RE-cap: What you missed at this year’s chashama gala

Annual event is known for its outrageous atmosphere -- and this year's edition didn't disappoint

Jun.June 10, 2014 02:35 PM

Two things make the world go ‘round in NYC: (no, not food, water, air or other necessities) Art and real estate. The event The Real Deal attended Monday night — the 2014 chashama Gala — was the perfect melding of both.

This party had everything:  Some high-level real estate bigwigs were in attendance standing tall next to a human candelabra, scantily clad performance artists, exuberant ghosts, and a man kept in a cage with a sign that said, “Do not feed the head.”

We felt like we stepped into an SNL skit featuring Stefon telling us about the hottest clubs in NYC or a sort of Halloween-Purim-Carnival-Sleep No More-mashup.

Rate-an-Event: chashama Annual Gala 2014
Who: 450 of the city’s most forward-thinking land owners, corporate executives, arts professionals, and innovative creators attended the chashama annual gala to honor Chicago Title Insurance Company. Sponsors included Tishman Speyer, CBRE, Bank of America, and (obligatory narcissistic shout-out) The Real Deal.

Why: To celebrate the organization’s ongoing commitment of uniting real estate and the arts to provide essential performance, exhibit, and work space to thousands of artists throughout NYC at free or low-cost rates. All proceeds from the evening help chashama provide space grants worth over $2 million to artists and youth; support 300 creative individuals each day; and present 180 public events per year. The gala launched chashama’s free summer performance series, for which it will fill underutilized spaces in Midtown, Harlem, and a newly acquired space in Long Island City –the Falchi Building — with performances and art installations.

According to Anita Durst, the organization’s founder and creative director, “The goal of the chashama gala is to be not your usual rubber chicken dinner. We wanted it to be more experiential and to that end we have over 40 performers including, muffin head costumes, an aerialist, dance-oke, and hair art. The event is to celebrate the creative spirit and hopefully, for the businessman to loosen up!”

And loosen up they did!

See also: They had us at a human candelabra, “Shrine of the Church of Girl,” an installation of living candles.


Where: 132 West 43rd Street – Anita’s Way

[Unofficial] Theme: Girls in Undies.


Length: 6:00-9:00 PM – Cocktails, Hors d’oeuvres, Dinner 9:30 PM – After Party: a late-night dance party with See.Me – a celebration of their new digital art campaign, bringing together gallerists, leaders of arts organizations and collectives, and renowned artists, who gathered to toast New York City’s vibrant art scene.

What We Did: We learned some fun facts like:chashama is always spelled with a lowercase “c” even at the start of a sentence. Also, we learned it is actually a Farsi word meaning “of the eye” or “to have vision”.  We also found out that those who could not attend could still participate by volunteering their time, money or space to the organization at any time.

We got our hair done by Delirious Hair Design — they created custom head pieces for guests — and marvelled at others’ hair creations. We spotted a woman with a bird on her head, another with a light-up fish sculpture atop her noggin and a man wearing a handmade gold crown.

We met some interesting artists.


We ate copious amounts of shrimp, and feasted on other foodstuff provided by Aureole, including prime rib, an array of salads, pasta, sliders and mini-shot glasses of gazpacho.

We watched suit-clad men lipsync songs with back-up dancers, held our breath every time the aerialist, Robin Lynch, performed, hoping she would not come crashing down into the aforementioned shrimp and waited for the afterparty performance.

Low point: The party was a standing event and after milling around in fancy shoes for an hour our feet were hurting. There were few chairs and even fewer tables which made eating hard. Balancing a plate of beef in one hand and trying to cut it  with a fork — did we mention there were no knives? — tends to lead to spillage disasters.

With an open bar for 4-plus hours, there is the possibility of this:

High points: The hair designers were amazing. Each person who asked got an original hair design, each more creative than the last. Even hair-challenged men walked away looking fabulous. One guy walked away with gold stars on his bald head and another with light up globes affixed.

The biggest highpoint, though, was hearing from the Chairman of the Board, David Glanstein that chashama not only met their $300,000 fundraising goal but exceeded it. Also good to hear, he said the organization was continually growing and their budget was solid.

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