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In living color

| Monday, May 20, 2002

There were no warring cellphones ringing in chorus. Yet collectors were very serious at the boss Art for AIDS/Art for a Change auction that took over the first floor of the Carnegie Museum of Art with an artsy pastiche of 1,600 BPs and gay celebrants to bid art and soul for an important cause: Persad Center 's counseling services for people with HIV/AIDS and those who care for them.

Now in its 14th year and themed It's About Living , the benefit continues to transform art into hope for long-term survivors of the plague that's straddling two centuries.

Easily worth the $65 price of admission was the graze, the fashionista sights, and the mix and mingle that was levitating with energy. But art was the main event. No matter that pieces were densely displayed in the Hall of Architecture and lighting was yet another problem, the bidding was strong. Especially in the adjoining Music Hall where auctioneer Marty Davis queued up the crowd for some painless extractions. Right. It's only money, honey.

You should also know that the auction action was delayed by Andy Warhol Museum's Tom Sokolowski who won the week's thumbscrews' award for his 20-minute rant abetted by illustrations of pointing thumbs. And finger. Here comes the fun. After the last item, an exquisite Art Nouveau bronze by Erte (accent mark on second "e"), had been hammered down at $4,500, the doors to the foyer opened wide onto designer Robert Miles' sizzling boogie night.

Huge shimmering orbs of color were suspended over the dance floor where D.J. Kelli Burns and Phat Man Dee were spinning a new wave vibe. And nary an eyebrow was raised by drag queens in French maid uniforms passing trays of Krispy Kremes.

Expenses were practically nil this year. No small thanks to the largesse of artists, collectors and galleries, the darlings, who contributed 217 choice works. As well as to Tim Condron's designers (go Leon!) for the knockout bouquets; and to the caterers, servers and volunteers who donated their all. Of course, having the Giant Eagle Foundation and UPMC Health System as tippy-top sponsors was a windfall to the $165,000 bottom line.

Bidding their arts' desire were benefit co-chairs Michelle Pagano and Mark Power; Persad's beloved founders Randy Forrester and Jim Huggins with board chair Dr. Marty Seltman and Janet; Elsie Hillman; Yale Gutnick and Gladys Burstein (she donated the fab Erte!); art acquisition mavens Linnea Glick and Michael Hertrich; artist Michael Loterno (his oil won Best of Show!) and Rose; Leo Castagnari; Henry Simonds; Mary and Tim McVay; Robert Sendall; Pam Bryan; Tony Garrubba; John Pcsolar and Alan Sandman in from Philly; Diane and Tadao Arimoto; and Vicky Clark.

Plus Amy and Ira Morgan; Matt Roper; Nachum Golan and Steve Hough; Tim Dean; Tricia Kassling; Adelaide LaFond; Mary Culbertson-Stark; Kristen and Mark Lane; Francois Bitz; Ellie Siegal; Susie Katz; D.A. Steve Zappala and Mary; Dolly Ellenberg; Richard Kelly; Carla Frost; Dee Jay Oshry and Bart Rack; Bob Davis; Mark Friedman; Carole and Ben Hodes; Margie McGregor; Persad director Betty Hill with Kathi Boyle; San Francisco's Carlos Tanaka with Jerry Morosco; Marty Healy; and Richard Parsakian.

Plus-plus Elliott Oshry; Lucy and Ian Rawson; Russ Kemerer; Dennis Huber; Gordon Fisher and Wes Scott; Joey Costa; Lila Hirsch Brody; Kathleen Zimbicki; Joyce O'Connor; Betty Berkely; Ed Amori; Lee Indorato and Rob Slick; Champ Knecht; Ryan Tinn; two life-sized lint puppets (don't ask); Dan Frankel; Marsha Mellow; Bob McGrogan and Scott Goodwin; Wendi Miller; Paul Ford; Kerry Crosby; and Steve Mendelson who championed the first AfA auction in his gallery in 1989. It's about giving.

