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Two lunchtime events made, in turn, culture and care their concerns, while at dusk, “Magic” delineated neighborhood munificence.

Magic in Melpomenia IX

Along with its efforts and mission to revitalize the lower St. Charles (Avenue) corridor, Felicity Redevelopment Inc. presented Magic in Melpomenia IX, a fundraiser with an artful twist. Money raised will be directed to the high-ground neighborhood that has a variety of residential and commercial buildings, many waiting to be reclaimed, and is next to the Downtown Arts District and across from the Lower Garden District.

The 2014 benefit, which unfolded in the Zeitgeist Theater of the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center on Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, had a double celebration: the completion of the organization’s project at 1729-31 Terpsichore St. and the location of FRI’s new home in the rectory of St. John the Baptist Church on the above boulevard. LaToya and Jason Cantrell served as the honorary chaircouple, and Whitney Jordan, the chairwoman.

Further features were the decorations done by Christel Kelley and Jane Bensel, who used recycled greenery from their gardens and others’; the live music by Rob Schafer and Richard Knox; food from an array of generous vendors; and the 24 lots in the live auction. Ruthie Winston got the bidding going with gusto, while works by Tim Trapolin, Grover Mouton, and Bradley Sabin (and other notables) drew special attention from the 200 or so guests.

Making “Melpomenia” rounds were Bryon Cornelison representing Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, FRI board Chairwoman Louise Martin with husband Ted, Treasurer Christel Kelley with Keene, director Elizabeth Burger, board member Michael Rouchell (who’s setting up the Louisiana chapter of the Institute for Classical Art and Architecture), event-site neighbors Howard and Katherine Conyers, Zeitgeist building owner Lee Stafford, Ouida and Ferdie Laudumiey, Marguerite and Jim Lewis of Landis Construction, Jonathan Leit of Alembic (redevelopers of the Myrtle Banks School), Vicki and Jimmy Lee, and artist Jacqueline Bishop with husband Herbert Halpern and son Cole Halpern.

Art appraiser and neighbor Steve Clayton figured in the crowd, as did Bill Borah, new Lower Garden District residents Grey Morey and Scott James, Margie Nolan-Wheatley and Julian Wheatley, and event Chairwoman Whitney’s aunt, Dolly Jordan, who ran for the City Council a number of years ago. With their mom Camille Strachan, who’s prepping new digs, were Eric Strachan and sister Felicity, who had the most appropriate name for the party.

Friendraising Luncheon

Arguably the most efficiently run luncheon just occurred at the Audubon Tea Room. The invitation extended by the Advocacy Center indicated “12:00 – 1:00 p.m.” as the time framework and meant it. Any one on a true “lunch hour” did just fine (with some time allowance) at the event that furthered the Advocacy Center’s efforts “to protect, empower, and advocate for people with disabilities and seniors through staff and client testimonials.” Donations were requested at “Friendraising,” but not required.

As folks sat, they noticed a pre-set main-course grilled chicken salad and a tasty chocolate pecan pie. To open the formalities, Advocacy Center board President Dale Higgins (with wife Barb) extended the welcome and actor Bob Edes Jr. read a moving piece by a caretaker. More program principals or features were “A Better World Beyond the Horizon” by Center executive director Lois Simpson (with Martin), who said, “I believe that we all need help and that everyone has something to offer”; the “Don’t Stop Believing” video and the stories, three total, of Lydia Hudson, Willie Britton, and Finn Owens; volunteer Kelli Wright and a request for support; and the testimonial by Joan Guillory (with Luke), who encouraged the attendees to join Friends of the Advocacy Center.

Luncheon headliners among the crowd of 175 supporters, sponsors, friends, board members and staff included Patricia DeMichele, AC’s Pamela Fisher with Ryan, Joey Walker, Freddie Pincus, Judge Nancy Amato Konrad, Susan Gibbens, spouses Suzanne Butler and Mark Klyza, Joel Mendler, Page McCranie, Larry Bagneris, and Judge Robin Giarrusso.

And, Jack Garon, Alex Lepine, Claudia Smith, Maria Loo, Fung Royer, Ayata Hayles, Zane Richardson, Betty Arguelles, Mary Lou Atkinson and Benjamin Morrison, and Julie Mabus, all supportive of the Center’s “promise of a better tomorrow.” To help the cause, the luncheon raised more than $53,000.

Installation Ado

With a centennial on the horizon, the Fine Arts Club held its annual installation luncheon, tapping Sonda Stacey as president, and, hailing as officers, Olive Fuchs, Dr. Dorothy Smith, Pat Woodstein, Alice Martin , and Linda Wilder.

Amie Borne chaired the midday merriment in the Patio Room of Commander’s Palace that was given decorative buoyance via soft pink and white balloons that topped each table. When it was time to break bread, the club members partook of a grilled Gulf shrimp salad and classic crème brulee.

Lively conversation bounded, enjoyed by Rosemary Lamousin, Sheila Cork, Shirley Farrell, Puddin’ Baltar, Patsy Copeland, Jean Rouse, Rosemarie Kaskell, Roma Gibson, Martha Irwin, Ann Barnes, Adrianne Miester, and Bunny Hinckley. Participating, too, were Merlyn Weilbaecher, Jacquelyn Lothschuetz, Anita Garcia, Barbara Gaiennie, Lenel Romero, Gaye Wilson, Helen Malin, Susie Russell, Ruth Olivera, and Lynn Skidmore. To name many of the members, who further the goal of the non-profit organization in promoting the preservation of fine arts and museums. One hundred years will soon mark a Fine Arts Club birthday celebration.