Derek Gordon’s tradition will continue when the Laurel Street Palooza rolls around on Friday, Jan. 11.
He was the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s chief executive officer until his death on Sept. 10, 2012, and he always donated a few pieces from his art collection to the Palooza’s annual auction.
“And Derek’s family will be donating some pieces from his collection this year,” Kathy Scherer said.
She’s the council’s interim director, and this is a tradition she’s happy to continue. Gordon developed so many series, programs and opportunities while heading the arts council, which will be commemorating his life and service with a program in September.
But for now, his family is continuing his art auction tradition continues to be a part of the council’s annual celebration of the arts in Baton Rouge, as do its traditions of live music, local food and royalty.
Well, the arts council’s version of royalty doesn’t live in palaces or reign atop Mardi Gras floats. Kings and queens are chosen because of their support of the greater Baton Rouge arts community.
And Cary Saurage and Ann Connelly will reign as king and queen when the party kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at the arts council’s headquarters on Laurel Street.
All proceeds will benefit the arts council, which provides arts education and supports artists and arts organizations in the 11 parishes it serves.
Saurage has been involved in a variety of civic activities, serving on the boards of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Friends of Magnolia Mound Plantation and the Baton Rouge Gallery. He also has been a supporter of such arts groups as the LSU Museum of Art, Magnolia Mound, LSU Rural Life Museum, Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and the Hilltop Arboretum and the Burden Center.
Saurage also worked in 2011 with Gordon to establish the Michael Crespo Visual Artist Fellowship, a $5,000 annual award intended to recognize the quality and breadth of work by a visual artist who has been established as a long-time contributing member of the Baton Rouge community.
Saurage began collecting art at age 15 with the purchases of a Japanese print and a sculpture. He went on to establish the first endowed fund at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to focus on art, and he has helped area museums acquire art created by Louisiana artists or artists having lived in and worked in Louisiana in the first half of the 20th century.
Saurage also serves on the Arts Council’s Derek E. Gordon Arts Fund Advisory Committee.
As for Connelly, she established her contemporary gallery, Ann Connelly Fine Art, in 1989. The gallery is dedicated to the promotion of regional, national and international artists. She provides original fine art to established and emerging collectors, and caters to special events in support of fine art organizations.
Connelly also has been instrumental in establishing and promoting two local cultural districts: the Perkins Road Arts District and the Mid-City Arts District. These designations are given by the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and the Metro Council of East Baton Rouge, allowing businesses and customers to take advantage of tax discounts on local and original artworks.
Connelly has partnered with the arts council, helping to establish the Gateway to Culture exhibitions at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, displaying the work of local artists throughout Baton Rouge’s airport terminal.
In addition, she has helped establish rotating exhibitions at the Manship Gallery and the Kress Gallery in Downtown Baton Rouge.
For several years, she has framed and installed artwork donated from private collections for the Laurel Street Palooza silent auction to benefit the Arts Council.
Connelly also serves on the Arts Council’s Derek E. Gordon Arts Fund Advisory Committee.
Now, the royals’ rule will be a little more special this year.
“This year, 2013, marks the arts council’s 40th anniversary,” Scherer said.
And serving as master of ceremonies in this event to open this anniversary year will be Mayor-President Kip Holden.
Also in the night’s lineup are musical acts The Michael Foster Project, Artemis, guitarist and vocalist Kirk Holder, Righteous Buddha, and Ben Bell and the Stardust Boys.
Providing food will be Ambrosia Bakery, The Blend, Bistro Byronz, Capital City Grill, Couyon’s Port Allen, The Camelot Club, Culinary Productions, Curbside Burgers, Don Bergeron Enterprises, Jambalaya Shoppe on Government, Kona Grill, Latte E Miele Gelato, Lucys Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, Mestizo, MJ’s Café, The Robert A. Bogan Fire Museum Chili Squad, Ruffino’s, Sammy’s, Schlittz & Giggles, Voo Doo BBQ & Grill and Zea’s Rotisseri & Grill.
Finally, beverages will be provided by Baton Rouge Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Mockler Beverage Company, The Radio Bar, Martin Wine Cellar, 3-Way Discount Liquor & Beer, Benedetto’s Market, Paul Bologna Fine Wines, Black Castle Vineyard, Calandro’s Supermarket — Select Cellars, Community Coffee, Calvin’s Market at Bocage and Marcello’s Wine Market.
“And as in previous years, we’ll have some surprises,” Scherer said. “That’s another Palooza tradition.”
But to find out what’s going to happen, you’ll have to join the party.
And partake in its traditions.