Arts Alliance Illinois to celebrate Nick Cave and Denise and Gary Gardner at its Sixth Annual Benefit Luncheon, May 21

Benefit Luncheon Awardees Denise and Gary Gardner, left, and Nick Cave.

For immediate release
April 18, 2018

Media contacts Zachary Whittenburg, Communications and Engagement Director:, 312-855-3105 ext. 11
Carly Leviton, Carol Fox and Associates:, 773-969-5034

CHICAGO — Arts Alliance Illinois, under the leadership of Executive Director Claire Rice and Board Chair Brooke Flanagan, Managing Director for Development and External Affairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, welcome artistic, business, creative, and philanthropic leaders from across Illinois to the organization’s Sixth Annual Benefit Luncheon, Monday, May 21, 2018 at the new Marriott Marquis Chicago (2121 South Prairie Avenue in Chicago). The event begins at 11:00am, with a networking reception followed by a seated luncheon including a candid conversation with artist Nick Cave and more.

Renowned multimedia artist Nick Cave, spearhead of the Graduate Program of the Fashion Department at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and represented by Jack Shainman Gallery, will attend and accept the Alliance’s Creative Voice Award presented by Marilyn and Larry Fields. Chicago-based collectors and philanthropists Denise and Gary Gardner will receive the Alliance’s 2018 Citizen Advocate Award presented by artist and professor Candida Alvarez. Cave and the Gardners join an esteemed list of past Benefit Luncheon honorees including internationally acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, actor John C. Reilly, David Hawkanson and Martha Lavey of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and cultural leaders Richard P. and Susan R. Kiphart, Jim and Kay Mabie, and Janet Carl Smith and Mel Smith.

Cave will be interviewed live onstage by journalist and South Side Reporter for WBEZ 91.5FM Chicago Natalie Y. Moore. Moore is also the author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation, recognized with a 2016 Chicago Review of Books award for nonfiction, and named among the Best Nonfiction Books of 2016 by BuzzFeed. In October 2017, Moore was presented with the 21st Century Award for Outstanding Recent Achievement from the Chicago Public Library Foundation at its Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner. Additional special presentations will include a recitation by Rapheal Mathis, Illinois State Champion and National Finalist at Poetry Out Loud 2013, and young artists from the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center performing Hiplet.

Says Claire Rice, Executive Director of Arts Alliance Illinois: “It’s all too rare that the people who contribute to arts and cultural communities across Illinois have the chance to gather and to celebrate their achievements as a sector. In the multidisciplinary spirit of Nick’s incredible work, we see this spring’s Benefit Luncheon, in particular, as a unique opportunity to draw connections between visual art and other creative practices including dance, media, music, poetry, theater, and more. I like to think of this unique event as a way for us all to look around as we look forward, as well as to applaud the innumerable accomplishments of our many Alliance members.”

Individual tickets to the Sixth Annual Benefit Luncheon are available now at $350–$500, with tables of ten available at $3,500 and up. A limited number of individual tickets are available at $150, reserved for artists, arts administrators, and students. Reservations are requested by Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Friday, May 4 is the deadline for inclusion in the printed program.

For more information regarding the Sixth Annual Benefit Luncheon, including sponsorship and visibility opportunities, please visit or contact Sangini Brahmbhatt, Development Director at or by phone at 312-855-3105 ext. 13.

Arts Alliance Illinois thanks its Sixth Annual Benefit Luncheon’s Benefit Sponsors, Allstate and Denise and Gary Gardner; Benefit Committee Co-Chairs Michelle T. Boone, Chief Program and Civic Engagement Officer at Navy Pier, Inc., and Deana Haggag, President and CEO at United States Artists; Benefit Committee members Kassie Davis, Chris Jabin, Tony Karman, Dana Rice, Heather Ireland Robinson, Scott Silberstein, and Janet Carl Smith; Host Committee members Cheryl Cooke, Marilyn and Larry Fields, E. Brooke Flanagan, Lori Healey, Roche Schulfer, and Steve Solomon; Patron Sponsors Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Exelon Corporation, Marilyn and Larry Fields, Goodman Theatre, and Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority; Partner Sponsors The Field Foundation of Illinois, Ingenuity, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Navy Pier, Inc., The Poetry Foundation, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Diane Spradlin; and Media Sponsor Modern Luxury.

About Nick Cave
Nick Cave is an artist, educator and, foremost, a messenger, working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of media including sculpture, installation, video, sound, and performance. Cave is well-known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of the body. Soundsuits camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender, and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment. In a 2013 feature in Interview magazine, Cave said of his project HEARD • NY, a large-scale performance in Grand Central Terminal organized by Creative Time, “I was really thinking of getting us back to this dream state, this place where we imagine and think about now and how we exist and function in the world. With the state of affairs on the world, I think we tend not to take the time out to create that dream space in our heads.”

