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Friday, March 6, 2020

At the Whitney Art Party, New Hollywood, the NFL, and Trump-Era Politics Collide




The actor Julia Fox has been to the Whitney Art Party a few times before. The museum’s annual fundraiser is historically a regular stop, she said, for her and her friends in the New York art world. She’s an artist herself, and maybe that would’ve been the most immediate way to describe her before her acting debut in Uncut Gems last fall, which brought her to a new audience in a role she’s said was partially shaped around her own life.

“I’ve been in the art circuit,” she said on Tuesday night at this year’s Art Party, gesturing to some old friends. “I haven’t been in a while now.” Fox grew up in Yorkville, not too far from the Whitney’s old location before it moved to the Meatpacking District in 2015, and said she was happy to reconnect with New Yorkers she hadn’t gotten to see as much since her acting career exploded.

“I’m so Hollywood now,” she deadpanned.

The BMX athlete (and recent DNA Models signee) Nigel Sylvester was one of the event’s cochairs, and he and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz caught up near the entrance. A noted fashion enthusiast, Cruz has been to the Art Party a few times. He praised Sylvester’s efforts, saying, “It’s dope to see it grow every year. The dinner is always great. But then the vibe down here is always very young and fun.”

By Vikram Valluri/BFA.com.

On the subject of Sunday’s Super Bowl, Cruz didn’t hesitate before issuing his pick. “I just think [Kansas City Chiefs quarterback] Patrick Mahomes is too much. I get the [San Francisco 49ers’] defense, but all good defenses haven’t faced something like this.”

There was also a man dressed as Donald Trump, with a wig and orange face paint, to the visible bemusement of some onlookers. He would only identify himself as “Tootsie Warhol” and said, both in person and in a past Instagram post, that he met with Trump at Trump Tower before the president’s inauguration. (A side-by-side comparison of Warhol’s Instagram and press photos from that meeting suggest this is true, but it’s hard to immediately confirm much about someone who only calls himself Tootsie Warhol.)

In July, Warren Kanders, the owner of Safariland, a manufacturer of law enforcement and military supplies, resigned as vice chairman of the Whitney. For months, there had been protests over Safariland’s production of tear gas that was reportedly used on asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and eight artists withdrew from last year’s Whitney Biennial. Those artists rejoined the exhibition after Kanders left. His name remains visible in the museum, and the broader conversation around donor transparency and standards has continued—both on Tuesday night and at museums internationally.

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