Art in Bloom, “A Gem of a Party,” and luncheon and fashions were to the fore recently as the social season flowered into spring.
Rooms Full of Blooms
Each year, Art in Bloom amasses folks who love flowers, art, cuisine, how-to talks, people gazing, fashions, and good times. Presented by IberiaBank, the 2015 floral fest of the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Garden Study Club ran for four days under the rubric “New Orleans by Design.” “Study for Design,” a mixed media on canvas work by Nicole Charbonnet (courtesy of Arthur Roger Gallery), was depicted on the cover of both the invitation and the program. The real thing figured as an auction item on Board 3 with a value of $8,000.
In addition to Iberia Bank, the top two sponsor categories were the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation (Contemporary) and First NBC, J. Edgar Monroe Foundation, Robert E. Zetzmann Foundation , and Superior Energy Services (Transitional). The New Orleans Advocate and The Scout Guide were Media Sponsors.
To launch the florescence, a one-hour patron party followed by a three-hour preview party occurred at the museum with fine food and libations, a silent auction, and the opportunity to peruse the imagination and realization of the exhibitors in the various categories: Bonsai, Exterior Designers, Garden Clubs, Creative Designs, Ikebana, Professional Florists, Tablescapes, Young Artists, and Movers and Shakers. Individuals in the latter M & S lot included Susan Boyd and E. Lee Jahncke Mead, Michael Carbine, Rene J.L. Fransen, Jane Scott Hodges, Barry Kern, Mignon Faget, Rivers Spencer, Suzanne Perron St. Paul, Caroline Robert, and Tara Shaw. Add to those names Bevolo Gas & Electric lights, Monarch Real Estate Advisors Inc., and Make it Right Foundation, Brad Pitt’s massive project.
The top two names to know were those of the 2015 Art in Bloom co-chairwomen: Catherine Smart Favrot and Betsy Becker Laborde. They headlined a committee of 53, several of whom have spearheaded the event in the past. Further major names were Montine McDaniel Freeman director Susan M. Taylor, NOMA’s sixth director; Garden Study Club President Marilee Hovet, a former chairwoman of the museum’s Odyssey Ball; and NOMA Volunteer Committee Chairwoman Joni Diaz.
At the patron-preview bash, hundreds milled about the museum, casting an eye to art, buying it at the auction, perusing the posies, listening to the Treme Brass Band, and savoring lite bites.
Thirty-five cuisine and libations purveyors, including the museum’s Café NOMA, were lined up to nourish the posy pack.
The next morning, it was back to NOMA for the lectures (presented by the magazine, flower) in the Stern Auditorium. Sara Ruffin Costello, a New Orleans-based writer on travel, art and design for some major national magazines, moderated the panel. (In the current issue of House Beautiful, there’s a picture of trelliswork in her and husband Paul’s Garden District home.)
Crescent City architect Lee Ledbetter, emeritus professor of landscape architecture at LSU Neil G. Odenwald, and New York-based interior designer Markham Roberts formed the panel. After a break, Bronson Van Wyck, whose event design firm is in New York, addressed the comely crowd, starting with “I see so many of my friends here.” The first name he mentioned was that of Gwathmey Gomila, a classmate at Groton School in Massachusetts. Bronson made a fine design presence in New Orleans this past Christmas season when he did memorable debutante parties for Grace Catherine Cary and Clare Conwill. Prior fab fetes that he designed locally were two for Tom and Gayle Benson. During Bronson’s talk, he had pictures to show of all four — and others.
The next social phase was nearby for lunch and fashion. The Garnished Palette catered, offering a menu of shaved kale with garden vegetables, marinated chicken breast, chocolate ganache tartlet and hibiscus iced tea. Praising the dishes were Susan Stall, Susan Glennon, Sylvia Laborde, Betty Killeen, Marilyn Rusovich, Betsy Henson, Debbie Rothschild, Kathy Opotowsky, and Lynn Flynn, as well as Catherine Favrot and Betsy Laborde and their AiB chums.
From Saks came Carolyn Elder and Steven Putt (and others), who were part of the team for “The Best of Spring 2015 Fashions for Men and Women.” At this point, flowers, food and form all blended.
