- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2008

“World-class decorations” and “better than anything in New York” were but a few of the accolades showered on floral designer Jack Lucky and the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Women’s and ball committees as 1,200 guests surveyed the spectacular transformation of the venerable museum for the annual Corcoran Ball on Friday night.

Themed to coincide with the Corcoran’s spectacular “American Evolution” exhibition (“sold out” according to gallery director and president Paul Greenhalgh), a dozen galleries boasted individual themes that ranged from golden-hued tablecloths, underlays and chairs in keeping with the Salon Dore’s riot of gold leaf, mirrors, cupids and floral motifs to the exuberance of the Atrium’s “spring is in the air” atmosphere: towering arrangements of roses, tulips, hydrangeas and other colorful blooms atop tables covered in five shades of topaz.

“Absolutely spectacular” said Sedi Flugelman of the Rotunda’s lucite chairs and lighted tables with American themes that included the Everglades (giant horsetail fans with palmetto and exotic fern), Yosemite (white anemones and ginestra with snow glitter sticks) and the Grand Canyon (cactus, driftwood, terra cotta and gypsy curiosa).

If there were an award for “most outlandish,” it would have been bestowed upon ballet-themed Gallery 25, where tables covered in twisting multicolored ribbons were surrounded by white chiavari chairs trimmed in tutulike constructions of iridescent blue satin with blue, yellow and pink tulle. Whimsical to say the least and something of a shock to the crowd of younger ball supporters seated there — especially the men.

“It looks like a baby shower,” thirtysomething guestNathaniel Fogg said after a few stiff drinks.

“We work on the ball the whole year, and it all comes together in the last few days,” event chairwoman Nancy Smith said, paying tribute to a “perfect symphony” of creators who included Mr. Lucky, Occasions Caterers co-ownerEric Michael and the Perfect Settings party-rental firm during the pre-ball reception for VIPs in Mr. Greenhalgh’s office.

Not to forget the committee members, of course.

“We do all the nitty-gritty work,” 28-year ball veteran Donna Pflieger said of fellow volunteers’ efforts to fold napkins, lay table settings and even “put felt tips on all the chair legs to prevent squeaking.”

With such an effort on decoration, it was hardly surprising the ladies took special effort to appear in ravishing gowns and jewels for the occasion. “It’s spring, everyone feels great, and the women always look great,” noted Malcolm E. “Mike” Peabody, heading off to dance with his wife, Pamela, as he has done every year since 1969.

The old guard always shows up, although the invitation list now includes a different mix than in the past. “We’ve widened out constituency,” Mr. Greenhalgh said, pointing out the increased presence of many younger patrons plus staff members and artists who attend as his personal guests.

Here are just a few of those spotted dining on crab Louis, filet mignon and “All-American cakes and pies” before dancing to the sounds of the Mike Carney Orchestra and the Phil McCusker jazz ensemble: John Jeppson and Giselle Theberge, Clara BinghamandSteve Shafran, Davidand Katherine Bradley, Conrad and Ludmilla Cafritz, Pam Howar, Joan and Bernard Carl, Wendy Makins, Geoff Tracyand Norah O’Donnell, Al and Madzy Beveridge, Jack Davies and Kay Kendall, Nini Ferguson, Bill Haseltine, George and Christine Hill and David Lawson and Page Evans.

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