People in the crowd at the 'Party Like It's 1954 event mingle Thursday night inside the Sliman Theater'
'Party Like It's 1954' attendees mingle Thursday night.
The annual "Night at the Museum Gala — Party Like It’s 1954” fundraiser was in full swing Thursday night at the Bayou Teche Museum and the Sliman Theater on Main Street.
The temporary exhibit, "Rodrigue Comes Home … Shiny Happy Blue Dog,” will be in the museum throughout the summer. Native New Iberian George Rodrigue’s actual California art studio along with his last unfinished painting, will be a permanent museum exhibit.
"There’s an old saying that the last place you’re appreciated is your hometown. New Iberia proved that wrong. This would make him really, really happy,” Wendy Rodrigue, Rodrigue’s widow, said as she choked back tears. "There is no better place for his studio to be. This is where it began. Home. He was born in a house on Main Street and grew up on St. Peter Street.”
Rodrigue, world-renowned artist, died in December 2013.
Gala attendees browsed the museum exhibits while nibbling on finger food served by the Berry Queens and sipping wine.
"The newest Rodrigue addition, oh, it’s wonderful,” June Voorhies of New Iberia said as she looked at Rodrigue’s studio display. "I like his art.”
"What I think is interesting is the unfinished paintings,” Louise Fuqua of New Iberia said. "It’s very authentic-looking the way they set it all up.”
"This the first time we’ve been out here and the exhibits are really well put together,” William Regard of New Iberia said.
"I think it’s awesome that it’s here in the city,” said Mike Tarantino, president and CEO of the Iberia Industrial Development Foundation. "It really represents a New Iberia icon and we’re lucky to have it here.
”Gala-goers moved to the Sliman Theatre at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy food catered by local businesses and a live auction. A silent auction took place in the Doc Voorhies Wing.
"It’s absolutely beautiful. New Iberia has really grown so beautifully,” New Iberia native and former governor Kathleen Blanco said. "I think that having the George Rodrigue tribute exhibit in a permanent exhibit is going to add so much to our community here. George is really well-known across the world.”
"What a reflection of our community,” New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt said. "Really good event. Really good turnout.”
"I think New Iberia is so wonderful, and George thought so highly of his hometown,” said Dana Holland-Beickert of Memphis, curator for Rodrigue Studios and the George Rodrigue Foundation.
At least 500 people enjoyed the art, food and conversation.
"It’s amazing that the community once again, even in these times, has embraced the museum with an overwhelming support, and we are so thankful,” Iberia Cultural Resources Association president Cathy Indest said. "We were able to get more gold sponsors this year than ever before. I feel like we’re going to do very well.”