Visiting Venice and Aspiring Vesperados

Valets dressed like Venetian gondoliers in broad blue and white striped shirts and neck scarves (compliments of Cabana Home) greeted us and drove our cars off to be parked somewhere on Marina Drive in Hope Ranch. They probably wished they had a gondola to get back to the estate instead doing all that running. That was a great beginning for Domestic Violence Solutions’s seventh annual fundraiser, this year at Terra Bella, the home of Alicia Lancashire.

The patrons arrived an hour early for bellinis, hors d’oeuvres and a private tour of the magical gardens, 10 in all, set on three bluff-top acres overlooking the Pacific. Landscape designer Margie Grace, of Grace Design Associates, described the gardens as a “string of pearls” that meander and connect different motifs from a Zen garden to a vegetable garden. The gardens are the perfect setting for museum quality statuary that the Lancashires have collected for years. Why not have a miniature train running throughout? So they do. Grace and her company did all this four years ago with a deadline of 10 weeks. If that’s not enough, there is a stable and chickens too.

The silent auction action, delectable delights and libations were set around the pool, which turned into a giant fountain with sprays of water all round. I caught Platinum Sponsors Tracy and Eric Kanowsky sitting atop one of the raffle prizes – a smoky gray Vespa Grantourismo 200L Scooter. The lucky winner will have the choicest ride in town and receive an honorary membership in the Santa Barbara Vesperados! The other Platinum Sponsor was Colleen Parent Beall.

Executive Director Rebecca Robertson was supervising check in of all guests while co-chairs Susan Caine and Leesa Wilson-Goldmuntz and their committee of 22 were everywhere. Rebecca told me that Domestic Violence Solutions is the county’s “only agency focused solely on ending domestic violence.”

She told me that last year the organization “provided confidential shelter” to 416 women and children, with personal counseling to 800 individuals and phone assistance to 2,817 people who dialed the 24-hour crisis hotlines. Trained advocates responded to 1,376 domestic violence calls with police officers and more than 11,000 junior high and high school teens were educated about healthy relationship skills.

For more info call 963-4458.

A Gift Unlike Any Other

“A Gift for Santa Barbara: The Dwight and Winifred Vedder Collection” was the focus of a Members of the President’s Century Council reception at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Museum Director Phillip Johnston told me, “This is one of the most significant gifts in the museum’s sixty-six-year history.” Winifred Vedder gave the 13 paintings on behalf of her late husband, Dwight.

The Vedders were local avocado ranchers and began collecting art in the ‘70s with the help of Los Angeles art dealer Louis Stern. They seemed to be soulmates in their choice of art since they were able to go into a gallery and choose the same painting even when strolling separately.

Among more than 26,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art has never owned a Mary Cassatt or a Renoir. It now has two of each.

Also part of the gift are works by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Armand Guillaumin, Berthe Morisot, Victoria Dubourg Fantin-Latour, Helen Bradley and Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma Moses) representing French, British and American artists from the late 19th and 20th centuries. I liked Renoir’s philosophy: “For me a picture should be a pleasant thing, joyful and pretty – yes pretty. There are quite enough unpleasant things in life without the need for us to manufacture more.” Not to forget Grandma Moses’ acerbic quote: “If I hadn’t started painting (in her 70s and 80s) I would have raised chickens.”

Mrs. Vedder notes, “We both had the same philosophy – you should give back to what gives to you.” It was art that gave her and her husband joy. Winifred (known at Teddie) had several of her family with her to share the spotlight: son Phillip, granddaughter Rachel, daughter-in-law Sarah, great-granddaughter Tatum, granddaughter-in-law Michele, grandson Jason and friend Jamie Fortin. The exhibition was made possible because of Vicki and Patrick Stone (chair of the Board of Trustees) and Elaine Stepanek. Chief registrar Cherie Summers was enjoying the culmination of her work.

A flautist and harpist played while guests enjoyed the exhibition and the bouquets of roses and lilacs from Rose Story Farm. Among them were board members Anne Luther with husband, Julian Nott, Laura Shelburne with Craig, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree and Mike Healy. More were artist Tom Mielko and wife, Eileen, Regina and Rick Roney and Tim Walsh.

“A Gift for Santa Barbara” will be on display through December. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State Street, is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 pm to 5 pm. Free every Sunday and closed Monday.