Daniel Baker still remembers the field trip he took in third grade to the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Baker, better known as Desus Nice and as the co-host with The Kid Mero (aka Joel Martinez) of Showtime’s “Desus and Mero,” told the crowd at the museum’s annual fundraiser on Monday night that the trip stands out in his mind because his mother came along as a parent chaperone, and because at the time he thought of museums as something that were found in other boroughs, not the Bronx.
“It was a great field trip” that helped open his eyes to the world of art, Baker recalled as he and Martinez were feted with the museum’s Visionaries award, presented at the gala held at Capitale in the Bowery.
Martinez was effusive about getting a hometown salute.
“This means more than any Emmy or Oscar or whatever,” he said (after warning the crowd that he’d consumed a lot of the “house red”). “When you get recognized by your home borough — your people — that means more than anything,” Martinez said.
The award was presented to the pair by Ruben Diaz Jr., borough president of what he proudly described as “the boogie-down Bronx.” He urged the crowd of art industry insiders to dig deep and help support the organization that has expanded significantly since Baker took his elementary school field trip. He noted that the museum has no admission fee in an effort to further the mission of providing “that little spark” to youths and to make art widely accessible.
“When you write your check tonight, don’t feel sorry for us,” Diaz said. “Give us the opportunity and the resources, and we’ll conquer the planet.”
Baker added a special thank you to his parents for relocating to the Bronx from Jamaica in the 1970s. “They knew if they came to America their son would have a late-night show,” he joked.
Also recognized by the museum at the event were actor Kathleen Chalfant and photographer/documentary filmmaker Henry Chalfant. Kathleen Chalfant called the museum “an essential institution” and urged the crowd to “keep it living.”