Sláinte! Sean Kelly Toasts Kehinde Wiley Debut

634718734111752500540933 51 keap1 jsz 20120505 006 Sláinte! Sean Kelly Toasts Kehinde Wiley Debut

Sean Kelly and Kehinde Wiley. (Courtesy Patrick McMullan Company)

You’re probably stacking the deck a bit when you ask a bunch of tipsy people a rhetorical question, but nevertheless let’s hand the microphone to dealer Sean Kelly for a moment. “Stop the dancing, stop the party, just for a few minutes, I promise.” That’s what they all say!

This was at 10:30 on Saturday night, at the after-party for Kehinde Wiley, at the Bowery Hotel. Earlier that evening, Mr. Kelly could have been spotted attempting, with limited success, to navigate the throngs at his gallery. There’d been hundreds of people lined up outside before Mr. Wiley’s opening even started, he gasped, following that up with: “Touré is here, Kanye is expected.” Gayle King, Bill T. Jones, Terence Koh and Jeffrey Deitch showed up.

Later, at the Bowery, when Mr. Kelly stopped the music, people were imbibing copious quantities of gratis Remy Martin (the sponsor); some were playing pool. Leaning over a couch, Guyanese-American actress Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder, known as C.C.H. Pounder, who is married to Senegalese anthropologist Boubacar Kone, founder of the Boribana Museum in Dakar, Senegal, was providing Gallerist with the requisite Wiley I-knew-him-when: “Fifteen years ago, he came to my house. He said he would paint something for me over the summer. I went to Africa, and when I came back he’d painted a beautiful triptych … I met a struggling artist who was on his way.” But back to Mr. Kelly, and his rhetorical question. “So, do you think the Irish can throw a party?” Yes, Mr. Kelly, yes, they can. With that, he told everyone that Mr. Wiley’s show was completely sold out, and then the music came on again.

sdouglas@observer.com