n Right Here in New Orleans

In 1987, RHINO, a New Orleans cooperative of Louisiana fine crafts artists, was incorporated as a non-profit entity. It provides educational opportunities, fosters interest in fine Louisiana crafts, sponsors workshops, and partners with other non-profits and arts organizations. Located in The Shops at Canal Place, the handsome gallery welcomes the public.

And it was there, in the gallery, that anniversary was the come-on for 28 years of the cooperative of local craftsmen. Birthday cake, champagne and toasts made “celebration” the say. Gathered were artist-members, spouses and long-time patrons and fans. Some of the news swapped was about the Visiting Artist series featuring artists from the community.

Just opened (Aug. 1) was the exhibit by local artist-blacksmith Rachel David for whom there’s a reception this evening from 6-8 p.m. The exhibit closes Sept. 15.

Among those at the anniversary ado were RHINO board member Sylvia Schmidt, Saks Fifth Avenue of New Orleans executive Charles Leininger, Barbara Askew of The Westin New Orleans, RHINO publicity director Vitrice McMurry, Michael Carboni, Janice Kazmier, Joan Giraud, Eric Louvrene, Wayne Dowdy, Lynn Abide, Tiffany Pollack, Alysin McCain, Jessica Braden, John Rankin, Anne Rankin, and Zachary Posnan.

During the tributes, Wade and Muguet Bolotte, patrons and fans of RHINO since 1987, toasted the anniversary, saying “Congratulations for 28 years of excellence and for introducing thousands of children and families to fine crafts.”

All were duly proud of the cooperative, which is known by its acronym: RHINO. What does it stand for? Right Here in New Orleans.

n The Name Game

Another anniversary was to the festive fore: the 26th annual Feast of St. Henry Mass & Reunion. Following Mass in St. Henry’s Church was a Block Party “on the cooler grounds” of the Blessed Pauline Center, which is directly behind the church. BYOC was a special suggestion, reminding people to Bring Your Own Chair.

As it has since the party’s inception, the Friends of St. Henry acted as the sponsor. As for the cost of attendance, and according to party principals, it was “the same as the tuition that was charged at St. Henry’s (school) for years — FREE!” The Friends have as their mission to perpetuate the church, including its service to the community and over 156 years of history.

To show a spirit of social bonhomie, the Friends told anticipating Block Party-goers to “Please spread the word about the reunion to your neighbors, friends, and even to total strangers.” Needless to say, donations were welcomed.

Crescent City party food was a collective hit as folks enjoyed Lucky Dog hotdogs, sno-balls, and jambalaya. Soft drinks, beer and water quaffed the Block brigade’s thirst. As for decorations and musical chromatics, they were done via blue and gold (the old school colors) and the J. Monique’ D Blues band.

Within the crowd of 400-plus, all enjoying a rainless afternoon, were Friends of St. Henry President Alden Hagardorn, event Chairman Robert Morton, and Good Shepherd Parish Pastor Monsignor Christopher Nalty. The party’s invitation reads “St. Henry Lives in Good Shepherd Parish.” Noted, too, were former St. Henry’s pastor Monsignor (the appropriately first-named) Henry Engelbrecht, the Rev. Doug Brougher, former Slidell Mayor Sam Caruso, Donna Williams and Milton and Sandra LeBlanc.

And, Ken and Laura Vanderpoel, Doris Smith, Jean Schneider, Claire Pelleteri, Betty Marino, Donald and Agnes Sachitana, Jimmy and Linda Decossas, Anthony and Colleen Larocca, and Warren and Lana Drewes.

Levity always figures in this all-embracing partying. The reunions are for “anyone who went to St. Henry’s School, lived in St. Henry’s Parish, attended St. Henry’s Church, knew someone named Henry, or can spell Henry.” For a little head-y memento during the 2015 Block-a-Rama, the above Alden Hagardorn and Robert Morton presented Monsignor Christopher Nalty a bobble head in his likeness that they had specially made.

n Satchmo Session

On a recent Wednesday evening, the corner of Poydras and South Rampart streets was bustling with excitement as more than 100 of the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Jazz Camp supporters, contributors, and jazz enthusiasts piled into the Little Gem Saloon for their 21st annual benefit concert. The Ramp Room upstairs was standing-room-only for the concert and jam session. Anticipation mounted as band members were mic checking, their jazz instruments shining bright.

Guests could order off the restaurant’s menu that included a range of salads, gumbo, barbecue shrimp, and Pulled Pork Napoleon. Cool cocktails were readily offered at the cash bar.

Notables included camp executive director Jackie Harris, who walked through the crowd, making it a point to greet guests and thank them for their support; educator, activist and community leader Sybil Morial, whose memoirs book will appear at the beginning of October; Newburns Management Group CEO Winston Burns; SVP Public Relations marketing director Ed Marshall; City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell; Orleans Parish School Board member Sarah Usdin; and Stacy Sims-Martin, state director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

And, Khalid Hafiz, Nicole Robinson, Lennox Davis and performers Patrice Rushen, Norma Miller, Edward “Kidd” Jordan, Stephanie Jordan, and Kermit Ruffins. A jazz “gem” of an evening!