Scharff Weisberg took an artful approach to supporting the Brooklyn Museum’s annual Brooklyn Ball when it supplied lighting, video, and audio equipment for the gala event held on April 3. The Brooklyn Ball, a fundraiser for the museum’s educational programs, celebrated the opening of multimedia artist Takashi Murakami’s retrospective with an exhibition preview, cocktail party, dinner, and an exclusive performance by Grammy award-winner Kanye West. Bounce Event Marketing was the overall event designer and producer.
Under the guidance and direction of Bounce Event Marketing president, Carleen Cappelletti, Scharff Weisberg project manager Guy Bostian and Scharff Weisberg rental manager Terry Jackson teamed with lighting designer Herrick Goldman of HG Lighting Design Inc. on the complex project, which had just a two-and-a-half week turnaround. “An event of this size had never been held in the museum before. The companies were challenged to provide lighting and audio that satisfied the multiple needs of the event while being respectful of the museum environment,” comments Jackson.
Bounce Event Marketing was brought onboard as management by three other clients: KCD representing Louis Vuitton, Kanye West's demanding tour staff, and The Brooklyn Museum itself who was representing Murakami and their own image in the community. Goldman says, "The site surveys alone sometimes stretched to five hours and we had to juggle the needs and desires of many companies. All of them were very pleased with the end result and we look forward to working with them again."
“The combined Scharff team (audio, video, and lighting) jumped into the project. We only had three days to install this entire event and crews of 20 worked long days to achieve the end result. Particularly impressive was the flexibility of the rentals team who were able to source oddball gear at a moment’s notice," continues Goldman.
Guests arrived at the museum to find the Sculpture Garden transformed into a performance art installation supporting the protection of intellectual property, a serious issue for sponsor Louis Vuitton. The forecourt was filled with Chinatown-style stalls strewn among graffitti-filled walls. But instead of vendors hawking cheap counterfeit luxury goods, the stalls were manned by actors selling real Vuitton accessories, including those designed for the brand by Murakami.
Scharff Weisberg hung 1,000 feet of Carnival Stringer Lights above the makeshift stalls to lend a festive air to the venue. Vari-Lite VL3500 spots with custom tree-branch gobos lit the forecourt after dark from the museum rooftop six stories above. Also on hand were G300 foggers to simulate subway steam rising from street vents; 12-inch ColorBlast LEDs; ETC PAR, ellipsoidal and sensor dimming package; and a grandMA console. Scharff Weisberg also furnished ARRI 1.2K PARs to light the guests’ Step and Repeat.
Distinct paths lined with 160 feet of LED-lit scrim walls hid the main dining rooms and guided guests to the Murakami preview and cocktail reception in the Cantor Gallery. In the main dining area a Spandex-covered kiosk was uplit by VL1000 TS fixtures and VL3000 spots giving a beautiful two-toned look to the structure.
Scharff Weisberg provided LEDs for the galleries leading to the Murakami exhibit, giving each gallery room a different saturated color. “The galleries took on an otherworldly tone when we turned off the museum’s lights and they were bathed in deep red, blue, orange and green,” notes Goldman. In addition, Scharff Weisberg supplied battery-powered, DMX-controlled LEDs to illuminate translucent bars and tables for the cocktail reception.
The brick wall facing the main lobby was lit with Apollo custom wave-motif gobos These lent a “Van Gogh starry-night type of effect to the original brick architecture of the museum’s Interior façade,” says Goldman. Inside the brick-buttressed area Scharff Weisberg furnished 90° s4 lekos with Rosco amber stippled-glass colorizers whose effects were heightened by VL3500 spots in Alpha Ray gobos shooting onto long rectangular tables.
The glass-roofed Rubin Pavilion lobby was the other main dining area. With space at a premium, Scharff Weisberg floor-mounted spots to uplight the brick façade with imagery evocative of the Brooklyn Bridge. Outside, above the glass roof, 6 4,000-watt tungsten helium balloons were tethered giving a beautiful candlelit glow to the dining area and illuminating the entire museum exterior in a novel and creative way. In addition, wash fixtures uplit and highlighted Murakami’s sculpture. Scharff Weisberg also supplied a two grandMA consoles.
Outfitting the area for audio “was challenging due to the acoustics of the room and the placement of the tables,” notes Guy Bostian. Six clusters of Meyer M1D arrays were spaced strategically to cover the dining area and Meyer UPJs were flown from overhead. A long corridor of tables was covered with Apogee SSMs; a Meyer M1D-SUB ultra compact array subwoofer completed the sound system.
Two pairs of Barco R-12 projectors were flown from truss to support IMAG of speakers and presenters from the main stage to the overflow dining area. Two Sony DXC-D50 cameras captured the activity onstage; the Grass Valley 110 switched feed was recorded to Sony 2800 decks.
Following dinner, guests adjourned for a concert-style standing-room performance by Kanye West. “We had worked with Kanye’s people before, and they were very happy to see us when they arrived,” reports Bostian. “The audio equipment we supplied replicated his LA touring package.”
West’s main PA consisted of Meyer M2D line array speakers flown from a truss goalpost, Meyer 700 HP subwoofers and Meyer CQ1s. Meyer UM1-P stage monitors covered the fold-back for performers onstage, and Meyer UPJ-1Ps were used for side fill. Sennheiser IEMs were also incorporated along with four Shure wireless handhelds with Beta 87A capsules and a Midas Heritage 3000 console.
Likewise, West’s lighting was based on his touring package designed by John Goldstein who operated the grandMA console for the Ball.
“We surrounded Kanye’s 68-foot stage and a 24-foot deep runway with footlights and designed the truss structure above the stage to provide the necessary lighting positions and not obstruct the view of the audience,” Goldman explains. “This room was filled with 16 structural columns so we added vertical pieces of truss to the spaces between columns; the rig had to be custom built onsite adapting to the vagaries of the room and the columns. Fortunately we had a great crew, and Scharff Weisberg sent spare truss of every length knowing this room would be a challenge. Kanye’s team was thrilled, and his show looked great.”
“This project was an enormous undertaking,” concludes Goldman. “The team from Scharff Weisberg worked brilliantly and the show ran flawlessly. We look forward to doing other events with Scharff Weisberg and Bounce Event Marketing.”
HG Lighting Design’s team included Susan Nicholson, Michael Lee, Cory Fitzgerald, Stacey Boggs, and Noel Carmichael.