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LU celebrates Le Grand Bal: Lamar Deco

Art Auction at the Dishman Art Museum

Lamar University will host Le Grand Bal 2016, a gala evening of art, fine dining, dancing and entertainment on Saturday, April 2. This year’s theme, “Lamar Deco,” celebrates the glamour and luxury of the Jazz Age. Activities at the black-tie event include a reception and silent art auction at the Dishman Art Museum, as well as a gourmet buffet, libations, music and dancing in the Montagne Center.

Now in its 41st year, Le Grand Bal is the major annual fundraiser of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. Each year the Bal committee selects someone to honor at the event for their patronage of the arts and valued support of Lamar University. This year’s honorees will be Marsha and Lewis Hoffer for their leadership in promoting the arts at LU and throughout Southeast Texas.

Lamar Deco"We picked Marsha and Lewis as honorees because they are long-time Friends of the Arts members, donors and volunteers,” said Kim Steinhagen, Friends of the Arts board member and LU development officer. “Marsha is a past president of the LU Foundation and was also very involved with Lullabye on Broadway, the former fundraiser for the Department of Theatre and Dance.  She and Lewis are art collectors and own a number of Keith Carter photographs. They have supported all the arts in our community for many, many years.”

The silent auction and reception at the Dishman will be held from 6 - 8 p.m. Guests will have the opportunity to bid on more than 200 pieces of original artwork by alumni, faculty, students and special friends of LU – a diverse range of original paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, ceramics and jewelry.

Entertainment at the Montagne Center, from 7 p.m. to midnight, will be provided by two  featured bands, Beaumont-based Champagne Room, and The Newsboyz Band, from Austin.

Le Grand Bal danceGuests will dine on a sumptuous feast reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood, with dishes titled “Clark Gable” (slow-roasted prime rib with au jus and charred shallot demi-glace, “Joan Crawford” (chicken Francaise with lemon caper cream), “Spencer Tracy” (vegetarian risotto), “Sonja Henie” (original 1937 Derby Cobb Salad), “Wallace Beery” (cauliflower au gratin), “Will Rogers” (loaded mashed potato “martinis”) and “Mickey Rooney” (artisan rolls with flavored butters).

The decadent “Fred Astaire” dessert line-up includes salted caramel cheesecake bites, chocolate-dipped marshmallow skewers, mini-strawberry shortcake with Tahitian vanilla whipped cream and orange Creamsicle cups.

The Friends of the Arts organized in 1973 and staged its first Bal in 1975. Activities, décor and entertainment are designed to reflect the talents of LU art, theater, music and dance and students. Since 1975, the Bal has raised more than three million dollars for the college. Funds generated by the Bal enable the Friends of the Arts to contribute to scholarships and educational enhancements such as master classes, visiting artists and trips to clinics and workshops that expand learning opportunities for students and add to faculty members’ academic credentials.

This year’s event is chaired by a number of previous Bal chairs and dedicated Friends of the Art members, including Sandra Clark, Sandy and Joseph Fertitta, Albert Nolen, and Michele and Mitch Smith. Mandie and Garrett Peel are chairing the silent art auction reception. Other committee members for “Lamar Deco” include Xenia Fedorchenko and Donna Meeks, art auction; Lynda Moncla and Melissa Edwards, atmosphere; Elizabeth and John Miller, Michele and Mitch Smith, and Kim and Roy Steinhagen, food; Regina Rogers and Golden Wright, program; Sharon Forret, publicity; Tammy Hebert and Albert Nolen, reservations.

The underwriting committee includes Pat Avery, Amy and Paul Chargois, Rusty Chimeno, Sherrene Cook, Mindy and Jay Eisen, Sandy and Joseph Fertitta, Pat Klein, W.L. Pate,  Kim and Roy Steinhagen, Dean Terrebone, and Paige and Morris Windham.

Le Grand Bal has run the gamut of motifs over the years. Recent themes include “Le Grand Bal 40: Legends of the Arts” (2015), honoring Michele and Mitch Smith; “An Evening of Art” (2014), honoring Mary Jane Garth; “Cardinal Express” (2013), honoring Sallye Keith; “Some Enchanted Evening” (2012), honoring Chuck and Becky Mason; “Rhapsody in LU” (2011), honoring Judy and James Black; “A Night in Casablanca” (2010), honoring the Renaissance of Lamar University; “Red and White Le Grand Bal” (2009), honoring Jo and Tommy Vance; “Renaissance of the Arts” (2008), honoring Gay and Bill Scott; “Treasures of the Gulf Coast” (2007), honoring Sheila and Walter Umphrey; “A Toast to the Arts” (2006), honoring Frank Messina; “Passport to the Arts” (2005), honoring Judy and George Dishman; “Spring into the Arts” (2004), honoring Nell McCallum Morris; and “Viva Las Victor” (2003), honoring Vic Rogers.

Tickets are $150 per person, with underwriting opportunities available at levels ranging from $750 to $10,000. Call (409) 880-8137 to reserve your tickets or purchase them online.