Preston T. Scott's hat has a story, Patra Jordan's dress stands out and more in this week's Black Tie & Tales
+The top top hat
Sarasota attracts interesting people with interesting stories as demonstrated by the “Best Man’s Hat” winner at this years Circus Arts Conservatory gala on January 29.
The man is Preston T. Scott, a University of Virginia educated attorney whose original career was working for the U.S. government in environmental law. He ended up a consultant to Bhutan, a tiny country of 750,000 souls about the size of West Virginia located high in the Himalayas between China and India. That Bhutan is so isolated and just plain hard to reach likely accounts for the fact that no foreign power has ever occupied or colonized it. As a result, its arts and culture are pure, uncontaminated. The government asked Scott to arrange a major exhibit to share them with the world.
The hat came to Sarasota as a gift to Scott after he organized the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival featuring Bhutan in 2008. The exhibit, one of an annual series started in 1967, included the first American performance of the “Black-Hat Dance,” which dates from the early 17th century.
The Black-Hat hat is made by monks of wood (the brim is a solid ¾” thick), paper mâché, peacock feathers and metal. Dancers twirl and sway and leap for some 90 minutes with its three-pound weight on their heads. The hat’s symbolism is exquisite and includes a skull with a mirror above to remind the viewer of his own mortality. Below it are the sun and moon encircled to represent the inseparability of wisdom and compassion.
The story gets even better. While working in Kenya on that country’s exhibit a year and a half ago, Scott found himself in a conversation with the Smithsonian Institution’s director about what to do for the Folklife Exhibition’s 50th anniversary year coming up. The result is the Smithsonian Circus Arts Festival. Sarasota’s Ringling Museum represented by circus curator Deborah Walk and our Circus Arts Conservatory represented by founders Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs Reis are major partners. It will happen on the National Mall in Washington, DC from June 29 through July 9, 2017. Put it on your calendars.
+Hi Visibility Coral
You couldn’t miss her. Patra Jordan brightened up the January 27 Sarasota Orchestra gala dinner on the arm of Eduardo Anaya, wearing a neon dress by Olivaceous. Another stand-out in the sea of black was Gerri Aaron, in a jacket 100% covered with iridescent paillettes.
+Tidbits … Chairman as honoree … it may not be customary but in this case, it is overwhelmingly deserved. Thus First Step of Sarasota’s Caring Hearts Luncheon at Michael’s on February 17 will honor Marcella Schuyler. The event is a celebration of the healthy, drug-free babies born each year thanks to the organization’s Mothers & Infants Program, and guests will hear from a Kat, a program graduate now more than 12 years in recovery and studying nursing in Boca Raton. The Observer’s own Emily Walsh, a past honoree, will moderate. More info and reservations: Kelly French, 552-2065 … Creative collaboration of the week … Committee member Lauren Walsh donated the wine glasses in the auction baskets at the Circus Gala. She bought them from luxe, nonprofit Designing Women Boutique. Win, Win! … Sing-along season … first it was the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco at the Bradenton Opera Guild dinner. Then it was the Toreador Song from Carmen at the Sarasota Opera’s “Evening on the Nile.” Then Renee Fleming invited her Van Wezel audience to whistle for her in one number and to join her in the chorus of “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Next? … Nice, nicer, nicest … Stories keep popping up about Ms. Fleming’s warmth and kindness. Patricia Joslyn, Vice President of Operations and Artistic Planning for the Sarasota Orchestra, met the star backstage and got a selfie with her. It was Pat’s birthday and she pronounced it, “The best day of my life.”
How many is too many? … Channel 7 Culinary Director Judi Gallagher and her husband Paul have six Bruce Springsteen concerts on their calendar for an upcoming week in California … Luck is the residue of planning… When Palm Ball event organizers and caterer Phil Mancini saw the forecast for yet another bad weather weekend, they upsized their tent order to one large enough for the cocktail hour as well as the dinner. They installed it on Wednesday so on a cold, miserable Saturday night, Phil could say “Everything is beautiful down there right now.” And so it was.