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Nymphs and Satyr, by William Bouguereau (Detail)
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The Beaux Art Ball of 2015 for the Florence Academy Building Fund
by Sherry Ross


The Florence Academy of Arts held its first Beaux Arts Ball this past Friday, the 6th of November, 2015, at the elegant catering facility, Cipriani's 25 on Broadway. It was a huge success in raising funds for the Florence Academy's Building Fund, and it was a spectacular experience. It reminded one of the great balls held in the 1950s by the Art Students League and of course heralds back further to the grand 19th century Beaux Art balls of France in which people came in costumes as famous artists or subjects of famous paintings. This ball was no less of an extravaganza with over 300 in attendance. There were costumes galore and imagination abounded. There was everything from medieval times, the Renaissance, the 19th century and into the 20th with the husband and wife artists, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell both dressed as Salvador Dali and the CEO of ARC Fred Ross, and his wife Sherry as William and Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau. The costume award went to Jordan Sokol and Amaya Gurpide, as Degas and one of his ballerinas, and Amaya truly looked like she stepped off the canvas and into the ballroom. The energy, joy and sense of comradery at the ball was amazing. The room was filled with many other prominent patrons of the city as well as a huge representation of artists. The Cipriani building added, without say, to the ambience. It was completed in 1921 and is an Italian neo-renaissance work of architecture with a 65 foot high painted ceiling in the ballroom. There were art demonstrations in progress around the bar during the cocktail hour, a silent art auction, sculptures on the tables, live music, and the food, as we know, is always excellent. The proceeds will go to benefit the Florence Academy Building Fund.

The original Florence Academy, in Florence, Italy, is one of our greatest schools teaching the methods of the masters and is in the process of renovating and expanding its capacity in a newly purchased building in Florence. The Florence Academy was founded by the artist Daniel Graves and Susan Tintori, who are both also the Academic and Executive Directors. They have also just opened a new division here in Jersey City, New Jersey, at the Mana Contemporary Art Center, to be over seen by Jordan Sokol, Amaya Gurpide, and Richard Greathouse, all wonderful artists and excellent instructors. There is also a Florence Academy school in Sweden.

The ball honored its three patrons: Christopher Forbes of Forbes Magazine, himself a respected art scholar and he and his wife Astrid have been life time philanthropists of the arts, Judith Kudlow, the founder of the Harlem Studio of Art: NYK Academy and a very fine artist in her own right, and B. Eric Rhoads, the publisher of Streamline Publishing Inc., Radio and Television Business Report and such important magazines as Fine Art Connoisseur whose editor-in-chief is the well-known art scholar Peter Trippi. Three great artists were also honored: Jacob Collins, who founded the Water Street Atelier, the Grand Central Academy of Art and the Hudson River Fellowship, Daniel Graves of the Florence Academy, and the wonderful figurative painter, Stone Roberts. Gregory Hedberg was the master of ceremonies and he and his wife Margaret, were the warm and gracious host and hostess you would hope for at such an event. Dr. Hedberg is the senior consultant to Hirschl and Adler Gallery in NYC and is also a highly respected art scholar and author who tours and lectures around the country. He and Margaret have been champions of the realist tradition since they were "kids". Hedberg also took time on the podium to pay tribute to two other members of our art community: ARC Chairman, Fred Ross, and the many contributions of the Art Renewal Center such as its role in promoting schools of excellence, scholarship programs for students and the ARC International Competition. ARC's most recent 2014-15 competition will later this month have its first live exhibition of 75 paintings, curated by Kara Lysandra Ross, on display at the MEAM Museum in Barcelona, Spain. This will be held in conjunction with the MEAM's winners and finalists from their own European contest, making the exhibition the largest collaboration between Europe and the US for Contemporary Realism to date. The other tribute was made to Stewart Pivar, who played a major role in founding the New York Academy of Art and who has been a life time patron of the arts and a devoted collector. This high energy and sumptuous event is sure to become a loved tradition for the benefit of culture.


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