Shelby About Town
Steffi Graf awards Gracie Cavnar, proud parents assist iLuminate, a celeb chefarrives at Philippe & notables applaud HMAAC
Supporters of the Houston Museum of African American Culture were already on a roll Friday night as Harvard-educated musician Derrick Ashong wowed attendees at the museum's "Africans in America: The New Beat of Afropolitans" symposium. But then HMAAC CEO John Guess Jr. and board president Melanie Lawson ratcheted things up to another level.
They hosted out of town guests for a smashing dinner party at Melanie's high-rise aerie where John did most of the hosting because the Ch. 13 KTRK news anchor had to be back at the ABC affiliate for the 10 o'clock news. With chef Gary Lang providing the feast and with colorful guests such as Los Angeles filmmaker Odera Ozokaand Taiye Selasi, who coined the Afropolitan descriptive, providing excitement, what was billed as a dinner turned into a full-blown party.
How could it miss with the nationally- and internationally-notable crowd that included renowned artist Wangechi Mutu, scholar Nemata Blyden, American Association of Museums board chair Meme Omogbai and Lynn Wiley of the Africa Channel, which will be airing an edited version of the symposium.
Representing the Houston creative community were Lot 8's Chloe Dao and Sydney Dao, artists Bert Long and Joan Batson, Houston and South African designer Selven O'Keef Jarmon, HMAAC board member Sharon Owens, HMAAC program director Solkem Ngangbet (who along with Guess put this symposium together), HMAAC facility manager Beti Martinez, HMAAC curator Danielle Burns and Luca Dona, the original owner of the HMAAC building.
Two national honors in one week
Let's hear a big congrats to Recipe for Success Foundation founder and CEO Gracie Cavnar, who for two times within a week is receiving high honors for her successful non-profit organization that battles childhood obesity.
Last Wednesday, she was in New York to receive honors as one of Town & Country magazine and Longines' Women Who Make a Difference honorees. Only three women were honored at the dinner where tennis great Steffi Graf made the award presentations.
Tuesday night, Cavnar will receive one of Self Magazine's 2011 Women Doing Good Awards, taking bows with only two other women, each of whom was selected from thousands of nominations by Self readers. The three and Self editor Lucy Danziger will be on stage with celebrity honorees that include Jennifer Hudson, Jessica Seinfeld and Lisa Ling.
Gracie e-mailed on Monday "What a crazy month. One minute dealing with Hurricane Irene and living without water or power. The next hobnobbing with the slick set in NYC." The vacation home in Vermont where Gracie and hubby Bob Cavnar spend their summers was spared flood waters but the fallout was intense.
Also in NYC
That would be Sheridan Williams, who is making the fashion week rounds as one of the handful of Donna Karan Ambassadors, women selected from across the country for their community leadership and contributions in the non-profit arena. Sheridan was nominated by Saks Fifth Avenue for her philanthropic leadership as well as for her sophisticated sense of style.
The Donna Karan team has been wining and dining the ladies this week while all of NYC is abuzz with fashion, after, of course, taking solemn note of 9/11.
Big finals tonight!
Houstonians Magdy and Sonia Kotb have been working for days in Las Vegas backstage at the America's Got Talent site, helping their daughter Miral Kotb, founder and director of the finalist group iLuminate, prepare for Tuesday night's grand finale performance.
Neighbors in Clear Lake, where Miral graduated from high school, and classmates from Columbia University, where she earned a computer science degree, are all pulling for the team that dances in the wearable wireless lighting system, controlled by computer.
We expect that there are are big doings tonight also at the family restaurant Mediterraneo Market & Cafe in Nassau Bay, where family friends and patrons will gather to view the show and call in their votes for the hometown girl.
If iLuminate wins, that means $1 million for the company that has been earning rave reviews for its explosive entertainment component.
Philippe Restaurant + Lounge had a special visitor on Friday evening. New York City celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, a judge on the Food Network's Chopped reality show, made an appearance at Philippe Restaurant + Lounge where he was the guest of former Philippe pastry chef Jose Hernandez (upcoming pastry chef of Triniti restaurant). They had a long dinner and chef Geoffrey commented on what a fabulous meal he had. Of course, chef Philippe Schmit gave the New Yorker a personal tour of the kitchen and talked reality shows.
Zakarian was in town at for an event with Cadillac for Simon Fashion Now.