Todd White and Toe’s jambalaya at the Galerie d’Art Francais

If you have not had the pleasure of attending a reception at the Galerie d’Art Francais, you are not only missing out on singular opportunities to meet incredibly famous and influential artists, you’re missing the party of a lifetime.  The past Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend a reception touting Todd White’s 2010 collection and it was one hell of a bash.

Art lovers from all over the world came to this exceptional event to meet the artist behind Sponge Bob Square Pants and possibly purchase one of his uniquely satirical paintings commenting on the shallowness of “society.” Although there were several paintings that I wouldn’t mind owning like “Derailing Trains” or “Summer in San Francisco,”  White’s originals are way out of my price range.  Nonetheless, the opportunity to view his works and meet the man behind the magic was well worth the effort (and cost) of parking in the Quarter.

General Manager of the Galerie d’Art Francais, Ryan Tramonte, organized a fantastic party for White that had that uncanny, New Orleans knack for welcoming patrons from all walks of life. Not once did I feel uncomfortable or out of place among wealthy art collectors thanks to Tramonte’s warm, genial reception which offered “comfort food” like a delicious pork jambalaya (made by Ryan’s “Future Maybe Step-Dad” Toe) and tasty Muffulettas from who else but Central Grocery.  In addition to the home-style food, Ryan hired his favorite classic New Orleans band, Steamboat Willie, to play traditional jazz music to everyone’s delight.

While the champagne was poured and the jambalaya was devoured, hundreds of delighted art enthusiasts strolled through the gallery to appreciate Todd White’s most current works.  White himself mingled with the patrons and offered personalized autographs for fans purchasing his pieces.  He was all smiles, and perhaps a bit embarrassed, when his agent called the room to attention in order to introduce White and share a few personal tidbits about the artist.

Although amusing, the fact that Todd White used to sport a mullet in high school and has a predilection for bubble baths really didn’t spark my interest.  What I did find intriguing was the carefully worded hint that White recently signed a deal with an international beverage company (one which has featured artists like Warhol and Rockwell) so we may be seeing White’s distinctive design just about everywhere in the near future.

The reception pressed on and enjoyed a full house for most of the evening from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., a full hour after the celebration was scheduled to finish.  Salespeople scrambled to close some last minute purchases, extra food was put away and the remaining revelers trickled out of the door to head home.  Thanks to Ryan Tramonte and his staff, the reception at the Galerie d’Art Francais was an instant success and getting to meet a rare talent like Todd White was something I will not soon forget. 

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