More than once, guests at the annual Salvador Dalí Museum dinner used the word "bittersweet" to describe the evening, presumably the last time patrons will be able to dine in the galleries of the current structure that houses the artist's works. The new Dalí museum building is expected to open in January.
Event co-chairs Karen Lang Johnston and Karol Bullard organized an elegant party that included towering floral arrangements from Redman Steele Floral Design and a menu from SideBern's in Tampa that took its inspiration from the artist's works.
The crowd of more than 200 included Dalí executive director Hank Hine and Laura Tillinghast; Brad and Mary Ann Morse; former Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, who serves on the Dalí board of trustees (Gov. Charlie Crist was expected but canceled, citing a family emergency); Tom and Mary James; Bill and Hazel Hough; Frank and Carol Morsani; John and Susan Sykes; Tom Sansone and Cathy Unruh; Bill and Sally Habermeyer; Jean Giles Wittner; Margaret Sullivan; Helen Hameroff; Tim and Anje Bogott; Bill and Kathy Stover; Jim and Suzanne MacDougald; and Jim and Jeannine Hascall.
And many attending the gala have long-standing ties to the museum, including Martha Rudy Wallace and Marshall Rousseau, who led the 1982 steering committee for its dedication and opening; Royce Haiman, who organized the celebratory dinner then at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club; and Jim Martin, who read the 1980 Wall Street Journal story that detailed the challenges of Ohio collectors Brad and Eleanor Morse, friends of Dalí who were looking for a home for their collection.
Why not St. Petersburg? Martin famously said, and civic efforts soon were set in motion to bring the works here.
The Abilities Foundation's 21st annual wine tasting event drew nearly 4,000 people to Tropicana Field, where vintners, distributors and restaurateurs donate countless sips and nibbles to raise money for Floridians with disabilities.
From wines and spirits to signature food such as Guinness stew, crisp miniature crab cakes and chocolate fondue, the event showed off the kitchens of numerous restaurants including Salt Rock Grill, Island Way Grill, Parkshore Grill, Red Mesa, Z-Grille, Flamestone, Guppy's, Paddy Burke's, Three Birds Tavern, Primebar and Wildwood.
Foundation president and chief executive Frank De Lucia and board chairman Richard Winning and wife Diane stood at the entrance to the field to welcome patrons.
A herald trumpeted the arrival of guests to the 36th annual Designers' Showhouse gala presented by the Florida Orchestra Guild, St. Petersburg, a Venetian-style event that showcased two units on the 20th floor of Ovation.
Musicians performed in various rooms of the high-rise condominium, where designers from throughout the Tampa Bay area had worked their magic. The water views are spectacular, and attendees at the showhouse look for inspiration everywhere.
Rebecca Stewart is chair of the 2010 showhouse committee, which includes guild president Krista Whipple, co-chair Peggy Grom, design coordinator Jean Losier, Judy Davis, Roma McDonaugh, Judy Cunniff, Susan Romero, Rebecca Knight, Marty Hallas, Edie Spies, Precella Wallace, Rosemary O'Conner, Janet Burnett and Priscilla Murtha.
The show continues through April 4 at 180 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. From 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through April 1, designers from 11 Tampa Bay companies will be available for one-on-one sessions. Tickets cost $15.
Guests at American Stage Theatre Company's Inner Circle party got previews of Driving Miss Daisy, now playing at the Raymond James Theatre in St. Petersburg. Cast members Ann Morrison, Bob Devin Jones and Steve Garland performed a scene for those attending the festivities, hosted by Jean and Gary Carnes. Poolside heaters warmed the al fresco crowd of about 80 against the chill air.
Organizers hope for fair weather at this year's American Stage in the Park production in April and May, which looks back at the 1960s. Hair cast members Luerne Herrera, Stefanie Clouse and Nicholas White led a singalong of Aquarius from the musical.
Guests included Mayor Bill Foster, City Council member Steve Kornell, state Sen. Charlie Justice, American Stage producing artistic director Todd Olson, Jim and Emily Gillespie, Al May, Natalie McMasters, Phyllis Stover Williams, Dick and Sandi Averitt, Bill and Marion Ballard, Tim McCormick and Jeff Brizzi, Marshall and Diana Craig, Scott Wagman, Joe and Joanne Fleece, Neil and Lorraine Franckle, Barbara Sansone, Don and Jane Silverberg, Ann Wells and Peter and Lisa Wells.