SARAH BROWN AND AMAR’E STOUDEMIRECOURTESY BILLY FARRELL/BFA NYC
The Whitney Museum of American Art’s Art Party at Highline Stages last night was called “The Groundbreakers,” because it celebrated yesterday’s groundbreaking for the museum’s new Meatpacking District headquarters. But the title also aptly describes Honorary Co-Chair Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks power forward, who has reinvented the image of a New York pro athlete as also being a leader in the arts. The Whitney will relocate in 2015 from its Madison Avenue at 75th Street location to its new, $720 million Gansevoort Street home, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire joined Honorary Co-Chairs Shala Monroque and Eddie Borgo and Co-Chairs Sarah Brown, Maggie Betts, Tom Dunn and Whitney Director Adam D. Weinberg. “I grew up in the art world and really appreciate art, so I wanted to keep a foot in the world of contemporary art,” said Brown of the museum’s appeal. She’s Vogue‘s beauty director. “It’s been nice to bridge fashion and art. Many people who appreciate both those worlds are drawn to the Whitney.”Stoudemire, who set a Knicks franchise record for consecutive 30-point games and brought the Knicks to the playoffs for the first time since 2004, wore a Calvin Klein suit. We chatted with the six-time NBA All-Star about art, fashion and the Knicks’ upcoming season:
LORRAINE CWELICH: What interested you about the Whitney Art Party and in general, about the arts in New York?
AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE: I think art is a special gift, to have the ability to paint and the creativity that these artists come up with is very impressive. Plus, for me, I love to have artwork in my house; I have a special design in my place. So it’s only right for me to be here to support it.
CWELICH: You were also in the front row at several Fashion Week shows in February.
STOUDEMIRE: I’ve been to Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, the opening of Fashion Week at the Mercedes-Benz theater, so I’ve been around it quite a bit.
CWELICH: What’s it been like for you, adjusting to New York City after playing in Phoenix for eight years?
STOUDEMIRE: It’s great. It’s very fast; there’s a lot going on here. You have to really be able to set your discipline but for the most part, it’s a very ambitious city.
CWELICH: You came to New York from the Western Conference finals last year, and brought a winning mindset to the Knicks. When Melo was traded here in February, did you welcome having someone to share the leadership of the team, or was it difficult having to share the spotlight?
STOUDEMIRE: It’s all about winning. And whatever cure we can come up with for winning, that’s what we do. Since basketball is the ultimate team game, we have to make sure we play team basketball.
CWELICH: Do you think Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh will be returning next year?
STOUDEMIRE: Yes, I definitely think so. Absolutely.
CWELICH: How likely is it that a point guard such as Chris Paul will be acquired next season?
STOUDEMIRE: Well, we’re not sure if that’s going to happen or not but obviously Chris is a phenomenal player. He’s also one of those guys who is a friend of mine. Any time you can add such value to a team, it’s great, but you never know what will happen.
CWELICH: How are you planning to spend your off-season?
STOUDEMIRE: Traveling, resting. I just got back from the Caribbean two days ago. I was in Turks and Caicos for awhile. I have a lot of trips planned. I’m also going to China.
CWELICH: What cultural activities do you want to get involved with next?
STOUDEMIRE: Whatever my passion is, I just go after it. My passions are very broad, so there’s no telling what’s next.