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Michael Barnes

Absolutely miraculous Art Dinner at Laguna Gloria

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It rained all afternoon. A late email arrived: “We have a tent.” OK, we’ll try the third annual Art Dinner at Laguna Gloria.

Miraculously, the 100-year-old villa and its grounds, part home to the Contemporary Austin and Marcus Sculpture Park, was wrapped in a pink-golden glow at dusk.

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Guests dressed imaginatively. Several wore galoshes. They sipped rosy drinks on the lakeside terraces and swooned at the palpable enchantment.

Dinner was served in a tent out on the peninsula. Almost everyone took advantage of golf carts that slid through the thick mud. I walked on the verge.

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Wine and water flowed. Guests chatted. Then we sat down to a light, divine meal from chef Larry Maguire from Maguire Moorman Hospitality (which includes Jeffrey’s, Clark’s …) .

Topped with melt-in-your-mouth peppered ahi tuna, it rivals any other party fare this season.

Then came the auction. When I spied the suggested prices, I almost choked on my ahi: $20,000, $50,000, $80,000 and the like for lovely but modest pieces of contemporary art. They sold like hotcakes. Some serious collectors under that tent.

Don’t know the final take, but the museum is doing well after receiving more than $20 million for its unbuilt former downtown site — it is currently renovating another, the Jones Center — and taking in $9 million from the Marcus Foundation.

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Katelena Hernandez Cowles and James Cowles at the Art Dinner.

Caught up with educator and institutional memory, Judith Sims, especially regarding her childhood and youth in Austin. Also exchanged social notes with Kathy Blackwell, editor of Austin Way and former American-Statesman senior editor.

Blackwell now officially knows more about the current Austin social scene than I do. Well, let’s at least say that her stories are crisp and captivating.