The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Gala 2019

November 2019. New York City, River Pavilion at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

In November 2019, Empire served as the producer of The Studio Museum in Harlem’s annual Gala for the second year, with artistic direction by Red Maple Leaf. The black-tie evening took place in the elegant 45,000 square-foot, glass-enclosed River Pavilion that features stunning views of the Hudson River serving as the perfect backdrop for this year’s event. Over 750 artists, philanthropists, cultural leaders, civic leaders, and business leaders attended to celebrate The Studio Museum in Harlem and their important work with artists of African descent locally, nationally, and internationally.

The evening began with a cocktail reception where, upon entering, guests’ attention was drawn to a large statement installation located in the middle of the cocktail space, surrounded by lounge furniture, curated décor and photo experiences.

To signal the start of dinner, high drapes were pulled back to reveal the impressive views. Guests were invited to the dinner space with a swell in music performed live by AffinitiNYC and were greeted with a striking main stage, equipped with a large LED screen, and centerpieces highlighted by pinspots on each table.

The evening’s program, honoring businessman and philanthropist, Leonard A. Lauder, featured remarks by Gala Co-Chairs, Jacqueline L. Bradley, Kathryn C. Chenault, Carol Sutton Lewis, and Dr. Amelia Ogunlesi; Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator; and Raymond J. McGuire, Chairman of the Board. The fourteenth annual Joyce Alexander Wein Prize, was presented to Torkwase Dyson; extending the Studio Museum’s mission of supporting experimentation and excellence in contemporary art.

The evening ended with dancing to another live set by Affiniti NYC, and desserts were enjoyed in the transformed cocktail space.

The Gala raised over $3 million in support of the Studio Museum’s operating costs, including key initiatives such as the collaborative, community-enriching InHarlem exhibitions and public programs.

Empire was proud to work closely with the Studio Museum and Red Maple Leaf to deliver a flawless and memorable evening for The Studio Museum in Harlem.

For more information on The Studio Museum in Harlem, please visit

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