Academy Benefits for 2009: Looking back at Ojai, and ahead to April and May galas in New York, Rome

nycbenefit08Scene from last year’s AAR April gala at Cipriani 42nd Street NYC

The centerpiece of the Academy’s events year comes Wednesday 15 April 2009 at Cipriani 42nd Street NYC, a benefit gala to celebrate the arts that will honor AAR Trustee and architect Thom Mayne, artist Bruce Nauman, and opera singer Jessye Norman.

Co-chairing the event are composer Robert Beaser FAAR’78, architect Wendy Evans Joseph FAAR’84, and visual artist Laurie Simmons RAAR’05. Click here for the Benefit Reply Card and schedule of (tax deductible) ticket prices. Proceeds from the Benefit support the ongoing programs of the American Academy in Rome.

villaaurelia2005A silver lining to the clouds that hovered over the 2005 McKim Gala at the AAR’s Villa Aurelia

Then still to come: the McKim Medal Gala, honoring Academy Award-winning composer Ennio Morricone, that takes place 3 June (note new date)  in Rome at the American Academy’s Villa Aurelia. Proceeds from that event will go to provide valuable support for fellowships at the AAR for Italian artists and scholars.

mckimgala2008In the Villa Aurelia gardens: AAR President Adele Chatfield-Taylor at the May 2008 McKim Medal Gala

And save the date: on Wednesday 2 December in New York, a “Cabaret for the Academy”, also to benefit the arts, chaired by AAR Trustee Laurie Anderson (RAAR’06) and others. The venue is the Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts on Norfolk Street in lower Manhattan.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

An unexpectedly foggy Ojai was the setting this past Saturday 21 March for an inspiring Garden Lunch with food visionary Alice Waters. The aim was to benefit the Academy’s Rome Sustainable Food Project and inaugurate its new friends group.


Despite some drizzle, “the energy was amazing, lots of enthusiasm”, reports one of the many dedicated RSFP fans present. “The crew in the kitchen was great and it was so terrific to see [AAR executive chef] Mona Talbott and some of the interns we knew in Rome.” On the meal itself, see here.


Some of the Fellows glimpsed among the roughly six dozen guests at the event: Rachel Allen FAAR’03; William Fain, Jr. FAAR’02; Frederick Fisher FAAR’08 (sponsor of the afternoon with his wife Jennie Prebor); Michael Gruber FAAR’96; Wendy Kaplan FAAR’00; Tom Leader FAAR’99; Gwynn Murrill FAAR’80; and Maureen Selwood FAAR’03. Also Elisse Pogofsky-Harris, a former Fellow Traveler at the Academy.

The master of ceremonies for the afternoon was William B. Hart, Chair of the AAR Board of Trustees. Mona Talbott, Alice Waters and Fred Fisher each hit the mark with speeches that reflected on the delicious past and prospects of the two year old Rome Sustainable Food Program.

ojairsfpApplauded in Ojai: AAR executive chef Mona Talbott (in apron) and alumni/ae of the RSFP


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