Shelby About Town

The charity gala season winds down but not before one whopping surprise

The charity gala season winds down but not before one whopping surprise

Supporters of Friends for Life, the no-kill animal shelter, are over the moon after last week's windfall gala that was packed with as much excitement as an NBA playoff. Who would win the George Rodrigue "Blue Dog" painting in the live auction and how much would the highest bidder pay? The sky was the limit.

Friends for Life board member Don Sanders, the Sanders, Morris, Harris vice chairman, and his wife Chris had underwritten all expenses of the evening. His buddy and fellow corporate board member David Sutherland-Yoest, president and CEO of Waste Services Inc., flew in from Canada on his private jet to support the cause near and dear to Sanders' heart.

With advertising exec and consultant Dick Smith as auctioneer, the bidding went fast and furious between Sanders and Sutherland-Yoest for the Rodrigue painting. (Sanders is a personal friend of the artist and has a number of Blue Dog works in his high-rise aerie.) The bidding opened at a surprising $20,000 and moved up to $30,000, then $50,000 and then $100,000! The 350 guests in the River Oaks Country Club ballroom were going wild. The figure kept climbing until Sutherland-Yoest made the winning bid of $180,000. Cheers and more cheers.

But then, the generous CEO stood up and announced that he was giving the painting to his dear friend Don Sanders and the ballroom crowd went absolutely wild.

But night's end, the dinner benefit had raised $660,000 net. It was a red letter day for dinner chairs Margaret Morris and her daughter, Lindsay Morris Mousoudakis, and honorary chair Milo Hamilton.

Making it in Manhattan

That would be Houston-based concert pianist  Richard Dowling and his partner James Li, a retired investment banker, who will be kicking up their heels on Saturday with the grand opening of their Dowling Music at Steinway Hall in New York City. When the duo learned last year that the legendary Joseph Patelson Music House, the city's main source for sheet music of all kinds, was closing, they developed a plan to continue the legacy. They secured space in the historic piano showroom building and began working on a reincarnation of the Joseph Patelson.

The opening party takes place Saturday afternoon at the 57th Street location across the street from Carnegie Hall and, much like its sister store here at the corner of the Southwest Freeway and Kirby, the Big Apple store will feature a comprehensive selection of sheet music and music-themed gifts. A Mozart action figure, anyone? Or how about a musically-themed snow globe or music boxes?

Dowling and Li entered the music store business in 2008 when they purchased the venerable Wadler-Kaplan Music Store just weeks before its scheduled closing. They bought the concept and the contents and moved it all to the second floor location at 2615 Southwest Freeway, where Dowling Music includes an acoustically-correct recital hall large enough to seat 100.

Tony breakfast company

Channel 13 news anchor Melanie Lawson and Houston Museum of African American Culture CEO John Guess Jr. had the rare treat of breakfasting with Tony Award-winning actress and playwright Sarah Jones and her assistant, Lareysa Smith, at Hotel ZaZa the morning after Jones performed in the final program of HMAAC's inaugural season. 

Jones received a standing ovation for her performance at Rice University's Hamman Hall. Among those applauding her performance of a commissioned piece on African-American/Jewish relations were Rick Lowe, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Sharon Michael Owens, Michele and Barry Barnes, Licia Green Ellis,  Audrey and the Rev. Bill Lawson, Janice and Levi Benton, Judge Vanessa Gilmore, Carolyn and James Campbell and Toni and Jeffrey Beauchamp.

Sam Houston revisited

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby regaled Heritage Society patrons with tales of Texas hero Sam Houston last week at the "Picnic in the Park With Sam" luncheon held at the hero's namesake downtown park. A reincarnation of Gen. Sam Houston, embodied by a costumed Charlie Fogarty, roamed the luncheon grounds on Connally Plaza. 

Minnette Boesel chaired the event that was attended by a mix of guests including Laura Hobby Beckworth, Kate Hobby Gibson, Caroline Gibson, Janiece Longoria, William Hill, Joe Turner, Beth Robertson, Jane Block, Vince Ryan and Harriet and Truett Latimer.

David Sutherland-Yoest, left, and Don Sanders at Friends for Life dinner. Photo by Jenny Antill
George Rodrigue's "Blue Dog" painting brought in the bucks for Friends for Life. Photo by Jenny Antill
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Dowling Music co-owners James Li and Richard Dowling off to New York for a grand opening. Courtesy of Dowling Music
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Sarah Jones received a standing ovation for her Houston performance.