If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ve heard me say in wonderment how nothing happens for days and then multiple events happen at the same time. Well, such was the case the last week in June when the last Thursday of the month had me hopping.
The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s annual meeting and reception is always a lovely event, and this year was no exception. Ann Connelly graciously turned over her gallery for the occasion, which doubled as an introduction for new CEO Eric Holowacz, who was sporting a purple and gold bow tie. He replaces the late Derek Gordon, who died following a brief illness last year.
Eric moves to Baton Rouge from Mildura, Victoria, Australia, where he served as arts and culture manager. Joining him are wife Maureen Hickey and their three daughters — Eva, Mila and Anaïs. Welcome to town!
The evening’s agenda also included the election of several new board members and officers. They include Chairman Ralph Stephens, Vice Chairman Brian Haymon, Secretary Yolanda Dixon, Treasurer Michael Loveless; immediate past Chairwoman Cheri Ausberry; Emelie Alton, Community Fund for the Arts chairwoman; Munzer Qaddourah, development committee chairman; and Scott Hensgens, nomination and board development committee chairman. New board members include Renée Areng and Rei Heroman. Thanked for their service to the board were outgoing board members Rachel DiResto and Gus Levy.
Before stepping aside as chairwoman, Ausberry presented a few awards. Recognized for their community leadership in the arts were the Saurage family and All Star Automotive. Veteran volunteer Mary Boston was recognized for her tireless efforts with FestForAll and Laurel Street Palooza.
My first stop of the evening was the reception officially opening the Downtown Development District’s new Design Resource Center. DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer announced a new campaign touting those who have invested in downtown — “We Live It” — adding that there are 50 young entrepreneurs investing in 36 downtown projects. Some are third and fourth generations maintaining the family business downtown.
Partners in the center include LSU, Southern University and the Taiwan Design Center. The news about Taiwan was announced by Mayor Kip Holden, who recently returned from a trip to that country. “Don’t’ think your dreams can’t come true,” said Holden. “Today we’re removing the shackles off your imagination.”
From the DDD’s Florida Street offices I headed to the Old State Capitol where Sec. of State Tom Schedler was hosting the exhibit “Rhythm & Hues” featuring jazz-inspired works by Associated Women in the Arts. I bumped into Mary Durusau, who was exiting the elevator as I was getting on. It was just long enough for us to exchange a quick hello and “hope to see you soon.”
Fortunately I had a little more time to check out the exhibit, which runs through Aug. 24. And, since most of the pieces are for sale, do try and swing by to check them out. Participating artists include Jovann Armstrong, Elaine Atkinson, Marge Campane, Kathy Daigle, Marylyn Daniel, Virginia Donner, Betty Efferson, Janice Evans, Jane Flowers, Louise Hansen, Kay Lusk, Dana Mosby, Andrea Phillips, Nancy Jo Poirrier, Sandra Roccaforte, Wilma Roy, Carole Sexton, Danni Shobe and Kathy Stone.
A hop, skip and jump down North Boulevard took me to the Old Governor’s Mansion for the Foundation for Historical Louisiana’s Heritage Lecture with author Rod Dreher. He was there to talk about his book, “The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life.” The book is the story of how he, his family, friends, students and a community came to grips with the death of his sister, and his later decision to return home to Louisiana.
I really hated that I couldn’t stay and hear Rod’s talk; that just moves the book up a notch on my reading list. But as The Advocate’s former art critic, he understood when I explained I was on my way to the Arts Council’s annual meeting.
Speaking of things artsy, the Ladies Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association got together for its board of governors’ transition luncheon meeting June 25 at its Garden District home. Erin Fleming took over the reigns as president from Jean Rice, who assumed the role of publicity chairwoman. Autumn Hillyer was elected juniors chairwoman, Jackie Elliott as historian and Melissa Gordon as administrative vice president.
The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts hosted a reception June 19 celebrating Foster Care Month and honoring CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers and others who work to improve outcomes for children in the foster care system. Special guest for the evening was Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson.
New Orleans is home to Louisiana’s oldest CASA program, although CASA now serves children statewide.
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