Murphy's Law

Attorney Joe Murphy and stunning Brooke Bartos are a new-world couple in an utterly elegant, old-world manse in tony Murdoch Farms that has all the trappings of fine art, fab furnishings. And a garden where the manicured grass was definitely greener at Saturday's Spring Gala . It was a fabulous, glamorous, four-star affair … the kind that, alas, has all but disappeared from the fund-raising circuit. And it benefited Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

No matter that Mother Nature had cancelled spring, some 150 blackties swept past the red-carpeted driveway (doesn't everyone carpet their drive?) that was lined with lamp posts wafting chiffon streamers and into the heated tent where Peter Hewlett and Cityscape kept them dancing to his high-society beat.

Quel tent! Glowing like an entrance-making movie set, it was a testament to designer Tim Condron's vision of a soigne(accent over "e"), drop-dead-divine do.

Let's begin with the candlelit chandeliers that were clustered with pale roses and fragrant bay leaves over tables opulently laid in billowing silk, topped by plaid overlays and centered with spiffy bouquets studded with limes.

The Fluted Mushroom's buffets were oh-so-sumptuous and everyone raved, I tell you, about the baby lamb chops and lobster ravioli. Not to mention Murphy's wondrously vintage wines to quaff by. This was more private party than benefit bash and our nonpareil hosts wouldn't have it any other way. And if such a thing is possible, gentle reader, it was even better indoors. Can you stand it?

Christine and T.J. McCrady (they're expecting!) chaired all this gorgeousness that had the ladies wrapped against the cold. But not the fun. We left near the witching hour (certainly, there was valet parking) and may have been among the first to do so.

Who was there• Here are but a few: PPWP board chair Jim Abraham and Fran with prexy Kim Evert and Bob; Silvia and Alex Speyer; Audrey and Tim Fisher; Sue and Jim Liken; Peggy and Steve McKnight; Drs. Helene and Todd Blodgett; Catherine and Mark Loevner; Liz and Tom Sweeney; Margie and Judge Jim McGregor; Karen and Ed Linder; Susie and John Wean; Tim Condron and Glen Charest; Diane and Hal Waldman; Margie and Howard Gillfillan; Dr. Jim Dill; Carol Caroselli; Nancy Bromall and Bob Barry. As well as Sibby McCrady; Drs. Thelma Snyder and Marc Liang; Betsy and Lee Deiseroth; Cynthia Carrow and Jim Kyper; Lucy and Ian Rawson; Barb Weizenbaum and Dr. Bob Gorby; Terry and Ted Sheetz; Marian Winson and Bill Genge; Dr. Sarah Berga and Lockwood Hoehl; Richard Stuart and Bill Ceroni; Roz and Sandy Neiman; Jim and Pam Estes Ferry; Betsy and Tom Teti; Gordon Fisher and Wes Scott; Susie and Jim Katz.

A star bright.

Notes From the Heart

Only in Pittsburgh. That's where nearly 300 classical music lovers opened their hearts for the fabulous first-time pairing of violin virtuoso Andres Cardenes and internationally acclaimed pianist Yefim Bronfman , who wowed Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra audiences the previous two evenings at Heinz Hall.

The special Mother's Day concert at Chatham College's chapel married the talents of two world-class performers to benefit the Woodlands Foundation summer camp in Wexford. Founded in 1998 by a visionary group led by the late Dr. Laibe Kessler, the Woodlands gives children with special needs the chance to express their creativity through music and other art forms — a fitting grace note.

Orchestrating this year's fund-raiser was Laibe's widow, Sydelle Kessler . And she struck all the right chords from fresh flowers gifted to all the ladies in the audience to the post-concert reception where the performers signed autographs and posed for snapshots. Bravo!

Enjoying works by Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms were Woodlands director Peter Clakeley with wife Gail and sons Elliott and Eric ; camp co-founder Dr. Don Reigel with Gaye ; Jenny and Brad Kelly ; James and Karin Legato ; family members Philip Kessler , Adam with Lisa Kessler with Hannah and Philip, and Seth and Emily Josephson ; Thora Jackson ; Ceci Sommers and John Haughwout ; Dr. Jim Dill ; camp instructors PSO bassoonist Nancy Goeres and soprano Lilly Abreu ; Drs. Hassan and Neptune Bazami ; Glynn Page and daughter Paula ; Sidney and Teresa Harth ; Ethel and Sol Ruben ; Isaias and Joan Zelkowicz ; Michael Bielski ; Bronna and Harold Steinman ; Myra Lalli ; Jack and Jeanne Purcell ; Ted Osial and Alli Manolakis ; Bill Wallace ; Ray and Marilyn Gindroz ; and Riccardo Schulz ; and Joanne Rogers minus everyone's favorite “Mister."

