The Phillips Collection Annual Gala Celebrates the Restorative Power of Art
Proceeds benefit the museum’s innovative education and community initiatives; leaders and visionaries in the arts and philanthropy were honored
WASHINGTON, DC—The Phillips Collection 2023 Annual Gala: Threads of Connection celebrated the Phillips’s robust efforts in education, cultural diplomacy, and innovation in modern and contemporary art, paying tribute to the contributions of leaders that are woven into the Phillips, the DC region, the country, and the world. This year’s theme, Threads of Connection, reflected upon the engaging power of the arts and the Phillips’s mission to cultivate an inclusive environment for communities in Washington and beyond to expand the definition of the museum experience.
“The programs of this museum are extraordinary. We are meeting people where they are and doing this through programs such as family workshops, yoga classes, meditation, and partnerships with schools across the city. Not everybody is ready to walk right into the Phillips. Many people need to get to know us, and we are making that extra effort,” says Vradenburg Director & CEO Jonathan P. Binstock. “By supporting the Phillips, you are helping us to do the important work that we do, which is to show the world how art can heal, transform, and lead to social justice.”
The first gala at the Phillips under Binstock’s directorship, the night also honored esteemed individuals who exemplify a commitment to the advancement and understanding of art and its far-reaching impact. This year, the museum honored Sam Gilliam (posthumous), influential Washington, DC-based color field painter and pioneering abstract artist; Klaus Ottman, Ph.D., respected writer, scholar, and Chief Curator Emeritus of The Phillips Collection; Mera and Donald Rubell, visionary collectors and founders of the Rubell Museum in Miami, FL, and Washington, DC; and Darren Walker, transformative changemaker, philanthropist, and President of the Ford Foundation.
The Gala brought together more than 350 guests to the Phillips, including Members of Congress and the diplomatic corps, corporate executives, artists, philanthropists, humanitarians, national media, leaders within the Washington, DC, community, and friends of the Phillips for an unforgettable black-tie evening.
Special guests included: The Phillips Collection’s Vradenburg Director & CEO Jonathan P. Binstock; Gala Chair Judy Pomeranz; The Phillips Collection Director Emerita Dorothy Kosinski; Honorary Chair and Trustee Emeritus George Vradenburg; Alice Phillips Swistel (grandniece of The Phillips Collection’s founder Duncan Phillips); Annie Gawlak (partner of Sam Gilliam); Stephanie and Leah Gilliam (daughters of Sam Gilliam); Jenn De Palma (studio assistant of Sam Gilliam); Dr. Klaus Ottmann; Mera and Donald Rubell; Darren Walker; Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (Washington, DC); Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.; Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia Phil Mendelson; H.E. Ambassador of the State of Qatar Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani; H.E. Ambassador of France Laurent Bili; H.E. Ambassador of Portugal Francisco Duarte Lopes; H.E. Ambassador of Iceland Bergdís Ellertsdóttir; H.E. Ambassador of Denmark Christina Markus Lassen; Dame Karen Pierce DCMG, British Ambassador to the US; H.E. Ambassador of Estonia Kristjan Prikk; Madame Angelique Gakako Pitteloud; Embassy of Luxembourg’s Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Gilles Bauer; Embassy of Italy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Alessandro Gonzales; Embassy of Australia’s Minister Counsellor, Strategic Communications Damien Miller; Embassy of Chile’s Press and Cultural Attaché Fernando M. Garcia Naddaf; artists Desmond Beach, Marta Pérez García, Barbara Liotta, Aaron Maier-Carretero, Victor Ekpuk, and Linling Lu.
The Phillips Collection’s programs were spotlighted throughout the evening, including décor modeled after art by students from participating schools in the museum’s educational partnerships. Following a cocktail hour in the courtyard and galleries, guests dined among the Phillips’s renowned collection for a dinner inspired by artworks on view in the museum’s latest exhibition, Pour, Tear, Carve: Material Possibilities in the Collection, on view until May 14. Former lead singer of the legendary group CHIC, the District’s own Sylver Logan Sharp headlined the After Party, entertaining guests with a night of dancing. Attendees also created a collective piece inspired by the artwork of university students from L’Accademia Albertina di Torino in collaboration with The Phillips Collection, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM) Turin, and the US State Department.
All gala proceeds directly support the museum’s interdisciplinary education and community engagement initiatives grounded in principles of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion to enrich lives, strengthen communities, and uphold a dynamic museum environment.
2023 GALA HONOREES
Sam Gilliam, DC-based artist (posthumous)
Klaus Ottmann, Ph.D., Chief Curator Emeritus, The Phillips Collection Mera & Donald Rubell, Founders, Rubell Museum
Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation
The Honorable Donald S. Beyer Jr.
The Honorable Susan Collins
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
The Honorable Mike Simpson
The Honorable Mark Warner
His Excellency Ambassador Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States
His Excellency Ambassador of France Laurent Bili
Her Excellency Ambassador of Luxembourg Nicole Binter-Bakshian
His Excellency Ambassador of Portugal Francisco Duarte Lopes
Her Excellency Ambassador of Iceland Bergdís Ellertsdóttir
Her Excellency Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany Emily Haber
His Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Finland Mikko Hautala
Her Excellency Kirsten Hillman, Ambassador of Canada to the United States of America
Her Excellency Ambassador of Denmark Christina Markus Lassen
His Excellency The Ambassador of Singapore Ashok Mirpuri
Dame Karen Pierce DCMG, British Ambassador to the US
His Excellency of Switzerland Jacques Pitteloud
His Excellency Ambassador of Estonia Kristjan Prikk
His Excellency the Honorable Dr. Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Ambassador to the United States
His Excellency The Ambassador of Japan TOMITA Koji
His Excellency Ambassador of Chile Juan Gabriel Valdés
Her Excellency Ambassador of Italy Mariangela Zappia
Judy Pomeranz (Chair), Beatriz Bolton, Connie Carter, Sarah Eastright, Julie Garcia, Barbara Hall, Meg Hauge, Barbara Hawthorn, Matt Indre, Jennifer Lavinbuk, Denise Long, Sarah Mills, and Courtney Toomath-West
Desmond Beach, Marta Pérez García, Barbara Liotta, and Aaron Maier-Carretero
2023 GALA SPONSORS
The Phillips Collection is grateful for all 2023 Annual Gala supporters (as of May 5, 2023):
The Garcia Family Spotlight Foundation
Beatriz & Graham Bolton
Barbara Brown & Robert Berish
The Dosal Family Foundation
Ednah Root Foundation
Paul Killian & Carole Goodson and Ken Fields & Nikki Noya Fields
ArentFox Schiff LLP and JM Zell Partners, LTD
Connie Carter, Compass Real Estate
Barbara & Bob Hall
Bonnie & Harold Himmelman
Gail Lione & Barry Grossman
High-resolution press images are available here. Please contact Lauryn Cantrell, firstname.lastname@example.org for questions.
IMAGES: (Left to right) Donald and Mera Rubell, Vradenburg Director & CEO Jonathan P. Binstock, Director Emerita Dorothy Kosinski, Annie Gawlak, Darren Walker, Dr. Klaus Ottmann, Photo © Tony Powell