The Ball at Basel

MAM Celebrates at Fontainebleau

Lin Arison, Solita Mishaan

By Aaron Glickman
Photos by David Heischrek and Meg Pukel

The organized chaos of Art Basel needs no more publicity. Art, parties, celebrity, ego and money flow freely during the frenzied week and for those who pride themselves on social prowess, a daily and nightly regiment of activity is vital.

The climax to the Art Basel week brings it all back home, as the Miami Art Museum (MAM) holds their annual MAM Ball on the final Saturday. The fundraiser attracts many of Miami’s biggest arts patrons. This year’s Ball was held at the iconic Fontainebleau, which offered a scene from start to finish that was teeming with old-school grandeur set against a modern, Miami chic milieu.

Cocktails were held in the neon Bleau Bar located in the Chateau lobby. Greeting the MAM patrons as they arrived was Honorary Chair Lin Arison, perhaps Miami’s greatest arts patron providing major funding to the institutions that comprise our city’s artistic infrastructure. The ball was chaired by Solita and Steven Mishaan and the evening’s theme celebrated the new Miami Art Museum at Museum Park.

Iran Issa Kahn

Celebration is exactly what MAM achieved. The atmosphere for the black tie affair was rich and festive. I was accompanied by Lisa Pacin who acted as my fashion liaison, identifying stellar outfits along the way. Lisa was wearing an Italian silk beaded bubble skirt and velvet top that was custom made by her mother, Helene Kovens.

The passed hors d’oeuvres included the always popular mini-sliders along with a creative pairing of watermelon and raw salmon. My personal favorite was the gazpacho presented in small tea cups.

Standing with her husband Tim toward the rear of the bar was Lourdes Jofre-Collett wearing Giorgio Armani Black Label accessorized with an Armani Privé jeweled clutch and shoes. Passionate about the events and organizations she supports, Lourdes will be chairing Baptist Hospital’s 2010 Golden Anniversary soirée by the lake on the hospital grounds.

Elyze Held came over wearing a one-of-a-kind couture by Luis Valenzuela, an artist that she and her husband collect. Elyze is a special projects consultant for arts organizations and is currently working with the Playground Theatre’s Tea at the Ritz.

At the bar – Marvin Ross Friedman spoke of the Art Basel week that was, as well as the fairs he attended. Artist James Rosenquist and Adrienne Bon Haes joined the conversation. Often seen wearing unique and original gowns, Adrienne’s wardrobe choice for the MAM Ball was no exception. Her handmade gown with its Renaissance-inspired shape and IKat print was made from the fabric of drapes formerly hanging in Adrienne’s home.

Tim Collett & Lourdes Jofre-Collett

YoungArts’ Christina DePaul was graceful as she maneuvered through the reception. Her YoungArts Week is quickly approaching (January 11-16) and Christina indicated that everything was coming along nicely. The annual event brings the best high school arts students in the nation to Miami for one week to learn from the masters of their respective disciplines.

Amidst the mingling, a costumed character with a clacker came through indicating that the time had come to move the party into the Fontaine/Fleur de Lis ball room, an elegant space with its original ornate design that pays tribute to when the Fontainebleau first opened in 1954.

From the onset, the energy was high, as it stayed throughout the evening. We had the fortune of being seated at one of Rob and Terry Schechter’s tables. Others at our table included Walid and Suzy Wahab; photographer Iran Issa Kahn, who came equipped with both digital and film cameras; and ArtNexus’ Susanne Birbragher, wearing an Alice + Olivia dress. Susanne had successfully produced several Art Basel events including a book signing by Yabu Pushelberg, the ArtNexus opening night poolside bash at W South Beach, and an intimate dinner at the newly opened Marque located downtown adjacent to the Arsht Center.

Dinner was scrumptious – a thick and tender filet for the main course followed by a hollow ball of chocolate filled with mousse and topped with a hot mousse that servers poured at the table. The only break in the celebration came when Aaron Podhurst gave a small speech, presented the raffle prize and called Lin Arison to the stage to pay tribute to her, making special reference to her humble nature. The interlude was short and to the point, allowing guests to get back to their dancing.

Marvin Ross Friedman, Adrienne Bon Haes

Following more mingling, Lisa and I made our way to the exit and entered a lobby scene that was something out of a movie. Gala attendees mixed with hipsters mixed with a hip hop crowd awaiting the arrival of Timbaland at LIV. Don Soffer was observing the action and was eventually joined by Anthony Shriver.

The evening was splendid – grand people in a grand environment celebrating Miami’s growing cultural core that MAM and Museum Park represent. The event production and execution was clean and lacked the long, drawn out speeches and self aggrandizing award presentations that weigh many galas down. The MAM Ball was a fitting and celebratory end to a socially noteworthy Art Basel week.

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