by AIA New York
Last week the second-annual Art by Architects exhibition filled Darlington Hall at the Church of the Heavenly Rest on the Upper East Side. Organized by Hank Abernathy, AIA; Steve Gifford AIA; Frank Moya, AIA; Sadie Rayne Wegner; and Arnold Syrop AIA, the exhibition featured 90 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and digital works by 60 different architect-artists—many of them members of AIA New York.
Abernathy’s familiarity with fellow architects who were also dedicated artists led him to organize the annual exhibition, which first took place in 2018 at the New York Genome Center. “Art is a touchstone for many architects, and we knew instinctively that by tapping into like-minded peers that we could be the catalyst for this community to nurture our collective passion for art,” says Abernathy.
For the exhibition’s second year, already 50 percent larger than in 2018, works came from a more diverse group of architects spanning all levels of their careers, from entry level staffers to founding partners. Abernathy says he is especially impressed by the art contributed by students at Pratt Institute, City College of New York, and Columbia University, which he identifies as some of the most cutting-edge works shown.
Abernathy says he conceived of Art by Architects as he became less active as a practicing architect and more active as an artist. “I quickly found architect-artist soulmates in Steve Gifford (Perkins Eastman) and Frank Moya (Matthews Moya Architects),” he says. “Steve had already initiated a similar exhibition at Perkins Eastman, and we knew there were a lot of architects in the city who would be receptive to an opportunity to show their work.”
Proceeds from the exhibition’s application fees and contributions from the public were used to cover operating expenses, and to support scholarships at AIA New York, thanks in particular to donations from Perkins Eastman and NK Architects.
Additional advocates for the exhibition include Sadie Rayne Wegner of NK Architects, an active artist and recruiter for the show; Arnold Syrop, a retired architect with an art studio beside Abernathy; Guy Geier, FAIA, of FX Collaborative; and Kira Wong of Rafael Viñoly Architects, who secured two works by Viñoly himself.
Sponsors were instrumental in providing in-kind contributions: Blick Art Materials contributed supplies to make the easels; Winc Wines donated 7 cases of wine; and Nalina Moses raffled a copy of her new book on drawings by architects, Single-Handedly, and made a contribution.