The Hilton Riverside was the site for a many-faceted fling: “Puttin’ on the Glitz with a Gem of a Party” held by the National Council of Jewish Women. Chaired by Joyce Pulitzer and Mimi Schlesinger, a patron party with entertainment by John Rankin started the social polishing that was followed by dinner, a silent auction and a show by the Big Easy Buddies. A hit ensemble, the male quartet, which included a seven-piece band, played tunes from the 1950s and ’60s. The audience loved it, many humming along and dancing. A highlight of their performance took place when Coloradan Mary Sue Katz, daughter-in-law of the following Celia, was summoned to the stage to sing and swing.
Planned tributes were accorded to honorary Section Vice Presidents Joan S. Berenson, Celia Katz, Flo Schornstein and Sara Stone, whose honorary status has arrived because of their individual 50 years of service to NCJW’s New Orleans Section.
Betty Kohn and Loel Weil Samuel chaired “Giltz” with abundant help from President June Leopold, development Vice President Barbara Greenberg, and committee members Shellye Farber, Amanda Herman, Sherril Herman, Barbara Kaplinsky, Tricia Kirschman, Fran Koch, Millie Kohn, Amy Malish, Gale Pick, Rollie Rabin, Beth Rosenthal, Dana Shepherd, Kathy Shepard, Sue Singer, and the above Joyce and Mimi.
Teamed for decorations were Robert Kohn, son of Co-Chairwoman Betty, and his wife, the above Millie. The jewel theme was rendered via emerald, ruby and sapphire-colored feathered arrangements illuminated with LED lights, which added chromatic excitement and sparkle to the dinner tables. To highlight the tables of the honorees, white feathers and pearls were the decorative touches. After all was said and socialized, the arrangements were donated to St. Michael Special School.
Thanks aplenty went to Sue Singer for the dinner arrangements. Along with the Hilton-purveyed butter lettuce wedge and top sirloin blade were fresh challah and homemade chopped liver made by Sue. The dessert of chocolate cake made “Gem” into sweet-tooth gastronomy with edible sugar “diamonds.” Further treats were the party favors from Maple Street Patisserie.
Among those “Gem” gathered were Linda and Richard Friedman, Karen and Leopold Sher, Marianne and Dr. Isidore Cohn, and, with some of the above, Larry Samuel, Harold Singer, Rick Kirschman, Fred Herman, Steven Katz, and Julian Koch.
At a choice moment during the encomiums, Sara, Flo, Celia and Joan — all joined by family — were cited. A collective statement was put forth about their merit: “You are truly gems in every sense of the word.”
The Salvation Army Luncheon, sponsored by the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, unfolded with fine food, fashions and for-sale jewelry at the Metairie Country Club. Headliners included auxiliary President Carol McNeal, event Chairwoman Rita Lapara, and Majors David and Dawn Worthy, who gave the blessing before the meal. Choices included chicken or fish and the praline parfait was just that. Perfect!
To celebrate the season, a St. Patrick’s Day motif was carried out, especially in the table decorations of water-filled glass cylinders holding floating candles. Shamrock sprinkles added cute accents. There were also St. Patrick’s Day scarves and donated jewelry, all for sale, to raise money in the Salvation Army’s support of the poor.
Major David Worthy certainly lived up to his surname when it was time for the style show. He escorted each model — auxiliary members who had bought their outfits from the Thrift Shop on Jefferson Highway — into the dining room. TV and radio personalities Bob and Jan Carr narrated and C.C. Grinstead served as the model coordinator. Following the show, the modeled clothes were available for purchase.
Applauding all the activity were Susan Glennon, E. Carroll Rogers, Adrian Spencer, Ann Mentz, Mary McConnell, Beth Andrews, Carolyn Lenz, Betty Gambino, Sylvia Otto, Magda Pelius, Andra Colombo, Dorothy Piner, Jenny Simon, Shelby Steffek, Patty McCarty, Virginia Dare Ruffin, Margie Mielke, Margot Wilkinson, Hattie Fraser, Leonora Dowell, Louise Burnstein, and a mother-daughter twosome in Doris Clement and Jean Davidson. Several went home with “new” ensembles.