- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Those saucy "Sex and the City" gal pals would have tittered for weeks. No, the scene didn't involve some trendy Manhattan nightspot. The Corcoran Gallery of Art's "Going Beyond … an Odyssey" benefit was the place to be Friday night.

The evening, hosted by the Friends of the Corcoran, raised funds for art acquisitions while giving Washingtonians a glimpse of the gallery's playful bent.

The museum's impressive stone entrance, bathed in magenta light, only hinted at the visual delights inside, where pink balloons hung heavily over the bars as the nearly 900 guests filled up oversized drink glasses brightened by "electric" ice cubes.

For one male reveler, the sartorial spirit of "beyond" meant wearing a full Scottish kilt ensemble. Less adventurous gents settled for traditional business suits emboldened by vibrant ties.

Ladies were less inhibited, of course. Pink fuzzy slippers and some Nancy Sinatra-esque boots were sighted walkin' down the marble halls.

"D.C. has so may facets, said Corcoran Director David C. Levy as he surveyed the scene with quiet pride.

"Washington is a curious city," added Mr. Levy, explaining why some people couldn't fully join in the night's irreverent air. "Everyone over a certain age is a buttoned-down type."

Members of the Membrane Ensemble and Maida Withers Dancers, clad in white, their hair frosted silver, struck "vogue"-ish poses, sometimes arresting partygoers on the staircase with their free-form movements. No one seemed to mind giving way to the lithe figures.

Some dancers stood on white blocks, others poured onto the party floors cocooned in their costumes, reminiscent of spider-webbed victims.

The museum's rotunda projected a series of thin, multicolored, ropelike images over a black backdrop along its circular walls. Visitors' shadows overlapped the ropes, providing an ever-changing portrait amid the other works of art.

Bill Wooby, director of the Millennium Arts Center, marveled at the visual buffet.

"This is more fun than the Corcoran Ball, it's a different crowd," said Mr. Wooby, capturing the festivities with a tiny video camera.

He credited Mr. Levy for reimagining the gallery's image.

"David Levy has turned the Corcoran around," he said. "Before David Levy, it was stuffy and too many people were on the board."

Annie Adjchavanich, executive director of the Washington Project for the Arts and a Corcoran school graduate, added to the scene with her black and red Asian-inspired dress and multihued hair.

Miss Adjchavanich, who is universally known as "Annie A," particularly admires several artworks included in the night's copious array of silent auction items.

"It's very high tech and very unusual," she said of "Sue," a digitized piece by David Jung that drew its inspiration from a "Price Is Right" video still.

Local photographer Rhoda Baer could find nothing staid about the evening.

"I love that they have combined the fine arts and performing arts," Ms. Baer said. "You walk in the doors, and it's an immediate surprise."

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