Shelby About Town
Art party, tea party and a major pay-off highlight the social scene
It was me-ow and bow-wow at Saks Fifth Avenue on Friday night when Citizens for Animal Protection announced honorees for the Nov. 20 "Celebrity Paws Gala." Those would be high-profile pet owners, whom CAP feels can draw the crowds and the bucks to the annual black-tie animal fest, this year set for the Hilton Americas Houston.
The announcement took place in the cosmetics salon, where at least one honoree toted her pet. Saks GM Terry Zmyslo hosted the shindig that saw 100 or so faithful turn out to applaud the honorees. Taking bows were Russ Allen, Donna Bruni, Caroline Kenney, Melissa King, Susan Krohn, Lindsey Love, Fe-Fe Malton, Amanda Mills, Edward Sanchez and Franco Valobra.
Among the giddy pet set were gala chairs Julie Bown and Patti Murphy.
The big pay off
They are still kicking up their heels at Stages Repertory Theatre after the company recently paid off that long-time troublesome debt to the city. The transfer of more than $350,000 was made in advance of the theater's recent "Hullaba Luau" gala.
An hour before the curtain actually went up on the Hawaiian shirts, leis and the hula dancers, Stages producing artistic director Kenn McLaughlin presented the check to Mario Ariza of the city's Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department. Stages board chair George Lancaster, who chaired the gala with Kate McConnico, e-mailed that "the payoff of our debt to the city, honored the terms of our new lease and paved the path for Stages to acquire the building from the city sometime in the next five years."
This giant step into Stages' future was made possible through a grant from the Dallas-based Meadows Foundation. Lancaster added that the theater is moving forward and just beginning the "quiet phase of a new two-year program called Next Stage, designed to raise more than $200,000 for fiscal improvement and artistic enhancement."
An artist in our midst
Most Houstonians know Donna Bruni of San Antonio as one of Houston Grand Opera's most loyal patrons. The HGO board member chaired the 2009 opera ball with her husband Robert Bruni. But only her nearest and dearest in H-town are aware that she is a talented artist with a camera. A group of those fans made the short trip out west to San Antonio recently for her opening show of new glicée works, Faces IV, at Parchman Stremmel Gallery.
Applauding her portraits were HGO special events director Guyla Pircher, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Susan Krohn and Patrick Gehm, Larissa and Scott Ipsen and Boyd Harris.
The night before the Houston Museum of African American Culture's symposium on the "African Presence in Mexico," key participants gathered at the Raven Grill for a little pre-conference schmoozing. Breaking bread together were HMAAC CEO John Guess Jr., board member Ellena Stone Huckaby and Ramon Manning plus visitors Ben Vinson of Johns Hopkins University, Sagrario Cruz-Carretero of the University of Veracruz and Herman Bennett of New York's City University.
The three professors expanded their presence here by addressing students at Wheatley High School. Then it was on to the symposium with City Councilman James Rodriguez and Mexican Consul for Cultural Affairs Elsa Borja. The heavy-hitter group included up-and-coming Philadelphia-based filmmaker Illana Trachtman, the MFAH's Bert Samples, a number of artists and HMAAC board members Eileen Lawal, Barbara Allen and Irene Johnson.
A tea party for real
Long before modern-day malcontents adopted the "tea party" as a form of rebellious expression, Mayor Annise Parker was inviting a powerful group of women for an afternoon of tea and networking. This long-standing Parker tradition continued last week at Ouisie's when women of influence talked sometimes serious and sometimes amusing issues over Earl Grey, finger sandwiches and sweets.
Among the 70 or so attending were Licia Green-Ellis, Lynn Wyatt, Kathryn McNiel, Reneé Logans, Kris Thomas, Cindy Clifford, Karen Garcia, State Rep. Ellen Cohen, Saundria Chase Gray, Susan Bischoff and Jenn Char.
Nancy and Judge Paul Pressler's Hidden Hills Farm near Bellville was rocking on Saturday when the couple and Paul Pressler IV hosted a mighty barbecue party for several hundred friends. The timing was still good for the bounty of wildflowers that have enriched the countryside for weeks now.
Among those chowing down on Mikeska BBQ from Columbus and birthday cakes from Dessert Gallery in honor of Paul IV were Jana Fay and Charles Bacarisse, Kathleen and Townes Pressler, Susan and Paul Bettencourt and Betsy and Jim Reichert.