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On Monday night, in the sixth floor penthouse at the Chateau Marmont, Montblanc — the famed writing instrument and timepiece brand — threw an intimate star-studded fete to honor writer and philanthropist Maria Arena Bell with the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award.
Now in its 25th year, the Montblanc Award — which recognizes modern-day patrons for their work and contributions to the arts and culture — was presented to Bell for her efforts that make the arts accessible to broader audiences. It’s chosen by a jury of 44 global jurors including contemporary artist Dustin Yellin, Goya-award-winning Spanish actress Macarena Gómez, Columbian film director Simón Brand, composer Chiu Tsang Hei and Latin American photographer Flor Garduño.
Sylvain Costof, the new president of Montblanc North America said about the evening’s event, “With her incredible dedication and passion, Maria Arena Bell not only supports arts and culture but also offers inspiration to existing and future Patrons. I am very proud to have her as the North American winner of the 2016 Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award.”
?Los Angeles arts patrons Eli and Edie Broad, actresses Ashley Greene and Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Kennedy III, artists Jonas Wood and Thomas Houseago and art dealers Jackie & Irving Blum watched as director and chief curator at large of MoMA PS1 Klaus Biesenbach, was joined by newly appointed co-chairmen of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil to present the honoree with a Patron of Art Peggy Guggenheim limited edition fountain pen encased in a trophy, along with 15,000 euros to benefit the arts at MoMa PS1.
Bell, has a long history in arts philanthropy in Los Angeles, from her involvement in Los Angeles’ PS Arts where she’s helped lead the charge to raise funds to provide arts education to over 25,000 low-income Los Angeles public elementary school children to serving as co-chair during MOCA’s embattled period from 2009-2014. During her tenure there she helped to raise the museum’s endowment to over $100 million, create the very successful MOCA artist galas series featuring artists such as Marina Abramovic, Francesco Vezzolli and Doug Aitken and frankly, keep MOCA from going under.
AWARD WINNER: Maria Arena Bell at the 25th annual Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo: Getty Images)
When asked what comes next in her career, Bell, the longtime show runner of daytime soap The Young and the Restless replied, “I left Young and the Restless to pursue passion projects. I hit a place in my life where I’ve been in daytime for such a long time — I wanted to write a screenplay, I am going out to pitching a one-hour, drama, I’m pitching a sitcom. Daytime, it’s like working at a newspaper, it’s roll up your sleeves and get to work, we run 52 weeks a year, one hour a day. I want to work on projects I am passionate about now with both my writing and my philanthropy. I am seeking out organizations that are doing groundbreaking work. I’d like to put my support to further push the boundaries within the art world.”
Biesenbach, when presenting the award said, “Maria is always there for artists and the curators. She doesn’t wait for us to call; she always asks what she can do now. That’s Maria and that’s who she is.”
Bell, who gave the award’s €15,000 arts donation to Biesenbach’s PS1 said, “When I learned I was going to win this award, I was shocked and stunned. Having the chance to be living among the art of our time, watching the art being made, is something special. Art shouldn’t just be the icing on the cake, it should be the cake. Art is what bonds us together.”
Bell added with a laugh, “While she may have loved artists in the biblical sense — while I love them in the platonic sense — to be awarded a pen in honor of Peggy Guggenheim, is such a thrill, she is my absolute hero.”
MONTBLANC FANS: Montblanc North America president Sylvain Costof and actress Bryce Dallas Howard at the 25th annual Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo: Getty Images)
Actress Bryce Dallas Howard, who was wearing a diamond, encrusted Montblanc Boheme Date Automatic for the evening, has a long history with the brand that goes back to her childhood.
“I have a severe stationary fetish and it’s gotten me into a lot trouble. When I was a kid, there was a stationary store in Greenwich, where I grew up. I would go in and charge hundreds of dollars to my family’s account — Montblanc pens were my major problem,” Dallas Howard told THR. “I had to pay off the debt. But to me, writing instruments are a way to have a connection to your art, to learn to draw, to learn to write, to create your art, your pen and pencils become your jam.”
Bell struck a similar note, “It was a remarkable thing to be approached by Montblanc — as a writer, there is nothing more significant than a pen. My husband would always give me a pen as a special gift — it symbolizes the act of being a writer. When you pick up a pen, it causes you to reflect. With a pen, you can take time.”
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