Beyoncé, 'Black Panther' Love Merge at Wearable Art Gala
Blue Ivy also got in on the action with a bidding war against Tyler Perry at the art auction to benefit the WACO Theater Center.
The Alexandria Ballroom in Los Angeles was full of crowns — made of silver, gold, feathers, flowers and beads — to celebrate the kings and queens of art.
Attendees of the Wearable Art Gala donned ornate hats and headpieces with shells, bows and gold chains for the “From WACO to Wakanda” themed event on Saturday.
They were honoring Beyoncé and her mother-in-law Gloria Carter for their humanitarian work, and donated via an art auction to the Where Art Can Occur (WACO) Theater Center in North Hollywood — founded by Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles Lawson and Richard Lawson. It was truly a family affair.
The non-profit art center mentors 12- to 14-year-old kids through the programs Tina’s Angels for girls and Richard’s Warriors for boys. This year’s Wearable Art Gala raised almost $500,000 for the center, all while lauding African-American artists, who came wearing traditional dashikis and sequined gowns.
LilRel Howery (Get Out) hosted the ceremony, leading the crowd in a “Wakanda forever” chant and bringing out speaker Samuel L. Jackson.
Beyoncé received the Humanitarian Award after a video message from Michelle Obama and a clip that depicted her kindness toward two children with disabilities and her work with hurricane relief.
"Because millions of girls around the world love you and admire you, including my daughters, it means even more that they see you standing up for others, using your amazing platform to fight for equity, justice and fairness for all,” Obama said. “I love you. I am inspired by you."
A gold gown-clad Beyoncé said she felt weird receiving the award, because she thinks giving is reward enough.
"There's something that feels very off about receiving this award from my mother. She raised me to believe that giving is not an option, but a privilege and a responsibility,” Beyoncé said. "I try to keep my charitable work quiet, because I thought these things should come from the goodness of your heart and not from anything orchestrated as a campaign."
She thanked her husband Jay-Z, daughter Blue Ivy and, mainly, her mother — all in attendance.
"I grew up watching her heal. Heal women with conversation, love and makeovers. She also taught me that there's something more valuable than any dollar amount. And that's time. Time to put someone else first," Beyoncé said. "Thank you again to the most incredible woman, my mother. Thank you for showing me how to lead with my heart."
Jay-Z also honored his mother that night, presenting Gloria Carter with the Everyday People Award for her work inspiring young teens to believe in themselves.
The rapper introduced this "young lady who raised four kids. She did the best job with me," drawing laughs. "My mother's a beautiful, beautiful human being ... someone so strong that she had told me, 'You can do anything in life.' I believed it so much, I thought she made it up. I didn't realize it was a cliche."
Star Jones (The View) hosted the live auction, during which two Black Panther-inspired pieces fetched hefty price tags. A Queen Keyana of Wakanda sculpture — made of crystals and wire coils— sold for $20,000. Beyoncé bid and won a pair of earrings that she'd previously worn, diamond-encrusted panther heads.
Blue Ivy and Tyler Perry got in a bidding war over a broken glass portrait of Sidney Poitier. Blue Ivy bid $16,000, and Beyoncé gave Jones a thumbs up to take the bid. Eventually Jay-Z put his arms around Blue Ivy to perhaps stop her, and Tyler Perry won the piece. Not to worry, though — Blue Ivy bought a piece of art later in the night, a deconstructed textbook for $10,000.
At the end of the auction, Perry donated $120,000 to the theater, which Blue Ivy again matched to an astonished crowd.
“Big baller shot caller comes in small packages,” Jones said, calling it a tribute to her parents’ generosity.
Earlier in the evening, the 450 attendees strolled through the art gallery and savored a creole buffet with fried catfish, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, jambalaya and gumbo. Guests snapped photos with a pink flower backdrop and sipped drinks from liquor partner Kim Crawford Wines and Tequila Avión's Reserva 44 and The Warriors, a plum, thai basil and jalapeño cocktail.
Zebra-print rugs decorated the wood floor, while glamorous chandeliers hung above. Guests were entertained by an aerial silk dancer, the upbeat Mudbug brass band and a person on stilts in a lion costume.
One attendee wore a clear plastic trench coat with facts about social justice, such as “White college dropouts have more wealth than black college graduates.” Another sported a shirt with Andy Warhol-style pop art of Martin Luther King Jr.
Art, fashion, social justice and Black Panther love merged together for a memorable night.