Thursday, December 8, 2005

It was bitterly cold outside, but not within the cosy confines of the Renwick Gallery’s Grand Salon, where festively attired patrons gathered Wednesday to sip champagne and lend financial support to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Plush curtains and light drifting through the soaring 40-foot skylight provided additional warmth to the scene, encouraging bidding on the many “ART-rageous”-themed silent-auction offerings on display: posters signed by Jasper Johns and David Hockney, tickets for Shakespearean plays, a weekend escape to the Hotel Monaco, a Harley-Davidson American Legend black leather jacket.

“We love to do things free for the public, but of course, someone has to pay,” said museum Director Elizabeth Broun, who encouraged guests to bid generously. “Tonight, I want everyone to spend ARTrageously, and I want to see an ARTlandish show of support.”

Prominent guests did their best to comply, of course, including artist William Christenberry, Swedish Ambassador Gunnar Lund and Baron Franciskus van Daele, the ambassador of Belgium, whose deft hand-kissing thoroughly charmed the ladies as he spoke of the special artworks in his embassy and residence, many on loan from Belgian museums.

Capricia Marshall, tres chic in a vintage black velvet coat and Ann Hand necklace, impressed others when she mentioned that she often had slipped away to visit the Renwick when she worked as President and Mrs. Clinton’s social secretary. The Renwick proved a quiet refuge and was easily accessible as well because it is just across from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Audrey Hoffer

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