Brackenridge Park Conservancy Celebrates With Gala Dinner

By Jake Gaines  –  Photography by Limelight Photography


THE SETTING: Community leaders, city officials and advocates in support of the revitalization of Brackenridge Park recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Brackenridge Park Conservancy near the historic low water crossing. Guests enjoyed a 3.5-mile train ride through the park, a sunset reception, and dinner under the stars while marveling at the historic San Antonio River and the crossing originally constructed in 1917 to connect both sides of the park.

Each year, the organization highlights different areas of the much-loved park. The park is home to dozens of historic buildings, bridges, walkways, and water features. This year’s event, staged at the historic low water crossing, supported operations and raised awareness of the infrastructure improvements needed in this area and throughout the park to bring it back to its glory days.

THE STYLE: The gathering honored Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, founder of the Central Park Conservancy, who played a key role in the creation of the Brackenridge Park Conservancy. Fondly known as Betsy Browning, a member of a long-time San Antonio family, she is the author of nine books, including the latest, Saving Central Park: A History and A Memoir. Currently, she is president of the Foundation for Landscape Studies in New York City. Special recognition was also given to the San Antonio Conservation Society in celebrating its 95th year. The Conservation Society led the way to form the Brackenridge Park Conservancy in collaboration with City of San Antonio leaders and park stakeholders and provided funds to hire the first executive director. 

THE PURPOSE:  The chairs for the event were Vivienne Bathie, Liecie Hollis and Robin Howard. Brackenridge Park is regarded by Charles A. Birnbaum, CEO and Founder of Washington D.C–based The Cultural Landscape Foundation, as one of the most culturally significant municipal parks in the United States. The rustic character of the park, situated just below the headwaters of the San Antonio River, remains intact, with tree-lined paths, picnic areas, playgrounds, athletic fields, a miniature railway and pieces of history including the San Antonio Water Works Pump House No. 1.  Brackenridge Park that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.




San Antonio Public Library Foundation Hosts Literary Luncheon

By Jake Gaines  –  Photography by Sam Pags


THE SETTING: The San Antonio Public Library Foundation recently hosted its 13th Annual Literary Luncheon. They welcomed nearly 300 supporters and book lovers to the McNay Art Museum to hear The New York Times best-selling author, Melanie Benjamin, in conversation with the special guest moderator Cornelia Guest about Benjamin’s book, The Swans of Fifth Avenue. During the event María-Eugenia Cossío-Ameduri, Kye Fox, and Alice Lynch were also honored for their decades-long service to, and in support of, the San Antonio Public Library Foundation.

THE STYLE: Benjamin and Guest, the daughter of legendary socialite C.Z. Guest, discussed the women and history that inspired her book, a historical novel detailing the relationship of Truman Capote and his bevy of elite Manhattan women he called his swans. Guest recounted how she knew Capote well since he was a frequent visitor at her family’s summer home. She shared vivid memories of time spent with Capote and her mother’s view of him before and after the publication of his thinly veiled short story in Esquire magazine, La Côte Basque, 1965, that divulged the most intimate and embarrassing secrets of his closest friends, the swans. The conversation was enlightening for the author as well.

Attendees sipped raspberry garnished champagne, enjoyed a refreshing light lunch and sweet treats by Rosemary’s Catering, and tried their luck at winning the raffle drawing “A day of luxury” provided by Neiman Marcus and Catrina Ball tickets provided by SAPLF. Booksellers Barnes & Noble sold out of two of the author’s titles, The Swans of Fifth Avenue and her newly released The Mistress of the Ritz.

THE PURPOSE: Liecie Hollis and Caroline O’Connor, the luncheon event’s co-chairs, are also SAPLF board members. Proceeds from the gathering raised critical funds for the Library Foundation in support of their mission to strengthen the library service to the community.




AugustHeart Hosts A Night Of Music Gala

By Jake Gaines  –  Photography by Paul Overstreet


THE SETTING: The Pearl Stable was the setting for the ninth annual AugustHeart fall gala with the theme of A Night of Texas Music to Save a Life. The evening began with open bar libations and fabulous food stations catered by Don Strange of Texas. A host of live auction items tempted the guests  such as suite game tickets to a San Antonio Spurs game, a four-night romantic get-away to the Rosewood Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and an autographed guitar by Radney Foster, Bruce Robison, and Kelly Willis.

THE STYLE: The evening full of song featured Gabe Garcia, a singer songwriter from Lytle, Texas who competed on NBC’s Nashville Star. Then, Radney Foster and friends, featuring Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, with special guest William Beckmann, took to the stage for more entertainment. Radney, an American country music singer-songwriter, musician and music producer has been telling stories for over 35 years. In fact, his songs have reached over 50 million people, through his own hits and those he’s written for others. Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis are each renowned for crafting some of the most enduring music on the vast country and Americana landscape.

THE PURPOSE: Bart Koontz serves as the organization’s president, J. Lance Lahourcade serves as its vice president and Travis B. Gilbert, Jr. is the secretary and treasurer. The mission of AugustHeart is to provide free heart screenings to teenagers to identify selected heart abnormalities in an effort to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death.




