We aren’t easily intimidated before entering events, but driving up to a stately home off of Country Club Road on Wednesday, our palms began to sweat. We were invited to the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits’ Open House party and had no clue what to expect. The Academy was formed by two friends, Lee Manigault and Suzanne Pollak, as a way to share their wealth of entertaining and culinary knowledge. We can barely microwave a bag of popcorn, so we wondered if the Domestic Deans, as they’re affectionately called, would be able to help us.
Entering the home, we were welcomed into the kitchen and greeted with a glass of wine. While waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive, we were informed that we would be making meatballs and we’d walk away with a booklet of recipes. Swedish, North African, Greek, and Italian — it was around the world in 80 meatballs. Thank goodness we were given aprons, because things got a little messy as we dove into our recipe, mixing everything by hand. The Deans ensured everyone was having fun by helping out when we looked lost and encouraging us to share stories or questions. It was a laid-back evening, and no one cared too much if you made your meatballs too big or one side was burnt. The important part was meeting new friends and walking away with a few new entertaining tips.
After our class at the Academy, we were prepared to host our own party, but decided to see how the professionals throw a soiree. On Friday, Amazon, Authro, and Tumblr hosted a cocktail party to kick off YALLFest. The festival brings together YA authors from around the country for a day of panels, book signings, and fun. We haven’t read a YA novel since R.L. Stein, but thankfully most of the writers we met that evening were more excited to talk about their visit to Charleston than their work.
The party was held at Councilman Mike Seekings’ downtown home, a comfortable setting to welcome all the out-of-town guests. Cru Catering set up a giant spread of Southern favorites like pimento cheese, deviled eggs, and ham biscuits. Guests roamed around the house and spent time on the wrap-around porch; the unseasonably warm weather invited everyone to linger outdoors. We failed to bring any novels to the party for the authors to sign, but the lines we saw at Blue Bicycle Books the next day for autographs tells us we may have missed an opportunity.
Switching from the literary arts to visual arts, the 10th annual Redux Art Auction was held on Saturday at their Center on St. Philip Street. This auction is always a chance for those of us with a limited budget to snag a local work of art for a steal — we wouldn’t own as much art if it weren’t for this event. Arriving early to peruse the silent auction items, we plucked a few snacks from the passing interns carrying silver platters of sushi and other canapés. The evening’s entertainment was the mellow Gregarious Moon Ensemble. They were joined by a six-year-old guitar player who stole the show.
We hovered close to a Hirona Matsuda piece on the silent auction table but were outbid at the last minute. Later, the crowd was ushered into the other room for the live auction. John Zinsser took the role of auctioneer for the evening and pushed us to raise our paddles. This event raises a large percentage of the funding for Redux, so it was important to bid high. There were a few high rollers in the audience, snapping up pieces left and right, but there were also a few that saved up to try to win works from their favorite artist. The collaborative painting from Megan Aline and Nathan Durfee caused a heated bidding war, and when it was all said and done the winner couldn’t look more excited as she danced in her seat. Unfortunately, we walked away empty-handed, but we learned about a few new Charleston artists to keep our eyes on.