McCord Gala Gets Artrageous

By Jack Murray

A glittering gala again gave the McCord Gallery and Cultural Center an infusion of funds to carry on its mission as a learning center and venue for the arts.

The fundraiser benefiting the Palos Park home for art, music and history drew more than 130 guests last Saturday night to the ballroom celebration at the Crystal Tree Country Club, in Orland Park.

Organizers named this year’s edition of McCord’s 15th annual For Love of the Arts dinner dance An Artrageous Night Under the Stars. Keeping with that theme, numerous guests came costumed in colorfully outrageous fashions.

They mingled during cocktail hour as they browsed to bid on the nearly 30 tempting silent auction items on display – fine dining packages, wine or liquor baskets, concert tickets, artworks and more. Beverly Opelka ran the wine pull. Guests paid $20 each for a chance to win a bottle of wine, ranging in price from $15 to $200 fine vintages.

Event co-chair Linda Buchanan led the program before dinner, asking the 34 volunteers who served on the event committee to stand and be recognized. She then introduced guest emcee NBC5 newscaster Alex Maragos.

Board President Carol Trzcinski honored Lynne Terr, who recently retired after 10 years as McCord’s executive director. “Lynne has made remarkable contributions to the growth of the McCord Gallery and Cultural Center,” Trzcinski told the gathering. “In addition to expanding the programming of our classes and events, she has secured grants, curated exhibits and educated us all in music, especially Cajun music, making for many memorable concerts and events.

“When I look at the new [Anderson annex] addition, I remember all the extras that Lynne did not only to make the building special but to add to the history of McCord.” She listed many more of Terr’s “incredible contributions” to McCord.

Trzcinski then introduced Rene Leyva, McCord’s new executive director. Having served as the Palos Park Public Library’s public service and marketing manager, “Rene brings a unique understanding of the community and a creative perspective for the future of McCord,” Trzcinski said.

“I tell patrons who said they’ll miss me at the library, that I’ll be working only a few blocks away at McCord,” Leyva said. He intends to build on Terr’s work to broaden awareness of McCord and create new classes, programs and events to engage the community. 

Lending to the elegant atmosphere, the Nuclear Jazz Quarktet played dinner and dancing music. Florist George Mitchell, owner of Mitchell’s Orland Park Flowers, served as auctioneer for the live auction, as he has most years. NBC5’s Maragos assisted him, after a dinner of filet mignon, roasted potatoes and green beans almondine.

The 10 items up for bid included four club seating tickets to a White Sox game with a Sox cooler, seat, mugs, glass tumblers and set of golf balls, and four nights at a cottage on a fishing lake in Michigan. A golf package for foursomes to play at six renowned area golf courses and six box seats to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert were among others.

Caroline Foreman, the Fashion Chat columnist for The Regional News, modelled a necklace and matching earrings in the auction (see top photo)

Fourteen sponsors – individuals, families and two businesses — donated at levels ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to boost the McCord benefit.  Another 12 also contributed.  McCord supporters gave all silent and live auction items. Others donated to McCord’s outreach to Park Lawn, in which art instructors teach classes to Park Lawn clients with developmental disabilities.

A wealth of photos and videos covering all aspects of the fete are posted on the McCord Gallery and Cultural Center’s Facebook page.

Published in The Regional News on November 7, 2019.

Photos by Jack Murray