Party Line: Good times at RiverArtsFest

Artists, patrons alike impressed by quality of South Main event

Megan Birdsong and her brother, Chuck Birdsong, enjoy the mild weather Saturday at RiverArtsFest.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Megan Birdsong and her brother, Chuck Birdsong, enjoy the mild weather Saturday at RiverArtsFest.

Santa Fe artist Aaron Coleman loves RiverArtsFest.

"RiverArtsFest has a good reputation among the people who do art festivals," said Aaron, who layers resin and acrylic on canvas. "And it's kind of known throughout the country as being a good show to do."

This year's free festival in the South Main Arts District featured 35 performers on three stages and more than 160 artists from around the country.

Among the artists were Steve and Beth Radtke from Georgia. They manned the "Vincent Van Gourd" booth. They create painted sculptures out of gourds.

They both came up with their business name, Beth said. "We both had a little wine," she said. "We had several names, actually, and we stuck with that one. We thought it'd be easier to remember than 'Radtke.'"

Bird houses obviously aren't the only thing you can make out of gourds; Steve's pair of horn players made out of gourds has a price tag of $2,500.

Ben Nesheim and Francesca Magario were among the impressed festival-goers. "We're exchange students from Norway," Ben said. "She's from Italy. I've never seen anything like it. I really enjoy it."

"It's awesome," Francesca said.

Memphis Heritage Architectural Auction

Robbie Tom saw a rusty old metal yard chair at the home of his dad, Robert Tom. He said, "You still got that chair? Throw it away."

Instead of getting rid of it, Robert donated the chair to the Memphis Heritage Architectural Auction. He's a member of the organization's board.

"Someone paid $65 for it," said Robbie. It was a chair designed in the 1950s by Harry Bertoia.

"I have more than one," Robert said. "That was the worst one."

People grabbed up architectural and other items in the silent and live auctions at the event Saturday night inside the old catalog department of the now-vacant Sears building in Crosstown.

Gina Owen was thrilled to get a pair of 1910-era crystal and brass chandeliers for $120. They're going in her English Tudor home in Germantown.

Didi Montgomery of Lamplighter Lampworks lighting fixture store donated the chandeliers, which came, she said, from a Downtown Memphis movie theater.

The Memphis Heritage Architectural Auction is held every two years, said executive director June West. This year's event was "extremely successful," she said. She doesn't yet have a tally of how much they raised, but she does know that about 400 tickets were sold.

Chefs' Celebrity Gala

John Bryant, WMC-TV Channel 5 meteorologist, wore an apron instead of a microphone on his chest Thursday night at the Chefs' Celebrity Gala, a benefit for the Memphis Child Advocacy Center.

Unlike some of the other celebrity servers, John has experience. He worked as a server at Chili's and Chesterfield's.

"I think everybody should be (a server)," he said. "You have an appreciation for servers."

The sound of a tray crashing to the floor could be heard, but apparently no serious problems were caused by novice servers.

"I've never been a waiter," Marcus Grandberry said. He was filling in for a friend who wasn't able to work the fundraiser. Early in the evening, Marcus already had a $20 tip pinned to his apron.

The evening was a success. "We have a preliminary total, and we made at least $265,000," Beryl Wight with the Memphis Child Advocacy Center reported Friday evening.

Carol Prentiss was event chairwoman.

UNICO 2011 Columbus Day Gala

Former Memphis city engineer Frank P. Palumbo Jr. was given the Italian American Award at the recent UNICO 2011 Columbus Day Gala at the Doubletree Hotel. Frank Gattuso presented the award.

Orpheum president/CEO Pat Halloran was the recipient of the Civic Award. Rose Marie Cross presented the award.

"The only Italian thing about me is I own a Ferrari," Pat told the audience.

Sharon Signaigo Thompson was given the Service Recognition Award. Michael J. Spano presented the award.

Nick Spano is president of the Memphis UNICO chapter.

Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797. donahue@commercialappeal.com

© 2011 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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