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Defender Picks


Ogden Museum Gala Auction Brings Swett to the Tent

by Cheryl Castjohn

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is rolling out the red carpet this Saturday night for its annual “O What A Night” Gala and auction.  The event winds its way in and out of the distinctive Henry Hobson Richardson Library, through Stephen Goldring Hall, back out onto Camp Street and into the Gala tent and bandstand.  


To find your way through this swanky labyrinth, begin at the neo-Romanesque arch entry to the library, peruse the sixteen precious works for live auction in the rotunda, follow the work of emerging Southern art past the Gallery Wall, mingle among 36 more works by Southerners/for Southerners, and then follow the violins.


To guide visitors throughout the dynamic space, the O is organizing a linear symphony known lovingly as “The Wire Choir” and “The Hall of Violins.”  Musical selections will begin with the classical and subtly transition to Cajun music in celebration of this year’s Opus recipient, the esteemed George Rodrigue. And when you’ve run the gauntlet from violin to fiddle-playing, you’ll be in the Gala tent, ready to engage in a bidding war to the vocal stylings of niche auctioneer CK Swett.


The auctions are the Gala’s life-blood, ensuring that the O can continue its mission of uncovering the most treasured aspects of Southern life alive in art. O What A Night features a Gallery Wall of emerging artists whose works are for sale at a named price on a first-come, first-served basis.  All the works by emerging artists cost a tidy $500 or less, so get your aesthetic eye on, ready to discover the next big thing and scoop it up.


The silent auction features 36 total works by longest-loved artists like William Ferris, Richard Sexton, and Jack Niven as well as newer artists like Harouni, Jack Spencer, and George Rodrigue protégé Tony Bernard. Photographs by Shelby Lee Adams, ceramic sculpture by Bradley Sabin and George Alexander, and abstract paintings by Anastasia Pelias and Beth Lambert round out the uniquely Southern selections. As Colleen Connor and Sarah Story explained, all of the works are by “artists who are from the South or who make art about the South” in the formidable Ogden tradition. 


The live auction features everything from a vintage 1995 Mercedes SL320 customized by Hunt Slonem especially for the event, to Bill Dunlap’s “Sow in Moonlight” and all points in between. Betsy Eby’s “Musical Score for a Song Bird” and Gina Phillips' “Golden Halter” are two works that will tug at your heart strings, and no one can deny the appeal of a special Saints package donated by Board Trustee Rita Benson LeBlanc which is rumored to land you smack in the middle of the Benson’s private box at the ‘Dome. 


This segment features Dallas charity auctioneer CK Swett, whose reputation for unorthodox showmanship makes Connor’s and Story’s eyes wide and breath baited.  The Dallas professional has been credited by the New York Times as “shaking up auctioneering” and “breaking the gavel clique” and has the young women of the Ogden on edge.  If you aren’t fortunate enough to see Swett in action or vie for a coveted silent auction item, Connor promises your absentee bid is safe with her. But who will keep the family fortune safe from his silver tongue and golden gavel?

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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