Nephew of the Sun King, Louis XIV, Philippe II, Duke of Orleans (1689-1723), leaves a special legacy: He is the namesake of New Orleans (la Nouvelle-Orléans). Yet another one is his extraordinary art collection, which was renowned at the time of the founding of New Orleans (1718). At the time of the Duke’s untimely death at age 49, the astounding number of paintings recorded at the time was near 800, demonstrating the scope of his acquisitions.

Titled “The Orléans Collection,” the current exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art, which runs through January 17, 2019, is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It will not travel elsewhere. It is in celebration of the City of New Orleans’ Tricentennial and reunites masterpieces from the Duke’s private collection that were dispersed after the French Revolution. Vanessa I. Schmid, Ph.D., served as project director for “The Orléans Collection” at NOMA.

A year ago, NOMA’s Susan M. Taylor, the Montine McDaniel Freeman Director, and board President Michael J. Siegel, cordially invited interested parties to the beautiful home of Sybil and Blair Favrot for a cocktail reception to introduce the collection. Vanessa Schmid spoke.

Just short of a year later, the exhibition opened with due celebration at the museum on Oct. 25, starting with “A Champagne Toast for 'The Orleans Collection'” in the Café NOMA. At 5:25 p.m., Susan Taylor addressed the special patrons, saying that this “has been a labor of love for years” and that without a number of those assembled, “this (the exhibition) would not be possible.” She then turned to Vanessa Schmid to express gratitude. In turn, Schmid said, it has been “a great privilege to bring the exhibition to the public” and emphasized the work of a leadership team. She added with a twinkle, “Thanks to the grand city of New Orleans for having a tricentennial.” Susan Taylor closed the toasting with, “Let the celebration begin!”

Immediately after, the Patron Preview commenced (catered by Hyatt Regency New Orleans and 1718 Events) with further remarks and the much-anticipated opening of the exhibition. Among the numerous attendees were such individual sponsors as Gail and John Bertuzzi; Catherine Burns Tremaine, who was accompanied by John Bullard, former museum director; Jean and Buddy Bolton and daughter Eloise Taussig; Susie and Michael McLoughlin; Sally E. Richards; and Mr. and Mrs. Robert John Axtell Williams (she’s Norris). In that sponsor category, too, were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Canizaro. Additional support came from the French Heritage Society, Dr. Edward Levy Jr., E. Alexandra Stafford and Raymond M. Rathle Jr., Jason P. Waguespack, Robert and Millie Kohn, Wayne Amedee, retired Judge (Ninth Circuit Court in Illinois) Steven R. Bordner, Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Young and Charles L. Whited Jr. Most were present.

Among the many noted were immediate past NOMA President Julie Livaudais George and Ted, Elizabeth and John Ryan, John Georges chatting with Nicolas Joly (who flew in from Paris for the occasion), Beatrice Odunlami (from Orleans, France), Susie and Pierre Villere, Adrea “Adee” Heebe, Jim Farrow, Christine and Price LeBlanc, Marjorie Nolan-Wheatley, Anila Keswani, Bill Fagaly, Tommy Westervelt, Anne Kock, Subhash and Neela Kulkarni, Courtney-Anne Sarpy, and countless others from the NOMA Board of Trustees. All reveled in the glory of the masterpieces from "The Orléans Collection," which are reunited in New Orleans, and at the New Orleans Museum of Art, for the first time in 225 years.

Weiss Awards

“Celebrating our leaders, empowering our communities” was scripted on the tones-of-blue invitation announcing the 61st annual Weiss Awards event presented by the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice, which was founded in 1927 as The National Conference of Christians and Jews to be “a human relations organization dedicated to promoting equality and combating disparity.”

Held at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans and chaired by Anne Teague Landis and Dorothy “Dottie” Reese, NCCJ honored New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell; the Rev. Fred Luter Jr., pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church; Leopold Z. Sher, partner of Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert, L.L.C.; Judge Jay Christopher Zainey, U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana; the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, which takes its name from the motto of the Rex Organization and has given out more than $6.5 million in grants for education in the city; and the Rhodes family: Kathleen Rhodes Astorga, Sandra Rhodes Duncan, Edith Rhodes Gomes, Stephanie Rhodes Navarre, D. Joan Rhodes and Duplain W. Rhodes III. The top donating circle, Justice Circle (at time of print), was Landis Construction Co., L.L.C. In the next one, Benefactor Circle, were Timothy B. Francis, Sylvia and Alvin Richard and Entergy New Orleans.

Turning to 2017, the award recipients were Mary Jane and John D’Arcy Becker, Karen DeBlieux, Ellis l. Marsalis Jr. and William L. Mimeles.

Robert “Bob” H. Tucker is the presiding NCCJ co-chairman (along with Dottie Reese) and Stephanie Bridges, president and CEO. They gave the welcome (and the closing remarks), and event Co-chairwomen Landis and Reese followed with introductions and the awards presentations.

Meanwhile, honorees and their families (such as Karen Sher with husband Leopold), various members of the board of directors, and supporters of NCCJ, broke bread as they reviewed the worthy program initiatives: Great Health Race, Anytown Louisiana, Youth Leadership Diversity Summits, NOLA United, Inclusive at Work and Project C.O.R.E.

Cocktails for KID smART

Merriment blended with mission when KID smART gathered for cocktails at the stunning new home of Walton and Jeffrey Goldring, which was florally embellished thanks to arrangements by hostess Walton and her mother, Jane Vetter. The mission of KID smART is “To engage children in dynamic, creative and rigorous learning through the arts.”

Among the many features were catering by Martin Wine Cellar, libations by Sazerac, music by Sarah Quintana, and a live auction led by Ruthie Winston of Winston & Associates, LLC. The acclaimed item was “Downriver 2,” an original painting by Gretchen Weller Howard, the event’s featured artist. She is represented by Gallery Orange. Board Chairman Phil Gunn and spouse Jeanne Turner were the thrilled purchasers. Howard’s “Downriver 1, 2018,” a remarque signed and numbered by the artist, was offered to sponsors and select patrons.

Co-chairing “Cocktails” were Janet and Scott Howard and Adele and Graham Ralston; Peter Howard with Gretchen; Cedric and Pamela “Pam” and David Martin; emeritus board members Allison Stewart and Campbell Hutchinson; and executive director Elise Gallinot Goldman and Matthew Goldman. Also within the high-profile pack were Suzanne and Steve Dumez, Jill and Minor Pipes, Aimee and Mike Siegel, Adele and John Tiblier, Daryl Byrd, Jeff Good, Marjorie McKeithen, Cleland Powell, Christa Schwartz, Caroline and Bob Brickman, Susu and Andrew Stall, Dana and Steve Hansel, Judith Oudt and countless others, who were thankful to presenter Regions Bank and relished the lovely ambiance. Guests were further gratified that their support will give a chance for success to more than 3,000 New Orleans children, who through KID smART, will learn by creating and experiencing.