Courtesy of BFA

Art Collector and Philanthropist

Amy Phelan

Written by Saul Taylor

Amy Phelan is a philanthropist and art collector. She is currently a Trustee of the Child Mind Institute in New York, and is also a member of MoMA’s Contemporary Art Council, the Tate American Acquisitions Committee, and the National Councils of the Aspen Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. A muse to contemporary artists, Amy has sat for Will Cotton, Marilyn Minter, Richard Patterson, Jim Torok, and fashion photographers Juergen Teller and Inez Van Lamsweerde, among many others.  She and her husband, John, have amassed a fine art collection of over eight hundred pieces in the form of painting, sculpture, photography, and video.

How do you choose what to go to and what to avoid?

I like to go to events where I will see something new and interesting – new art, new people, new experiences. I try to avoid large and impersonal events when possible. 

How long does it take you to get ready?

Getting ready is part of the fun! I like to take my time and be relaxed so 2 hours on that plan…BUT I can be ready in an hour if I know what I am wearing…

Any insider secrets on what to wear?

Always wear something you feel good in. I love color and sparkles for events. Hopefully your outfit is comfortable and easy to dance in!

What is your arrival strategy?

I respect the host and the length of the cocktail hour. If there’s only a short time for mingling, I am on time.

What is your drink of choice?

I like a simple drink – vodka soda, añejo on the rocks or a good red wine.

Where do you stand on event food?

I will have anything bite size and neat – no sticks, spoons or mess.

Do you dance or do you decline?

It’s not a party until there’s dancing.

What’s your jam?

Depends on my mood but I can dance to anything.

What is the best event you’ve ever been to?

The Aspen Art Museum’s ArtCrush/Wine Crush and Two x Two for AIDS and Art in Dallas. I love the causes, the people and of course the art.

What is the one annual invitation you can’t wait for?

Nancy Rogers’ Halloween Party in Dallas. You’ve never seen better costumes.

What are your favourite kinds of events?

Intimate, meaningful and fun. I like a big dinner table with a game or two to round out the evening.

What is the ultimate no-no for a VIP?

No-showing or cancelling last minute. If I commit, I will be there with bells on.

What is your departure strategy?

That completely depends on the hour of departure

Where do you stand on social media?

I love Instagram. It’s a fun and easy way to keep in touch with people and to see what my pals are up to. Plus, it can be a great source of inspiration for the next event.

What do you always take to a party?

Lipstick, eyeliner, Listerine strips and a tissue. If I can, a wingman.

What are the best cities for a party?

Aspen, NYC, Palm Beach and London.

Who is your favourite host?

I could never name just one. Rena Sindi, George Farias and Nancy Rogers to name a few.

Who is on your ultimate guest list?

Name an artist , Dolly Parton and my daughter Makenzie Moon Phelan.

What makes a great event?

Gracious, fun and happy guests. Beautiful candles and table settings. Lots of good wine.