Finally - An Art Party With Artists! Inside NYC Culture Club's Sky-High Bash

by Timothy Latterner · June 7, 2024

    When NYC Culture Club opened its doors in 2021, its goal was just to help artists in the city and ask for nothing in return. Three years later, at their annual benefit to raise money for the non-profit gallery, the artist community of New York came out in droves to return that favor. Stepping out of the elevator onto the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center, the first thing I noticed isn’t the incredible views looking out over the city, but the amount of actual artists that came out to support founders Parker and Clayton Calvert. 

    The ironic thing about most museum or art world benefits is that you never really see many artists in attendance. It’s mostly either hedge funders interested in collecting art or mere wealth managers interested in talking about being interested in collecting art. Real artists are rarely in attendance. 

    At NYC Culture Club’s event, it was hard to turn one’s head without seeing a talent on the rise: Michael Sadowsky, Nate Lewis, Michael De Feo, Jim D’Amato, Chellis Baird, Taezoo Park, Jason Wallace, Sarp Kerem Yavuz — the list goes on, and speaks to the earnest nature of the non-profit, which unlike just about every gallery I’ve ever heard of, takes no commissions from artists’ sales.

    A silent auction was spread around the sprawling floor, so guests mingled with cocktails in-hand and following passing trays of canapes while looking through the collection and pieces available to bid on—many of which came from the artists mentioned above. 

    The remarks began at the stage in the center of the floor, with news anchor Jonathan Karl praising the Calvert brothers for their endeavors to support and celebrate artists. The journalist then brought up Joan Hornig and Mashonda Tifrere, who were honored guests of the night. Tifrere is the founder of ArtGenesis and ArtLeadHer, and Hornig is a longtime supporter of the arts, as well as the founder of Pavé the Way Jewelry. Both speeches thanked the gallery’s founders for giving them the platform, which led to a few remarks from Parker Calvert thanking everyone for their work and dedication. 

    “We just want to expand this and keep it going and do the best we can to keep bring more culture back to the city that created culture,” said Calvert. Before leaving the stage though the crowd broke into a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” to celebrate Clayton Calvert’s 37th. 

    The crowd all stuck around the stage though for a performance from Anna of the North, who’d come to town for this small, secret performance among friends. Dancing and singing to the group, she covered all her hits — with people particularly swaying and singing along to “Dream Girl.”

    The night was far from over after the benefit though. Parker Calvert returned to the stage to announce that at Paul’s Casablanca, everyone was on the list for the after party. Ordinarily, Casablanca is one of the hardest doors to get through in New York nightlife. Last night though, the attendees of the Culture Club’s benefit were welcomed warmly, with the first few dozen through the door handed a margarita before getting the party started. 

    [Photographs by Casey Kelbaugh & Alex Staniloff / CKA]