Society: MOCAD gala; Wright museum celebrates 50 years

Chuck Bennett

The attire request for a “flash of brilliance,” asked of the 100 or so guests attending the 2015 Gala + Art Auction at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, resulted in nearly as many interpretations of that direction. But one commonality permeated this crowd of diversely attired partygoers – the love of great contemporary art.

On Friday evening, MOCAD celebrated another year of acclaimed exhibits and expansive educational programs, featuring live entertainment, craft cocktails by the museum’s own Cafe 78, and a creative family style dinner from Cutting Edge Cuisine. The food, the entertainment and even the craft cocktails offered a decided Latin flavor, giving a nod to MOCAD’s exhibition, United States of Latin America, on view until Jan. 3.

After dinner, the auction, a moving tribute to Maggie Allesee (who attended with her husband, Bob Allison), a tropical Detroit after-party followed with the addition of another couple hundred guests and entertainment from Coconut Babylon. Tickets to the main event started at $1,000, and more than $380,000 was raised. All proceeds will enable MOCAD to continue innovative exhibits and to build upon the momentum of its educational and cultural programming.

The Wright Gala

The highly anticipated Wright Gala 50th Anniversary Celebration was much more than just a party Saturday night — it was an amazing production. The gala was attended and enjoyed by more than a thousand guests who shelled out a minimum of $350 each in support of the culturally iconic Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Event co-chair Pamela Alexander, left, actor Blair Underwood and Charles H. Wright museum president Juanita Moore.

The Renaissance Ballroom at the Renaissance Marriott was almost unrecognizable as it was masterfully disguised with theatrical draping, dramatic lighting and masses of bountiful exotic floral arrangements. The guest list was undeniably a who’s who of Metro Detroiters, and beyond, including the Rev. Jessie Jackson and award-winning actor Blair Underwood.

The festive evening included passed hors d’oeuvres, open bars, a notable duo entree dinner of Chilean sea bass and fillet of beef, an extraordinary swag bag, entertainment, too many speeches, a long but exciting live auction, and finally dancing and desert. An impressive list of emcees included anchors from all three major stations, including Rhonda Walker (WDIV), Glenda Lewis (WXYZ), Huel Perkins (Fox 2) and former WDIV weekend anchor Lauren Sanders.

Event chair Vivian Pickard, president of GM Foundation, received a well-deserved standing ovation for her astounding work of assembling an impeccable dream team to make this event a memorable and historic occasion for this institution, said to be the largest of its kind in the world.

Pamela Alexander, community development director for Ford Motor Co. Fund, and Faye Nelson, vice president of public affairs for DTE Energy, were co-chairs.

Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer with Honorable Damon Keith.

An estimated $1.8 million was raised for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located on East Warren in Midtown Detroit.

Chuck Bennett is the Fox 2 News Style Ambassador and creator of the Social D. See