It was a good sign for the Umlauf Garden Party when the rain avoided Austin Thursday night. Instead, the humidity gave the evening a Hamptons-esque atmosphere, aided with blue uplighting, hanging strands of lights and pathways lit by candles in paper bags.
The 17th annual fundraising event was organized with the help of honorary chairs celebrity chef Paul Qui and his fiancée and partner Deana Saukam.
During the event, Executive Director Nina Seely presented the museum’s newest permanent acquisition that isn’t an Umlauf work: the Pointed Sphere by Damian Priour, who studied at the University of Texas in Austin.
Guests decked out in floral prints, seersucker jackets and jaunty hats explored the grounds and took photos with the bronzed sculptures. Spread throughout the garden space were bites from restaurants like Qui’s flagship, which served a fermented pork sausage; the Hill Country’s Pieous, which brought out New York-style pastrami; El Alma, Noble Sandwich Co. and plenty more. Sweets included full-sized decadent dessert doughnuts from Gourdough’s trailer, an eye-catching assortment from Fluff Meringues and even cupcakes served cigarette girl-style from Cupcake Bar.
Twin Liquors provided wine, including sparkling and rose options. Coffee was poured by Houndstooth, and food trays with nifty wine glass holders made it easier for attendees to walk around and sample dishes. Live music from the Nash Hernandez Orchestra played throughout the evening, with the band leader encouraging guests to dance.
Items from the silent auction were displayed within two air conditioned rooms, much to the comfort of the guests. Featured were the party’s signature celebrity seeds: Unique garden vessels donated by celebrities and artists including Kendra Scott, Bob Wade and Roi James.
Outside, the energetic live auction was led by auctioneer David Ackel. Big-ticket highlights included a private dinner for eight at Qui, VIP passes to Austin City Limits Music Festival and a weekend stay at the soon-to-open South Congress Hotel. Three collages by Lance Letscher, the party’s featured artist, were also up for auction. Neiman Marcus sponsored the Umlauf Giving Tree, where patrons purchased treasure boxes to help educational programming for the museum.
Among those spotted at the annual affair were Kevin Smothers, Jennifer Carnes, Mandy Broussard, Karmel Wakim, Caroline Hill, Michelle Osborne, Susan Espinoza, Armando Zambrano, Kelly Haselwood and Rene Dailey.