The spirits were willing and the crowd was sleek at the Santa Ana Heights home of Tom and Elizabeth Tierney, where 100 supporters of UC Irvine's Fine Arts Gallery gathered for "Encore: Another Evening With the Spirits."
The $150-per-person black-tie benefit--which featured cocktail-hour magic, palm readings and an elegant dinner Saturday evening--raised estimated gross proceeds of $10,000, according to gallery director Melinda Wortz. The funds will augment the gallery's budget for professional and student exhibitions.
On a tour of his art-filled manse, Tom Tierney pointed to his favorite pieces--bronze sculptures by Apache Indian artist Allan Houser--and joked about the skinned, stuffed and mounted animals on display throughout the house, including a full-size tiger sprawled on the grand piano.
Pointing to a shaggy buffalo trophy mounted over the family room door, Tierney deadpanned: "I want to dye him blond, or maybe give him a purple Mohawk. What do you think? This is California."
And in California, party guests can enjoy poolside October soirees with shoulders bared--or wrapped in fur.
One poolside grouping included Mary Alexander, wearing a strapless leopard print dress, and Carolyn Farris, who kept her mink snugly around her. Farris praised the talent and energy of gallery director Melinda Wortz.
"She goes out six nights a week to gallery openings and shows, so she can stay in touch with what's out there--the cutting edge," Farris said. "She's a dynamo, but what's so extraordinary about Melinda is that she's one of the few people who can explain contemporary art so it makes sense to anyone. "
Chic in a layered chiffon dress, Wortz said the gallery's "continuing struggle for visibility in the community gets a little easier every year."
Not so easy was her search for palm readers to entertain guests. "I was looking for palm readers in the phone book," she said, laughing. "And you know what they're listed under? 'Spiritual consultants.' Isn't that perfect? Another evening with the spiritual consultants. . ."
Fresh from one such consultation in the Tierney's sunken living room, Ed McGrath, a Laguna Beach real estate financier, summed up the experience: "She agreed with me that I'm a legend in my own time."
Meryl Bonney took a seat on the patio after her palm reading and lit a cigarette. "I'll say one thing for that woman (the palm reader)," Bonney said. "She's got a terrific imagination."
Artist Tony DeLap, a nationally known minimalist sculptor and professor of studio art at UC Irvine, munched a Brazilian shrimp appetizer and said he felt "pleased and flattered" that the gallery benefit he dreamed up four years ago had become so successful.
After feasting on filet mignon and chicken with pistachio sauce at tables set up in the Tierney's bay view backyard, guests danced under the stars to pop and show tunes. Each guest was given a porcelain fruit plate bearing a Tony DeLap design, signed by the artist, to commemorate the evening.