Odyssey 2014, as presented by IberiaBank, amassed gallivanting generations to the New Orleans Museum of Art for realism revelry, while, earlier on the calendar, the 15th annual Golf Ball Gala held “fore”-th festively in the Empire Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency. Proceeds from the museum’s bash support arts education and those of the “Golf” gathering, local children’s charities. In each case, the party eye was on the ball.

‘Photo’ Finishes

The party pulse quickened as guests approached the New Orleans Museum of Art for the 2014 Odyssey, a ball, for which the chairing consortium of Gayle M. Benson, Margo DuBos, Juli Miller Hart and H. Britton Sanderford Jr. wanted to “shake things up.”

Amethyst lighting bathed the façade of the City Park-located museum. At the entrance, a huge, clear “marble,” which echoed the marbles-motif painting used to hype the event, “Cat’s Eyes & Best of ’Em,” by Charles Bell, contained a human figure. Once in the museum’s massive front doors, galagoers were faced with extensive white draping, thus detouring everyone to the right and through the silent auction of more than 40 items valued at $2,000 or above. A later live auction followed, thrilling the comely crowd with six coveted lots: dinner parties offered by John Folse and Octavia Gallery (cuisine by Gautreaux’s), Franco Valobra earrings, a children’s sleepover at NOMA, a Saints package, and a New York City trip.

One million dollars was the projected goal for Odyssey 2014 and it has almost been reached.

Credits for the look — and looks — tapped Constantine Kritikos of Kappa Designs, Crescent Sound and Light, decorations committee Chairwomen Simone Bruni Crouere and Isabel McCay Clark, and the above chairing trio for their gowns. Margo wore Retro, while ballgowns by the late Oscar de la Renta, who charmed Orleanians when he visited here years ago, bedecked Gayle and Juli.

Features of the event, which one attendee described as “Carnival-like and fun,” included an on-site patron party (two evenings before, those givers of $5,000 or more made tracks to the home of Basi and Michael Carbine for “One Enchanted Evening”), the 8 p.m. start of the gala, surprise entertainment (jitterbugging dancers, a roller skater, a Marie Antoinette-costumed young woman, an a cappella foursome rendering “the Duke of Earl” and other retro hits), swing music by the “Jump and Jive”-playing band, and for late-night partying, DJ Nickie Pennie presented by Bombay Sapphire. The catering was by the Ralph Brennan Group.

“We wanted to change the (thrust of) the event,” said Co-Chairwoman Juli, “and to make it an experience. We wanted something for everyone.” The ball’s chairmen planned to get guests into the various museum galleries, where tables were stationed, and to have them visit the featured exhibit, “Photorealism: The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Collection.”

The collection, which, according to Walda Besthoff, is probably the largest one of its kind in the United States (and maybe beyond), includes paintings that the Besthoffs have placed in different venues. “Sydney and I were both overwhelmed seeing them all together for the first time,” she said. She added how many compliments they received on the exhibit. “People loved the paintings.” They did!

Both Besthoffs were hailed as the ball’s honoray chaircouple. Walda was further hailed for her lovely Monique Lhuillier gown, selected with thanks to Cristina Wysocki of Saks Fifth Avenue. Made of chiffon, and blue-purple in color, it had Empire lines and bodice beading.

Among the Odyssey throng were Mayor Mitch and Cheryl Landrieu, Councilwoman Susan Guidry with Hervin, the museum’s Montine McDaniel Freeman director Susan Taylor – her husband is Paolo G. Meozzi, director emeritus John Bullard with Catherine Burns Tremaine, Tom Benson, Clancy DuBos, Sheila Sanderford, NOMA board President David Edwards with Catherine, Julie George (one of the three vice presidents) with Ted, and a slew of sponsors. After IberiaBank, the presenting sponsor, the next top category, that of Picasso, bannered the names of Minnie and Jimmy Coleman.

All the while, Odyssey-ites perused the Student Art Contest (and each other); tried their skills at the four pinball machines; made tracks to the Havana Lounge, the Young Fellows “Biker Bar,” and the K&B Diner; and indulged in the “Let Them East Cake” desserts bar.

More mingling, with a wholesome number of out-of-towners, included Coya and Frank Levy — he’s one of the 40 members of the men’s Founding Curator’s Club (as are some of the above and below), Jane Scott and Philip Hodges, Melanee and Steve Usdin, Isidore and Marianne Cohn, Sally and Jay Lapeyre, Sally E. Richards, Christine and Price LeBlanc, Pam and Jay Bryan, George Dunbar (one of the artists represented in the auction) and Louisette Brown, Dana and Stephen Hansel, Debbie and Rick Rees, Paulette and Frank Stewart, Ann and Tony Fuselier, Steven Putt, Judith “Jude” Benson Swenson, Dawn Wheelahan, Elizabeth Boh, Tiffa Boutte, Hugh and Sheila Collins and Lee Ledbetter. For starters.

Ultimately, “A Night at the Museum,” the ball’s sub-billing, made fun and funds a fusion. And throughout the social course, the eye was on the ball.

Fore Scores

Located at the Hyatt Regency, the Golf Ball Gala put on by the Fore!Kids Foundation showcased a silent auction, Grey Goose Vodka Specialty Bar, cocktails, food, Adler’s Rolex Raffle, Wine Spectacular Raffle, Mulligans, and dancing. The music was by D Play.

Along with Adler’s, Capital One Bank, Michelob Ultra, and Ochsner Health System were thanked as presenting sponsors.

Headliners included foundation board Chairman David Gallo, Vice Chairman David W. Perlis, Steve Worthy, and F. Darrah Schaefer, ex-officio. Jeanne Gallo and Melissa Manthey reaped “Golf” gratitude as the ball’s co-chairwomen, heading a committee that included Damien Serauskas, Bonnie Boettner, Carla Boettner, Nancy Colomb, Patricia Cox, Anna Dietz, Mary Giorlando, Michelle Reuter, Gail Serauskas, Jennifer Serio, Erin Stahnke, and Julie Vanderbrook.

Around and About

Phyllis Taylor was one of the Leadership patrons of the Odyssey Ball. The preceding evening, she hosted a free concert in memory of her husband, Patrick F. Taylor, who died a decade ago. It unfolded in St. Louis Cathedral with, as performers, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Raul Gomez, and with singers Betsy Uschkrat, Lisa LaFleur, Thomas Middleton, and Casey Candebat; the Christ Church Cathedral Choir with Jarrett R. Follette, director; and the Marine Corps Band New Orleans with CWO2 Bryan Sherlock, band officer, and MSgt William Call, bandmaster.

Post concert, Phyllis extending a welcoming hand at a private reception in the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Building, where charcuterie and cheeses, sushi, and assorted sweets and chocolates were arranged on the third and fourth floors. One of her guests was Odyssey’s Juli Miller Hart.

Elsewhere, NOMA director Susan Taylor was among a Tulane throng at the invitation of university President Mike Fitts and Jill and Avie Glazer for the Thursday-evening dedication of the Jill H. and Avram A. Glazer Family Club at Yulman Stadium. Dat Dogs, popcorn, snoballs, sushi and motif cookies were part of the food fun.

Former schoolmates Eleanor Farnsworth and Sheela Plater made their Glazer Club rounds, as did Tulane board President Darryl Berger, and then headed to Loyola’s Marquette Theater for the much-applauded Broadway songs of Kander & Ebb, “The World Goes ‘Round” directed by Patrick Gendusa.

Follow this link to the photos.