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Notes on Art in Bloom, a tea, Girl Scouts' Women of Distinction, Abilities Wine Tasting

Spring fever strikes every year at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Arts, where Art in Bloom draws an impressive number of visitors to marvel at the creative endeavors of professional floral designers and talented amateurs.

Their floral interpretations of artworks in the permanent collection and the special exhibitions were throughout the museum and included several stunning arrangements in the glass conservatory that were created by members of Tampa Bay area garden clubs.

Art in Bloom opened on March 19, and members of the museum's Margaret Acheson Stuart Society presented a preview party that evening in which patrons were able to tour the museum and view the florals up close.

Gala co-chairs Kim Brett, Carole Russell and Nancy Rutland led a committee that included Judy Cunniff, Nancy Dunn, Betty Gilmore, Sue Hands, Sharon Kennedy, Shannon Knowlton, Bonnie O'Connell, Carol Treichel, Debbie Utz, Ann Vickstrom and Elizabeth Walters. Glenn Mosby is the current Stuart Society president.

On Wednesday, noted floral designer Sylvia Anne Bird created a series of stunning bouquets at the annual Art in Bloom luncheon at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club's Sunset Ballroom.

Although she is internationally accomplished, having worked throughout Europe and in the United States, Bird chose from widely available blossoms for much of her presentation, focusing on materials that are familiar in florists' shops and other markets.

Gail Pyhel and Becky Wells chaired the luncheon committee, with help from Jennifer Rogers.

It was not part of Art in Bloom, but a Monday afternoon tea presented by the museum's Collectors Circle was a celebration of spring and featured a sea of chic millinery, encouraged by its theme, "A Place to Hang My Hat."

Seth Pevnick, the Richard E. Perry curator of Greek and Roman art at the Tampa Museum of Art, invoked mythic names in his keynote speech, "Hats and Head Coverings in Antiquity," and spoke of hats' many and varied roles ranging from fashion to the military.

Lydian Bank & Trust and Neiman Marcus sponsored the tea, which included informal fashion modeling from the International Plaza store and an outdoor harp performance by Florida Orchestra principal Anna Kate Mackle.

Mary Perry, who initiated Art in Bloom at the MFA in 1997, led the tea, which also featured presentations from museum director Kent Lydecker, Collectors Circle president Barbara McCoy and Lydian regional president Cary Putrino.

Art in Bloom chair Jan Stoffels and Sally Wheeler were in charge of overall floral setups, and Whitney Bank was the presenting sponsor.


Imagine if your initial experience in Scouting involved Red Cross training, learning to drive an ambulance and identifying foreign saboteurs.

Accepting one of the 2011 Women of Distinction awards from the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, University of South Florida St. Petersburg regional chancellor Margaret Sullivan charmed her audience, merrily recounting her growing-up years on Long Island with an intrepid and creative Scouting leader. Her interest flagged when it came to constructing a beach coat out of a bath towel.

"Scouting teaches you many things, those things you would like to be and those you would not," she said.

Jane Castor, Tampa's chief of police; Judith Lisi, chief executive officer of Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. Center for the performing arts; and Sarah "Scottie" Beasley, a Winter Haven educator, also received Women of Distinction honors.

In her keynote address to the 700 attending the luncheon in Tampa's A La Carte Event Pavilion, Jenna Bush Hager spoke of her work with HIV and AIDS sufferers in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and her teaching in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

A daughter of former President George W. and Laura Bush, Hager is a contributing correspondent to NBC's Today show and chairs UNICEF's Next Generation program.


Nearly 3,000 patrons attending the annual Abilities Wine Tasting inside St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field raised an estimated $75,000 at the event's "Key West Nights" themed tasting.

Abilities Foundation president and chief executive Frank De Lucia greeted guests during the VIP tasting, along with board president Richard Winning and his wife, Diane, and other longtime event supporters including wine guru Lee Neal and chef Tom Pritchard.

Food and drink from numerous Tampa Bay area restaurants and beverage distributors ranged from lobster macaroni and cheese to fresh oysters, sparkling wine to Bordeaux.

Notes on Art in Bloom, a tea, Girl Scouts' Women of Distinction, Abilities Wine Tasting 03/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 26, 2011 4:30am]
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