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Black and White Le Grand Bal: fundraiser on March 25 celebrates fine arts at LU

 Le Grand Bal Lamar University in Black and White

Lamar University invites Southeast Texans to Le Grand Bal, a gala evening of art, fine dining, dancing and entertainment on Saturday, March 25, 2017. This year’s theme, “Lamar University in Black and White,” features a musical retrospective of LU through the decades. Guests are encouraged to dress in black and white. Activities include a silent art auction at the Dishman Art Museum, as well as a gourmet buffet, libations, music and dancing in the Montagne Center.

Melody and Pat ParsonsNow in its 42nd year, Le Grand Bal is the major annual fundraiser for the College of Fine Arts and Communication. Every year the Le Grand Bal committee selects honorees to recognize for their contributions to the arts. This year's event honors Melody and Pat Parsons. The Parsons have chaired and supported Le Grand Bal and the Friends of the Arts for many years, and Pat has been recognized as one of Lamar University's Distinguished Alumni.

The Parsons are true champions of the arts throughout Southeast Texas, said Kim Steinhagen, Friends of the Arts board member and LU development officer. They have been generous donors to LU, and we are thrilled to use this opportunity to honor and thank them.

Vineyard by Paul ManesGiven its focus on the arts, the Le Grand Bal committee also selects an artist honoree each year. This year, the event will celebrate the work of LU alumnus and painter Paul Manes. Manes is known for both figurative and abstract paintings, and his work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Currently, it can be seen in "Painting After Postmodernism," in Brussels, Belgium, which will next travel to Malaga, Spain. His work can also be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum of Art and Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

"Paul is one of Lamar's most successful graduates of the Department of Art,” said Steinhagen. “I have followed his career for many years, even before moving to Beaumont.  His empty bowl paintings are powerful images that are instantly recognizable.  Paul and Pat Parsons were classmates and have been friends for years, so Paul was the ideal artist to pair with him." 

Art auctionThe 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 Albert Nolen, a Beaumont Realtor, retired educator and newspaper columnist. Other committee members include Xenia Fedorchenko, Donna Meeks, Kim and Roy Steinhagen and Chris Troutman, art auction; Lynda Moncla and Melissa Edwards, atmosphere; Sandra Clark and Michele and Mitch Smith, food; Sharon Forret, publicity; Tammy Hebert, Karen Kessinger and Albert Nolen, reservations.

Le Grand BalThe underwriting committee includes Kara and Zach Hawthorn, Sierra and Jefferson Fisher, Ellen and Danny Phelan, Nell and Terry Morris, Tammy and Scott Crutchfield, Sandy and Joseph Fertitta, Mandie and Dr. Garrett Peel, Michele Smith, Gerald Farha, Ayna and John Pat Parsons, Charlene and Danny Babineaux, Vanessa and J.B. Peel, Amy and Paul Chargois, Becky and Rodney Ames, and Cindy and Jamie Dishman.

Guests at the Bal will dine on a sumptuous feast prepared under the direction of Stephen Gary Jr., executive chef at Lamar University. The dishes playfully reference the night’s “black and white” theme, while reflecting Gary’s main philosophy to always “go local, go quality and go seasonal.”

Appetizers include Texas tuna tartar: sushi-grade Ahi tuna tossed with ginger, soy and teriyaki; a Mediterranean salad full of black olives and white feta cheese; and the Bal’s specialty and perennial favorite, jumbo Gulf boiled shrimp. Entrees are freshly carved, peppercorn-rubbed beef ribeye with choice of a classic demi-glace, mushroom ragout or béarnaise and seared chicken picatta with meyer lemon and capers. Boursin cheese potato gratin, a grilled vegetable tower and homemade rolls round out the menu. The meal will end with a trio of Italian delights: local fresh gelato, mini cannoli, and black and white cookies.

Dancers at the Montagne Center

Entertainment at the Montagne Center will be provided by the LU Jazz Ensemble and Houston DJ Jason Farr. The ensemble will perform 20th-century music by decade, leading through the early years at LU. When Farr takes over, he will start playing music from the 1970s onward. 

Le Grand Bal has run the gamut of motifs over the years. Recent themes include “Lamar Deco,” 2016, honoring Marsha and Lewis Hoffer; “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; and “Some Enchanted Evening,” 2012, honoring Chuck and Becky Mason.

Tickets are $200 per person, with underwriting opportunities available at levels ranging from $900 to $10,000. Call (409) 880-8137 to reserve your tickets today.