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The Whitney and AOL Join Forces

Cyberspace and the arts collided—or collaborated—Thursday evening when AOL and the Whitney took over Casa Lever restaurant to toast a long list of partnerships.

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Chuck Close and Brooke Nedich

Chuck Close and Brooke Nedich

Photo By Steve Eichner

Cyberspace and the arts collided — or collaborated — Thursday evening when AOL and the Whitney took over Casa Lever restaurant to toast a long list of partnerships. For one, the Internet company is the main sponsor of the museum's upcoming Gala and Studio Party Tuesday night. AOL is also celebrating its 25th anniversary, a milestone it has kicked off with a special campaign, AOL Originals, shot by Chuck Close, who worked with Andy Spade. To top things off, the company has recently joined with the Whitney for its 25 for 25 Grant Program, which will award $25,000 to — guess? — 25 creative types (the winners will be announced next week).

Whether all of the guests, like Christo, Todd Eberle, Andres Serrano, Mike and Doug Starn, Minnie Mortimer, Jen Brill, Aurel Schmidt and Aaron Young, downing Prosecco at the bar were aware of these ventures is debatable. But AOL ceo Tim Armstrong cleared things up at the beginning of dinner.

"AOL will turn around, but it will turn around based on creativity," he said thanking Spade and Close before dashing off. "I have to go to Las Vegas tonight — not as much fun as you think — to give a speech to auto dealers."

Those who stuck around, inhaled their artichoke salads, short ribs and wild bass (and some cigarettes, too) and claimed various levels of technological use.

"I e-mail. And I have a great Web site. And I'm doing Facebook soon," offered Tom Sachs.

"I BBM, I e-mail," said photographer Gregory Crewdson. "The only thing I don't do is talk on the phone."