• Rooms Full of Blooms

“Artful Entertaining” titled the five-day social tilling that amassed thousands to the 28th annual Art in Bloom at the New Orleans Museum of Art. It was presented by the museum and the Garden Study Club with Carol Bienvenu and Mathilde Currence as the chairing duo. A dynamic duo. They rated thanks, as did presenting sponsor IberiaBank; additional sponsors, such as the Soiree category’s Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation and The New Orleans Advocate; the Gala category’s J. Edgar Monroe Foundation; and the dozens of committee cohorts. More headliners were GSC President Anne Redd, NOMA Volunteer Committee Chairwoman Dana Hansel, and the Montine McDaniel Freeman Director (of the museum) Susan Taylor.

During the run of “Bloom,” more than 100 exhibitors presented amazing floral designs. Proceeds will benefit exhibitions and educational projects at the museum and community projects of the GSC of New Orleans, such as the New Orleans Botanical Garden, Longue Vue House and Gardens, the Beauregard-Keyes House’s historic parterre garden, the Lafayette Square Conservancy, and the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden.

Benefitted, too, was every attendee, starting with those who responded to the Patron and Preview Party invitation (graced with artwork by Raine Bedsole, “Currents II, 2015”) that lured with cuisine and libations by some of the top eateries and drinkeries in the metro area. Guests were further enticed by the promise of dozens of works on the three auction boards with such notable donors as artists Micey Moyer, Sandra Russell Clark, Susu Kearney, Mignon Faget, Rhenda Saporito, Lauren Davis, Julie Silvers, Lory Lockwood, Hunt Slonem, Tim Trapolin, Sidone Villere, Jimmy Gundlach, Tucker Fitz-Hugh, Campbell Hutchinson, and George Dunbar. Other high profilers were also generous givers.

Meanwhile the posy pack meandered about the museum, eyeing the urns in the Great Hall with floral creations by Steve Baker of Ambrose Garden and the slew of exhibitors: Bonsai, Exterior Designers, Garden Clubs, Creative Designs (with, among others, the amazing “Tea O’Clock” by Zana Brown Studios), Ikebana, Professional Florists, Tablescapes, Young Artists, and Movers & Shakers. Clever, catchy representation in the latter group came from Beverly Church and Luis Colmenares, Patti Constantin, Inside New Orleans magazine, Kenneth LaCour, Grand Events and the Dakota Restaurant, Thea Pagel, Perrier Party Rentals, Julia Reed, John Rowland/Southern Hospitality, Scriptura/Margaret Jones and Sallie Mykris, Sucre, and Z Event Company.

The next day, rather bright and early, dozens within the patron crowd were back at NOMA for three lectures presented by flower magazine and starring Benton Weinstock and Annie Behringer of a2b Table, a “home entertaining marketplace”; Princess Giorgiana Corsini, an expert in the design and history of Italian Renaissance gardens; and Frances Schultz, a telebrity, contributing editor to House Beautiful, and author of “The Bee Cottage Story,” the subject of her talk.

That evening, a reception honoring those four speakers unfolded at the Audubon Place home of Pixie and Jimmy Reiss with catering by Marcello’s Restaurant and Wine Bar. Invited were Carnival sponsors “and above.”

But back to the immediate aftermath of the lectures! After departing the site of the talks in NOMA’s Stern Auditorium, guests meandered to the Pavilion of the Two Sisters for the luncheon/fashion show. Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group did the catering (that had tasty Vietnamese spring rolls as the first course) and Saks Fifth Avenue presented, with a special nod to organizer Steven Putt, “The Best of Spring 2016 Fashions for Men & Women.”

At the conclusion of “Lectures and Luncheon,” the repeated excitement of Art in the Park had hosts of attendees retracing their stiletto-ed steps to NOMA for yet another tour of the provocative and precious petals.

  • Mad about the Hatters

Each year, the Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association puts on the Mad Hatters Luncheon with a nod to Wonderland’s Alice and her cronies. For the 2016 ado to benefit the NOOA, the title was “The Mad Hatters Go to the Opera.” The Grand Ballroom of the New Orleans Hilton Riverside was the site. For the sights too. Almost every attendee sported a splendid chapeau. “I think the hats this year are the prettiest ever,” commented one luncheon-goer of many moons.

