Art Center’s Art & Soul Gala a Tremendous Success

Honorees David Anthone and Ron Norsworthy (far left and far right), collectively known as DARNstudio, with VACNJ Director of Education & Community Engagement Sarah WalkoSummit, NJ (May 10, 2022)—On Saturday, April 30, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey held its largest fundraising event of the year at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit. Art & Soul, VACNJ’s first in-person gala since 2019, raised a record-breaking $296,000 to support the Art Center’s powerful arts programming. “This year’s gala was a celebration of the Art Center’s exhibitions, education, and community engagement programs that truly are the heart and soul of all that we do,” said Jillian Decker, CFRE, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey’s Director of Development & Communications. “We are humbled by our community’s incredible support for the Art Center.”

The evening featured live music, cocktails, fantastic food, and a robust contemporary art auction, including a select live auction of artwork and unique experiences, led, once again, by celebrity auctioneer CK Swett. The Art Center also recognized their 2022 Gala Honoree and 5th Annual Changemakers—three individuals who have made crucial contributions to the arts on a local and national level. Former Art Center Board Chair and current trustee Lisa Butler was honored for her tireless work with the institution, including significant strides in improved infrastructure and sustainability. This year’s Changemakers were artists Ron Norsworthy and David Anthone—the collaborative team behind DARNstudio—whose work challenges viewers to shift perspectives around powerful social justice issues.

The event was co-chaired by Alison and David O’Neill, Isabel Ribeiro, and Diego Rotsztain. Additional committee members include Heather Braun, Kate Buchanan, Susan Cagnassola, Terri Friedman, Tharanga Goonetilleke, Anne Grissinger, Suzanne Henry, Renee Stene, and Rachel Wilf.

Platinum sponsors for the evening included: Lisa Butler & Bob Kelly; Susan & Mike Cagnassola; Anne & RJ Grissinger; Joseph R. & Marité Robinson; and Rachel & Jonathan Wilf. Gold Sponsors included: Kate & John Buchanan, Risk Strategies Company; Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, P.C.; Alison & David O’Neill; and Isabel Ribeiro & Diego Rotsztain. Silver Sponsors included Marie & Roy Alan Cohen; Siobhan Creem; Betse & Frank Gump; Amy Knight; Elena & Roger Matthews; Kayla & Richard Pechter; and Deborah & Fred Schwarzmann. Bronze sponsors included Sally & Tom Abbott; Heather & Elliott Braun; Terri & Mark Friedman; Tharanga Goonetilleke & Aditya Bindal; Valerie & Michael Grant; Amy & Clint Harris; Suzanne & Dean Henry; Patti Manzi & Paul Ciraulo; Haruka Mori & William Menard; Peapack Private Wealth Management; Jane & Kevin Quinn; Amy & Mitchell Radin; Ana Robic & Rob Feuerstake; TD Bank; and Susan Yarad. Community sponsors included Brandywine Living at Summit; Cambridge Wines; CWI Design; Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child; and Otterstedt Agency.

“The gala was a wonderful evening, with our community coming together once again to show their enthusiastic support for the arts and for the impact the visual arts can have in transforming lives,” said Art Center Board Chair Anne Grissinger. “We are so pleased with the night’s success and that we could finally gather in person again to celebrate the arts.”

The Art Center’s annual spring gala is critical to enabling its important work of transforming and enriching lives through the shared experience of art. Next year’s gala, which will celebrate VACNJ’s 90th Anniversary, will be held at Canoe Brook Country Club, in Summit, on Saturday, April 29, 2023.