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Art Bash! in support of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

Augustus John’s 1919 painting The Marchesa Casati, is among the Art Gallery of Ontario’s most beloved works. Its subject, Luisa, the Marchesa Casati, was an elusive aristocratic eccentric who owned pet cheetahs and wore dresses made of light bulbs. She is also considered one of Italy’s most prominent art patrons of the early 20th century and her beloved Palazzo dei Leoni on Venice’s Grand Canal was the site of many legendary fancy dress parties (it was later bought by fellow art patroness Peggy Guggenheim). So it was natural for the palazzo, those lavish soirée and the woman at the centre of it all, to serve as inspiration for this year’s Art Bash!, the AGO’s swish fundraiser that is now in its second year. This latest edition, held on Nov. 17 and dubbed Casa Casati, was co-chaired by Marianne Guizzetti and Kathy Houde-Lovas and might just have been the art party of the season. It was teeming with whimsy and wit, and a gaggle of the AGO’s devoted patrons came dressed to theme, channelling their inner Marchesa with feather hats, Paul Poiret-inspired frocks and tasteful nods to Italy. The evening raised just shy of $1-million, which will be directed toward the galleries exhibition and programming initiatives.

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The BC Children’s Hospital Foundation Gala, Vancouver

The previous evening in Vancouver, an impressive $4-million was raised at the 32nd annual Crystal Ball, the marquee fundraiser for the BC Children’s Hospital. This year’s event was chaired by Vancouver-based interior designer Jennifer Johnston and devoted to mental health; the Japanese philosophy of kintsukuroi, which celebrates healing and transformation, served as the eve’s theme and inspiration. A study undertaken in 2014 by the Children’s Health Policy Centre at Simon Fraser University estimated that 12.6 per cent of children and youth from the ages of 4 to 17 in B.C. (around 84,000) are experiencing mental disorders at any given time, yet 69 per cent, or about 58,000 of them, are not receiving the level of specialized care they require. Funds raised from the event will support the hospital’s paediatric mental health programs, including much needed provincial outreach initiatives. Last year alone, more than 16,000 kids visited the hospital – the only one in the province devoted to the care of children – for mental-health services.

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