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Artsy Binges, Charitable Attitudes and Royal Revelry


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JANUARY AGAIN? My, how those new years sneak up on one. Here we are, still wearing a light crust of confetti from the last festivities of 2004.

However, a thin veneer of culture still accrues from the sixth annual arts binge of Bravo. This is probably the only party in town where you overhear the cry “Oh, I must see Teys Sa Thiosanne!” followed by the classic response “What the #@$% is Teys Sa Thiosanne?” This scene usually occurs as the clueless partner in the relationship is hauled bodily from the bananas Foster venue. (Teys Sa Thiosanne, for the uninitiated, is an African drum and dance troupe. A big hit.)

Bravo San Diego was again stuffed into the Westgate Hotel, overflowing into the tented street, with 72 performing arts groups doing their stuff all over the place. The San Diego Men’s Chorus started off the evening on the lobby main stage. The Fern Street Circus performed aerial wonders on the rooftop terrace.

The grand finale on the terrace featured Ballet Folklorico Ixcuintla.

Truly a cultural smorgasbord, and a worthy one. In the past five years, Bravo has provided $727,000 of program funding for local groups. Esther Jane Paul and Chuck Hansen were the chairs. Georg Hochfilzer, the personable general manager of the Westgate, was the evening’s de facto host. Rob Appel takes the title of producer, with Bravo executive director Ron de Harte as presenter.

Dimitrious Nasirpour, Atoosa Styc Dimitrious Nasirpour, Atoosa Styc
 APPLAUSE ALL AROUND: All you nice people out there do so much. You raise money for good causes. Spend hours at everything from animal rescue to delivering meals to mentoring kids. So we at San Diego Magazine like to recognize that.

Thus, we happily host the annual Charitable Events Registry Celebration—a fabulous party, if we do say so ourselves. This year’s, in the Don Room at the El Cortéz, was a sparkler. The African stilt-dancer troupe during cocktail hour on the terrace was just the beginning of a most festive night.

Publisher Jim Fitzpatrick and editor Tom Blair welcomed representatives from a host of charitable institutions and supportive businesses and handed out the “Art of Giving” awards. President Lucy Jackson, JoDee Jacobs and Judy Schrage were on hand as the Girl Scouts of San Diego & Imperial Counties earned the title of Nonprofit Organization of the Year. Wells Fargo Bank, represented by Nathan Christian and Chuck Lemoine, was named Philanthropic Business of the Year. Michelle Candland was honored as Volunteer of the Year. Helen Copley, longtime publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune., was posthumously given the honor of Philanthropist of the Year.

Jeffrey Strauss of Pamplemousse Grille served delectable short ribs and truffled mashed potatoes, followed by white-chocolate cheesecake, for dinner. Kathy Wright & Co. decked the tables with gorgeous flowers. Heaven Bound, a 10-voice choir, provided a vocal performance that was, really, divine.

 Katerina Mikailenko, Contrelle Pinkney
Katerina Mikailenko, Contrelle Pinkney
 REGAL REVELRY: Celebrating the grand opening of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Center at the La Jolla Playhouse—and the Sheila & Hughes Potiker Theatre inside of that—called for royal festivities. So they threw “A Party Fit for a King.”

Some 600 came to the affair, chaired by Debby Jacobs. John Goodman—star of stage and screen (among others, as King Ralph)—was there to entertain them all. Des McAnuff, the Playhouse’s artistic director, played with the Red Dirt Band. Frankie Valli, who—as part of the Four Seasons pop group—provided the inspiration for the show Jersey Boys, attended, too.

Sebastian, Tom Stockfisch, Gail Ebner
Sebastian, Tom Stockfisch, Gail Ebner
 GIFT OF A DREAM: Project Concern International’s 14th annual Hands Across the Border dinner and auction had a grand notion: Improve the lives of children and families in San Diego, Mexico and around the world. With programs in 11 countries, this San Diego–based health organization serves more than three million people a year.

So “Share the Dream” at the Sheraton Harbor Island Resort let guests buy handicrafts from around the world and sponsor immunizations—a feel-good situation all around. Maggie Watkins and John Collins chaired, with a committee that included Kevin Leap, Anne Otterson, Jeff Mangum. Kristy Gregg, Ronit Austgen and Maxine Shearer.

Local activists and volunteers Yolanda Walther Meade and daughter Yolanda S. Walther Meade were given the Community Leadership Award. Robert Horsman, chairman of San Diego National Bank, was honored with the Corporate Leadership Award.

Javier and Janice Romero
Javier and Janice Romero
 SNAP, the Spay-Neuter Action Project, had fun going to the dogs—and taking the whole party with them. The Baja Bistro 200, at the La Jolla home of Debra and Harry Coplan, featured a canine fashion show, vegetarian buffet, plentiful mojitos and tours of the SNAP Neuter Scooter. The Neuter Scooter, an RV completely fitted out as a traveling veterinary operating room, was where more than 2,000 kittens, puppies, cats, dogs and rabbits, plus three guinea pigs, got “fixed” last year.  John Schumann with Mijo
John Schumann with Mijo
 HITHER AND YON: It was haute cuisine and haute couture as international designer Zandra Rhodes filled the Westgate Hotel lobby with her trademark vivid colors. The “Bohemian Dreams” luncheon and fashion show featured celebrity models, including San Diego Magazine’s own Lisa Jackson. Proceeds benefit the American Friends of the Zandra Rhodes Museum in London . . . Cilantros by the Sea restaurant in Encinitas was BYOJ—that’s Bring Your Own Jeans—to benefit the Angels Foster Family Agency. Lunch, fashions from local designers and a fashion show, plus local muralist Mark Stockler personalized guests’ jeans by painting whatever they wanted onto the denim . . . Can you say “artisanal”? The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival was a four-day culinary extravaganza of classes, demonstrations and festivities. It all culminated in the Grand Event under giant tents in the Embarcadero Marina Park. It benefited the American Institute of Wine & Food . . . Vroom. “Classic Cars for Classic Kids” revved up the Evans Garage. Renee and Duane Roth chaired the benefit for the Preuss School, hoping to raise $375,000 for transportation for the 700-plus kids who attend the school on the UCSD campus.  Stephanie May
Stephanie May

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