Artists were the ado on three separate fronts when Prospect.3 regaled 700 partygoers with Opening Festivities, Pasta & Puccini fed and frolicked in an opera mode, and Friends of Music celebrated its six decades with the marquee, “Music & Art.” Visual and aural feasts!
Scheduled for a 13-week run, the biennial “Prospect.3: Notes for Now” includes 58 artists, whose works, in the official lineup, can be seen in more than 18 different locations throughout the city. One of them is the Contemporary Arts Center. And that’s where the first foray, a festive one at that, started.
Opening Festivities, as presented by First NBC, billed the bash at the CAC that had “All Together Now Miss Vesta’s Swamp Galaxy Gala” as the sub-billing. Prospect.3 was the beneficiary. So was the party pack that enjoyed event planning by Clandestine NOLA; design by Prospect.2 alumna Dawn DeDeaux, including original works of art by her, a Swamp Bar done by John D. Gray, and centerpieces by Stray Dog Designs; gift bags by Loomed NOLA; custom cocktails by Sorel Liquor and old Smoky Moonshine; beer sponsorship by 40 Arpent; hors d’oeuvres by 1718 Catering, Besh Restaurant Group, and 12 Seasons Catering & Events; dinner purveyed by 1728; desserts by Brennan’s, Bywater Bake Sale, and Larkins Catering Service; and music by Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots, DJ Soul Sister, and Big Sam and His Funky Nation. Chockablock pleasures!
And the P. 3 who’s who? Franklin Sirmans, artistic director; Brooke Davis Anderson, executive director; Susan Gore Brennan, board chairwoman; and Michael Wilkinson, vice president. For starters.
Teamed to chair Opening Festivities were Sara and Paul Costello, Vesta Fort, Beth Lambert, and Virginia Lebermann, while Toby Devan Lewis enjoyed honorary-chairman limelight as Prospect New Orleans founding benefactor. Abhi Bhansali and Reyn Lambert answered to junior chairmen, headlining the committee of 13.
Also figuring in the party profile were Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Ralph Brennan with the above Susan, board Treasurer Nick Mayor and Jessica Bride, Will Ferrell and Viveca Paulin-Ferrell, Solange Knowles, Tina Knowles, J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, David Kerstein, Ludovico and Stephanie Feoli, and Phillip Woollam and photographer Tina Freeman, whose book, “Artist Spaces, New Orleans” (with text by Morgan Molthrop), just had a signing at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Trekking from afar for the “Swamp” salute were 2015 Venice Biennale artistic director Okwul Enwezor, Museum of Modern Art’s Stuart Comer and Thomas Lax, New Museum director Lisa Phillips, Bronx Museum director Holly Block, and Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani of Qatar. Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Kaino, McArthur Binion, Charles Gaines, Lisa Sigal, and Mary Ellen Carrol, all Prospect.3 artists, joined with about 680 others to make “Galaxy Gala” their social sphere.
How delicious! Pasta & Puccini! And that combination has nourished crowds for 19 years (and continuing) as “a premier cultural event of the season.” Given by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, it raises funds for the JPAS Youth and Intern programs.
Sandra and Russ Herman chaired the 2014 bash that was ensconced in the Grand Ballroom of the New Orleans Marriott. Additional names to know were presenting sponsors Henry and Pat Shane, honorary gala Chairwoman/Turandot sponsor Jeri Nims, JPAS board President Joy Shane, Sibyl White, and, for sponsorial representation, John and Jackie Morgan, Ashton and Jolene Ryan, Donna Roebke, Frank and Clolynn Richerand, and Larry and Marian Gibbs.
Maestro Dennis Assaf, who was joined by spouse Nancy Ross (her “luminous coloratura is always a highlight” stated a party principal) conducted the JPAS Orchestra. Then he introduced the five 2014-25 JPAS Celebrity Etoiles: Jennifer DeLatte, Micah Richerand Desonier, Kate Abreo Mendelson, Bruce Landry, and Nancy Gros. They were chosen from a lot of 41 performers and will serve as ambassadors for JPAS during the season. During the gala, each vocalist enthralled the rapt audience.
Adding more performance talent were Ariel Assaf, Glyn Bailey, Dennis Jesse, and Tyler Smith.
Decorative features included dyed red hydrangeas and red roses in tall gilt vases placed atop white napery, while taste-bud ones counted champagne and canapes as guests entered, and, for dining, spinach salad, filet of beef, and, for dessert, bite-size chocolate cake and pecan tartlets, all with vinous accompaniment.
Further excitement during an evening of many attractions were the “New York Theatre Trip Raffle” won by Harriett Haworth; the “Art Auction for Collectors” with works by at least 14 noted artists; and the live auction with, as top items, a Drew Brees-signed football, a ring from Quarter Smith Jewelry, a James Michalopoulos giclee, and a Tom Mathis-designed ring (Symmetry Jewelers) with Carrel Epling beaming as the top bidder.
All the while the party eye scanned the ballroom, noting Debbie Rouen and husband Rip Costen, Lynn Skidmore, Sonny Nunes III, Sharon Hannahan, Freddie Landry, Leading Ladies Guild President Kellie Barnes with Richie, patron party Chairwomen Jean Rice and Faith Peperone (with Bill), Gayle Viles and Delores Hall, Brenda Chetta, Ginger Crawford, Alice Cloutet, Jackie Elliott, Marie DeSalvo, Mary Ann McKearan, and, as performers, the JPAS Theatre Kids, who, for the past four years, have received acclaim in national competitions.
New Orleans Friends of Music and Tulane University presented the Friends’ 60th season in sonorous — and social — style. The husband and wife duo of cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, called “Chamber music’s power couple” by the Wall Street Journal, opened the 2014-15 season at Dixon Hall. Hearty ovation followed the twosome’s playing of pieces by Strauss, Messiaen, Albeniz, Glazunov, and Chopin.
The social segue was to the nearby home of Dr. Siddharth Bhansali, where Ginja Moseley’s floral arrangements; guitar music by John Rankin; catering by Borgne, a John Besh restaurant, and chef Brian Landry; and specialty cocktails by Jorge Lauriano (William Grant and Sons) added to the earlier delights. Yet another attraction was the home itself and host Sid Bhansali’s renowned art collection of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain bronzes from the Indian subcontinent.
Milling about within the Regions Bank-presented “Celebration of Music & Art” were FoM President Margaret Shields with husband Wade, event Co-Chairmen Jonathan McCall (FoM vice president) and Joan Zaslow joined by Larry, Scott and Janet Howard, Sun Kim and Kee Lee, Ranney and Emel Mize, Fred and Ivy Kushner (who dressed as a Superman duo for Halloween), Richard and Anna Harrison, Stephen and Ellen Manshel, Cara McCool, Barbara and Hugo Wedemeyer, Alex and Maureen Gershanik, Shirley and Orlin Corey, Teri Wittenburg, and about 160 others, who hailed FoM’s 60th anniversary and the future musical momentum.