Queens Museum 2024 Gala Honored Artist Lyle Ashton Harris and Celebrated Community Champion Maspeth Federal Savings   

Three people are standing in front of a white step and repeat backdrop covered in the Queens Museum logo. On each side of the step and repeat are palm leaves peaking into the frame. Sally Tallant, far left, is wearing a black pleated dress, Lyle Ashton Harris, center, is wearing a black suit jacket over a trompe l'oeil button tee shirt and dark jeans. He is also wearing a vibrant patchwork scarf and aviator glasses. Lauren Haynes, far right, is wearing a lavender pleated pant set with a black leather jacket and long silver earrings.

Image: Sally Tallant, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Lauren Haynes. Photo: Matt Borkowski/BFA.com


The Queens Museum’s 2024 Gala was held yesterday, May 16. The evening brought together 330 artists, curators, musicians, designers, and civic leaders to celebrate the Museum’s vision for the future of culture and creativity in Queens. This year’s Gala honored artist Lyle Ashton Harris – heralding the opening of his exhibition Our first and last love – as well as Community Champion Award recipient Maspeth Federal Savings. 

Bronx-born Lyle Ashton Harris was raised in New York City and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University, a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts, and attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Tate, London, UK; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Harris is a Professor of Art at New York University and lives in New York. 

The evening began with a cocktail party featuring Tropical Comfort Food bites by Lil Deb’s Oasis. Guests were invited to enjoy their drinks indoors, in the Museum’s Skylight Gallery. New York State Senator Michael Gianaris shared a few words about the Queens Museum’s impact on the City’s cultural life and highlighted the State’s commitment to supporting the Museum’s growth with $1.5 million in funding.

During the cocktail, attendees also toured Our first and last love alongside the artist and the exhibition’s Co-Curator, Lauren Haynes. Drawing together photographs and installations from both his celebrated and lesser-known series, Our first and last love charts new connections across Harris’ artistic practice. The exhibition explores his critical examination of identity and self-portraiture while tracing central themes and formal approaches in his work of the last 35 years. Guests also had the opportunity to preview three solo exhibitions by the Museum’s In Situ Artist Fellows: Cameron A. Granger: 9999, Nsenga Knight: Close to Home, and Catalina Schliebener-Muñoz: Buenos Vecinos. Launched in 2022, this two-year fellowship provides artists rent-free studio space and a full-time salaried position at the Museum, encouraging co-creation, relationship building, situated research, and experimentation alongside Queens Museum’s staff and communities. Cas Holman: Prototyping Play is the fourth newest exhibition Gala guests were invited to discover during the event. Prototyping Play experiments with the different modes of intuitive and child-directed free play in an art museum environment by extending the body’s movements with uniquely crafted elements and prompts. Released in two phases, Holman’s open-ended playthings and playspaces foster collaboration, inventive thinking, and interactivity. 

Guests then headed to the central atrium for a seated dinner presented by Erica Sarlo & Co. and catered by Abigail Kirsch. Sally Tallant, Queens Museum President and Executive Director, opened the dinner by thanking the Museum’s many supporters, 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, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards presented the Gala’s inaugural Community Champion Award to Maspeth Federal Savings, whose commitment and generous support have played an instrumental role in empowering the Queens Museum’s Family Programs.

The second portion of the dinner began with a live auction led by Sotheby’s auctioneer Kimberly Pirtle. The two available works, generously donated by artists Basil Kincaid and Adrian Armstrong, helped raise funds for the Queens Museum’s capital renovation and upcoming intergenerational learning center. Following the auction, guests sat quietly as they watched the premiere of a new short film highlighting Lyle Ashton Harris’ life and practice. The film featured the artist as well as family members, close friends, and collaborators. This inspiring moment opened up the stage for publisher Gregory Miller to present the honoree. Harris shared a moving speech that conveyed his excitement about the Museum’s work and the significance of having such a career-marking exhibition presented in his native New York. 

Paula Kirby, Queens Museum Board Chair, closed the dinner by inviting attendees to continue the night’s festivities at the After Party, where guests mingled and danced to sets by DJs DonChristian Jones Williams and 063N13. 

More than 330 guests attended the event, including a vibrant mix of art patrons, elected officials, philanthropists, artists and designers including: Alton Murray (Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City), Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., Thomas Finkelpearl (Former Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City), Catalina Cruz (Queens Assembly Member Member), David Weprin (Queens Assembly Member), Thelma Golden (Director, Studio Museum), Jessica Morgan (Director, Dia Art Foundation), Carrie Mae Weems (Artist ), Tschabalala Self (Artist), Ziwe (Comedian), Tyler Mitchell (Photographer), Dan Colen (Artist), Angelo Baque (Founder, AWAKE NY), and Renée Cox (Artist). 

Artist Host Committee: Onyedika Chuke, Dan Colen, Jarrett Earnest, John Edmonds, Alex Fialho, Catherine Gund, Tenzin Gund-Morrow, dream hampton, Thomas Allen Harris, Clifford Prince King, Joshua Rashaad McFadden, Ryan McGinley, Tyler Mitchell, Fred Moten, James Powell, Tschabalala Self, Dr. Senam Okudzeto, Allison Otis.

After Party Committee: Derrick Adams, Emily Alli, ArtNoir, Erica Boginsky, Dale Burnett, Clayton Calvert, Parker Calvert, East West Bank, Rafael Flores, Alteronce Gumby, Brian McKinney, Tyler Mitchell, Anwarii Musa*, Folasade Ologundudu, Antwaun Sergeant, LaToya Stone*, Antonio Valverde, Darryl Westly.

Benefit Committee: Angelo Baque*, Thomas Chen*, Ming Chiang*, Christine Ciampa*, Amy D’Amato*, Patsy Doerr*, Kimberly Drew, Christina Geffrard*, Dominique Goss*, Elle Hankinson, Jim Hodges, Paula Kirby*, Arthi Krishnamoorthy*, Seth Kupferberg*, Lorraine Chambers Lewis*, Hanna Miller*, Anwarii Musa*, Gina Nanni, Yvonne Riley-Tepie*, Mark Robbins, Bevin Savage-Yamazaki*, Denise Scott*, Cindy Sherman, Sable Elyse Smith*, Salon 94, Alan Suna*, Peter Warwick*, Gretchen Werwaiss*, Adeze Wilford*.

Gala Sponsors: Aigner Chocolates, Distinguished Vineyards & Wines, San Bartolo Mezcal Artesanal, taylor creative inc. ny, and Ten to One Rum 

Premium Supporters: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Seth Kupferberg*, Maspeth Federal Savings, Metabolic Studio, Helen and Peter Warwick*

*Members of QM’s Board of Trustees