Inside Baxter St’s Third Annual Benefête, With Black Thought, Raekwon, and More

Pop Culture

As one of New York’s oldest artist-run nonprofit spaces supporting lens-based art, Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York—founded in 1884—knows a thing or two about timeless art. So does Raekwon The Chef, of Wu-Tang Clan, who was among the artists and performers who celebrated with Baxter St at the organization’s third annual STAND WITH US benefête on Thursday night. “The Baxter Street audience gave me a sense of knowing I’m still here,” Raekwon said after a surprise performance alongside Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots and the Menahan Street Band. “Knowing that nothing has changed when it came to me being a talent that was lost and found.”

“Any opportunity to work with a different group of musicians who maintain the bar as high as we do in the Roots is a pleasure,” Trotter said of the performance, calling the Menahan Street Band “my favorite dudes—aside from my brothers in The Roots.” And he called it an “honor and a pleasure” to be part of the benefête, which honored Antwaun Sargent, Zoë Buckman, and Ivan Forde, who was presented with the night’s emerging-artist award. “I feel like art is sort of our salvation,” Trotter said. “It’s about music and theater and visual art and photography and movement and creative writing. Every element of the arts is the only thing that can save the world.”

By Zach Hilty/

The event, held at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on the Lower East Side, also brought out Mark Ronson, José Parlá, Tyler Mitchell, Derrick Adams, Rashid Johnson and Sheree Hovsepian, Sarah Arison, Casey Fremont, Isolde Brielmaier, and many more. Honey Davenport of RuPaul’s Drag Race provided the music for the evening’s soundtrack.

“It’s always a personal highlight when I get up on the podium and I look out into the crowd,” said Baxter St president Michi Jigarjian. “To take that moment and see everybody is listening and that it’s working is really the highlight for me. It’s not just 350 people in the room—it’s literally all different types of artists from all different levels.”

Ahead, a look inside that room, and the event Jigarjian says is “like no other fundraiser.”

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