The art of matter
“The exhibit is simply stunning,” said Catherine Bohwho has the double distinction within the “family” of the Rex Organization of being the wife of a king, the late Robert H. Boh, and mother of His Majesty in 2019, Robert S.Boh. She was praising the Louisiana State Museum’s exhibit, “Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design,” which just opened at the Presbytery on Jackson Square during the Louisiana Museum Foundation’s Founders Ball III festive route. with IberiaBank | First Horizon as presenting sponsor. The gala that opened “Rex,” an LSM exhibit, and the office of the lieutenant governor. William H. “Billy” Nungesserwas funded by the above foundation “thanks to the generous support of the community”.
Purple, green and gold, the traditional colors of Mardi Gras (and a Rex ‘invention’) were on full display, starting with a stunning large-scale floral arrangement by Dunn & Sonnier. Shimmering table linens continued the chromatic theme. Co-organized by wayne phillipswho is the Curator of Textiles, Costume and Carnival at LSM, and Dr. Stephen Hales, the historian and archivist of the Rex Organization, the “Rex” exhibit was, of course, the highlight. Scheduled to run until December 11, it was spread over five themed galleries. It featured fabulous Rex costumes (including dazzling dresses of past queens), jewelry, portraits, carnival favors, rare documents and the artistry of design school invitations. Founders Ball III was created by Caroline Thomas Royal Artists.
As patrons browsed the exhibit on the second floor of the Presbytery, they enjoyed a variety of appetizers. Downstairs, the delights continued with a seafood buffet by Louisiana Seafood and Marketing Promotion, as well as select Creole dishes and desserts from Ralph Brenan Restoration. Classic New Orleans cocktails, such as Ojen, Rex 1872, and Sidecar, were enjoyed, as were offerings from six full bars, courtesy of the Goldring Family Foundation (and William “Bill” gold ring) and the company Sazerac.
After the general commotion, and just at the scheduled time of 7:45 p.m., the cheery crowd gathered in the second-floor gallery for the presentation with Mark C. Romig as master of ceremonies and five presenters/speakers. They were Karl Hofer of Presenting Sponsor, IberiaBank | First Horizon; Erik F. Johnsen, the oldest former Rex and Founders Ball III His Majesty’s Court Subscription Sponsor; President of the LMF Melissa Douglass Steiner; and official of Rex James J. Reiss III, who said, “the founders of Rex would be so happy with this exposure” and, among other things, acknowledged the above Wayne Phillips, LMF Executive Director Susan Maclay, and Lieutenant Governor. The final words were spoken by Lieutenant Governor Nungesser, who said it took “over two years ago to get to this (opening) night.”
Master of Ceremonies Mark Romig also recognized the Honorary Co-Chairs of Founders Ball III: Messrs. Stephen S. Boh, John D. Charbonnet, Louis M. Freeman, Richard W. Freeman Jr., (Dr.) Ronald J. French, Louis L. Frierson, William F. Grace Jr., (Dr.) Hales, Johnsen, Michael W. Kearney, Harry B. Kelleher Jr., John E. Koerner III, John P. “Jack” Laborde, R. King Milling, Robert M. Monsted Jr., Lynes R. “Poco” Sloss, Eli Watson Tullis and Thomas D. Westfeldt II. Almost all of these former Carnival Kings (Rexes) were present and accompanied by a spouse or guest, as were many of the previous and subsequent ones.
The four co-presidents of the ball were particularly highlighted: MM. Christian “Christy” T. Brown, J. Storey Charbonnet (the king of 2020, and thus the “reigning” Rex of two years), William H. “Bill” Hines and R. Hunter Pierson Jr. Again, all former royalty.
Another quartet received congratulations: MM. Murray A. Calhoun, Benjamin A. Dupuy, T. Semmes Favrot and Philip N. Hodges, members of the ball’s steering committee. The Ball-winning Rex Organization was hailed for “150 years of Carnival leadership, creating the model of Mardi Gras as we know it today, and for its commitment to New Orleans and the public good.” . Rex’s motto is “Pro Bono Publico”.
Presentations to the Rex organization, proclamations from Rex (to Lt. Governor Nungesser, Susan Maclay and Wayne Phillips), and presentations of American and Louisiana flags (to Messrs. Reiss and Brown) concluded the formalities.
Other features of the event included the shimmering sounds of The Harry Hardin Trio mixing jazz and old standards, DJ rockin rob with dance music, dinner and a continuous visit to the exhibition under the spotlight. Many people enjoyed browsing the magnificent float that welcomed visitors inside.
Noted, and joined by many of the aforementioned, were Erica Reiss, Anne Lynne Charbonnet, Mary Hines, Cathy Pierson, Jerry Steiner, Caroline Calhoun, Sweet Dupuy, Catherine Favrot, Lisa Hoefer, Barbara Johnsen, Ann Boh, Gayle Benson, Jennifer and Dennis Lauscha, Nancy Hales, Flora French, Tiffany Adler and dad Coleman Adler, Sarah (Mrs. Richard Jr.) Freeman, Don Maclay, and countless others, who have appreciated the role of “Bringing History to Life” of the Louisiana Museum Foundation and the legacy of Rex, who since his founding in 1972 has provided unprecedented leadership in carnival. Fun too.
Oh what a night!
Dale times two – that’s Beverly Dale and Dale A. Mott — teamed up to chair the recent O What a Night! of the Ogden Museum, a highly anticipated on-site gala that was recognized as the Opus Prize winner, acclaimed photographer and author Sally Man. In recognition of his photography, the colorscape and theme featured gray and black hues. The tent had black grass and a white dance floor. Other decorative aspects were the stage with a plethora of fairy lights and lush green ferns; tables topped with shimmering gray tablecloths, floral centerpieces, and purple lighting (tent-wide); and a photo booth.
Feeding the photogenic flock were dishes from Sylvain de LeBlanc + Smith (salad), McHardy’s Chicken (fried chicken), The Elysian Bar (oyster bar) and Beth Biundo Sweets (desserts). Champagne was provided by Total Wine & More and Dale A. Mott & Kenneth P. Hyde.
Exciting features of “O” were the music of The New Orleans Swinging Gypsies, One Shot Brass Band, Jeremy Davenport, and display strip; Neal Auction Company as a presenter of over 100 works by regional artists for the silent auction (a portion of proceeds going to participating artists); and the live auction of 16 lots with thanks to the auctioneer Nicholas “Nicho” Lowry (Antique Roadshow) and Swann Auction Galleries. The beautiful sculpture of Mapo Kinnord and the late Lin Emery was the top-selling play ($41,000) with half of the play’s proceeds slated for the United Negro College Fund.
Notables, and there were many, included the president of the South Ogden Art Museum Jessie Haynes, Oscar nominee Ramell Ross (who has an ongoing solo exhibition at the museum), and the New Orleans City Council, Helene Moreno and Lesli Harris. As well, Anne Guillot and John Isiah Walton, Martin Payton and Mapo Kinnord, Michelle and Jason Leckert, Janet Adderley, Bryan Batt and Tom Cianfichi, Natalie and Amilton Neves Cuna, Jennie Cannon West and Jason Richards, Borislava and Steven Callan, Leslie Claire Spillman and Amy Blackwelland Susan and Ralph Brennan.
Exploited Special Appreciation Jason Wavespack and Jeffery Morgan, hosts of the patron saint’s bash at their downtown home. La Delachaise provided and a mixologist from Saba designed the cocktails, which were sipped as people previewed the artwork from the live auction, while mingling with artists and the auctioneer. All during another, oh what a night!