NEW YORK — Pratt Institute’s four Legends 2013 honorees shared fool-proof advice Monday at the school’s annual gala at the Mandarin Oriental hotel here.
Architectural Digest’s editor in chief Margaret Russell, novelist and columnist Pete Hamill, artist James Turrell and interior decorator David Easton were celebrated. After sharing some early advice he picked up — “Learning a craft always had four stages: imitate, emulate, equal, surpass” — Hamill detailed his own Pratt days. “At Pratt, I was learning much more important lessons about form, about composition, about color, about light, about shape, about the pulsing truth that you could feel coming off every great artist that ever lived,” he said. “I sat in the auditoriums with hundreds of other young men and women and heard lectures by Franz Kline and Isamu Noguchi, to name only two, and took away from them fresh new ways of seeing.”
But his greatest source of inspiration could be contained in three words — “‘This is America’ and I suspect they are being spoken somewhere in this city tonight.”
Pratt president Thomas Schutte provided one of the gala’s more poignant moments when he learned by complete surprise that all of the event’s nearly $800,000 in proceeds would be earmarked for a student scholarship in his and his wife’s name. The gift was made in honor of his 20th anniversary at Pratt. At the podium, a visibly moved Schutte (who is known to start his weekdays at 3 or 4 a.m.) could only muster, “Thank you, thank you.”
Easton recalled how Martha Stewart first met him at a dinner party in Connecticut and unknowingly cited three of her favorite houses that all turned out to be ones that he had designed. He had a different sort of trifecta on his mind. “I do not feel that architecture should exist, decorating should exist or landscaping should exist except as a threesome, as a trinity,” he said.
Accepting her award from David Rockwell, Russell praised Pratt for providing its students each day with hope, optimism, a fresh start and the opportunity to do more. “Honestly I don’t feel like a legend at all, but I can give promising design talents a voice. That’s what I can do,” she said.
Encouraging attendees to support the school, Turrell said, “Of course, I was made a Legend. My wife used to tell me I was only a legend in my own mind. Now I can actually say it.”