When I tell folks the Glass Ball at the Knoxville Museum of Art was one of the best parties I’ve ever attended, many ask what made it so great. I think it was a combination of things.
- The setting. The refurbished museum is lovely. The marble floors, cracked from water damage and from heavy equipment used to hang the Dale Chihuly exhibit years ago, have been repaired thanks to a $6 million fundraising campaign. The north and south gardens have been given attention and are now awesome outdoor spaces. The sold-out $200-per-ticket party — attended by more than 500 people, including 150 from out-of-town — moved fluidly among the three locales.
- The food. I can’t even begin to tell you! Caterer Holly Hambright of Holly’s Eventful Dining truly outdid herself. There was a raw oyster bar, a sushi bar, a full buffet featuring fresh seafood, a carving station. And, on top of all that, passed hors d’oeuvres (which, by the way, included lobster corn dogs!) A dessert station featured a dozen different treats by Holly’s sister, Peggy Hambright, of Magpies. And, for the after-party, which started at 10, still another hot and cold buffet was brought out. Also important: plenty of full bars staffed by the great folks from The Pour Guys bartending service. The fact that the food and drink bars were spread throughout the three spaces made it fun to wander around and talk to a wide variety of guests.
The music. The Streamliners provided big band swing for dancing, and Nancy Brennan Strange followed with soulful jazz and blues for the after-party. But you didn’t have to listen to the music. There was plenty of seating in all the areas for more intimate gatherings.
- The occasion. The reason for the party — and for all the festivities at the beginning of this month — was the opening of the permanent Richard Jolley installation, “Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity.” The Blue Streak has written extensively about this epic project, one of the largest figurative glass and steel assemblages in the world. Click here and here and here. But the official unveiling this month still was a breathtaking moment augmented by the stunning lighting of the project (provided by Knoxville’s own Bandit Lites).
- The guests. Nothing adds a festive atmosphere like a bunch of guys with wires in their ears talking into their sleeves! Yes, the Governor and First Lady were on hand (thus, the security). But so was Knoxville’s mayor and every major philanthropist and community supporter you can name. I’ve often said that Knoxville is like a big high school because everyone seems to know everyone else. If that’s the case, this was the over-the-top senior prom.
Hats off to Gay Lyons, chair of the committee that planned the party. And congrats to everyone associated with the Knoxville Museum of Art, a true community treasure, now shining more brightly than ever.
And we walked home after a terrific night of celebration.