Richard Serra and Jessye Norman Join Forces to Help the Homeless at Art Auction

Superstars artist Richard Serra and soprano Jessye Norman have joined forces for an art auction on Friday night, January 29, to benefit the Partnership for the Homeless.

To be held at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, the event will feature cocktails and a silent and live auction--the latter conducted by Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's principal auctioneer and worldwide head of contemporary art--of works created and donated by some 80 well-known artists, their representatives or estates. These artists include Matthew Barney, Chuck Close, Willem de Kooning, Jenny Holzer, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Sol Lewitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman, Elizabeth Peyton, Ed Ruscha, Lisa Yuskavage and Serra, who, with his wife, Clara, is co-chairing the event.

Norman--the spokesperson for the Partnership for the Homeless for many years--will be joined by Steven Cole, the tenor; musical director Lawrence Hamilton; and pianist Mark Markham to perform American songs by Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Stephen Flaherty, which will "accompany the American artworks," she said.

According to Norman, the benefit "is the brain-child of the artist Richard Serra, a longtime supporter of the partnership. It was his idea to donate a work of art that we might auction. At some point, the idea took immediate fire, and many, 80 in fact, of his colleagues, all wonders of the art world, have donated works of art for this auction."

The auction will benefit the Family Resource Center, an initiative in East New York, Brooklyn, of the Partnership for the Homeless that works with families to insure that children of homeless families continue to progress in school despite their family's housing crisis. Although the center serves the East New York community, Partnership officials said they hoped it could be a role model for similar institutions around the country.

Ms. Norman said she has supported the Partnership for the Homeless for over a decade, in part, because "one needs to remember that a middle class, seemingly comfortable and secure person needs only three things to transpire in life before homelessness could become a reality: the loss of one's source of income, personal or familial catastrophic illness with no health coverage due to the loss of employment, and not to be able to manage payment for housing or not having family or friends with whom one can live until things turn the corner."

The arts, she added, can "always effect change, whether through helping to point to a need within our society, or through political protest, comfort or extreme daring and even genius. The world moves to what it sees and hears."

Tickets for the auction start at $175. Art collectors who are not in New York or unable to attend can also bid by proxy; an absentee bid form is available on the event's Web site.