Nell Nolan: Toasts!

Three recent events hailed altruism or achievement. In most cases, both. The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts Institute, shortened to NOCCA Institute, staged its annual on-premises Art & Soul Gala and billed it “Raise the Roof” to acknowledge NOCCA’s exciting campus expansion. Spectacular weather complemented the “Roof” revelry, as well as the 9th annual Cork in the Park, a wine tasting to benefit City Park. Finally, “farewell” was to the fore when Scott Cowen began his departure from Tulane University’s presidential post after 16 years to retire at the end of this month.

Where Y’Art!

The NOCCA Institute — the beneficiary and NOCCA’s nonprofit partner — and the Lupin Foundation teamed to present the 2014 Art & Soul, which, in turn, thanked a slew of sponsors: the Patrick Family, the Solomon Group, First NBC Bank, the Arlene & Joseph Mereaux Charitable Foundation, IberiaBank, Otto Candies LLC., the James P. Raymond Jr. Foundation, Peoples Health, David Schulingkamp, Capital One, Henri Hall, The McDonnel Group, Joyce Schenewerk, Martha and Gary Solomon and Gary Solomon Jr., Hugh Uhalt, and Pam and Warner Williams.

Treats galore came from the Hilton New Orleans Riverside for the gala’s catering, and, all from NOCCA, participants from the Theatre Arts Department, the Culinary Arts Department, The Boxcar (folks loved the watermelon gazpacho served at the Institute’s new food truck), Alumni Allstars, the Jazz Trio, Musical Theatre Students, and Cabaret. More attractions came thanks to Plum Street Snoballs, Alexis and The Samurai (NOCCA alums Alexis Marceaux and Sam Craft), and a silent auction conducted by AuctionsByCellular. John Calhoun starred as the “live” auctioneer. Artwork (with James Michalopoulos and Luis Colmenares among those featured), a ride in the Krewe of Orpheus parade, and a private dinner at the home of chef Gunter and Evelyn Preuss added an extra beat to the bidding.

All the while, the NOCCA family remembered one of the center’s most passionate fans and friends, the recently deceased Dr. Ralph Lupin, and the gala honored his memory. Guests were pleased to see his wife, Pam Lupin, in attendance, as well as his brother and sister-in-law Dr. Arnold and Celia Lupin.

Combining their spirit and expertise to chair the event were Anne and Paul Candies and Ana and Dr. Juan Gershanik. Additional headliners were NOCCA Institute Chairman Joel Vilmenay with spouse Shirelle, Institute executive director Sally Perry, NOCCA President/CEO Kyle Wedberg with Michelle, newly elected NOCCA board Chairman Lee Randall with Kathy, and NOCCA alumni Wendell Pierce and Terrance Osborne.

Also, Ashley and Michael Kirschman, Greg Morey and Scott James, Rita and Floyd Gue, Mit Seiler and Marshall Lee, Louis and Nairne Lupin, Nan and Britt Galloway, Orlin and Shirley Trusty Corey, Carol and Tom Reese, Frank and Paulette Stewart, Maureen and Alex Gershanik, Dr. Rise Ochsner, Miriam Schulingkamp, Hartley Casbon Wasser, Barbara and Thomas Sands, Elizabeth and Michael Smither, Kathleen and Charlie Van Horn, Brent and Lele Wood and scores more who gave “Roof” a firm foundation.

‘Cork’ Caper

“A special wine tasting event to support historic City Park” was the come-on for Cork in the Park in the Pavilion of the Two Sisters, which also promised hot hors d’oeuvres, an exciting silent auction and a jazz band. Merrill Lynch and Republic National Distributing Company were the sponsors. As for decorations, purple and yellow balloons and flowers were prominent, no doubt a chromatic nod to LSU.

Noted moving about the pavilion and then moseying out into the Botanical Garden were the “Cork” crowd, spearheaded by event Chairman R.K. Hoddinott III, who was joined by his daughter, Shelley, as well as guest Tina Marie Wong; and Co-chaircouple Penny and Jeff Whitehead. Still others were Jack and Donna Little, Mark and Susan Embree, Paul Ribka, Rhonda Bruno, Blaine Mitchell, Richard Rodriguez, Joseph “Joe” and Aysen Young, and Kay McArdle. All relished the vinous vibes.

Parting Parties

A plethora of parties have been associated with the retirement of Tulane University President Scott S. Cowen, who leaves his post in just a few days. “Lunch Honoring President Scott Cowen” was the invitation extended by the university’s Emeritus Club for midday tributes in the Qatar Ballroom of the Lavin-Bernick Center. Robert C. “Bobby” McIntyre is the club’s chairman and J. Dwight LeBlanc Jr., Andree Keil Moss, and Robert E. Young are the officers. More recently, “An Evening at the Civic Theater Honoring Scott Cowen” rounded up a slew of supporters.

Another luncheon held a special spot in his agenda and heart. This was at the invitation of his wife, Marjorie “Margie” Cowen, and it unfolded in the Tulane president’s residence in the form of a salon luncheon. President Cowen, in his book, “The Inevitable City: The Resurgence of New Orleans and the Future of Urban America,” which he co-wrote with Betsy Seifter, describes the activity that went on for years. “Margie is having one of her famous women’s luncheons at the president’s house — her way of bringing the larger community into contact with Tulane.” He continues, saying that it’s a salon in the classic sense, “a gathering where important public issues are discussed by experts in their fields” and that he was not on the guest list.

That changed at her last salon luncheon when Marjorie Cowen invited her husband, Scott, to be the guest speaker.

His title was “My Tulane Odyssey.”

Follow this link to the photos.