From social spies: Recaps of May Austin parties that we missed

Miss a few Austin parties and shows in May? So did we. It’s inevitable. So much happening in Our Town.

To keep us in informed while we are otherwise engaged, our social spies sent us short reports about their favorite events.

RELATED: Catch up on these Austin parties that passed us by.

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Catherine Bruni, Kevin Opgenorth and Catalina Berry at Heart Ball of Austin. Contributed by Ed Sparks Photography

From Rosalyn Mandola: 

The 20th Annual Heart Ball of Austin was held Saturday, May 13th, at the JW Marriot in downtown. The event, presented by St. David’s HealthCare in support of the American Heart Association, broke records in attendance and fundraising. The success was thanks in part to headlining entertainment from Wynonna & The Big Noise, featuring legendary country musician Wynonna Judd. With more than 700 in attendance, the gala raised a whopping $1.09 million (gross) for cardiovascular and stroke research and outreach programs, and kept crowds dancing late into the night.”

MHA Texas_Rep Four Price (L) & Speaker Joe Straus
Rep. Four Four Price and Speaker Joe Straus at the Mental Health America Dinner. Contributed by Merrick Ales Photography

From Julie Burch:

Mental Health America of Texas commemorated the beginning of Mental Health Month with the 54th Annual Honoring Dinner: An Evening of Hope to recognize the significant contributions of Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) and Sharon Butterworth of El Paso, to mental health in Texas. MHA Texas’ highest honor, the Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt Award for Mental Health, was presented to Rep. Price in recognition of his leadership in improving the lives of Texans affected by mental illness. Butterworth was recognized for her dedication and commitment to improving the mental health of El Pasoans with the Texas Impact Award. Nearly 300 guests joined the event, on Friday, May 5, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency Austin to celebrate the honorees.”

Edward Flores and Jim Spencer at Emancipet Luncheon. Contributed by Bryant Hill

From Brenda Thompson: 

Emancipet’s 18th anniversary luncheon May 15 raised a record-breaking $447,000 for pets and the people who love them, thanks in part to Emancipet board member Angela Dorsey and her husband, Jason Rhode, who pledged to match donations up to $100,000. As a nonprofit organization, Emancipet relies on private funding to provide safe, affordable spay and neuter surgeries and prevent unwanted litters. Emancipet also provides lifesaving heartworm prevention at a price our clients can afford affordable microchipping, and tens of thousands of pets every year. The luncheon chair was Bonnie K. Mills and the her committee members were Shavonne Henderson, Kathy Katz, Tonia Lucio, and Kelly Topfer. KXAN’s meteorologist and animal lover Jim Spencer was the master of ceremonies for the event.”


Catch up on these Austin parties that passed us by

We’ve been been away for a while, but our social spies have passed on some delicious updates from the past few weeks, edited for these pages. More contributed reports to come Tuesday and Wednesday.

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At the Umlauf Garden Party, this appears to some dessert made into the shape of a wading bird. Contributed by Jonathan Garza

From Darlene Fiske:

“The 19th annual Umlauf Garden Party welcomed 800+ guests for an evening “Under a Texas Sky.” Twenty-five restaurants served delicious bites while Twin Liquors showcased some of the season’s best bubbles and wines. The museum raised more than $300,000 in its biggest fundraiser of the year, under the direction of Nina Seely, executive director and Allyson Maxey, the 2017 Garden Party chair.  All monies raised contribute to cultivating art, culture and community through educational programming and stimulating exhibitions at the Umlauf.”

Dorothy Knox Houghton and Joe Pinnelli at Abner Cook Award Reception. Contributed by Rose Betty Williams

From Andrea Perry:

“The Neill-Cochran House Museum hosted a benefit cocktail reception to honor Austin builder, contractor, and historic preservationist Joe Pinnelli with the Abner Cook Award. The event was held  in the Centennial Garden. A capacity crowd celebrated Joe’s long career in historic preservation as well as his careful recent restoration of the Neill-Cochran House. Supporters enjoyed hors d’oeuvres from Word of Mouth Bakery, cocktails and wine while a jazz band played against the backdrop of the historic house. This year’s event, co-chaired by Liz Maxfield and Caroline Caven, raised over $40,000 in support of operations, programming, and preservation at the historic site, owned and operated by the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in Texas.”

