Gold Key Gala at the World Financial Center. Photo by Ronnie Wright.

As we head into summer, we bid farewell to our 2011 season. The last couple of months have been busy and full of excitement with our National Celebration, Carnegie Hall Awards Ceremony, Gold Key Gala, ART.WRITE.NOW. National Exhibition and Alumni Atelier project! We began our season last year with 185,000 submissions of art and writing from across the country and ended our season in late May with 800 National Award winners flocking to New York City for National Events. For a recap of the Awards Ceremony at Carnegie Hall, click here. But, the fun didn’t end with that very special evening. We still had a lot to come…

This year, Awards Central was our hub for registration and questions. Students picked up their medals and goodie bags then posed for a shot at our special photo booth. Pics are available for free download on Flickr or at SmugMug where you can purchase prints. Our award-winning students shared photos of themselves enjoying the Empire State as part of our fun Hub. We encourage winners to continue sharing pictures with us via the Flickr Group Pool. We love all of the imaginative and fun images that everyone has been sharing!

On June 1st we opened the ART.WRITE.NOW. National Exhibition in the World Financial Center’s expansive Courtyard Gallery. The show featured more than 500 of this year’s award-winning works. The exhibition kicked off with student readings and student-led portfolio talks. As day turned into night, the next guests to view the show were those attending our Gold Key Gala.

The gala was an evening of art, music and celebration. After viewing the National Exhibition, guests were ushered to the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden atrium where they enjoyed a live performance from cello rock trio Rasputina, whose lead singer Melora Creager is an Awards alum. Actors Reg E. Cathey, Adrienne Bailon and Amy Ryan gave literary readings of some of this year’s award-winning writing. What a thrill it was to hear the amazing student pieces come to life! The excitement continued with live and silent auctions, featuring works by alumni artists Tom Otterness, Erik Madigan Heck, Rodney Alan Greenblat, and others, as well as a special tote bag designed by John Baldessari. The Alliance raised more than $17,000 that will go towards creative scholarships next season. We are so thankful to our generous alumni and guests for participating in such an extraordinary part of the evening!

Over the course of the month, the World Financial Center was our artistic headquarters as we had a unique addition to the National Exhibition, the Alumni Atelier.  For two weeks, six of our fantastic past winners created new art in a storefront for all who walked by to see. Daily progress of the artworks could be viewed in person or online at http://www.artandwriting.org/atelier.  The live art-making captured the attention of those who work at the World Financial Center, tour groups, shoppers, and curious kids.

Rounding out the festivities was our Friends Party on June 19, where guests joined us for a final farewell to our wonderful weeks at the WFC. Alumnus, Atelier artist and musician Max Vernon was the hit of the night as he performed with his band Decades.

Partygoers listened to the tunes as they viewed the exhibition and met the artists who had been hard at work in the Atelier. The festive night was the perfect finish to our time in downtown Manhattan.

As summer kicks into high gear, we encourage everyone to stay creative with START.WRITE.NOW, check out our exhibition as it travels the country, and of course – get ready to enter next year’s Awards. Registration opens September 15!

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