Three of summer’s biggest events happened recently — Forum 35’s Art Melt, Court Appointed Special Advocate’s Casas for CASA and the Children’s Advocacy Center’s Celebrity Waiters Tailgate.

Art Melt

The 10th anniversary Art Melt kicked off with a Patrons’ Gala at the Capitol Park Museum July 19, the eve of the big extravaganza. This event not only thanks those who have helped make what has become the state’s largest juried arts show possible but doubles as a fundraiser and is where the winners of Art Melt are announced.

Out of 619 applicants, 69 were selected for exhibition. Local juror Jordana Pomeroy, executive director of the LSU Museum of Art, teamed up with regional juror Susan Edwards, executive director of the First Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, Tenn.; and national juror Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, director of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, to choose the winners. They include Michael Elliott-Smith, first place; Douglas Stafford, second; Victoria Suplee, third; and Adrienne Romero, Nicole Vidrine and Herb Roe, honorable mentions.

Awards also went to Kathy Dumesnil, Forum 35 Award; Charles Durio, Ann Connelly Award; and Mignon Faget, Art Melt Louisiana Art Legend Award.

Popping in to congratulate them was Mayor Kip Holden, who Advocate Editor Peter Kovacs and I got to visit with briefly. I was supposed to be introducing Peter around but he took great delight in introducing me to someone I didn’t know — Jerry Ceppos, relatively new dean of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, wife Karen and their adult children, Matthew and Robin.

We also got to chat with Jordana and husband Ed Penick, Adam and Megan Knapp, Melissa Parmalee and Erin and Claude Reynaud. Before Peter arrived I was visiting with Karen and Bill Profita, Ashley and James Fox-Smith, Jesse Hoggard, Terry Serio, Frances and Charles Bennett and Stephanie Green, who had a piece in the show. I was so glad I got to see her before her and Jason’s move to Arkansas.

Casas for CASA

The Mall of Louisiana was transformed into a cantina at closing time July 21 — well, a portion of it anyway, for CASA’s annual Fiesta to kick off its Casas for CASA playhouse raffle. It was the first chance to get an up-close look at the $17,000 two-story playhouse built by Faulk & Meek General Contractors and designed by Lilliput Play Homes.

The evening also featured a tempting silent auction and even more tempting Mexican cuisine provided by Caliente Mexican Craving, Izzo’s Illegal Burrito, La Carreta, Mr. Taco, Zippy’s and Zoë’s Kitchen. To quench everyone’s thirst, there were complimentary beverages from Baton Rouge Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Mockler Beverage Co. and Spanish Moon. Desserts were donated by Auntie Annie’s Pretzels, Chick-fil-A and Nothing Bundt Cakes. Of course, everyone needed to work off those calories, so to the dance floor we headed to salsa to the sounds of the Better Than Nobody Band.

Todd Denton and Tracy Evans served as co-chairs of the event. Holly Sides chaired the silent auction. Raffle tickets for the playhouse, which is on display in the center court of the Mall of Louisiana through Aug. 11, are $5 each and are available at the mall; the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave.; or

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Celebrity Waiters

While CASA advocates for the timely placement of children in permanent safe, stable homes, the Children’s Advocacy Center provides a voice and support for children during the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse. It held its annual Celebrity Waiters Tailgate fundraiser July 10 at Walk-On’s Bistreaux near LSU, raising a record $65,000.

Now, trust me when I tell you these “celebrities” will do just about anything to raise money for children in need and they are seriously competitive in the process. In fact, the waiters raised right at $10,000 that night. But when all was said and done the LSU Golden Girls Team came in first place followed by Adam Knapp, Baton Rouge Chamber president, second; and D-D Breaux, LSU women’s gymnastics head coach, third.

Also donning aprons for the cause were East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, Mayor Kip Holden, interim Police Chief Carl Dabadie, Dr. Ann Zedlitz, interior designer Kenneth Brown, Southern University baseball coach Roger Cador, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, Southern Athletic Director William Broussard, Baton Rouge Community College head basketball coach Paula Lee, Baton Rouge Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Paul Arrigo, WBRZ Sports Director Michael Cauble, Mrs. Louisiana United States 2013 Sandy Guidry and Miss LSU-USA 2013 Hilary Tuttle.

‘New Roads & Old Rivers’

In the middle of all these major events was the tranquil visit at Dixon Smith Interiors July 18 for Randy Harelson’s book signing for his latest coffee table book, “New Roads & Old Rivers, Louisiana’s Historic Pointe Coupee Parish.” Published by LSU Press, the book features some 200 photos by Richard Sexton, including most of the parish’s 70 surviving antebellum structures and some of its 62 trees listed on the Live Oak Society register.

While predominantly friends and acquaintances of either Harelson and/ or Dixon and her employees made up the guest list, Harelson did make some new friends. He spent quite a while visiting with New Roads native James Rodney and wife Barbara talking about the history of Pointe Coupee and points of mutual interest in the book. As Rodney, who turns 86 next month, proudly told us while waiting for Harelson to sign his books, “This brings back a lot of memories … a lot of memories.”

Bittersweet farewell

Speaking of memories, I was talking to my Plaquemine buddy Gwen Gum the other day and learned that Father Cleo Milano, who for the past 11 years served as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, has left his Plaquemine flock with a bounty of wonderful memories. Gwen and husband John hosted an intimate cocktail buffet for him before he trekked east across the river July 1 to assume the pastorship of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Baton Rouge.

While we understand his former parishioners’ sadness, we’re excited and blessed to have Father Cleo back in town.

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