- The Washington Times - Monday, May 18, 2009

The Phillips Collection, the District’s private art museum known for its wide array of modern and French impressionist paintings, held its annual gala Friday night, drawing some interesting art admirers out of the Washington woodwork.

We first bumped into Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican, brushing shoulders with the other $1,000-each high rollers in the garden for the pre-reception.

“I’m spouse trailing,” Mr. Shelby joked referring to his wife Annette, a former professor, and the apparent real art fan in the Shelby household.

Although Mr. Shelby said he was appreciative of “some of the Flemish and Dutch artists,” he deferred to his wife on all matters of home decor.

Mrs. Shelby told us the couple own some sketches by renowned French artist Pierre Auguste Renoir.

Same for former Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, who was flanked by his wife Catherine. Mrs. Stevens said one would be hard pressed to find a wall in their home not decorated with their favorite Alaskan landscapes. She says they also have some interesting ice sculpture pieces.

Overhearing our conversation with the Stevenses, Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, noted that he must be “the only public official here who does not have a private art collection.”

Don’t feel too bad, congressman. We see you at so many parties. You’re invited to everything, despite your art deficiencies.

“You don’t need to say that,” he retorted with journalist Margaret Carlson standing nearby.

OK, sir. Your socializing secrets are safe with us and Miss Carlson.

In a rare G2 conversation, we engaged in girl talk with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who attended the gala with her husband Martin.

Mrs. Ginsburg, attired in a mandarin-style jacket with dainty white crocheted evening gloves, said she was especially enamored with the work of Henri Matisse.

The lone woman on the high court added that she appreciates women artists and seeing symphony orchestras conducted by women.

Bonded by bus

On Saturday night, the arts continued to flourish at the Washington Performing Arts Society’s annual gala where jazz legend Wynton Marsalis performed classics like George and Ira Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” for the crowd at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

We caught up with Mr. Marsalis backstage after his performance, and he told us he was leaving early to catch his bus back to New York.

A bus?

Yep. Mr. Marsalis, a Pulitzer Prize- and Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer, explained that he likes to use time on the bus to bond with the members of his quartet.

He told us their favorite activities are playing chess, talking philosophy and listening to music.

What kind? Swing, of course.

He can add playing video games to his repertoire as WPAS presented Mr. Marsalis with a Nintendo Wii as a token of appreciation.

Wheel! of! hockey!

In the sea of “rock the red” ball caps and jerseys at game seven of the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday, G2 spotted none other than “Wheel of Fortune” spinmeister Pat Sajak.

Our spies tell us Mr. Sajak is a frequent guest and supporter of the team when he isn’t helping show contestants buy a vowel.

Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell, taking a break from spring training, was also seen at the Verizon Center. Mr. Campbell explained to us via e-mail that he became a Caps fan last year because he finds hockey “a physical game full of excitement, like football.”

He also, as it turns out, is a team player. “You always try to support all the local teams in the area. You want to see them do well. Many of the Capitals players come to our games to support us, as well. I’ve had the chance to spend some time with Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin and we have become friendly. Alex has actually given me an autographed stick and puck.”

Perhaps if Mr. C had wielded that puck the season may have turned out better. The Caps went down to a playoff-ending defeat in game 7.

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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