Sam Moyer, Eddie Martinez

Free Arts NYC, a nonprofit that provides education and mentoring for underserved youth, decamped to Phillips on Thursday night for its annual spring gala and auction. The evening celebrated artist couple Eddie Martinez and Sam Moyer; in addition to contributing works to both the silent and live auctions, both artists also collaborated with supporter Maison Margiela on tote bags for the event.

“Art is my whole world, and I’ve always really liked drawing with kids or looking at kids’ drawings,” Martinez said during cocktail hour, when guests — including Kelly Rutherford, Sheree Hovsepian and Hugo Guinness — could browse the collection of work up for auction. A small sitting KAWS sculpture proved to be a particularly popular bid.

Through Free Arts, Martinez has mentored kids in his studio and has also taken them to museums like the Whitney and the Drawing Center for the first time. “They don’t have any really criticality against themselves, they’re not judging what they’re doing, they’re just putting it out,” said Martinez of seeing what they end up creating alongside him in the studio. “And that for me and the style of work that I’ve always been attracted to, it has that same sense of autonomy. You can just get them to keep going and it’s amazing.”

“He’s really nurtured amazing relationships with these kids,” said Moyer of Martinez’s involvement. “He’s interned about three kids now over the last two years, and I think that’s one of the most special things, the individual attention that these kids get at kind of a vulnerable age, right before they go out in the world. And having that contact with an artist that’s actually working as an artist and seeing that up close first hand, having a real tactical experience — I don’t know any other program that does that.”

Heidi Norton, Sheree Hovsepian, Seffa Klein, Toby Milstein, Shari Loeffler, Gea Cohen-Paci

Heidi Norton, Sheree Hovsepian, Seffa Klein, Toby Milstein, Shari Loeffler, Gea Cohen-Paci  Mike Vitelli/

Eddie Martinez, Free Arts Teens

Eddie Martinez, Free Arts Teens  Mike Vitelli/

Aeonai Baetiste, Liz Hopfan (wearing Sacai)

Adonai Baptiste, Liz Hopfan  Mike Vitelli/

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