CADF Executive Director Megan Woodburn, CADF patient Deloris Fields and her dentist and CADF volunteer, Dr. Kent Macaulay. Contributed

From Amy Spiro:

“The Capital Area Dental Foundation celebrated its 10-year anniversary at its annual gala held at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Austin.  The event was attended by more than 500 guests and raised more than $175,000 for charitable dentistry. One of the highlights of the evening was when the foundation honored Deloris Fields, a patient who was connected to CADF through the American-Statesman’s Season for Caring program. Deloris, who is undergoing treatment for Stage 4 breast cancer, received extensive dental care at no charge by volunteer and Access to Care chairman, Dr. Kent MacaulayComedian Pat Hazell served as the emcee for the gala, which included a seated dinner, casino games and a special musical performance by the Rockets Brothers Band.


Let the summer Austin shows and parties begin!

We’ll count this as the first week of summer in Austin. Sure feels like it outside. And we’ve got shows and parties to launch you into that first warm week.

‘Something Rotten,’ a celebration of musicals set in Elizabethan England, comes to Bass Concert Hall.

May 30-June 4: “Something Rotten” from Broadway in Austin. Bass Concert Hall.

May 31: Travis Audubon book launch for Victor Emanuel’s “One More Warbler: A Life with Birds.” UT Thompson Center.

‘In the Heights’ comes from the same creative mind as ‘Hamilton’ and plays at Zach Theatre. Contributed

May 31-July 2: “In the Heights.” Zach Theatre.

June 1-24: “Around the World in 80 Days” from Penfold Theatre Company. Round Rock Amphitheater.

June 1: American Gateways casual reception. Chez Zee.

June 2: Best Party Ever for Leadership Austin. Brazos Hall.

June 2-25: “Taming of the Shrew.” The City Theatre.

June 2-17: “Scheherazade.” The Vortex.

June 2-3: Austin Symphony Pops Series: “Fascinating Gershwin.” Palmer Events Center.


June 3: “Bubblepalooza” summer family event. Long Center City Terrace.

June 3: Art Bra Austin for Breast Cancer Resource Center. Austin Convention Center.

June 3-4: “Legends of Broadway” from Capital City Men’s Chorus. Northwest Hills United Methodist Church.

A brilliant bird brightened our blissful time at a Bosque County ranch

Red Flycatcher
Vermillion Flycatcher. Contributed by Preservation Texas.

Back from two weeks at a ranch in Bosque County. Bliss. Pure bliss.

Kip and I took our two dogs, Lucky and Nora. We brought along a dozen books and two dozen magazines. Kip wrote. And wrote and wrote. Brought tears to my eyes.

We cooked and ate and drank. Took the dogs on daily hikes, some on the ranch, some on country roads, others in nearby state parks. The ranch is west of Meridian, the county seat, known as the “Top of the Hill Country,” which is near four state parks.

Because it is situated on the North Bosque River at the base of the Great Plains, the wind is ever present. Another blessing. We spent two weeks there last August and found it entirely pleasant on the porch of the 100-year-old Norse-style stone-fronted house during one of the hottest fortnights of the year.

The bird find this time was the Vermillion Flycatcher. I’d read about this tiny, brilliantly hued bird in Roy Bedichek‘s masterpiece, “Adventures with a Texas Naturalist.” He documented how the spread of stock ponds in Texas pulled its range northward.

Well, I’d never seen one. But on the far side of our front fence was a big oak that served as a resting point for birds fighting the wind. Kip spotted it twice in flight; I was lucky enough to fix it in my binoculars twice.

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Lark Sparrow as photographed by Glenn Barley. Contributed by Audubon Field Guide.

The other new species for us: Lark Sparrow.

Others more familiar, almost all seen from our porch: Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Scissor Tail Flycatcher, Ruby Throated Hummingbird, Inca Dove, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Black Vulture, Coot, Mockingbird, Cardinal, Common Nighthawk, Roadrunner, House Sparrow, Carolina Chickadee, Cowbird, Starling. We were not able to identify an owl, a hawk and a heron.

One last blast of Austin parties and shows for May

Wait! The spring social and arts seasons are not over. We blend together the last bast of events here.

May 8-10: Texas Women for the Arts from the Texas Cultural Trust. Various locations.


May 11: Due West for West Austin Studio Tour. Dougherty Arts Center.

May 11: 70th Birthday Bash for Barton Springs Bathhouse. Driskill Hotel.

May 12-14: Ballet Austin’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Long Center.

