Roberts' fundraiser is a big hit

SCENE & HEARD

Scene&heard

September 10, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

THIS MAY HAVE BEEN THE FIRST time Brian Roberts was throwing a fundraising shindig for the University of Maryland Hospital for Children, but Brian's Baseball Bash arrived with some history attached.

"I had open-heart surgery when I was 5, and spent a lot of time in hospitals when I was a kid," the Orioles second baseman explained. "I wanted to do something [for a children's hospital] that was more than just going there to say 'Hi' to the kids."

And "more" was exactly what Roberts succeeded in doing. The party at ESPN Zone was sold out, with 500 guests roaming the place. Tables in various rooms were piled with food, and the drinks flowed freely.

"This is a great turnout. The fans are very supportive. I didn't think there'd be so many people," said Orioles infielder Chris Gomez.

Other Roberts' teammates, such as Jay Gibbons, Nick Markakis, Adam Loewen and Corey Patterson, easily mixed with the crowd, signing autographs and posing with fans for photos.

"I have a big golf tournament in Florida every year for a children's hospital there, and Brian played in that tournament a number of times. So, I'll support him in anything he does," said Jeff Conine, who has since been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.

As he surveyed all the goings-on, hospital board chairman Rick Armiger talked about Roberts' dedication to the hospital -- how he often drops by to visit with young patients without any publicity. And, then how quickly the O's infielder had rallied the troops to make the party happen.

"This is unbelievable," he said. "Four months ago, this was just a 'What if?'"

A DRINK WITH IRENE HOFMANN

She loves art and city living

Irene Hofmann, the new executive director of the Contemporary Museum, is all about art. Hofmann, 36, came to Baltimore in January, after stints as curator at art museums in Newport Beach, Calif., Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis. She is single (with an art-gallery-owner boyfriend in New York City) and lives in Mount Vernon.

So, how's Baltimore for you, so far?

I actually really enjoy it. I feel really comfortable here. It has many of the components of other cities where I've lived -- very distinct neighborhoods, as Mount Vernon is; the sense you can be in a very urban environment and within minutes be in a very lush countryside. For me, what it has most in common with the Midwest are the really "real" people.

Is your job fun?

I was [last] at a museum at a moment when it had a very interesting history, but it had languished. And I was brought in at a moment when the director and the board were really interested in reviving the institution. That was incredibly rewarding. This opportunity came up also at a moment where there was an opportunity to build this museum. That's what attracted me to this job. It's time for me to now be in charge of the creative direction of a place.

What's the longest you've lived anywhere in your adult life?

Five years.

Does that mean we'll be lucky to have you that long?

In the past, I've had to move because that's what got me the opportunities that were the most interesting. Having said that, some of the people I admire most in my field are those who have stayed at their institution and really grown with it. I don't like moving. I'd like to believe this is a place that is exciting for five years, and then another five. This place has the potential to keep me excited and interested for a long time.

It sounds like you're not motivated by money, but by what keeps you interested.

I didn't get into this for the money. I knew that from the beginning.

What does keep you excited and interested?

Working with artists -- specifically, working with an artist and facilitating the creation of a new artwork. Not collaborating. ... In a city like Baltimore, an artist coming to do a project with the Contemporary is rich with possibilities.

So, what, beyond your work excites you?

Architecture. I am very visually oriented. Maybe that has to do with creating, building something, like renovating a house. In California, I lived in a mid-century modern house ... I spent a lot of time working on it. ... I [also] like reading about art.

It sounds like you eat, drink and sleep art.

Yep. And that's OK. But, then there's my Bernese mountain dog, Madison. Many decisions have been made based on her, specifically housing. She can't climb stairs. She's 8 years old and has hip problems. ... I have no children. Having an animal waiting for me to come home to let her out helps me leave the office. It helps me have a life. Although, when people come and visit me on Monday or Tuesday -- that's when we're closed -- she's there [at work with me]. They've all gotten to know her: board members, Henry the UPS man. Also, through her, I meet so many people who have absolutely no connection to art. When we're out there in the Mount Vernon park, we meet such a cross-section of life. I love that part of living in the city. You don't know their names, but you know the names of their dogs.

What would someone be surprised to learn about you?

I have a huge collection of David Bowie records, representing a very serious collecting moment in my teens. Even though I had no knowledge [then] of curating or caring for art objects, I was saving them archivally then. Each one is in a very thick plastic sleeve and in an archival box. And I keep carting them around with me.

Do you still have a record player?

No. I need to get one. Like "Ziggy Stardust," played at maximum volume, would probably sound best that way. Someone once said, you should sell the records on eBay. No way!

CALENDAR

SATURDAY

THE MUSIC & YOU ANNUAL GALA

Benefits Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Open bar, food stations, BSO concert, dessert, live music

Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St.

6 p.m.

Tickets $650-$1,100

Call 410-783-8122

SATURDAY

GIRLS' NIGHT OUT OPENING NIGHT PARTY

Benefits the Contemporary Museum

Cash bar, hors d'oeuvres, view exhibit

100 W. Centre St.

6 p.m.

Free

Call 410-783-5720

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