With the departure of Dallas Museum of Art Eugene McDermott Director Max Anderson in September 2015, fundraising at the DMA shifted direction. As adorable as the Downton Artsy and Art Ball Funk video takeoffs were in years past, the DMA’s Art Ball leadership was keeping expenses as tight as a third face lift without losing the artistic panache of activities.
To get the mission accomplished for this year’s big black-tie fundraiser, Ann and Lee Hobson were called on to co-chair the 2017 Art Ball on Saturday, April 22. Inspired by their love for romantic France, the Hobsons announced the evening’s theme would be “All That Glitters.” It turned out to be the perfect canvas for guests to display beautiful fashions ranging from simple elegance and old-time showstoppers to wearable art.
But could the blonde twosome pull off a luxurious evening of dining, dancing and dough raising without going in the red? On paper they hit a home run, scoring a net of $1,330,138. On the scene, it was a grand slam.
Still, there had been a little anxiety due to the weather. The night before, a cold front had rain in the area that would have been a frown-maker in years past for the tented affair, due to the Mark di Suvero sculpture requiring a hole in the top. No matter how careful the construction of the tent, there was just no way to totally enclose the opening. One year, guests complained that raindrops had found their way to their table underneath the sculpture. This year, the Hobsons and event producer Todd Fiscus had carefully edited the main room to keep things intimate, leaving the di Suvero out in the cold.
To make up for the MIA artwork, the artistic beauty was still there thanks to the array of guests. Despite it still being before Memorial Day, the rule of never wearing true white until after Memorial Day was not the protocol, thanks to gents in white evening jackets (Stuart Bumpas, Ceron and Fiscus, Michael Flores, Stephen Giles, Brad Kelly and host Hobson). Hey, this is the artistic set and they know no ordinary ho-hum rules.
The ladies also rose to the occasion with designers, both past and present. In vintage gowns were Houston’s Becca Cason Thrash on the arm of Brian Bolke and Christen Wilson with Faisal Halum. Capera Ryan was golden in Galanos with her mom Debbie Ryan (in Armani) and Christie’s American President Brook Hazelton.
Designer Michael Faircloth had had his work cut out for him, ranging from Tracy Lange’s white evening pants with train to Lisa Cooley’s sweeping gown showcasing an old master’s work of art. Other designers being shown were Dior (Bela Pjetrovic, Dallas Snadon and Nancy Carlson), Naeem Khan (Moll Anderson and Kathryn Hall), Tom Ford (Catherine Rose), Badgley Mishka (Kit Sawers), Alberta Ferretti (Julie Hawes), Pamella Rowland (Rusty Duval), Rick Owens (Sharon Young), Mary Katrantzou (Barbara Daseke and Jessica Nowitzki) and Monique Lhuillier (Nancy Rogers).
But still there can be a cost to wearing couture. Georgina Hartland admitted that her Valentino was a bit scratchy.
Needless to say, the cocktail party was filled with eye-catchers like DMA Board President Catherine and Will Rose, Muffin and John Lemak (he accessorized his tuxedo with a sling following his rotator cup surgery), Lara and Bob Tafel (his colorful pocket square inspired by Tim Gunn‘s talk last year), Fanchon and Howard Hallam, Gonzalo Bueno with Michael McCray, Wendy and Jeremy Strick, Walter and Laura Elcock, Niven Morgan and Shelby Wagner, Claire Emanuelson, Clarice Tinsley, Nancy and Clint Carlson, Mimi and Rich Sterling, Rob Kendall, Tony Holmes, Mary McDermott Cook with Dan Patterson, Kit and Kemp Sawers, Kara and Randall Goss, Clair Dewar, Lynn and Allan McBee, Shelly and Michael Dee (she was in a traditional Bhutanese jacket, he was in kilts), Jennifer and John Eagle, Carlos Gonzalez Jaime, Sue and Jimmy Gragg, Jennifer and Tom Karol, Leslie and Bryan Diers, Marguerite Hoffman with Dr. Tom Lentz, Dirk Nowitzki, Kim and Justin Whitman, Pat and Charles McEvoy, Tori and Ross Mulford, Jenny and John Kirtland, Sharon and Michael Young, Rusty and Bill Duvall, Brandi and Pete Chilian and Cindy and Lindsay Brown, Clane LaCrosse with Crystal Lourd, Margot and Darin Ruebel, Bill and Wendy Payne, Brooke and Blake Davenport, Katherine and Craig Hall, Moll and Charles Anderson, Brooke Hortenstine, Reed Robertson, Walter Voit, Fort Worth’s Marsha and John Kleinheinz, Rebecca and Barron Fletcher and Jo Staffelbach Heinz and Andre Staffelbach.
Just making it under the wire was the Rogers posse (Donna Brittingham, Michael Flores, Doug Carney and Dallas Snadon) led by Fancy Nancy. They ran into jewelry designer/actor Adam Shulman and his Academy Award-winning wife Anne Hathaway with Adam’s cousin Peter Brodsky and his wife Lael Brodsky. Adam had designed a bracelet for Lady Rogers.
Following the cocktail party in the tented reception area, the curtains were pulled back revealing a romantic scene with greenery and five chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, white lattice behind the staging and table settings with tablecloths of swirling colors and gold flatware. The reviews flowed in like champagne in a Baccarat flute. As one guest said upon gazing at the room, “This is just like Ann’s and Lee’s home. It’s both inviting and elegant.”
Due to the dip in temperatures, some of the gals like Melissa Foster Fetter, Mary McDermott Cook, Jennifer Karol, Carol Glendenning, Sue Gragg, Kit Sawers, Kara Goss, Leslie Diers, Rusty Duvall, Crystal Lorde, Wendy Payne, Shelly Dee and Heather Washburne had brought along their shawls and coats in case of a slight chill.
As for the program, DMA Eugene McDermott Director Agustin Arteaga, who’s been here seven months, is still learning his way around the hood. At one point he reported that Dallas Mayor “Mark Rawlings” was present. He also told the crowd of 500 that Lady Hobson had been the driving force and revealed that, just the day before, Ann had celebrated her 52 birthday. Oops! The crowd protested and Ann smiled. She had just hit the 50 mark. Not to worry. Hiccups happen.
While catering mistress Cassandra Tomassetti checked the tables and service, there was no need. The seated dinner led off with Petrossian caviar and potatoes with lemon crema and chives under glass, followed by three courses (first course — handmade angel hair pasta, morel mushrooms, quail confit with Madeira sauce; second course — pan-roasted Rhode Island wild fluke, spring vegetables and tomato fumet; and third course — an assortment of pastries).
It was then time for Brook to auction off the eight items curated by Rajan Patel and Merry Vose, and what an auction it was. DMA Board Chair Melissa Foster Fetter happily looked on as hands competed for items. A couple of times during the night, Georgina and Fancy Nancy at nearby tables tried to outbid each other. At one point, despite his best efforts, Brook couldn’t get the donor’s go-ahead to double the offer for the ladies.
Luckily, Brook had better luck with the biggy item of the night — a week’s stay at the Hobsons’ seven-bedroom chateau in the south of France. A breathtaking battle of the paddles commenced between Lady Rogers and a group of pals led by Bill Payne, with bids passing the $100K mark. When Brook wondered aloud about satisfying the two bidders, Ann hopped up with arms waving to go for it, with each bidder agreeing to pay $120,000. In delight Christen Wilson danced between the tables like an adorable sprite. No wonder. The auction of the elegant eight hauled in $460,000, resulting in “the highest-grossing live auction in Art Ball history.”