LA BELLE EPOQUE

Cabaret can-can girls flounced in their ruffles and fishnet hose to greet all the “gay Parisians” as they entered the Museum of Art for the Women’s Board Masterpiece Ball, La Belle Époque – an evening of French opulence. The gentlemen were handsome in tuxes and the ladies glam in gowns with feather boas. Honorary chairwoman (and sponsor) Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree looked like Cinderella in a white and pink creation designed by Arlene Larsen who used to do this in Hollywood. Leslie even had delicate slippers to match encrusted with roses. All we needed was a fairy tale prince!

For the soirée, couples had complimentary portraits taken ala prom night. There was a lively cocktail hour to schmooze and bid on the huge silent auction. More than 150 people needed to be thanked for their auction contributions as well as event sponsors Gwinneth Clarkson, Lil and Stan Nelson, Regina and Rick Roney and Sweet Alley (a candy shop) and many more underwriters.

Two galleries were set for dinner with black wire Eiffel Towers entwined in ivy and a French flag on each table. There was even a decadent chocolate miniature Eiffel Tower to take home (or eat immediately). La Musique was Julie Christensen and Stone Cupid and Le Menu was all very French, including beef tenderloin with sauce béarnaise and vegetables napoleon.

There was a surprise floorshow by the Fusion Dance Co., one number a razzle-dazzle can-can and another to “All That Jazz.” Who can resist a line of chorus girls doing high kicks? Gets applause every time. The president of the Women’s Board, Gwinneth Clarkson, welcomed patrons. Museum director Phillip Johnston quipped, “My wife said to make it brief. Gentlemen, stand and toast the ladies!” The three chairpersons were glowing – Amy Hammer, Nancy Lieberman and Sandy Oshinsky.

Vice president of fundraising Patricia Hinds was happy to see the money being raised for acquisitions, exhibitions and art education programs for at-risk and underserved youth in Santa Barbara. They bus kids to the museum for various art projects, summer programs and there are scholarships.

At 11 o’clock, before the coach turned into a pumpkin, it was time to say, “Au revoir!”

Passport to New Zealand

“Embarkation” to the Maritime Museum’s third annual gala had us “heading” to New Zealand in Santa Barbara. The museum had lots of “sheep” standing around (stand up cutouts). They couldn’t “baa” but Jamie McLeod’s birds could “caw, talk and whistle.” The parrot Babu adored Jamie, but the cockatoo Bobby hopped right onto my shoulder. Junior the macaw and Buddha, another cockatoo, were enjoying the champagne reception too. They all live at Menagerie in Summerland.

There was a New Zealand buffet, which of course included leg of lamb but also lots of other goodies such as sweet potato soufflé from Chuck’s Waterfront Grill. John Carson kept the live auction pace fast and furious raising bids for “Hanging Out with the Blue Angels” to “52 Bottles of Wine on the Wall” (one for every week of the year).

Nick DiNapoli (he and Barry Berkus were the museum architects) introduced the guests of honor Jean and Barry Schuyler. No wonder they were being honored. They each have been board presidents, members and benefactors of the Maritime Museum since the beginning. They have served on countless boards for other community groups and Jean was Woman of the Year in 1997 for the Santa Barbara Foundation and KEYT. Barry and Jean were 2000 recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Santa Barbara News-Press and Lifetime Achievement Award winners from the National Marine Sanctuaries in 2005. As their family said in the program, “Thank you for the legacy you have created. Your wisdom, generosity and hard work have made Santa Barbara and the world a better place.”

The museum is a great party venue with the balcony all around overlooking the main floor. Some of us danced the night away to the sounds of Swing Break. Kudos to co-chairs Pat Hinds and Sigrid Toye and their committee Hiroko Benko, Tricia Davis, Meg DiNapoli, Mary Garton, Jo Berkus, June Kjaempe, Gillian Launie, Jeney McCoy, Mimi Michaelis, Betty Weisman, Jean Schuyler and Sharon Wolfe. Amanda Thomas is president of the board and Julie McDonald is executive director.

The Maritime Museum, located on the working waterfront part of the harbor, opened in 2000 (a former Navy Reserve gymnasium) and has had 175,000 visitors since, including more than 8,000 children annually who take part in education programs and activities. Prior to its founding there was no preservation of our area’s maritime history and how it contributed to Santa Barbara’s growth. There have been more than 150 volunteers donating more than 45,000 hours of service to date. Bring the kids for a visit and see whether they can figure out, “How they got that big ship in here!”

Stanford Gathering

Many Stanford alumni and other friends gathered at Hope Kelly’s home for cocktails and a buffet and to honor her houseguest Drue Kataoka. Drue also graduated from Stanford in 2000 and is a nationally acclaimed sumi-e artist and flutist. She combines playing the flute and painting every day never concentrating solely on one talent.

Drue also composes music and writes poetry, which she performed for all the guests – her poetry spoken with dance movements. Malandrino Fashion, who will soon be opening on Melrose Avenue, provided her wardrobe.

“Drue started painting at three and also told us she wanted to play the flute,” Drue’s mom Barbara Kataoka from Palo Alto told me. “We had to wait until she was seven because her arms were too short to hold one. All her life she wanted to meet and play for the late world famous flutist Jean Pierre Rampal. She wrote him for ten years and finally he came to San Francisco when Drue was a senior in high school. She was invited to come to his suite in the St. Francis. After listening to her play he told her she should go to the Paris Conservatory. But she insisted on Stanford.”

Drue also does portrait painting. One of her more famous is of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Bill Walsh (former coach of the San Francisco 49’ers) and George Schulz done for a project called Century Crossroads. Recalling the project, Drue said, “I once was called to the office. I thought I’d done something terrible. Instead I was told Stanford wanted to archive all my prints in the Department of Special Collections.”

Some of the Stanford guests enjoying the evening and Drue’s talent were Kathy and Louis Rezzonico, Sally and Bob Beckham, Jean and Davis Von Wittenburg, Cicely and Bud Wheelon, Missy and Patrick DeYoung, Mary and Jack Carpenter, Ernie Clark, Nancy and Rush Hinsdale, Dodie and Robert Mannon and Dorothy and Sheldon Riley.