Cave’s recent, massive, immersive installation Until was on view at MASS MoCA from October 2016 to November 2017, and his solo exhibition Here Hear was on view at the Cranbrook Art Museum in 2015. Other solo exhibitions include the St. Louis Art Museum (2014–15), the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (2014), and the Denver Art Museum (2013). Public collections include the Brooklyn Museum; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the High Museum; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the Norton Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Birmingham Museum of Art; the De Young Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Orlando Museum of Art; the Smithsonian Institution; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.

Cave’s many awards and recognitions include the Americans for the Arts 2014 Public Art Network Year in Review Award, in recognition of his Grand Central Terminal performance, HEARD • NY; the 2008 Joan Mitchell Foundation Award; a 2006 Artadia Award; a 2006 Joyce Award; Creative Capital Grants in 2002, 2004, and 2005; and the 2001 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award. Cave, who received his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, is Professor and Chairman of the Fashion Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Nick Cave has been represented by Jack Shainman Gallery since his 2006 Soundsuits show. Other solo exhibitions at the gallery include Recent Soundsuits (2009), Ever-After (2011), and a two-part exhibition, Made by Whites and Rescue (2014). Visit to learn more.

About Denise and Gary Gardner
Denise B. Gardner, retired president of marketing and strategic planning firm Insights & Opportunities, is also cofounder of the largest minority-owned beauty manufacturer in the United States, Namaste Laboratories. Previously, while vice president of Soft Sheen Products, Advertising Age named Denise a Top 100 Marketer. Gardner sits on the board of the Art Institute of Chicago and co-chairs its leadership advisory committee; is vice president of the Chicago Chapter of The Links, Incorporated; is a member of the executive committee of The Chicago Community Trust and chair of its African American Legacy board; is a member of the Chicago Public Library’s board of directors; is a Know Your Chicago committee member at the University of Chicago Graham School; and is a member of the board of visitors of Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. She is a former board member of the Chicago Humanities Festival and chair of its diversity committee. In 2011, Gardner was named one of the Chicago Defender’s Women of Excellence. She holds a BSJ in advertising and an MBA from Northwestern University.

Gary Gardner is a lifelong resident of the South Side of Chicago and currently president and cofounder of Chicago-based private equity firm PFG, LLC. A member of the board of trustees of the City Colleges of Chicago, Gary is also the retired president and cofounder of Namaste Laboratories and the former president of Soft Sheen Products, which he expanded into the number-one ethnic haircare enterprise globally, earning it Company of the Year recognition from Black Enterprise magazine. Gary’s deep commitment to improving lives includes his support of numerous community-based organizations, particularly those that foster education and personal safety. Gardner earned his BA with honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his JD / MM (Masters of Management) from Northwestern University.

About Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore is South Side Reporter for WBEZ 91.5FM Chicago, where she covers segregation and inequality. Her enterprise reporting has tackled race, housing, economic development, food injustice, and violence. Moore’s work has been broadcast by the BBC and on NPR’s Marketplace, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Moore is the author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation, recognized with a 2016 Chicago Review of Books award for nonfiction, and named among the Best Nonfiction Books of 2016 by BuzzFeed. She is also co-author of The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang, and Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation.

A regular columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, Moore’s work has been published in Essence, Ebony, the Chicago Reporter, Bitch, In These Times, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. She is the 2017 recipient of Chicago Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award. In 2010, she received the Studs Terkel Community Media Award for reporting on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. In 2009, she was a fellow at Columbia College Chicago’s Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, which allowed her to take a reporting trip to Libya. Moore’s many awards for journalism include a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, and honors from the Radio Television Digital News Association (Edward R. Murrow), Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, National Association of Black Journalists, Illinois Associated Press, and Chicago Headline Club. The Chicago Reader named her best journalist in 2017.

Prior to joining WBEZ’s staff in 2007, Natalie was a city hall reporter for The Detroit News. She has also been an education reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and a reporter for the Associated Press in Jerusalem. Moore holds an MSJ in Newspaper Management from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a BA in Journalism from Howard University. She has taught at Columbia College Chicago and the Medill School. She and her husband Rodney live in Hyde Park with their four daughters. Visit to learn more.

About Arts Alliance Illinois
Arts Alliance Illinois activates artists, creatives, and cultural organizations through systems and policy change to put arts at the center of Illinois communities. With more than 25,000 active subscribers and hundreds of members, the Alliance is the only statewide, multidisciplinary organization concentrated on the health of the entire cultural sector, strategically focused on civic engagement, arts education policy, and cultural equity and arts access. All proceeds from the Sixth Annual Benefit Luncheon make possible the work of the Alliance, to realize a world in which the arts are central and indispensable to Illinois and where people acknowledge that the arts fuel creativity and innovation, sharpen our state’s competitive edge, attract and retain talent, promote cross-cultural understanding, and aid in solving civic and social issues, keeping Illinois nationally and globally connected. Visit to learn more.