Psst! Did you know more than 400 people were spotted eating in the Grand Reading Room of the Downtown Public Library?
It’s ok. The library staff condones such behavior one night each year as they host their Literary Award Gala. At this fundraiser, folks dress to the nines for feasting with friends and listening to remarks by a respected author.
The Nashville Public Library Foundation presented bestselling author Scott Turow with its 2014 Literary Award at the joyfully jam-packed Literary Gala held on a crisp Saturday night in early November. Celebration actually began the evening prior at library patron saint Margaret Ann Robinson’s home where event patrons were captivated by Pulitzer Prize–winning Nashville newcomer Jon Meacham’s moderated conversation with Turow.
The gala was held the next night at the Robert A.M. Stern-designed downtown library. After drinks in Ingram Hall, guests ventured up the formidable staircases to the Grand Reading Room.
Corinne Kidd and Keith Meacham did an A+ job co-chairing this year’s affair, a $500-per-person black-tie affair that also featured a selection of “priceless” silent auction packages. Auction co-chairs Meredith Griffith and Kathryn Hays Sasser were at their most creative coming up with treasures such as a private weekend at Monticello and a trip to author Julia Reed’s New Orleans. Proceeds benefit the preschool literacy and the library’s after-school teen programs.
Ann Patchett began the program by introducing Meacham as “the F. Scott Fitzgerald of Davidson County.” Meacham delivered a most articulate tribute to the late John Seigenthaler. Then Karl Dean took the podium, extolling the event and his desire that Nashville “be a city of lifelong learners.”
Never has the Grand Reading Room had such lively conversation. Seen out were: Honey and Lamar Alexander, Martha and Gavin Ivester, Juli and Ralph Mosley, Katy Varney and Dave Goetz, Sara and Richard Bovender, Beth and John Stein, Robin and Richard Patton, Julie and Bob Gordon, Megan Barry, Dolores Seigenthaler, Mary and Lee Barfield, Donna Dalton and Luke Froeb, and Elizabeth and Clark Akers.
One never knows what might happen at The Conservancy Gala each November. The first year set the tone with an aerialist dropping from the ceiling of the Parthenon. In its five-year history, entertainment has included the torching of a gigantic Zozobra marionette over Lake Watauga, a speed-painting demonstration, and shadow performances worthy of America’s Got Talent.
Guests expect the unexpected.
This year’s chairmen Beth Fortune and Debbie Turner went glam for their iteration, which they dubbed “Designs in Elegance.” The entrance ramp and main rooms were blanketed in a sublime golden-yellow carpeting, causing the naos—which already benefits from the gilded vibe radiating from massive Athena—to gleam even more.
Just when guests might have been tempted to think they were attending just another stunningly beautiful Nashville party, there appeared an oh-so-petite woman in a spunky red leotard who began—ahem—tight-roping nine feet above the floor. Mind you, this was no mere run-of-the-mill Wallenda wannabe: Ariele Ebacher strutted the high wire in stilettos, then en pointe in toe shoes!
My, my! Whatever will they think of next?
Later, as guests finished dinner, musician Tracy Silverman took the stage. He held the crowd spellbound with his electric violin performance, featuring layers upon layers of music.
The gala benefits The Conservancy for the Parthenon & Centennial Park. The week prior, Vanderbilt chief Nick Zeppos and his wife Lydia Howarth graciously hosted the patrons party at Braeburn, the chancellor’s residence in Belle Meade.
Spotted out were Hope Stringer, Clare Armistead, Tooty Bradford, Demetria Kalodimos and Verlon Thompson, Brooks and Bert Mathews, Phyllis and Steve Fridrich, Stephanie and Jay Hardcastle, Paiden and Dan Hite, Libby and Ben Page, Mary and Michael Spalding, Ellen Martin and Gerry Nadeau, Anne Davis and Karl Dean, Mary Lea and Rick Bryant, and Kelley and Reid Estes.
“Boots and bling” was the attire description for Sparkle and Twang. And boots and bling it was.
The annual event, co-chaired by Jennifer Parker and Mary Seng, was held in mid November at Lexus of Nashville in Metro Center. The $90-per-person fundraiser benefits the Tennessee State Museum and the Costume & Textiles Institute.
In addition to cocktails, music, and a silent auction, the night featured the induction of the new Costume and Textile Institute members. They were: 13-year-old Memphis bow-tie design phenom Moziah Bridges, denim visionaries Matt and Carrie Eddmenson, who founded Imogene + Willie in Nashville, Nashville native and Project Runway top-five finalist Johnathan Kayne; Nashville stylist and hat maven Stacey Rhodes, owner of the eponymous boutique; plus Nashville-based Russian-born bridal gown designer Olia Zavozina, whose gowns have appeared in Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com and People Weekly.