n Community Harmony
Ministry and music fused within a festive framework when patrons, gathered to support St. Jude Community Center. Located on North Rampart Street, the Center has a slew of most-worthy programs, especially those that help the homeless and needy. Student volunteers who come from around the country to help in the post-Katrina rebuilding find housing.
Two-fold was the excitement. On a Friday evening, a patron party unfolded at the Basin Street Station, which is near the center. The following evening, a Saturday, and still within close neighborhood range, the gala Sounds of New Orleans held forth at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for Performing Arts for the fifth year. A gamut of musical offerings in concert form thrilled the audience, which was treated to some of the area’s best known names as performers. And all to help St. Jude Community Center.
Guests at the Basin Street Station relished some special party attractions. Wanda McKenney Catering fed the flock, music makers Arthur Mitchell and the Gift featuring Vernon Ward entertained, and Sidney Broussard created the table arrangements from a variety of vegetables. Anton’s Jewelers donated prizes for the raffle.
Mingling were Sounds founder and Chairman Ed Perkins, a retired officer of the New Orleans Police Department, who wanted to give back to the city; the concert’s master of ceremonies Emile Gauchet; ticket coordinator Eric Arrant; and St. Jude Shrine pastor, the Rev. Tony Rigoli, OMI.
And, the multi-hyphenated Allen Toussaint, who answers to musician, songwriter, composer and a good citizen of New Orleans; Yvonne Blount of Antoine’s restaurant, which is celebrating 175 years; Dan Civello, former Fire Department chief in Jefferson Parish; and Georgette and Garin Mims, who both reigned as Zulu royalty in 2014.
Although not in attendance this year to perform, Michael Cerveris has been a star in the Sounds of New Orleans constellation. He’s been on Broadway in the memoir musical, “Fun Home,” which copped five Tony Awards, including one for himself as Best Lead Actor in a Musical.
A frequent Crescent City presence, he has been seen in a gamut of get-ups (including the standard white linen suit when he attended Le Debut des Jeunes Filles in 2014 as the escort of actress Lucy Faust and guest of her Ewin family).
Reacting to an outfit (top hat, smoking jacket, and a black tutu) he donned for a New York event, he said, as quoted in New York magazine of June 1-7, “I learned in New Orleans how to throw a costume together quickly.”
n Trolley Tout
A crepuscular gathering at the lakefront was loaded with excitement. The draw was the 2nd annual Lakefront History Trolley Tour and Social, but guests also got one of the most stupendous sunsets of the season. (Maybe any season!) Of course, Lake Pontchartrain provided a beautiful background.
To rally for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation-hosted event, folks assembled at the New Canal Lighthouse Museum & Education Center, which was open for touring. Most also made a trip or two to the nice gift shop. Made purchases, too.
A storied history on the lake’s landscape, the lighthouse was built initially in 1839 and has since been rebuilt three times. Now, in its latest form, it stands 19 feet off the ground for hurricane protection. Within, there are displays of the early city of New Orleans, the New Canal Lighthouse, the lighthouse keepers (including the listing of Margaret “Madge” Norvell from 1924-1932, the keeper of three lighthouses and known for her valiant rescues) and the West End from another era.
As guests for the Trolley Tour and Social awaited the trolley provided by Gulf Coast Bank (with special thanks to president Guy Williams), they enjoyed the supper provided by Copeland’s of New Orleans (red beans and rice) and Emmett’s (chicken salad croissants and an array of dips). Haydel’s Bakery purveyed delicious desserts. As for libations, there were red and white wines, beer, soft drinks and water.
Thanks aplenty tapped volunteers Terry and Gwen Bolotte and Sharon Morel, who were dubbed “Blissful Bartenders,” and food servers Brandy Adam, Marsha Bore, Brycen Adam, and Guy Gilbert. Trolley riders included Katherine de Montluzin and guest Donna Kay Berger, Ed and Mary White, Ryan and Cherie Casteix, Mr. and Mrs. Ewell Potts, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Roberts, the Herbert Thompsons and about 120 more. Also noted were foundation board chairman Carlton Dufrechou, member Ben Taylor, and staff Theryn Henkel, Anne Barrett, Zivi Sokolic, Sonja Mount and Angela Dorvin.
Then it was off on the historic — and most informative — lakefront tour! Joann Haydel, education coordinator of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, led the comments (and reaped praise for her delivery), while LPBF interim executive director Dwight Williams talked about Pontchartrain Beach, expressing hopes that the beach would soon be open to area residents.
Several trolley riders hummed the ditty “At the beach, at the beach, at Pontchartrain Beach.” Another one smiled as he asked, “Any plans of bringing back submarine races?”
n A Nod to Nike
Anyone who has driven, biked or walked down the 800 block of Baronne Street has been awed by the impressive, huge mural on the side of the Bruno & Bruno law firm building. Rendered as a mural, it depicts a re-take of the Winged Victory of Samothrace done by Pythokritos of Lindos in the second century BC. Located now in the Louvre in Paris, it is also known as the Nike of Samothrace and depicts the Greek goddess Nike, Victory. It has been thought that the statue was erected by a Macedonian general after his naval victory at Cyprus.
Flash forward to a late afternoon in New Orleans!
With the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina at hand, the Top 3 Winner of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Competition and New Orleans artist Ti-Rock Moore debuted the powerful mural with her statements and social fanfare. Inspired by a trip to the Louvre, and with haunting memories of Katrina, Ti-Rock imagined a piece of art that symbolized New Orleans. Titled “Incomplete,” it represents the city as resilient, but still in repair. To honor the victims of the storm and the flooding, the mural will be up for the remainder of the year.
With rain as a gentle threat, T-Rock spoke to the under-the-tent assembly at the unveiling hosted by Russell and Danny Simmons, saying of the Winged Victory and her contemporary interpretation of it, “She’s not whole.” Attendees milled about, many heading to the food table for hummus, fruit and drinks. Meanwhile, there was music by the band, Eric Gordon’s Lazy Boys, who, with a playful nod to the drizzle, rendered “You Are My Sunshine.”
Whereas the mural will certainly stay fixed for a while, the celebration got mobile. The band and guests second-lined to the Bombay Sapphire cocktail hour five blocks down Baronne Street to a “gastro lounge with a mixology flair.” It’s appropriately named Victory. Among those rubbing shoulders and congratulating T-Rock were members of the Arts Council of New Orleans, VIP guests, and “influential locals.” The artist, who was named Top 3 Winner of the fifth annual Bombay Artisan Series, in partnership with Russell Simmons’ RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation, was given the opportunity to work with the Arts Council.
Among those participating either at the unveiling or at Victory (or both) were Dr. Pamela Branning, Jimmy and Marie Cahn, Celeste Cahn, Dr. Barry Cazabonne, Robert McCabe, Lindsey Morton, Judy Cooper, Andre and Frances Guichard, Lena Hill, Nick Aziz, Roni Jackson, and Henry and Cecilia Holzenthal. Drinks quaffed included Sunset Collins, Eastern Tonic and Pineapple Gimlet.