As galas go, Guild Hall's is one of the best, a chance for city and country to meet up over art, cocktails, and dinner. On Monday, Hamptonites left their snowy driveways behind, hopped on a jitney, greeted the Manhattan crowd at Sotheby's, mingled over cocktails and viewed Guild Hall's recent acquisitions at the annual winter love fest. A large untitled canvas features a beach scene by the Academy of the Arts' new president Eric Fishl. Celebrating his birthday too, the Sag Harbor resident said he'd rather be here on this special day than anywhere else, and then introduced Laurie Anderson, who is so talented "you want to kill her."
If you know her seemingly effortless performances, you what he means. She went on to present the first lifetime achievement award of the night, for visual art, to photographer Ralph Gibson. Noting that he also performed music with Lou Reed, she was most grateful for his laughter.
Next up: in the literary arts, cartoonist, playwright, screenwriter Jules Feiffer was praised by presenter Robert Caro, for his remarkable ability to try out a new genre of art in his '80's: his noir graphic novel, Kill My Mother came out last summer to stellar reviews. Surrounded by his family, talented daughters Kate and Halley, and partner Joan Holden, Feiffer talked about loving the east end. Michael Lynne presented the Special Award for Leadership and Philanthropic Endeavors to Linda and Harry Macklowe, prominent in the art world and in real estate.
But really really killing it was Martin Short who presented to his "It's Only a Play" buddy Matthew Broderick. What can only be described as a colossal roast, slight after slight, hammering the more bland actor who followed that act in due form with a bland speech. He told about the tenacity of Broadway producer Roy Furman in getting him to accept this award. The actor's let-me-think-about-it, for Furman translated to an immediate yes. For his part, Furman was eager to get back to that night's rehearsals for the highly anticipated "An American in Paris." In association with Furman and Ellen Meyers, Guild Hall will stage Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" in June, starring Alec Baldwin and Laurie Metcalf.
But why would Broderick accept that kind of shtick from Short? To understand, you have to see "It's Only a Play," with only 3 weeks left of Martin Short in the role of Broderick's manic best friend, trapped in an upstairs bedroom with piles of coats on the fictive play's opening night. Broderick plays the playwright at hand, his play a flop. His deadpan is its own kind of art.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.