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H'Art & Soul of Haiti

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By Jean Horne
Monday, Sept. 30, 2002
 

Talk about a bash. And people will be talking about it for months. Organized by the Friends of Hopital Albert Schweitzer/Haiti , it was the quintessental art soiree with a redux of last year's knockout concert by the Tom Tom Club 's Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth , Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and co-founders of The Talking Heads.

The time was Friday night and the place was the Bitz Building, which is owned by Francois Bitz and is just a stone's throw from the new convention center. A convoy of Beamers, Benzes and Range Rovers delivered some 500 guests to the red carpet that was banked by Haitian flags on the outside and lined with photos of the hospital's founders and patients on the inside.

When the elevator doors opened to the ninth floor, our eyes did runneth over with joy. Floor to ceiling, every space was filled with a dazzlement of Haitian art … art that shimmered on the exposed-brick-and-barely-plastered walls. Art from modest to masterful. And priced accordingly.

No apologies here, because every sou goes directly to HAS. A $1,000 painting pays for a village of vaccinations at 15 cents each. You should also know that HAS doesn't merely have a Pittsburgh connection, it has a Pittsburgh legacy. Founded in 1956 by the late Dr. Larimer and Gwen Grant Mellon, who can lay claim to the credo, "Build it, and they will come," this amazing hospital cares for nearly 300,000 people a year in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. On its most profound level, the night raised over $200K to continue their dream.

Rather than an auction, Friends wisely enlisted the help of a blue-ribbon art committee from Pittsburgh's social register whose members are passionate about the Mellons' mission … the best 280 friends a hospital could ever have. So it was that, at the $500-per-tix level, 10 names were drawn for 10 choice works of art. That's it … no haranguing, no gaveling, no boring.

Ambience• It was merely gorgeous, with cocktail tables covered in crushed-silk jewel tones and centered with exotic bouquets or sculpture. Amazing, too, what beautifully dressed, beautiful women can do to brighten a room that's still under construction. As for Parkhurst Dining's tropical buffets, they were not only works of art, but a seriously delicious binge … down to desserting on a baked mango crisp that left us begging for mercy.

The Tom-Tom Club's exhilarating fusion of techno-funk attracted a second wave of the young and beautiful who showed at 9 o'clock for the concert. It was an embarrassment of riches, a private concert, with the seven-piece band who donated their all, the darlings, and had us rocking to the gritty vibe for 90 minutes. Frantz is a native son and the eve was a reunion for several of his Shady Side Academy buddies. Wait, there's more. At 11, up to the bandstand jumped TTC's Mystic Bowie & the Pallbearers with their blend of reggae, ska and zydeco.

Starting with the Mellon and Grant clans, let's name drop: Farley and Josh Whetzel; Sedgeley Claire of Maryland; Justin Patterson of Upperville, Va.; Rachel and Peter Stephaich with his mother Louise in from NYC; Molly, Joe and Rachel Walton; Nicole Rawson and Ethan West; Rachel Rawson and Dr. Charles Cowap of Ohio.

As well as Friends' prez Lucy Rawson and Ian ( Gwen 's son) with director Robyn Hollingshead ; HAS CEO Dr. Henry Perry in from Haiti; Dorothy and Dr. Richard Raizman (they sparked the art committee concept!); Chris' mom Sue Frantz with Rod and Marcy; Henry Simonds; Debbie Dick (she hosted a HAS art exhibit in Martha's Vineyard this summer!); Susie Dorrance; Peggy and Steve McKnight; Barbara Barry; Betsy Hurtt and Douglas Branson; Natalie Taaffe ; AGH's chairman of medicine Dr. Rick Shannon and Dr. Barbara Clark with Stanford U's chief of surgery Dr. Ralph Greco (they've been treating patients at HAS for years!); Dara and John Henne ; the Tippins: John, Karen and Bill; Andrea and Glenn Mahone; Maria and Goerdt Abel ; and Ed Loughney .

Moving along with such art aficionados as Diane and Hal Waldman; Audrey and Tom Hilliard; Liz Schoyer with granddaughter Priscilla Rodd; Barbara and David Dick; Dee Bold ; Dr. Elliott Kramer and Bill Modrak; Toto and Jim Fisher; Barb Mendlowitz; Stephanie and Tom Flannery; Joanie and Sam Kamin; Jeannie and Luke Desmone; Bridget Miller; Cindy and Dr. Bill Swartz; Janna Leepson of Middleburg, Va.; Shelly Snoddy; Lu and Henry Gailliot; Gloria and Aaron Walton; Caryn Rubinoff and Craig Dunham; Ann Haley and Jo-Ann Bates (they're with the Links, who sponsored last night's benefit with Metropolitan Opera's glorious mezzo Denyce Graves!); Jerry and Rhonda Wade-Lopes; Marvin Kamin and Hannah in a stunning black Dior suit with a lacy collar.