San Antonio Museum of Art Celebrates Superhero Theme

By Jake Gaines  –  Photography by Greg Harrison and Straughan Photography


THE SETTING: Was it a bird? Was it a plane? Was it a superhero? Close. The San Antonio Museum of Art’s Super Art Museum Ball celebrated with a superhero-themed evening. Judge Nelson Wolff served as the emcee and Katie Luber, the Kelso Director of SAMA, welcomed those in attendance for their presence and support.

THE STYLE: The event came alive with pops of primary colors that reflected the animated icons of pop culture. The St. Anthony Hotel was resplendent as a superhero’s lair, thanks to the team at Wilkinson-Rhodes. The Batmobile, from the 1960s hit television show, greeted guests upon arrival, as did four local artists painting a 60-foot mural.

 The gala’s tables were adorned with arrangements of flowers, kryptonite, and sparkling tablecloths. Neon fans, which lit the room in bright colors, lined the balcony for an added flair to the occasion. Guests were entertained by Duo Transcend and they danced the night away to the music of the Jordan Kahn Orchestra.

THE PURPOSE: The gala event chair, SAMA board member, Jenny Schimpff, and Martin Phipps, the steering committee chair teamed up to lead the event. Funds were raised to support operations, programs, and the collection of the San Antonio Museum of Art, which takes visitors around the world and through five thousand years of art in a complex of buildings that once housed the Lone Star Brewery. Lead sponsors of the Ball were SAMA board president Marie Halff, Phipps Deacon Purnell, PLLC,  the Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation, and Elizabeth and Barry Roberts.




Texas Biomedical Forum Gala Spring Gala Celebrates Belle Epoque

By Jake Gaines Photography by Greg Harrison and Super Q Photography



THE SETTING: On a beautiful evening recently, The Argyle set the scene for the Texas Biomedical Forum gala, themed The Night They Invented Champagne, that celebrated all things Belle Epoque Paris. Guests were greeted at the entry with a Nebuchadnezzar large format bottle of Perrier Jouët champagne. It was curated by The Argyle’s own Clay Wheeler and was served from a specially built pouring apparatus into classic vintage coupe champagne glasses. Passing by the antique Rolls Royce, guests shopped the many French-styled carts filled with silent auction items.

The pastoral lawn of The Argyle was plush with green topiaries, hanging baskets and red geraniums, setting the scene for a Parisian walk in the park, where guests delighted in cocktails and beautiful appetizers including escargot vol-au-vant, caviar, strawberries and brie, and mousse pâté on toast points. Guests’ then continued to feast on Executive Chef Jesse Villanueva’s French-inspired menu.

THE STYLE: After dinner, Doc Watkins and his orchestra, generously sponsored by Donna and Ted Welsh, livened up the crowd out onto the dance floor, where feather fans, boas and hand-rolled cigars appeared. Couples danced into the evening and even had the opportunity to have their portraits painted by Franco-Modini Ruiz. Patrons were re-fueled by Chef Jesse’s scrumptious Croque Monsieur and Pomme Frites while imbibing more bubbles.

THE PURPOSE: The event was chaired by Whitney Solcher Miller and co-chaired by Cynthia Kerby, with the design expertise of their gala assistant, Whitney Schones. Baubles were generously provided by Lee Michael’s Fine Jewelry, with the help of Jessica Berg and Heather de Rojas, who served as the favor co-chairs. Tables were sold out thanks to Audra Kerr, the event’s table sales chair, and numerous grants were received outside of the gala thanks to Corinna Richter, the gala grants chair. Emily Jones was the silent auction chair, along with Emilie Petty as her co-chair. Amy Swaney and Kim Johnson served as underwriting co-chairs, while Haley Conger led as the after party co-chair with Kristin Tips, who was also public relations chair. The organization was founded in 1970 by a group of inspiring and hardworking women with the same goal to support the life-changing and life-saving work being done at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute through community awareness and fundraising.



Phi Beta Phi Alumnae Club And San Antonio Public Library Foundation Raise Funds At Luncheon

By Jake Gaines Photography by Greg Harrison


THE SETTING: San Antonio Alumnae Club of Pi Beta Phi hosted its 14th annual Gourmet Soirée event at the San Antonio Country Club benefiting the San Antonio Public Library Foundation. Over 350 attendees were on hand for the gathering that featured model and actress Elizabeth Chambers, and owner of Bird Bakery (and a University of Texas Alpha Pi Phi alumna) agreed to be the celebrity chef for the event. Following in the tradition of the past Gourmet Soirées, Chambers conducted a cooking demonstration before the luncheon that followed.

THE STYLE: The ballroom’s beautifully dressed guests in luncheon suits and dresses were delighted when Chambers demonstrated the preparation for her famous monster cookies and her grandmother’s English Trifle. On the event tables were a two-stemmed potted orchid centerpiece from Baker Tatum, and book plates to be placed in a book distributed by SAPLF ready for personalization. Raffle tickets were also sold for the opportunity to win one of two $1500 gift cards to Julian Gold and Kelly Wade Jewelers.

THE PURPOSE: Amelita Mauzé and Kelly Wade Fry, who was a Pi Phi sister of Chambers, co-chaired the event. The mission of Pi Beta Phi sorority for women is to promote friendship, develop women of intellect and integrity, cultivate leadership potential and enrich lives through community service. The San Antonio Public Library Foundation was established in 1983 with the mission to strengthen the library in service to the community. Since its inception, SAPLF has contributed nearly $40 million in financial support and added awareness to improve the city’s public libraries.