Poster sale benefits Baer School

Scene & Heard

Scene & Heard

January 21, 2007|By SLOANE BROWN

This was a party with a purpose. Two, actually. The gathering at the Gaines McHale showroom was the kickoff for its period French poster sale, the largest in the region every year. It was also the kickoff to a big fundraising weekend for The William S. Baer School, with some of the sale's proceeds going to the school, which serves Baltimore City students with multiple disabilities. In fact, it was one of the school's board members who came up with the idea to combine the two.

"The biggest problem [the school has had] is that most people don't know about it," said Gaines McHale manager Scott McHale. "We've been doing the French poster show for 11 years. ... It's an event ... that draws large crowds and makes a lot of money. So, I figured it would be a good way to get The Baer School's name out there."

"They've been doing this for us for three years now. This is so wonderful," noted Baer principal Patrick Crouse, as he watched several of his students greet guests and hand out brochures on the school.

There was wine to sip, and hors d'oeuvres to nosh on, but then it was time to get down to the real business of the evening - looking at Parisian posters that often dated back more than a century.

"I think they're wonderful. [French posters] do a lot of decorating. You can make a statement without a lot of furniture," said Baltimore interior designer Claudia Sennett.

Mich?le Jacobs and husband Joe Bowen attend the show every year. "I have a French mother, and coming here always means a lot," said Jacobs, the managing director of special events at Washington's Union Station. "They're joyful. You have a smile on your face when you look at them."

Fellow show regulars Nadwa Mossaad and Oliver Harvey agreed with that assessment. "We really like them, but our walls aren't big enough," said Harvey, an independent respiratory-care practitioner.

Meanwhile, first timers Karen and Marc Weinstein loved the idea of combining their home decorating with the cause.

"We're shopping for a French poster for our living room," said Weinstein, a Lutherville clinical psychologist. "And any contribution we can make to the education of children is worthwhile."

A Drink With Tracy Gosson

A zest for city life

Tracy Gosson, 40, grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., but she's one of Baltimore's biggest boosters. Since Live Baltimore Home Center was founded in 1997 to market living in Baltimore, Gosson has been its executive director. Next month, however, she will leave the job, but not Baltimore. Divorced, Gosson lives in Butchers Hill with her cat, Kitty.

Why are you leaving your job?

It's a combination of a few things. Nonprofit burnout. The struggle of relentless fundraising and just getting mired in operational tasks and getting away from marketing, which is what I really like. ... I quit my job with no job [lined up].

Is that scary?

Yup. But, you know what? One of my personal tenets is I am most afraid of complacency. If I'm not being challenged and I'm getting too comfortable. I think that is very scary.

What are you going to do?

I love this city, and I love what I do and I think I can help other organizations in the city. For-profit. Nonprofit. Anything that leaves a tangible stamp on the city [so] that it's better when you leave than when you found it. That, to me, is just fabulous. It's the Bill Struever mentality of living that says, `How have you changed the world today?'

What is it about this city that has you so passionate about it?

I think because it has unlimited potential. It's the underdog. And I'd always rather play on the underdog's team because it's much more challenging and much more rewarding.

Do you go out a lot?

I do. I consider myself a professional diner. I eat out a lot. It ranges anywhere from Kisling's [Tavern & Grill] to Charleston [Restaurant] and everywhere in between. I spend a lot of time on the weekends with my ... friend. I hate the word, boyfriend. ... We help each other with our home projects. He lives in Federal Hill. We have a lot of role reversal, because I'm the construction person. I have a motorcycle and he has a Vespa. Then, we just hang out because I love to cook and he loves wine. ... The specialty of late is the hot-pepper pork chops. If you can stand breathing in the house while I'm cooking it. Everything I learned about cooking, I learned from my mom. She's Greek.

What do you think were the most important things you learned from your parents?

My mother's point of view was be true to yourself and whatever you want, just go after it. You can get it. My father's side was more empathetic. You need to care about what you leave in your wake. When my father died, there was a three-hour wait to get into the funeral home. ... He had touched an unbelievable amount of people.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I don't think there's anything, because I'm right out there. People already know how outspoken I am. When I say something [outrageous], people say, it's OK, it's just Tracy.

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