I didn’t expect to choke up.
After all, “News to History,” a photo show arranged by the Briscoe Center for American History at the LBJ Presidential Library, records mostly familiar American episodes. Organized by presidential tenures, it also includes rare, candid shots of our leaders behind the scenes.
What moved me, however, were the white-hot images from our relatively recent past: Vietnam, anti-war protests, civil rights marches, moon shots, assassinations, 9/11. The Briscoe Center houses scads of these priceless pictures, but what a jolt to see this selection all at once.
Among the distinguished White House photographers in attendance: Dennis Brack, Eric Draper, Dirck Halstead, Darryl Heikes, Frank Johnston, David Kennerly, Steve Northup, Lucian Perkins, Margaret Sandahl Thomas, David Valdez and Diana Walker.
The show is located in the U-shaped temporary exhibit space on the first floor of the Presidential Library. It bleeds into the new permanent exhibit, which itself will take many visits to fully absorb. Plan to go now.
As if to escape the True, I ran to Beauty: Across downtown, Ballet Austin presented three gorgeous pieces at the Long Center for the Performing Arts under the rubric “The Rite of Spring.”
I was privileged to sit within whispering distance of Cookie Ruiz and Brent Hasty again. They make a three-part concert feel like a pajama party among old friends.
During the first intermission, I joined donors in the Kodosky Lounge, which has turned out to be a handy place to retreat from the center’s sometimes crowded lobbies — especially on a cold night when few patrons chose to promenad on the ringed terrace.
Fellow ramblers Linda Ball and Forrest Preece discussed walking, eateries and the death of arts hostess Tam Rogers Cartwright. Never really got to know her. Shame.
Priscilla and John-Michael Cortez talked parenting and networking, also mass transit, which will keep John-Michael busy during South by Southwest. He’s Cap Metro’s community involvement manager. The Cortez pair are among the most effective and enterprising couples out on the Austin charity circuit.
A dreamy evening: Everything — and everyone — is beautiful at the ballet.
Art, Links, Teeth
That little ol’ college art museum is all grown up. The Blanton Museum of Art threw a 50th anniversary gala on Feb. 16 while unveiling “Through the Eyes of Texas: Masterworks from Alumni Collections.”
Not only did the building look grand, but it was filled with dressy folks from Austin, Dallas, Houston and beyond. They gaped at the range of art from ancient to avant-garde spread out over two floors. Later, they trooped over to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum for a formal dinner.
We spent time discussing past Austin mayors with State Sen. Kirk Watson, career courses with Texas Monthly publisher Elynn J. Russell, the state of the collection with Blanton director Simone Wicha, shifts in retail trends with Neiman Marcus’ Nancy Nichols, collecting strategy with Jeanne Klein, profile possibilities with banker/benefactor Eddie Safady, and so forth.
From there, it was a quick stroll to the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol for the Town Lake Links Mardi Gras.
Here I was immediately adopted by consultant Revlynn Lawson and celebrity chef Coi Burress who introduced me to her sister, Simone Burress, now stationed at Larry McGuire’s Josephine House (next door to Jeffrey’s).
We reveled in the incredible bargains snatched by guests during the live auction, charmingly overseen by Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and pro auctioneer Victoria Gutierrez. We also chatted about longtime Links member Mary Louise Adams. Hope to find out ever more about this social group originally founded by African-American businesswomen.
My tux must have looked a bit out of place as I worked my way down Red River Street, over East Sixth Street and down to the Four Seasons Hotel (I try to own whatever look ends up on me).
My guide for the Capital Area Dental Foundation’s sprawling Hollywood and Casino Night Gala was nonprofit consultant Victoria Corcoran Neal, who introduced me to party instigators Lyda Creus Molanphy and Dr. Alan Moore. Both gave me insights into the social world of dentists.
They certainly like to gamble. Or at least, fake-gamble at the charitable tables that spilled into the lobbies. This group is doing good work through education and donated dental services. They also know how to have a little faux fun on a February weekend.