Society / The Seen

A Prestigious $100,000 Prize Brings Out a Who’s Who of the Art World and Dallas High Society — The Nasher’s Big Night

BY // 06.07.16

One year to the date that Nasher Sculpture Center director Jeremy Strick announced the formation of the Nasher Prize, he presented the award to Colombian-born artist/sculptor Doris Salcedo during the grandest of galas. Held al fresco in the Nasher’s art-filled garden, the evening was orchestrated by Strick, the Nasher’s chief curator Jed Morse and powerhouse collectors Jennifer Eagle and Catherine Rose.

The gathering was as ambitious as the Nasher Prize itself: a $100,000 award granted to an artist who has created “a significant body of work that has had an extraordinary impact on the understanding of the art form,” with the aim of giving rare-air stature to artists much as the Pritzker Prize has long recognized architectural achievement. It’s the cornerstone of Strick’s vision of shaping the Nasher Sculpture Center as the international leader in stimulating awareness, conversation and debate about contemporary sculpture.

Salcedo’s lauded work Plegaria Muda, 2008 – 2010 — which roughly translates as “Silent Prayers” and explores themes of mourning, memory and reflection — was selected from more than 50 nominees by a jury of seven. Four of the jurors came to town for the big night: Lynne Cooke, senior curator of special projects in modern art for the National Gallery of Art; Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Steven Nash, founding director of the Nasher Sculpture Center; and art historian Alexander Potts.

With so much buzz about the prize and a year’s worth of carefully composed planning, expectations were high for the maiden Nasher Prize Gala. A perfect breeze blew through the sculpture gardens, where the who’s who of the art world cocktailed in the presence of monumental, thought-provoking works such as Ann Veronica Janssens’ Blue, Red and Yellow and Willem de Kooning’s Seated. Among the luminaries were Patsy and Raymond Nasher’s daughter Nancy A. Nasher and husband David J. Haemisegger; Dallas Museum of Art interim director Walter Elcock; the DMA’s senior curator of contemporary art Gavin Delahunty; Dallas Art Fair co-founder John Sughrue; Mayor Mike Rawlings; and art collectors Nancy Dedman, Deedie Rose, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and Lisa and John Runyon.

Post-cocktails, guests adjourned to a magnificent, translucent dinner tent where hundreds of candle-like installations hung above the long tables, which were set in a pattern surrounding artist Barbara Hepworth’s Squares with Two Circles (Monolith). Seth Knopp, artistic director of the Nasher’s Soundings music series, provided the harmonies for the night. Then came the real celebration: Strick took the dais to present the award. “Doris Salcedo epitomizes the aspirations of the Nasher Prize,” he said. “With ethics, imagination and bravery, she bids us to look to sculpture as a sight for memorializing the loss of innocent life, suggesting that we all share and participate in a collective memory as humankind.”

Standing to applaud the remarkable artist: Mary McDermott Cook, Marguerite Hoffman, Sharon and Michael Young, Claire Dewar, Robyn Siegel, Capera Ryan, Tammy Cotton Hartnett, Julian Leaver, Cindy and Armond Schwartz, Will Rose, Jennifer and Tom Karol, and Lindsey and Patrick Collins, Angela George, Sheryl and Eric Maas, Caren Prothro, Amanda and Chris George, Emily Summers, Lynn McBee, Lizzie and Dan Routman, and Angus Wynne.

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