— John Altdorfer

Remembering Patty

Patty Burns literally grew up before Pittsburgh's eyes every day at noon and six on our TV sets. Yet, more than 100 of her friends, family and colleagues gathered to pay tribute to the late KDKA news anchor's more private side during the Radio Information Services annual volunteer recognition dinner at the Sheraton Station Square.

A radio fixture since 1976, RIS broadcasts daily readings of newspapers, books and other printed materials for the blind and visually challenged. A longtime RIS volunteer, Patty graced the airwaves with her voice and talent — after she passed the mandatory audition!

On hand to remember Patty were her husband Charles Cohen , accepting the Charles T. Campbell Award in his wife's honor; mother-in-law Geraldine Cohen ; Sally Wiggin ; Patrice King Brown; Carolyn Wean ; Stephanie and Tom Flannery ; RIS volunteers Joe Wasserman with Tina , Jan Frisch , Judy Kimblin and Louise Chuha ; and emcee Marve Jacobson . Although she left us much too soon, Patty's generosity and commitment to helping others will be remembered for years to come.

— John Altdorfer

Good Grief

Losing a loved one is never easy. “Between Now and Forever,” a traveling exhibit organized by Texan Cindy Pickard at the Good Grief Center for Bereavement Support, portrays the struggle of everyday folks coping with the deaths of friends or family. Life can go on, is the show's message, even if the sorrow lingers.

At the debut in the GG office in the Carnegie Library of Homestead were Marilyn Chapla , recipient of the first GG Angel Award; GG director Lulu Orr with Prentiss ; Terry Griggs ; Angel Award artist Cheryl Capezzuti with Dave Sluss ; Jean and Brooks Robinson ; Lisa and Howison Schroeder ; library CEO Bonnie Harvey and Jim ; Poosie and Charlie Orr ; Betsy and Lee Deiseroth ; and Marc Advertising's Kris Knieriem (with Eric Zissu ) and Amy Rajakovic (with Mike ), who created the center's award-winning logo.

The celebration of the human spirit continued with uplifting performances by local talents in the library's auditorium (aka the very first Carnegie Music Hall). Emcee Ken Rice of KDKA-TV played host to an audience that included Sally and Mabon Childs ; Bob Johnson and Suzy Meyers ; Lori Cardill ; Brewer Schoeller ; Neal and Beverly Greibling ; Patsy and Wally Smith ; Charlie and Emily Jarrett ; Ken and Fredrica Cryan ; Baylee and Marshall Gordon ; and Peggy and Paul Outon.

Grief might be personal, but the need to cope is universal.

— John Altdorfer

A Century of Caring

The top docs at Monongahela Valley Hospital traded in their O.R. scrubs for tuxes and gorgeous gowns at the medical center's 14th annual benefit gala.

From the slender centerpieces topped with wild flowers and tiny white lace parasols to the 5-foot-tall birthday cake ablaze with 100 sizzling sparklers, every detail of this Centennial Summer celebration was hotter than the Fourth of July.

Nearly 500 guests gathered at the Westin Convention Center hotel to honor Drs. Sri (and Sue ) Kottapally , Joseph (and Peg ) Young , John (and Betty Ann ) Paluso and Michal (and Celeste ) Lementowski for their outstanding contributions to the hospital and community. Tapping their feet to the sweet ragtime sounds of Dr. Zoot were hospital prez Anthony Lombardi and Barbara; Dr. Sheila Hewie ; Dr. Scott and Nadine Baron ; Julia Ann Ansill ; Dr. Lou and Debbie Panza ; Washington County commish Diana Irey ; Dennis and Valerie Stitch ; Gregg and Cathie Valley ; Christine Dawkins ; Lillian Beattie ; Don and Gloria Ivill ; Lisa and Patrick McGovern ; Jack and Leslie Grenfell ; and Mark and Jennifer Vergilii . Proceeds from the black-tie soiree will fund expansion projects at the hospital.

— John Altdorfer

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