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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

About the Other Night: The Alan Gala

The Howard Gilman Opera House transforms for The Alan Gala. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Brooklyn, New York—it’s a helluva town!

On Tuesday, April 4th, we celebrated the incomparable legacy of our very own "no-holds-barred, take-it-to-the-limit Chairman” Emeritus, Alan H. Fishman. After nearly 30 years of service on BAM’s Board of Trustees (14 of which he spent as chairman), the Brooklyn-bred Fishman stepped down at the end of 2016–leaving us no choice but to fête him in style.

Alan & Judith Fishman arrive. Photo: Elena Olivo
Alan & Judith Fishman with Gala co-chairs Bill & Christine Campbell and Adam & Diane Max. Photo: Elena Olivo

The evening—co-chaired by Adam & Diane Max and Bill Campbell & Christine Wächter-Campbell and sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Forest City Ratner Companies and Crimson Wine Group—began with a cocktail reception in the Dorothy W. Leavitt Lobby. Guests enthusiastically greeted Alan and his wife, Judith, while perusing the visual work on display for the BAM Art Auction. From there, attendees made their way into a fully-transformed Howard Gilman Opera House replete with sumptuous floral designs by Fleurs Bella and the ambient sounds of The Fish Men, BAM’s own staff band.

Guests dine on the Samuel H. Scripps Opera House stage. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

While guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner from Great Performances, an array of speakers, including former President Karen Brooks Hopkins, shared memories of their favorite “relentless mensch.” Current President Katy Clark even gifted Fishman his own custom-made Brooklyn Nets jersey before announcing that the center aisle of the Opera House would be named in his honor!

BAM President Katy Clark presents Alan with a framed Brooklyn Nets jersey bearing his name and high school number, signed by his favorite player, Brook Lopez. Photo: Elena Olivo

Although Fishman himself proclaimed that he was “moved beyond words,” he managed to share a few before guests departed for the Harvey Theater. "The greatest artists in the world—everywhere in the world and in every genre—made it clear to us that they needed a BAM," he shared as he recounted his journey with BAM through the Brooklyn renaissance. A man whose gumption is matched only by his generosity, Fishman advocated tirelessly for the cultural life of the borough during his tenure–and it’s clear that BAM wouldn’t be the global arts leader we are today without him.

The man of the hour greets a friend. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan
BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

This sentiment echoed throughout the performance portion of the evening, introduced by BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo. Helga Davis thanked Fishman for giving her “a reason to get all up in this dress,” while Fiona Shaw applauded him for making possible a cultural world where “what you’re seeing somehow is the past turning into the future.” Isabella Rossellini introduced the Mark Morris Dance Group, who performed the gorgeous Pacific (1995) to honor the husband of Judith, their new board chair. Video of Fishman’s family, friends, and colleagues played in between sets, although a jumped cue caused a disembodied voice to sound at the tail end of Rufus Wainwright’s set. Looking up into the darkness, Wainwright asked “is that Ivanka Trump?” before moving into a soaring “Hallelujah.”

Rufus Wainwright. Photo: Elena Olivo
The Mark Morris Dance Group performs Pacific (1995). Photo: Elena Olivo
Helga Davis performs "My Favorite Things." Photo: Elena Olivo
Balloon drop! Photo: Elena Olivo

The festive balloon drop finale was hardly the end of the night, as the Gala Party and BAM Art Auction—hosted by the BAM Young Producers and sponsored by Ample Hills, Newburgh Brewing Co., Beverly’s, and Brooklyn Gin—was just beginning. A psychedelic bar by Beverly’s featured sculptural work by Jonathan Durham, Richard Gray, Alan Gutierrez, and Hein Koh, while visual artist Jeremy Couillard took viewers to another dimension with an interactive video game installation in the Diker Gallery. After the BAM Art Auction on Paddle8 closed at 10:30pm, multi-hyphenate talent SSION took the stage for a spirited set with Contessa Stuto and Richard Kennedy. All the while, DJs Matthew Higgs and Spinna made sure the dancing never stopped.

Eye see you. Photo: Rebecca Smeyne
Guests peruse the BAM Art Auction exhibition. Photo: Rebecca Smeyne
The party's just getting started... Photo: Rebecca Smeyne
Jeremy Couillard keeps it weird in the Diker Gallery. Photo: Rebecca Smeyne
In the Lepercq Space, BAM President Katy Clark poses with Trustee and BAM Art Auction Co-Chair Mark Diker.
Photo: Rebecca Smeyne
SSION performs. Photo: Rebecca Smeyne


Looks for days. Photo: Rebecca Smeyne
Goodnight! Photo: Rebecca Smeyne

For more memories from the night, be sure to visit our comprehensive Google Photos album. Craving more? Relive your favorite moments from the night on social media using #AlanGala and #BAMArtAuction.

Until next time!

Thank you for everything, Alan. Photo: Elena Olivo

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