Baton Rouge Gallery’s 12th annual Surreal Salon Soiree brought an overflow crowd and some of the most amazing costumes I’ve ever seen to the Jan. 25 event.

Visiting guest juror Dan Quintana, a Los Angeles-based artist, was tasked with culling through some 300 submissions to select the 50 artists in this year’s show. The winner was artist Stephanie Gartanutti.

The night’s other big winners were costume contest finalists Heather Deare, Christin Dupuy, Natalie Clay Hutchinson, Joey Miller and Kyle Christensen. The winner was declared by audience support and the prize went to Hutchinson. 

Artist Sylvia Santamaria's costume was modeled after the piece she had in the show, and she wasn’t the only one who brought to life one of the exhibit’s entries. An exhibit piece also inspired Miller and Christensen.

After the formal portion of the event, musical headliner Royal Teeth took the stage and had folks dancing into the night. Gala-goers could also pose for photos with puppeteer Clay Achee’s Beyond the Garage gang. Check out everyone's get-up online at and circle this event on your calendar next year!

Spanish Town

Speaking of surreal, the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Ladies Auxiliary hosted its annual Royalty Brunch earlier on Jan. 25 at the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium, which was a sea of flamingos and all things pink. Guests of honor were this year’s king and queen, Scott McDavitt and Linda White, and grand marshal Jason Broussard.

The highlight of the event, though, was the surreal streak by Derek Howeter as Ray Steven’s 1974 hit, “The Streak,” played in the background. If you’ve ever been to Spanish Town Mardi Gras, this doesn’t surprise you. If you’ve never been … well, things like this happen with this bunch of crazy Carnival revelers.

Washington Mardi Gras

There were crowns everywhere at the Governor’s Mansion on the morning of Jan. 22 as Gov. John Bel and Donna Edwards hosted a coffee for the princesses and festival queens headed to the nation’s capital for the three-day, round-the-clock party that is Washington Mardi Gras. At the coffee, the governor crowned this year’s D.C. queen, Madeline Noble, of Lake Charles.

Senior krewe lieutenant Mark Ackel presented the Edwardses with this year’s official Mystick Krewe of Louisianians Washington Mardi Gras poster, while several of the festival queens brought goodies from their events, including strawberries from Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Queen Samantha Hebert, daughter of Kristen and James Hebert. The festival queens also included Farm Bureau Queen Victoria Roussel, of Baton Rouge, daughter of Donise Girouard and Mark Roussel.

This year’s princesses included from the Baton Rouge area Lia Chaisson, daughter of Giselle and Russell Saia III and Brett Chaisson; Meredith Landry, daughter of Debbie and Al Landry, of Plaquemine; Sydney LaFleur, daughter of Vanessa and Brian LeFleur; Kyra Reeves, daughter of Christy and Brandon Reeves; Ashley Rotolo, daughter of Stacy and Bobby Rotolo; and Mary Grace Salmon, daughter of Mary Bell Salmon.

Krewe of Apollo

Also celebrating Mardi Gras was the Krewe of Apollo, which had its royalty get-together on Jan. 24, the eve of its 39th annual Bal Masque.

Special guests were Queen Apollo XXXIX Arilyn Roberts (aka Travis Dupuy) and King Apollo XXXIX Jonathan Rushing and returning royals King Apollo XXXVIII KD Linkous-Smith and Queen Apollo XXXVIII Miranda Mann (aka Carlos Perez).

WRKF celebration

Public Radio Inc. went on the air in Baton Rouge 40 years ago, and the folks from the WRKF gathered on Jan. 18 at the Baton Rouge Gallery to celebrate. Betty Barnes presented the staff and board members with a proclamation from Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser to mark the special occasion.

Among those at the party were Jim Engster, host of WRKF’s "Talk Louisiana"; Richard Kilbourne, whose family donated land for WRKF’s first studio and tower; Linda Bowsher, former board member; Eric DeWeese, former station manager; Karen Henderson, "WRKF Morning Edition" host; Taylor Caffery, host of WRKF’s "Hootenanny Power"; Adam Vos, operations director and "All Things Considered" host; general manager Paul Maassen; and Julie Baxter Payer, board vice chairwoman.

Email Pam Bordelon at