Queens Museum 2023 Gala Honored
Awake NY Founder Angelo Baque and Artist Sable Elyse Smith

A photo of three people standing against a purple backdrop that has the Queens Museum logo printed all over it. Sally Tallant is in the middle. She has red hair, fair skin, and is wearing a black dress. Angelo Baque is on the left. He has black hair, olive skin, and is wearing black sunglasses and a black tuxedo over a white shirt. Sable Elyse Smith is to the right. She has shoulder-length locks, brown skin, and is wearing glasses, a white shirt, and black dress pants.

Image: Sally Tallant and 2023 Gala Honorees Angelo Baque and Sable Elyse Smith. Photo: Madison Voelkel/BFA.com


The Queens Museum’s 2023 Gala was held yesterday, May 12. The evening brought together 350 artists, fashion designers, musicians, curators, and civic leaders to celebrate the Museum’s vision of uplifting the diversity and creativity of Queens. This year’s Honorees included Awake NY Founder Angelo Baque and artist Sable Elyse Smith, both members of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. 

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Angelo Baque rose to prominence as the Brand Director for Supreme, where he spent ten years. Following his successful run, Baque departed to establish Baque Creative, a boutique creative agency, and Awake New York, a clothing label that encapsulates the spirit of New York. In 2021, Baque announced the launch of Angelo Baque Studios, a creative venture for Baque to focus on solo projects. 

Sable Elyse Smith is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator based in New York. Using video, sculpture, photography, and text, her work points to the carceral, the personal, the political, and the quotidian to speak about a violence that is largely unseen, and potentially imperceptible. Her work has been featured at MoMA PS1, New Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, JTT gallery and numerous others. Smith has received awards from Creative Capital, Fine Arts Work Center, the Queens Museum, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, the Franklin Furnace Fund, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and Art Matters. She is currently Assistant Professor of Visual Art at Columbia University.

The evening began with an outdoor cocktail party that offered Queens’ iconic Unisphere as a backdrop for guests as they enjoyed their cocktails in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Digital creator Jaeki Cho of Righteous Eats curated and introduced a Queens-inspired selection of small bites prepared by some of the Borough’s most exciting vendors and restaurants: Evelia’s Tamales, Trinciti Roti Shop, Bolivian Llama Party, Al Naimat Sweets, and Bad for Business Pop Ups. 

During the cocktail, attendees also toured exhibitions Tracey Rose: Shooting Down Babylon, Aliza Nisebaum: Queens, Lindo y Querido, and Christine Sun Kim: Time Owes Me Rest Again, and discovered The Panorama of the City of New York’s new Digital Twin, which made its premiere during the event. Developed in collaboration with Pratt Institute, Cyark, and with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the beta version of this digital interpretive tool encapsulates a new era of educational and experience-oriented programming related to the crown jewel of the Museum’s permanent collection. 

Guests then headed to the central atrium for a seated dinner presented by Erica Sarlo & Co. and catered by Abigail Kirsch. Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City Laurie Combo opened the dinner, welcoming guests to the celebration. Queens Museum President and Executive Director Sally Tallant then followed with a Living Land Acknowledgment recognizing the past, present, and future generations of Matinecock, Canarsie, Lekawe (Rockaway), Munsee Lenape, and the interconnected Matouwac communities across the Greater Long Island region, as stewards of the land. Following Tallant’s remarks, musician Nick Hakim took to the stage for the main musical performance of the night.  

Trustee and Vice-Chair Paula Kirby made her way to the stage to open the second portion of the dinner, announcing the night’s presenters, honorees, and culminating paddle raise. Artist, researcher, and Director of NEW INC. Salome Asega introduced Honoree and friend Sable Elyse Smith while artist Shaniqwa Jarvis presented Honoree and collaborator Angelo Baque to the audience. This year’s honorees speak to the Museum’s mission to foster creative collaboration across art and design.  

The outpouring of support for the Museum’s core programs invigorates the ongoing commitment to being one of the most inviting and accessible museums to view the art of our times. This year’s paddle raise led by Mattos Paschal from Christie’s celebrated the Museum’s ongoing work investing in youth for a better shared future, centering artist’s voices, and supporting QM’s collection.

Festivities followed with an after-party celebration hosted by EBBS Brewing Company and San Bartolo Mezcal. Guests mingled and danced to sets by DJ Skype Williams and DJ Bearcat. 

More than 350 guests attended the event, including a vibrant mix of art patrons, elected officials, philanthropists, artists and designers including: Laurie Cumbo (Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City), Thomas Finkelpearl (Former Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City), Shekar Krishnan (Queens City Council Member), Nicole Berry (Executive Director, The Armory Show), Jahleel Weaver (Creative Director, Fenty), Jane Hait (Patron/Founder, Center for Art,  Research and Alliances), Mario Sorrenti (Photographer), Aliza Nisenbaum (Artist), Naima Green (Artist), and Sage Elsesser (Model). 

2023 Gala Committee: Hanna Miller, Angelo Baque, Paula Kirby, Elle Hankinson, Jennifer Ifil-Ryan, and Geraldo Rodriguez

Gala Sponsors: Bloomberg Philanthropies, BFA, Marshall, Distinguished Vineyards & Wines, San Bartolo Mezcal, taylor creative inc. ny, and Silvercup Studios. 

Premium Supporters: Seth Kupferberg, New York Mets Owner Steve Cohen, Metabolic Studio, and Peter & Helen Warwick.