Saks Fifth Avenue, Hilton, First NBC, Crystal Hot Sauce, Peoples Health, and Anton Ltd. were the major sponsors.

Virginia Eckholdt, Melissa Gordon, and Kathleen Robert teamed to chair the luncheon that included as luminaries Guild President Betsy Dowling, NOOA President Dr. Ranney Mize, and Guild Junior Committee Chairwomen Torry Dean and Summer Duperon. Days prior to the luncheon, a special Patron Reception occurred at the Guild home.

Features of the luncheon included a day-of-the-event patron party with champagne and a jazz ensemble, followed by welcoming words from President Dowling, Katie Moore as mistress of ceremonies, the menu’s courses, and, for dessert, the Mad Hatter Top Hat Cakes. Yep! They were cakes made to look like hats and used as centerpieces. At the end of the meal, they were duly and delightfully consumed.

Then there was the fashion show with looks by Lafayette 148 New York and presenting words by Steven Putt of Saks Fifth Avenue; the presence of fashion director for Lafayette 148, Edward Wilkerson, who also served as one of the judges; the beautiful jewelry Anton’s donated for the raffle; the dozens of auction items, including choice hats; and the “Wonderland” characters and the people who portrayed them: Mad Hatter, Ted Stacey; Queen of Hearts, Sonda Stacey; Alice, Nina Pugh, and White Rabbit, Scott Chotin. Penny Baumer of Baumer Foods donated special favors and Maria Grisaro did the program and invitation covers.

Thanks tapped the judges secured by Mary Dana Dandry: Beverly Church, Anton Heine, Terrance Osborne, Jax Frey, Tamica Lee, Pat Shane, Jennifer Hale, Ed Marshall, and Edward Wilkerson. They in turn declared Henri Hall, Jean Rice, Joan Ingram, Joyce Laporte, Carol Verges, Lynette Stilwell, the “Turandot” group, and The Geisha Girls as winners in the hat contest.

Breaking bread and relishing the “Opera” outing were maestro Robert Lyall, Joann Wisdom, Irene Klinger, Ann Anderson, Adele Uddo, Betty Brooks Doss, Constance Cowart, Pat Kelly, Meredith Hawthorne Penick, Joann Mantis, Carole A. Follman, Cindy Paulin and colleague Kathleen Stacci, Holley Haag, and Donna Koebka. Hundreds more, as well, who relished this hoppy occasion.

  • Jefferson Gallivanting

It was a “turf” to-do when the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce held its annual Gala presented by Ochsner Health System. Part of the lure was the location: the turf of the New Orleans Saints indoor training facility. To make it fete-friendly, Event Producers got to work with staging and lighting, transforming the area into an evening venue. The Saints got a decorative nod as well with the black and gold décor and accents that complemented the football theme. As host sponsors, the names wo know were the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Features of the gallivanting were manifold, starting with the attraction of the VIP Lounge and initial taste treats; Pigeon Catering and desserts by Nothing Bundt Cakes; libations from Southern Eagle and Glazers; and a slew of entertainers, including Joe Simon’s Jazz, the 610 Stompers and the Jailhouse Rockers, the mainlining Brass-a-Holics, and Gumbo and the Saintsations. Added to the fun were photo opportunities with the Lombardi Trophy and the Super Bowl XLIV ring, the NOLA Motorsports Lamborghini display, a casino gaming area, a photo booth, and the Kendra Scott jewelry raffle. In the silent auction of 100+ items, Todd Matherne copped the coveted Saints Away Game Package.

Luminaries included U.S. Rep Stave Scalise, Jefferson Parish President Mike and Michelle Yenni, former Saints running back Fred McAfee, Jefferson Business Council executive director Tony Ligi, and, all with a title or two, Ray Seamon, Mike Stanfield Sr., Greg Buisson, Paula Duplantis, Augusto “Cookie” Rojas, Lee Giorgio, Giselle Diaz Eastlack, Johnny Domiano, Todd Tournillon, Barry Boudreaux, Millie Baudier and about 840 others, who were wowed by the facility and fun.