Mad About Art: Fountain House Gallery’s Big Night Out

New York, N.Y. Mad About Art, Fountain House Gallery’s annual art auction and benefit, recently drew nearly 400 attendees to the venue Metropolitan West. They convened in support of the Gallery, which provides an environment in which artists living with mental illness can pursue their creative visions, exhibit their work, and challenge the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

2018 Saltz WillmottProgram emcee Jerry Saltz of New York magazine with Fountain House
Gallery Director Ariel Willmott. 
Photo: Leslie Barbaro Photography.

Artworks made by 57 Fountain House Gallery artists were arrayed on the venue’s pristine walls in a display curated by Scott Ogden, artist and owner/director of Shrine (NYC). As guests quaffed cocktails and sampled tasty edibles, they registered bids via smartphone or with assistance provided by a team of “bidding valets” sporting spangled hats. Gallery artists were at the ready to discuss their work with guests during the “Meet the Artists Hour,” a first-time feature of the event.

2018 Bidding

2018 Art display 2

All Gallery artists are members of parent organization Fountain House, where members work with staff to operate successful employment, education, wellness, and housing programs. Fountain House has inspired the creation of similar programs in 34 countries that serve more than 100,000 people annually.

2018 Moylan PauleyHonorees Donna Moylan and Jane Pauley.
Photo: Leslie Barbaro Photography.

Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic of New York magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, served as emcee of the program. He lauded the work of Fountain House Gallery and delighted the audience with his bold and witty take on art and the art world.

2018 Guest looking at art

2018 Art display

Although art sales were conducted via silent auction, there was a seasoned professional on hand to steer the Paddle Raise and live auction of luxury items: the distinguished C. Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s, the renowned auction house. His rapid-fire delivery and enthusiasm hit a home run in raising funds to ensure the continuation of the Gallery’s programs and projects, such as Fountain House Studio.

2018 Lewis PujolFountain House Gallery artist Lewis Pujol (in gray jacket) discussed
his work with guests. 
Photo: Leslie Barbaro Photography.

Fountain House Gallery has operated as a cooperative business in Manhattan since 2000, but its artists’ long-held dream of having a studio in which to create became a reality only a couple of years ago. Fountain House Studio, located in a landmark building in Long Island City, is a place where artists ranging in experience from highly trained to self-taught can work in a supportive, collaborative setting.

2018 Food

Access to Fountain House Studio assists these artists in moving to a new level of creativity, expanding their marketable portfolios, and advancing their efforts to achieve broader name recognition and commercial success. A film shot expressly for Mad About Art provided guests with a window into doings at the Studio, and featured artists’ first-person accounts of its positive impact on their work process.

2018 HildesleyC. Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s boosted fundraising.
Photo: Leslie Barbaro Photography.

The recipients of the Esther Montanez Leadership Award were: “CBS Sunday Morning” host Jane Pauley, who has candidly spoken out over the years about her experience of living with bipolar disorder; and noted artist Donna Moylan, who serves on the Fountain House Gallery Art Advisory Council and is the mother of a Fountain House member. The remarks by both of these accomplished women were gracious and inspiring.

2018 Atmosphere

2018 Looking at art

As the evening drew to a close, volunteers removed art pieces from the walls and wrapped them to be ferried home by winning bidders. Veteran collectors and freshly-minted art enthusiasts departed Metropolitan West with their new finds in hand, signaling the conclusion of Mad About Art 2018.

2018 Gytis and LaurieFountain House Gallery artists Gytis Simaitis and Laurie Berenhaus.
Photo: Leslie Barbaro Photography.

Post-Mad About Art, Fountain House Gallery is presenting “Small Works: $100 & Under,” an annual holiday exhibition featuring affordable, portable art. The show will remain on view through December 21 at the Gallery’s home base at 702 Ninth Avenue.

2018 Program

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation ( There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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