From rooftop celebrations to dancing at tennis clubs to fireworks over the Mississippi, New Orleanians celebrated Independence Day with patriotic aplomb. And, this being a city that cherishes its French heritage, most folks left the tri-color up for Bastille Day celebrations.
L’Alliance Française fans kicked up their heels at Café Degas. The French-American Chamber of Commerce jumped the gun, hosting its 11th annual “Everything French” wine festival at The Shops at Canal Place with everyone from Armand St. Martin to Jeanne d’Arc saying “Rosé, s’il vous plait.” During the same period, terribly fluent Nell and Robert Young, Donna Kay Berger and several other Tulane alums headed to France to spend two days in Bordeaux (so much wine, so little time) and a week in the medieval village Sarlat, in the Dordogne region.
Earlier, “Corney” Harold Batiste Jr. and Jane Apffel of the L’Alliance board packed their bags for two glorious weeks in Paris and Provence.
Ah, Aix; how nice.
No time for travel for the Jimmy Maxwells, who spent much of this spring and summer unpacking boxes – including sheet music – at their new home right next door to his father’s house. His dad was a drummer first with Rene Louapre then with Maxwell’s orchestra. (Jimmy likes to say, “That’s 50 years of ‘If Ever I Cease to Love.’”) Now comes Jimmy’s son with the same musical talents; and yes, he knows that tune. But neither Jimmy played it at Le Debut when so many of this season’s jeunes filles took their bow at July’s end – that was “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”
Project Lazarus was in the thanking business at its annual gala, which is the primary support of Lazarus House – a home for those affected by HIV/AIDS. This year’s honorees were the very popular Jim Mounger and Sister Ann Roddy. Charmaine Neville sang and auctioned off goodies, such as art and stays at the Roosevelt New Orleans, to a sold-out crowd under the stars at the Sheraton Hotel. Frances and Rodney Smith, Cary Bond, Henry Lambert and board members Angie Bowlin, Jim Lestelle and Betty Nice were some of the heavy hitters in attendance.
In light of the Gulf oil disaster, all manner of artists and galleries teamed up with nonprofits such as The Gulf Coast Restoration project to raise money and awareness. Jonathan Ferrara threw open his gallery doors to host “Gulf Air Art,” with all of proceeds going to the Gulf Relief Foundation to provide assistance to the fishing community.
Among the artists who anted up were Krista Jursich, Robert Tannen, Sandy Chism, Douglas Bourgeois, Jennifer Odem and David Sullivan. For more and continuing information, visit www.gulfaid.org. Coastal Shoring, First Bank and Trust and sport-artist Tuna Seither teamed up to create a special edition serigraph to benefit the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, first at a party at the Jeremy Davenport Lounge in the Ritz-Carlton then at the banks 22 branches. The work, entitled “Coastal Paradise; We Love This Place,” can also be seen and purchased at www.saveourlake.org.
At LeMieux Galleries, Denise Berthiaume curated an exhibition entitled “Our Gulf Coast” with works by David Lambert, Deedra Ludwig, Paul and Paula Ninas, Kate Trepagnier, Bobby Wozniak and others benefiting The Gulf Restoration Network. Alex Beard took a different tactic; he covered the floors, tables and some walls of
his Royal Street gallery with paper and then passed out the crayons, markers, brushes and paints in
an effort to spur the imagination and get youngsters to express or forget about the slick stuff oozing in the Gulf. He called it “Kids Day in New Orleans” and it was a mess of a success. Further Uptown, John and Joanne Curran opened the doors of their Garden District Gallery for a special preview night of “Treasures of the Gulf” for Ducks Unlimited, whose work to save our wetlands is unlimited. Artists such as Nini Bodenheimer, Peggy Hesse, Auseklis Ozols and Robert Seago have work on display at the Washington Avenue gallery. After the preview, a portion of proceeds from all the works will go to the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana.
Over at The Historic New Orleans Collection there was music and laughter as friends and fans of a musical legend gathered to celebrate the man and the book, Unfinished Blues written by Harold Batiste Jr. and Karen Celestan.
Batiste has written music recorded by such stars as the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Sonny and Cher, as well as being the founder of the All for One record label. The honoree clapped along as Ellis Marsalis played a few tunes along with one of his sons. Celestan interviewed the astonishing talent as guests enjoyed the evening. This was a warm-up for THNOC’s hugely popular “The New Orleans Antiques Forum,” which this year features the work of early Creole and Acadian styles. The three-day event begins on August 6 and ends with a speakers brunch at Antoine’s the following Sunday; it’s not to be missed.
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