Ogden Delights!

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” got rousing and extended play by the ELS Show Band as O What a Night! hit a party peak. Everybody was dancing up a storm (possibly in anticipation of one) to a song that symbolized the auction thrust of the gala, one of the tops on the annual calendar.

A patron preview party — with invitations extended by Ogden Museum of Southern Art director William Pittman Andrews and the museum’s trustees — unfolded in Karen and George Solomon’s home and capacious garden. It was presented by IberiaBank with cuisine by chef Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery and Balise. As the party’s name implied, the opportunity to preview the top-rated artwork that would be a central aspect of the two-nights’-later gala drew a huge crowd for “signing and sealing.” The “delivery” was the pick-up of the purchased art.

“A Celebration of All Things of the American South” bannered O What a Night!, which started with a viewing of the silent auction in the Patrick F. Taylor Library. Chef Devillier purveyed. The dinner, live auction and dancing that followed commanded a tent adjacent to the entrance of the Camp Street museum. Helen Gillet performed as “Night”-trippers moved from the library to the tent.

Noted interior designer Richard Keith Langham designed the tent’s décor using the museum’s color scheme of red, white and black with hints of silver. The tables were covered with artists’ drop cloths and centered with round silver vases holding gorgeous red roses. Above were chandeliers made of white wood with red lamp shades, and lighting bathed the premises in colors of yellow, green, fuchsia and salmon.

When guests sat to sup, they savored smoked drum salad, baked Gulf fish, and brown sugar pound cake provided by chef Ryan Prewitt of Peche Seafood Grill and the Link Restaurant Group.

In addition to the 60 silent auction items available by mobile bidding, there were the 20 ones in the live portion that was conducted by the pink-suited auctioneer, CK Swett. Works by Robert Rauschenberg, Raine Bedsole, Lynda Benglis, James Michalopoulos, Hunt Slonem, George Dunbar, and Lin Emery were among those featured, as was a VIP package to the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. The Ogden’s coffers reaped the rewards of the auction ado.

Accolades in the form of the museum’s 2015 Opus Award were directed to Helis Foundation President David Kerstein (joined by wife Geneva). Mignon Faget designed the award, which was inspired by the Taylor library’s architecture, and museum director Andrews (with Stacie) and Gucci-gowned board Chairwoman Allison Kendrick presented it. Joining Allison were daughter Megan and son Taylor.

Gratitude had its place, too, thanks to sponsors Iberia Bank, Link Restaurant Group, G. Marlyne Sexton, Coleman E. Adler II, Goldring Family Foundation, The Helis Foundation, the Kendrick family, the Kersteins, La Petite Grocery and Balise, New Orleans Auction Galleries, Sazerac Inc., the Solomons, and The New Orleans Advocate.

Headliners included event Chairwomen Tracy Copeland — with mom Marlyne Sexton (the Indy 500 donor) and sister Nicole Sexton — and Karen Solomon with George. And Mayor Mitch Landrieu, master of ceremonies Mark Romig with David Briggs, Anna Beth Goodman, sisters Alexa Georges (with husband Jerry Armatis) and Pam Dongieux, Bill Goldring with Julie Breeden, Daryl Bird, Pat and Henry Shane, Fran and George Villere, and Roger Ogden along with son and daughter-in-law Field and Michelle. To name a few in the sold-out assembly of 500.

Trumpeter Jeremy Davenport was a choice entertainer, as was the ELS Show Band, whose spirited appeal made dancing mandatory.

Blue Rose to the Occasion

“This is such a wonderful event where we are able to thank many of our supporters and raise additional funds for the school,” said Tish Sauerhoff, the new principal of St. Michael Special School, about the annual Blue Rose Gala that counted 700 attendees at the recent revelry.

The venue was the Hilton New Orleans Riverside; the emcee/auctioneer, Mark Romig; and the invocation-giver, Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Crab and corn chowder, butter lettuce salad, beef tenderloin, and a trio dessert plate pleased the palate.

Always exciting and creative, the ball’s decorations thrilled the throng. Mardi Gras Productions provided gold table linens and chair covers and three different centerpieces, such as the glass risers with pearly crystal treatment topped with eucalyptus and flowers, stemmed mercury holders, and bubble bowls set in eucalyptus wreaths and surrounded by floating candles and white and ivory roses. The décor complemented the Hilton’s newly renovated Grand Ballroom.

The raffle and live auction (with such “winners” as Rachelle M. Albright, Lori Ourso Babin, Billy Dietrich, and John Stassi) generated due excitement. Funds, too, for the school’s general budget to keep tuition affordable for the 205 students and clients with learning disabilities. The program was founded by the late Sister M. Lillian McCormack, who likened the students to a “Special Blue Rose.”

Past Blue Rose ball chairmen formed the collective chairing force for the 2015 gala. In attendance were Caron Anderson, Mary Jane Becker, Terry D. Chamberlain, Susan Cohoon, Nancy C. Colomb, Jaclyn E. Cutrone, Susan Hanemann, Patricia Hotard, Sharon Rodi, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Rodrigue, Erin Shea-Stahnke, Mary Ann Valentino, Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Vanderbrook, Mr. and Mrs. C. Taylor Walet Jr., Patricia D. Wax, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Wink III. Thanks galore tapped them and the five categories of sponsors/donors.

Late evening energy found a dance-floor beckoning and Louisiana Spice packed the floor until the last song.

Presidential Plaudits

The New Orleans Bar Association’s Presidents’ Award Ceremony drew many to the Windsor Court Hotel to honor Phillip A. Wittman (of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C.). His golden Fleur de Lis award had three plumes standing for leadership, service and concern.

Applauding him were spouse Anne Wittmann, NOBA President Walter Leger Jr. with Kathie, Tom and Gayle Benson, NOBA President-elect Judy Barrasso with husband Brent Barriere, Judge Jacques Weiner, retired Judge Steve Plotkin, NOBA executive director Helena Henderson, and former NOBA presidents Mark Surprenant (with Monica), Jay Gulotta, and Carmelite Bertaut. The latter two are Phil’s law firm partners. Congratulations abounded.

Around and About

Natasha Ramer rated raves at an intimate buffet dinner at the Windsor Court given by William “Bill” and Noel Wade after the second presentation of the play that she adapted and directed from Bill’s book “Façade: Musings on Living Life and Coping with Death.” The Wades’ son, John, died at age 15 of cystic fibrosis.

The performance, which was presented by Moscow Nights Inc., took place in Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church and starred Amy Alverez and Scott Jefferson as the Wades. Sam Ramer, Natasha’s spouse, is MN president. On hand were Ashley Mills and Susana B. Ruddock of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-Louisiana Chapter, who were hosts at a post-performance reception at the church. All the while, attendees were eager to offer them contributions to combat the disease.

Blocks away from the church on St. Charles Avenue is the Academy of the Sacred Heart, where the recent Alumnae Awards Brunch by Ralph Brennan Catering hailed Yvonne Roth Gelpi (2015 Alumna of the Year) and, respectively, Jennifer Holliday Tompkins and Sister Elizabeth Hartson, RSCJ, with the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne and St. Madeleine Sophie Barat awards. Headmistress Sister Melanie Guste, RSCJ, received a special tribute.

Continuing on St. Charles Avenue, it was at 2 Audubon Place that the Tulane University Women’s Association held the annual Fall Coffee and honored as newcomers Amanda Kruger Hill, Cowen Institute executive director; Mary Lynn Lunn, spouse of Dr. William Lunn, Tulane Medical Center CEO; and Dr. Kara Tucina Olidge, Amistad Research Center executive director.