Plus Dick and Dr. Nancy Nieland-Fisher; Marian Winson and Bill Genge; Claudette and Dr. Harold Lewis; Mary Caroline Hunt; Meg Bernard; Idamae and Jim Rich; Tracy Brigden ; WQED-TV's Michael Bartley; Ranny and Jay Ferguson ; art dealer Pascale Monnin of Haiti; Melanie Affinito and Bill Steitz; Carol and Peter Mathieson; Ceci Sommers; Gertrude and Dr. Paul Caplan; Harley Trice; Michelle Pagano and Chris Heck; Gayle and Bill Simpson; Maria and Maury Burgwin; Susan Hillman; Mary Margaret and Lloyd Stamy; Paula Blodgett and Mike Daly; Suzanne Mauro; Ginny Moyles; Susan Clancy; Louisa and Grahame Smyth; Suzanne Mauro; Alison Wardrop; Ann Stanton and Eban Adams; Karen and Tim Slevin; Roz Nieman; Joyce McCoy ; and Fabienne Jolivert .

That's what Friends are for.

Women of Spirit

They come from different backgrounds, different walks of life. Some are entrepreneurs, others are pioneers, pols and industry leaders. Some are philanthropists, others affect change through their daily work. All are confident, successful, and have helped shape the face of Pittsburgh. Not a shrinking violet in the bunch, they know how to make it in a man's world.

The fab 15 at Saturday's Carlow College Women of Spirit Gala in the Marriott City Center remind us that when it comes to what a woman can achieve, not even the sky's the limit:

  • Joan Apt and Margaret Rieck , co-founders, Pittsburgh Public Theater.

  • Margaret Petruska , director, Children, Youth & Families for The Heinz Endowments.

  • Esther Bush , president/CEO, Urban League of Pittsburgh.

  • Dr. Katherine Detre , professor of epidemiology, Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health.

  • Melissa Hart , congresswoman.

  • Barbara Hafer , Pennsylvania state treasurer.

  • Laurie Moser , breast cancer survivor who brought the Susan Komen Race for the Cure to Pittsburgh.

  • Louise Reiber Malakoff , attorney and volunteer who devotes much of her time to community programs.

  • Mattis Hollis , lead evangelist/missionary, Morningside Church of God in Christ.

  • Judith Callomon , educator who spent most of her 40-year teaching career at Ellis School.

  • Elizabeth McMillan , Sister of Mercy, presently serving in Honduras.

  • Leslie Braksick , co-founder/CEO/president, Continuous Learning Group.

  • Linda Croushore , founder/director, Mon Valley Education Consortium.

  • Carolyn Duronio , a managing partner of Reed Smith.

    Faces in the crowd of 570 black-ties making a strong statement in support of Carlow's WoS scholarship fund: Carolyn and Jim Chaplin; Aaron and Gloria Walton ; emcee Jennifer Antkowiak of KDKA-TV; Marilyn and Tom Donnelly with Peter and Megan; Irma and Don Goertzen; Judy and Ron Davenport; Karen and Ed Linder; Tasso Katselas; Ellie and Joe Wymard; Gerry and John Boccella; Bruce Kaplan; Jane Arkus; Mary Anne and Sam Hazo; Pat and Alan Siger; Gayle Tissue; Peggy Finnegan and Mike Donnelly; Ruth and Leonard Perfido; Toni Scarlata ; Sister Linda Yankoski ; Stephen Klein; Janice and Alter Friedman ; Dr. Michael and Helen Chang Hu ; Irene Shea . And most of all, the unabashedly spirited, irrepressible Sister Grace Ann Geibel , whose leadership has blazed a trail for countless young women studying at Carlow College.

    You go, goddesses.

    Gogh for it

    In the life-is-supposed-to-imitate-art department, the tortured Vincent shows up to paint alongside another struggling (the only kind, really) artist in " Inventing van Gogh ," City Theatre 's wordy, intriguing season opener. Much is made of his canvases' inner light or, um, van Glow. In the cutting-edge department, he doesn't lop off the ear onstage, but does comes near.

    CT's really on to something. As well as Wednesday's post-play cast party at Cafe Allegro, it hosted a nifty early-bird reception in its lounge that had morphed into an atelier on opening night. Sidewalk artists were recreating Vincent's most famous canvases in pastels, while another was painting a huge self-portrait indoors.

    On first impression (ha ha), we saw CT's Tracy Brigden and David Jobin mixing and mingling with The Carnegie's Richard Armstrong and Sarah Nichols ; artists Michael Lotenero and Adelaide LaFond; Vicky Clark; Rebeca and Bob Frankel; Nancy and Milt Washington ; attorney Ros Litman; Gail Eaton and Tom Hollander; Pam and Ken McCrory; Philip Pelusi; Eric Springer; Colleen Criste; Michael Braxton; Jeanne and Scotti Mulert; Claudette and Dr. Harold Lewis; Kirk Johnson and Henry Krakovsky; Corinne Imbach; Linnea Glick ; and Richard Rauh .

    Sunflowers.

    Vintage gala

    Something wonderful this way came in 1973, and its mission was to help the elderly in the community find companionship, recreation and a sense

    of belonging. Called Vintage , it was staffed by volunteers who set up shop in an East Liberty church.

    Today, Vintage is a main street resource for seniors with a first rate, truly beautiful, positively bustling activity center. Of bright welcoming spaces and life-affirming programs. And its mission may be the only facet of the remarkable operation that's unchanged.

