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Arts Gala Honors Jeanette Segerstrom

September 21, 2000|PAMELA DIAMOND

Flowers, fountains and a panoramic view of Orange County provided the backdrop for the elegant annual Founders Gala on Sunday.

The sweltering heat couldn't quell the enthusiasm of the 107 guests who gathered for a late-afternoon soiree at Casa La Cuesta, the hilltop home of hosts and arts benefactors Pat and William Podlich of Lemon Heights.

The event was sponsored by Founders Plus, an organization made up of the original visionaries of the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

"Our purpose is to reach out to the underserved in our community," board member Jan Landstrom said.

The group sponsors Informally Yours, an arts-outreach program that brings center artists and mini-performances to schools, jails and retirement homes in Orange County. The group also donates tickets to people who otherwise might not be able to afford center performances.

The evening's program included a tribute to arts benefactor Jeanette Segerstrom of Newport Beach.

"Jeanette was one of the earliest people to be involved in the founding of the Orange County Performing Arts Center," gala chairwoman Vesta Curry said. "We've chosen to honor her not only for her commitment to the center but for her support of the arts and the community."

Segerstrom was introduced to the crowd by good friend Nancy Wilson, wife of Orange County Supervisor Tom Wilson. "Jeanette took me to my first opera ball, and I've been on many [arts] committees since then, thanks to her," she said.

"She's a gracious, warm and witty lady, and it's wonderful for her to be honored."

Segerstrom is a former pianist and cellist whose passion for music is at the root of her love for the performing arts.

"It's a joy to be here," she said, "and to celebrate this honor with people I am so fond of. I've seen how Orange County has really gone all out for the arts over the years, and that makes it all the more worthwhile for me."

Sandals and sun hats kept guests cool while they mingled in the estate's bougainvillea-draped gardens. Later, they dined at candle-lit tables on the lawn, heard the soulful tenor of opera star Christopher Campbell and dug into an ice-cream sundae buffet.

Also among guests was Segerstrom's daughter, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels. "[My mother] has a true love of the arts," she said. "It's something that comes from within."

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