The Gala" was "the" place to be for well-heeled art lovers Saturday evening. East met West in grand style at a private opening of Hackerman House, the new home for The Walters Art Gallery Museum's extensive collection of Asian Art.
Nearly a thousand people made their way past a receiving line inside the Walters, on through Hackerman House with bubbly in hand, and out the door for cocktails in the park at Mt. Vernon Place.
While guests were socializing, the Classic Catering People were putting the finishing touches on a Chinese motif and menu inside a huge tent set up at the base of the Washington Monument. The entire evening was a hit, and its planners -- Mr. and Mrs. Robert Michel Jr., gala chairs; Dr. and Mrs. Robert Bergman, he's director of the Walters; and Mr. and Mrs. Willard Hackerman, the generous couple who made it all happen -- knew it was a winner.
Others enjoying the festivities were Mrs. Nathan Hackerman, Willard's 97-year-old mother; Mayor Kurt Schmoke; and a contingent of Walters' family members which included Toni Hopkins and her mother and aunt, Cynthia Meade and Joan Read. Since Henry Walters never had children, (he didn't marry until he was in his 70s) they are related through their mother and his niece, Sarah Delano Redman.
It was a delightful party and what gave it more flavor was that many guests opted for Asian dress. Ned Daniels looked quite dapper in his Japanese smoking jacket. (Daniels, I am told, once sat next to Princess Di at a dinner party.) City Councilwoman Jacqueline McLean looked lovely in a stunning black and gold silk silk gown she bought in the Orient; Young Hwi Lee and Kyong Soon Cho attracted a lot of attention in pretty Korean dresses. However, the show stoppers, so to speak, were worn by Arnold Lehman, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, and Jackie Smelkinson of Continental Smelkinson food brokers. Lehman wore an Imperial 19th century Chinese coat and a Mandarin hat (with eye-catching aqua socks "made in Taiwan," teased his wife, Pam, who was wearing a pretty Japanese jacket). Lehman hastened to add that the outfit did not belong to the Baltimore Museum of Art, but was borrowed from a friend who is an avid collector. Smelkinson wore a gold Chinese coat and a gold Thai headdress, which her good friend Jimmy Judd let her borrow from his private collection. She looked fabulous, but I don't think I could stand trying to balance the incredible headdress all evening.
Other more conservative guests I spotted in the huge tent were Eli Jacobs, George and Carol McGowan, Chris and Marilyn Poindexter, John and Gloria Files, Frank and Mary Ellen Gunther, Jack and Suzanne Nichols, Richard Eliasberg, Hildy Hoffberger, Janet Behrend, Richard Livingston, Toni Paterakis, Hilda and Doug Goodman, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Davison, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Salisbury, Mr. and Mrs. Wil Sirota, Mr. and Mrs. Laurence Perin, Mary Ellen Thomsen, Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Wolpoff, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Chin, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Patz, Mr. and Mrs. L. Patrick Deering, Zanvyl Kreiger, Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Hubbard, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hodes, Mrs. Howard Head, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hecht, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Fox, Mr. and Mrs. Calman Zamoiski, and last, but never least in my book, The Walters' Ellen Reeder, and her parents Nancy and Ollie.
The music of The Shades of Blue Orchestra, Chinese dragons prancing, and colorful Koi swimming in pools were other nice touches at the event.
BITS AND PIECES: Two heavy hitters in the sports world, Brooks Robinson and Lenny Moore, have agreed to be Honorary Chairs of the popular Save-A-Heart Celebrity Golf Tournament, played June 10-11 at Turf Valley Country Club. On the evening of the 10th at Martin's West, two more heavy hitters from the world of communication, Jim McKay and Phyllis Brotman, will be honored at the Save-A-Heart annual dinner. Call Save-A-Heart for ticket information.