OPENING CEREMONY: RxArt Honors Dan Colen

Opening Ceremony — November 14, 2012

On an unseasonably warm November night earlier this week, RxArt held its annual benefit to support its mission of bringing the experience of art to otherwise sterile hospital settings. But this year was especially meaningful to the OC fam, as the event honored the artist and friend DAN COLEN. The usual suspects were all present (duh)––a smiling BILL POWERS in tinted shades, a red-lipped JEANETTE HAYES, and RxArt board members Jen Brill and OC’s own OLIVIA KIM, among others. Arizona Muse looked completely stunning with a skin-tight, glittery, and see-through dress paired with a leotard (maybe the coolest dress in the room).

As guests scribbled down names and numbers for the silent auction, which also partly supported those affected by Hurricane Sandy, Chrissie Miller set the soundtrack to the night with joints like French Montana’s “Pop That” (TWERK). Her set was only briefly paused for the adorbz Kilo Kish’s performance and a live auction. I caught up with Dan to talk about his involvement with RxArt, below.

Sofia Cavallo: How did you first become involved with RxArt?

Dan Colen: I was invited to include something in one of their first coloring books.

SC: Can you tell us about the BAZOOKA WRAPPER PUZZLE, which was your first big RxArt project?

DC: I had made that painting before being invited to do the puzzle. Bubble gum and cartoons seemed like the perfect thing for kids.

SC: I hear your AVANT GARDE PRE-SCHOOL session was a hit. How artistic were you as a pre-schooler, and why do you devote part of your time to inspiring kids to get creative?

DC: I think I was always making drawings and paintings. I’d arrange my toys in very meticulous installations… It was more sculpture than playing. I try to devote some time to sharing art with kids because it was so important to me growing up. I always had a hard time with schoolwork and teachers. I played sports but had a lot of bad relationships with coaches; art and art classes were really the only place I felt I could excel as a child. I think it’s important for a kid to think he’s good at something. Also, to have an activity with so few rules can be really healthy and inspiring for them.

SC: How are you working to improve the children’s wing at the Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn?

DC: It’s a pretty ambitious project. There are four waiting rooms and one playroom, they seem to be crowded with people all day long. I’m planning on doing a subtle clean-up and redecoration of the rooms, then I will hang a permanent installation of two relevant bodies of work: large framed works on paper that I make with M&Ms and water, and large rocks painted to look like M&Ms. Both the drawings and sculptures will be installed in all five of those rooms.

SC: Why the Kings County Hospital; do you have any affiliation with it?

DC: My family is from Brooklyn, not far from the hospital, so I grew up knowing about it. My sister actually recently completed her residency there. But I was also interested in it because it’s a public hospital trying to take care of the community, a lot of which is lower income. To bring something into these kids’ lives that they would otherwise probably not experience seemed like a worthy project.

  • – Sofia Cavallo