By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Some people put art on the walls, others walk around wearing it. Both happened Saturday night on the party circuit.
There was art all over the place at the Westin, downtown, when the American Diabetes Association threw its Brushes with Greatness, a black-tie gala with an art auction.
But it's art with a twist: Local celeb types are paired with artists and together they make art, everything from oil paintings to photos to collages. So what auctioneer Stuart Holman had to sell Saturday was a Peter Frampton self-portrait that photographer Michael Wilson helped him set up; a Potthast-type beach scene from artist Cindy Youse with an assist from Juvenile Court Judge Sylvia Hendon ("I never touched a brush. I conceptualized," her honor 'fessed); a richly detailed oil of a ballerina at the barre from David Mueller with help from Channel 5's Michelle Hopkins ("I did a few brush strokes, but I was afraid I'd make a mess," Hopkins said); a bright red and blue fish from chef Jimmy Gherardi with help from artist Wolfgang Ritschel; a wonderful painting of Ripley's Rankin House based on an original sketch by National Underground Railroad Freedom Center president Ed Rigaud and painted by Dave Klocke.
About 500 - a way well-dressed crowd with lots of beads and glitter - paid $150 a head to check out the art and meet the artists (there were two other rooms full of silent auction stuff), then chow down on filet mignon and dance awhile to Clyde Brown's orchestra.
Across the skywalk at the Omni's Hall of Mirrors, about 150 paid $100 a head for Hillel's second annual Purim in Paradise, a little do that encouraged "tropical dress or black tie." Hillel is University of Cincinnat's Jewish student center; Purim is a festival ("More like a carnival," said director Rabbi Abie Ingber) commemorating the saving of the Jewish community, then under Persian rule, from genocide by an anti-Semitic government.
The guests took the dress code seriously, many of them looking like they just strolled out of a Gaugin painting in everything from shorts and loud flowered shirts to straw hats, floral bow ties and cummerbunds, flowing beach wraps and yeah, one halter top (she slapped on a blouse soon after arriving).
A right festive bunch, that, with UC students handing out leis, a photographer in the corner doing portraits, a particularly busy bar, palm and tarot card readers, salmon dinner and lots of dancing - right up to closing time, which is unusual on the benefit circuit - to music by Crossfire.
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