Bloomberg News

Scene in D.C.: Koons’s Diplomacy; Akerson Fights Hunger

December 04, 2012

Art in Embassies Gala

Ron Dozoretz, CEO of Value Options, Art in Embassies director Beth Dozoretz, Melanne Dozoretz, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photographer: Tony Powell via Bloomberg

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton climbed to the top of a 20-foot cube made of 4,000 packs of Post-it notes Friday night to get a better look at the party in the National Portrait Gallery’s courtyard.

Senator Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, and his wife, Abigail, caught up with British Ambassador Peter Westmacott near a yellow pyramid crafted with 1.5 million Crayola crayons.

This nexus of the straitlaced and the quirky was pulled together at the Department of State’s Art in Embassies 50th anniversary gala, capping a week of events championing art and culture in international diplomacy.

The event was designed by David Stark, who was inspired by building blocks.

The company behind Post-its, 3M (MMM:US), along with Crayola and Coca Cola Co., were among the party’s sponsors. Another benefactor, Benjamin Moore & Co., whipped up a birthday cake, 16 feet around, constructed with 300 cans of Benjamin Moore paint.

Art Medals

Art in Embassies, modeled on a program begun in 1953 by the Museum of Modern Art, is a public-private partnership that lends works to American embassies and consulates.

The evening was a toast to the State Department’s 2012 Medals of Art honorees Jeff Koons, Cai Guo-Qiang, Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Shahzia Sikander.

I asked the affable Koons, nursing an arm injured in a horseback riding accident, how he would approach a piece about the fiscal cliff.

He said the work would depict “coming out of Plato’s cave. It would be something about enlightenment.”

Koons loaned his “Tulips” to the American embassy in Beijing for 10 years. Weems’ work can be seen in Madagascar.

Leaders in the arts including D. Dodge Thompson, chief of exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, chatted with Marcee Craighill, the director of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms.

“Meet the Press” anchor David Gregory had a date night with his daughter, Ava.

Food stations boasted international cuisine like Peking duck as well as a chocolate demolition bar with gourmet chocolate bricks.

Feeding Homeless

General Motors (GM:US) chairman and chief executive Daniel Akerson quoted from the gospel of St. Matthew and the “Gospel of Wealth” at Friday night’s 26th So Others Might Eat annual gala.

The crowd of 900 at the National Building Museum dinner helped raise a record $1 million for the homeless and hungry in Washington, where 30,000 people live below the poverty line.

Akerson joked with SOME’s president John Adams, a priest, about his stint as an altar boy.

Another former altar boy, Akerson’s long-time friend Carlyle Group (CG:US) Management LLC. co-founder William Conway credits his faith as the inspiration of his giving.

Conway called Akerson, whom he met at MCI Communications Corp. 30 years ago, “the best man I know.”

Akerson has donated his GM salary to charity over the past several years and gave a last minute check to SOME to make sure the organization hit the million dollar mark.

Earlier this year Conway gave $5 million to SOME’s Center for Employment Training, allowing the staff to triple its outreach numbers. He attended the dinner with thirty of his Carlyle Group colleagues, many of whom have worked in SOME’s soup kitchens.

A Roquefort cheese pastry was served before grilled flank steak. Pumpkin cheesecake rounded out the meal. General Dynamics (GD:US) Corp., GM and Greysteel were among the gala’s major benefactors.

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on theater and Katya Kazakina on art.

To contact the writer on this story: Stephanie Green in Washington at sgreen57@bloomberg.net or on Twitter @stephlgreen.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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