A walk in the park
Frist Gala paints the perfect evening
Leave it to the Frist Center to “draw” people into an evening in spectacular fashion. With To See as Artists See: American Art from The Phillips Collection as the colorful backdrop and Childe Hassam’s magnificent painting, Washington Arch, Spring, as their specific inspiration, co-chairs Julie Gordon and Perian Strang and their teams created a colorful, delightful, artful evening at the 2012 Frist Center Gala, the organization’s major fundraiser of the year.
As guests arrived at the entrance on Broadway, the period stage was set as they trekked a “grass” walkway past antique hitching posts and fountains. Guests were greeted by a barbershop quartet singing songs of the Gay 90s, the period in which Washington Arch, Spring was painted. More than 500 guests poured into the Frist Center’s gleaming Grand Lobby where they enjoyed passed hors d’œuvres, and the event’s signature cocktail called “Seen in the Park,” created especially for the Gala with spirits provided by Lipman. A mammoth urn overflowing with spring flowers sat atop a grass-covered stand at one end of the Frist Center’s Grand Lobby, while the elevated platform on the other end of the lobby featured a charming merry-go-round horse that many (correctly!) identified as one of Harvey’s department store’s signature symbols. (We MUST hear this story!)
With To See as Artists See destined to depart the Ingram Gallery the next day, guests were eager to catch a last glimpse of works by Arthur Dove, Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell.
As dinner approached, the glittering and black-tied throng made its way down the Conte Gallery, past garden tables and chairs and into the magnificently adorned tent anchored by a replica of the Washington Square arch that towered over the room and enhanced the artistic tone of the night. The painting’s delicate coloring was echoed in the décor which featured live trees and floral centerpieces designed by Branches. One of the centerpiece designs even included animated butterflies were set “aflutter” with the movement of the air.
Kristen Winston’s menu, premium black angus filet of beef and seared quail breast was preceded by a crispy oyster with English cucumber, chilled English pea soup, spring salad of asparagus, and beets with baby heirloom lettuce. And who could resist the luscious dessert? Spring berry trifle of vanilla mascarpone, strawberry rhubarb coulis, fresh berries, strawberry corbet and, of course, a chocolate arch.
With art education woven into all that the Frist Center does, the chairs, in a brilliant move to inspire conversation, chose quotes from artists represented in the exhibition and had them written on cards that were placed under each charger. When the chargers were removed after the first course, each guest found his or her quote.
At the end of the evening, Tiffany blue boxes containing beautiful crystal votives were distributed and departing guests enjoyed bags of hot doughnuts and coffee while the valets returned “carriages” to their owners.
While it was the “Arc de Washington” rather than the “Arc de Triomphe,” the evening was, indeed, a triumph for the event chairs, the Frist Center and for the arts in Nashville!
—Ellen Pryor, Photographs by Susan Adcock