More than 300 guests attended Legends 2011-Pratt Institute's largest annual scholarship benefit-which raised over $400,000 through ticket sales at 7 World Trade Center in Manhattan on November 1. Pratt honored artist and musician Laurie Anderson; interior designer, furniture designer, and artist Juan Montoya; and artist, filmmaker, and photographer William Wegman.


Museum of Modern Art President Emeritus Agnes Gund gave a warm introduction to her friend William Wegman by acknowledging his long, fruitful career in the art world and treating the audience to a screening one of his early films with dog Man Ray titled “Spelling Lesson” before presenting him with his award. Wegman described how his first knowledge of Pratt came through his mother, who received a scholarship to Pratt but was unable to attend. He thanked his grandfather for “keeping my mother away from this amazing institution” so that Wegman's parents could meet, so he could exist, and “be up here receiving this terrific award.”

Laurie Anderson was presented her award by friend and author Salman Rushdie, who said Anderson reminds him of the “Hindu deity Shiva Nataraja, the multi-armed lord of the dance, holding various instruments in her many hands.” Among her many accomplishments, Rushdie listed that she was artist in residence at NASA, which he joked was “the job I really wanted.” He also commended her for her gifts as a storyteller, for her “interest in the speculative narrative of our future –'where might we be going'– and the great doomed narrative of our past — 'how did we get here from there' — informs everything that she does. It's a grand and continuing achievement and she certainly is in this city but not only in this city, a true legend and it's my delight and honor to present her with this Legends award.”

In her acceptance speech, Anderson noted that it is a wonderful time to be an artist and to “find what it is to make art in this particular world.” She closed her speech with a short performance using electronic learning device called a pillows speaker that she inserted in her mouth to sing through to mimic the sound of a violin. Anderson bought the device to use to learn German in her sleep: “I tried that and it just made me super paranoid,” she quipped. “I am also somebody who gets a charge out of putting electronics in my mouth,” she joked.

Editor in Chief of Architectural Digest Margaret Russell introduced long-time Pratt supporter Juan Montoya, saying he has been “dazzling us with with inspiring environments that are worldly, spirited, confident, well-referenced, and influential yet at the same time eminently livable.” Montoya said: “The Legends award means so much to me. Although I went to another school, I have a great love and affinity for Pratt Institute, which I am so pleased has been part of my life for many years now.” He added: “To me, receiving the Pratt Legends Award is like receiving the Academy Award.”

Special guests included:

Kurt Andersen, Pratt Trustee, critically acclaimed author, and host of Studio 360
Kenneth P. Browne, Pratt alumnus and partner at Urban Development Partners
Amy Cappellazzo, Pratt Trustee and alumnus and chairman of post-war and contemporary development at Christie's
Anne Carson, poet, essayist, translator, and professor
Juliana Curran Terian, Pratt Trustee and chairwoman of the Rallye Group
Steven Holl, architect
James D. Kuhn, Pratt Trustee, and wife Marjorie Kuhn
Young Jean Lee, playwright and director
Leonard Lopate, host of The Leonard Lopate Show
Topaz Page-Green, model
Mike Pratt, Pratt Board of Trustees Chair and wife Carol Pratt
Thomas F. Schutte, Pratt President, and wife Tess Schutte
Robert Siegel, architect

Legends 2011 was hosted by Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte and Board of Trustees Chair Mike Pratt. Trustee James D. Kuhn and Pratt friend Marjorie Kuhn served as chairs of the event. Trustee Juliana Curran Terian and Two Trees Management Company served as vice chairs. This year's benefit committee was made up of co-chairs Kurt Andersen, Amy Cappellazzo, and Marjorie Kuhn; Kenneth P. Browne; Carol and Mike Pratt; Stan Richards; Robert and Hazel Siegel; and Jane and David Walentas.

Current undergraduate industrial design student Hailey O'Connor also participated in the evening's speaking program, describing her experience as a Pratt student whose education is supported by scholarships. Jason Rivera, a student in the undergraduate industrial design program, designed the Pratt Legends Awards.

The Legends 2011 ceremony was brought to a close with an intimate performance by Laurie Anderson followed by a set by DJ Derrick Adams, a graduate of Pratt Institute.

Past Legends Awards recipients include Ralph Appelbaum, Dale Chihuly, Fleur Cowles, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Michele Oka Doner, Cathy Hardwick, Tommy Hilfiger, Al Hirschfeld, Marc Jacobs, Helmut Jahn, Ellsworth Kelly, Emily Fisher Landau, Kenneth Lane, Naomi Leff, John Loring, Peter Marino, Mary McFadden, Richard Meier, Takashi Murakami, Beverly Pepper, Karim Rashid, Stanford Richards, Joan Rivers, David Rockwell, James Rosenquist, Julian Schnabel, Robert Siegel, Victor Skrebneski, Patti Smith, Barbara Tober, Pauline Trigère, Emanuel Ungaro, Bruce Weber, Stephan Weiss, Reba White Williams and Dave Williams, Robert Wilson, and Eva Zeisel. Past Corporate Legends include Lawrence Herbert, Pantone, Inc; Joseph Pacifico, CulinArt, Inc.; and Philip Morris.

Clockwise from L: William Wegman, Laurie Anderson, and Juan Montoya at Legends 2011. Photo Credit: Joshua Wong.

Amy Aronoff at 718-636-3554 or