• Elizabeth Middleton

A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM


Elegance and benevolence overflowed at the best party in town this month, grossing over half a million dollars for Calgary’s Glenbow Museum. It was truly a night to remember spent with good friends, incredible food by Hotel Arts, fine wine from Vine Arts Wine & Spirits, and inspiring stories, all amongst Glenbow’s priceless art collection.

An event of this scale depends greatly on its sponsors, so out of respect and recognition I’m happy to list them. Parkland Fuel Corporation was the Schmancy Presenting Sponsor. Philanthropists and Glenbow board member Irfhan Rawji and his fiancee Christine Armstrong, along with Masters Gallery, and Shaw were the Platinum Sponsors. BCG, Imperial, and Keyera rounded out the Gold Sponsors.

With my husband’s firm as a sponsoring partner, we hosted our guests from Chevron, ATCO, and Shell. VIPs weren’t all Calgary corporate executives. Also spotted was Alberta’s Minister for Culture and Tourism, MLA Ricardo Miranda, entrepreneur Brett Wilson, singer Tara Oram, fashion designer Paul Hardy who is currently exhibiting Kaleidoscopic Anamalia at the Glenbow, artist Kent Monkman, fashion icon and author Jeanne Beker, and musician Rich Terfry (Buck 65).

Around 80 VIP guests were welcomed with style to the second floor of the Glenbow where we enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails and a private view of the Schmancy silent auction items. There were over 50 auction items, including: a serigraph by David Thauberger a mixed media piece by Ron Moppett, a large copper plate etching and aquatint on paper by Ken Monkman, a bronze sculpture by William McElcheran (sold that night for over $18,000.00), and an acrylic painting on canvas by Gisa Mayer.

But the most impactful auction item was parked in the middle of the room, a Rolls Royce Wraith. The item was Lot #1, an international Rolls-Royce Experience donated by Rolls Royce Alberta, The Post Hotel and West Jet. The $14,000.00 winning bid secured a private chauffeur in a Rolls Royce to Lake Louise’s iconic Post Hotel for a night’s stay and dinner for two. After falling in love with the vehicle, the party of two flies to London for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Rolls Royce Goodwood factory where every piece of these elegant automobiles is hand assembled on site.

Ross and I put bids on some extraordinary Italian wine packages, but unfortunately we were outbid. We did however secure a couple of the coveted mystery envelopes which awarded us two annual memberships to the Glenbow and a Walrus magazine subscription. No Rolls Royce this year.

After drinks, we moved into the next space where the Eric Harvie VIP dinner was a luxury event in itself. Hotel Arts new Executive Chef Jan Hansen created an experience for us that began with months of planning and a few of us pre-selecting some of the menu items during a private tasting at Irfhan and Christine’s residence in the Hotel Le Germain. Once seated, we were treated to a five course degustation menu which included salmon tartare (Remelluri Rioja Blanco), chestnut veloute (A tribute to Grace Grenache), a Juniper berry glace served on individual ice carved platters, Northridge beef tenderloin (Col Solare “Shining Hill” Bordeaux Blend), and a star anise poached pear dessert (Remy Martin XO cognac).

Over the meal, Irfhan and Christine highlighted select auction items as well as the pop-up gallery only to be viewed by VIP guests. Also good friends, it was much more personal to have Irfhan and Christine take on the role of co-MCs, their passion for art and the Glenbow Museum was more sincere than the typical B-list celebrity often brought on for such events. Irfhan also hosted a casual panel discussion on stage with Jeanne Beker, Kent Monkman and Rich Terry (Buck 65). Thoughtful discussions covered their their accomplishments and inspirations, closing on what they would like to see for Canada from a cultural perspective. In a nutshell, they wanted Canadians to be proud of who they are and to own their culture, to understand their history in order to move forward into the future, and to ensure the survival of Canada's public broadcaster.

Just outside of our dining room, was an absolutely extraordinary mini gallery built for VIP guests viewing only. The pieces valued into the tens of millions of dollars. Carefully curated from Glenbow's vast collection of 33,000 works of art included pieces by: Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Morris Louis, Jean-Paul Lemieux, Charlie Russell, and Kent Monkman.

After our dinner, the curtains opened and the rest of the Schmancy party was in full swing. Guests were dressed in everything from Disney princesses to goth heroes. The rest of the evening was full of dancing, wandering the spaces of the Glenbow, sampling whiskies, more good food and even a roving candy bar. Our night at the museum was truly magical.

#GlenbowMuseum #Schmancy #VIP #arts

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