The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is honoring artist Chuck Close with its Christopher Reeve Spirit of Courage Award. Close will receive the award tonight at the foundation’s gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. A Yale MFA graduate whose work has been the subject of more than 100 exhibitions in over 20 countries, Close has been paralyzed from the neck down since 1988, when he suffered a collapsed spinal artery. From a young age, he coped with dyslexia and prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces—the primary subject matter of his extraordinary giant paintings. “I think my deficits—my learning disabilities and stuff like that—really drove me to what I’m doing, and it makes me a unique individual and hopefully a more interesting person,” Close told us last year when we caught up with him to discuss Marion Cajori‘s documentary about his life and work. “I have these things, so either I can try to ignore them or deny them, or go with them.”
Also on the Reeve Foundation’s list of honorees this year? Broadway veteran James L. Nederlander and a strapping bunch of guys who, it’s safe to say, have never shared an awards program with Close: The New York Rangers. The hockey team will be honored with the Dana Reeve HOPE Award, but don’t look for them at the gala reception or the ensuing dinner and dancing. They’ve got a date with the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden.