“Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492-1898,” is a current come-on at the New Orleans Museum of Art, where formerly “closed doors” (related to these homes) have been opened for public perusal and appreciation. Elsewhere, Claire Stahel opened the doors of her and husband Harry’s Uptown home for Amici, a “friends” local support group for the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions. Held in midwinter in New Orleans, the auditions showcase young opera singers who vie for a position in the Met in New York. A win (or near win) can open a door to a successful singing career.

Both the exhibition and the Amici meeting were given a social salute.

Behind Closed Doors

The director and the trustees of the New Orleans Museum of Art cordially invited NOMA members to a preview of “Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492-1898” on a recent Thursday evening at the museum. Prior to the 7 p.m. event, a patron party took place sponsored by Pan-American Life Insurance Group with Susan M. Taylor, the museum’s Montine McDaniel Freeman director, and David F. Edwards, president of the NOMA board of trustees, extending the invitation.

Before the formalities, guests enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres and prosecco, as well as libations from a full bar in the McDermott Lobby. At 6 p.m., attention turned to the above Taylor and Edwards, as well as to Jose Suquet, board chairman, president and CEO of Pan-American Life Insurance Group, all who, in turn, issued remarks. Then Richard Aste, Brooklyn Museum curator, and Lucia Abramovich, NOMA Curatorial Fellow for Spanish Colonial Art, led a tour of “Behind Closed Doors.” The latter, the curator for the exhibition presentation in the Crescent City, highlighted pieces from the NOMA collection, which have been included to complement the show. The exhibition closes on Sept. 21.

Some background on the show tells us this is the “first major exhibition in the United States to explore the private lives and interiors of Spain’s New World elite” during the 1492-1898 time period. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, “Behind Closed Doors” includes sculptures, paintings, prints, textiles and decorative art objects. Viewers are given a look at their luxury goods (American, European, and Asian) from everyday life.

Within the patron gathering of approximately 300 were Ileana (Mrs. Jose) Suquet, PALIG Vice President Rudy Revuelta with Elizabeth, and PALIG board members Dr. Patrick Quinlan and Jerry Carlisle with wives Nga and Darleen. Also, banker/artist Cleland Powell, Dr. Juan and Ana Gershanik, Walda and Sydney Besthoff (the museum’s sculpture garden bears their names), Susan and Bill Hess, Judith “Judie” Oudt (seen recently at Galatoire’s with pals to celebrate Morris Herman’s birthday), Nan Weir, Dr. Siddharth Bhansali, Cammie and Charles Mayer, Brenda and Mike Moffitt, Rene and Paul Masinter, and New Yorkers Roberta and Richard Huber, collectors/lenders to the exhibition.

Also, Brent Wood, Jean Taylor, Sally Richards, a mom-daughter twosome in Suzanne and Elise Thomas, and Edgar L. Chase III.

They mingled in a party environment that was embellished with white hydrangeas in silver mint julep cups while they partook of offerings, such as citrus marinated pork, chipotle chicken, enchiladas and roasted veggie empanadas, by Catering D’Orleans. Quite a few of the patrons and members have returned for further visits to the exhibit and/or one of the related talks. Several more by artist Jim Richard (Aug. 22), Lucia Abramovich (Sept. 3 and 17), and Tulane University assistant professor Mia Bagneris (Sept. 12) still await. In fact, Bagneris’ 6 p.m. lecture helps launch “Latin Late Night” when the museum’s doors will close at midnight.


When the support group for the Metropolitan Opera assembled for summertime meeting and greeting at the annual meeting in the Stahel home, Amici members recalled the mission of Amici: to foster and highlight rising young opera singers and performers in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast areas. Throughout the house were arrangements of caladiums, hydrangeas and crape myrtles cut from the garden.

Business preceded musical pleasure. Following committee reports, the members were regaled with classical piano pieces by James Kelley, professor in the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University, and singing by current students Ali Bloomston and Alexander Sibley.

Exchanging their news as they enjoyed sweets and Champagne were Diane and Dr. Charles Dupin, Eleanor and Philip Straub, Elroy and Judy Eckhardt, Dr. Quinn Peeper and outgoing Amici President Michael Harold, Melissa Gordon, Ellen McGlinchey, Jackie Gamble, membership Chairwoman Bette Marks and Secretary Sonya Moore.

Also, Diane Fee, Mignon Parker, Virginia Roddy, Virginia Dare Rufin, Jo Ann Adams, Ann Humphreys, Jacquelyn Lothschuetz, and Tania Saladrigas.

Hostess Claire Ferrier Stahel will be wielding the presidential gavel as the new Amici president, succeeding the above Michael Harold. On May 1, Claire, a business major alumna of Loyola University, was honored by the Junior League of New Orleans as the 2014 Sustainer of the Year.

Around and About

The above-mentioned, multi-faceted Mike Moffitt was one of the honorees at the recent Royal Sonesta’s Round Table Luncheon hosted by luncheon founder Margarita Bergen. “Celebrate a Whirlwind of Local Literary Talent” was the theme and the featured speakers were authors Moffitt, “Granddad’s Dictionary”; Angela Carll, “Where Writers Wrote in New Orleans”; Nathaniel Rich, “Odds Against Tomorrow”; and Laura Roach Dragon, “Hurricane Boy.” Meanwhile, guests dipped shiny cutlery into a butter lettuce salad first course, a duet of pork belly and amberjack, and “Eye of the Storm” dessert, palate pleasers by the hotel’s executive chef, Kevin Goodwin. Live entertainment with Jim Walpole at the piano was icing on the literary “cake.”

Wedding cake it was for Betty Landreaux and Kenneth “Ken” Tedesco, who swapped vows at Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church with the Rev. Frank Reale, SJ, and the Rev. Tom Chambers, CSC, concelebrating the nuptial Mass. The reception unfolded at the Round Table Club (not to be confused with the above similarly named luncheon), where the couple’s nearest and dearest gathered. Providing the music were Vance Woolf, principal trumpet with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tim Laughlin, a noted New Orleans jazz clarinetist, who happens to be a former Holy Cross High School student of bridegroom Ken.

See all photos here.