    With all this positive energy going for the "gold" in those golden years, Vintage hosted a gala for 150 on Thursday that showcased programs at the East Liberty facility with a treasure hunt and silent auction.

    Faces in the crowd: Vintage board chair Charlie Gross and director Linda Doman ; benefit chair Jill Brethauer with Dave Samuel; Jim Rudolph ; Junior League's Julia Gleason; Pam Estes; Tracy and Dr. Katherine Henderson; Ann Truxell and Robert Nelkin; Melinda and Philip Beard; Jim Rosenberg; Sharon Washington; Cathy Frasca; Mina Belle Packer Wichmann; Vicki and Ted Neighbors; Earl McCabe; Shelley and Charlie Bitzer; Barbara Vilanova; Debbie Norrell and her mom Essie; Marilyn Kraitchman; Minnie Smith; Hazel Johnson ; and 85-year-old volunteer Sidney Hills .

    Prime time.

    A year of volunteers

    Fourteen years ago, the VITA (Volunteer in the Arts) Award was created to recognize the women and men who contribute their priceless time, talent and wherewithal to the arts. Priceless, because the arts simply couldn't exist without them.

    The effort is generously underwritten by Dominion , folks who know a thing or two about energy, and coordinated by WQED/Pittsburgh, which features the vounteers on their cultured airwaves.

    Wednesday was payback time as 2002's honorees and leaders of the arts' community were feted at a posh luncheon in the Renaissance Hotel. Where

    the Pittsburgh Glass Center's Karen Block Johnese was named "Volunteer of the Year." She's just one of this season's unsung heroes. And the title, volunteer, doesn't reflect the wealth of their contributions.

    "They represent a billion dollar asset to the region," noted B.J. Leber , WQED station manager, as she and Bill Hall of Dominion also presented awards to Dr. Pamela Lewis , Bach Choir of Pittsburgh; Suzanne Scott , Society for Contemporary Craft; Arthur (Tui) Coburn III , Sweetwater Center for the Arts; Tom Todd , Pittsburgh Symphony; Jeannine Abel , Venango Chamber Orchestra; Jennifer Aronson , Silver Eye Center for Photography; Condi Augustine , New Castle Playhouse; and Roger Schneider , East Winds Symphonic Band.

    Bravo … you're the tops!

    Big Birds

    Who says penguins can't fly• From their launching pad at the Sewickley Heights Golf Club, an artsy colony of finely crafted feathered friends soared off the block at Saturday night's Penguins on Parade Auction for the benefit of the Sweetwater Center for the Arts — where creativity flows in arts programs ranging from the visual to performance and more.

    Of course, the 30 birds up for bid were of the molded polygypsum variety, all cleverly adorned by a flock of creative artists. Inspired by local themes, these 3-foot-tall, 50-plus-pound wonders celebrated all things Pittsburgh, from playwright August Wilson to Heinz ketchup. With artist's Nick Farbacher's "Fire in the Belly, Future in Sight" fetching the top price of $7,500, the final nest egg totaled nearly $60,000 for Sweetwater's community and outreach arts programs.

    Though not up for bid, the most noticeable penguin was superstar Mario Lemieux with wife Nathalie , mother-in-law Paulette Levesque and sister-in-law Ginette Asselin . As usual, Number 66 iced the event with his hall of fame class and style.

    Sweetwater director Kristin Brown credited the event's success to volunteers such as Parade co-chairs Susan Kaminski (with Greg ) and Peggy Dixon (with Hank ); board prez Tui Coburn and Ann ; Miriam Rader and Dr. Richard Bowers ; Bob Kmetz ; Pam Vaughan and John Sheehan ; Gussie and Woody Dunstan ; Susan and Mark Brantley ; Lisa Burrows and Charles ; Maggie and Chuck Setler ; Barbara Barry ; Marcy and Rob Duff ; Dr. Kenneth Powell and Denise ; Judy and Dan Wessels ; Joan and Phil Gully, and Judi and Sam Spanos . And a special salute to executive chef Brian Simpson and staff for a near endless spread of edibles.

    Attending artists included Robert Sands (with Patricia ) and daughter Ashley Setcavage (with Stuart ); Jay Milligan with wife Susan Limoncelli ; Thad Mosley with Joan Dickerson ; Lynda Lambert and Bob ; Richard Kelly with Jennifer Pesci ; Melody Lockerman and Scott ; Geogre Schill and Patti ; husband and wife duo Duncan MacDiarmid and Joan Kielar ; Robert Villamanga and Chris, and Stevo with Bill Henderson .

    Plus: Nellie and Ross Kraus ; Don Reinhardt , Paul DeLuca; Mary Fran and Dan Sponseller ; Melissa and Tom Doyle; Shelley Clement and Henry; Lori George ; Tom Potter ; Mike Lee ; Kit Meuller and Cynthia Hays ; Barbara and John Pugh ; Meghan and John Wise ; Joan and Steve Fisher and, from the Aquarium at Niagara in Niagara Falls, N.Y., penguin expert Tom Keating .

    Gonna fly now!

    — John Altdorfer

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