My moment of Glory under the Sun
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, November 17, 2011
The VISIONARY awards waiting to be distributed to this year's winners
This past Monday I was honored at a very elegant award’s dinner VISIONARIES 2011 given by the MAD Museum. (Museum of Art & Design)…. It was my moment of hovering in stratified air: My very distinguished fellow awardees were Denis Abrams, President of Benjamin Moore Paints, who received the well deserved CORPORATE VISIONARY AWARD for the splendid job his company is doing with color and promoting Green. Next at the podium was Robert King, the founder and CEO of Humanscale, who’s company produces some of the most elegant ergonomic office furniture in America and who generously donated three of his chairs to the fund-raising auction (I hope that my bid won at least one of them!) His award was as a DESIGN VISIONARY…. the emotional occasion of the evening was a presentation of a LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT VISIONARY AWARD given in the memory of Jean-Louis Dumas the founder of Hermes, accepted by his handsome son, who flew in from Paris for this event…. And then there was me, hobbling up to the podium to receive the Museum’s ARTIST VISIONARY AWARD… a tough category, as there were so many qualified candidates out there beside me.
Holly Hotchner, the MAD Museum's Director, welcoming me to the podium to receive my award
What became evident at this chic evening was that I am truly a minimalist, (not in my creativity but in my diminished size!) It was apparent, that to be important in the corporate world, it is mandatory to be six foot tall or over. My shrunken 5’5” (I used to be slightly taller than 5’6”) just doesn’t cut it. Even the ladies towered over me! (You can imagine what that did to my ego!) To mitigate this shortcoming, they took a group photo for posterity with me surrounded by two of the ladies sitting in front of the towering giants standing behind.
...And the more congenial group photo: yours truly seated between Holly Hotchner and my wife, Erica. Standing from left: Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Robert King, Lewis Kruger - Board Chairman, Denis Abrams, an important Board member whose name I've forgotten and Barbara Tober - Chair Emerita
These tall gentlemen had a lot to say to earn their rewards…some were reading from documents four or five pages or longer… (I had a one-pager tucked into my coat pocket, primarily because, under duress, I can’t remember the names I needed to acknowledge for this Oscar moment.) In a spurt of genius, I decided to scrap notes and talk off the cuff… no names, no thank you’s, but a lot of accolades to the museum for selecting ME for this award…. I was rewarded with a standing ovation…(so there go your giants… speech may be silver, but brevity is golden).
At the cocktail reception, from left to right: my daughter Jessica Cushman, my wife Erica, Michael Hertenstein (restaurateur whose latest creation is Catch in the Meatpacking District), me, Dr. Brian Saltzman (owner of the Robert restaurant at the MAD Museum) and a lovely lady, whose name I don't remember.
The evening was a huge success both financially and culturally. We managed to fill two tables of 12 each with friends and family. The trophy is one of the most artistic pieces of sculpture I have ever received: a sleek solid bronze abstraction on an engraved black marble pedestal…. worthy of being in a museum! (I had to clear a bookshelf to give it the space it deserves.)
Today, I am back down to earth, rocking in my old office chair as I inform you of Monday night’s memorable moments.
Photo credit: all photos by Ric Kallaher