Let's just say that the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art gives a playful middle finger to the traditional stuffy black-tie gala, evident from Jeff Kalina's outfit — which from afar may or may not have resembled a giant upright penis on his head.
Then there were Christopher Mendel, Don Mafrige Jr., David Haynes and William Westhoff as a hunky quartet of "hand-z men," Cali and Peter Pettigrew donning giant playing cards for their "winning hand" costume and Jamie and Patrick Stewart as mimes complete with striped tops and white gloves.
A pastry hand topping the first course and a white chocolate hand over a cake dome for dessert, which some, after more than a few top shelf cocktails, dubbed "hands on my chocolate balls" or "fondle my fondant" . . . are you seeing a theme here?
More hints: Palm massages, fingerprint analysis, handcrafted items in the silent auction, an invitation that included a fabulous archival pigment print by Wanda Alexander titled At Hand, shadow puppets courtesy of BooTown and an amazing performance by sand story artist Joe Castillo, who most would recognize as an act that was featured in Season Seven of America's Got Talent.
The 600 party goers contributed more than $600,000 to the Orange Show's kitty.
For "Celebrate the Hand" Saturday at the Heritage Center at the Crown Plaza Hotel, the Orange Show did away with the usual party chairs and instead opted for a sizable gala committee of some 38 artsy patrons, among them Marilyn Oshman, Suzi Simons, Lane Schultz, Lance Rosmarin, Mary Cullen and many others, too many to list. The symbol of the hand honored the creative impulses of the creators of the Orange Show Monument, the Beer Can House, the Houston Art Car Parade and Smither Park — four signature components of the nonprofit that believes anyone can be an artist.
So naturally guests felt the urge to express themselves in their habiliments — J. Michael Soliz as a foxy Madonna, Karen and Marty Skolnik appropriately in elaborate Día de los Muertos attire, Carlos Hernandez as a bloody nun and more than we could count with orange accouterments, including Orange Show officials sporting orange hand prints all over their white lab coats — and on the dance floor. Because no one could resist the lively beats of The Celebrity All Star Band from Atlanta.
In part thanks to art by Jesus Morales, James Surls, Angelbert Metoyer, Richard Burton, Ed Wilson and Ryan Geiger, the 600 party goers contributed more than $600,000 to the Orange Show's kitty.
Two thumbs up goes to Curry Glassell, McKay Otto, Keith Coffee, Whit Adams, Pat Adams, Claire Cusack, Fady Armanious, Vivian Wise, Marcy De Luna, Rob Rutherford, Kathryn and Michael Moore, Todd and Heather Sutherland and Joelle and Alan Vermeulen.