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Trio of Dali fetes offer fabulous food, company


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2000

The weekend was a Dali trifecta -- three great parties to benefit the Salvador Dali Museum. The original Order of Salvador annual black-tie dinner and dance has morphed, now including an intimate Patrons' Party on Thursday, the Friday evening dinner and a late-night Party After the Party hosted by the Zodiac Group.

Because of so many commitments, I am usually provisional in my acceptance of invitations, saying, "I'll try to stop by." But scanning three pages of menus for the parties faxed over by Tina Douglass, I said unequivocally, "I'll be there."

Could you resist: Maine lobster tartlets; crab cakes with lime-cilantro aioli; seaweed-wrapped tuna, papaya and avocado rolls; brie and raspberry beggars' purses; cornmeal blini with smoked salmon and creme fraiche; Peking duck pancakes; prosciutto and phyllo-wrapped asparagus; five-spice chicken skewers with peanut sauce; won ton-wrapped salmon with Asian cucumber salad; scallops with coconut curry sauce and mango chutney; almond macaroon sandwiches; roasted pecan and white chocolate clusters; chocolate chip and coconut bars (all from one of my favorite caterers, Michael's on East in Sarasota)? I didn't even try.

Unlike most benefits, which rely on committees of volunteers to organize them, these are mostly the work of Mrs. Douglass. I look forward every year to seeing how her creativity and attention to detail have manifested themselves.

The Patrons' Party was held at Gerry and Cathy Hogan's historic waterfront mansion on Snell Isle. Board president Tom James greeted guests with the traditional handshake while Fletcher, the Hogans' standard poodle, stood in for Hogan, away on business, as the de facto host, choosing the unconventional but enthusiastic sniff and nudge welcome.

Museum co-founder Eleanor Morse introduced guests to her friend Daniel Filipacci, whom she and her husband, Reynolds, met many years ago in Paris. Filipacci owns Hachette Publications "and an even better collection of Dali than ours," she said. He stopped over in St. Petersburg to see the Morses on his way to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Needing no introduction to him were Fred and Karol Bullard.

"Fred and I met him by chance in Paradise Island when we were closing on our new boat," said Mrs. Bullard. During the closing (on their yacht, not boat; she was being modest), a man wandered in wearing a Dali T-shirt. She commented on it, saying she was a board member of the Dali Museum here. In the ensuing discussion, she learned that he was the yacht's owner, a world-class collector and a friend of the Morses. Yes, it's a small world.

Dan Mahurin, chief executive officer of SunTrust, the event sponsor, said he would not attend the big bash the following night. He lives in Tampa during the week but commutes most weekends to Orlando, where his family still lives. "My daughter is in a play tomorrow, so I can't miss it," he said.

Tim and Anje Bogott insist that the renovation of their old Snell Isle mansion is nearing completion, "but there are still no toilets in the house. I'm not moving in till we have one," Mrs. Bogott said.

Meanwhile, Jim and Suzanne MacDougald are still in the architectural drawing stage for their home, which will be built on three of the most beautiful lots on Brightwaters Boulevard. More immediate is the grand opening they are planning in late May to celebrate the multimillion-dollar makeover of the Ceridian headquarters (the old Florida Power offices on 34th Street S) for which MacDougald has invited a slew of business leaders from other cities because "I want them to see what a great place St. Petersburg is," he said.

Museum director Marshall Rousseau arrived with special guest James Rosenquist, whose exhibition at the Dali opened that weekend. He was with his wife, Mimi, and daughter, Lilly, 12, who was wearing the prettiest frock at the party, a slubbed silk slip dress. (Say "slubbed silk slip" quickly three times if you can.)

Also nice to see were Mary James; Bill and Jane Emerson; Innes Irwin and Karen Leahy; Tom and Cathy Unruh Sansone; Dr. Lawrence and Carole Merritt; Dr. Allen and Janet Root; Paul and Cindi Dresselhaus, looking for a tasteful tiara to wear to the upcoming Storybook Ball, so let her know if you have a suggestion; Aila McEwen; Bill and Hazel Hough; Bill and Kathy Stover; Gus and Frances Stavros; Jim and Cathy Martin; Ed and Betty Shamas; Catherine McGarry; John and Melanie Toppe; Bob and Barbara Ulrich; Jack and Donna Painter; Jim and Terri Newman; Andy Corty; Hilliard and Margo Eure; and Dick and Helen Minck. Every year Minck, an artist, decorates a tuxedo shirt for the Friday night gala. I asked him what he painted this year and he said, "I haven't done it yet. Tomorrow morning."

* * *

The paint was barely dry by Friday evening when the Mincks arrived at the Dali Museum, his tucked shirt punctuated with sapphire studs of his design and covered with an homage to some of the surrealist's most famous images, including the Venus de Milo and melting clocks.

The galleries were homages to color. Round tables for 10 were set up throughout the museum, each decorated by a florist in a single color chosen to complement a nearby work of art. Everything, from napkins to program covers and flowers, conformed. It was a vibrant, dramatic effect.

All were beautiful, but standouts were J.K. Koala's turquoise table brimming with Millennium orchids, so deeply blue they glowed; Bayway Florist's interpretation of Rosenquist's The Meteor Hits Picasso's Bed that centered on a red-mirrored garden ball; Anastasia's lime table brimming with green hydrangeas, parrot tulips and apples; and Carter's Florist black table, more sculptural than floral.

In the Raymond James Room, more creativity was unleashed as Zodiac members, including Frank Baptie, Laura Jenkins and Perry Ianniconi, created tablescapes with famous Rosenquist images for the Party After the Party, such as Baptie's giant Tide detergent box hovering over the drinks table, spilling out white balloon "soapsuds."

In the dinner crowd were Brad and Jayne Morse; David and Libby Doub, Cynthia Gandee; Richard and Terri Reeves, Hank and D.D. Hine; Ron Williams and Jean Irwin; Michael Milkovich and Valerie Leeds; Irwin and Sonya Miller; Roger Sherman; Clare Raymond; Dr. Bill and Jeanne Heller; Dr. Perry and Lisa Everett; Jerry and Charlotte Kendall; Jean Breland; Linda Snow; Russ Bond; David Sliger and Janis Albritton; Kerry and Diana Helinger; Walter Larson and Joyce LaRue; Mel and Betty Sembler; J.B. and Marsha Starkey; Mary Booker; and Katharine Ann Lake. The exhibition is dedicated to her husband, the late Jack Lake, who was, said Rousseau in the catalog, "one of the main reasons the museum is in St. Petersburg."

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