Build/Rebuild Benefit: A letter from the president; music by Frankie Knuckles and a who's who from Chicago and beyond

More than 150 art world influencers, artists, community leaders, philanthropists, and cultural leaders gathered on Chicago’s South Side in celebration of the Rebuild Foundation’s inaugural, by-invite-only, BUILD/REBUILD Benefit. Established by Theaster Gates Jr. in 2010 and overseen by CEO Ken Stewart, the Rebuild Foundation welcomed guests to a private viewing of the newly restored Stony Island Arts Bank, the Foundation’s largest and most ambitious project to date.

The evening was hosted by honorary co-chairs Amy Rule and her hubby, the Mayor. The host committee of ‘Builders’ included a who’s who from Chicago and beyond– Anita Blanchard, Lisa Yun Lee, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Sandy Reynolds, Cari and Michael J. Sacks, Chelsea and James Smith, and Chance the Rapper.

Partygoers enjoyed a cocktail hour that included a private viewing of the new, 17,000 square foot space and inaugural installation by Portuguese artist Carlos Bunga that premiered to the public on October 3rd as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. (This event on Saturday attracted over 1400). Designed by William Gibbons Uffendell and built in 1923, the bank fell into disrepair in the 1980s and remained abandoned until purchased by Theaster Gates and the Foundation in 2012. Newly restored, the Stony Island Arts Bank will provide a platform for site specific commissions and exhibitions, a venue for artist and scholar residencies and archival collections essential to the history of art, architecture and black culture.

Visitors were seated for dinner at tables with pottery created by Gates and treated to the culinary inventions of mk Executive Chef, Erick Williams. Guests enjoyed remarks by CEO Stewart and Artistic Director Gates plus a reading of a personalized letter to the artist by President Obama and First Lady Michelle!  An impromptu speech by fellow artist Carrie Mae Weems followed.

The evening continued upstairs with musical performances by Meshell Ndegeocello and Jebin Bruni, followed by Jason Moran and Gates, before dancing the night away to deejay Alan King who led the after-party spinning records from the Stony Island Arts Bank’s collection of the archives of “godfather of house music” Frankie Knuckles.

What a great addition to our city! Congrats Theaster, Ken and company!

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