly, encouraging the creative process. Many of those artists — including McGinley and Colen — have gone on to illustrious careers. 

The group's quest took them to Henry Street, which was suggested by Sy Colen (Dan Colen's father), who knew of Henry Street's work because he had worked for another settlement house in the 1950s. "Henry Street embodies the Lower East Side, so it was a perfect fit," said Liouliakis. Although Snow — a member of the wealthy de Menil family — was raised on the Upper East Side, he identified with the culture of the Lower East Side.

Once the group — which included Berreau (the mother of Dash's daughter), Colen, Liouliakis, Quiazon and others — saw BGR (located on Avenue D and East Sixth Street, just blocks from Snow's apartment), their decision was made. "It is such a good fit, because it helps kids see who they can be, not who they are," said Quaizon, noting that although Dash came from wealth, he struggled with many of the same issues facing BGR youth.

Next, the group faced its most daunting task: how to raise $1 million. None of them had any fundraising experience beyond bake sales. The idea to hold an art auction was conceived by Quiazon, and a committee was quickly formed. Colen solicited donations from artists; twenty-five contributed pieces.

"I'm grateful that so many people believe in this cause," said Berreau, referring to the generosity of the artists who donated works and the friends who conceived the Dash Snow Initiative and planned the event." She noted the irony that the moneyed art world and the Lower East Side were coming together in support.  

"Dash would be absolutely thrilled that the money we raise will give so much," said Berreau. "The generosity he exhibited in life is continuing even though he's gone. It is a beautiful idea for our daughter to see him in that way."

Garza said that BGR opens doors for kids academically and socially in a safe environment. "In this very tough neighborhood, BGR can mean the difference between succeeding and not succeeding, and even between life and death."

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