American Visionary Art Museum gala

February 21, 2010|By Sloane Brown | Special to The Baltimore Sun

It was a star-spangled night at the American Visionary Art Museum, as several hundred folks gathered for the museum's annual gala. Many guests followed the suggested dress code of "broad stripes and bright stars," in honor of the museum's current exhibition, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

"I need a photo with Captain America," said Diana Kim, a Washington-based makeup artist, as she spotted AVAM's communications and marketing manager, Pete Hilsee, in his costume, complete with foam rubber muscles. Meanwhile, author Taylor Branch strolled by, with shiny stars glued to his forehead. And AVAM founder/director Rebecca Hoffberger - in a big fluffy white fur hat - gave a bear hug to board member Kathy Sher.

"This party is always such an unusual gathering. It's eclectic," said board member Priscilla Carroll, who looked rather eclectic in a brilliant blue sequined dress and bright red feather boa.

"Parties [at AVAM] really contain the DNA of Baltimore," observed Frank Warren, PostSecret creator/author and one of the evening's honorees.

It wasn't the costumes that Chickie Grayson, president/CEO of Enterprise Homes, was most impressed with. She was in awe of one of the other honorees. "We're in the same room as Julian Bond," she said, referring to the famed civil rights activist.

Another of the evening's highlights was the post-dinner parade. The Baltimore Westsiders Marching Band led the procession, followed by an electric car carrying honoree Bond and his wife, civil rights attorney Pam Horowitz. Next in line were costumed roller girls, belly dancers, stilt walkers and a slew of pingpong balls.

Andrew Wendell, AW Builders president, summed up the night with, "This is a one-of-a-kind museum where you're going to have a one-of-a-kind party."

Sloane Brown can be contacted at

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