The Crowd: Decorating the world of society

If you are looking for a group of local residents who represent the heart of the Newport-Mesa community perhaps better than any other small organization, look no further than the Decorative Arts Society.

On Monday evening, the organization, comprised of both couples and single members, all with a passion for every imaginable aspect of the decorative art form, gathered at the romantically bohemian residential compound of Mary Ann and David Kerr on Lido Isle for a catered reception welcoming East Coast antiques and architectural curator as well as author Brandy Culp.

The lovely Ms. Culp jetted in from South Carolina for the reception to meet and greet the local crowd, including Decorative Arts Society devotees Sandra and Donald Ayres, Hyla and Richard Bertea, Maralou and Jerry Harrington, Ann and Bill Dennis, Mary Anna and Arthur Jeppe, the charming Margaret Larkin, respected Newport Beach-based designer John Benecke and, in from San Francisco for the affair, the charming Kay Evans, formerly of Newport Beach and also one of the previous chairs of the society, joining her close friend, well-known San Francisco antiques dealer Ed Hardy. Both Evans and Hardy are now design consultants for the firm Restoration Hardware.

The festive Monday night crowd came to mingle with Culp, the invited guest of honor and speaker, who entertained society patrons on Tuesday at a sold-out lecture focusing on her work in historic Charleston.

The catering staff of Fork, Knife + Spoon, led by the very talented culinary wizard Christopher Roman, absolutely delighted the crowd with an amazing selection of passed hors d'oeuvres as well as artistically overflowing tables of delicacies strategically placed within the two-house Kerr compound on Lido filled to capacity with wonderful collectibles reflecting the eclectic taste of Mary Ann and David Kerr.

The warm and inviting atmosphere of the Kerr residence featured a massive collection of blue and white Canton china, 18th- and 19th-century American antiques and, on this special occasion, a showing of David Kerr's lovingly collected assortment of antique tribal rugs from Eastern Europe.

Kerr enlisted the help of four young men from the Estancia High School football team, wearing their signature blue blazers, to work the party as his staff of "rug flippers," turning back the handmade rugs as Kerr narrated the history of each one to the astonishment of guests taking in every word, including Ginny Brayley, Liz Lund, Marilyn Clark, Betty Clark, Linda and Denny Campbell, Carol and Bruce Andrews, Becky Adams, Jackie Glass, Susan and Mark Hillgren, Barbara Tate, Carlita Fuller and Nancy and Wendy DeYoung.

Also in the crowd were dedicated Decorative Arts Society patrons Cecilia Nott, Carole and Barry Steele, Lois and David Tingler, Marilyn and Julie McIntyre and Marion Palley. Funds raised by the Decorative Arts Society each year, which have become substantial in amount, are donated to a selection of Orange County-based charities focused on assisting women, children and families in crisis, covering an entire spectrum of issues and services ranging from health and welfare to abuse prevention to housing and life counseling and guidance.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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