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Gatherings of locals we want to know

Michael Barnes, Out & About

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Columnists love local groups that do their work for them. Social columnists, in particular, depend on those civic clubs that honor assorted worthies, who, it turns out, make prime profile candidates.

This came to me a few years ago during a Philanthropy Day Luncheon, thrown by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. As the deeds of the various honorees spilled forth from the dais, I took mental notes.

"She's a firecracker. And her speech is funny. Good for quotes."

"He's done a lot. More than I imagined. Quiet type, though. Must draw out."

Later, at a dinner given by the Austin Community Foundation, the case was made more tangible through glorious videos about the lives of the lionized. An IFC-worthy piece on Tom and Lynn Meredith woke me to the obvious fact that the active couple had shared a full life before moving to Austin, like so many Austinites. Just a story I didn't know and wanted to tell.

More than a dozen groups give out such local awards. Among the most cherished are the awkwardly named Women of Distinction, conferred by Girls Scouts of Central Texas.

Check out some social stars among the previous winners: Ada Anderson, Becky Beaver, Donna Berber, Olga Campos, Jody Conradt, Patricia Hayes, Patty Huffines, Luci Baines Johnson, Beverly Kearney, Ronya Kozmetsky, Teresa Lozano Long, Sue McBee, Andrea McWilliams, MariBen Ramsey, Sara Rathgeber, Edith Royal, Cookie Ruiz, Donna Stockton-Hicks, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Denise Trauth and Pam Willeford.

That's one heck of a hall of fame for you. This year was no different.

Retired lawyer and merry activist Jo Anne Christian deserves a major, long-overdue profile in the newspaper. Because I want to know more about them, saleswoman extraordinaire Lisa Copeland and lawyer Catherine Morse are prime candidates for column-length profiles.

Former state Rep. Wilhelmina Delco is ripe for one of those "what's been happening" follow-up interviews.

Now folks, as much as I love em, Alex Winkelman and Kendra Scott have been praised to the skies, deservedly, in this column and elsewhere. Let's see what they do next, then report.

Otherwise, the Girl Scouts did themselves more than honor at this lunch, especially introducing young Catherine Wicker, who changed Texas law through her lobbying efforts. As a fourth-grader.

Oh and yes, it's always worth it to opt for chef — and new dad — Josh Watkins' services at the AT&T Center.

The names of the artists are hidden. Still, assorted pairs of inquisitive eyes lit on a lacy set of cut-outs. Surely by white-hot artist Laurie Frick, several guests guessed.

That's part of the fun at Five by Seven. The cherished art fair with its uniformly sized and priced works has lost none of its glamour. The crowds seemed larger, louder this year, during the first full night of the sale, called "Splurge," at the Jones Center.

This was the first Five by Seven for the hybrid AMOA/Arthouse group since their merger. Despite some cultural static among the players, they're all art lovers. They party well together.

Top social Carla McDonald served as master of ceremonies. Her task was complicated by the walls that split up the crowd. Still, she handled the role with her usual amazing grace.

Contact Michael Barnes at mbarnes@statesman.com