May 12: Reach for the Stars benefiting Ann Richard School. Four Seasons Hotel.

May 12-21: West Austin Studio Tour. Various Locations.


May 12-21: Fashion X Austin. Various locations.

May 13: Heart Ball for American Heart Association. JW Marriott.

May 13: Paramount Theatre Galas with Earth, Wind & Fire. Paramount Theatre.


May 13-14: Art of the Pot Studio Ceramics Tour and Sale. Various locations.

May 14: Real World Music Showcase for Anthropos Arts. Emo’s Austin.

May 15: Emancipet 18 Anniversary Luncheon. Four Seasons Hotel.


May 16: Great Futures Spring Luncheon. Hilton Austin.

May 18: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” transfers to Kleberg Stage. Zach Theatre.

May 19-20: Austin Symphony Masterworks with Gabriela Montero. Long Center.

May 20: Austin Humane Society Pup Crawl. Various locations.

May 20: Bats, Birds and Barbecue for EarthShare of Texas. Bracken Cave.


May 20-21: Chorus Austin presents “Southwest Voices.” Various locations.

May 20: 21 County Fair for Central Texas Food Bank. 6500 Metropolis Dr.


May 25: Beto & the Fairlanes: 40th Anniversary Celebration. Long Center.

May 30: Official Premiere Party for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9. Oilcan Harry’s.

May 30-June 4: “Something Rotten!” Bass Concert Hall.


Cruise through 3 parties that perked up Austin’s spring season

Why do I always have 100 to 150 good ideas for newspaper articles in the hopper? Because I go out and meet interesting Austinites and they tell me their stories. Those stories don’t usually appear in the short, timely social posts like this one, but they almost always land eventually.

Alice in the Afternoon for Ballet Austin Guild

Cassandra King Polidori and Taylor Calvin an Afternoon in Wonderland for Ballet Austin Guild. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Cutest party ever: To celebrate the upcoming Ballet Austin show, “Alice in Wonderland,” the Ballet Austin Guild staged a costumed tea party for several hundred guests at the Ella Hotel. For An Afternoon in Wonderland, selected youths dressed up as characters from the beloved story. Most guests simply wore their best spring attire, including an array of elaborate hats.

Every table inside the mid-sized hotel banquet room looked like a shrine to the British institution of high tea. What a stroke of hosting genius to include the kids, too, not so many that it became about them, but just enough to remind us that, in fact, it is about them. Don’t miss “Alice,” which opens at the Long Center on May 12.

Women of Power for Austin Way

Phil Wendler and Liz Brown at Women of Power Dinner for Austin Way magazine. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Nina Seely has brokered some kind of secret deal with the weather gods. Not only was the evening exquisite for the Umlauf Garden Party — which I nevertheless missed this year — but also a few days later for Austin Way magazine’s third Women of Power dinner — which I made. Both were held under dusky skies at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.

Everybody was raving about cover girl Brooklyn Decker, saying how the model, actress and wife of tennis great Andy Roddick, was so real, so down-to-earth. Well, we’ve known that about her for quite a while. We’ve also spent significant time with four of the five Women of Power — Jennifer Ransom Rice, Suzanne Deal Booth, Annie Burridge and Mela Sarajane Dailey — all hail from the arts. The fifth, a literary backer, Maya Payne Smart, is realively new to me. Profile?

Hope Awards for iACT

Nahid and Ali Khataw at Hope Awards for iACT. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Want to feel lucky that you live in Austin? Listen to the stories of refugees. We heard several unforgettable ones at the Hope Awards for iACT, an interfaith group that last year served more than 1,000 of the 1,700 new refugees in our city.

At the Bullock Texas State History Museum, we were impressed with fifth-grader Ali Saleh, whose family is from Somalia, but who fled to Saudi Arabia, then Syria, then Turkey, then the United States. He introduced running guru and humanitarian Gilbert Tuhabonye who shared his own harrowing refugee memories from Burundi.

Receiving Hope Awards were the Austin school district, its refugee coordinator and three schools: Doss Elementary, Murchison Middle and International High. Also, the Bullock for its annual World Refugee Day, the Glimmer of Hope Foundation AustinSt. John’s United Methodist Church and student volunteer Mehraz Rahman.

In a few simple words, Issa Noheli, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, thanked Austin — and the American-Statesman’s Season for Caring program — for his new leg and the power of locomotion.

Can’t get more gripping than that.