As the sun set over the 17th-century Mulford Farm in East Hampton on Friday, August 19, 400 dinner guests settled in for an evening celebrating Guild Hall and its 2022 Summer Gala honoree, philanthropist Kathy Rayner. Mrs. Rayner was recognized for her establishment of The Guild Hall William P. Rayner Artist-in-Residence program in honor of her late husband, artist Billy Rayner, which offers artist collectives the time and space to research, experiment, and develop new ideas while living on the East End. Celebrating the creative process and the people who champion it, the annual benefit raised over $750,000 in support of Guild Hall’s year-round interdisciplinary programs.
The lavish event was attended by an eclectic mix of Guild Hall supporters, including Rayner, Bjorn Amelan and Bill T. Jones, Estrellita & Daniel Brodsky, Sylvie & Olivier Chantecaille, Marty & Michele Cohen, DJ Spooky, Florence & Richard Fabricant, Ralph Gibson and Mary Jane Marcasiano, RoseLee Goldberg, Peter Marino, American Ballet Theatre dancers Jose Sebastian and Chloe Misseldine, Stefano Tonchi, Lyn & E.T. Williams, Jr., and artists John Alexander, Alice Aycock, Ross Bleckner, Johan Creten, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Alice Hope, Judy Hudson, Arcmanoro Niles, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Toni Ross, Bastienne Schmidt, Ned Smyth, and many more.
As guests entered the event through the estate’s historic barns, they experienced an immersive video and sound installation by 2022 Guild Hall William P. Rayner artist-in-residence Holland Andrews. The barn opened to cocktails featuring Bedell Cellars First Crush wine and hors d’oeuvres, including smoked salmon cones, scallop shumai, Greek-style grilled shrimp, miniature lobster tacos, rice paper summer rolls, macaroni and cheese fritters, and pan-seared beef filet.
Chimes rang to close out the cocktail reception, and guests made their way to an open-air tent with ethereal floral décor by Anthony Taccetta Events — inspired by Mrs. Rayner’s gardens in East Hampton — and dramatic lighting by Bentley Meeker. The program began with a short video featuring Guild Hall off-site programs this season, followed by remarks from Guild Hall Board Chairman Marty Cohen and Executive Director Andrea Grover. After, Hamptons Dance Project’s Jose Sebastian and Chloe Misseldine, also 2022 artists-in-residence, performed a stunning pas de deux.
Once dinner had been served, the program continued with a moving video tribute to Mrs. Rayner, followed by a speech from Guild Hall Chief Philanthropy Officer Kristen Eberstadt. The honoree was brought to the stage and presented with two gifts: a canine portrait by artist Eric Fischl, and a pair of ballet slippers belonging to American Ballet Theatre’s Principal Dancer Catherine Hurlin, signed by the Hamptons Dance Project full company. Mrs. Rayner closed out the program with a short, heartfelt speech.
“Every so often, a perfect collaboration is born between a philanthropist and a nonprofit,” said Guild Hall Executive Director Andrea Grover. “Kathy Rayner has made one of those moments happen, and we were honored to recognize her vision and the first-year success of the Guild Hall William P. Rayner Artist-in-Residence program.”
The seated dinner featured a fresh seasonal menu beginning with tomato tarte tatin, caramelized shallots, chèvre, herb salad, and salsa verde, followed by grilled black bass with a lemon basil butter sauce, zucchini threads, and farro pilaf. Plentiful plated and passed desserts included miniature blueberry hand pies, dark chocolate mint pots de crème, assorted berry shots with whipped cream and French tuille, macarons, butterfly cookies, Oreo ice cream sandwiches, miniature ice cream cones dipped in chocolate, and frozen push-up fruit pops. Catering was provided by Laurence Craig and the menu was selected by Guild Hall Board Members Kenneth Wyse and The New York Times Food & Wine writer Florence Fabricant. As dessert was served, guests made their way to the Guild Hall-branded dance floor to tunes by DJ MICK, where the celebration continued into the night.