'Art in the Garden' offers one surprise after another

Gatsby-themed event set for Aug. 20 at La Paloma

The Rockford Art Museum presents the “Art in the Garden” fund-raiser for the first time on Aug. 20 to “enable the Rockford Art Museum to offer a higher caliber of exhibitions and educational programs that enrich the quality of life for people of all ages.”

Chris Laird, chairman of the Rockford Art Museum committee, couldn’t say enough great things about the event.

“Promises to be a spectacular night,” he said. “It’s one of the only formal summer events in Rockford.”

The idea for the event came during a brainstorming session in the mind of Karen Harding, honorary chairman of the committee. She wanted to do a formal benefit in a garden to help raise money for the Museum.

“She’s a large supporter of the Art Museum,” Laird said.

Even though the event is open to the public, some invitations were sent to specific individuals, mostly patrons of the Art Museum.

Some invitations were mailed while others were hand-delivered by formally dressed men. Each man carried a vase full of daisies with the invitation attached to the door of unsuspecting guests.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Laird said. “People who can’t come are upset because they have to take their kids to college.”

The way some of the invitations were delivered is just one of many surprises the committee plans on having for the event.

“The whole thing starts with just a little bit of surprise,” Laird said. “It’s going to be one surprise after another. I just love to do that.”

The museum wanted to give its guests a chance to feel like someone special for the night. The cost of the tickets includes entry, cocktails, dinner and a chance to be treated like royalty.

“I love doing these events,” Laird said. “It’s all about our guests and how they can be treated like kings and queens for the day.”

Guests will begin the evening with cocktails at the piano bar at 6 p.m. Around 8:30 p.m., al fresco dining will be provided by Chicago’s George Jewell Catering.

The formal evening also features entertainment provided by the 11-piece Ginger Tam Orchestra, featuring Paul Marinaro.

The attire of the evening is formal. Although not required, Laird hopes to at least see the men in dinner jackets to match the Gatsby theme. The idea for the theme came from the 1930s when the darker colored jackets were worn for dinner.

The darker jacket is used at dinner because of the low technology of the 1930s. At the time, it was impossible to bleach wool fabric to white. The jackets worn at the time tend to be of a darker shade, beginning at an off-white.

The Rockford Art Museum plans to hold the “Art in the Garden” event every year around August. The date this year was specifically chosen because of the full moon that will appear that night.

Most reservations have already been taken, due to the Aug. 10 deadline. The committee is hoping to have at least 300 guests for the evening.

The presenting sponsors for the event are Mr. and Mrs. Richard Behr and Mrs. Ben Harding, and the supporting sponsors include AMCORE Bank, Adams Lettering Services, Bentley Northbrook, MainStay Funds and Lady Wellness.

“Art in the Garden” will be at La Paloma Gardens, 3622 Brookview Rd. Valet parking will be available.

From the August 17-23, 2005, issue

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